Flat-footed at the Goal Line
Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
Back in February, I wrote about how British soccer team Ebbsfleet United was redefining the term “customer centric,” via its agreement with members of the team’s MyFootballClub.co.uk community fan website that gave supporters the right to vote on all major decisions, including choosing the team's line-up for each game. Some 29,000 people around the globe ponied up the annual £35 ($70) fee, and the world—well, at least the futbol fanatics of the world—watched in breathless anticipation.
Would those 29,000 “owners” fire the manager? Would they demand a line-up change for every half of every game? Would factions arise to debate any and all Ebbsfleet business, resulting in a balkanization of shareholders, ultimately leading to a dizzying blizzard of claimants to club leadership—so many would-be Anastasias to the Ebbsfleet throne?
If you guessed the answer to all of those questions to be “no,” you too may have a future in predictive analytics.
The idea of getting 29,000—or, I suppose, 14,501—people to agree on anything is admittedly a Herculean task, but that’s not even the issue at play here. Instead, it’s that not enough people are participating.
According to a message posted by the MyFC Web Team and disseminated through several other blogs, “The level of interest in the team selector and general discussion on formations, players, tactics etc has been very low. On average, only about 1% to 1.5% of members are using the team selector to pick a team, and far fewer are watching 90 minutes of matches.
“It has therefore been very difficult to design a system that will work based on such low results. The resulting teams from these selections have been reasonable, but fairly predictable and not particularly ground breaking.”
Then there’s the fact that the Fleet recently won an FA Trophy Semi Final to reach the finals for the first time in its history. Good news indeed, and club manager Liam Daish credited the MyFC financial input with being a key factor in his own post.
However, he added, “… With a month of this season left, I'm concerned about going from a standing start to members picking the team straight away …. My opinion would be that changing things now could affect mindsets and unsettle things.”
So, not only are there not enough “owners” participating, but their voice shouldn’t count at this stage anyway. (Kind of a new twist on the old joke that finds a diner complaining, “The food here is really terrible,” and her friend replying, “Yes, and such small portions!”)
Doubtless many of the Fleet’s new owners aren’t actually all that interested in the minutiae of owning a soccer club. But the fact that those who are seem to be getting frozen out (after responding to a come-on that did, after all, promise “Own the club and pick the team”) doesn’t bode very well for this particular Web 2.0 experiment.
Oh, and those 29,000 owners? To date, only about 2,000 have pledged for another year of membership.
What’s the opposite of soccer announcer Andres Cantor’s patented cry of “Gooooal!”?
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