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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007, 09:41 GMT
Website agrees Ebbsfleet takeover

By John Sinnott

David Sullivan
Sullivan has been at Birmingham City since 1993
Birmingham co-owner David Sullivan has voiced reservations over the long-term viability of the MyFootballClub website's takeover of Ebbsfleet United.

Sullivan has had 14 years of boardroom experience in running Birmingham.

He told BBC Sport: "My heart says it's marvellous that fans can own a club and vote on any decision of consequence, but in reality it won't work.

"At a lower level it possibly might work but in the Premier League or the Football League it would struggle."

On Tuesday, MyFootballClub confirmed it had agreed a deal to take control of Blue Square Premier outfit Ebbsfleet.

The website will buy a 51% controlling stake and has the option to purchase the club outright in the future.

A manager ceases to be a manager if he can't pick the team

Birmingham co-owner David Sullivan

The website's members will have the right to vote on all major decisions affecting the club, including having a say on team selection.

"I look forward to the experiment but I think it will be an utter disaster, although I could be very wrong," said Sullivan, who spoke to BBC Sport before the takeover announcement was made.

Sullivan predicted the website could face insurmountable hurdles if fans were involved in player transfers.

"If a player is in demand you need an instant decision, you can't go on the internet for six or 12 hours and let people vote," added Sullivan.

"Virtually every transfer deal has to be done at tremendous speed because other clubs are going to be interested.

"We have jumped in at transfer deadlines, buying players that were going elsewhere. We have got hold of players that were en route to one club and brought them to Birmingham.

"Middlesbrough beat us to signing a player in Turkey this summer.

Liam Daish
Liam Daish is Ebbsfleet's manager

"A few years ago Craig Bellamy was coming to us and Celtic jumped in and got him and derailed the transfer."

MyFootballClub members will vote on team selection but Sullivan also questioned how the club's manager would react to the fans' input over who he could pick and play.

"A manager ceases to be a manager if he can't pick the team," said Sullivan.

"If the fans vote on who plays in each position the manager might as well just be the trainer. If you don't pick the players, you're not the manager.

"I think a manager would find it frustrating if the fans made a couple of changes and the team lost."

From his experience at Birmingham, Sullivan believes the majority of fans are intelligent but that they do not always understand the realities of running a football club.

"When you buy a player you consider the transfer fee, the agent's fee, and their wages," he continued.

"But those details are confidential and unless fans have that information you can't make a rational decision. There's an issue of transparency.


"We had a spell last season where the fans wanted to sack Steve Bruce and they put up suggestions of managers who I knew wouldn't come to us.

"The fans would change managers every three months. It would be like Spain, where they go through four a season."

Sullivan praised the website's promotion of democracy but had one final piece of advice for the club's new owners.

"I hope all the members come to the matches," he said. "It is a bit off if they join on the web and vote and don't come to the matches but are still picking the team.

"The only people who should be able to pick the team are those that attend the matches."

Fan website agrees club takeover
13 Nov 07 |  Ebbsfleet United
Sullivan raises takeover concerns
27 Oct 07 |  Birmingham City
Sullivan angry at 'armchair' fans
20 Aug 07 |  Birmingham City
Takeover website brings in Fiddy
30 May 07 |  Football
Gravesend announce change of name
02 May 07 |  Ebbsfleet United
Fans given club takeover chance
01 May 07 |  Football


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