The process of turning Bath City Football Club into Britain’s answer to FC Barcelona was launched on Tuesday evening at a star-studded event at a packed Guildhall.
The ‘Big Bath City Bid’ aims to tackle the broken model of British football by changing the structure and purpose of the existing club from a loss-making private company into a democratic, member-owned and not-for-profit Community Benefit Society – similar to AFC Wimbledon, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The team behind the Bid outlined the plan to do this in a detailed community share prospectus at the launch event.
The headline story of the prospectus is that anyone can become an owner of Bath City FC from only £250.
Amongst the speakers were Bath City’s most famous fan, film director Ken Loach, west country football manager Ian Holloway, and former Premiership player and Bath native James Dodd.
They explained to the 350 strong crowd the difference a club more closely connected with its local community could make, and why it was important to back the bid. Ian Holloway proved particularly passionate, as he urged the audience to aim high in their aspirations for the club.
The audience heard that, to convert Bath City into community ownership, a minimum of £750,000 needs to be raised via the community share offer by September.
If a total of £1.25m is raised, however, that could ensure the new community club inherited almost none of the existing club’s debt, and covered up to three years running costs.
This would provide crucial breathing space for the new club to increase its income and become financially sustainable.
Ken Loach commented: “This is a great chance to reestablish the club and put Bath City at the heart of the city of Bath.
“If we can raise the money through community shares we can clear the debt and start with a few bob in the Bank.
“As well as success on the pitch, we intend to play a big part in the community – to be open, democratic and inclusive.”
Chair of Bath City Supporters Society, Martin Powell, added: “Bath is a real sporting city, with a top-class rugby team and a host of Olympians.
“Football is the world’s most popular sport, yet many people are unaware we even have a club in our city.
“The Big Bath City Bid aims to address that, and in a unique way.
“We believe the club should be firmly embedded in the life of our city and owned by anyone who wants to invest £250 or more to help make it happen.
“Let’s show the world that Bath does things differently, and let’s give our city the football club it deserves”.
Big Bath City Bid Chair Jon Bickley, MD of local firm Anthem Publishing, said: “Like most other clubs, Bath City has struggled for years to stay competitive whilst making ends meet.
“The burden of running the club has fallen onto a small number of dedicated individuals who have struggled to keep the show on the road.
“By changing Bath City from a private company into a community cooperative, we aim to attract bigger crowds, access new revenue streams, and qualify for funding for work in the local community.
“In short – we’re ripping up the old rule book on how to do football, and writing a new one that works for our club and our city instead.”
Whilst shares in the Community Club start at £250, the Bid team has stressed that to reach its fundraising target, it is essential that anyone who can afford to invest more does so.
The community club is therefore offering extra perks and incentives to individuals or businesses who invest larger sums, whilst also maintaining the all important “one member, one vote” principle.
The full prospectus for the Community Club initiative can be viewed online at www.BigBathCityBid.org.uk.
Shares can be bought online, by cheque or by bank transfer.
The Big Bath City Bid in Numbers
- £250 – minimum individual purchase of community shares.
- £750,000 – Minimum amount needed to become a community club.
- £1.25m – The ideal fundraising target, clearing all the club’s existing debts.
- 3 – The number of months the campaign has to hit its fundraising target.
- 1 – The community club would be run on a “one member, one vote” basis.