Green light for Community Ownership!

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by OliverH on Fri Mar 13, 2015 11:43 am

Bristol Mike, that is a very sensible question and we intend to communicate with Society members directly on this shortly.

The Action Group is an initiative of the Society, although there are several people now very much involved in our work who are not Society members.

Community shares can only be issued by a registered society (and Industrial and Provident Society in old money), or a co-op/community benefit society. The difference between the two is technical (depends on whether it was founded before or after 2014) - the Supporters Society is a registered society but can function like a community benefit society, including issuing community shares to its members.

In other words, part of buying community shares is to join the society that is issuing them - that way you have a say in its affairs.

So one question is, do we create a brand new spanking community benefit society to serve as the vehicle that sells community shares and uses the proceeds to acquire Bath City FC Ltd? Or do we use the existing Society, which is perfectly well set up to do this and already owns 17% of the club's shares?

For simplicity's sake we are leaning towards using the Society as the vehicle, subject to advice. This means that the existing 150-odd Society members would continue to have their vote, while buyers of community shares would join the Society and swell its membership. Eventually, the Society would either control Bath City FC Ltd as a subsidiary, or (as Supporters Direct recommend), Bath City FC Ltd would itself convert to a community benefit society, and the Society and the club would amalgamate.

We appreciate that for some people the Supporters Society carries historical baggage and is associated with particular personalities and have thought about either creating a new society or rebranding to something like "Bath City Trust". But it seems simpler to use what's there. Do let us know what you think.


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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Steve Whites Missus on Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:08 pm

We appreciate that for some people the Supporters Society carries historical baggage and is associated with particular personalities and have thought about either creating a new society or rebranding to something like "Bath City Trust". But it seems simpler to use what's there. Do let us know what you think.

Lets be honest try and find me any club, or society which doesn't have historical baggage and/or personalities.
The only way forward would be for everyone to put any of that behind them / out of the picture. I don't think a rebrand is required as it will eventually still contain the same people and suffer, or not suffer, any of the problems most passionate committees experience.

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by OliverH on Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:21 pm

Thanks - yes, I suppose the main point I want to get across is that we are not trying to replace the current board with the Society Committee. Martin Powell is not trying to become club chairman and I am not trying to become club secretary. The Society's goal is to get us to the promised land, and as far as we can tell the existing Society is simply the most convenient vehicle for issuing community shares.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by SteveS on Fri Mar 13, 2015 1:09 pm

I think there have been some good points made and questions asked recently. Good idea from Twerton Parker about making a list of people who could only manage a small amount and then linking them together.
Most seem to be realising that there is no Plan B and any baggage from the past needs to be forgotten about as we all have one goal, to see Bath City survive and prosper.

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Marc Monitor on Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:16 pm

It seems madness not to make the Supporters' Society the vehicle for the ownership procedure and it certainly seems the best route to covert the club to a community benefit society and amalgamate the Society and the club.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by the demon headmaster on Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:35 am

Where would potential share buyers find details of how to make a purchase?

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by OliverH on Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:53 am

Demon Headmaster - the share offer has not actually been launched yet, it will take us about 4-5 weeks to get it properly set up with the relevant authorities. Please email bathcitycommunity@gmail.com and ask to be kept updated.

We expect that you will be able to buy shares online or by cheque.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Luton Roman on Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:45 am

Arch's comments on needing to tie players up soon are spot on. I did ask this question and was told it is up to the Board to agree next seasons contracts, but it snt that simple is it? Are players and management being talked to by the Society? Are we helping to fill a potential vacuum here? We have a decent squad and need collaboration to keep it that way. Arch might have been scaremongering but our decent players will already be on other clubs radar.

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Major Icewater on Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:17 am

Is it just me or is anyone else getting a bit twitchy as to where we are heading.

The Community idea has been running for some years now but has now got itself a more defined head of steam. However I still feel it seems almost like a socialist dream which  lacks any real detail on how to effect the change. I do worry that despite the short timescale so many questions raised on here are met with the response of " we need to obtain advice from elsewhere etc".

Part of the concern has to be that the existing board might feel they do not wish to commit too much into the future whilst there is a possibility they will not be the board much longer. Thus allowing the club/ playing side  to drift along with no clear direction.

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by SteveS on Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:48 am

I am not a great fan of Arch but what he is saying is correct. I have posted previously regarding people having to realise how serious the situation is. Many do but I still feel there are some who think things will just continue as before, perhaps this will focus minds more.
The Board had a 3 year plan to come up with a solution to the club financial problems. The 3 years is up shortly with the Board putting forward no proposals. In 2013 the Society put forward the initial community ownership proposals that were rejected out of hand by the Board.
At this late stage the Board have given the 'green light' for the community ownership proposal. As they were strongly against it before I can only assume the acceptance now is on the basis that there are no other options, other than one that I would hope I do not need to spell out. That is the reality.
As for players leaving that is a concern. I do not see how the Society can negotiate with players. At the moment the club is controlled by the current Board of Directors. The Society or Action Group have no authority, or funds, at this time to enable them to negotiate with players. There is a sum of money that needs to be raised and this needs to be raised in total. It is not possible to dip into this fund if say 200k was raised in the first 2 weeks, as if the total is not reached money will need to be returned to those people who have purchased community shares.
It's a big task but if we all get behind the community initiative it can succeed.

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Roman Mike on Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:53 pm

In my mind there are 2 distinct sources for the £1.4M. Individuals (or groups of individuals) and institutions / businesses. Call me a pessimist if you like but finding 2,800 individuals with a spare £500 is most unlikely. My view is that this venture sinks or swims on the number of institutions / businesses that can be encouraged to contribute. This means more than a few shops in Twerton Parade. I think there should be a concerted attempt and real focus to approach this market.

Its not a homogeneous lump though so will need thought. There is everything from family firms to large multinationals and of course employers of fans. All of which will need to be approached differently. One excellent way to do this is by personal engagement / contact - i.e. by people appraoching their employers or there friends who work at or are a customer of other institutions or companies. At the 'launch' evening there was a lady (Kat?) who was introduced with marketing expertise. Is this sort of thing being worked on? There was also a suggestion that the Society produce a 'pack' which could be aimed at companies. Not sure where that idea went.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by OliverH on Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:49 pm

We don't think it's appropriate for the Society to start negotiating with the players using money we may or may not raise, before any change of ownership takes place. All we can say is that the £1.4m figure assumes maintaining the current playing budget for next season. We did not choose the timing of this community share offer push, of course it would have been better to have this all settled before it came time for contract renegotiation but we never had this option.

Let's all remember what was said by the Board back in November -

"if sufficient finance is not forthcoming from within the Club, we have reached the decision that we need to seek investment from outside or look to sell the Club and find new owners who possess the financial wherewithal to take the Club forwards, both as a business and on the football side."

I'm not pointing the finger at the Board, but it is worth remembering that we are offering community ownership as a response to an emergency, it is not just some idea that we've cooked up and are trying to foist on a club that's doing just fine without it.

Regarding lack of detail - perhaps I have been too cautious in putting in disclaimers like "subject to advice" - we have a pretty clear picture of how this process works. Most of the pieces we are 90% sure about, but there is always the chance that an unforeseen problem will arise or a better solution will emerge once you speak again to the experts. Hence "subject to advice".

Regarding support from businesses etc, yes we will need a mix of big and small backers, businesses and individuals. We are working (tonight, in fact) on the business pack that was discussed at the consultation meeting.


Last edited by OliverH on Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:52 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Clarification / typo)
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Marc Monitor on Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:33 pm

I think that there is still a bit of "whatabouttery" going on that assumes it is someone else's problem. It's not, it's all of ours. As SteveS says, "It's a big task but if we all get behind the community initiative it can succeed."

It is not a question of whether the Community ownership idea will work or should have been put forward, it is the only option. The board wouldn't have accepted it if they had any other ideas so we have all got to do anything we can - big or small - to make this work.

Aside from the money that comes with investors, what is sometimes being forgotten is that it is bringing a whole pool of potential talent into the club who will have a stake in it being successful. Lawyers, accountants, marketing people, retail workers, builders etc. will not only provide the investment but, once in, will have a reason for providing their expertise and experience.

Martin, Oliver etc have, in many ways, done their bit by getting us to this position and getting the proposal accepted and they have done it very well. It is now up to all of us to raise the money and attract investors. It is not enough to take one brochure explaining the Community Ownership idea to convince you to invest. We are the supporters, we should be sold on that idea already. People should be taking handfuls of brochures and distributing them to get others to invest, encouraging people to support their local club and selling the idea to others.

If we all sit on our arses and wait for four or five people to do it, the community ownership will fail because the community of fans aren't getting off their arses and attracting the wider community. The time for getting involved and each of us playing our part in the future of the club starts now not when the money comes in. If the community ownership fails, then the club fails because every other option hasn't transpired.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Dusty Lynfield on Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:44 pm

Bang on Marc. I'm getting involved as much as I can (helping with the business prospectus tonight in fact...). If Community Ownership doesn't happen and the club goes to the wall, I want to be able to say I did my best to help avert it. There is something that everyone of us can do, even if it's just as Marc says to take a handful of leaflets and sell this idea to everyone we know.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by pete mac on Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:52 am

Lots of people have offered help and already said they would invest. keep up the great work. Once the community offer goes public I am sure we'll get a lot of interest.

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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by BenE on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:20 am

Community Ownership has very little chance of success if it is reliant upon the hardcore City fans.

One thing I am interested in is what would make it a community club? What would someone be investing in if that was their motivation?
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by 2weirdtown on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:41 am

The work of the Sports Foundation alone should answer that question. City won Community Club of the Year for last season. Also the fact that here is a club which is actually situated within the community and not just some businessman's tool situated on an out of town 'business park' a la Salisbury might help answer your question.
Put more bluntly you are investing in the club's survival. Clear?
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by BenE on Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:25 am

I can see the potential for growth for the sports foundation if it is properly integrated into the club and thus would be a good reason for altruistic investment.

However your second and third reasons have nothing to do with community.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by OliverH on Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:29 pm

Thanks BenE, yes to become a Community Benefit Society the club would have to have a "community benefit purpose" embedded in its constitution. For example, the current Society constitution has this:

The Society’s purpose is to be the vehicle through which a healthy, balanced and constructive relationship between the Club and its supporters and the communities it serves is encouraged and developed. The business of the Society is to be conducted for the benefit of the community served by the Club and not for the profit of its members.

The "community benefit purpose" for a club would be more detailed than that of a supporters society, but it would create a clear statement of purpose that the club and the elected Board would then be accountable for living up to - creating a plan, delivering it, reporting back to members.

In practice, this would mean building on the great work of the Foundation, partnering with local charities and voluntary organisations and using football as a way to alleviate issues such as social isolation and deprivation.

Community ownership would also in itself get more people invested and involved in the club, creating more volunteering opportunities (which in many cases are useful to the volunteer as well as the club) and generally opening up the club and building more informal connections between people from different walks of life. Strong and resilient communities are built on having lots of those kinds of links in place, and football clubs can play a vital role in forging those links.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Marc Monitor on Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:59 pm

BenE wrote:Community Ownership has very little chance of success if it is reliant upon the hardcore City fans.

Correction, Community Ownership has very little chance of success if it is reliant upon the hardcore City fans to put all the money in. Community Ownership has a good chance of success if it is reliant upon the hardcore City fans to attract publicise the Community Ownership scheme, talk up the club and attract investors.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Eddie Hitler on Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:18 pm

Easy to say Marc but it's worth remembering we are not all confident sales-type people who can sell effectively as you seem to be. I absolutely support the idea (I think there's little choice) but would be very nervous about trying to sell the idea to someone else - as this thread suggests, it's not straight-forward.
I hope those taking a lead on this can recognise this and take up my earlier suggestion that simple brochures can be designed which can help those of us who are commercially-challenged.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Eddie Hitler on Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:24 pm

One other thing. I feel more needs to be done to explain the situation better to older supporters who don't have the benefit of Internet.
I've spoken to a few lately who see this as either a hostile takeover by the Supporters Society, or us trying to sell the club to the highest bidder. These supporters are often existing investors/ shareholders and really need to be on board.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by Marc Monitor on Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:33 pm

Eddie Hitler wrote:Easy to say Marc but it's worth remembering we are not all confident sales-type people who can sell effectively as you seem to be. I absolutely support the idea (I think there's little choice) but would be very nervous about trying to sell the idea to someone else - as this thread suggests, it's not straight-forward.
I hope those taking a lead on this can recognise this and take up my earlier suggestion that simple brochures can be designed which can help those of us who are commercially-challenged.

Sorry, Eddie, I assumed that there had already been a mention of the brochures that are being currently organised. I will definitely need them as I am not financially or business literate and there is a limit on how far my blagging will get me. These should help the older non-internet-savvy supporters as well.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by OliverH on Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:36 pm

Yes we are working on the brochures - I did mean to say earlier, we warmly welcome any advice City-supporting business owners may have on how to appeal to businesses, suggestions of people to approach etc. PM me if you don't want to post it publicly. This is a team effort, we need all the help and advice we can get.
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

Post by OliverH on Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:42 pm

Eddie -

The internet issue is something we are grappling with. I am personally a firm believer in not expecting everyone to be internet literate and making sure that traditional print communication is used as much as possible. But obviously it is much less interactive. Perhaps some kind of informal meeting with shareholders is in order? Happy to take suggestions. I'd be happy to hold regular Q&A sessions during the week in Twerton and city centre pubs?
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Re: Green light for Community Ownership!

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