New business model of ownership on cards at Bath City Football Club

Share Article

Written by:   | Posted 12-March-2015 10:00

Bath City Football Club has struck a financial deal which could allow the fans to take over the club.

The Supporters Society Action Group are looking to raise a seven-figure sum to make it a community-owned club.

A total of £1.4million needs to be raised to complete the purchase, satisfy creditors and provide enough working capital for the 2015/16 football season.

From April, supporters will be able to buy shares and have a say as to how the club is run. Following a consultation, the minimum it will cost a fan to buy shares is expected to be £500, subject to feedback.

Co-ordinator of the Bath City Community Ownership Action Group, Oliver Holtaway, said the latest development was “an important step.”

He said: “A lot of work has gone into it and I think we have received loads of well wishes and support from people who have spoken to both existing fans and those who are new to the club as well, including businesses.

“We are working with Supporters Direct to put together a share prospectus. It is a national organisation which helps supporters trusts and advise clubs on becoming community-owned.”

He added the agreed figure with the board was “fair” and “appropriate.”

It is understood existing board members and former chairwoman Manda Rigby are owed substantial amounts, but Mr Holtaway would not discuss the club’s debts.

Mrs Rigby has since confirmed that she is owed £170,000.

The current shareholders have now been invited to convert their existing shares. Those who don’t, will sell them for £1 per share.

Mr Holtaway added: “Bath has a tradition of doing things brilliantly, whether it’s our world-class rugby club, excellent universities, vibrant cultural heritage, innovative businesses or buzzing creative industries.

“There is no better place than Bath for a premier community-owned football club, built on sustainable finances and driven by a clear sense of social purpose. It’s what Bath deserves.”

The Supporters Society representative on the football club’s board, Shane Morgan, said: “Bath is a city with a proud sporting history. It is a city full of football fans.

“There is so much untapped potential for the football community in Bath to rally around Bath City FC and make it their own, and we believe that community ownership will help create a broader base of support and investment.

Community ownership is the future of football, and we can make it a reality right here in Bath.”

Former chairman Mrs Rigby believes the club will not be able to progress while it continues to play at its current ground. The football team has played at Twerton Park for 73 years and the Supporters Society Action Group has plans for fans to take over the running of the club club.

However Mrs Rigby, who was chairwoman between August 2011 and December 2013, said she supports the community ownership move. In doing so, the supporter’s group has announced it needs to raise £1.4million. It is thought people will be able to buy community shares from around £500.

The Bath and North East Somerset Council councillor for Abbey ward said: “The board is willing to work with the action group, which I think is brilliant.”

“We will see if the fundraising will be successful.”

Mrs Rigby is owed around £170,000, which she will receive as part of the group’s seven-figure target.

When asked if she thought the fans could achieve this, she said: “The short answer is I don’t know. It is not known at the moment.

“I think if they have got a strong business plan that shows where they are going to be playing football, at what level they are going to be at, and how they believe they are going to be able to make it into a sustainable club, then it stands every chance of succeeding.

“I really want to see Bath City succeed, but I can’t see a plan for that to happen while they stay at Twerton Park.”

FC United of Manchester
The club was formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters, who disagreed with the Premier League side’s takeover from American businessman Malcolm Glazier. They play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, after successful years of climbing the lower divisions.
Swansea City
The Swansea City Supporters Society owns around 21 per cent of the club, and over the past decade the club have risen from the foot of the Football league to the Premier League, winning the League Cup and featuring in Europe on the way.
Pompey became the largest English club to be owned by its fans after the Pompey Supporters Trust took over in April 2013. A year and a half after the club entered administration for the second time in two years, the trust helped the club to clear its debts, after paying back all money owed to creditors and legacy payments to former players.
FC Barcelona
The Catalan giants, are the world’s most profitable football club, and the second most valuable sports team in the world. Rivals, Real Madrid, also known for success, are owned by their fans, as are Athletic Bilbao.
Another Welsh club which is community-owned. The club has just under 4,000 members and joint owners since the takeover in 2011.

Share Article