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Internet site helps fans take control of English club

sports Updated: Nov 13, 2007 21:33 IST

Football fans are set to share ownership of English minor league club Ebbsfleet United after a deal was reached in principle for a 700,000 pounds ($1.45 million) takeover.

Each of the 20,000 fans paid 35 pounds ($72.42) to community Web site MyFootballClub.co.uk, set up earlier this year to help fans purchase a club of their choosing.

If the takeover satisfies the process of due diligence the fans, who between them will own 51 percent of the club, will effectively be allowed to make decisions on all club matters, including transfers and team selection.

"We are united in believing this is a great opportunity," Ebbsfleet chairman Jason Botley was quoted by the BBC on Tuesday. "This extra finance and support will enable our club to progress."

Ebbsfleet were previously called Gravesend and Northfleet before changing their name before the start of this season.

The club's Web site could not cope with the volume of interest on Tuesday, its home page simply saying it had been "inundated with traffic" after the announcement.

A statement on MyFootballclub.co.uk said agreement had been reached in principle to purchase a controlling stake in Ebbsfleet, which is east of London on the Thames Estuary.

"MyfootballClub members will own the club, vote on team selection, decide which players to buy and sell and guide the club up the leagues," it said.

Ebbsfleet have never been in the Football League and are currently ninth in what is effectively the fifth tier of English football.

Coach Liam Daish said he welcomed the fans' involvement. "During and after matches, Ebbsfleet supporters often give me their opinion on which players should or shouldn't start games. Now they can have their say," he said on the BBC.