Online Fans Buy A Team!

Last May I wrote about a UK fansite trying to organize football (that’d be soccer to my American brethren) fans to go beyond armchair coaching and webboard kvetching to collectively purchase a team. Today’s big news is that they did it!

An Internet-based collective of soccer fans from more than 70 countries agreed in principle Tuesday to buy a controlling interest in the lower-league English soccer club.The deal will give them a vote on everything from team lineup selections to which players should be transferred.

The pro club said it was overjoyed by the deal with MyFootballClub, calling it a world first and the start of a new age in soccer club ownership.

“This is a brand new concept, basically a massive trust,” said Roland Edwards, a director and club secretary of Ebbsfleet United in Kent, southern England.

“These individuals have bought the team. They will help run it; they will feel part of it,” he said in a telephone interview.

When I first wrote about this, I framed it as boundaries melting, and I don’t know how else to describe it when the fans become the owners. This is not being a prosumer, produser, or any other cultural studies fandom catch phrase you want to use. It’s a fundamental switch. What potential does this have for our eventual understandings of concepts like “owner” and “fan”?

Single rich fans have been buying teams forever, but groups of fans? One of the central themes of this blog is the shifts in relational and power dynamics between fans and the things and people around whom they rally that the internet enables. This has got to be one of the most striking examples yet.

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