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Saturday, 02 July 2011 17:44

Opinion: Sporting’s new beginning

An exciting future in prospect at the Alvalade

The Alvalade StadiumSomething is afoot at Sporting, and it’s a welcome sight. After a disastrous run stretching several years, with the Lisbon club finishing the last two seasons on 48 points and well behind top spot, the Lions appear to have refound their roar. Most importantly, it doesn’t seem like empty promises or lip service this time.
 
With Bettencourt running the show, Sporting’s strategy appeared to comprise of looking for former glory by tapping into older stars. You can say that they also did everything on the cheap, and it cost them. Maybe the most glaring mistake of the Bettencourt regime was their inability to bring Domingos Paciencia or Andre Villas-Boas to the Alvalade when given the chance.
 
That all changed with the surprise election of Godinho Lopes. Surprise, because like everything else it seems, corruption might have reared its ugly head in the ballot. The good news is that Godinho has been able to move forward quickly, and it all started with the appointment of Domingos Paciencia as Sporting’s new manager.
 

New approach

Right from the beginning the fans were notified of the huge turnover in the squad. This necessity has turned into a rebirth, and at a crazy pace. Lopes and Paciencia have gone out very quickly and put their stamp on this squad. Most surprisingly for fans is their willingness to sign young foreign players. Unlike Porto and Benfica, Sporting is still looked upon as Portugal’s foremost factory for developing talented youngsters. To say that young foreign talent is a surprise is an understatement in some circles.
 
What we do know for sure is that excitement is coming back to Sporting. With the signing of Rodriguez, Onyewu, Scharrs, and van Wolfswinkle, the spine of Sporting’s team has been improved greatly. There is both young and experienced talent in this squad. With Perreira and Carrico at the back, Santos and Matias in the middle, a veteran presence and a raft of exciting newcomers, a serious tilt at the championship no longer sounds like an empty promise. Especially with more newcomers being mentioned every day.
 

Fans being mobilised

The transition hasn’t been on the field alone. All the talk about putting down carpet in the Alvalade has quietened down. After years of falling crowds, there was a slight uptick at the tail end of last season after the presidential elections. The board has once again begun reaching out to their fans. All new “Socios” who signed up on Friday 1 July, which marked the 105th anniversary of the club, did not have to pay registration. They will also get free tours of the stadium, museum and team bus. This was followed up by a publicity game at the Academy in Alcochete the next day, attended by team veterans, board members and public figures associated with Sporting.
 
The fact is that Sporting has always been Portugal’s second biggest team, and the fans will all come out again if they have a winning team to get behind. It seems that everything they tried in the last few seasons rebounded back off the woodwork. Well maybe, just maybe, they are shooting on target now. All that’s left to see is if it’s a goal or not.
 
by Ed Gomes

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Comments (15)
Porto corruption
15 Tuesday, 06 March 2012 23:18
Porto are where they are do to Pinto da Costa corruption, if it was in Italy they would be in the second davision like juventos a few years back
# of fans
14 Friday, 08 July 2011 20:51
seriously using Facebook as a accurate reflection of the fanbase

as someone who has been to Portugal, north, central, south, and madeira island

believe me Sporting is easily the 2nd most supported team in Portugal, ask anyone.

however Porto does have alot of fans in the north, and ppl under 30 they are pretty popular (i.e. facebook generation)
Felipe from London
13 Thursday, 07 July 2011 00:36
You can't judge a club by how many Facebook fans they have. Not everyone is a Facebook addict and knows about every group there is.
2nd biggest?
12 Wednesday, 06 July 2011 14:14
Maybe Sporting our..
But in terms of Supporters:
Benfica's page on faceboook has the most supporters, over 600,000 : http://www.facebook.com/SportLisboaBenfica
Than Porto's, page with Nearly 400,000 : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Futebol-Clube-do-Porto/82713049484
Than 3rd Sporting with nearly 200,000 : http://www.facebook.com/SportingClubePortugal
4th Braga with nearly 30,000: http://www.facebook.com/SportingClubePortugal#!/pages/SC-Braga/33478081901
Nice Artice
11 Monday, 04 July 2011 16:14
Really good read, thank you. I would definitely agree that SCP are historically Portugal's second biggest club. Yes, FCP have been winning everything the past two decades and they are a big, well oiled and powerful team, but when you speak about the true rivalry it is SCP-Benfica.SCP was always a sentimental favorite in Portugal in their endless battle against Benfica, because even though there are many people who support Benfica, there are many who don't and there are many who actually actively disdain the team from the Luz. Congrats on the writing assignment!
Changes needed to be made
10 Monday, 04 July 2011 13:44
I thought the article was complimentary.
I do believe that Sportinguistas will be out in force when they become competitive. I think everyone realized that they were in trouble going into last season.
Porto has been tremendous and their fan base is only going to get bigger. Fans are generational so you will see an up tick when their new crop of fans have kids, and so on, and so on. Winning brings them in, as it should.
As a tip of the cap to Braga and Guimaraes, they have very loyal fans in the same region, which takes away from Porto.
I think we all agree that fans have an interest in their "local" club, but root for one of the Big Three. Having such loyal Braga and Guimaraes fans in the region hurts them.
Please don't mention how both Sporting and Benfica are in Lisbon. Population wise, its so much bigger. And Sporting and Benfica have rich history, in a sport that honors it. Generations of it.

Regardless, I think that everyone can agree that optimism, at the very least, is in Sportinguistas minds. Not so sure that was there for the last few years.
2nd Biggest team
9 Sunday, 03 July 2011 22:08
Once again.. An excellent article. I really liked it

Regarding Sporting being the second biggest team, we are talking football here. After all it's a football site. In size of sports teams they have a lot of title but the way things work in Portugal is completely different compared to a lot of other clubs throughout the world. There is no doubt that Benfica have the largest support in the country which in the odd year Porto out number them in terms of supporters going to the stadium. When you look at last season and the four teams in the last 32 of the Europa cup with only about 15,000 fans at home Sporting were a long way behind both Porto and Benfica. Some can talk about elections and stuff like that but when your club is in Europe you folllow them no matter whats happening off the pitch. You could go back and forward but there no spin I'd agree with saying they are the second biggest football club in Portugal. Not in modern football in the past 40 years anyway..
Yep
8 Sunday, 03 July 2011 12:39
Sporting will be strong, looking foward to the title race!
Normally I bash Benfica but today I will defend one of their fans
7 Saturday, 02 July 2011 22:56
I feel EGomes/ or NJ is one of the most respected Benfica fans along with Orlando Mac. The fact that he is a Benfica fan and he was willing to complement Sporting's progess is a good sign and I am happy that he got this position.

Congratulations EGomes and hope you keep making great articles.
Braga will gun for the CL spots( top 3 finish)
6 Saturday, 02 July 2011 22:24
We worked hard to get Portugal these spots and we're going to fight for what we worked hard for. A second CL visit is desired in Braga and to me it will be well deserved.
Its obvious
5 Saturday, 02 July 2011 22:10
that the writer is a Benfiquista and I believe this is that NJ/SLB guy who posts so he is always talking out of both sides of his mouth, continually making backhanded compliments
Sporting = Grande
4 Saturday, 02 July 2011 20:44
Which club has the most titles across all Sports? and is 2nd most titles club in Europe?
Which club still enjoys strong support after going 18 and now 10 seasons without winning a league title
Which club produces most national team players
Why when Sporting won the league titles in 2002 or 2000 more people celebrate across Portugal than a Porto CL or EL win?

We want Sporting to be big, as big as the biggest clubs in Europe - Visconde de Alvalade

Respect is earned through hard work dedication, devotion, and glory

size and status cannot be bought through money, corruption, and bribes

SPORTING SEMPRE
Karl/Braga
3 Saturday, 02 July 2011 19:56
I think Ed took the number of supporters the team has historically had. It's no shocker that Benfica has been and continue to be number one by a good margin. I would agree that Sporting historically gave Benfica a run for their money in terms of support but for the past few years Porto has been able to pull more support than Sporting. I think this year it could be a different story if Sporting get off to a good start this season.

Eitherway I think this season could be very good for our liga if all the big 3 are fighting for the title. Hopefully Braga and Guimaraes put on some good shows to make the top half of the liga very open and exciting.
Third?
2 Saturday, 02 July 2011 19:29
Yea Porto has nothing to say about that. (rolls eyes)
Great article
1 Saturday, 02 July 2011 18:42
Congratulations on a great article which you seem to rip apart in the last paragraph. Really good to see a competitive Sporting team again. Hopefully it will be a great championship with several teams fighting for top spot. I still don't know where you go the fact that Sporting "have always been" Portugal's second biggest team. Good luck for the new season.

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