Given the uncertainty about the football club’s future, questions from members and fans, and Nick Hawkins notes in the programme, I thought it would be worthwhile to update members and Boro fans about what the Supporters’ Co-op has been doing to help the Boro and what others can do to help too.
Fundraising/fan representation: what we need to know first
We understand that fans want to help support the club as much as they can during times of trouble. The Supporters’ Co-op also wants to support the club as much as we can too.
However, the good governance rules that we legally have to abide by mean we have to make certain checks before we can begin fundraising to acquire shares and the like. This is not just about petty tick boxing and bureaucracy; it is our responsibility to all Boro fans that any money they invest in the club through us is looked after carefully and responsibly.
For example, in order to buy shares in the club, the Supporters’ Co-op needs to know some basic information such as how we can buy shares, the cost of shares and what influence this would give us in terms of the running of the club. We would need to be clear about what our liabilities would then be, particularly in terms of finances and debt. We also need to know more about the proposed structure for the club’s management and decision-making – and where fan representation, if any, would fit into this.
At present, it is particularly essential that we know more about what the club’s business plan is before we can make any financial investment. What is the owner’s formal business plan for making the Boro sustainable? What steps are being taken to improve the club’s situation?
These are sensible questions that any fundraiser would ask before giving money to a cause. Plus we want to ensure that any money we invest will help the club in the medium to long term, rather than just papering over current cracks. More information about our rules are located here.
What we have requested from the club
As Acting Chair of the Supporters’ Co-op, I had a couple of phone calls with Nick Hawkins before he bought the club. Shortly after he took over, I met with him and explained the Co-op’s long-standing support of the Boro and provided him with guidance on supporter involvement and representation. I told him that we would like to get more involved with the club.
In February, I attended a business meeting held by the club. Other potential partners, investors and sponsors were present too. At this meeting, I explained that the Co-op would need to understand what the club’s structure would look like before we could consider an investment. I also echoed calls from others at the meeting about needing a clearer understanding of the club’s financial situation as well as Nick’s business plan and vision for the club.
I have since emailed Nick and others at the Boro, sharing examples of and guidance about football and other sports clubs’ business plans and structures in order to help them develop their plans.
I’ve also been invited to another meeting at the club on Friday 15 February 2019. Either myself or someone else from the Supporters’ Co-op board will attend.
Other ways that the Supporters’ Co-op continues to support the club
We continue to volunteer at the club on match days and other days, providing essential support such as helping to tidy the ground, promoting events, updating the official Boro website and filming the games. All of these actions save the club money.
Alongside this, we run the 200 Club, which generates a monthly income for the Boro. This is paid to the club on a monthly basis. Further information about joining the 200 club can be found here.
What you can do to help
The Supporters’ Co-op is only as strong as its members. Your support can make a real difference to us and the Boro. There are various ways that you can help us to help the Boro:
1. Join the 200 Club
2. Take part in a volunteer initiative during the week
3. Speak to a member of the Supporters’ Co-op Board about how your skills could be of use. We are especially keen to hear from fans with a business or fundraising background
4. Become a member of the Supporters’ Co-op Board
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us by replying to this message, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, sending us a message on social media or speaking to us at games.