The Problems facing the club
The Share Scheme was launched in December 2002 when Rovers were bottom of League Two, losing around £20,000 a week and having to repay loans taken out to buy the Memorial Stadium.
Like most other football clubs Bristol Rovers have been walking a financial tightrope for many years. Transfer fees were traditionally the way that clubs were able to balance their books but, since the Bosman ruling, income from transfers has very much reduced. Income from TV and internet revenue has also been less for football league clubs since the Premier League was formed.
Rovers are one of the better supported clubs in the lower leagues, but the income coming through the turnstiles covers only a fraction of playing and staff costs. This means that Rovers depend on non-matchday revenue to cover operating costs and leaves a limited ability to pay off debts or develop the ground.
The Share Scheme was developed to allow the Supporters Club to buy shares in Rovers and at the same time provide a valuable income to the club to help address their operational losses. Fans contribute money for shares which are bought in the name of the Supporters Club. The Supporters Club hold just under 5% of allocated shares as we start the 2014/15 season.
Operational losses/ income required broadly cover three areas:-
- Paying off loans and debt with banks reluctant to loan monies to football clubs and putting them under pressure to reduce overdrafts.
- Cost to maintain and improve the ground.
- Supporting the playing budget necessary for team strengthening.
The application of subscription income broadly covers these three areas
- 40% towards repayment of the Stadium Debt
- 40% towards operational costs and improvements to the Stadium
- 20% towards team/ the playing budget
Under the Share Scheme agreement, the Supporters Club can purchase two shares for £5.50.
Fans can contribute to the Share Scheme via one of 4 options:-
- Bronze at £10.83 per month per month
- Silver at £21.67 per month per month
- Gold at £43.34 per month per month
- Platinum at £83.34 per month per month
There is also a Corporate Scheme for businesses which costs £1,200 per year, although tax advantages mean that it effectively costs less than a Platinum subscription.
Further details can be found in the ‘Membership Levels’ section including details of how you can benefit from a range of discounts on leisurewear, complimentary match tickets and season ticket discounts as well as free membership to the Supporters Club. Your name will also feature permanently on a “roll of honour” board that will be put up in the redeveloped Memorial Stadium.
Directors cannot on their own continue to support the club with loans or through share purchases. Without a major new investor there is only one other group of people who can help and that is us, the fans. We can ‘Make a Difference’ in helping to support income generation by investing in our club. By having a major shareholding in the club we can also have a say in future decisions affecting the football club.
The Share Scheme has enabled the Supporters Club to have two full members on the board, Brian Seynour Smith and Ken Masters.
You can ‘Make A Difference’ for less than the price of one pint of beer a week!
But can the Supporters Club Share Scheme really make a difference?
Well, in eight years of operation the Share Scheme has raised over £850,000 and this has helped fund the recruitment of Andy Rammell, Robbie Ryan, Junior Agogo, Danny Coles and Rhys Evans
The money was used to help bring in five players on transfer deadline day in 2003 including Andy Rammell whose goals effectively stopped the club sliding into the Conference.
Whilst the contribution made by the Share Scheme members has been magnificent this is only a start. We need to keep contributing and we need YOU to be M.A.D. too and Make A Difference now!
“I would like to say a big thank you to all supporters who have been involved with the Scheme up to now. Buying shares in the club allows the fans a say in the running of Bristol Rovers”
“You only need to look at the growing number of clubs who are or have been in administration to gauge where Rovers may have been without the magnificent support of a significant number of Gasheads.
If you would like to join the Share Scheme, or introduce someone else, please contact Clare McDonagh at Pirate Leisure on 0117 9096648 or [email protected]. For more details you can contact the Scheme’s co-ordinator, Helen Wigmore via [email protected]