June 1st, 2008

Spotting the next major ‘trend’ in the development of our society has become increasingly complex as change today is so fast paced and diverse.  Nonetheless, every single one of us should focus on a recent event in England that has the potential to radically change aspects of our society forever.

Members of the website, MyFootballClub, which is made up largely (but not exclusively) of football fans, have approved the takeover of the soccer club, Ebbsfleet United. This team plays in a league known as the Blue Square Premier, the fifth layer of the English professional and semi-professional soccer leagues.  Put in context, Manchester United are top of the English First Division (known as the Premier League) and Ebbsfleet United are currently ninth in the Blue Square Premier league, so  Ebbsfleet are at the moment the 101st ranked team in England. 
More than 18,000 members of the MyFootball Club website cast their votes in the past week on the $1.4m takeover of Ebbsfleet United with 95.8% voting for the purchase of the club.  The existing team manager, Liam Daish, was backed by the same percentage of members to carry out his plans for buying and selling players.

MyFootballClub currently has 27,278 members. In November 2007, MyFootballClub announced it had reached agreement with Ebbsfleet to buy the control of the club.  Each of the MyFootballClub members have paid $78 to provide the takeover pot with a policy that if the majority of members backed a move to acquire a 75% controlling stake in a soccer club then all will own an equal share in the club.

MyFootballClub members unable to attend Ebbsfleet’s matches will have to familiarise themselves with the squad via the website. A free match highlights package is to be made available to members along with a player statistic and analysis facility. Theoretically, MyFootballClub members could even be in control of team selection although, in practice, the manager will have the say on a match by match basis.

At first glance one might think, okay, that’s mildly interesting but, really, who cares about the machinations going on at the arse end of British soccer.  But think for a moment outside the round ball.  It is believed this is the first community website takeover of its kind in the world – not just one involving football.  This process could be replicated in any sphere of commercial or non-commercial activity.

A group of people might passionately want to acquire any business that they felt was not being run efficiently or even to buy back some of those iconic Australian businesses now owned by overseas interests. Once launched, it might not be that difficult to get together say 100,000 members on to a designated web site with each member contributing circa $1000.  That would give that particular web site accumulated funds of $100 million – that ‘s one big bucket of purchasing power!  

Supermarkets, television networks, bus companies, no operation could be exempt from a takeover by ‘the people’.  The power of the Internet is allowing extraordinary growth and power to people who are organised. 

Maybe there’s even a few politicians and/or even governments that should be watching their ‘*long tails’. …MiSay

*”The Long Tail” – The New Economics of Culture and Commerce. Written by Chris Anderson.

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