Couchman Harrington, DLA Piper and LG advised on the first web-based takeover of a business after an online community took over Kent football club Ebbsfleet United.
LG partner Charles Malpass assisted the operators of MyFootballClub on the regulatory aspects concerned with the innovative scheme.
MyFootballClub’s 27,500 members voted in favour of the takeover and will take control of the club shortly after a general meeting of Ebbsfleet’s shareholders in mid-February.
Satish Khandke and Sam Hollis of sports boutique Couchman Harrington advised the existing shareholders, led by director Brian Kilcullen. They will retain a 25 per cent share.
DLA Piper partner Mel Simms advised on the corporate aspects of the takeover. MyFootballClub is structured in two parts – the operators of the website, advised by LG, and an industrial provident society, advised by DLA Piper. The advice was split between two firms to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
“In practice, I’m not sure there would have been any conflict because their interests are pretty much aligned, but it’s a question of transparency,” said Malpass.
LG advised MyFootballClub against undertaking an online offering of shares as it would have been expensive and instead decided on the industrial provident society model.
Malpass said: “Industrial provident societies have been around since Victorian days, but we modernised it for a 20th century application – the web.”
The rules were submitted to the FSA and included elements of online voting that have not been done before.