Web fans get their club

[OFF THE POST] A Web site campaign launched less than a year ago has completed its takeover an English minor league club, which will be run by the 28,000 fans who paid $68 a share. The MyFC scheme, which limited fans to one share each, has culminated with the ownership of fifth tier club Ebbsfleet United. Via the Internet, the fan owners will "manage" the team by selecting the starting lineups for the club's head coach.

"Our head coach will be in an enviable and unique position," explains the MyFC Web site. "He will be able concentrate on coaching and getting the best out of players, without being accused of picking the wrong team or formation."

Ebbsfleet United's current manager will be offered a chance at the head coaching position. Should he decline, MyFC members will have a say in picking a new head coach. MyFC members will also vote on whether to accept or veto player acquisitions as well as outgoing transfers.

MyFC expects players embrace the propects of their playing time being determined by their fan owners:

"It will inspire them. Having the backing of tens of thousands of members will be the ultimate motivation. Don't forget, personality clashes between managers and players are common in football and often lead to poor performances. Our club will not suffer from this. Players will know that if they play well then they should get picked."

MyFC acquired Ebbsfleet United, which plays in the Blue Square Premier league, by buying a 75 percent stake in the club for $1.2 million. The club had previously been running a $60,000 deficit annually. The publicity has already earned the club a uniform deal.

"It's the first community website takeover of a football club in the world and, I think, of any business," MyFC spokesman Will Brooks told AFP. "We may see more of this in the future.

"What people like about what we're doing is it's closer to grassroots football, to players earning just a few hundred quid a week and you can have a drink with them in the bar after games.

"It's more real in many ways. It's not at all a rebellion against corporate football. It's just an attractive and potentially a very good way of funding a lower league club."


 

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