Fleet Of Foot

Ian

Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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13 Responses

  1. Tom says:

    I was under the impression mfc.co.uk are a trust registered with the FSA.

  2. Duffman says:

    According to their website they are a limited company registered with the FSA. It describes itself as a trust in its FAQ’s but that doesn’t make it one.

    I think this venture is doomed. Pretty soon, the memebers will get bored, or start arguing among themselves and the club will end up being run by a small group of people who administer the funds. At best, it will be no different to any other club. At worst it will become paralised and end up tumbling down the leagues or out of business or both.

    Worth keeping a close eye on.

  3. 200percent says:

    From the venerable One Touch Football this afternoon (and written by arguably the best qualified person in the country to talk on the subject – so, in other words, not me):

    “The Mutual Society which I understand owns the club is separate to the private company which ‘administers’ MFC. That takes a flat 7.50 per member for admin, which is another way of saying that before any club gets a penny, the people behind the idea take 21% regardless. And presumably could sell this private company for a sum too.

    So, in essence, a not-for-profit shell giding a for-profit company run by the people behind the idea. As far from a supporters’ trust as you can be, really.”

    I have much more to say on this subject but was limited in what I could say because of time constraints – I’ll be expanding this piece tonight.

  4. Brian says:

    Duffman, I agree. This feels like one of those late-90s dot-com-bubble stories that’s designed to excite the press but has little practical effect. Surely so few of the 20,000 new owners will ever even be able to see Ebbsfleet play that an enormous amount of influence will fall on the founders and a few determined forum posters? My guess is that the best-case scenario would see a de facto corporate board arising from the democratic chaos.

    I have a probably too cynical take on this up at The Run of Play in which I lump this phenomenon in with every other Web-2.0 press-release blizzard from recent years. 200percent, I’ve linked to your post and described the feeling of agreeing with it while I ate breakfast. See it here:

    You, Too, Can Be One Two Hundred Millionth of the Next Roman Abramovich

  5. 200percent says:

    Thanks for the link, Brian. I’ve added you to my blogroll. As you can see, I’ve tried to expand on my earlier post this evening, adding bits and pieces that have cropped up this afternoon and developing the arguments that I was foaming at the mouth over at lunchtime.

    I’m a little more touchy than most on this subject because Ebbsfleet are more or less the same size as the club that I support. I fundamentally cannot reconcile myself to the idea of a football club ultimately being the subject of a “Big Brother” style experiment. Ebbsfleet United may only have 1,000 or so supporters, but it matters just as much to them as anyone else’s club does to anyone else. It’s too big a gamble to justify, and I still can’t see how it can, in anything like the long term, end well for the club.

  6. Gary says:

    Excellent post, and kind of sums up my feelings on the topic. It could work, but there’s a whole host of reasons stacked against it.

    Great publicity, but I can’t see this being anything other than a footnote in footballing history (and probably the relegation of Ebbsfleet).

    I’ll give it 36 months before it all goes tits up.

  7. doheochai says:

    It continues to astonish me that people are so willing to comment on MyFC without having the first clue about how it actually works.

    I will comment on your questions as a member of MyFC

    “No-one has ever made any money out of non-league football through being successful on the pitch. What is MyFootballClub’s exit strategy if the financial going gets tough?”

    MyFC is not trying to make money – it is a provident society that is interested in allowing football fans have a say in running a football club. With a vote of 75% of the MyFC membership MyFC can sell the club (in all likelihood for a nominal fee to the local supporters trust). A vote is automatically triggered if the membership falls below 15,000.

    “What will be the future involvement of Fleet Trust in the day-to-day running of Ebbsfleet United FC? Will they be offered a position at board level, and what viewpoint will MyFootballClub take if the Trust decides to oppose this take-over?”

    MyFC wants to see the active involvement of the ST. MyFC would encourage ST members to actively participate in the running of the club and would support the inclusion of a ST representative on the board. Indications are that the ST are favourably disposed to the possibility of a takeover. I am sure that there will be ongoing discussions with the ST over the period of the due diligence process to outline the nature of the involvement of MyFC and the potential input of the ST.

    “On the MyFootballClub website, much is made of the protection offered to members should the football club run into financial difficulties. Will the same protection be offered to the football club itself?”

    Yes – MyFC rules prohibit the taking of any decisions that can place the club in a financially vunerable position. In effect the club will have to be run on a break-even basis.

    “What, exactly, is there to stop MyFootballClub from spending wildly on players, and then pulling out? Are they aware of the Blue Square Premier wage cap, and how it works?”

    As above – this is prohibited by the rules of MyFC. Yes MyFC is aware of the wage cap and how it works. MyFC has engaged a very well-known established legal firm (who have significant experience in the football environment) to act as MyFC’s representatives – and has also secured the service of leading financial services experts to oversee the process.

    “How is budgeting for next year working? Does MyFootballClub already have any sort of estimate of how many people will renew their membership next summer? If the number of members falls off dramatically, where will liability for what could be a huge financial shortfall lay?”

    Yes – MyFC is engaged in this process. Already a proportion of the membership have taken out 3-year subscriptions. Additional revenue streams are also going to be put in place to ensure ongoing and significant financial investment into the future. MyFC cannot engage in any activity that could affect the club if there was a drop off in revenue from falling membership figures. During the process of acquiring a club MyFC operated off of existing financial resources and not off of any potential resources that could accrue in the future . This will continue to be the strategy.

    In future I would suggest that you carry out appropriate research – the rule of MyFC and the terms and conditions of joining are available for anyone to read – before posting. If you had done so you could have included them in you blog and I would not have had to go to the trouble of answering the points.

  8. 200percent says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the time now to answer your points now, but I have a copy of the MyFC rules and a peculiar little document called the “Operating Agreement”, which I will be returning to later today. It makes for interesting reading.

    Your answers are, I’m afraid, too vague for me, and phrases like “MyFC cannot engage in any activity that could affect the club if there was a drop off in revenue from falling membership figures” are untrue and unhelpful. I’ll have a fuller explanation for this later on, though I don’t think you’ll find it particularly happy reading.

  9. Bet Blogger says:

    Well, I honestly think that all Ebbsfleet fans should be pleased with the development. Firstly, the website has been fully vetted by all the official routes and no stone will be left unturned by the FSA and FA apparently. I think it’s a genuinely brilliant idea and cannot wait to see what it could do to Ebbsfleet, who, possibly could be the first of many clubs to go down this route.

  10. sp3ktor says:

    I think, betblogger, we’d all love it too be as brilliant as it appears – the sad fact of the matter is that, especially in football, if something is too good to be true it usually isn’t.

    The points made above are extremely valid and if I was a fan of Ebbsfleet I’d be immediately concerned.

    A look on any football forum highlights the deep divides – over selections, formation, quality of pies. This takes a worrying turn once these otherwise throwaway ramblings become the basis of your team’s future.

    If Ebbsfleet fans want a say in their club they will be compelled to pay an extra £35 to have your voice lost in a mass people who, while motivated by the best intentions, have no real stake in your club.

  11. sp3ktor says:

    … and doheochai – what load of old cock

    So basically MyFC are there until it looks like it’s turning shit, then they fuck off. Nice one – just what any club wants from a new investor.

  12. Robert Tilling says:

    An excellent article – especially the questions at the end. Financially, I would not trust 20,000 people to run my old Tuesday night 5-a-side team let alone a football team.

    Will the interest wane? Almost certainly. Their first poll on the website at what most be the pinnacle of news and media coverage: only 10,000 votes have been registered! Where are the other 10,000?

    I have quoted the questions from this blog (with credit and link) – I hope this is ok!

  13. 200percent says:

    Thanks for your comments, Robert. The devil is in the detail, and it all makes me very uncomfortable. It’s a subject that I will be returning to shortly (you’ll be unsurprised to hear).

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