Share Scheme Introduction
January 1, 2000
The Problems facing the club
Like most other football clubs Bristol Rovers have been walking a financial tightrope for many years. Transfer fees from the conveyor belt of Rovers strikers helped cover operating losses and interest payments since the purchase of the Memorial Stadium in 1998. But now transfer fees have all but disappeared and TV and internet revenue for football league clubs is a fraction of that expected.
Rovers are one of the best supported clubs in the lower leagues, but the money coming through the turnstiles barely covers two thirds of playing and staff costs. So we also depend on non-matchday revenue, from the Commercial Department at the stadium and Supporters Club sales at Pirate Leisure. But even that doesn’t cover the remaining costs, meaning a loss of some £500,000 each season and limited ability to pay off debts or develop the ground.
And we have three problems, common to a lot of league clubs:
Loans and debt ? we have no bank overdraft facility, we borrowed heavily to buy the Memorial Stadium (including loans at 9% interest) and our directors have loaned the club money to cover operating losses over the past few years. We have to pay these loans back or we could even face the threat of being forced into administration. The ground is our only real asset that we can use to generate revenue to pay off these loans, and we know that owning the ground is key to Rovers’ future.
Ground improvements ? we can increase non-matchday revenue, but that needs better facilities at the stadium to host conferences, meetings and entertainment/leisure events. Although we have grants to cover some of the redevelopment costs, we still need to invest our own money to complete this redevelopment.
Performance on the pitch ? the team performance has led to us having to bring in new players, which has meant playing budgets have been overstretched, leading to more borrowings. Even if we progress in the league, we may need to go over budget again to sustain a promotion push.
The directors cannot support the club for ever with continuing loans, and without a major investor waiting in the wings, it means there is only one group of people who can Make a Difference in resolving these problems? and that is US the fans.
We can together invest in the club, to own a major shareholding and have a say in future decisions affecting the football club. And at the same time we can provide the club with much needed funds.
We need to raise £3.5m to help support the club. It’s a lot of money.
But you can Make A Difference for just the price of one pint of beer a week! M.A.D. ? Make a Difference for the Rovers!
You can Make A Difference from just £2.50 per week, the price of one pint of beer.
Just miss one pint and use the money to help the Supporters Club invest in Bristol Rovers. And at the same time you can benefit from a range of discounts on leisurewear and season tickets as well as free membership to the Supporters Club. That makes the overall cost of joining the scheme for a regular supporter even less!
And where does your money go?
The money paid to the Supporters Club is used to purchase shares in Bristol Rovers Football Club at a preferential rate of £5. These shares are owned by the Supporters Club, representing over 3,000 Rovers supporters. For every £1 you invest:
you can help pay off the loans and also reduces our interest payments a double whammy!
you can help build a Memorial Stadium with family friendly facilities
you can help build a team to progress up the Football League
We are looking to raise £3.5m over the next four years to reduce the debt, start ground improvements and to build a team we can all be proud of.
But can the Supporters Club Share Scheme really make a difference? Well, in the first year of operation the Share Scheme reached pledges of over £550,000 and helped fund the recruitment of Andy Rammell, contributed to the transfer fee for Junior Agogo and helped bring in five players on transfer deadline day to save our league status in season 2003-2004. But it’s only a start, and we need YOU to be M.A.D too and Make A Difference now!
Make your round a pint and a share please! Just £2.50 per week can help safeguard Bristol Rovers future.
Share Scheme Chairman