Monday, October 27, 2008

Online Shenanigans

In this month's edition of 'When Saturday Comes' was an interesting article about how nowadays not even a rich local could ever dream of buying his local football club with all of the overseas investment of multi billionaires. The writer also mentioned that the only possibility for those who had the chance of making millions could dream of was buying a local club and building them up, a bit like Rushden & Diamonds a few years ago. He also said that that wouldn't be fun because with more success, you'd get more fans and then have to put up with away fans coming and shouting stuff like 'where were you when you were shit?'. Well apart from being rather negative, I wonder why the writer never thought about plugging those football fans at

The idea which was hatched last year and was that people could buy a club online and for a subscription of £35 a year they could run the club and choose the team and vote on things like transfers. A wacky idea indeed, but it quickly gained momentum. The club that was bought were conference set up Ebbsfleet United, the club formerly known as Gravesend & Northfleet.

Most of their history was spent in the Isthmian and Southern Leagues with highlights being a fourth round appearance in the FA Cup in 1963 and a loss in the same competition to Aston Villa in 1997. The first season of the 'experiment' was a great success though and in the first season they got 30,400 subscribers, won the FA Trophy and despite finishing 15th the club started the season off with them aiming for a place in the football league. In August they also made history when the members voted on the transfer of John Akinde, which saw the player leaving for Championship high flyers, Bristol City for a club record of £140,000.

However, it would appear that all is not well, despite calls for owners to get to at least one home and one away game a season if they are residents of the UK the club still survives on fairly low crowds. More disturbingly for the Fleet of the 30,400 members who signed up last season only 2427 have signed up to renew their subscription, which at the moment leaves the club £584,000 short. Maybe the fact that Akinde went, although they probably couldn't have stood in his way with such a big transfer on the table, or the fact that at the moment they are in 16th place has led to a lack of interest or perhaps it says more about the type of people who run a football club from their bedroom, I don't know. Maybe if they manage to beat Woking in the FA Cup replay tomorrow and then get a good result in the first round against Crewe it might spur the 21,236 memebers they need into action

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