A screenshot of the United Managers app | Image: BBC

The point of playing Football Manager is that you can pretend to manage a big club, but a bunch of fans of French side Avant Garde Caennaise have taken that one very big step further, and are now helping run their actual team.

As the BBC report, fans of the club are able to download an app called United Managers, and through this help “decide on the starting line-up, substitutes, the formation, set-pieces and communicate with staff and players.”

They do this by voting, and the more a fan uses the app and takes part, the more their vote is worth. These fans are known as the “Umans”, and they are genuinely helping manage the club, which sits in the sixth tier of French football.

There is still a manager, though, and while fans are able and encouraged to vote—and he often implements their decisions—he’s still technically in charge, and is also the one making the tough, quick decisions during a match when there isn’t time to run a poll.

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Everyone’s having fun with it, but the whole process is now under threat following a ruling by the French Football Federation last year that “[prevents] clubs from establishing a partnership with a third party to ‘influence the performance of its teams’” and “[prevents] a third party from ‘questioning the real responsibility of the team held by the head coach’”.

Which is fair enough! While the “Umans” are having fun, the fact it’s all being made possible by a tech startup peddling their app makes a lot of people outside the club uncomfortable.

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Those rules aren’t yet being enforced, though, and AG Caen—and their 2000 managers—are still getting ready for their next match.