Okay, so it’s an old article, but it’s relevant again. This crazy scheme has finally reached its 50,000 member target and is gearing up to buy a club. So, rather than write anything new, we thought we’d let you all read our old thoughts on it. Again.
On the TMN ranch each days beginning is normally heralded with cried obscenities and scalded legs as weak hands try to lift gargantuan coffee mugs to confused and tired lips; it would seem to any bystanders that TMN is in fact an asylum for the criminally insane… But one particular morning last month obscenities reached a new crescendo, a small fire broke out in the kitchen, a Mexican bandito may or may not have been pistol whipped from the window and looks of confused fatigue were more pronounced than normal even for this befuddled corner of England.
What caused this kerfuffle? What could have led to such a violent start to the day? It was the day that revolutionary website www.myfootballclub.co.uk was brought to TMN’s attention.
It was quite a scene…First there was a prolonged period of silence as the gathered minds of the TMN brain trust attempted to work out what the deal was with what appeared to be sheer madness…frantic attempts to work out the date followed
“It must be April 1st…I don’t care how long that means I have been asleep…IT MUST BE! THIS HAS TO BE A JOKE!”…Then the melee of angry denial…“IT WILL NEVER WORK…THEY ARE INSANE!”…but after a time, a cup of coffee and some moments of reflection (in which time the alleged pistol whipping and confirmed fire occurred) it started to emerge that this anomalous site, the brainchild of ex sports journalist one Will Brooks, may well fit into that niche category of ideas reserved for the cranial spawn of the mad scientist and the comic book evil genius: “Its might just be crazy enough to work!”
So what’s the deal? Why so much consternation among the TMN outlaws…we are after all not strangers to farce and absurdity…The basic idea: take 50,000 internet subscribers, take £35 off each of them, buy a football club and away you go…easy! Well no, not really, whichever club comes to be owned by the members of My Football Club faces becoming, in terms of how it is run, the most revolutionary of businesses. In a model that will have Thomas Paine and his gang of democratic founding fathers stroking their hairy chins in delight from beyond the grave, My Football Club will be entirely run by the consensus of the online community of owners. Added to this Will Brooks has seen to it that each member, including himself, only gets one vote…extra money will not buy any extra influence on the club’s direction, one person one vote rules supreme. The voting process will, according to the current plan, be applied to every decision, even down to transfers and on-pitch tactics. This means that which ever club is chosen and eventually bought by this online fans consortium will have a manager who has no say on the tactics of his team or the players he plays as well as having to run any transfers by a faceless community of fans who will also have the final say and could veto or approve any possible targets…
Cue wild cries of insanity from many on the TMN ranch convinced that Will Brooks, as a matter of public safety, has to be sectioned immediately…who by the beard of Zeus would ever take on such a role? A moocher? A tramp? A vagabond? On the websites FAQ section we are informed: “In England we’ve had over 120 years of managers picking teams, so for one football club to try something new isn’t being hasty.” Well in fairness just because no one has done it yet does not make it a good idea or mean that it isn’t hasty, however we read on…“Our Head Coach will be in an enviable and unique position. He will be able concentrate on coaching and getting the best out of players, without being accused of picking the wrong team or formation.”
What then they seem to be looking for is a manager unwilling or unable to take responsibility (plenty of those about), who is willing to be little more than a middleman between the members and the players as well as part time cheerleader to encourage the players and instil in them belief. After much wracking of brains and protestations that no professional manger would ever take such a job TMN found My Football Club its man…step forward King Kevin of Keegan…hell maybe it will work.
King Kev certainly would take on board whatever he was told, his own football tactics as we have seen during his tenure of the big seat of the national team were confused at best and he never was one for taking responsibility for his actions with the dignity and reserve of a professional. In fact Keegan managed a lot like a fan which would making him the ideal choice for this unique position. His losing of the Premiership title at Newcastle because he plain forgot to buy a defence smacked of the kind of over excited kid-at-Christmas syndrome TMN is sure we would all suffer from if inexplicably given command of a football club…his girlish and outraged indignation that Fergie had the temerity to chide him during the Premiership title run-in spoke of a man who needed to have much of the annoying responsibilities of running a football club taken off him so he could concentrate on what he was good at…which is?…well there is one thing everyone always said about Keegan, he was a great motivator…and in Will Brook’s vision that is exactly what he would be: Kevin Keegan, Cheerleader in Chief!
So what then is King Kev’s life as Chief Executive of Morale going to look like in the My Football Club republic? Simple really…he takes training, prepares reports and advice pages for members who then tell him to get stuffed and play a whole different team…easy. But, with team discussions going on between a management team and a worldwide online community, isn’t My Football Club liable to be something of a known quantity as opposition scouting networks take a week off reading up on tactics and player selections on the website while chuckling away to themsleves from the pub?
Apparently not: “The My Football Club coach will be given members’ selections well in advance of the match. It will then be published on the My Football Club website an hour before kick-off, the same time as the opposition and other media sources find out.”
Now far be it for TMN to cast doubt on the general decency of Human Nature but what seems to have been neglected is that as all you need to become a part owner of the club and be privy to all the internal machinations of the team is £35. It seems unlikely that the tactical discussions of the membership will be kept between just them…50,000 members is the minimum aim of Brooks and his cronies at the My Football Club dream factory (at last count they already had 31,000)…Anyone can join and be a member, so at least some supporters of a team that the my football club XI are against are more than likely going to be members. Opposition managers can become members, indeed anyone can…all in all if the tactics and team selection are kept secret TMN will eat this bloodied sombrero that is inexplicably on display above the fireplace…
Indulging in a willing suspension of disbelief for a moment we decided to ignore this seeming flaw and ploughed on picking at the potential pitfalls that could face this laudable scheme…almost immediately one quote leapt out from the website and was greeted with a frantic period of head shaking. Writing about the multinational makeup of the members so far the website cries: “Around 80% are from the UK and 20% from the rest of the world. Our club will have a considerable scouting network for players.” This statement is supported by a map of the globe showing the various countries and areas that membership has been taken from.
It concerns even TMN – the most open minded of commentators – that those organising a group that aims to soon own a football club feel that random internet users from Socerville U.S.A will be part of an effective scouting system. Indeed it is a matter of some concern that any football fan will be able to influence the purchase of any player they have “discovered”. It seems like a long shot and to include Yankees?…preposterous surely. Can anyone really tell us they know what to look for in a young talent? Beyond, that is, watching as your own son barrels past all 11 of his opponents at under 12 level because he is freakishly overgrown in comparison to his peers? Even if you do has anyone who isn’t a scout actually written or even seen a scouting report…if it simply says “player x is handy we should buy him” then fine, but if as we suspect it’s a little more complex than that My Football Club could be at a serious disadvantage from day one.
All this said it’s important to make clear TMN is a great supporter of madcap schemes especially ones that have such a commendable intention…(to rid at least one football club of money-hungry overbearing know-nothing owners)…The website is also very clear that all the loose ends will be tied away when the moment comes to step up and buy the club, whichever it turns out to be…Brooks and co have put a lot of effort and thought into explaining as clearly as possible the many facets of how this thing would work and on the whole they have done a good job. The structure of the board, the system of voting and the management of revenue are all easy to understand and to the amateur eyes of TMN seem like a truly viable idea….the real question that nags is how happy are current fans of the club going to be? Its bound to split opinion and cause turmoil for a while, it’s the infancy of this experiment that will make or break it. If they can make it through a season this could well be the revolution that saves football from the money men…hell it’s unlikely but we are not people to miss out on a potential gravy train, this is a chance to possibly be a part of History! And if it goes down the toilet? Hope it wasn’t your club and accept that it was an experiment worth £35… because lets be honest if it goes according to plan it could give meaning and impetus to the empty lives of millions! And it could revolutionise a game that is starting to smell of the kind of extravagance and excess that annoyed the Frenchies so much they led its proponents to a chopping block…We shall be joining in them, marching big money individual owners toward the proverbial guillotine. You should too!