Sportsbiztech

Sports, business & technology

I own a soccer team in England

ebbsfleet.jpgI became a fan of soccer/football/footie/futbol when I lived in Manchester, England, for a year. That explains how I became a fan of Manchester United, a.k.a. the “Evil Empire” on the other side of the pond. But since then, Becks has gone from Mad-chester to Madrid to simply mad (Hollywood), and the days of Man U’s European treble are long gone.

Therefore, I needed a new English football team to follow, and I think I’ve found it in Ebbsfleet United.

Who?

The club isn’t part of the elite Premier League, in which Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea play. It’s also not part of the first-tier division, or the Football League Championship, which itself contains three divisions. Ebbsfleet United, in turns out, competes below those two divisions in what is called “non-League football” (if you’re just as confused as I am, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_football_league_system for a tutorial). In other words, they’re at the top of the bottom.

So why support Ebbsfleet United? Because I now co-own the team.

On Tuesday, a fan Web site called MyFootballClub completed what is believed to be the first online community takeover of a sports team or business when its members voted in favor of a 75 percent controlling stake of the club for £635,000 last month. That money was collated from membership fees, which continue to fund various expenses concerning the team and the Web site. Each member, including myself, shelled out a very reasonable fee of £35 – which amounts to about 70 U.S. pesos dollars – to own one share of Ebbsfleet United. In exchange, each member has a vote in decisions that the club needs to make, all in the absence of a manager’s voice. (Yes, Ebbsfleet has scrapped the managerial position in favor of the MyFootballClub community.)

Sure, there aren’t any profit-sharing benefits. But I’m now part of a voting community which, at last count, has about 29,000 members that can make some pretty weighty decisions for the team. I’ve already been asked to cast my ballot as to what I think the team’s formation on the pitch should be in future matches, and past votes have included determining board member rosters and what uniforms the teams should wear (the winning outfitter was Nike).

Ebbsfleet’s head coach, Liam Daish (previously the club’s manager), embraced the unique organizational structure last fall. “As the coach, I look forward to the challenge of working with thousands of members to produce a winning team,” he told the BBC.

Others, like Birmingham City co-owner David Sullivan, aren’t so sure. In an interview, also with the BBC, Sullivan said that, in regards to issues like player recruitment, “if a player is in demand you need an instant decision, you can’t go on the Internet for six or 12 hours and let people vote.”

Time will tell whether this is a viable situation or a cyber gimmick for Ebbsfleet United. For now, though, I have an excellent reason to use for my busy schedule: “Well, you know, I am quite tied up now that I own a soccer team in Kent, England.”

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February 22, 2008 - Posted by | soccer | , ,

3 Comments »

  1. very informative and for 70 usd not a bad price to invest in a soccer team.

    Comment by guest | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] so good in my co-ownership adventure of the fledgling football/soccer team in Kent, England. Since becoming member No. 28,642, I have voted “yes” to coach Liam’s question about whether can continue bringing in players […]

    Pingback by Ebbsfleet update « Sportsbiztech | March 1, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] from the NFL to baseball to the WNBA to the Rugby World Cup to high school soccer. (No option for Ebbsfleet United…yet. There is even a “Non-Sport” category for movies, music and television, although this […]

    Pingback by ICast, YouCast, we all scream on YouCastr « Sportsbiztech | March 2, 2008 | Reply


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