21/11/2007

Whose Club? My Club?

With many new owners coming into the English game, either on a strictly for profit plan (such as the American buy-outs of Liverpool and Manchester United) or for who knows what motive (as at Chelsea and Manchester City), the question of who owns football clubs has never been more openly debated. Platini has seen fit to comment on this as well, although he has said nothing specific, just added to a general paranoia against foreigners. The most intriguing change in ownership is that of Blue Square Conference club Ebbsfleet United, (previously known as Gravesend and Northfleet). It has been agreed that a 51% share in the club will be bought by the web site, Myfootballclub.co.uk, when the deal has gone throw, the members of the web site will effectively own the club. However, the intention is not just to have these shareholders appointing the executive as generally happens with limited companies. Instead they will have a say, via on-line polls into every aspect of running the club, including the choice of the team each Saturday. At least 20,000 people have signed up, paying £35 each for the privilege, (with 21% going on administration costs, I think the web site owner is making a small fortune somewhere along the line).

Many of the existing support are not surprisingly suspicious of the deal, while I think the administration probably see this as £500,000 of new money, with an idea that will soon be forgotten, leaving them to run the club much as before. (Ebbsfleet may also be considered a poor choice by some of the people who have bought in – the original aims of the site said a club capable of reaching the Premiership, with Leeds United topping the members poll of clubs to approach).

I cannot guess who this one will work out, but I will keep an eye on it and report back later.