Thursday 25 June ~
Fan power appeared to score another victory yesterday when members of the MyFootballClub website agreed to sell two of their club’s star players. Ebbsfleet United top scorer Michael Gash, together with player of the year Darius Charles, look to be on their way out of the Blue Square Premier club after 78 per cent of the 2,272 MyFC members who voted decided to accept an £80,000 joint bid for them from an unnamed club.
On the face of it, this appears to be an example of how well MyFC, which brought Blue Square Premier League Ebbsfleet in 2007 after selling fans the idea of voting on “all key decisions from team selection to financial budgets”, is working. After all, 80 grand represents good value for two players with virtually no experience of League football. However, look a little deeper and you see it probably indicates the opposite.
Last week, MyFC members agreed to give manager Liam Daish a greater say in transfer dealings. According to reports, the long-suffering Daish can now veto transfer offers before they go to members, as well as making recommendations as to what they should do. This change was probably made in reaction to the members’ decision to reject several previous bids for Charles and Gash. Having lost the support of more than two-thirds of their MyFC members, who failed to renew their subscriptions after the first year's funding ended in February, Ebbsfleet have cut their playing budget and will be reverting to part-time status next season.
At the end of the last campaign they released all but four of their players. Selling Charles and Gash will give Daish £7,000 per week with which to build a new squad and attempt to keep his club in the division. If the pair stay he will have just under £4,500 to work with, so you can understand why he was frustrated at members blocking the chance to get two high earners off the wage bill.
The decision to change the rules was made by the members, and is obviously in the best interests of Ebbsfleet, but you have to wonder what the future holds for MyFC if the power afforded to members keeps being eroded. With Daish regaining some control of transfer policy, and the headline grabbing – but ridiculous – concept of fans picking the team having long been consigned to the dustbin, there is little incentive to persuade new investors to part with £35 per year, especially as the club look set for another season at the wrong end of the table.
Does MyFC now offer footballing democracy, or merely the illusion of democracy? Certainly at this point it is difficult to see how the scheme can continue in the long term. Let’s hope that if it does disappear, Ebbsfleet United don’t go with it. Matthew Gooding