The first meeting of the new Interim Management Group (IMG) for Basingstoke Town Football Club took place on 11th January, and ended with the landmark announcement that they believe the best way forward for the club may be to move into community ownership.
The IMG has been tasked with evaluating the options under review in Plan B, and will also help manage the Club through the transition period which will follow Chairman & Owner Rafi Razzak’s departure at the end of the 2016/17 season on May 31st.
The IMG took the decision to announce that it will launch an unprecedented campaign to encourage support from the people of Basingstoke for community ownership of the Town’s football club in February.
James Mathie, club development manager for Supporters Direct, a national umbrella organisation of supporters trusts who run football clubs in the UK and Europe, outlined community ownership options at the meeting and will be helping the club as they develop their community ownership campaign and plans. James says:
“We know time is short and there are challenges to overcome, but with change comes opportunity. We believe there are significant benefits that this club can bring to the town and we want to see how we might take that further if fans, and the community, were involved as owners. Ultimately this will only work if we can generate enough support from the Town for a sustainable and competitive club which can increase what it does for the community beyond Saturday afternoon.”
David Knight, Club CEO who chaired the meeting, says:
“I am very pleased that we have taken this very positive decision. Community ownership will allow us to determine our own future for the long run, and our campaign starting in February will work hard to reach every part of our community and get as many people as possible involved. The campaign will explain how community ownership works and how everyone in Basingstoke, and supporters from further afield, can get involved in the exciting prospect of being one of the future owners of BTFC.
“A fundamental part of the move away from private ownership will be far greater involvement with other community groups creating more opportunities to utilise the clubs facilities, and working together for the benefit of the whole community.”
The exciting launch of the community ownership campaign is scheduled to take place in February with full details being announced early next month.
In terms of what will happen to the current ground following Rafi’s departure at the end of the season, David also confirmed that the IMG are currently reviewing two final options and they expect to make a decision on their preferred option early in February.
The IMG will initially consist of existing officials, along with some new external professionals who have appropriate skills for the transition, as well as supporter representation. The membership of the IMG may change as the needs of the Club develop.
The Interim Management Group members who attended the January 11th meeting included:
•David Knight – CEO
•Alan Turvey – President
•Terry Brown – Manager
•Martin French – Supporters Club Chairman
•Ian Halloway – Current Director
•Mark Jones – Head of Ark Cancer Charity Fundraising
•James Mathie – Club Development Manager for Supporters Direct
•Paul Davison – Proteus
•Sarah Parsons – Current Director
•Will Wilkinson – Head of Digital & Marketing
The next IMG meeting is scheduled to take place on February 8th.