Former Chelsea star Gianluca Vialli says Stevenage FC fans should be ‘very proud’ of North Stand investment campaign
PUBLISHED: 17:54 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:55 18 August 2017
Gianluca Vialli has said Stevenage FC fans should be “very proud” of being the first English Football League club to help finance their new stand through an innovative investment scheme.
The former Chelsea striker and manager is the co-founder of sports crowdfunding company Tifosy, which last week launched Boro’s funding campaign calling on fans to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ to make the bulding of a new North Stand a reality.
Under the scheme, fans can invest between £500 and £25,000 in the form of a mini-bond – receiving four per cent interest on an annual basis before the money is returned in full after a five-year period. There is also an option to receive eight per cent interest in the form of a club credit.
To ensure a new 1,600 all-seater stand at the Lamex Stadium is in place for the 2018/19 season, the League Two side have set an investment target of £500,000 – and one week in the club have already reached the £150,000 mark.
Vialli spoke to the Comet about why Tifosy – ‘fans’ in Italian – was founded, his friendships with the Stevenage hierarchy and how the idea for the funding campaign was prompted by one of our stories about the club’s future.
“Football is my passion, my love – it’s something I’ve always loved being a part of it,” said the Italian.
“I owe a lot to football and this is my way of giving something back to football, and sport in general.
“When we started Tifosy in 2013 there were two big issues in sport, and specifically football – finance, and the relationship between clubs and the fans.
“We started by doing crowdfunding for sports club – with incentives for donations – but talking to clubs and to fans, we realised supporters wanted more. They wanted to invest in their club and feel more part of it.
“I’m emotional as this is now happening – and Stevenage are the pioneers in that respect.
“We feel very optimistic that this is going to be a success and soon become the norm for sports clubs. I think Stevenage should be very proud of being the first one.”
Vialli’s connection with the club actually dates back to 2013, and he had nothing but praise for Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace and director Stuart Dinsey.
“I met Stuart about four years ago and he introduced me to Phil Wallace,” said the 53-year-old, who, as well as his work with Tifosy, is a Sky Sport Italia pundit.
“I liked the way he spoke about football, and to me it was a conversation between two football people. The rest, as they say, is history.”
The former Juventus man – one of only 10 footballers to have won the three main European club competitions – admits he has been keeping an eye on Boro’s results.
“Stuart kept me up-to-date with results and progress off the field too, and when you’ve got friends at a certain club then you start looking at the results yourself,” he said.
“You do start caring and taking an interest.”
That interest piqued at the end of February of this year when fellow Tifosy co-founder James Pollock came across a Comet article where Mr Wallace spoke about the North Stand and how, if it didn’t happen, it could put the club’s future in doubt.
Vialli was in Tifosy’s London office at the time and, after being shown the article, decided to get in touch with a proposition.
A few months down the line and the result is a footballing first.
Of the scheme, Vialli said: “It’s a win-win situation – it will create a much better stand which will generate more revenue through sponsors and attendances, which in-turn will help the team on the pitch. And the fans will be a big part of that.
“It has become absolutely clear to me that Phil has earned the trust of the fans and that he wants to ensure the club progresses and grows, and this is exactly what we can do through Tifosy.”
To find out more about the mini-bond scheme and how to invest visit tifosy.com/stevenagefc.