The masses have collaborated – to buy a football club

Back in June I briefly mentioned MyFootballClub, a site which was collecting pledges of £35 from UK football fans which it would use to buy a football club once it had secured sufficient commitment.

On Monday they got there and announced the acquisition of Ebbsfleet United – a club that plays in the Blue Square League – one level below the English Football League. They have acquired a controlling interest, with the option to go to 100% ownership later.

This is an example of mass collaboration in action. Not only were the funds provided for by a mass of small contributors, but the plan is to govern the club by democratic vote amongst the members, which each £35 investor given an equal say.

We will see how this works out to be in practice. Democracy is great in principle, but can make it difficult to take decisions. Already Jason Botley, the site organiser, has had to ignore parts of the vote on which club they should acquire, and I’m sure we will see more of  sort of thing
This is interesting because it is an example of the internet enabling mass collaboration in a way that simply hasn’t happened previously. I think we will see more and more examples of people using the internet to come together to achieve things that either weren’t possible at all before, or were the exclusive preserve of big institutions. In itself this isn’t new – ebay is old news now – but the MyFootballClub example shows just how far this might go.

  • Jo

    Good news. I couldn’t understand why the posties didn’t offer to by Royal Mail!

    Looking forward to the update.

  • Jo

    Good news. I couldn’t understand why the posties didn’t offer to by Royal Mail!

    Looking forward to the update.

  • mspoke

    Nic, these guys did a great job seeding interest in this idea through football forums and the wider media. From a footballing perspective it will never work, they simply won’t be able to make decisions quick enough.

    As you say it is a great example of mass collaboration though.

  • mspoke

    Nic, these guys did a great job seeding interest in this idea through football forums and the wider media. From a footballing perspective it will never work, they simply won’t be able to make decisions quick enough.

    As you say it is a great example of mass collaboration though.

  • nic

    Good to hear from you mspoke. You make two good observations – first the importance of marketing for mass collaboration initiatives, and second the difficulty of making them work over time.

    In this case they certainly have their work cut out. It is hard enough for a single person with ten times their resources to do a good job.

  • nic

    Good to hear from you mspoke. You make two good observations – first the importance of marketing for mass collaboration initiatives, and second the difficulty of making them work over time.

    In this case they certainly have their work cut out. It is hard enough for a single person with ten times their resources to do a good job.

  • No one knows for a fact that from a footballing perspective whether this will work or not, since the whole concept has been untested.

    How do you measure success though? Avoiding relegation? Promotion? Becoming and remaining a debt free club?

    All the above are possible and in the case of the latter, should MyFootballClub cease to exist, that’s what will be left, a debt free club.

    Compared to all the debt ridden clubs we have, even in the Premier League, that will be a huge success in anybody’s eyes.

    Up the Fleet!

  • No one knows for a fact that from a footballing perspective whether this will work or not, since the whole concept has been untested.

    How do you measure success though? Avoiding relegation? Promotion? Becoming and remaining a debt free club?

    All the above are possible and in the case of the latter, should MyFootballClub cease to exist, that’s what will be left, a debt free club.

    Compared to all the debt ridden clubs we have, even in the Premier League, that will be a huge success in anybody’s eyes.

    Up the Fleet!

  • mspoke

    Weenie, I take on board your points, but in terms of making long-term progress it will be difficult. The style of negotations which take place when trying to acquire players is often fast-moving, requiring very quick decisions. The MyFootball crowd won’t be able to make those decisions.

    The club I support, Port Vale, are now run by a supporters group and they have found it very difficult to work with what is acceptable practice within the football industry. They have been accused of wearing rose-tinted spectacles and being naive as they have tried to apply modern business practices to what is still essentially an industry run by cowboys.

  • mspoke

    Weenie, I take on board your points, but in terms of making long-term progress it will be difficult. The style of negotations which take place when trying to acquire players is often fast-moving, requiring very quick decisions. The MyFootball crowd won’t be able to make those decisions.

    The club I support, Port Vale, are now run by a supporters group and they have found it very difficult to work with what is acceptable practice within the football industry. They have been accused of wearing rose-tinted spectacles and being naive as they have tried to apply modern business practices to what is still essentially an industry run by cowboys.

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