ISC 2018 Conference sees supporters groups share best practices and common issues faced

ISC 2018 Conference sees supporters groups share best practices and common issues faced

The Independent Supporters Council (ISC) met in Vancouver this past weekend, for their annual two-day conference to discuss issues affecting supporters across North America.

The ISC was founded in 2009 to advocate for the fair treatment of home and away supporters and promote supporters culture. They are a fully volunteer run organization that aims to accomplish change via delegates from each city, with 23 Supporters Groups represented in Vancouver this year.

The Council is also open to supporters groups from all leagues, not just MLS, giving an insight into issues affecting supporters at all levels of soccer on the continent.

Yet despite being around for approaching ten years, there will likely be a lot of supporters around North America that are unaware of the council and the work that they do. Unless it’s a major initiative (such as their ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ and Pride campaigns), it’s hard for many to see regular tangible results.

As an attendee at this year’s ISC Conference, I wanted to bring you a bit of insight into the weekend’s events, what was discussed, and the plans put in place for the season ahead.

The Unofficial Kickoff to the Conference was held at Doolin’s, home of the Southsiders who hosted this year’s event, on Thursday night. The Welcome Party was a social event to let delegates meet their fellow supporters away from the business part of the Conference. Most of the delegates were there, including the 2017 Board of Directors:

President – Jeremy (Timbers Army – Portland)
Vice President – Sean (The Cauldron – Sporting KC)
Director of External Communications – Robyn (Terminus Legion – Atlanta Utd)
Co-Director of Internal Communications – Bailey (Dallas Beer Guardians – FC Dallas)
Co-Director of Internal Communications – Andy (Third Rail – NYCFC)

The Conference kicked off at 9am on Friday morning at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame inside B.C. Place.

I can’t speak about the first day, as I wasn’t able to attend, but the agenda featured sessions to share best practices around issues such as game day, finance, and online presence.

After the official business had been conducted for the day, a “Beer Battle Royale” took place at The Belmont on Granville Street. Featuring two local breweries, the winner emptying their cask first won the right to be the Southsiders first feature tap at Doolin’s this season.

Day two of the Conference was about membership and away travel, with a few presentations in the afternoon.

Various issues relating to communication with new additions to the ISC were addressed and corrective actions were discussed. Also discussed were potential new applicants, current applicants, and the revocation of an East Coast supporters group status and how to deal with their members potential actions negatively impacting the other groups in the city and travelling supporters.

I did not have a chance to speak with a delegate from that city, but it would stand to reason that the other groups were notified as well. This is relevant because away ticket distribution is done through the supporters groups and should one of those individuals purchase tickets through one of the groups and cause problems, it then falls on the seller of the ticket.

Away travel was the other big topic.

Through cooperation and action by the member groups, the delegates in the room had tangible data to look at, as well as notes relating to that data. Obviously, this was all done in hindsight, and actions have been pursued.

The afternoon session was about the delegates. The member from Chicago showed a video and talked about the amount of work that went into the club’s 20th season celebration and the party.

The other presentation was a joint one about “Enemies for 90…..Texans for Life”, a joint effort between the Dallas Beer Guardians (FC Dallas), 210 Alliance (San Antonio FC), and the Texian Army (Houston Dynamo), to help those devastated by Hurricane Harvey and the path of destruction that was left behind. It was an amazing joint effort between the supporters groups of each city.

The Texian Army was asked what was needed and where, and the DBG and 210 Alliance came through. Although that help only covered a small fraction of what was, and still is, needed, it was one of those stories that, for me, showed that a real bond has been formed between fierce rivals. Due to time constraints, 2018 Board Elections were not conducted and will be done online.

After the official business was concluded, a group photo was taken outside BC Place (where rugby fans were starting to congregate) to mark the official end of ISC 2018. The delegates were offered tickets to World Cup qualifier between Uruguay and Canada. There were about 20 of us there.

The weekend concluded with one last social and karaoke at Moose’s Down Under on Pender Street.

While the ISC does have a Board of Directors and an annual conference, the tangible results are not there unless you know someone directly involved in it.

They gather away travel data, looking at the fair treatment of supporters, not only at home, but while in other stadiums too. It’s then up to the supporters group delegates to address these issues, be it directly, internal, or work with their front office on issues they can’t control.

The Council plays an important role in bringing together groups from across North America, and with the growing issues affecting soccer supporters in all leagues here, the sharing of information can only be beneficial to supporters everywhere.

Authored by: Jay Mayede

There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Angus Walker at 17:05

    Nothing about what should be the biggest item on the agenda?


  2. Jay at 17:18

    You mean biggest item on your agenda?

    If they talked about it, it was Day 1 and I wasn’t there. Although, I’m not sure what you think the ISC is or capable of doing as a whole.

    If you did some reading on the ISC website you would know that there is no standing budget and this group acts through their membership and any sort of legal challenge is probably not worth asking their members to fund, as much as it would please you…

  3. Michael McColl at 23:00

    I have to agree with Angus. The idea of the ISC is great but it basically feels a little toothless. I’d love it to be more like the Football Supporters Federation in the UK. More ballsy and more visible action. Challenge those in authority. Kick up a stink. Try and force some real change. Not sure the appetite is there for something like that here though to be honest. I think that’s why some groups don’t want to be a part of it, which although disappointing, as strength in numbers and all that, I see their point.

    I’ll be disappointed if Save The Crew wasn’t discussed in depth at some point. It’s the main single issue affecting football fans in North America right now. If it can happen to the Crew, it can happen to the ‘Caps, to anyone.

    Angus came up with some cracking ideas in the previous article. The ISC should be pushing for some disruption. If the result of that is losing things like tifo concessions from clubs, then that’s their loss and ultimately if they piss off their main hardcore supporters, the atmosphere in games will soon suffer.

    Fan power needs to unite, be loud, and be active here in North America moving forward.

  4. Jay at 23:36

    How is having your supporter rights being taken away over what amounts to a self inflicted gun shot wound into your foot growing anything?

    In an enivronment where MLSnis 4th in almost every major market, creating a fuss over an out of market issue seems like a hard sell and having a whole raft smacks like a mandate and such, the true independence would invariably be questioned.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Saving the Crew, I don’t think asking a group to spend their own money and time on an effort that, in hindsight, may be a lost cause. I think I’m done discussing the ISC…..

  5. Angus Walker at 00:04

    Thanks Michael,

    Being someone who was around during the Wimbledon debacle in the UK (Not a fan, but lived nearby and my cousin played for them, and strangely enough, also played for Columbus) it makes my blood boil that the hardcore fans are not trying to do more.

    Jay: Having supporters rights taken away is what is at the very heart of this matter and saying “If they are going to do it to The Crew, then they do it to all of us” is exactly what the ISC should be about.

    If a Vancouver Supporters Club representative is already of the opinion that this is a lost cause then seriously, lets hope it never happens to us, as the other clubs won’t be rallying to our defence.

    You do understand why we were the 86ers dont you? It was because NASL still owned the Whitecaps name. If we got moved, MLS could stop us using it again (if we re-formed in a lower league or CPL) We, as much as any team, should be standing with our fellow supporters on this matter.

    I’m not done discussing the ISC…..

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