What is the status of existing pledges - have they expired? Can we assume that those people who have deposited money with the Bid do not need to renew their commitments?
Existing pledges with Microgenius have not expired. Each pledger will shortly be presented with a new prospectus laying out a revised business plan and route to community ownership. At that point, pledgers will have the opportunity to withdraw their pledges if they do not support the new prospectus. The same is true of people who have deposited money with the Bid - they are, and have been since last September, free to withdraw their investments at any time.
Obviously we hope that all the pledgers, and hopefully many new ones, will have confidence in the pln and new prospectus and will choose to keep their money in or invest for the first time.
Getting to 50%+1
How will the Bid/Community Board become the majority shareholder? If there are new shares made available would these be sold to the Society only and other existing shareholders blocked from purchasing them? How much money is needed to achieve 50%+1?
There are currently 500,000 shares in the club. If the new prospectus reaches its target figure, it is proposed that a further 500,000 will be created, and the Supporters Society will be given the exclusive right to purchase them at £1 a share.
We have received legal advice that such an exclusive offer is permissible.
We appreciate that some minority shareholders may like the opportunity to increase their shareholding. Please bear in mind, however, that the Bid team must set a new target figure and complete the Bid before the new shares are created by an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the Club. It would be difficult to set a target figure to achieve a 50%+1 stake when we did not know how many minority shareholders would buy new shares. We would have to make a conservative estimate, making the target figure higher. By giving the Supporters Society exclusive rights of purchase, we avoid this dilemma.
Minority shareholders who are keen to buy new shares are encouraged to contact the Bid team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The revised target figure will be given in the new prospectus, to be published shortly.
New Board & Democracy in “Phase One”
What is the target timescale for putting in place the new Board? How in practice will the new Board members be “democratically accountable” to Supporters Society members? (At present there is only one membership meeting a year). Is it right for there to be pre-approved board directors representing the Society, shouldn’t the community shareholders get to elect them?
First of all, let us make clear that anyone who invests under the new prospectus will automatically become a member of the Supporters Society and will thus have a vote.
The current Supporters Society rules allow for a 12-person Board of Directors (the “Society committee”) to be elected for two-year terms by the members at AGM. Details of the current committee are given here: http://www.bathcitysociety.org/the-committee.html
This committee is, in turn, allowed to elect a Society representative to sit on the Club’s Board. If the Bid is successful, this will become six representatives.
It is proposed that the new Board will initially be elected by the Society committee as per the current Rules. This is why we have named our proposed appointees already - they have been pre-approved by the Society committee.
We are aware that we will have to revamp the democratic mechanisms of the Supporters Society to make sure they meet the needs and expectations of members and are appropriate for the controlling shareholder of a football club. At the same time, during the transitional redevelopment and debt repayment phase, the Club’s new board will need to maintain the stability and confidence of the club’s creditors and development partners. We will consider this issue further and include our proposals regarding club democracy during the first phase in the new prospectus.
Is there any news on what the redevelopment will entail, which external parties may be involved and what they’ll be getting for their investment? Or an estimate of when details might be announced?
The redevelopment is still at a very early stage and we do not have a realistic timeline of when more details might be announced. Options being considered on top of the new stand and club facilities include retail, student housing, social housing or a mix of the above. The Supporters Society continues to insist that community needs must be considered and any redevelopment will also have to go through a full and proper public consultation.
Some initial work has been conducted and we are cautiously positive about the potential success of the project. A potential investor has been identified and they would put in money to pay for the redevelopment and then profit from the eventual sale of the housing and/or retail units.
Ultimately, the Supporters Society and the Bid team believe that, at present, partial redevelopment is the only realistic way to secure a debt-free, community-owned club. However, we also believe that it is vital that supporters are in the driving seat for any redevelopment process, which is why we are continuing to push for community ownership.