MyFootballClub: The Ultimate Fan Fantasy
The Economist is a complete treasure trove of interesting business stories.
In the June 16th edition, they had a brilliantly titled little article ("Here Comes Fanchester United") about one Will Brooks, a U.K. football journalist who's trying to enlist 50,000 football fans willing to invest about $70 each to buy their own team.
What they're out an about is amply described on the My Football Club site, where we learn that the membership fees will be used to buy a club, which will be equally owned by its members. The club of choice will be decided by member votes, with due diligence resulting in selection of "the most suitable and feasible club." (I.e., the members might well vote to buy themselves Manchester United, but 50,000 fans at $70 a pop would render purchase of this club a tad infeasible.
They aren't looking for any old club, however. They need to be able to buy controlling interest (at minimum, 51%); they want no or low debt' and "the club has the potential to reach the Premiership." (Beyond knowing that Manchester United is the big kahuna of British football clubs, I'm not all that sure how professional sports works in the UK. I believe that the Premiership means the top league - to and from which clubs can rotate in and out of based on their performance. It would be as if, say, the Boston Celtics could be dropped from the NBA for abysmal performance and replaced by a team playing in a lesser professional league - maybe the University of Florida or the Harlem Globetrotters.
Once the fans own the team, they will also:
...have a say in tactics, by voting for [the] preferred style of play and substitutions depending on match situations. The Head Coach will field the 11 players, formation and tactics chosen by MyFootballClub members.
To help [the] decision-making, the Head Coach and players will give regular video briefings. There will also be reports from the training ground and members can submit Opposition Scouting Reports.
Members will also have veto/approval power over which players the team hires or trades.
Now this sounds like fun. Can you imagine if the Yankees' fans had the power to override some of George Steinbrenner's decisions? Closer to home, would Red Sox fans have let Theo deal Bronson Arroyo for Willie Mo Pena?
Democracy in action might mean chaos on the field and in the clubhouse, but this sure takes Citizen Marketer - not to mention all those rotisserie fan fantasy leagues - a step further.
I will be watching developments here with interest. Fortunately, I will be able to do so with minimal effort on my part, since my brother-in-law John, the only truly rabid American soccer fan I know personally, has signed up for a share.
So far, the club as over 42,000 members registered. 50,000 is the magic number. I have let my husband know that, if in a couple of months they're still short a few fans, that we will ourselves be joining. We will leave the voting on tactics to John, but - as long as the colors are decent - I will purchase a football jersey and wear it proudly.
I do not, however, have any plans to fly over to England and become a soccer hooligan.
I will remain on this side of the pond, discreetly rooting our boys on, hoping that they gain the Premiership - whatever that means or is.