Delivering on commitment to widen community ownership in sport.
Football fans are being given the chance to buy a share of their club and help shape its future in a new initiative known as the Fan Bank.
Falkirk Supporters Society has been awarded a £350,000 interest-free loan as the first beneficiary of the programme which allows communities to buy a share of their local sports clubs so they can have a bigger say in their running.
Prospective applicants are being invited to come forward for initial discussions.
During a visit to Falkirk, First Minister Humza Yousaf said:
“Scotland has some of the most passionate fans in the world, with more supporters per capita attending football matches than in any other European country.
“We care deeply about how our clubs perform both on and off the field, but while fans may have great ideas for how their club should be run, they may not have the funding to do so.
“The Scottish Government’s Fan Bank will change that and give fans of all sports real power to help influence the future of the clubs at the heart of Scottish communities.
“If fan groups can demonstrate a clear community focus, we believe they should be supported to buy a stake in their local club and in this instance the Fan Bank will allow Falkirk supporters to play an even greater role in decision-making at their club.
“Falkirk bring employment and other benefits to the community and I look forward to seeing other supporters across the country shape their own future through fan ownership and community proposals which the Scottish Government could consider supporting.”
Falkirk Supporters Society executive committee member, Paul Robertson, said:
“We are proud to be the first supporters’ organisation in Scotland to be granted such a loan by a government body to buy collective shares in our club. Falkirk has always been a progressive and forward thinking football club and our greater shareholding will allow ordinary supporters a say in the future direction of the club. We are grateful to the Scottish Government for their recognition of the Falkirk Supporters Society as a democratic, transparent and worthy recipient of these funds.”
Falkirk FC Board member Kenny Jamieson said:
“The Board at Falkirk FC are 100% committed to fan-ownership and to working in partnership with supporters for the benefit of the club we all love. We see supporters’ involvement as essential in achieving our objective of making the club sustainably successful in the long-term. This new investment and partnership agreement provides a massive boost to everyone connected with Falkirk FC.”
The loan to the Falkirk Supporters Society will allow the purchase of 875,000 shares in Falkirk FC, giving the supporters society a stake of around 25% of the club and small shareholders around one third ownership, with medium and larger shareholders groups also owning a third each. This ‘three-legged stool’ model protects the future of the club. The loan will be repaid over 20-year term and serviced with donations and monthly subscriptions to the Supporters Society from individual fans.
Formally constituted fans groups who are considering fan ownership can approach the Scottish Government to discuss their proposals. All applications will be rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure proposed loans are supported by a robust business plan and ability to repay the loan.
Recognising that proposals can take some time to be fully developed, we have planned for up to £500,000 loan funding per annum to be available for investment in suitable proposals and would strongly encourage prospective applicants to contact us in the earliest stages of their considerations.
The Scottish Government committed, through the 2021-22 Programme for Government, that over the lifetime of this Parliament, it will provide accessible and inclusive financial support to allow more communities to purchase a share in their local sports club and/or facilities by creating a Fan Bank.
The Fan Bank will look to provide financial support, in the form of loans, which will help facilitate the transition for sports clubs to community ownership by formally constituted fans organisations and is intended, where appropriate, to help clubs move towards more stable and sustainable forms of ownership.
Decisions on whether to accept and provide funding for proposals are entirely at the discretion of Scottish Ministers. Loan rates and the sums made available may vary depending on the particular proposals and credit rating of the applicant organisation. Proposals do not need to facilitate a move to complete community ownership of a club, but applications must demonstrate the benefit of any acquisition.
For further information or to discuss a potential application contact: email@example.com
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