Fans' community website MyFootballClub has agreed a deal to take over Blue Square Premier outfit Ebbsfleet United.
It looks like the deal of a lifetime, pay £35 plus a £7.50 administration fee, and you are now a joint owner of a football club. The website was created to take power away from Russian and American billionaires buying up all the big clubs, and give power back to the fans. 'Owners' will get a vote in all major affairs, including transfers and team selection.
When the news about this website first broke, I thought about joining. However, I decided not to, due to the following reasons :
1. The £35 is not an investment, but a membership fee. It's payable annually. And if the club is sold in the future, you don't get anything out of it, proceeds would be given to a charity with similar objects. All profits are reinvested in the club, and dividends are not paid out. If I wanted to manage a football club, I'd head over to play.com and buy a computer game, and save myself 10 quid.
2. At the time, they were dreaming about buying Leeds or Halifax, or some other 'big' club. I thought this was unrealistic.
However, now they've gone ahead and agreed in principle to buy a club, it's no longer a dream. Ebbsfleet is getting a lot of publicity as a result, and it's being hailed as a fan's revolution.
However, I seriously do not think it will work in practice. And here are the reasons why :
- The manager has effectively been demoted to head coach. He will give his thoughts on players, their form and fitness, as well as possible selections and tactics. Members will then submit their preferred 11, formation and tactics. A database will calculate the most popular choice. This will be handed to The Head Coach to instigate. So 50,000 people will pick the team? How is this going to work? Every man and his dog feels they can manage a football club, listen to the radio show 606 on BBC Radio Five Live every week, and all you hear is how some bloke who plays Sunday League football thinks he can run Liverpool FC better than Mr. Benitez. Now imagine 50,000 people with a chance to prove their 'footballing prowness'. And what happens when it's 60 minutes, the team is losing one nil and the manager needs to make a change to try and win the game? Does he need to wait for a vote to do that? Ian Holloway, Plymouth manager thinks the whole thing is a joke.
- And what happens in the transfer window? All members are to vote on potential transfers. Will all members be given all the confidential information about a transfer? (The transfer fee, the agent's fee, and wages) But most importantly, as David Sullivan, the co-owner of Birmingham city points out here, transfers are done at light speed.
"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,Virtually every transfer deal has to be done at tremendous speed because other clubs are going to be interested.
"We have jumped in at transfer deadlines, buying players that were going elsewhere. We have got hold of players that were en route to one club and brought them to Birmingham.
"Middlesbrough beat us to signing a player in Turkey this summer. "
"A few years ago Craig Bellamy was coming to us and Celtic jumped in and got him and derailed the transfer."
Enough said. Voting on transfers will never work in real life.
- We have leaders for a reason. You can't have everyone taking decisions at the same time. It will be a recipe for pure chaos.
Having said all that, I guess with the right men in the right places it can all fall in place, it will be a massive success, and soon fans will be buying clubs all over the country. Only time will tell.