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Our newest community-owned club – East Thurrock CFC

Earlier this month we welcomed the latest fan-owned club to the FSA ranks, with the formation of East Thurrock Community FC in Essex. Here, chair of the newly-formed club Jack Duffin gives us the background to East Thurrock CFC’s formation, and how they got to where they are. 

Losing East Thurrock United, the club many in the community have followed for decades, had left a void in terms of high level football in the area, as well as socially for many of our loyal fans. You take your local football team for granted and when it is suddenly gone overnight, without warning, your weekends are never the same.

You can go and watch other teams, but it never feels the same; you aren’t emotionally invested like before.

We started as a group of volunteers who had helped the old club on match days but who had never been involved in the day to day running or decision-making positions. We all missed our club and after some discussion it was decided we would work together to bring football back to East Thurrock.

From our very first face-to-face meeting at the end of September 2023 it was clear that we all had the same goals in mind, to honour the traditions of the old club as much as possible, in terms of team colours and acknowledging the roots of the club, but to ensure that what we offered would be 100% fan-owned, democratic, transparent and sustainable.

Luckily many people had been through this before, so we could look at models from Lewes to AFC Wimbledon as blueprints. We were over the moon to find a step by step guide on the FSA website that allowed us to plan the journey we were going on.

When we found their support went much further than this, and that they would meet with us, speak at our first public meeting and assist us moving forward, it put us at ease.

We have seen an overwhelming level of support generated by our social media updates, exemplified by over 80 people attending our first public meeting. Having the FSA attend and speak on the legal framework of a community benefit society and what the club was going through allowed fans to have confidence in our project and know what we were doing was best for the club for generations to come.

We set what we believed would be an ambitious ownership target of 100 by our first game, 22 days after we launched, we had reached 100 owners. Football fans are passionate and keen to get involved in a well run local project.

Every day we are seeing progress for the club, as everything comes together and more people get onboard as owners and volunteers.

Democracy being one of our core beliefs and our ethos has seen our fans decide via voting on our club badge and indeed the location of our home pitch. The design of kit, away colours and charity partners will also be decided by the fan owners at our next monthly owners meetings.

We are ambitious in terms of what we want the club to achieve and with the support of our fan owners, the FSA, local businesses, the community and our expanding online audience we look forward to what the future holds for our fledgling club.

If you are looking at forming a new Community Owned Club or converting an existing club into community ownership please contact FSA Network Manager [email protected]

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball