Friday, January 23, 2015

23 January 2008 - Football By The People, For The People

On 23 January 2008, the members of MyFootballClub--an online community of football supporters--voted to approve the purchase of Ebbsfleet United, thus becoming the first internet-based group to own a football club.

The brainchild of former football journalist Will Brooks, MyFootballClub ("MyFC" for short) launched on 26 April 2007 for the express purpose of purchasing a club. With an annual membership fee of £35, Brooks estimated that it would take 50,000 members to generate enough revenue to launch a takeover bid for a club. They quickly reached that number, with over 53,000 members by the end of July. The membership is multinational, coming from over 70 countries.

A number of clubs approached MyFC for a purchase deal, including Halifax Town, Mansfield Town, and Leigh RMI. But on 13 November 2007, MyFC announced that they had agreed in principle to purchase fifth-tier Ebbsfleet United for the price of £635,000. The purchase was put to the MyFC members for a vote in January 2008. Although only 50% of the votes were required to approve the purchase (with no quorum requirement), 17,368 members out of 18,112 participating voters favored the sale--an approval rate of 95.89%.

Initially, all club decisions, including sales, purchases, contracts, and even team selection, were decided by majority vote of the MyFC members, but the group later voted to leave team selection to the manager. The format appeared to work, as Ebbsfleet went on to win the 2008 FA Trophy in May. The club struggled in 2008-09, however, and were relegated in 2010 and have since bounced between the Conference Premier and Conference South.

Suffering from declining membership and increasing debts, MyFC sold their interest in Ebbsfleet in May 2013. They do not currently own a team, but do sponsor Slough Town FC.

Since MyFC launched, similar groups have formed, both in the UK and elsewhere.

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