Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Who's Football Club?

Most of you will probably remember the little bit of investigation that I undertook on the subject of the My Football Club take-over of Ebbsfleet United towards the end of last year. Well, I thought that it was time for a quick update on how things were progressing for this peculiar little exercise in "fan" ownership. At the time of my last piece on the subject, the take-over of Ebbsfleet United seemed to be just about imminent. It would appear that the situation now is just about the same as it was then. The site has accumulated another 5,000 or so members (thanks, no doubt, to the mass of media interest when the news of which club it would be was made public), but they don't appear to be much closer to having confirmed their take-over.

Now, you may well think that this is not particularly important. After all, it's very important to carry out the due diligence required to ensure that they're not buying a turkey. However, we're now a third of the way through January, and it would appear that any purchase is unlikely to be completed before the end of the January transfer window. The directors of Ebbsfleet have reportedly confirmed that they will put their hands in their pockets themselves to buy any players that the club needs before the end of the transfer window, but there can be little doubt that MyFC members will have no say in the players signed by the club until the summer, at the very least. Arguably more worrying for MyFC members is the lack of communication from the people running the whole venture. The forum is still up and running, but the last "diary" update on the front page of the site is dated the 25th of December and reads as follows:

"I hope you excuse a shorter than usual Diary entry. There’s a limit to how much “nearly there” talk anyone can take.

As you can imagine, much work took place over Christmas. Both last week and this have been extremely busy too.

The good news is, I’m very confident this will be the last-ever pre-takeover Diary. Due Diligence is a whisker away from becoming Done & Dusted."

Turning our attention to matters on the pitch, Ebbsfleet are still having a decent time of it on the pitch. They are currently in eighth place in a very competitive Conference table, and have won both of their last two league matches against Weymouth and Grays Athletic by four goals to one. However, anybody that assumed that they would be cashing in on all of the publicity generated by the MyFC circus would be mistaken. Crowds at Stonebridge Road are down on average this season, from an average of 1,165 last season to an average of 1.016 so far this season. They may have made enough money from extra merchandise sales to have covered this gap (although it's also worth pointing out that the MyFC shop still only stocks MyFC merchandise, and nothing relating to Ebbsfleet United FC) but, in a league in which match day revenue provides the majority of a club's funding, these look like worrying figures. Moreover, it would be worth reminding MyFC members getting excited about the possibility of bringing Kaka to Stonebridge Road that the Conference has a salary cap based on the average two seasons' turn-over, meaning that they will be limited to their current wage bill in terms of any higher wages that they may be hoping to be able to pay.

So, we can surmise that it is highly unlikely that any take-over by Ebbsfleet United by MyFC is unlikely to take place before the end of the January transfer window. Leaving aside any moral considerations on this subject (and I think I've made my opinions on that pretty clear in the past), the question that remains is this: If I was a member of MyFC and had faithfully forked out my £35 in the summer, what exactly have I got for my money, so far?


Joe said...

Hey...I meant to send you this photograph in case you were ever doing another Myfootballclub/ Ebbsfleet kind of story. I think it illustrates the disturbingly far-reaching nature of the phenomenon- I took it in an underpass in Norwich. Here's a link to it on Flickr- hope it works...


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