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D-Day approaches for MyFC and Ebbsfleet

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A year to the day this Thursday internet site MyFootballClub.co.uk completed their takeover of Ebbsfleet United but any anniversary celebrations are likely to be muted as the club desperately needs members to renew their subscriptions ahead of this week’s deadline.

While the past 12 months has delivered a number of landmarks and one piece of silverware in the form of the FA Trophy, February 19th 2009 will arguably be one of the biggest dates in their history. If not enough MyFC members renew their subscription – which is an increasingly likely scenario – then Ebbsfleet could be in serious trouble.


The MyFC takeover

When MyFC announced its intentions to take over Ebbsfleet it was meant with no small amount of fanfare. Media outlets rushed to hail it as a historic first – a victory for fan power. There was bullish talk from MyFC members about their ambitions to take the club into the league, and the whole concept was painted as a different way to the corporate moneymen of the Premier League.

The concept was simple and, to those fans growing weary of the Premier League or fans of Football Manager or both, instantly appealing. Members would pay £35 to join MyFC. That cash would then go towards first buying and then funding a team. Members would get the opportunity to vote on all key issues from financial budgets to picking the team.

This last aspect was MyFC’s biggest selling point. Here was a chance to make fantasy football become a reality. The manager would be doing the fans’ bidding. It was pure democracy, theoretically, in a football club. To help members, the MyFC website would be equipped with videos, stats and other tool to help far away members make informed decisions.

What was actually taking place in Kent was somewhere more complex than the picture painted above (and continues to be so). Ebbsfleet’s then directors were struggling. Although the team was doing well in the Conference and pushing for a playoff spot, the club itself was in serious need of a cash injection to keep it going.

The club had already gone through a rebranding – from Gravesend and Northfleet to Ebbsfleet – in order to take advantage of the new town planned around the Eurostar terminal in Kent, but without major investment, the directors had, at best, taken the club as far as it could go. At worst, the club would struggle to make it beyond the summer. Enter MyFC.

The reaction among the Fleet faithful was a complete mixture. Some welcomed MyFC with open arms and immediately signed up. Others, knowing the club needed investment, gave it a cautious welcome.

Another group reacted angrily to the takeover – their main grievances were they had never been consulted and were worried that a large group who of people who would rarely be able to watch Fleet games in person would be picking the team with little or no knowledge or what they were doing.

But there was no stopping the momentum and at the start of 2008, just over 18 thousand MyFC voted to pay £600,000 to take over Ebbsfleet. Fan power had arrived in Kent.

Successes and milestones

In the short-term, MyFC appeared to be success after success. The site had around 20,000 members when it first announced its intention to buy Ebbsfleet. Pretty soon that had risen to over 30,000. At its peak, the site had over 32,000 members.

Soon after, Ebbsfleet’s manager Liam Daish, wrote to the members thanking them for their support and, while sounding some understandable notes of caution, noted that the MyFC cash had enabled the club to improve their training facilities and equipment.

That extra cash clearly paid off and Ebbsfleet finished the season on a high. They may have just missed out on a playoff spot, but they reached the final of the FA Trophy. Around 26,000 Fleet fans – old and new – packed Wembley to watch them defeat Torquay United 1-0 and take the trophy.

It was a historic moment in Fleet’s history, although, again, the talk of fan power in the media was somewhat over-egged. The cash from MyFC had given Ebbsfleet a much-needed financial boost, meaning they could continue to push for honours. But much of the credit for the win had to go to Liam Daish and his team, most of whom were already at the club when MyFC took over. It was Daish, not the fans, who picked the team and it was Daish and the old board who’d brought most of the team together.

Nonetheless, the Trophy win saw a surge of new members and new milestones. Members voted to freeze season ticket prices in May and in June members again voted on the playing budget. One month later, MyFC members and Fleet fans grouped together to raise the £20,000 needed to sign striker Michael Gash from Cambridge City.

More was the follow. At the end of the August transfer window, MyFC members voted to sell teenage striker John Akinde to Bristol City for £150,000 – the first time fans had voted in a major transfer dealing. Then, in January, the fans voted again on another transfer dealing – this time to buy defender Darius Charles from Brentford for £25,000.

These, then, are the successes. But behind them all lies a worrying apathy with the MyFC process. For all the milestones passed with the votes, the numbers actually logging on to register their opinions are worryingly low, and this is reflected in the low membership renewal rate ahead of the deadline. And the fans still haven’t voted to pick the team. Yet.

Number crunching

The number of MyFC members voting gives something of a clue as to why the site is struggling with renewals. Remember, MyFC has roughly 30,000 members, and while it’s understandable that there won’t be a 100% turnout for every vote, some of the numbers are surprisingly low.

Last year’s vote to approve the takeover of Ebbsfleet saw 18,112 of the 30,000 members vote on the issue, with over a third not bothering to register an opinion on the first and most important vote in the site’s history.

The vote on season ticket prices had 6,765 members voting while 5,482 voted to confirm the playing budget for this season. The Akinde transfer did a little better with 7,452 members voting (82.3% said yes) while around 3,000 voted on whether or not the club should buy Darius Charles or not.

But one vote that didn’t get quite as much publicity was when the match-by-match vote ahead of the postponed Wrexham game last month on whether Liam Daish or the MyFC members should pick the team saw a difference of just 38 votes on the issue. The total number of votes cast was 492, of which 265 voted for Daish and 227 voted for MyFC members.

This meant that just 1.6% of the MyFC membership voted on this issue of team selection and the decision to let the fans pick the squad could have been decided by just 0.8% of the total membership.

The numbers, then do not look good for Ebbsfleet, especially when renewals are taken into consideration. It’s a little difficult to give be exactly certain at this point in time on how many members Ebbsfleet will have for next season, especially as there may be a late surge between the time of writing (Sunday) and the deadline on Thursday but the figures are roughly along these lines:

In the last ten day to seven days, there were roughly 3,400 who had renewed their membership for another year or longer. There are also around 4,300 members who don’t need to renew on February 19th because they either signed up after this date last year or signed up for more than one year. But either way, the money from this latter group will have either been spent or budgeted for.

Add on extra renewals over the previous few days and taking into account a late surge of renewals, the number of MyFC members for its second year in charge of Ebbsfleet probably will be somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000.

To make Ebbsfleet sustainable over the next year, the hierarchy has said they need around 15,000 to renew (although this isn’t clear if this includes members who signed up for more than one year or post-Feb 19th 2008 members). Whichever way you look at it, there’s going to be a shortfall of anywhere between 5,000 and 11,000 members. And that will mean serious problems for Fleet’s bank balance.

A bank balance for the Stonebridge Road club is somewhat difficult to find but the general consensus appears to be that the club isn’t that healthy and needs extra money. The club has enough cash-flow to keep going but there is a deficit.

A rough estimate of the club’s annual losses stands at around £800,000, with the wage bill being around £150,000. Working on an rough assumption that MyFC will have around 9,000 members after February 19th, 5,000 of which will be paying their £35 for another year, that means MyFC’s total income from membership renewal will be around £175,000, which will be just enough to cover the wage bill and a bit more.

To put this is perspective, if all MyFC members were suddenly to renew tomorrow, the income would be around £910,000.

Why the drop?

It’s worth noting that the above figures don’t take into account additional income from things like sponsorship and gate receipts, and in the latter area Ebbsfleet are doing quite nicely. They’re one of the few clubs to post a rise in average attendances, which are up by just over 20% to 1306. Given that Fleet are struggling in the Blue Square Premier this season and doing much worse than expected, this is an impressive achievement and one that can probably be put down to MyFC.

But it’s a small piece of light in what will, as likely, be a difficult coming 12 months for both Ebbsfleet and MyFC. The low voting numbers suggest they have a hardcore of somewhere between three to five thousand fans, not including the existing Ebbsfleet fans who’ve not joined.

Of these, few will be able to get to watch the team at Stonebridge Road on a regular basis. Nonetheless, Ebbsfleet have definitely attracted a new set of loyal followers. This is above average for the Conference.

But how much use these numbers will be remains to be seen. Most observers, and plenty involved with a club itself, expected a slight drop in membership numbers unless the team were doing exceptionally well, but this level of drop-off is higher than even some of the scheme’s biggest critics could have imagined.

It’s difficult to point to any exact reasons why the drop off has occurred but there are a number of factors that are likely to have influenced this. The current economic climate is an easy starting place and although £35 isn’t a lot of money, many people may decide it could be better spent elsewhere.

This also links to one of the problems that was flagged up when MyFC first purchased Ebbsfleet. Of the 30,000 who joined, few were likely to be existing Ebbsfleet supporters. The club itself is not the easiest place to get to if you live outside of Kent or London and the club itself was already established with its own history and supporters, many of whom didn’t ask for the takeover in the first place.

The MyFC project is not the same as other fan-run clubs like FC United and AFC Wimbledon who have literally built clubs from scratch, or Telford, whose supporters resurrected their collapsed club, or Stockport and Exeter, where the Supporters’ Trust dragged them back from the brink of liquidation. Instead, it is a group of general football fans with allegiances to other teams who’ve grouped together.

Although this has earned Ebbsfleet a good number of extra fans, there was always the danger than, for whatever reason, these fans – who had no connection to Fleet – would decide to cease their involvement. It’s easier to walk away from a project such as this than a team who’ve supported all your life.

Then there have also been issues with the way MyFC has been run. The Pick The Team option, which was a large point of MyFC’s initial selling point, didn’t appear until about seven months after the takeover went through, and even that required a vote asking them members if they wanted to pick the next game’s team.

Indeed, when the fans did come close to voting for this (albeit less than 1% of the total members) Ebbsfleet’s Chief Executive David Davis said: “”If that is what the members want, then we have to do it. Liam [Daish] has always said he hopes it never happens but if does we have to deal with it.”

There have been other issues about the amount of information MyFC members have had access to, while the existing Ebbsfleet fans have never quite taken the new arrivals to their collective hearts.

It may be one of these issues in particular that has had members electing not to renew, or it could be a combination of them, but they’ve all contributed to Fleet facing another potential funding crisis.

Going forward

For all Ebbsfleet’s current problems, it’s worth noting that it’s not all been a bad or even a complete failure, although it is increasingly looking less like a valid business model and more like an interesting if flawed experiment. The next year may well see MyFC significantly adjusting their model, aims and goals, assuming they survive.

MyFC’s cash injection last year was money that was vital for the future of the club and the Michael Gash transfer was proof of what could happen when the fans bonded together. MyFC also opened their gates for free for the recent FA Trophy clash with Swindon Supermarine as a gesture of goodwill towards all fans.

And it’s the more active MyFC members and the older Fleet fans who may be the future of the club if MyFC can’t sustain their investment beyond the next twelve months. The website has said in the past that if they do pull out, then they’ll pass control to the Supporters’ Trust, which would mean the fans really would own and control the club.

Comments (61)

  1. It was always going to ge a fad and, by definition, fads lose their appeal very quickly. The whole premise of fans picking a team was ridiculous in the first place.

    Another case of an over-hyped internet idea I’m afraid.

  2. If it fails, whose fault is it? The fans for not supporting their team?

    If it succeeds, who gets the credit? The people who thought of the idea in the first place?

    Something’s wrong with that logic…

  3. Unfortunately the whole “concept” which was sold has been diluted beyond belief, lack of information even as basic as managerial interviews and updates has ultimately led to the project being on its knees.

  4. It was a wonderful idea for the likes of Will Brooks, no one else.

    You must be mad to support such a project.

    Nothing more than a scam.

  5. You’ve also got to factor in, from the 30,000, how many paid their £35 because they hoped MyFC would buy *their* club. I seem to recall a poll of members where Leeds was the (obviously vastly unrealistic) choice of what to buy by about two to one…

    Proper community-run clubs (preferably by supporters trusts, in my opinion) with sensible budgets are the only way for football to sustain itself at this level, how many more of these wacky ideas and two-bit tycoons do we have to see and how many more clubs have to get smashed to pieces before people understand this?

    with ECFC in my heart ;)

  6. Quoting Bob – It was a wonderful idea for the likes of Will Brooks, no one else.

    That sums it up perfectly. For an ordinary member this is nothing more than a supporters club. We paid for a few people to live their dreams.

  7. It was a great idea, built on the back of the existing fans owned clubs, but it was implemented very badly. This article sums it up relatively well from a neutral point of view. However it should be said that the member base expected after Feb 19th (from MyFC’s own figures) is around 8,000 which is not enough to sustain the club in it’s present form (i.e. full time). This idea appears to have bought Ebbsfleet another year of staving off part time status, and nothing more.

  8. Excellent article.

    This was a great idea that was implemented very badly. Unfortunately, it lacks many of the democratic structures that were first promised. Even the board of MYFC are made up of 33% unelected people.
    The people with the power are the team that “runs” the website and moderates the fora. Their view is the only one tolerated and if you voice an opposing view, you will be warned of your unhelpful behaviour, or worse simply blocked from using the forums.
    A sad way to behave really

  9. I joined in August 2007 and after about 9 months resigned after being fed up with the Web team and the management who basically didn’t provide members with any information to make any decisions.

  10. Interesting article, shame about the comments made by sad muppets who maliciously seek the downfall of MyFC and Ebbsfleet United.

  11. I think it’s worth pointing out here that I definitely don’t want Ebbsfleet to get into serious difficulty. It’s a horrible situation for any fan when their club runs into financial difficulties that, often, the fans have little or no control over (and yes, I’d include Ebbsfleet’s fans in this).

    Although there’s always been the potential for MyFC to succeed (we had nothing to compare it against, really) there have always been a number of questions or potential pitfalls, which are now coming to the fore. I certainly didn’t expect the problems listed above to occur quite this quickly.

    But, whatever the inetions behind the site, it certainly seems there have been more than a few dissatisfied customers.

    What happens to MyFC now is interesting and somewhat worrying. What happens to Ebbsfleet is doubly so. If – and I stress this is an if – MyFC fails then hopefully the Supporters’ Trust can be given a chance to salvage the club.

    If it fails… well, I don’t think you can blame the fans. Certainly not the Ebbsfleet fans who didn’t ask for the takeover and haven’t joined the project.

  12. **the existing Ebbsfleet fans have never quite taken the new arrivals to their collective hearts**

    What a massive generalisation. Did you seek out EUFC fans to canvas opinion? Did you weigh up a majority number to come to that conclusion? On matchdays there is a huge amount of rapport and mingling between original fans and MyFC members. Initially I was of the opinion that the two groups would never mix, but now I get along famously with the locals.

  13. Best article on the net today. The MyFC Website is a total shambles, their IT expertise a bit of a misnomer. Its all going down the tubes, anyone renewing would need their head examining! I won’t be.

  14. I think the trolls might be getting carried away here.8000 members is enough to remain full time due to the financial prudence of the society and the increase of other revenues secured by our CEO. A CEO who was appointed following a full vote and discussion amongst the membership.The site has facilitated many things within the local community including adopting a local charity and negotiating a deal with nike to supply kits free of charge to the youth teams. It has, in the first year, put in place a structure for members to have input democratically via a voting committee through whom any member can ask other members to sanction their proposal. The site has had a free entrance match recently and today announced that all home games will be beamed live to overseas members.Members initiatives include player purchases and voting for player sales.

    The drop off of membership in year 1 was always going to be disproportionately large due to a number of factors outside the control of the club and/or society. But one thing is for sure – MYFC is clearly a success story in a world of footballing greed and it will remain a success for many years to come.

  15. Sean, your dreaming mate, 8,000 renewals means the club will run out of money by the end of this season, don’t forget the bills, £125k oweb to Moneybags Kilcullen, another £40k to his Fleet Group Development who appear to be allowed a free hand in running up a bill the members want to look at but the Society Board are ignoring. Dream on, Ebbsfleet will be playing down the local rec this time next year!

  16. Unfortunately what is happening here is people using fake names to refect real people in MyFC, nothing more than troublemakers who are upset they didn’t get their own way about everything for 35 quid and are still sore about it.

    Come on people, if a taxi driver fleeced you out of 35 quid, would you spend the next year setting up forums in an attempt to bring him down?

    Wise up, it’s not like someone’s made off with millions and taken the shirt off your back and the windows from your home, is it?

  17. Everything is budgeted as you clearly know – and revenue streams have been vastly increased by the CEO [ good appointment vote by the members I feel :)]. Maybe we can meet in May after our annual trip to Wembley for the cup ? :)

  18. I love this concept and have already signed up for a second year.

  19. Ill-researched, biased and illogical. Wonderful journalism (as long as facts aren’t your thing).

  20. Ebbsfleet is in a better position than people realise. The club is debt free, a rare thing in the conference. The annual losses are less than half what is claimed here. Conference clubs are always fairly close to big trouble, but EUFC aren’t on a knife edge, unlike several other clubs at our level (Weymouth’s players haven’t been paid this year). MYFC hasn’t been an unmitigated success, but it sure hasn’t failed yet either. After Feb 19th when the remainder are more hardcore MYFCers it would seem likely that the atmosphere of MYFC will change, likely for the better.

    And the person impersonating Leyton (a member of the MYFC WT) above me should stop being a coward and use his own name (or username, if he prefers).

  21. @11. *sigh* Look, not every Ebbsfleet fan has taken MyFC to their hearts. Some have, some haven’t. The MyFC fans that turn up on a regular basis to games and have really got behind the team, yes that perhaps may not be the most accurate sentiment. So, yes, point accepted. There’s greater integration than there was at the beginning, although I still get the impression that there’s a bit of unease.

    Anyway, that’s just one (very) small point in an area of much more serious implications.

    @13. MyFC & Ebbsfleet have definitely had some successes, which I’ve listed. But I think it’s too early to genuinely call it a success or even a failure. I’m not sure a drop off of over 2/3rds of the membership is exactly a success. But I have tried to highlight the positives (many of which you’ve repeated) and the negatives, of which the financial situation is definitely one of them.

    But 8000 is enough to remain full-time? Are you sure? Everything that has come out of the club / MyFC so far has indicated that 15,000 is the minimum needed. The maths, as far as I can tell, indicates there’s a massive drop off and potential shortfall if only 8000 renew, so are there any back-up plans in place?

  22. ‘Come on people, if a taxi driver fleeced you out of 35 quid, would you spend the next year setting up forums in an attempt to bring him down?’

    So the members were fleeced?!? Enough said.

  23. Good Article.

    I have been ‘standing on the sidelines’ for the past 12 months with MyFootballClub and think that the idea is great. A few idea have been short-sited on the site but if MyFootballClub will suceed, giving up now is not an option. An idea like this requires time, a good 3-4 season, 30,000 internet members can not change a football club around in just 12 months.

  24. @19. Yes, very good points. You’re definitely in a much healthier position than several other Conference sides, that’s for sure. But there’s got to be a concern, say, that in another 12 months you’re going to go through this again. If the annual losses are less (and that wouldn’t surprise me) then that’s all well and good. I do worry about their long-term financial future though.

    And yes, I completely agree about anonymity. It does nobody any favours and makes everything a bit childish.

    Let’s hope that it is enough to sustain MyFC and Ebbsfleet although the huge difference in finances between year one and year two is… well, massively worrying.

    @18. If it’s such a bad article, care to correct the facts you think are wrong rather than sitting at a computer and making a snide one-line comment?

  25. Sean if you voted for the CEO you must be on the board cos no one else did.

  26. Gary (good on you to respond by the way), let me be the first to thank you for the two-sidedness of this article. As a MYFC member we rarely see an article which even tries to weigh up the pros and cons. So for that, thank you.

    As for the long term, you have a point, up to a point. 8000 may not be enough to keep going as before, but it isn’t an insignificant number. I don’t forsee this happening again in 12 months time. I suspect that numbers will stabilise somewhere around where they end up on Feb 20th for the next 2 or 3 years, assuming the project doesn’t collapse instantly (which as we agree, isn’t that likely). Certainly a £400K a year loss, or £800K, or even £200K is an issue, and not sustainable (we may not be in debt, but we haven’t got great cash reserves either). However I see everything moving in the right direction in this respect. As you say gate receipts are rising, we are having another good cup run (which Wrexham may wreck at the weekend) and Liam Daish has kept wage costs below the cap we set for him.

    I predict (don’t quote me on this!) that Year 1 was a trying out year, we learnt lots of our limitations, lots of people were inevitably disappointed (I was almost one of them). Year 2 will be a transition year, the relationship between EUFC and MYFC will change, as will out plans and probably the workings of MYFC itself. Assuming this happens in the first 6-9 months of the year, towards the end things will really be achieved, and the ‘Golden Age’ will begin. This (despite the name) will not all be perfect, but will be sustainable. I think in 5 years MYFC will still exist, in a different model to now, but a similar one to in 12 months time, its the period in 9 months – 5 years I’m looking forward too.

    Quincel

  27. I think the article is actually quite balanced. Its a shame that MyFC though has fallen into so much acrimony but there are two sides to every story.

    What is a bigger shame is the childishness of both sides posting comments under assumed identities and taking gleeful pleasure over something that is really very serious.

    Whatever your views on MyFC why can’t you post comments honestly under your own names?

  28. Oh, and to address a point I kind of missed (this should be added to the end of my second para): Conference sides have a way of surviving. I trust the club staff to work with us and find a way to manage the losses (whatever they are, we aren’t in profit that’s for sure) until we can break even. Things like selling Akinde even. We may not like it, but short time unsustainable actions until we break even I suspect will keep us going.

  29. To Gordon: I personally believe strongly in internet anonymity, but only as far as people should have a new identity. I don’t want people to be able to track, find or do anything to me personally in ‘real life’ from the internet. I do however take responsibility for Quincel online, and feel it is childish for people to impersonate and hide behind that form of anonymity. Think of Quincel as a persona of mine, anonymous but known as an entity in itself, thus contingent.

  30. Some people expected miracles to happen in year 1 – totally unrealistic. Rome wasn’t built in a day and this is a marathon, not a sprint. Up the Fleet! xx

  31. To Quincel, I guess I agree with you and I would include well known MyFC Usernames as being “Identities”.

    Just that some people should use their own, not someone elses. Good points though Quincey :)

  32. This persistent trolling is destroying what in truth is a decent, balanced article. Kudos to you Gary and shame on some of the people commenting.

  33. Darter/UU/Looseringpiece and others screwed a quiet forum and now ant to screw MYFC

    Give us our club back

    I will not let you win

  34. This is a great venture and has been a fine adventure. The only downside is the amount of cretins it attracted. Fortunately they went off and created their own little forum, as sad and lonely as that is. Now if only they can keep to themselves and leave the rest of us who are happy alone, everything will be great. Surely there’s a nursery school or something they can have a go at?

  35. “Come on people, if a taxi driver fleeced you out of 35 quid, would you spend the next year setting up forums in an attempt to bring him down?

    Wise up, it’s not like someone’s made off with millions and taken the shirt off your back and the windows from your home, is it?”

    I wouldn’t say it’s the same as a taxi driver ‘fleecing’ you, more the driver taking you a route that you didn’t want to go by.

    You’re right about it not being as bad as ripping off loads of people, many who were elderly or who had young children, for thousands of pounds at a time, leaving them with nothing but an empty whole where a window should be…. Very little is sadder and nastier than that. Someone who’d do that deserves nothing but contempt along with those who chose to be used by him

  36. I am upset that there is no PTT

    Gash is shit

    We could have got three good players for 20 grand

    And with all this money , why arent we in the market for Defoe

  37. Gash, last month’s player of the month Gash?

    I wouldn’t say he’s shit. He definitely has his ups and downs, but I don’t think we’ve seen the best from him, now will we all the time people play to his head rather than to his feet

  38. They’re tagline? Own the club and pick the team. They’re primary selling points? Pick the team and vote on major decisions and get to watch games for free online. It’s all on their website folks.

    But when the real owners – the people running the show, pulling the strings – the MyFC team – steadfastly refuse to deal with any concerns of the shareholders – and continue to push their year-old marketing spiel without updating it to advice future ‘buyers’ that they’re not going to find what they’re being promised (it’s called being honest and transparent as opposed to knowingly misleading your customers) – that just makes me wonder their original motives.

    Perhaps they really did believe in the idea of a fan-owned club. Or as the cynics would say, they just wanted to own a club and thought they would use other people’s money and get rich in the process. Whatever the case, this much is for sure – the customer service for MyFC is not only unacceptable, it is virtually non-existent. The lack of respect shown towards the average shareholder (and the members as a whole) by the MyFC team borders on idiotic incompetence.

    Sure, football fans are idiots and can be strung along by any variety of promises, and the MyFC team are under no (legal) obligation to clarify their position / be truthful, but at this point it feels like just any other scam where this time innocent and naive football fans are being taken for a ride, and mainstream media is just helping them along the way.

  39. Some really interesting comments on here and plenty of different points of view.

    @25 Quincel, what you’ve said is really interesting, especially given that you think there will be a MyFC five years down the line (and there seems to be a bit of thought behind that line of, er, thinking). If (and, again, this is an if) you can make it through this round of renewals and the next 12 months without things going seriously wrong… well, things may just work.

    It’s a big if though. Your financial situation, as far as I can tell, isn’t anywhere near as bad as the perennial crisis clubs (Weymouth, Northwich and latterly Lewes) and you’re probably in a much healthier place than, say, Bournemouth. But the drop off and the much reduced income from renewals combined with expenditure and a recession… well, it’s not a pretty combination, that’s for sure.

    MyFC definitely needs modifiying though. It’s a bit of a Catch 22 though – without the PTT and voting USP MyFC probably wouldn’t have attracted as many members. But then the PTT and voting issue has probably been not just an Achilles heel but a whole darn leg’s worth of problems and would be better off being dropped. But then that removes the USP.

    As a general @ and follow on:

    It’s clear MyFC, structurally, has a fair few problems and the organisation and ideals, more so than anything on the pitch, could probably do with sorting out (like I say, I think to currently call MyFC a success would be stretching the definition – give it another 4 or 5 years and, if the concept is still going, the re-evaluate what the project has achieved).

    Hopefully I’ve managed to convey the positives (and there have been some) and the not-so-positives (of which the finances definitely come into that category). It’s certainly not a question of MyFC good or bad. It’s a lot more complex than that, although if it did have to be summed up in a sentence, it’d probably be something like “Nice idea in theory, jury’s still out on the practice.”

    BTW, as a quick aside, I do welcome any factual corrections in the comments (although it obviously gives them more credence if you provide links, etc, although I recognise that’s not always possible).

  40. Good article Gary – conveys a nice balanced approach without the sometimes ludicrous and in most cases unnecessary hyperbole of posters from both sides of the argument above.

    Of course MyFC is barely the model that many signed up for at the start but to think it’s all a conspiracy and a dictatorship is a little too paranoid in my opinion. It is diluted and I think the running of a football club with so many existing pre-MyFCers in place (including the management and the bulk of the playing squad) has been part of the cause of that.

    Yes, we can shout WE ARE OWNERS, TELL THEM WHAT TO DO. Not so easy in the flesh I suspect while trying to run a football club at the best of times. I think MyFC will limp through, evolve and come back stronger in Year 3 when it has more of an idea what it is and what it wants to be (shaped by the remaining members).

    Perhaps it will even take the Fleet to go part-time and drop a division in order to regroup and build a more coherent and financially structured approach to life in the BSP. A measure of PTT or certainly a more involved running in the club will come I think as MyFC establishes itself at the club and the existing hierachy and coaching staff inevitably depart over time – they have held sway, certainly I believe Liam Daish is a figure with a lot of clout (the Fergie of the Fleet!) and it’s almost as if MyFC needs to wipe the slate clean and, like the Fleet, build from a level down.

  41. Interesting post, especially as much of the launch coverage has died down.

    It would be really interesting to look in-depth at the structure of MyFC – especially to see how participation is recognised and rewarded. Getting a crowd of people together to be productive is a lot more difficult than it can appear, whether it’s Wikipedia, MyFC or a group of mates trying to do something fun…

    I hope MyFC can keep evolving and improving, especially since I grew up down the road, because I think it offers a really interesting option for clubs…

  42. According to MyFC, they’re aiming to raise £500,000 in ‘Year Two’ and as of 18 February they had raised £168,000.

  43. I wanted to own the club, not be a member, and thats why I wont be renewing my membership, simple as that really..

    and btw, good article, but you missed that bit out about why people may not be renewing..

    Good luck ebbsfleet in the future, well except this weekend as wrexham is my local club..

  44. I hope that all those that signed up saying that they were is this for the long haul keep to their promise,if they do not,they will be letting down the the faithful who stood by and watched myfc takeover the fleet…DO NOT LET US DOWN KEEP TO YOUR WORD…RENEW NOW..

  45. Own The Club , Pick The Team

    Lets disect it

    Own The Club= MYFC own 75% of EUFC
    Pick The Team= MYFC chooses which method to pick the team.

    Both promises fulfilled.

    If you dont like the truth the go start up your own club. Oh some of you are

  46. MyFC and EUFC is a great journey and i’m proud to be a part of it. I renewed for four years.

  47. I’ve renewed without hesitation. I’ve had a year of fun as a football club owner and it only cost me £35! I even enjoyed digging more cash out of my pocket to support some of the special projects throughout the year – beginning with the purchase of decent kit for training.

    I know some people felt let down over the Pick the Team issue, but we have seen disaster strike in much bigger clubs where the owner tries to dictate team selection. We are owners and not managers!

  48. Well I was a member of this project. I won’t renew my subscription (like most of the members). Reasons are obvious, Will Brooks got into that and got a hefty share of cash, while the others have been tricked. We were supposed to have a say in everything, yet little was disclosed to us as everything was done under a veil of secrecy. Most of the members would accept Liam’s squad, however we never got a chance to do so, even in a friendly game. We tried to build worldwide scouting for example, but didn’t get any actual support. Soon our opinions didn’t count at all, hence the hundreds of BANNED members of the myfc forum.

    It isn’t the 35 pounds that we had to pay. We earn this amount of money in an hour of work. We spend time in this project, yet it was wasted. Maybe we’ll find another team now :)

  49. I don’t feel tricked. It’s more a case of finding out what will work and what won’t. I was attracted by the idea of selecting the team. I soon realised that I just couldn’t spend enough time online getting the information I would need to make any sort of sensible team selection week in week out. Especially since I only managed to see the team play once last season.

    I suspect if Andrew revived the worldwide scouting idea now, it would make progress, partly because better systems for dealing with new proposals have developed, and partly because it’s a great idea.

  50. £35 price of a night out or price of knowing you are helping “run”/”fund” a football club. I have loved my first year at the fleet and will renew before this year runs out. Also all the people making comments on this forum, come down to the ground and air your feelings, at least the gate takings will be up. Plus attending games will give you more of a moral standing to attack myfc as you are doing as arm chair pundit.

  51. £35.00 membership fee. The cost works out to be the equivalent of about a third of a pint of beer per week for the whole football season. I pay much more for breakdown cover for the car. It’s a good experiment. There are hard working members behind the scenes of MyFC that make it all happen. I thank them for their effort. Hopefully, MyFC will contune to flourish; albeit, if necessary with realistic and achievable goals. It would be interesting to know which club in the Blue square premier will actually break even or indeed make a profit this season.

  52. Reading the comments is absolutely fascinating here as there’s been a few insights and suggestions and others bits and bobs that I wouldn’t have thought about. This is why I love discussions like this. Keep them coming :)

    It’s quite interesting to see that the majority of those who’ve re-signed for another year seem to think MyFC will survive but in a different form from currently. This makes sense, I guess, given that the project probably is still finding its feet even after a year. If (and, sorry, I know I keep stressing the word if) MyFC does survive, it’ll be interesting to see exactly what format it’ll be in. Certainly going part-time for Ebbsfleet wouldn’t be the end of the world (Burton and Histon haven’t found being part-time too much of a problem).

    It still seems (and I’m taking overly hyperbolic comments on both sides on the argument on here with a small pinch of salt) though that there are issues that need to be thrashed out with the interactive element (although this has always struck me as one of MyFC’s greatest stumbling blocks anyway.

    A quick question to MyFC renewees though: what advantages do you think your model has over a Supporters’ Trust? Because that’s one of the greatest confusions I have over the whole project. Take out the more excessive voting elements (PTT, transfers, etc) and you’ve got a model that isn’t a million miles away from a trust model, albeit with some fairly significant differences in leadership. Have MyFC ever considered looking into bringing the Fleet ST on board? (This isn’t a criticism, it’s a genuine question – just view it as thinking aloud on my part).

    Also, I may have over-estimated the annual losses a bit – think it may be closer to £500,000 than £800,000 (although from what I’ve seen the latter figure is by no means unrealistic, but perhaps more along the lines of worst-case scenario).

  53. @49 Steve, I’m not exactly sure which clubs in the BSP will break even or make a profit, but at a rough guess (and this really is a rough guess), in descending order of likeliness:

    Altrincham
    Eastbourne
    Kettering
    Burton
    Histon

    Barrow and Kidderminster are possibles. Most of the others (maybe with one or two exceptions) will, I imagine, post losses. Quite a few of the BSP clubs are in very precarious or poor financial positions.

  54. I think the latter figure is the original budget without MYFC funds. Given that the clubs has performed better than expected and MYFC still exists (at least for now) the figure will be greatly reduced, I suspect somewhere in the 400K region. I now believe this is where the confusion arose.

    The question of a supporters trust is an interesting and at times agonising one for MYFC. I’d say the difference is in potential. MYFC can potentially do almost anything, we can sell players or buy them. We can PTT (though we choose not to, something that does mystify me somewhat). I guess much of the difference is that we are majority shareholders, but not all. We also have a potentially fairly bold structure. Any member can make a proposal. I could make a proposal, right now to sell or failing attempts fire Lance Cronin (I’m not planning to, Lance is awesome). If this proposal received sufficient support it would go to a vote. If it got a plurality of votes in support of it then a major squad member would be forced out of the club.

    Now I don’t intend to try this (despite what some media stories may suggest about us!) but in principle I could. And there are far-reaching proposals members have and will attempt. Transfer policies have been seen in the last year, we recently passed a transparency bill forcing the club to show us great detail on all contracts offered to it by third parties. I suspect if a ST did own a club, they wouldn’t operate on such a direct democracy setup. It may not really have locked into place in year 1, but member empowerment is coming along and has the potential to reach huge levels.

  55. @43

    Brian I dont own the club, MYFC own the club and no member has a share in MYFC. therefore I, and all other members don’t own the club..

    I wanted to own the club, even the MYFC logo says “own the club” false advertising.

    I dont really care much about the pick the team section, I think that this cant really work in the real world.

    I also get emails asking me to vote on transfers, and doing this and that, but I feel that I dont have the right information, or enough information to be able to do this.

    I am sorry to say this, but I think MYFC are doomed to fail, as there will only be a core group that will be able to support this year on year, unless the 8000 that are members can turn up week by week..

  56. I can’t believe there have been 53 comments on this article and not one mention by the author or any commenters on what should be the main topic: the worldwide economic slowdown has altered everyone’s spending patterns. Even a year ago 35 quid to “own” your own football team was a neat novelty to those with a lot of extra income; now, with people losing their jobs, or at least being nervous about it worldwide, folks don’t have 35 quid lying around to do this.

    I’ve renewed my membership in MyFC, despite its flaws. It’s hard to it’s a complete failure when it allowed the team to get Gash and Charles – two players that wouldn’t be there without MyFC – and when the “downsides” are 100% based on lower numbers of voting members and what MIGHT happen.

  57. @54: Do you mean this bit in the Why The Drop section Chuck? :)

    “The current economic climate is an easy starting place and although £35 isn’t a lot of money, many people may decide it could be better spent elsewhere.”

    It’s definitely not a complete failure, although it’s far from a success. The coming weeks will be very interesting indeed.

    @52 Quincel, when I get a spare (long) moment, I’ll put a bit more on here on the Supporters’ Trust issue. One of the reasons I asked was because my team (Exeter) is fan-owned and, after some initial hiccups, it’s found quite a nice democratic structure of sorts.

    Also, if you do want to set a petition in motion to get rid of Cronin, we’ll happily have him :)

  58. I joined up to MyFC in the early days some months before Ebsfleet was ever mentioned as a potential target. I looked on excited as the drama of the acquisition unfolded and then waited excitedly to start to make some decisions for the club that I was a member of

    Then I watched on as all of the elements that made the project so exciting were gradually wittered away. It became a bit like animal farm, allmembers are equal but some are more equal than others.

    I stopped fooling myself that anyone had a say in anything beyond a select few. Opinions on the forums were restricted, any people with dissenting views were booted.

    Great idea, but a complete con!

  59. Interesting! I had no idea that there was so much interest in this. Many very well informed people on here too.

  60. I technically am still a member of this group. It was more a collection of lies and false promises than real football fans. The site exploited potential members using shody business tactics. When it fails, and it will, the people at fault will be those who lured us in at first, and then the fools who stood by as the “club” continued to midlead the public.

  61. I concur entire with dafydd (posts 43 and 55)…MYFC didn’t do what it said on the logo which is why I and a number of other friends and associates have dropped out. It may only be 35 quid but at no time did I ever “own the team”. Having said that it is possible to own a piece of several football teams for a very modest sum of money (Forfar Athletic and Queen of the South are two examples) where a subscription equivalent to 4 years at MYFC will get you a true share in the club not an annual subscription to a holding company.

    I posted on this issue a number of times on the MYFC website but never got a meaningful reply to my concerns.

    Like dafydd, I wish Ebbsfleet well in the future. If MYFC decide in the future to offer something in return for my £35 other than a subscription to a holding company then I’d reconsider my decision