1) The Joint Venture (TrustSTFC and STFC)
1.1 Are the Trust going to buy the County Ground?
Swindon Town Community Mutual Ltd and Swindon Town Football Company Ltd are 50/50 partners in a joint venture to purchase the County Ground from Swindon Borough Council.
1.2 How much are Community Shares going to cost for each supporter?
Each share will cost £19.69. In case you hadn’t guessed(!) – this is in recognition of our famous 1969 League Cup Final win.
1.3 Are voting rights proportional with the amount invested into Community Shares?
No – Community shares are one share, one vote no matter the amount invested. We want to encourage as many fans as possible to participate and this structure encourages the many to be involved and express their views, which is why the Government has introduced it for Community Purpose vehicles like ours.
1.4 Why is it a good idea to own the stadium?
- Every penny of revenue will be invested back into the club and the stadium.
- Protects our Ground – issues at Coventry, Northampton, Oxford, Darlington and more.
- Every Town fan has the chance to own a share and a vote on future decisions.
Very simply, at the moment the football club pays rent to the council, and that money is spent on community services, bin collections or whatever. Under supporter ownership – that rent would effectively be taken in one hand, and subject to community shareholder agreement, could then given back with the other. That’s an immediate benefit.
1.5 Do you intend to reduce the amount of rent the club pay per year? Could the rent payments depend on league status – e.g. £x in league 2, £y in league 1, £z in the championship?
This would be down to a vote – fans who purchase Community Shares would decide future policy. Remember, it’s one vote per community shareholder – equal rights for all involved.
1.6 Who is going to manage all this? – you are volunteers and part-timers!
- STFC and Supporters are going into this jointly in a 50/50 arrangement. Everything will be managed equally between both parties and resources from both sides will work on this.
1.7 How has the 2,300 shareholder number been decided?
This was stipulated by stakeholders in early discussions around the joint venture, to show the club and council that fans are serious in investing in the future of the County Ground and to ensure Town Fans are represented in strong numbers.
1.8 What if we don’t get 2,300 fans?
We are confident we will. If we cant get at least 2,300 fans wanting to own a part of the County Ground at a cost of just £19.69 then we have an issue. We actually think that we will have far more than 2300 fans which is wonderful and we hope to have as many fans as possible buying shares.
1.9 Will being a shareholder provide cheaper tickets/season tickets or any other benefits?
There are no Club benefits at this time – however purchasing a share will give voting rights on supporter-driven initiatives for the future of the ground.
1.10 The amount of shares and share price doesn’t come near the £1.1m needed by the Trust for their half where is the rest coming from?
At the moment this remains confidential and is covered by an NDA, we hope to be able to release further details in the near future.
1.11 When will community shares go on sale?
We cannot sell the shares just yet as we need to complete the preparation work – this was always dependent on the completion of our legal activities. Our AGM is being held on Friday 20th March, at which time we will give a further update. It’s unlikely that shares will be available at this time as we still have a number of third-party tasks to complete, but they should be put on sale soon afterwards – and will be available for around 2 months at least, and possibly longer. We are still working through the details.
2. Swindon Borough Council
2.1. I don’t like football! Why don’t the council just put it up for sale to the highest bidder?
- The Council would have the first option to buy it back.
- We are taxpayers ourselves and from the local community.
- We will match the independent valuation and work hard to improve the area for the good of the whole Town.
2.2. Is the value to the town of a properly run, stable, communicative and well supported club realistically reflected in the negotiations with the Supporters Trust?
The Council recognise our value as a Community group and have been very supportive. We respect their need to get best value for the local taxpayer, and discussions have been very collaborative.
3. The Stadium
4.1 If the joint venture own the land, do the joint venture also own the Stadium (i.e. the stands / pitch etc) or just the land that the stadium sits on?
We commissioned a report on the existing lease terms, and the property covers three parcels of land together with the buildings and structures, namely The County Ground Football Ground and the ticket and sales offices. Any stands and buildings that were constructed after 1988 would have required the Landlord’s consent and usually this is documented by way of a licence to alter.
This document is not a public document (i.e. not registered at the Land Registry). The professional understanding and opinion always would be that any building or structure that is built on a Landlord’s land would be retained by the Landlord.
4.2 If you were successful with buying the county ground, what are you buying? The land? does it include the cricket ground and pavilion the extension too but not the actual stadium or just the land the stadium sits on?
As above, we would be buying the land and the stadium buildings, the adjacent land facing out onto the Magic Roundabout, and the car park. The Cricket ground and athletics track is not included.
4. Future Developments
4.1 How do the Joint Venture propose to develop and improve the stadium and surrounding area?
- This is hard to define at this moment and would need discussing and prioritising by the Joint Venture, but ideas that fans have floated in the past include:
- Action on external area with supporter engraved paving.
- Potential statues of former players.
- Rebuild of the Town End
- Opportunities for community grants to help create a sporting hub for Swindon.
- We are very open to discussions that benefit the whole Town and these are just ideas and suggestions at this point and need discussing in the future.
4.2 Why should I give you my money and how do I know these developments will go ahead?
Nobody is asking you for money at this stage, we will have a crowdfunding proposition that encourages donations for improvements later down the line, if you want to back it and own a share and a say in the stadium future – then you back it, if that doesn’t interest you, then you don’t. Details of the share issue will be discussed at the TrustSTFC AGM being held on March 20th at the Legends lounge.
Both the Trust and the Club could produce fantastic graphical images of what might be coming in the future – but there will be no guarantees of delivery. There can be promises or proposals, but not guarantees. If the supporters have ownership of the stadium, and development is managed by a board of fan elected representatives and a delivery team, then you at least know that something will happen, because if it doesn’t – then others can be elected to take charge.
More importantly, you also know that the stadium is in safe hands for the future, and that supporters interests will always be top priority. No other arrangement can provide this.
4.3 Would it be possible to look at building a hotel on the land behind a new Town End so that the new meetings / function rooms can be incorporated into executive boxes overlooking the pitch?
This is one of many ideas that has been suggested in the past and is again something which would need careful consideration by the Club and the JV. We are very aware and respectful of the covenant from the Goddard estate and fully engage with them before progressing any ideas, which ultimately would be for the benefit of the Club and pursuit of football in Swindon.
4.4 What is the long term vision? Clearly something needs to be done with the bank which could mean a fundamental stadium re-design by redeveloping the town end this cannot happen.
The Joint Venture will develop a joint long term vision so we have timescales for a stadium fit for STFC’s aspirations in the 21st Century. Regarding the Stratton Bank, again this is something that has to be improved and so would be a big part of that vision.
5.1 If I as an individual were to put £19.69 in to be used for the purchase, will I see a return in my investment or is it just a donation?
See the Fans Meeting Guide notes – Community shares do not increase in value, however there is the possibility of a dividend if the board/supporters agree. There are no plans to issue dividends though.
5.2 Where will the rent being paid by the club go? Upkeep of the stadium, stadium improvements, payments back to individuals who have contributed to the purchase etc?
The rent will go to future improvements to the stadium and it would be down to the joint venture to decide on.
6.5 What about the ongoing overhead of the running the stadium. Some figures would be helpful.
The club have responsibility for repairs and maintenance as part of the lease at the moment, and this will continue, so nothing changes in that respect.
6.6 Why can’t you tell us who is providing the matched funding?
NDAs are in place – It is what it is, but when the time is right and when the relevant parties are comfortable, the information will be released. Apologies, we fully appreciate that lots of people are not happy about this and would really like assurances, all we can say is there are very good reasons for not disclosing details at the moment. This funding partner is committed to Swindon Town but wants no income from the stadium after this donation.