EXCLUSIVE: Ebbsfleet keeper reveals club owes players money as administration looms into view
PUBLISHED: 13:29 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:58 18 April 2013
Players and staff not being paid; relegation for the second time in four years, administration possibly on the horizon. Ebbsfleet United is a club in crisis.
It all seems a long way from May 10, 2008, the day they won the FA Trophy, the biggest accolade in its history.
That day signalled a bright future for a team regarded as the biggest non-league football club in Kent, but the five years since have turned out to have been anything but glorious for Fleet fans.
The magical day at Wembley Stadium came just months after the Fleet was taken over by MyFootballClub (MyFC), the first company in the world to buy a football club and give ordinary people from all over the globe an equal say in decisions for £35 a year.
But the 25,000 fans who travelled to Wembley almost five years ago are a stark contrast to the dozen who went to Barrow earlier this month.
Relegation from Blue Square Bet Premier was confirmed with a home defeat to Telford on Saturday, who had not won a game for almost six months, and fans feel let down and uncertain about the future.
The players are also in the dark. Goalkeeper Preston Edwards said: “We’ve only been paid a percentage of March’s wages. I think all of the players are out of contract in the summer so it remains to be seen what happens next season.”
Another, who did not want to be named, added: “The club has told us not to talk about wages or finances.”
MyFC promised members would have a say on transfers, player selection and any other decisions that affect the football club.
However, the reality has been very different. Subscription has risen to £50 and involvement in team selection never materialised.
Founder Will Brooks, who has since severed ties with the organisation, has admitted: “We failed to give many members the feeling of ownership and closeness to the club they had hoped for.”
This has seen numbers dwindle from a high of 32,000 to the present 950.
New MyFC chairman Jeff Hammett refused to talk to the Reporter when asked for an interview. Fans claim no representative from MyFC turned up to a Fleet Trust meeting last night to discuss the future of the club.
Fleet chairman Jessica McQueen was more forthcoming. She admitted all staff, not just players, have only been paid part of their March wages but would not disclose whether the reported £90,000 deficit is accurate.
She said: “There’s a board meeting this week and we’ll keep fans up-to-date with any developments. We have every intention of keeping the club running next season at the highest level possible.
“Fans are free to come and discuss any issues they have with me – I’ve been a fan for 40 years and want the best for the club.”
Many supporters have complained that they have found it difficult to get answers from anyone involved with the club or MyFC, with scores demanding MyFC put Ebbsfleet up for sale sooner rather than later.
Are you a fan of Ebbsfleet United or a MyFC member? Let us know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @northkentnews.