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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Fans given club takeover chance
By John Sinnott

MyFootballClub aims to take control of a club
A website has been launched with the revolutionary aim of recruiting 50,000 fans to take over a football club.

MyFootballClub wants people to pay 35 in a bid to raise 1.4m to buy a team, with each member an equal partner.

Members will have a vote on transfers as well as player selection and all major decisions affecting the club.

"I've created a vehicle that will pool fans' opinions, passion and wealth and turn fantasy football into reality," creator Will Brooks told BBC Sport.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone who has fallen out of love for the game to rekindle their passion

MyFootballClub creator Will Brooks

A former football journalist, the 36-year-old Brooks, who now works as a copywriter, has spent the last two years developing the idea.

"I've met several club owners and ex-managing directors of Championship and Premiership clubs, all of whom were captivated by the concept and believed it to be workable," said Brooks, who is a Fulham supporter.

"I remember in the 1980s going to Craven Cottage when the club was broke.

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BBC Sport's John Sinnott

"I looked around at the 3,000 fans who had turned up and was left thinking that if everyone chipped in we could buy the club - but then there was no way of mobilising that feeling. The internet changes all that."

Over the last few years a number of Premiership clubs - Manchester United, Aston Villa and Liverpool - have been the subject of corporate takeovers and Brooks hopes his scheme will allow fans greater participation in the running of a club.

"I've always had the notion of a group of fans putting money into a club and not taking it out - it is a potent force for good as most owners look at clubs as a way of making money."

"I think some supporters of some big Premiership clubs feel as though they are a little out of touch with football these days.

The head coach would know that this is a club with a difference

Will Brooks

"So this is an exciting opportunity for someone who has fallen out of love for the game to rekindle their passion and get involved on a whole new level."

Only a couple of days after being launched with minimal publicity, the scheme has already generated enormous interest on the Internet and Brooks has been fielding calls from journalists as far afield as Spain.

The website has a list of 15 clubs - including Manchester City and Arsenal - which supporters want to buy, though Brooks says it is more likely the money raised will be used to buy a lower league club.

Brooks added: "I read on the BBC site last week that the Torquay owner is desperate to sell and I'm sure there are others, so I don't think the members will want to launch a hostile takeover!

"A great number of those registered with the site have stated they don't have a preferred club to buy - they just want to be part of it.

"Voting is close and that table of 15 is likely to change. When we reach our target, we will make our way down the top of the list, until the most suitable club is found."

Brooks acknowledged the scheme could encounter teething problems, particularly as regards to members picking the team.

He stated: "Before members voted on team selection the head coach would provide a briefing on the previous week's game, the next opponents and potential players and formations he suggests.

MyFootballClub wants greater democracy

"Then the owners would vote and the head coach would have to follow their decision, although I think the owners would probably follow the head coach's advice.

"The head coach would know that this is a club with a difference - where the owners have their say - and, in many ways, the pressure will be taken off him because of this."

If the website is successful in taking control of a club, Brooks expects the day-to-day running of the business to go on normally, with members only voting on the most important decisions.

"The board will be made up of existing supporters and will possess the breadth of skills and expertise that all club boards should have.

"These board members will have the same voting rights as everyone else.

"Members' opinions on transfer targets and on other issues will be different. In the same way popular content rises to the top of YouTube, the most-supported member opinions will be the ones that are eventually put to the vote."

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