Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Raphael Nade for Ebbsfleet Utd (v Altrincham), 20 October 2007
We have touched on this subject before, but today MyFootballClub agreed to buy a controlling stake in Blue Square Premier side Ebbsfleet United.
You probably know the premise - an annual membership fee of £35 gets you a stake in a club and input on all major decisions affecting the club and the team.
I know there are those readers who have signed up to this venture, and earlier today ST asked me whether he thought CUAS should get involved at the start, or whether I thought the idea preposterous.
Let me answer that very simply: I think this whole escapade is utterly ridiculous.
Your £35 gets you, for example, a vote on team selection and tactics. The head coach (former Republic of Ireland international Liam Daish, by the way) will make notes on form and fitness, but it's ultimately the members that decide the starting XI.
Brilliant. Let armchair punters with no idea whatsoever decide who plays. Anyone know who plays at right-back for Ebbsfleet United? Or, indeed, who their reserve right-back is? No, thought not. How, then, is one supposed to make any sort of informed decision about who to pick bar the coaching staff who work with them on a daily basis?
Suppose, for example, Ebbsfleet tie up a deal to sign Lee Sharpe which is approved by the members. With no disrespect to the fella, he's probably not that fit these days and a shadow of the once great winger he was (some would say that was true at any point after he left Man United.) If he's on the selection list for 53,000 ignorant punters to pick from, he'll get picked, won't he? Even if the incumbent left winger is a 19 year old genius in the making.
Malcolm Bigcock. He'll get a game every week for one reason alone.
And what happens when they are 2-0 down at half time? Is there a text-based vote? "Text the name of the player you want replaced to 81193".
And then there's the second season. 53,000 people paid their £35 in ignorance of which club was chosen. Ebbsfleet were unveiled today, they fail to improve on their 9th place in the Blue Square Premier and it rolls around to next August. The novelty wears off, a few thousand can't be bothered, a few thousand more don't like the choice of club. Bang goes the income - and then what?
The website says it will "inspire players - having the backing of tens of thousands of members will be the ultimate motivation." Until of course you play a blinder one week and are dropped the next because a few thousand people in Chicago or Aberystwyth fancy the other player in your position because the internet tells them so. Not that inspiring then, eh?
Well, Ebbsfleet fans, I feel for you. Having your club poached from under your nose in nothing more than a giant publicity stunt, and your team chosen by people whose sole experience of this sort of thing is taking Rushden and Diamonds to the Premiership on Championship Manager must be galling.
I just don't get it. A head coach and coaching staff taking training on a day to day basis whilst completely unqualified and ignorant people get to decide the starting XI just because they paid for the club. If I were coming up with a blueprint for a successful club, Hearts and Chelsea wouldn't be the first two I'd pick.....