What is Community Owned Football?
The Trust is equally owned and run by its members through “one member, one vote”.
The members democratically elect the Trust Board who are selected to carry out the work of the Trust on behalf of the members.
The WCFC Board is appointed by the shareholders and is responsible to them, meaning, through the Trust, the WCFC Board is accountable to the fans.
It is important to remember that this does not mean that the Trust Board has control of the day-to-day running of the football club and replaces its Board.
The Football Club Board manage the club. However, because the Supporters’ Trust is the controlling shareholder, it sets the mandate for the Football Club Board creating better transparency and accountability whilst ensuring responsible management and strategic decision making.
Worcester City FC is officially fan-owned, community-owned or supporter-owned (they all mean the same thing) because the Supporters’ Trust now holds 51% of the shares or more in the football club.
The Ultimate Goal: 100% Community-Ownership
The ultimate goal is for the football club to be 100% owned by the Supporters’ Trust, which would mean it is equally owned in its entirety by the members – the supporters and community. No-one owns more or less than anyone else – and everyone has equal influence over their football club.
The ultimate goal: Why community-ownership? And why 100% community-owned?
Most football clubs in non-league football buy and large do not run as sustainable businesses. It’s very hard to because of how warped the football business has become due to more and more business people pouring money into clubs which has astronomically inflated players wages to a vast disproportion of clubs’ “organic” revenue from matchdays and commercial activities.
Any club with a molecule of competitive ambition typically relies on a benefactor – a benefactor doesn’t have to be a billionaire, just someone with cash to spend. Lots of clubs have their business person injecting their own cash in to beef up the club’s revenue streams to afford better players.
This model of ownership, where one or so people push a club along through benefaction, isn’t sustainable – because – what happens when the business people stop pouring in money owing to either their business starting to suffer or they simply lose interest? – A huge gap is left on the balance sheet, and football clubs end up in big, big trouble because they have no hope in hell in creating the revenue streams themselves to plug the gap.
This is where the strength of our ownership model comes in. We have said so many times that a community-owned football club is as strong as it’s membership. What we mean by this is that, in addition to commercial activities to bring in revenue, we can build a substantial – and most importantly a reliable and more secure – revenue stream, than those clubs who rely on benefaction, making WCFC a sustainable business.
*Please note that Industrial and provident societies are now Community Benefit Societies.
‘But how, and what do you mean reliable and more secure?’ Allow us to explain.
Once the Trust becomes the majority owner of the football club, it plays the role of the business person sustainably supporting the club with capital, in addition to the Football Club’s own revenue streams from matchday and commercial activities.
At the moment, the Supporters’ Trust has circa 400 members, if they were all paying £25 a year, that’s £10,000 that could support the football club. If the Trust were to ever reach 800 members as it’s had in the past, that’s £20,000 a year. That money would go a long way to make sure the club breaks even and makes a profit. Of course, this still relies on a prudent financial approach and sensible business decisions i.e. a football club not living outside its means.
Now, it’s reliable and more secure because it’s diversified. As opposed to having one business person who pays a lot in, you have lots of people paying in a little bit (£25 a year membership is £2.08 a month) If the business person pulls out of investing in a club, it’s stuffed, it’s lost it’s entire largest revenue stream. If the Trust loses one member, or even a 100 in a month, it’s not going to severely effect the Football Club. Also, because it’s so affordable and accessible, even during harder economic times it is unlikely the Trust would lose swathes of members. This creates an element of security and reliability, if maintained properly and Trust membership is continuously promoted successfully. It also has opportunity – it is not too ambitious for the Trust to achieve 1500 members over the next few years – leading back to a community-owned club being as successful as the strength of it’s membership.