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Web browsers purchase English team

  • Story Highlights
  • Members of Web community, MyFootballClub, purchase Ebbsfleet United
  • Thus far, 20,000 of the 50,000 members have purchased shares for $72.57
  • The site has raised a total of more than $1.45 million in the past 11 weeks
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By Brie Schwartz for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Ebbsfleet United has 20,000 new owners, and for the price of £35 ($72.57) and an Internet connection, you can have a share too.

Ebbsfleet United's head coach Liam Daish once played for the Republic of Ireland.

The club in the Blue Square Premier League -- the fifth division in England -- will be taken over by MyFootballClub, a community fan Web site, launched in April.

The £35 MyFootball membership fee gives devotees the right to vote on all major decisions including transfers and player selections.

Ebbsfleet were not the only team in the running to receive the £700,000 ($1,451,130) takeover lot.

MyFootballClub's Will Brooks said: "Nine football clubs approached us and we believe that Ebbsfleet is the right choice."

Ebbsfleet, who change their name from Gravesend and Northfleet this season, are currently ninth in the table -- just one promotion away from reaching the Football League.

The funds from the new Web owners will be accessible in the January transfer window, aiding Ebbsfleet's push for a place in League Two.

The acting Ebbsfleet board will continue their roles at the club as non-executives. The club's manager Liam Daish, whose title will change to head coach after the takeover, told the BBC: "We all agree we need something extra to take us to the next step."

"It's the supporters' money that finances this club and pays my wages and those of the players. So, there's a good argument for them having a say in what players they want to see," Daish added.

To further the egalitarian spirit, each member is only permitted to buy one share of the team, while the Web site will secure a 51 percent controlling stake, which will give MyFootballClub the option to purchase Ebbsfleet in the future.

The club, which is sponsored by Eurostar is located in north Kent, home to a new £100 million ($207.33 million) international railway terminal.

Pete Gilham, head of communications for the supporter-owned Brentford Football Club said, "This is a very positive move for football because the club is owned by people who have real passion for it."

While success on the pitch typically drives fans to matches, for the first time in history, MyFootballers can now literally call the team their own. Membership fees are paid annually so prospective owners can join the team at any time.

Daish said, "As a football fan, I think the idea is fantastic. I look forward to the challenge of working with thousands of members to produce a winning team." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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