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Bath City Bid: “Community ownership is the future of football”

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

 Last month, Bath supporters became the latest in a growing trend of communities creating a campaign to buy their club. In this blog, the Bath City City Bid team tell us about their efforts…

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Apart from the sanitation, education… Bath, it seems, has recreational sport in abundance. There is a premiership team based in Bath.  It’s a rugby team of course.  We have the LTA’s, ‘International High Performance Tennis Academy’ (presumably to distinguish it from all those low performance academies).

We trip over Olympians training at the sports village in the university including the GB bobsleigh track and team.  And we have a 125-year-old football team, Bath City (aka The Romans) that has never played higher than the fith tier (Conference Premier) and has just finished 14th in the Conference South.

But now the fans, the wider football family and the community of Bath have risen to the challenge with a community share offer to help give Bath the football team it deserves. Bath is a city of people who love football and who like to do things differently.

Unlike most community and fan schemes, we are not starting from a position of adversity. The club owns the ground and we are building on the magnificent work of the Bath City FC Community Sports Foundation, whose efforts saw Bath City recognised as “2014 Community Club of the Year” and the work of the Supporters’ Society.

Now the people of Bath will be offered the historic opportunity to take ownership of our local football club, Bath City FC, through a community share offer which launched in June 2015 known as #bigbathcitybid

We believe that community ownership will help create a broader base of involvement and investment. Community ownership is the future of football, and we can make it a reality in Bath by tapping into the enormous potential of Bath to make it a community-owned club brimming with fresh ideas and new enthusiasm.

From accountants to art students, the full range of Bath’s talents, experiences and passions can find meaningful and rewarding expression in the Bath City FC project.

Our aim is to raise £750k by September 2015 to turn the club into a Community Benefit Society. Working with Supporters Direct we’ve launched a Community Share Issue whereby supporters of the bid can invest anything from £250 upwards in the new club and receive 30% tax relief.

The money will help clear urgent debts and recapitalise the club so we can plan sensibly for a sustainable future.

We can then look to expand the reach of our Foundation to help more disadvantaged and young people across Bath; we can consider installing a 3G pitch to make the club a true sporting hub for the city; we can bring our Foundation, Youth Section, Academy and First Team all under one family and perhaps launch a Women’s representative XI; and we can re-engage the club with the city to drive commercial performance to help drive success on the pitch.

So our challenge to you and the people of Bath, and with apologies to JFK, is to ask not what the Romans can do for you, ask what you can do for The Romans.

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF. 

Thanks to Nick Sarebi for the image used here, reproduced here under CC licence.

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