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The ongoing saga of Ebbsfleet United and My Football Club has long been a favourite chosen subject of this site. Their first round of renewals came around earlier this year, and the results were not encouraging for them. In spite of very vocal protestations to the contrary (not least in the comments section on here), the final number of 10,000 subscribers couldn’t really be disguised as anything less than a bit of a disaster. It was a fifth the number of people that MyFC had first wanted to attract to the project, and one-third the number of registrations that the site had at its peak last year.
This time last year, it looked as if there was a chance that it could all be a success in the end. A place in the final of the FA Trophy (which they won, beating Torquay United 1-0 at Wembley) gave them another shot in the arm of publicity. However, over the last twelve months the story has – as previously reported on here – unwound fairly spectacularly, and talk surrounding them has moved on from how quickly they will be able to get into the Football League and move into a swanky new stadium to the rather more worrying subject of whether they will be able to survive into the new season without suffering some severe financial difficulties.
The latest problem to hit the club surrounds comments made by manager Liam Daish earlier this week. Daish has always cut a singular figure at the heart of the club, issuing a public plea for members to vote for picking the team themselves (which, in spite of being one of the original stated aims and major selling points of the whole experiment, was clearly madness at anything like a professional football club) and generally acting with considerable surprise every time that any attempt was made to usurp him from his traditional managers position, even though it was made pretty clear to him from the start that his role may change after the MyFC takeover.
Daish stated earlier this week that Ebbsfleet’s wage budget is to be slashed this summer to £5,000 per week for forty-three week contracts. This budget, by any stretch of the imagination, is a semi-professional budget which hints at how serious the situation is at the club. It has been reported that they accidentally over-budgeted by £20,000 and the danger is, that with MyFC memberships continuing to dwindle and three months coming up with no match day income to look forward to, the complete unravelling of the project could be due. Some believe that Daish is paving the way for his own departure by getting in his excuses before taking another position, although there is nothing concrete upon which to place this speculation.
It’s unlikely that many people will shed too many tears for MyFC if (or when) it concedes defeat and leaves Ebbsfleet United to its fate. Its most enthusiastic supporters still talk at great length about how their influx of cash saved the club, but this doesn’t mean that their playing budget won’t almost certainly be in the two or three lowest of all of the clubs in the entire division. No-one is suggesting that Ebbsfleet should overspend and, in some ways, it’s a relief to see that MyFC have at least acknowledged that there is a problem rather than gambling the kitchen sink on buying their way out of problems. At this stage, however, to call MyFC a “success” would be mendacious, to say the least.
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.
I’m a member of MyFC and am quite involved with the club since becoming so. It’s true that financial difficulties have reared their head – the playing budget is now low and I wonder if Liam Daish will stick around. That said, we’re the only club whose finances are so easily known with such rapidity. I’d be surprised if many BSP clubs aren’t in a similar situation. Going part-time is less than perfect, but it’s preferable to closing the doors. The club costs nearly a million pounds a year to run. Nearly all football clubs will have to look at their finances and begin existing with a budget that is sustainable longer term.
I wonder how many accounting ‘mistakes’ have been made since MyFC took control. It was doomed to fail right from the start.
Mr Brooks has done okay out of it though!!
I’m a MyFC member. Of the 20,000 members that left, most put their first years fees in before we had bought a club. Most had fanciful ideas we were going to buy Leeds or Man Utd or some other league club. The 10,000 left are all fully committed to the club, wherever it ends up.
As for as stating ‘It was doomed to fail’ – what do you define a success or a failure for a non-league club? I would state that continuing survival as a club, and zero debt constitutes a success.
Over the next year I think we will see some lower/non league clubs go bust. Ebbsfleet will not be one of them.
Up the Fleet.
“The ongoing saga of Ebbsfleet United and My Football Club has long been a favourite chosen subject of this site.”
It always sounds like you are willing the demise of MyFootballClub but , we know you are secretly hoping it’ll all work out or otherwise you’ll have nothing to write about!
What football club hasn’t got cash problems? Manchester City maybe?
As Graeme says, the vastly reduced membership now consists of people who have EUFC at heart. We voted to keep Daish, we voted to reject recent offers on Darius Charles and Michael Gash.
MyFC have many initiatives going on to raise funds for the club, including Friends of the Fleet (people who have set up monthly donations to the club).
It’s going to be a tough season with the low budget but it’s not all doom and gloom!