Edusport Academy launch pioneering ‘run the club’ scheme
Members of Edusport Academy will be able to recommend signings and pick the team name.
Lowland League side Edusport Academy are opening up the club to be run by football fans from across the world.
The club are launching a new scheme that will allow members, who will pay £25 per year, to have a major say in running the club, including choosing the team name, recommending signings and picking the strip.
Members will also be asked to elect representatives to the board.
Created in 2011, the academy was originally intended to act as a development centre for young French players. Owned by former Motherwell player Chris Ewing, the club now has a place in the Scottish football pyramid and competes in the Lowland League, playing their games at Lesser Hampden.
Ewing has decided to restructure to separate the club from the academy and believes the new membership scheme can help achieve his ambition of playing in the Scottish Premiership by 2025.
Members can be drawn from anywhere in the world and Ewing has pledged to donate £50,000 to grassroots football in Scotland when 10,000 people have signed up.
"Having been promoted to the Lowland League, our business model is evolving," he said.
"What started off in 2011 as a private football academy has evolved into a football club with full membership of the Scottish FA playing in the fifth tier of Scottish football, just one step away from professional football.
"The business model that was originally set up is now maybe not best placed to support the ambitions of the football club and that is what lead me to think of alternatives.
"I think the OurFootballClub.com model is a good alternative, something new and exciting and creates a football club for the modern generation of football fan."
Ewing promises members input and involvement that goes well beyond the usual relationship between club and supporter.
"We want this to be the most innovative fan experience in the game," he said. "We aim to offer the best and most immersive supporter experience in world football, which is exactly what we feel the game needs.
"We are progressive, inclusive, and are looking to build and engage with an online community of passionate and knowledgeable football fans. Together, we can achieve great things, such as our primary aim of reaching the Premiership (and beyond) by 2025.
"Our Football Club is the name of the project which allows members of the public to buy a membership, then begin making decisions that affect the real Edusport Academy Football Club.
"It is essentially a supporters group with a real difference - it gives its members unprecedented control, including the ability to re-name the team, design the strips, scout new players, select the board and much more.
The owner acknowledges that a target of climbing through the divisions to play in the top flight in just seven years may raise eyebrows. However, Ewing believes that ambition is what will mark out his club as different from the rest.
"Some people may say it is crazy to target promotion to the Premiership by 2025 but I would counter that by saying it's crazy to do the same thing year upon year and expect a different result," he said. "That's what a lot of the clubs are doing in leagues 1 and 2, going through the motions every year and getting the same outcome.
"We're challenging the status quo and have the chance to do that as we are a new football club and not hindered by anything. What we are trying to do is provide a service and I feel now is as good a time as any to get involved.
"The national team has failed to deliver for a number of years, there is an apathy towards the Old Firm and across Scottish football as a whole. It's about using people's passion for football as a catalyst for positive change."