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Sep 07, 2018

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Think big, fly low: the inspiration behind US Fasano’s rise to Serie D

The coming Serie D season is expected to be one of the most competitive and exciting Italian football has seen in recent years. Former Serie A clubs including Bari, Modena, Cesena and Reggio Audace will mix with names such as Calcio Avellino, and there is a successful story of a different kind amongst them – namingly, U.S. Città di Fasano.

Fasano, a town that is part of Brindisi in southern Italy, has always had a proud tradition of playing the beautiful game. However, the history of its football club has not always been without difficulty either and having been reformed a number of times already, further financial turmoil hit in 2015.

The representatives of Il Fasano Siamo Noi take up the tale: “We experienced the first signs of economic uncertainty towards the middle of the 2015/16 season. The company (that owned the club) was virtually non-existent and nothing was going as it should be. When we realised the “ship” (the team) had really been abandoned to itself, it was only the desire of the players not to give up and the fans not wanting yet another failure that kept everything afloat.”

Il Fasano Siamo Noi is the non-profit organisation that is now the driving force behind the club. It was founded officially in late 2015, though supporters had been working to save the club long before that.

“The constitution of the association was introduced in December 2015 but, in fact, we took the club’s situation in hand about 40 days before that as the old company failed. It was not an easy decision to take – a radical choice between being unprepared to manage the club while, on the other hand, the strength of a dream and the possibility of change.

“With some help from people experienced in legal matters, we realised: Yes, it was possible to do this and to do it with the involvement of everyone. At that point, people, shyly, started to believe in us and what we were doing. There were quite a few detractors in the beginning; now, however, we have 600 members and have showed ourselves to be good administrators too.”

Having overcome the initial hurdle of demonstrating that supporters can make a meaningful difference if fully involved in a club and, in fact, are well capable of being part of an ownership and decision-making structure, the emphasis within Il Fasano Siamo Noi is now on growth.

“The fans, now members, understood what we were building by the end of the first season. We turned around a budget that seemed impossible to manage and brought benefits and positivity to a company that was destined to disappear once again!

“Membership continues to grow and that trend does not stop thanks to meticulous communication, marketing and administrative work, as well as a continuing emphasis on transparency.

“In the beginning, people did not believe this could work but both sharing the facts and time have proved us right. Today, many of those people, the detractors, would like to try and form associations of “popular shareholders”. They ask us for information and ways to start this new journey for themselves. The examples we receive from abroad also feed into this: Germany, France, Belgium.”

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Critical to their success to date has been the association’s focus on working with the local community in Fasano, efforts that are described by members as “extremely important”.

“We have developed a commercial proposal with partners (small and medium-sized businesses, shops, hotels, restaurants), that gives benefits directly to every member. It’s very convenient to obtain a card, and the card repays itself over time.

“We also organise various events: cultural, social and charitable and / or fundraising to which we invite the whole city to participate. We also have a number of small social and structural projects that give to the community; for example, Christmas Biancazzurro (social dinner and tombola with fundraising ), and Fasanesità In the DNA (street party with street games, street folk food, guided tour in the historic centre, street soccer tournaments, subbuteo and table football, evening concert), which saw over 2,000 people involved over the course of the entire day.

“To keep everyone together like this, it takes honesty and transparency and lots and lots of passion. Passion is the key element in getting people involved that perhaps don’t really love football as much as we do. However, they love what we do and how we do it!”

With such progress being seen off the field, it would be tempting not to mention the football. However, three promotions in three seasons will see U.S. Città di Fasano among 18 teams competing in Girone H of Serie D this coming term. It won’t be an easy task; however, Il Fasano Siamo Noi – as always – are ready for the road that lies ahead.

“Three consecutive promotions is a record for the category and, we believe, an absolute record for a company run by popular shareholders. Undoubtedly the secret is the alchemy – the mix of energies at U.S. Fasano which brings all the technical and sporting parts of the club together.

“We have managed to create a balance that is easier for the two ‘souls’ of U.S. Città di Fasano to coexist and work better together. Naturally, behind the success there is lots of hard, hard work by the leadership team of the association. First, we had to repair what went wrong before and then we had to develop a new way to plan and manage the club. To take this path, all the men and women of the Southern Curve have been fundamental, along with the founding members and everyone enrolled in the association.

“Serie D is now upon us. We are ready to immerse ourselves in the new season which, more than a Serie D championship, looks like a Serie B or C championship given the clubs involved. The presence of these clubs shows that failures of excellent clubs happen at all levels of the game. Our team has prepared well and looks like a team that can do well. We do not have any illusions though, so we work day by day with our motto: “Think big and fly low!”.

From everyone across the SD Europe network, we wish everyone involved with Il Fasano Siamo Noi and U.S. Città di Fasano the very best for the season ahead! To learn how the SD Europe team can help you in your work, email: info@sdeurope.eu

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