By | May 22, 2013

sd logoWe’ll be updating this page on a regular basis, please keep asking the questions though!

Special thanks go to James Mathie of Supporters Direct for his help for his help with these.

Who would run the club?

A day to day executive would run the Club, but if Aldershot were a Community owned Club it would be the job of the Board to support and oversee the executive, working to the agreed budget.

Wrexham for example have a Trust Board majority elected by the members, who oversee a more dedicated Football Club Board of 6 people – a combination of Trust Board Members and co-opted specialists to oversee the day to day running of the Club.

 

How much would we need to raise to make this work?

The simple equation would be you’d need enough money to negotiate a deal with the creditors, taking the Club out of administration in line with the rules of the Conference, and to be left with a sensible level of working capital. Now that there is clearly interest in the Community ownership model in principle, there is an opportunity to consider what a target might be and if other individuals or partners would be willing to invest in this model as a different way forward.

 

How do we make sure the Board are accountable to the members as owners?

The constitution of the Club will give rights and powers to members to ensure there is more transparency and accountability for the members in the big decisions. The Board will have delegated authority to make the decisions outside of these, but it is of course critical that the members are regularly updated so that they can help the Board and monitor their progress.

We have seen Clubs such as AFC Wimbledon with explicit rules to protect the members in key decisions such as moving grounds and taking on debt above a certain level, with decisions having to be put to the members with large number to be quorate.

No governance structure can completely rule out mismanagement but members will have the means to challenge the Board.

 

How would we still put out a competitive team?

Community Ownership is based on spending what a Club earns, but that doesn’t mean Clubs aren’t competitive.  It’s about being more efficient with the money Clubs have and turning the goodwill of supporter ownership into increased income levels. This can lead to a variety of increased revenues such as bigger match day attendances, more sponsorship, a bigger volunteer supporter base, more buy in from strategic partners and increased investment and fundraising.

Whilst a challenge we think this collective buy-in actually helps Clubs in the long run, building a bigger more engaged and involved set of supporters.

 

Would we keep paying more money after an initial investment?

Community Ownership must be sustainable, so to keep asking people to pay money over and above the money supporters already pay for tickets, programmes, shirts etc is unrealistic and unsustainable in itself. The business would need to be viable and not require injections of money – unless for example there was a capital project with a business case to support it.

If we were in the fortunate position that people wanted to give us money over and above the normal supporter purchases as long as the terms of the payment didn’t jeopardise the Community Ownership model that others had invested in, and the business wasn’t overly reliant on this money, it is something that could be considered.

 

What would the aims for the Club be?

This is one that ultimately the members as owners would determine, but we would expect them to be similar to other Clubs who have worked with Supporters Direct. For info the rules they use state the following as aims;

The Club’s objects are to benefit the community by;

    • Enhancing the social, cultural and economic value of the Club to its Communities and by acting as a responsible custodian of the club for future generations;
    • Upholding the mutual ownership of the Club operating democratically, fairly and transparently;
    • Ensuring the Club operates with financial responsibility enabling the Club to be run for the long term interest of the Community;
    • Providing sporting facilities and opportunities regardless of age, income, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexuality, religious or moral belief; and
    • Playing at the highest level possible, but always operating in a financially responsible and prudent manner.

 

Would financial fair play affect the Club?

Whilst in their infancy the rules of the football are changing to help better run sustainable Clubs. For example in the Football League there will be penalties for Clubs in the Championship overspending to reach the PL, including taxes to be distributed to Clubs that do it right. In League 1 and 2 there are salary caps – loans can no longer buy you players and pay wages your income doesn’t support.

You can read more about these Financial Fair Play measures in the Football League here

http://www.football-league.co.uk/page/FLExplainedDetail/0,,10794~2748246,00.html

In the Football Conference the penalties for Clubs getting into financial difficulty are much harsher with Clubs that go into administration having to show how they can pay off creditors in full over 3 years or they will face further penalties and demotion. There are also plans at the moment being tabled to Conference Clubs to prohibit the use of borrowing to finance budget deficits with a decision expected next month.

 

What does ‘Community Ownership’ mean?

Many Clubs do lots of great things in their community, and many supporters feel like they morally own their Club but ‘community ownership’ is different. The basic fundamentals are that;

  • A minimum of 50% +1 of the Club is controlled by an entity which has an open and inclusive membership
  • The membership works on a one member one vote principle
  • Any profits are reinvested back into the Club as opposed to being distributed to shareholders
  • The Club is committed to running as a viable business

Who is doing it?

It’s not to say that other forms of ownership don’t work and all of our problems will be solved but other Clubs such as Pompey, AFC Wimbledon, Exeter City and Wycombe Wanderers in League 2 and Wrexham and Chester in the Conference Premier have turned to this model of ownership.

There is no guarantee of success on the pitch – these Clubs have good and bad seasons – but when things go wrong they can recover, because they are run sustainably off it.

 

What are the benefits of the ‘Community Ownership’ model?

Supporters Direct believe there are a number of potential benefits to a Club that is Community Owned, benefits that are much harder to achieve or not possible to achieve in a privately owned Club. More details can be found at

http://www.supporters-direct.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Business-Advantages-of-Supporter-Community-Ownership-in-Football-Briefing-4.pdf

 

What next?

Community Ownership will only work if enough people want it to work. For now we need as many Shots supporters and members of the local community to let us know whether there is the appetite to explore this route. The best way you can do that is by filling out the 4 question survey we have prepared and encouraging your friends to do the same

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Shots_in_community_ownership

If there is sufficient interest then we will work with Supporters Direct who are experts in community buy-outs of football clubs to work with us on the next steps.

We will not ask for money until we are confident that there is enough interest in this model of ownership from the pledges. If we reach a point of negotiation for the community to take over the club, the full details will be clearly laid out in an offer document explaining how the money will be used and how the Club will be run.

 

Leave a Reply