Almost 500 people responded to the recent Big Bath City Bid (BBCB) questionnaire asking for their views on the next steps in the campaign to transfer Bath City into a Community Owned Club. Questionnaires were sent out to everyone who had pledged to buy shares, donate to the Bid, or to convert shares, and also distributed to supporters at home games and sent out via social media.
All quotes from respondents are verbatim – no changes have been made.
Jon Bickley, chair of the BBCB said “the level of response was fantastic and shows how the Bid has already captured the imagination of the fans and people of Bath”.
Whilst three-quarters of respondents described themselves as Bath City or general football fans there was also significant input from people who were more interested in the club’s community credentials and in supporting the club as an important part of the fabric of the city.
“I have not been but very much support the idea of Bath City as a community club”
“we support rugby but feel City needs this help”, “rugby supporter but want local sport to succeed”
“I am a Bristol City fan but want Bath City to have a future”, “I have a season ticket to Arsenal but want to see Bath City do well”
The Next Steps
On the question of the next steps the BBCB should take the response was unequivocal – DO NOT GIVE UP! Less than 4% of the sample felt the group should give up, giving a clear mandate to continue efforts to complete the process of turning Bath City into a community owned club. William Heath of the Bid welcomed the backing, “We are hugely encouraged by this response and it has helped us to formulate the next stage of our plan and discussions with the Club Board, knowing we have the strong support of the fans and backers”
“Keep going - it needs more time and continued publicity. Consider asking existing share investors to find at least one more investor each”
“Focus on the business community until say Christmas. We have impressive public support and a very professional bid team management to try to re-engage with local businesses”
The chart below shows the % of respondents who would support various scenarios. The options are explained below. Respondents were able to select more than one option.
- Extend the deadline for the share offer, use new approaches to bigger investors and innovative fundraising to achieve the original aim of full community ownership and resolving the club's problems
- Try to negotiate a deal with the present board to gain 51% community control of the club and clear urgent debts in return for the committed funds
- Use committed funds alongside a concrete plan to redevelop and improve facilities at Twerton Park to achieve community ownership and create a longer-term solution to the club's problems
- Ask all community share investors to convert their commitment to cash now to clear urgent debts and increase the Bath City Supporters Society's shareholding in the club (but not gain community control)
- Give up and return all monies pledged
The result of this question not only gives the bid team a clear mandate to continue the campaign but also shows that whilst almost half of the sample would be happy for the team to try and negotiate with the present board so long as it (the community) gained control of the club they would not be comfortable with the monies pledged so far being given to the club without having control of how it’s spent.
The third option of using the funds alongside a development plan gained significant support, but some expressed the view that they would need fuller details before committing to that option.
Supporting the Campaign
The remainder of the questionnaire was aimed at exploring the fans’ desire to help more with the campaign both in terms of donating to a ‘fighting fund’ and donating their time and expertise to the cause. The response to these questions was especially encouraging with over 200 people offering to donate to a “fighting fund” to allow the BBCB to finance marketing, PR and other activities relating to the bid. Bid spokesperson, Steve Bradley said of this “these donations could make a real difference to our ability to publicise the Bid, initiate new campaigns and get our message out to the businesses and people of Bath.”
On top of the one-off donations, over 150 respondents said they would make regular monthly payments towards the community ownership goal, either as simple donations or instalments towards buying additional shares. This could prove a significant means of completing the club purchase as has been the case at a number of clubs elsewhere.
As well as financial donations the campaign has received 243 replies offering practical help ranging from fundraising experience, accountancy services, working with local charities, design work and delivering leaflets. Jon Bickley said “we’ve had offers of help from as far afield as Brazil, the USA and Spain as well as an incredible amount of support from the local Bath population. It is humbling to realise just how many people care passionately about the club and how many people are willing to donate their time and money to making this happen”
The team would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey, and will be contacting everyone who has offered to help over the coming two weeks to see how they can help make the dream of a community owned club in Bath a reality.
Full survey results are available here