August 23, 2018
It’s that time of the year when the Supporters Club’s finances are being run past the Auditor in readiness for our next Annual General Meeting to be held in the autumn. The date of the AGM has yet to be set but we not anticipate any problems and so an October meeting looks to be highly likely. We thought it appropriate and timely to bring members and supporters up to date and to tell you the level of financial commitment made to Bristol Rovers Football Club by the Supporters Club over the financial year June 2017 through July 2018. We are indeed proud supporters, proud sponsors, proud shareholders and we have committed investment on the playing side going forward.
I am pleased to report that we have had another fantastic year in financial support of our Football Club to the level of no less than £75,000 in total. This considerable sum has been raised thanks to the generosity of you good people, mostly members of the Supporters Club but also from non-members who have paid to use our various services or simply just bought 50/50 half time draw tickets on matchdays.
The half-time draw alone raised £29,000. This was handed over to the Football Club in ‘handy-sized chunks’ throughout the season; a contribution of £23,000 to the Academy budget and a further contribution of £6,000 to the running of the newly formed Development Squad. We are delighted that Chris Hargreaves young group of players more than exceeded our hopes and expectations by lifting the Central League title at the very first attempt. This was achieved, almost unbelievably, without sufficient and adequate training facilities. This is an issue we would like to see resolved at the earliest opportunity.
Transport to away games is a constant issue for the Academy teams and takes a good amount of organizing and cost. The Mini Bus that the Supporters Club bought for the purpose needed replacing after many years of good service. The committee agreed to commit an additional sponsorship sum of circa £15,500 to enable the purchase of a replacement vehicle. The bus will be signed with the SC logo.
The Share Scheme which began under the Chairmanship of the late, dear, Geoff Dunford back in 2002 has now reached a total of £1,165,000 that’s one million one hundred and sixty five thousand pounds, and continues to run today thanks to a ‘hard-core’ of around 200 Supporters Club members. Last season regular monthly payments from the Scheme added up to a total of £28,548 and so we are most grateful to those supporters who have stayed loyal to the scheme. The Scheme has ensured that the Supporters Club, which now has a shareholding of over 6% of the Football Club, is represented on the Board.
Proud Shirt Sponsors
In addition to those two major fund-raising activities we also made a small profit on away travel and on membership fees and these helped us take the 2017-18 contribution figure up to the £75,000 mark with the Committee taking the initiative in the January transfer window to sponsor the home shirts of new signings, Tony Craig, Kyle Bennett and Bernard Mensah.
These shirts have now in the hands of the Supporters Club and we plan to get them signed by the players and raffle them off as prizes to members over the course the this season. We may purchase further shirts during the coming campaign and draw them out for lucky members when we have events taking place but more on this in future news pages.
I cannot close on the issue of sponsorship without mentioning the efforts of our two ‘out of town’ Branches at Weston-Super-Mare and Norton Radstock. Both Branches have very active members who club together to provide away travel and sponsorship of the Football Club through various fund-raising activities so well done and thank you to all those involved locally.
Investment Going Forward
The lack of resources for our up-and-coming players is a constant source of discussion between Ken and I and the respective coaching staff. Whilst we currently help by looking out for the sort of training facilities not presently available at the first-team training base at Cribbs, we are also looking very much to the future. Ken and Adam Tutton are working tirelessly to locate the Bristol Rovers Community Trust in first class, state of the art facilities in Lockleaze; a further bid for £1,000,000 for Stage 2 of the development is taking up a good deal of their time. The current pay off is that the Under-18’s are already using excellent facilities at Lockleaze Stage 1 but the Football Club really needs a centre where all the teams can train together under the watch of the football management.
The Supporters Club Committee has agreed to commit no less than a further £50,000 to a ‘No.1’ pitch when a new training ground is eventually up and running. This pitch would be prepared to Western League standard so that the Youth and Development squads can play competitive games on it without having to hire local non-League grounds that are fit for purpose. The money we are setting aside would allow for a small seated stand with an area for disabled supporters, team dug-outs, hard-standing on one side and post and rails with mesh around the playing area to bring it up to F.A. Standard.
This will benefit supporters watching the games as well as players and staff. This latest scheme definitely take the club forward so please keep supporting us by buying the 50/50 half time draw tickets, rejoining the Supporters Club and contributing in any way that you choose, thank you.