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.