Monday, February 2, 2009

The Continuing Saga of Ebbsfleet United

We've previously discussed the Ebbsfleet United experiment on here, due in part to the fact that several of us are owners in the club. Ebbsfleet have been struggling a bit off the pitch lately, so let's take the time to revisit things.

Although the club had 30,000 owners in Year 1, allowing them to make some significant progress, eventually winning the F.A. Trophy, things are not as rosy now. So far only 3,000 members have renewed for Year 2 and the club may begin to experience some financial difficulties. Recently the club made a move to secure some future financing, selling John Akinde to Bristol City for £150,000. At the close of the transfer season Ebbsfleet also signed Darius Charles for £25,000 from Brentford, in a historic moment for fan-driven football.

While those two moves represent a good influx of money, it is clear that for this experiment to be successful more fans will need to sign up for Year 2 membership. The club was recently spotlighted on CNN, and they have done quite a bit lately to attract more members. This past weekend the club provided free admission to all club members for their F.A. Trophy match against Swindon Supermarine (which is an absolutely awesome name). They also streamed the match online for their international members, which meant that I was able to watch my club in their 2-0 victory (although I didn't watch live, since the Arsenal match was on at that time). That win means that they are in the quarterfinals of the F.A. Trophy competition, and the dream of defending their championship is still alive.

The only question is whether the dream of survival as a club is also still viable.


Precious Roy said...

That's my problem with the whole endeavor, is that you have to re-up every year. Buying in should have been like buying a share (you don't have to re-purchase your Microsoft stock every year) instead of paying a membership fee. Mistake on the part of the people who thought to do this. So now if the collective does have to sell the team, who gets the money from the sale? The people who bought in? The remaining people who are still members? Nobody who actually financed this?

My $.02. Still would like to see it succeed. Thought the idea was an A+, but the execution was about a C.

The Fan's Attic said...

so did both of you re-up for year 2?

also, the share idea would have been nice but to realistically make it work people would have had to pony up far more cash than would allow 30,000 people to sign up.

i think the best way to have seen it through would have been to ask people for a 3-5 year subscription at a certain price. that way cash flow could have stayed more constant over a period of time.

although, i think 3-5 years of payments could potentially push down the number of people signing on, just like the share idea.

The NY Kid said...

I renewed, because I'm a soccer for the underdog. Besides, I own a football club!

The Fan's Attic said...

do you put that on your resume?

The NY Kid said...

Hey, that's a Curriculum Vitae buddy!

And yes, yes I do.

jjf3 said...

do the owners really mess with the coach's decisions, or do they generally go along with the lineup he picks? And is that even still an option? Just curious how it really operates once you're inside...(ie, thinking about joining)


The NY Kid said...

in the beginning there were options to: (1) have the members pick the team, (2) have the members "suggest" a team, or (3) have the coach pick the team. Over time it was clear that members were more comfortable with the gaffer (Liam Daish) picking the squad (i.e. relatively few members used option #1), so I believe now the option is to either "suggest" a team or let the coach choose.

The bigger part of voting has been transfer decisions and all funding decisions, which are kind of fun to participate in.

Note - given the recent downturn in the GBP vs. the dollar, you are getting more bang for your buck right now than Americans who signed up in Year 1.

The NY Kid said...

I renewed, because I'm a soccer for the underdog.

Well, talk about Freudian slips. I meant that I'm a sucker for the underdog.

weenie said...

As a fellow owner, I've renewed for a second year and shall continue to renew and support the team that I part own!

If the club is to be sold, then the cash goes to charity, there are no fat cats to make a profit out of this.

On the other hand, neither will the 30,000 be personally liable should the club go under, ie you won't have bailiffs knocking on your door for money.

This is a long term thing and I'm in it for the distance!

Up the Fleet!