Monday, 24 March 2008

30,000 gaffers

One Wembley line-up has already been decided. This season's FA Trophy final (on May 10th) will be between Ebbsfleet United and Torquay United. For Ebbsfleet, it will be their first ever appearance at Wembley; en route to the showpiece final they have knocked out Carshalton Athletic, Dorchester Town, Weymouth, Burton Albion and Aldershot Town. The Kent club have been given an initial allocation of 15,000 tickets but are expected to sell more. But bizarrely, the one person who does not yet know what role he will play on the big day is their manager, Liam Daish.

Ebbsfleet have had an eventful twelve months to say the least. At the end of the 2006-2007 season Gravesend & Northfleet changed their name to Ebbsfleet United in an attempt to reflect local regeneration of the Thames Gateway which will see nearby Ebbsfleet Station - a stone's throw from the Stonebridge Road ground - become a focal point for international travel. Ebbsfleet are sponsored by Eurostar.

Then in February 2008 the club were bought out by the website venture "MyFootballClub" (MyFC) for the tune of £700,000. This has left Ebbsfleet with 30,000 new owners, each having paid £35 to join and claim a stake in the football club. That stake includes the right to vote on all the major decisions off the pitch, from ticket pricing to kit manufacturer to stadium development. Members will also be able to vote on team selection and player transfers. Full tactical control is due to be handed to MyFC on April 1st.

And many of the new MyFC owners of Ebbsfleet United are desperate to pick the team for the FA Trophy final at Wembley; if the MyFC owners get their way Liam Daish could become the first ever cup final manager to have his team picked for him.

So from April 1st, Ebbsfleet United will have 30,000 gaffers. I'd love to be a fly on the wall for the half-time team talk. I just hope the new Wembley dressing rooms are big enough

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