The success (in terms of attention) of myfootballclub.co.uk has spawned an imitator Stateside. Mysoccerclubusa.com is a venture to create a fan-funded club in Scranton, Pennsylvania, best known as the setting for another American copy of a British success: the sitcom The Office.
Indeed, the man behind it is an active member of MyFC himself. You’ll notice I haven’t given them an active link: if you want to check it out, copy and paste to your address bar. But I’m not giving them google pagerank by linking directly to them until I get some answers from them. In any case, though their site was working slowly earlier, as the screenshot to the right shows, those fires must have started up again in California tonight and knocked out their site.
Their basic idea is to launch a team in the semi-professional National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), which is below the USL, which is below MLS. Which is a pretty low rung world soccer wise, and would cost perhaps $50-100,000. Still, I think it’s a more admirable idea to start a fan owned club from fresh than to take over an existing one, so kudos on that front. Here’s what they say:
In 2009, a bold initiative will come to fruition, a soccer team with a ready-made fan base of thousands from across the country, where the fans are also part-owners in the endeavor and where THEY will have a voice in how major issues are handled within the operation of the franchise. This is My Soccer Club USA, and a new way of running sports, built upon a club of the people, by the people, and for the people, is on its way.
Unfortunately, to say their operation is slapdash would be me being very kind. For some weeks they’ve been accepting sign-ups (at $50 a piece) to a paypal address. If they’re registered as an actual business somewhere, it’s not evident from their website.
They’ve been claiming for some time they are in the process of applying for non-profit status, but if there’s a genuine reason for the delay in getting it, it hasn’t been revealed. I got in touch with them via email of course, but my follow-up questions have not been addressed. You’ll also notice, if you do check out their site that there aren’t any real names being put publicly to the venture.
I’m not cruel enough to reveal the name of the fan behind it myself, as I think this is a case of gross naivety rather than malicious scamming, as best I can tell. But they claim to have signed up over sixty members, and what will happen to their money is unclear if the venture falls through.
Maybe we should leave fan ownership on this side of the Atlantic out of Dwight Schrute’s grasp and in Drew Carey’s hands.
Update, December 6th: Three weeks after sending the founder follow-up questions, I received a response on their non-profit status. The email stated that “We are also on our way to having non-profit status.” This is something they said many weeks ago, as well, but no details have been provided on why it is taking so long. Further follow-up questions on this have not been responded to in the last week.
Update, December 26th: No further reply has been received from the founder of mysoccerclub, which has received further attention thanks to a piece in the New York Times. Should we receive answers to the questions from the founder about the financial set-up, we will be more than happy to publish them; once again, we see this venture as well-meaning but retain concerns about the lack of transparency.