Creative Soccer Culture

FIFA18 at Forest Green Rovers | Dale Vince

With EA Sports getting to work on FIFA18, Forest Green Rovers opened up their doors to celebrate their first appearance in the game. Taking in the sights and sounds from a club that bring an entirely fresh approach to the professional game, we start with the man who steers the eco-savvy ship, Chairman, Dale Vince.

How has felt in the build up to what will be a new chapter for Forest Green Rovers?

It’s all very exciting really. In some ways, it hasn’t sunk in yet, in other ways it has. Wembley was only two months ago for us but we’ve been very busy since then. Getting ready and setting up for the season but I always said, I don’t think it would really sink in until we kicked off. From there we start looking at our league position in a different way. To be looking at a League Two table instead of the conference is pretty special. We’re all really excited about it as you might imagine. It’s a massive step and it’s hard to explain to some people, just what a big step it is. People in football probably get it but from Non-League to the Football League, it’s huge.

I used to think “why is it called ‘non-league’? It’s silly, we’re still a league”, I get it now. The difference now when it comes to organisation, professionalism and things like that in the EFL compared to the Conference is just massive.

What step change do you see off the pitch when you make that switch between non-league and Football League? Is it more regulations? More exposure or a bit of everything?

The regulations aren’t a problem, that’s all fine - that doesn’t trouble me. There’s a lot of digital rights stuff that didn’t happen in the last league. That’s actually an opportunity for us. We’re going to be beaming radio around the world via the internet live this season for the first time. We hope to be able to do live TV aswell. Live video of the game would be great. It has to be done outside of Britain but that’s fine. We’ve got a global fanbase - small, but growing. Those are opportunities.

I think we’ll play on better pitches generally. Non-league still has some good pitches but here we’ll be playing at bigger stadiums with bigger crowds. There’s more attention and it’s all going to be a bit magic really.

It’s probably a long way from the place you found the club when you first got involved. Is there a mixture of pride, excitement and joy as to the journey you’ve been on and now looking at League football?

[laughs] Probably not pride. I never really feel like that. I’d say more pleased. It’s a really big step for the club but there’s almost a little more relief in there as well. Getting out of Non-League was so important. It was a transformational step for us as a club and it’s the first step in what we hope is three steps into the Championship. It’s a big deal for us and we worked hard for it. We’ve worked patiently and we tried to do it sustainably every season by taking steps off the pitch to improve things on the pitch. We built strong momentum to get us towards the top of the league and we’re confident that if we do the same in this league then we can achieve the same results.

Do you think with Forest Green, you have an opportunity to shift conventions off the pitch? You may bring fresh life into the league perhaps?

Maybe. We can hope. I expect, it won’t be too dissimilar to non-league in the way things are done off the pitch. There are some very stuffy board rooms in non-league and it tends to be the ex-league clubs that are the worst. It may be because they’re not happy being lower down the ladder and they get funny about it, I don’t know. The smaller clubs are much more relaxed, like we are. We don’t have a dress code for the boardroom or anything like that. In a way, that’s a trivial thing isn’t it, it should be just that too - trivial.

I do hope that we’ll influence clubs in a more substantial way like environmental issues, food and that sort of stuff. I’m not worried, I see it all as a driver for us. If we’re successful, we know that people will watch what we do and they’ll pick it up. That happens to us in the world of energy and all the other stuff we do. We see it happen in football and that’s our way of doing things. We just get on with it and let others pick up the bits they want to.

Do you like the tag you can create with Forest Green, the almost positive rebellious nature of it all? It’s all a little rock and roll…

The rock and roll football club, I like that. We are unconventional I suppose. I don’t go out of my way to be unconventional, I just do things in the way I know. That’s just the side of things that I fall on. Too many people worry about the little things and the way other people think things should be done or the way other people have done things in the past. It’s a sheep mentality. I’ve found that in the energy industry too. I always just find myself asking myself, “what’s the best way of doing something?”, “what’s the right way of doing something?”. I’m not worried about what other people think, or do. It’s helpful.

What are the aspirations for this season?

I hope we have a competitive season. We are all quietly confident that we’ll do well. It’s better to be quietly confident than anything else. It’s a new league for us but we’ll know some of the clubs, we’ve played some of them before. Those that we haven’t played before, we’re looking forward to the challenge. I hope that we’ll be in and around the top seven come May.

The colours and everything that goes with this club, it’s building a very strong brand image too. Can you describe that feeling you will get as you see more people donning a Forest Green Shirt?

I love to see that actually. It’s become so much more frequent than it used to be before. I agree with you, it is a strong identity and we’ve done that intentionally really. I believe a club should have a strong identity and a unique one too. One of the early things we did was to change the club badge because it was just a copy of Barcelona’s badge and that seemed silly to me. We had black and white stripes previously and as we set out what the club was going to stand for and be about, the more it seemed weird to be called ‘Forest Green Rovers’ and play in black and white stripes anyway. So we went for the hoops which is quite unique in itself. [laughs] Although Huddersfield seemed to borrow it with their away kit last season. I wasn’t so happy about that. It was unique and hopefully we stand strong as the only club doing that. We’ve got an identity which I think is essential for any football club and any organisation that wants to bring change to the world. Have an identity so that people can get behind that.

We visited the home of Forest Green Rovers, ahead of the team featuring in EA SPORTS FIFA 18 for the first ever time. For more information on the game, which is out on September 29th, head to


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