Sometimes, with City playing away from Worcester, in the 9th tier of football, it’s quite difficult to remember what football is supposed to be about…
So we decided to share this small article from the Supporters Direct website by Lewes FC Chairman Stuart Fuller to give you some hope that one day everything with our football club will be going as well as it is for the Rooks on the south coast…
BACKGROUND: Some of you may remember Lewes, they last visited St. George’s Lane in 2010…
Lewes FC were in big trouble at the end of the 2000s, but were saved by their supporters, and now thrive under community ownership. They are seen as a prime example of what a club can amount to when supporter owned.
Transforming the club into a community benefit society allowed the fans to own the club, a more equitable and sustainable way of doing things, where the focus of the club is not only on football, but the community too.
Lewes FC have recently gained international fame by becoming the first club in the world to pay their mens’ and womens’ teams equally
This article was published on the Supporters Direct website, you can signup for free here and gain access to many more insightful articles and content on community ownership and supporter involvement.
Taking Ownership – Article by Stuart Fuller, Lewes FC Chairman
Just how important is a name? Consider this. We are all part of a movement, a community that aims to bring the ownership of our clubs from the few to the many. We want to create a community asset, put the club at the heart of the community and the community at the heart of our clubs. We want to be community-owned, we want to actively engage with the community and ultimately, have the words Community Football Club at the end of our names.
A name is important. But when it comes to that community and the role they play within our clubs, few consider them to be ‘owners’. Many will be referred to as members – in fact SD themselves refer to clubs as members, whereas others may be called constituents, shareholders or even comrades (I may have made that last one up!). But by definition they are owners. Our supporter-owned model means that the supporters are the owners (and in most instances, owners are supporters). So, should we refer to everyone who is part of the community club then as an owner?
Down at Lewes CFC we very deliberately founded our constitution based on an ownership model where every individual had an equal share as an owner of the club. Owned by the fans, run by the fans, for the fans. In board meetings we have a ‘swear’ jar for certain words, one of which is ‘members’. Whilst we are a football CLUB we are not a CLUB defined by a football team and so we have never felt that member, shareholder, constituent or comrade describes the engagement we want. We want our community to feel that they are part of something special and the word ‘owner’ sums that up perfectly. When someone signs up with us they get an owners badge (the word owner is the only consistent part on this year after year), a card that displays their owner number and an ownership certificate, rather than a share certificate. On the cover of every home match programme is a statement that says Lewes CFC is owned by xxxx and 1,300 others) with the xxxx being a randomly selected owner.
There’s no proof that calling someone an owner instead of a member has any material effect on the success of a club, its effort to engage with the community or ultimately progress but if clubs want to make their fans feel part of that success and see progress, giving them ownership through one simple word may just make a small difference. The greatest journeys start with the smallest step and this may just be that step.
When telling the story of their club, Lewes FC say football ownership is like a roulette wheel: ‘Keep spinning and you may win promotion, or lose it all…’
They say ‘if insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, then football is a great case study. Unless a club has a substantial revenue, sooner or later, the money will vanish’.
Fan Ownership: One Share, One Vote
The club now say they have three equal objectives:
1. Financial sustainability
2. Community engagement and involvement
3. On-pitch success from their womens’ and mens’ teams
Quite possibly the most incredible thing about the story of Lewes FC is that all they have achieved has come from the community of a town with a population of 17,000, so who knows what a community-owned Worcester City FC could achieve together…