Following up on the article in which we have analyzed online communication of two English fan-owed clubs, in the second part we will analyze the communication of two Croatian fan-owned clubs. Unlike AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester which have existed for more than a decade, NK Varteks and MNK Futsal Dinamo are clubs that were founded only several years ago. As you might have noticed, I will analyze online communication of one futsal club. Even though futsal is not the same sport as football (a topic we tackled in the previous articles), Futsal Dinamo has very close ties to football, as you will see later in the text.
MNK Futsal Dinamo
Futsal Dinamo is a Croatian fan-owned futsal club run by the supporters and members of Dinamo Zagreb, the most successful Croatian football club. Football Club Dinamo Zagreb is organized as a citizens’ association, yet its current leadership doesn’t allow Dinamo’s members to elect their leadership. Further, they are under investigation for tax evasion, and are alleged to have taken almost €40 million from the club.
Dissatisfied with the situation in Football Club Dinamo, the ultras group of the club, Bad Blue Boys, and other members decided to get involved in the operations of a small amateur club Futsal Dinamo. Their goal is to demonstrate the power of a democratic model of club ownership, the same principle that should apply to football Dinamo, in compliance with Croatian laws. Also, they want to preserve the culture of going to football matches in the city of Zagreb.
The project Futsal Dinamo had a spectacular presentation on Zagreb’s iconic stadium „Šalata“ during the 47th anniversary of Dinamo’s clinching the only Croatian major European trophy – The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1967, when they beat Leeds United in the final.
Dinamo started its journey from the Second Croatian Futsal Division. In its first season Dinamo supremely clinched Second Division and Regional Cup, and thus made way for the promotion to the First Division. Major credit for the success goes to Bad Blue Boys and other Dinamo’s supporters who attended Dinamo’s home matches in large numbers and helped Dinamo to promote the top tier of Croatian futsal. Besides that, in the first season, Dinamo broke all records of attendance at domestic futsal matches.
Dinamo is currently placed third in the First Croatian Futsal Division. After first two and a half months of 2016, Futsal Dinamo has more than 700 members. It is very important to mention that Futsal Dinamo is not a replacement for Football Club Dinamo. A thing Bad Blue Boys and other supporters always try to emphasize, with „Small Dinamo“ they want to show how Football Club Dinamo should be managed. They are still fighting for salvation of Football Club Dinamo, and their desire is to fuse two Dinamos from different sports at an appropriate time.
To be honest, I am a member, thus one of the owners of Futsal Dinamo so I cannot be 100% objective when talking about communication of my club. But, I will do my best!
Futsal Dinamo has a simple official website that has a nice design and is mobile-friendly. They are very active in the news section. During the two weeks of my analysis, from 22nd February to 6th March 2016, they posted 9 news articles about the results of senior and youth categories and other relevant information about the club. On the official web page, you can easily find out more about the club’s history, current position on the league table, and the results of the senior team. You can quickly find the link to become a member and to subscribe to the club’s newsletter. Also, there is a link that leads to the official page of the Bad Blue Boys, the ‘sixth player’ of the club.
The thing that is not appropriate for the web page, in my opinion, is the section about the players and staff. The players roster and staff information are outdated (from the first season), and they should consider to update it with the current squad and new pictures of the players and staff. Futsal in Croatia is still not as popular as football. Therefore, the wider public is not so familiar with futsal players. By posting the photos of the current players, fans can more easily get to know and identify with them. Also, even though Dinamo has a great youth academy, and they often write about them, the visitors to the web page cannot find the list of youth categories, their results, schedule and league tables.
For me, Dinamo has great communication on Facebook. During the two weeks of analysis, Dinamo had 42 Facebook posts or 3 per day. They were most active during two match days when they had 4.5 posts per day. Most of the posts (21% of them) were announcements of the upcoming matches of the senior team. About 17% of the posts were announcements and reports of the youth categories matches, as well as announcements and reports of senior matches that were published in the Croatian media.
Dinamo also uses behind the scenes photos, but not as often as they should. In the two-week time of analysis, they had only three behind the scenes photos, but the club is very up to date in response to comments.
Futsal Club Dinamo is also very active on Instagram with 38 posts during two weeks of the analysis (2.7 per day). Most of the posts were related to announcements of the matches (42%), with pictures of the youth squad amounting to 15%. On their official Youtube channel, Dinamo publishes summaries of senior and youth matches.
Because Dinamo communicates with its audience only in Croatian, it would be wise for them to open an official Twitter page and communicate in English, so as to connect with international futsal and fan-owned football community. Dinamo is on good terms with some foreign futsal clubs like the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom), Futsal Minerva (Switzerland) and Sporting CP from Lisbon (Portugal), also a fan-owned club. With a Twitter account in English, a communication channel that is much more popular abroad than in Croatia, Dinamo could connect with international audience.
NK Varteks is an amateur fan-owned football club from Varaždin, northern Croatia. It was established by supporters of the original NK Varteks, current NK Varaždin, a club founded in 1931. NK Varaždin is one of the most successful Croatian football clubs. In its long history, Varaždin played seven national Cup finals, and in three occasions it finished third in the Croatian national League. Also, original Varteks is the last Croatian club that secured quarterfinals of any European competition when they lost to Mallorca in UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1998/99.
But in 2010, after bad management and long-term negligence of the local government, the club’s Assembly, strongly connected with local politicians, changed its name from NK Varteks to NK Varaždin and redesigned the official crest. Dissatisfied with the change of club’s identity, Varteks ultras group, The White Stones, started boycotting their club. Only a year after, in 2011, in order to save the club’s identity, White Stones established their own club NK Varteks, abiding by democratic principle – „one member, one vote“.
They started from the sixth tier of Croatian football, and shortly after, the original Varteks (current NK Varaždin) was expelled from the First to the Third Division due to the accumulated debt, and its branch club „NK Varaždin – school of football“, started from the same level in which NK Varteks competed. In the second season, NK Varteks secured promotion to the fifth tier and last season to the fourth level of Croatian football.
The year 2016 started great for Varteks. They signed two original Varteks legends Saša Dreven and Neven Vukman, and City Council allowed them to use former NK Varteks stadium. They currently hold a mid-table position of the Croatian Fourth Level.
NK Varteks has a simple official website, and it is not mobile-friendly. On their official web page you can find player lists of all the club’s categories, and what I find great, they have pictures and basic information about most of the players from senior and youth squads. Also, visitors can find complete league tables and its matches for all age categories, even though you can’t find results and league tables from the previous seasons. There is also an easy way to access the online application form to become a member of the club.
When talking about negative aspects of Varteks official web page, I find the biggest disadvantage a lack of articles about the club’s history. Consequently, you can’t find anything about why and how Varteks was established, details about their journey, and similar information. Also, they have a news section where you can find reports from the match and the latest information about the club, but the last text, before the report from the match played on 6th March 2016 (the last day of my analysis) dates back to 30 November 2015.
As you can see, Varteks is active only on their Facebook page. Their last tweet was from November 2013, the last Youtube video was uploaded in May 2015, and the last photo album on Flickr was uploaded in June 2013. One of the things that Varteks certainly should do is to revitalize those accounts or to create an Instagram or Snapchat account, which make great platforms to communicate with younger members and supporters.
When talking about the Facebook page, during the two weeks of my analysis, from 22nd February to 6th March 2016, Varteks had 28 posts or 2 per day. Almost 40% of their posts were announcements of the matches, news, and reports from the matches published in other media. They were most active on the two match days (one friendly and one official against NK Zadrugar) when they had 6 posts per day. Varteks official Facebook page is very responsive to followers’ questions, but they had only one behind the scenes photo published during those two weeks of my analysis. They are quick to post the final results, but they didn’t have a textual streaming during the match.
Who is the winner of the analysis?
When talking about Croatian analyzed fan-owned clubs, they both have most of the basic information about them on their websites (but not as much as they should). However, both pages have a lack of content. Dinamo has the edge over Varteks when it comes to the section with overall information about the club, and Varteks has the edge over Dinamo when it comes to the section with information about clubs sections, their matches and list of players. But, they do not come close to English fan-owned clubs, which visually may not have the best web pages, but have much more content and information valuable to the supporters and members.
When talking about communication on Facebook and Instagram, I would say that Futsal Dinamo is the winner, and the best communication on Twitter is that of United of Manchester. But, when talking about the overall „champion“, AFC Wimbledon tops the list in my opinion, being consistent on all platforms. I would place United of Manchester second, due to an unreasonable lack of communication on Facebook (with more than 860k followers). The third place goes to Futsal Dinamo, and the last to NK Varteks.
It makes sense that English fan-owned clubs have better online communication than Croatian clubs. Firstly, they exist in a much bigger community; have many more members, and thus more volunteers who will give their time and knowledge to the clubs. Secondly, they have existed for more than ten years, while Croatian clubs have existed for only several years, and they are still very inexperienced.
However, all four clubs have a lot of space for improvement, and I believe they will overcome the above-mentioned deficiencies over time. I am sorry that, due to the lack of space, I could not analyze online communication of some other fan-owned club from around the world.