The legendary football figure Eric Cantona has thrown his support behind the drive to turn popular Bath City FC into a community-owned club.
Launched in June, the ‘Big Bath City Bid’ aims to secure the future of the debt-saddled club by turning it from a loss-making Limited Company into a democratic, financially sustainable and community-focused cooperative.
To buy the club and clear its urgent debt, the group needs to raise £750,000 – primarily through selling shares in a new community cooperative.
The project has so far raised over £130,000, and attracted the support of celebrities like Ken Loach, Jamie Cullum and Ricky Tomlinson.
Now the Bid team have landed their biggest celebrity backer yet.
Eric Cantona became an iconic figure in English football during his five years as a brilliant and at times controversial player for Manchester United.
Since then he has forged a career as a film and stage actor, and more recently as the face of the UK advertising campaign for a French beer brand.
Cantona played the starring role in the 2009 Ken Loach film ‘Looking for Eric’, and the two men have remained friends ever since.
Loach is Bath City’s most famous fan, and Cantona visited the club’s Twerton Park stadium during filming in 2009.
Now he has joined the ranks of celebrity backers for the Big Bath City Bid by buying shares and issuing a rallying call for others to follow his example.
In his video message Cantona says: “Great news! The fans of Bath City are buying the club. I’m supporting them, and buying a share myself.
“You must support them too. It’s a great club – I saw it for myself. Now we can make it even greater. So help make it a great club. Buy shares – now.”
Big Bath City Bid spokesperson, Steve Bradley, commented: “Eric Cantona has been to Bath City himself, so it’s fantastic that he’s supporting our drive to make it a community club.
“The backing of celebrities like Eric and Ricky is in addition to over one hundred and fifty Bath residentsand businesses who have so far bought shares to help create a club deeply ingrained in the life of our city.
“We would urge anyone who wants to help give Bath the football club it deserves to follow Eric’s example and buy shares today”.
The Bid team are today also launching an additional crowd-funding initiative to enable the involvement of anyone unable to spend £250 on shares.
Entitled ‘Pitch In’, it asks for donations starting from £10 to sponsor a section of the club’s Twerton Park pitch.
A range of incentives are on offer to encourage donations, including free tickets to Bath Ciy games.
Steve Bradley added: “We appreciate that some Bath City fans are not in a position to invest £250 in shares. And we are also encouraged that many supporters of other clubs want to help our cause too.
“So this crowd-funding initiative will enable smaller contributions from those groups. We would still encourage anyone who is able to buy shares to do so, as it not only offers a personal tax benefit but also provides a direct say in the running of their community club.”
Shares can be bought by cheque, bank transfer, or online at: http://www.microgenius.org.uk/project/big-bath-city-bid-33.
Crowd-funding donations can be made online via: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/big-bath-city-bid.
The full prospectus for the Community Club initiative can be seen online at: www.BigBathCityBid.org.uk.