Slightly Off-Topic

Frankly, Mr. Shankly.

By DOM Team| 3 Min Read | January 8, 2008

There are probably quite a few things you might be wary of being controlled by the internet – your love life, your business, your banking, your shopping, etc. But all of those pale into insignificance when compared to something as important as your football club.

As the former Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly, was often misquoted:

‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death.
I’m very disappointed with that attitude.
I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’

Bill Shankly

How Bill Shankly would take the news of Ebbsfleet Utd being bought out by an Internet collective is anybody’s guess. But, I do know that when the WSJ reports the takeover, something is going on.

Now there are two revolutionary aspects to this:

1. A football club being bought out by a 50,000 member trust who have all paid $70 for the privilege and will have an actual say in team selection, transfers and the daily running of the club. Full details of how it should work here.

2. That it is all being organized through the Internet.

As for the first point, you’d be well advised to follow this Google search if you want to dig a little deeper into the story.

I’m obviously more interested in the online aspect of it all. When all said and done, this wouldn’t be possible without the Internet. You wouldn’t be able to organize upwards of 50,000 people any other way. How else could you get over 50,000 people to vote on weekly team selection? How else would 50,000+ people from all over the world be able to consult about transfers? Phone calls and snail mail are neither timely or cost effective enough to run something along these lines. Before the Internet this would’ve been impossible.

All it takes is a Website with the required management and suitable functionality and email.

Now this may not work, but that could be for a myriad of reasons that we don’t need to get into here. The point is that the Internet allows this to be a viable idea in the first place. How this translates to other sports in other countries obviously depends on the success of this venture, but I can see a future in organizing supporters’ trusts along these lines for all teams. Supporters could pay an extra premium that would become a transfer fund and they could vote on who to buy – the fan’s player, so to speak. Could a properly set-up online fan’s forum help organize a team’s NFL draft picks? They could also transfer this collective voice to board meetings with the board using Web cameras to broadcast their meetings online. We’re talking more open and transparent sports organizations where fans feel fully franchised as opposed to being shirt models and garbage bins for over-priced hot dogs. After all, it matters.

The number of UK football clubs facing ten-point penalties for bad administration is proof that the existing way doesn’t always work; and the number of people being priced out of being supporters and feeling disenfranchised is growing astronomically.

The Internet offers new and exciting opportunities for old businesses with a bit of excitement left in them. You don’t have to do anything revolutionary in the grand scheme of things, just revolutionary in your scheme of things. We aren’t even talking about learning new skill sets or embracing new business mantras. In the case of the Ebbsfleet Utd takeover, we’re talking about a football trust at the end of the day.

It’s just an infinitely more cost effective one if done correctly.

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