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Deeper Dive Into The Charter

Legal documents aren't really a fun look. There's something dry about them that takes away from what they can mean. Words like "whereas" or parentheticals for future reference immediately cause a glassification of eyeballs and headaches in many.

In the case of the vote for ratification of the Alliance Constitution and Sounders FC Alliance Charter maybe some perspective of what the Alliance Council was asking for in the Charter and how I view what it can mean for you as a fan of the team may give you a reason to vote yes to ratify the full documents. First let's look at how the club described the document;

Additionally, the Club has written a charter which recognizes the Alliance as the voice of the overall fans and supporters of the Club, and which grants certain areas for the Alliance to have control over; other areas that the Club will try and advocate the Alliance's position; and agrees that the Alliance may choose to express its views on issues involving the Club.

In short it is a more formal version of the initial goals that Drew Carey had when he launched the whole "Democracy in Sports" concept. At length it describes exactly what the Alliance can do and why the club is willing to grant its fans so this much at this time.

Looking deeply we get the series of whereas. They establish the importance of the organization of the fans, the support of the club for the democratic concept, the importance of the Alliance and Council having formalized systems and a recognition of the past three years of this democracy. It then specifically delegates powers. These are the things that are exciting.

  • Firing the GM: Honestly, this was the initial and only direct activity outlined by Carey. Everything else the front office talked about was influence without action. The Constitution and Charter maintain that key tenet.
  • Determining Two Charity Partners: Hey, something new! Rather than have all the charitable endeavors be a top down designation the idea to involve the fans in this decision has it roots in the concept that help the originates from the goals at the bottom of the organizational pyramid will be more effective. It makes it more likely to raise money, supply important man hours and assures that the charity partnerships are a direct reflection of what it means to be a Sounder.
  • Advise Gameday Experience: Now that's rather vague isn't it? And how it works out will be intriguing to discover. What it can mean is banning vuvuzelas, but rather than how other teams around the globe have done it by top down fiat, this would come from the fans. It could mean expanding the ability to bring in flags, or limiting it. But rather than those decision being solely by front office personnel under advice of a limited sub-group of fans this would be done through a mechanism that recognizes all members of the club
  • Decide Other Matters of Fan Experience: Kind of like amendments nine and ten of the US Constitution there's a lot of interpretation in this one. It isn't limited directly to gameday, but the way the fans and team relate outside of gameday. It can go many directions from player access to media presentation of team events. This is also where the ability to plan and organize the annual business meeting falls.

Basically there are things that the Alliance (sometimes through the Council, sometimes without) can directly determine and others were we can only offer affirmation or advice for change. That advice though would carry the weight of a group of 32,000+ members of Alliance which is outlined in the Constitution;

Membership eligibility

The primary account holder of a season ticket package containing 50% (or more) of the Sounders' MLS league games is an Alliance member. If the account has more than one seat, the account holder may designate one additional person for Alliance membership for each additional seat on the account. This designation is irrevocable and lasts until the end of the season when it was made.

Membership in the Alliance may also be purchased; the price shall be $125 a season.

While it may not seem like a lot, it is certainly a unique expansion of fan power and influence within the American sports franchise system. There are checks on the powers, in both documents, but their increase is significant.

The documents can be dry, but they need to be ratified to be empowered. Or maybe you find enough with which you disagree and you want to vote no. Just vote, that's kind of a core of any level of democracy - those with the franchise must exercise it.

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