English soccer is made up of many leagues. At the top is the Premier League and the leagues continue down all the way to various regional conferences.
Unlike the socialist nature of American sports, teams in English soccer (well, in soccer leagues throughout the world) must earn their spot in their league.
I have previously written about the promotion - relegation paradigm in this article; but, in a nutshell, it goes like this:
At the end of the season, the Premier League teams in 18th, 19th and 20th places are demoted to the lower Coca-Cola Championship league, and the top three teams from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League. And this continues all the way down the leagues, into the conferences, so that a team that is started by a bunch of amateurs today could make their way through promotion to the top league in the country in a matter of ten years, or so. And, vice-versa! A team that is top of the heap today could tumble down through the leagues until they have no value and no fans.
Leeds United was in the top-flight a few years ago and now, due to mismanagement and a lack of proper funding, fights to stay in League One (which is the third-tier league) and could continue tumbling down and out of existence. See the Leeds history at Wikipedia.
Quite the opposite is happening for Ebbsfleet United, a Conference team who was on the verge of insolvency. The Conference is the fifth-tier of soccer clubs, just shy of being a legitimate League team.
Formerly known as Gravesend and Northfleet, the team's name was changed to take advantage of an economic upswing in the region. Still, the team struggled to make ends meet.
The team was saved from insolvency and dissolution when 20,000 members of soccer website MyFootballClub each put up thirty-five pounds to raise £700,000 (over US $1,400,000) to purchase the team!
That's right. Twenty thousand soccer fans are now the owners of the team. And the best part is that the team will be run very democratically with decisions being made by votes of all members via the website!
Should Ebbsfleet United win promotion this year, they would be promoted to League Two.
Could you imagine Major League Baseball allowing fans to save the Montreal Expos, or the National Football League allowing fans in a city to purchase the team before it was moved to Indianapolis or Phoenix? The billionaires who control American sports are too interested in protecting their guaranteed profits and tax-subsidies than in allowing a truly free marketplace.
This is amazing!
Read this article about it at the BBC site!
The Ebbsfleet United website.
Dick Mac Recommends:
Playing For Uncle Sam