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November 20, 2007

KELLY: Fantasy futbol is a reality

I am now the proud owner of a professional soccer club.

Well, almost. It should be all wrapped up, complete with pretty bow, just in time to put under the Christmas tree.

Having the ability to pick English outfit Ebbsfleet United's team each week from the comfort of my New Albany abode is a pretty exciting prospect. And I'll also have a say in other key decisions, like signing players and whether to add a McDonald's concession stand to our stadium. That kind of stuff.

My new team ( plays in the Blue Square Premier, which is just outside the league set-up. You've got the Premiership, the Championship, League One and League Two — and then us.

However, we are very much in with a shout of getting into League Two next season, lying 10th right now and within six points of a playoff position.

Who knows? We could even play in the Champions’ League one day.

Did I mention that there's over 53,000 of us?

We are spread out all over the world. While most are from Britain and Ireland, there's 1,400 of us in the States, and a gang of others from as far afield as Australia, Japan, China, Vietnam, Tonga, Qatar, Malawi and Panama.

We are members of MyFootballClub, a groundbreaking Internet-based project with the stated aim of buying a soccer club and transforming its fortunes. Launched in April of this year by former journalist Will Brooks, our philosophy is that members who pay $71.35 get to vote on every key decision — from picking the side, to signing players, to ground improvements.

The media hailed it this week as the 21st century model of club control. I like to call it, “Fantasy football for real.”

To start off with, we voted on which club we’d like to buy. Most leading choices - Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Cambridge United, Accrington Stanley, Manchester United and Arsenal - were discounted. They were either not for sale, too expensive, had too much debt, or just didn't have the potential.

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