Ryman Premier Grays Athletic have played their first match as one of the country’s first wholly supporter-owned and run community football clubs.
Before losing 2-1 at Burgess Hill Town on Saturday in the Ryman’s top flight, the Blues announced that the Football Association and Ryman League had approved the transfer of the Essex club’s FA and Ryman League membership from Grays Athletic (1982) Limited to GAFC 1890 Supporters Society Limited.
To celebrate getting the green light, the club’s interim board is now planning to stage a celebratory event in January when fans will be updated on their next steps as owners, including the sale of further community shares, future fundraising and the election of a board of directors to run the club.
In a statement on the club’s website on Friday, delighted officials hailed the news and apologised to fans for taking longer than expected.
A spokesman said: “The club has now become one of the first wholly supporter-owned football clubs in the country. Thank you to all those who have become members and shareholders of our new Community Benefit Society. You will shortly be issued with your share certificates.
“The interim board of the football club, the Supporter’s Society committee and a number of fans have been working very hard with the FA and the Ryman League and the club’s advisers, Supporters Direct, since March this year to achieve this objective.
“We are sorry it has taken about three months longer than we and our advisers, Supporters Direct, had expected, but we were in the hands of the football authorities and had to satisfy their very thorough examination of our proposed constitution, financial plans and interim board personnel.”
“We would now like to invite all of the club’s supporters to a celebration event in the New Year which we hope to hold at Chadwell Village Hall. The venue and date will be confirmed within the next few days. The interim board will pay for the cost of this event and we would like to see as many people as possible attend and raise a glass to the new club.”
Thanking former owner Andy Swallow for keeping the club going and making the takeover possible, the Blues added: “On behalf of everyone at Grays Athletic FC, we would like to thank Andy Swallow for ensuring the survival of our great club since we left The Rec in 2010 and for placing the club in a financial position that was acceptable for the FA to sanction the transfer to The Community Benefit Society.”
For more information on becoming a club member and community shares visit: http://www.graysathletic.co.uk/a/gafc-share-offer-47494.html.