What’s this all about?
Like many football clubs, Bath City FC has been loss-making for many years and is now saddled with large debts.
To fix the problem we need to make big changes to how the club is set up – changing it from a limited company (Ltd.) to a community benefit society where more people are invested and involved.
To do this, we need to raise £1.4m to buy the club, satisfy its creditors and provide working capital for next season.
We plan to do this through a community share offer, just like the Bell Inn in 2013.
This is our estimate of what will be needed to satisfy creditors, buy shares and provide working capital for next season. A more detailed breakdown will be provided when the share prospectus is launched.
If existing shareholders agree to swap their shares for new community shares, this target could drop.
Is the existing Board supporting this?
The Board remains open to other options, but in its own words has “accepted the principle of community ownership as a positive proposal and a way of delivering a number of benefits which we would want to see achieved... There are still matters to be resolved but, we will co-operate fully with the Society during this process of fund raising and wish for a successful outcome to the community ownership initiative.”
Who will run the community club?
Ultimately, an elected Board. Next season, we will seek to put in place an interim Board that retains as much experience and expertise as possible, as well as bringing in new ideas and enthusiasm. At the end of next season, a Board will be elected. We also plan to appoint a general manager.
What is a community share?
Community shares are a special kind of investment instrument that allow individuals and organisations to invest in community and social outcomes, but backed by a solid business plan – so it’s more than a donation.
Community shares cannot be traded on the open market, but holders of community shares in a community club can later ask the club to repay the shares. It is then up to the Board to decide whether the club can afford to pay. This is why a solid business plan is vital – if prospective investors see little chance of being paid back, they won’t invest. Community shares can also pay a small amount of interest.
We aim to ensure that anyone who buys community shares will be eligible for up to 30% of income tax relief on their investment through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). This has been achieved at other community clubs.
Who’s behind this?
The Big Bath City Bid was initially an initiative of the Supporters Society, but has since grown to include support from local businessmen and fans that are not Society members. The chair of the bid is Jon Bickley, MD of Bath publishing firm Anthem Publishing, while Nick Thompson, former MD of Hull City and CEO of Bath-based Gradwell Communications, is drawing up the business plan.
When will the share offer launch?
We expect it to launch in late May. This is later than we thought but we want to get it right.
Does community ownership mean that the club would stay at Twerton Park?
Our business plan assumes that the club would stay in Twerton, but all options would be available. It would be up to the members to vote on any proposal to move the club.
If Twerton Park is sold, will community shareholders receive a windfall?
No – all profits would be reinvested into the club.
Will a community club switch to a 3G pitch?
Our business plan includes the installation of a 3G pitch as a baseline assumption. However this would be subject to a vote by members. Also, the £1.4m does not include a contribution towards a 3G pitch.
In community ownership, will the fans pick the manager and the team?
No – the members would elect the Board who would be responsible for those decisions.
What is a community benefit society?
A community benefit society is membership organization in which anyone who pays a modest annual subscription and supports the aims of the society can join and have a say in how the society is run, on a “one member, one vote” basis.
We believe that this model of ownership will attract more people to become invested and involved in the club, sending a strong signal that the club is open to fresh ideas and new enthusiasm.
How much will shares cost?
We are looking at £500 as a minimum investment for individuals. We are also looking at options to pay in instalments.