Just under two years after fans launched the Big Bath City Bid to raise funds to buy the city’s football club, this week the Supporters Society at last became the club’s majority shareholder and a new board has been installed subject to formal League ratification.
Having raised over £350,000 in the autumn and following extensive legal process, the Society has bought £300,000 of new shares issued by the Club, lent a further £50,000 and opened a new line of credit for working capital to underwrite operations for the next three-five years. A new board has been formed, headed up as Chairman by Nick Blofeld, former CEO at Bath Rugby, with Paul Williams remaining from the previous board as Football Chairman. The Society’s six members of a nine-person board include the addition of new blood in the form of Sally Harris as Community Director, Martin Powell as Supporter Liaison Officer and Jon Bickley in the role of Sales & Marketing Director. Shane Morgan as Director of Operations continues as incumbent Society representative, while John Reynolds and Andrew Pierce continue from the previous board, providing continuity of knowledge and experience at the helm. One Society position is still to be filled as former appointee Nick Thompson has recently moved away from the area.
As well as clearing debts to a number of individuals, the financial restructure sees all remaining debt re-scheduled on five-years, interest-free terms, giving the club a stable platform to begin its turnaround plan. A key foundation of the plan is a redevelopment on the site of the main stand andhalf the car park, that will provide a new grandstand and property to realise sufficient funds to clear all remaining debts as well as providing ongoing income streams. The club is actively working on this project and will be consulting in due course on the redevelopment.
Following the success of the fund-raising in the autumn, the new structure has already been running in parallel with the previous board, notching up a number of developments including:
· The appointment of full-time General Manager, Carole Banwell, to drive new revenues and oversee day-to-day running at the Club
· Launch of an online shop for merchandise, event and ticket sales
· The success of a new Family Day leading to a second 1000+ crowd in the season for the first time in five years
· Launch of a new Community Working Group to engage with and embrace local community groups and charities
· Launch of new Bath City FC Sponsors Club
· Appointment of Volunteer and Partnerships Officer, Heather Thomas
Commenting on the completion of the deal, Chairman Nick Blofeld offered:
“We’re delighted that after over two years of hard work, fund-raising and negotiation we’ve completed this refinancing and that the people of Bath and wider community now hold a majority stake in Bath City Football Club. With a firm financial footing and citywide engagement, we’re already seeing a burst of creative energy that is invigorating the club. The possibilities are huge for this football club at the heart of our community and we’re excited to get things moving.”
Paul Williams, Chairman of Football, added:
“I’m really pleased to reach this stage of the process that gives usthe stability to plan for success on the pitch, while new resources and finance enable us to build the business off the pitch and make it sustainable for the long run. One of the most tangible things fans can see is that we’ve approved an enhanced playing budget for next season that will enable Manager Gary Owers to plan and recruit for a serious tilt at promotion.”
Martin Powell, Chairman of the Supporters Society and the Club’s new Supporters Liaison Officer, concluded:
“We are absolutely thrilled to see this dream become a reality. The Big Bath City Bid has finally delivered a community owned club that enables fans to elect directors and to take hands-on roles in the day-to-day and strategic running of the club. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
On 9th June the club will celebrate this momentous event with “Bidfest”, a party to celebrate the success of the bid and to toast the future of Bath City FC as a community-owned club.