Are we learning?
MyFootballClub members are about to hold their second full Society Board election since taking over ownership and management of Ebbsfleet United in February 2008.
The first election had a strange result, not least because the role of the Board in relation to the Club management was not defined. Six local candidates (and 1 from elsewhere in the UK ) were elected, none of whom had any experience of any social media, internet governance or other qualities that would suggest they could take MyFootballClub from a good idea to a succesful organisation.
As a result, all but one of the original candidates had resigned by February 2009, at which point the level of dissatisfaction with the project was made clear. 20,000 of the members chose not to renew their subscription, putting the club in a dangerous financial situation, despite the existing debts having been cleared by the takeover. This is just about resolved thanks a tight budget prepared by a group of members, and a top up of the playing budget (which is now higher than when MyFC took over) by member donations. Compare this with many clubs facing crippling debt and/or administration at the moment.
An interim election was held in March 2009 to fill the missing places on the Board, and bizarrely, two of those who resigned only months before stood again. The new interim Board promised to allocate specific roles to individual Board members, but I don’t feel that this has improved any communication between the Club, Members and the Board. Some are standing again, boasting of their work for the club, e.g. “spent 6 hours dealing with the electrical wiring” when what is needed is people who can make the MyFootballClub organisation what it promised to be:
Mr Brooks has no qualms about describing his project an ethical mission. “My starting point is a firm belief in the wisdom of crowds. It’s the fans that have the club’s best interests at heart: so why shouldn’t they run it?” he asked.
Certainly there are a fair few candidates standing who are passionate about the Club, but are also clear about the distinction between organising a large group of people through a website, and making decisions and undertaking activity on their behalf.