Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fantasy Football? I OWN a football club: Ebbsfleet United

Fan website agrees club takeoverBy Alex Perry and John Sinnott

Fans' community website MyFootballClub has agreed a deal to take over Blue Square Premier outfit Ebbsfleet United.
The 20,000 MyFootballClub members have each paid £35 to provide a £700,000 takeover pot and they will all own an equal share in the club.
In a landmark for English football, members will vote on player selection, transfers and all major decisions.
"We are united in believing this is a great opportunity," Ebbsfleet chairman Jason Botley told BBC Sport.
"This extra finance and support will enable our club to progress."
The deal is expected to be completed in a few weeks after a due diligence process and the website will purchase a 51% controlling stake, while also having the option to buy the club outright in the future.
The takeover is unprecedented in English football, given the website's stated intention of involving the members so radically in the running of the club, particularly with team selection.
"Picking 11 players and formations isn't a precise science" Ebbsfleet boss Liam Daish
After the takeover goes through the current board will stay in place, as will manager Liam Daish, although his title will change to head coach.
Daish insisted that he was happy for fans to have an input on team matters.
"Picking 11 players and formations isn't a precise science and luck often plays its part," stated the Ebbsfleet boss.
"During and after matches, Ebbsfleet supporters often give me their opinion on which players should or shouldn't start games. Now they can have their say.
"My job won't change that much. As a club, we'll select the starting 11 players and formation together.
"But just as before, what goes on at the training ground and in the dressing room on the day of the match is down to me.
"It's the supporters' money that finances this club and pays my wages and those of the players.
"So there's a good argument for them having a say in what players they want to see."
Ebbsfleet were formerly Gravesend and Northfleet but the club's name was changed in May in a bid to tap into the regeneration of the area.
They are currently ninth in the Blue Square Premier, six points off a play-off place for entry to the Football League.

And Ebbsfleet's push for a spot in League Two will receive a boost as some of the funds raised by MyFootballClub members will be available in the January transfer window.
MyFootballClub members will be given the option to vote on who the club should buy.
Daish added that he was fully behind the radical model for the club.
"We all agree we need something extra to take us to the next step," he said.
"As a football fan, I think the MyFootballClub idea is fantastic.
"As the coach, I look forward to the challenge of working with thousands of members to produce a winning team.
"My assistant Alan Kimble and myself are 100% committed to making this work."
Since the website's launch in April, 50,000 members have signed up, with 20,000 of those paying the registration fee.
The membership subscription is paid annually so new members can join and become owners at any time, adding to the club's finances.
MyFootballClub was approached by nine clubs and looked into seven of those before opting to take over Ebbsfleet.
The Financial Services Authority has approved the setting up of the MyFootballClub Trust to safeguard members' interests in the eventuality of the club running into financial difficulties.

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