Ebbsfleet owners and fans at loggerheads over future direction of club

5:15pm Wednesday 12th December 2012

By Paul Green

SUPPORTERS of Ebbsfleet United are appealing for potential new investors to get involved with the Stonebridge Road club.

The Fleet Trust, which has around 250 members, has criticised the club’s owners MyFootballClub (MyFC) for not having the funds to sustain the club in the long-term.

MyFC, who own a 75% stake in the Conference outfit, responded by asking the Trust to produce a detailed alternative business plan.

A recent Fleet Trust meeting discussed two possible options to resolve the problem.

One was to ask their members to each commit to paying £90 a month and the second was to look at ways of attracting other sources of investment.

Vice chair of the Fleet Trust Emily Connolly explained to News Shopper: “Our fan base is such that they either tend to be quite young or more elderly, so paying the £90 a month was a big ask.

“We decided to concentrate on looking for new investment and this is what we are now doing.

“At the moment it is in the very early stages and quite a tricky negotiation because some possible investors don’t wish to deal directly with MyFC.

“The Fleet Trust are happy to act in a liaison role to facilitate that to happen and I would appeal for anyone who knows of possible backers to get in touch with us.”

MyFootballClub took control of the club in a blaze of publicity in late 2007, promising its then 30,000 membership the chance to vote on team selection and tactics.

This controversial aspect of the deal never came to fruition in the end, but membership has since nosedived to just more than 1,000.

Mrs Connolly added: “This season we as supporters have already raised and put £9,000 into the playing budget from bucket collections at games.

“This isn’t the way to run a football club.

“The Fleet Trust just feel the MyFC ownership isn’t working.

“We don’t see any action from MyFC, which is why we as supporters in the Fleet Trust are going public to make people aware we need new investment.”

MyFC told News Shopper they had nothing further to add to a statement released to the Fleet Trust meeting on November 29 and a subsequent follow up response sent to the Trust on December 1.

The statement released to the Fleet trust meeting said: “The objectives of MyFootballClub upon purchasing a majority stake in Ebbsfleet Utd in February 2008 was to sustain and develop the club to the best of our ability and to give the fans of the club a real voice in its affairs.

“Irrespective of the society’s own membership size and financial position, this objective remains the same today as it did then.

“Upon takeover, MyFootballClub, through its members’ funds, cleared the vast majority of the club’s accumulated debts that were threatening its existence, certainly at its current level in the Non-League Premier.

“We are proud to have played a part in continuing the development of the club by its previous owners, by creating immediate financial stability culminating in Ebbsfleet Utd having sufficient financial resources to record its first ever FA Trophy win, watched by a record number of fans from five continents at Wembley Stadium.

“This season, members of MyFootballClub voted to approve a break-even budget that emphasized not only a realistic control over the club’s costs, but also to provide realistic resources for our manager Liam Daish to be able to once again create a side that succeeded on the pitch, and to a much higher degree than could be expected for a club of our size and financial stature.

“Members believed that providing the means for some success on the pitch would assist income streams and thus help to balance the books.

“Members also committed themselves to raising donations throughout the season from the Society towards this budget.

“To date, MyFootballClub a has donated total of £16,200 since the start of the season.

“MyFootballClub, as the majority shareholders in Ebbsfleet Utd, will listen and consider serious offers to work with us as owners of the club and if the right opportunity arose, to take over the ownership of the club if they could demonstrate an ability to develop and sustain the club to a greater degree than ourselves.

“To this end, any serious offers that include a long term sustainable plan for Ebbsfleet Utd would be considered by members who would evaluate any such on offers with the best interests of the club in mind.

“We are proud that we have been involved with Ebbsfleet Utd for almost five years, and we are proud of the huge financial investments and achievements that we have enabled as owners, especially taking the club forward from when we took it over.

“MyFootballClub continues to welcome the involvement of the local fan base to play a full part in the decision making and affairs of Ebbsfleet Utd by joining the majority owning MyFootballClub Society.

“The society has, over the last four years created a platform that not only offers any fan an opportunity to play a real part in their club, but also a transparency and openness that is rare in the football world.

“As always MyFootballClub is happy to work with the club, the local fans and the Fleet Trust for the best interests of the club.

“Should the Fleet Trust have a detailed business plan of a way forward for the development of the club then we would welcome the opportunity to put it to members.”

The Fleet Trust’s response read: “Fleet Trust members call upon the Fleet Trust Board to seek immediate investment into EUFC and formally request MyFC to provide a written guarantee that in the event of substantial investment being forthcoming, MyFC will relinquish their shareholding in EUFC, either to the Fleet Trust or to new owners.”

In reply to this, MyFootballClub said the following on December 1: “MyFootballClub will not be making a written guarantee of relinquishing its shares to an as yet unknown investor.

“If the Fleet Trust know of a party interested in making an offer to take the majority shareholding in EUFC then we advise that to progress this interest they need to contact the MyFootballClub Society Board to discuss the details of their offer.

“As highlighted in our statement to the FT meeting MyFootballClub, as the majority shareholders in Ebbsfleet Utd, will listen and consider serious offers to work with us as owners of the club and if the right opportunity arose, to take over the ownership of the club if they could demonstrate an ability to develop and sustain the club to a greater degree than ourselves.

“To this end, any serious offers that include a long term sustainable plan for Ebbsfleet Utd would be considered by members who would evaluate any such offers with the best interests of the club in mind.”

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