The Working Groups framework, which I mentioned last week, allows small groups to go off and undertake some research or an activity on behalf of the Society of Club. One group has been formed and approved by members and Board to sift through the Finances and produce some solid recommendations for a sustainable Club. Another group is being formed to look at Advertising and Marketing for both the Society and Club.
I can’t tell you enough how exciting it is to see these come to fruition, and the change in tone that I observe in the forums. It’s like the sound of F1 car changing up a gear.
But despite my optimism, looking back to last September’s update on MyfootballClub and Ebbsfleet it’s sad to see that the problems I described are still there.
Any attempts to draw attention to the impending peril that the MyFootballClub Society and the Club faces are still met with disdain by some members. As the day of reckoning approaches, the same people resort to illconsidered, out short-term panic measures.
The two Working Groups I mentioned above could provide recommendations or solutions within a month or so. Some solutions that have been mooted could be implemented within a matter of weeks if allowed to be properly pepared, but there are still calls for these activities to be abandoned in favour of recruiting more members or just donating more cash.
When you add this attitude to a poorly run website which can’t adequately facilititate communication between the dwindling membership, and a Board who aren’t willing to tackle either of these issues, you can see how perilous the situation is for both MyFootballClub and Ebbsfleet United.
MyFootballClub just isn’t learning from it’s mistakes.
I predicted several possible scenarios in September as follows:
Things carry on as they are, the renewals don’t materialise and the club goes bust sometime between now and next christmas.
Membership dropped to 10,000 total probably 2000 regularly active. Current projections are May/June.
The Operator starts to open up to suggestions and criticism, the site becomes more democratic and open and useful, people get engaged, the project continues as it should have.
Has not happened, despite my attempts to nudge him in this direction earlier in the year. Even basic changes to improve navigation get ignored.
The FreeMyFC people produce an alternative to the Operator and come to the rescue of the Society.
Sadly there was too much anger, argument and resentment from both sides for this to happen.
The FreeMyFC people start a new venture without the baggage.
And so they did. Southill Alexander FC have applied to join the Spartan South Midlands League, and appear to have modelled their venture based on the MyFC experience.
They are starting with a brand new team, with no baggage, several levels below Ebbsfleet. Many members wanted MyFC to use this approach, rather than buy Ebbsfleet or even an existing team at this lower level. They also don’t have the problem of “Traditional Fleet Fans” vs “MyFC football manager wannabes”, which could have been resolved quickly by bringing the existing supporters trust into the MyFC fold, as partners rather than rivals.
Like MyFC, they’re using member subscriptions to finance the club, at a low entry price of £25 per share. But in the first year they’re only issuing 1,000 shares, and members can buy up to 5 if they want to contribute more to the pot.
There are other aspects that show how they have learned from MyFC’s mistakes:
Finance – Full Access to Club Financial management, budgetary planning and joint decision making.
Marketing – Members will drive recruitment, develop new income streams and marketing the club both locally and globally.
Website / IT – Work with the Clubs IT Managers to implement the tools Owners need.
Match Day Management – Help plan & add resources to create the best Match Day Experience for SAFCs fans.
Board Directors will serve either a 2 or a 4-year term of office, to ensure that there is both injection of new ideas alongside ongoing stability.
Starting at a lower level will enable Southill Alexander to develop these structures and procedures organically as they progress, something MyFootballClub hasn’t been allowed to do. And they’re likely to succeed as they’ve got some the most enquiring, intelligent, witty and resourceful members that MyFC ever had.
Whilst I’d love to join them, I still think MyFC and Ebbsfleet United can be saved, though the attempt might drive me potty.