Wednesday, 14 November 2007

1 Team: 50,000 Owners

It is perhaps to be the sternest test yet of the wisdom of online crowds. Can the 50,000+ people who paid £35 to co-own and co-manage a football club do better than the traditional board & manager arrangement?

MyFootballClub, a venture set up by a former sports journalist, has raised a club purchase fund of £1,375,000 and agreed in principle to buy Blue Square Premier (formerly Football Conference) club Ebbsfleet United F.C. If this goes through, the co-owners will be able to vote on team selection, tactics and transfers.

As might be expected, there is some indignation from 'real fans' of the club, which recently renamed from Gravesend & Northfleet and has an average home attendance of less than 1,0001, mainly concerned with the fact that no preference has been given to them over the multitudes who paid in without even knowing which club they were going to become involved with - Many signed up hoping that a higher-profile side such as Leeds United2 would be bought.

Is having 50,000 fans run your club really so different from having a rich person or a few rich people do so? Overall I see MyFootballClub as representing a very positive development for football. It's untried and could fail, and due to the vastly increased costs and risks involved it probably isn't feasible at the higher levels of the league. However, if it is shown to work, I expect to see a few more lower-league clubs follow in the footsteps of Ebbsfleet United in the not-so-distant future!

1. http://ebbsfleetunited.co.uk/eufc/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=154
2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/6914775.stm

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