Stevenage FC call on community to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ to fund new North Stand in Football League first
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage FC chairman Phil Wallace has today called on fans and the community to stand “shoulder to shoulder” to make the redevelopment of the North Stand a reality – in an innovative scheme which is a first for a Football League club.
The League Two outfit are inviting all interested people to make an investment so a 1,600 all-seater stand – first mooted more than six years ago – can be built in time for the 2018/19 season.
Having secured a grant of £450,000 from the Football Foundation towards the redevelopment of the Lamex Stadium, Boro need to raise an additional £500,000 to make the project at their Broadhall Way home happen.
The investment would take the form of a mini-bond where supporters earn interest on an annual basis, before the contribution is paid back in full after a five-year period.
This is effectively a loan from fans and investors to Stevenage FC, at rates that Boro say are good for both the club and those investing.
The club has already been speaking to potential investors before going public with the scheme, and have so far raised £78,500.
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“I want to do this together with the fans and the community, standing shoulder to shoulder for Stevenage,” said Mr Wallace, who bought the club in 1999 when it was reportedly just days from closing.
“Stevenage is a community club and it’s important we keep it that way – that’s why we’re offering fans and the local community the chance to invest in the club, to help us grow but also get a benefit from their investment.
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“Doing it this way means there is a financial benefit to the people who invest as well as there being emotional reasons to support the club they love. And in addition, fans will be able to enjoy the new stand with great facilities for all.”
Stevenage FC say replacing the North Stand terrace would “signify Boro’s transition from former non-league outfit to ambitious, forward-thinking EFL club” – and believe this is the best way to secure the £500,000 needed.
Similar schemes have been already used by rugby and cricket clubs to finance infrastructure, but it has never been done before by a Football League club.
In order to make the mini-bond viable, a minimum of £500 is needed to invest – with interest paid every year over the term at a rate of four per cent.
There’s also an alternative option to increase the annual interest payable to eight per cent, if the interest is taken in the form of a club credit which can be used at Stevenage FC on such things as club hospitality and the club shop.
Mr Wallace added: “We’re inviting fans to invest in Stevenage, it’s very simple and also very clear and transparent. We expect that a lot of people will be willing to invest in the club’s future, and there will be exciting benefits for people who invest and support us.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to support the club at a key moment in our history – we want to continue to grow and develop and we need everyone to stand shoulder to shoulder to help us move forward.”
The club have released some Q&As about the mini-bond scheme – which is being run on their behalf by sports crowdfunding company Tifosy:
Why do we need to build the North Stand?
The North Stand project will bring many benefits to Stevenage FC, from both the playing and commercial points of view. Here are the key ones:
1. The new stand will provide much-improved accommodation for home fans behind the goal, to match what away supporters have in the South Stand. Specifically, there will be much-needed improved provision for disabled supporters.
2. The stand will finally complete our transition from Conference side to EFL club in the eyes of potential sponsors and commercial partners, helping us to increase revenues through these important sources.
3. Likewise, an upgraded, attractive stadium is a signal of our ambition and will help us to attract better players to the club, just as our outstanding academy and training facilities play that role today.
4. Following the completion of Phase 1, the club will be in a position to develop the commercial opportunities presented by the space behind the stand.
What exactly will be built with the funds if they are raised?
The first phase of the North Stand project will comprise supporter seating (c. 1,600 seats), stairs, concourses, entrance ways and all necessary safety features. It will also include toilet facilities and some food & drink provision. The approximate cost to complete these works is £950,000. Of this money, £450,000 has been secured already in the form of a grant from the Football Foundation. The intention is to raise the remaining £500,000 through the Stevenage FC Bond issuance.
What is a mini-bond?
A mini-bond is an innovative and effective way for UK privately owned companies to raise funds from a non-institutional audience (e.g. general public). Mini-bonds are typically issued at a fixed interest rate over a set period of time (e.g. 5 years). The investor is repaid through interest payments at regular intervals, until the maturity of the bond at which point the initial investment (principal) is repaid.
How many Stevenage FC bonds can one individual apply for?
The minimum amount of Stevenage FC Bonds for which you can apply is £500. You can apply for a maximum amount of £25,000.
What if I don’t have £500, or just want to make a donation to the project?
The minimum investment amount for a bond to be cost-effective is £500. Sums below £500 can be donated to the club directly. Donors will not receive a Stevenage FC bond or any interest return but will also be recognised exchange for certain donations. If giving £175 or more, the donor’s name will be included in the Founders Plaque on the North Stand. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive instructions on how to make a donation.
How much is being raised?
The target is to raise £500,000 by the issue of the Stevenage FC bond. In order to satisfy demand up to £600,000 of Stevenage FC bonds in total may be issued.
What happens if we don’t reach the £500,000 target?
Should the campaign raise more than the minimum threshold of £300,000 but not hit the target, the club will need to look into further funding options but has nevertheless undertaken to continue with the construction of Phase 1 of the North Stand.
What do I need to do before deciding whether to invest?
You should read the documentation in full, including the Invitation Document available on the Tifosy website, and make sure you fully understand the risks involved.
Who are Tifosy?
Tifosy is a sports fanfunding platform, set up to enable sports fans and investors to invest in their favourite clubs’ future. Since being founded in 2014, Tifosy have raised more than £1 million for European sports clubs. In 2016, Tifosy were authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to promote investment campaigns (such as the Stevenage FC mini-bond) to ordinary investors, on behalf of clubs.