Fan Controlled Football Consolation Game Cancelled

The State of Fan Controlled Football

Fan Controlled Football (FCF) arrived on the alt football scene in 2021, aiming to disrupt the status quo. Allowing fans to build teams and call plays was just the tip of the iceberg for a league offering levels of access and input without precedent in leagues past. But after two successful seasons in as many years, we find ourselves approaching the end of 2023 without the long-anticipated Season 3.0. So what’s going on? Is Fan Controlled Football a dead league? And what have the league’s owners had to say over the last several months?

In June 2023, Sports Business Journal published an article detailing changes coming to Fan Controlled Football for its future third season. Chief among those changes was a move by the league’s ownership group, Fan Controlled Sports & Entertainment (FCSE) to a franchise model, which would see the league selling ownership of its eight football teams as a means to bring in cash and to delegate future team expenses to those new owners.

The article also laid out the main issue facing the league, which ultimately delayed its third season of football to 2024: funding. Prior to FCF Season 2.0 in spring 2022, FCSE embraced elements of Web3, such as cryptocurrency and NFTs–a move I’ve observed to be controversial even to dedicated FCF fans. When a decline in crypto markets left FCSE without further funding, they made the choice–the correct choice–to postpone their plans for 2023, rather than trudging on and risking a mid-season collapse–a fate all too familiar to fans of alternative football leagues past.

Fan Controlled Football’s detractors gleefully rushed to declare the death of the league. I can’t totally blame them for jumping to that; failed leagues of the past have announced season delays and strategic adjustments, only to fade away quietly in short time. To many of those not paying close attention to FCF, it was “the NFT league.” It was gimmicky. It was the league that kicked a player out for lighting a blunt on the field after throwing a touchdown pass. And now, to those people, it was a dead league, a league that couldn’t couldn’t deliver on its promises, couldn’t justify the innumerable risks it took, and couldn’t hold itself together.

But like any other football league, or like any other sport, or like anything else one might like to consider, there’s much more going on than such a passing glance would tell.

Fan Controlled Football is not dead–at least not with the current outlook. In the months since the SBN article was published, FCSE has held to that early 2024 start for Season 3.0. Of course, many details for the season, especially any changes to the format, are still unknown. League co-founder Patrick Dees provides fans with glimpses into league goings-on during the Fan Controlled Show, live on Twitch every Thursday afternoon, but he often shies away from detailing what he sees in the league’s future if the specifics could possibly change later on.

But even without all the specifics, one word in particular came into the conversation months ago and hasn’t gone away since: “partnerships.” The SBN article also included a short bit of information, from co-founder Sohrob Farudi, on partnerships that would see FCSE to produce interactive sports properties in tandem with other entities, or license their proprietary technology out to existing sports leagues. What entities and what leagues? We don’t know just yet; as with football, until those partner deals are locked in and everything is fit for a big announcement, FCSE will likely stay quiet on the specifics. However, they’ve strongly hinted at such an announcement possibly coming with their next Fan Controlled Show, on September 28.

Editor’s note: I have confirmation that there will be no show on the 25th, but announcements are now expected for the next show, on October 5.

Perhaps the most promising indicator in FCSE’s favor is the closed beta release of their new all-sports app, CTRL. Being part of the test group, I can say CTRL provides a much more visually satisfying experience than the old FCF app–an experience that falls in line with FCSE’s video game-ified ethos and aesthetic. With game picks from every imaginable league and polls on any imaginable issue, fans will be able to find something to do in the app regardless of how much they enjoy whichever FCSE sport happens to be in season–because yes, it will be the home of Fan Controlled Hoops and any other additions to the lineup.

Plans for more sports are in place, a new app is in the works, and FCSE continues to run shows three times a week on their Twitch channel. Will the organization survive and eventually thrive in their goal to bring fan control to every major sport? I won’t call it inevitable. There’s still much left for the future that must go in their favor–and it’s not all in their control. But, in much the same way, their downfall is far from assured.

What are your thoughts on the future of FCF and FCSE? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation over on Discord.