Is the MyFootballClub Scenario a Good Idea?

August 29, 2007

Throughout the history of football, there have been many innovative ideas. Deciding to disallow the use of the conventional backpass to the goalkeeper, putting numbers on shirts, even the intense physical conditioning that a lot of the top level managers use have all contributed to make the sport the spectacle it is today. In the past few years, one of the things in football that has caused the most amount of debate is take-overs by “foreigners”. Whether it’s Thaksin Shinawatra at Manchester City, Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United or Roman Abromovich at Chelsea, most businessmen that have taken over clubs in the recent past have courted controversy at one point or another. In the past, most football clubs were owned by fans of the club itself- no it seems that more and more businessman looking to make a quick buck or for a real time version of popular computer game Football Manager. Now, it seems like ordinary fans will be able to actually have a say in the running of a club. MyFootballClub, a website set up by former football journalist Will Brooks claims that common football fans will finally be able to effect decisions of a club- be it who to sign in the transfer market, selecting which players will feature in the first team or the amount of money put into the youth fund for the coming season.

The site charges a fee of £35 for all those wanting to take part (£7.5 for administration of the MyFootballClub Trust while £27.5 goes into club expenditure) and members get to vote on which club they would like to see taken over. Currently leading the list is League One club Leeds United, with Nottingham Forest and Cambridge United in second and third place respectively. Although the website is keeping the number of people that have signed up a secret so that clubs they were negotiating with would not know the extent of their wealth, 53,051 members had signed up as of July 31st- making the total value of the company worth £1.46 million at the very least. Now that all the facts have been sorted out, this writer will give his view on whether he feels that the idea is a good one or not.

While the idea of “the people” running a football club may be a sound one in principle, a look at nearly any football forum on the Internet will tell you that most of “the people” are lacking a few brain cells. The very fact that a club like Leeds United, a team that was given a fifteen point penalty for financial issues leads the list of clubs to purchase speaks for itself- as do the listings of Arsenal and Manchester United (two clubs that would cost over £1 billion to purchase) at 9th and 11th place respectively shows that voting even in large numbers can sometimes produce futile results. Also, while the MyFootballClub scenario allows your vote to be counted, it is unlikely that a solitary vote in 50,000 people will make a large dent in the decisions you want to affect. There are official fan forums of teams that ask you to contribute ideas as to how the team can be improved and they are often free to join- what difference does MyFootballClub offer you, apart from charging you £35 to voice your opinion?

Although a fee of £35 seems a fairly cheap price to join the service, which as MyFootballClub says is “less than most Premiership tickets” as well as the price of a “football manager computer game”, what benefit does joining the service give you? Whereas football manager computer games can be played for hours on end, and going to a football match allows you to see your favourite team in the flesh, how does joining what is effectively a glorified fan forum create any more ‘fun’ that a free online message board would do? As MyFootballClub have not even selected the team they are going to purchase yet, those fans that have already paid up could be hugely disappointed if their dream to control the decisions of Leeds United turned into a reality of controlling the decisions of non-league side Cambridge United. Since football is a very passionate sport, it is nearly impossible for those that have a true interest in it to generate support for another team. Why then, should fans of the club that MyFootballClub will purchase waste money on a team they were never interested by in the first place?

Even though it must have seemed a good idea when Will Brooks concocted the MyFootballClub scenario, in reality there are just too many problems and too many drawbacks for it to work smoothly. While fans would get to ‘own’ a football club for probably the first time in their lives, there are many ways they could satisfy their passion for the sport, and spending £35 on MyFootballClub is certainly something that will bring them a great deal of satisfaction.

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