Following the recent Save Dorking FC fundraising campaign, the club’s Board is pleased to announce that the long term financial future of the football club has now been secured, as a result of both the donations and sponsorship received, and other arrangements that have now been put in place for next season.
The club’s financial viability had been brought into doubt by delays to the redevelopment of the Chicks’ ancestral home ground at Meadowbank, and an announcement by the Council that work would not now be completed until the 2017/18 season.
This forced Dorking FC to face a third season without a home ground, with no realistic means of generating significant revenues from match day or local sponsors while ground sharing more than ten miles away at Horley Town, creating the prospect of a £30,000 shortfall.
The club launched the Save Dorking FC fundraising campaign back in early January to prevent the shortfall leading to an inevitable closure of Surrey’s oldest senior football club.
“The response to the campaign has been nothing short of remarkable,” says Chief Executive Jason Rabbetts (pictured). “We asked the local community if they would help save this grand old lady of Surrey football in its time of need, and the community answered us with a resounding ‘Yes!’.”
Dozens of individuals contributed donations from £10 to £100 via a crowdfunding website, adding to money from local businesses – such as Station View Garage and Patrick Gardner & Co Estate Agents – joining a new community interest development fund.
In addition, individual investors have contributed Community Investment Loans, taking advantage of the Dorking FC’s Community Interest Club status. The club was even contacted by a former player from the 1970s, now retired in Spain, who has made a substantial investment under the scheme.
“From individuals taking part in a successful crowdfunding appeal, to former players and associates of the club over the past 50 years who came forward, and of course the many local businesses who have pledged to support the club over a number of seasons, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has played a part in helping to save Dorking FC,” says Jason Rabbetts.
“Not just the financial donations and loans, but the many messages of support show just how much this club has become a part of the very fabric of the town and the community over the past 130 years. They also demonstrate the enthusiasm for our vision of the club, back at Meadowbank with an amateur ethos at its heart, a commitment to youth development and local players, and working with the community to make the new Meadowbank a vibrant sporting hub breathing new life into the town centre.”
The final piece in the puzzle came with last month’s announcement that Dorking FC will play at Dorking Wanderers’ Westhumble ground next season, as part of a new Dorking Football Development Alliance formed by the two clubs to maximise their potential, share facilities to ensure they are put to the best possible use for the community and local business, and create an organisational powerhouse that boosts grassroots football and talent in the area.
The Alliance sees Dorking FC return to playing home matches in the town for the first time since 2013, when Meadowbank was closed for health and safety reasons, which led to a takeover of the club by volunteer local businessmen, committed to Dorking FC’s revitalisation as a community project and eventual return to a regenerated ground.
Jason Rabbetts says, “The generous offer from Dorking Wanderers to accommodate us at Westhumble gets us over the problem of a third season away from Meadowbank in the best possible way. For the first time in three years, local people will be able to come and enjoy watching Dorking FC play in the town on a Saturday afternoon, which gives us the real opportunity to raise revenue through footfall, further improving our financial position and renewing our connection with the community before both clubs begin playing at Meadowbank the following year.”
In addition, Dorking FC is being financially supported by the third year of long-term sponsorship deals with local employers Johnston Sweepers, Dorking Accident Repair Centre and Coco5.
With enough funds generated to suggest the club will be able to survive the delayed to Meadowbank, the Save Dorking FC campaign has now been closed, but further funds are still being raised for the forthcoming season and the club still has a number of sponsorship opportunities for local businesses – either as headline sponsors or as community development sponsors, which offers a low entry cost, soft cash flow impact plan with a range of business-to-business and business-to-community benefits.
“There’s never been a better time for local businesses to get involved with supporting the club,” says Jason Rabbetts. “With Dorking FC about to return to playing in the town for the first time in three years, ahead of the exciting move to Meadowbank, there’ll be a high level of interest and visibility for all our sponsors.”
Anyone interested in sponsorship in time for next season and Dorking FC’s return to the town, is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Source: Dorking FC