Musing about Ebbsfleet….and Obama

….and Torquay.

Today’s headline: Ebbsfleet 1 Torquay 0.

And so Ebbsfleet win the FA Trophy.

Not bad for a club that was “taken over” by around 27,000 members, each of whom paid £35.

Here’s an extract from the Wikipedia article on the club:

On November 13, 2007, it was announced that the website MyFootballClub had entered a deal in principle to take over the club.[6] Approximately 27,000 MyFootballClub members each paid £35 to provide an approximate £700,000 takeover fund and all own an equal share in the club but make no profit nor receive a dividend. Members have a vote on transfers as well as player selection and all major decisions. Because of the nature of MyFootballClub, it was announced that manager Liam Daish would become instead the first team Head Coach. His backroom staff would remain at the club.[6]

Between January 16 and January 23 2008, MyFootballClub members were given the choice to vote on whether to proceed with the takeover and whether to allow Liam Daish to continue with his plans for the January transfer window. Both resulted in overwhelming “Yes” votes: 95.89% voted to proceed with the takeover while 95.86% voted to allow Daish to continue his transfer plans. The deal was ratified at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the club’s board on 19 February.

Collaborative ownership, collaborative management, championship trophies. Hmmm.

Now consider Barack Obama. The millions of dollars of campaign money generated by thousands of people paying small sums of money. What if his fans had the same power as Ebbsfleet fans (or, more correctly, MyFootballClub fans)?

Just thinking. Ebbsfleet is the shape of things to come. In more ways than one.

5 thoughts on “Musing about Ebbsfleet….and Obama”

  1. I agree Ebbsfleet is very interesting, and we have noticed a parallel trend in that people trust “social” enterprises rather than commercial ones in areas in their lives such as medical data etc.

    Nonetheless, I thnk the “other shoe” has not yet dropped at Ebbsfleet yet, to wit the owner / manager conflict of interest (Agency Theory) has not yet had time to play out yet.

    In politics to a large extent it has played out imho – large numbers of people elect politicians, who from then on tend to do (more or less) what they want, influenced more by special interest groups than the masses who elected them initially. Its unclear to me why Obama will be an exception to this.

    This to my mind is why the voting turnout is frequently low – the average voter knows they will have minimal individual impact.

    To your point, if one could build a system that made him accountable to all those small-cap bakers, and a way of discerning what their will as in a consistent way, we would have a Democratic resurgence – Politics 2.0.

    Ditto Ebbsfleet.

    I live in hope, but on past evidence I’m not overoptimistic.

  2. Alan,

    The idea with Obama is that because he has small amounts from many, instead of large amounts from few, his financial constituency is de facto de-specialized. There will be much less pressure to meet specific industry demands, so we’ll expect (hope for) better governance than we’ve had.

    We may be in living a fantasy, but if it is, we’re gonna enjoy it while it lasts.


    I’ve always been wary of group-managed ventures, as they can dither and miss opportunities. This set up seems more BoD/CEO, so there is the freedom for executive action. I’m interested to see how this plays out over the years. Can they climb the ladder? How high?

    Talking of which, can you believe FulhAmerica stayed up? Heroic last few games. I thought we were for the can!

  3. It doesn’t matter how Ebsfleet does- pioneers often fail, due to being the first ones out there. But someone has to do it.

    This is a great idea and a brave venture, and it’s brilliant that Ebsfleet are testing the water. If they fail, some other group will surely try again, for their own reasons, and they will have learned from whatever happens to Ebsfleet and likely do better. But the human race won’t give up this path, because it has such enormously good potential.

    We should be grateful when people do this stuff- it’s changing our world for the better.

  4. Love the Ebbsfleet story, and blogged about it from inception. You’re right to suggest it shows the way of the future – communities of purpose are the business units of the 21st century – as I often bang on about.
    I’m told the crowd at the FA Trophy was a record. Someone described it as like being at a wedding because you kept bumping into people you ‘knew’ digitally and this was the grand opportunity for them all to come face to face. Those people came from all over the world. The internet lowered the overhead cost of forming this community of purpose. awesome real successful example!

  5. Ebbsfleet? Changing the world for the better? Frankly, I’m not so sure.

    Collaboration, community, interaction… Yeah, I can see that side of the Ebbsfleet ‘experiment’. But there’s also a much darker side.

    So, participants are mailed with questions concerning the day-today running of the club. Fine.

    But the end point of the interaction has always been for fans to ‘help’ manager Liam Daish select the team. The group running the ‘experiment’ suggest it could be logistically difficult. How would you feel if a bunch of strangers told you how to do your job? Positive? Pleased? I doubt it.

    Fans were recently asked if they would like to have an input on team selection – the majority said they would, in some form.

    Not exactly fair play, is it? I thought football was a sport, not a social software toy…

Let me know what you think

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