Grays Athletic have launched their community share scheme for fans to take over the club after former owner Andy Swallow announced he was stepping away from the day-to-day running of the Blues.
The Grays supporters will have a target of £30,000 by the end of July and that must be reached if they are to see their takeover bid receive approval from the FA and the Ryman League.
The bid has also received the backing of James Mathie from Supporters Direct, a man well-versed in supporter takeovers after helping clubs like AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester in the past.
And Mathie explained the thought process behind the club and Supporters Direct putting together the scheme.
“We have been talking to Grays Athletic supporters since the start of 2016. They share the view that the club would be best owned democratically by the community.
It’s not going to be easy which is why we wanted to set a stretching target for a share
offer to ensure there is enough financial support amongst the supporters before we move ahead.
The launch meeting went well but there is still a long way to go. This club needs to be back playing at its own ground in the town, and our experience suggests this model can help.”
Indeed, in the sixteen years Supporters Direct have been in existence they have helped establish 192 supporter trusts and helped develop more than 40 community owned clubs.
Grays supporters can become the latest group of supporters to become members of the newly formed Grays Athletic Community Football club by purchasing shares in the club, with a maximum amount of £10,000 set.
A £30 membership fee will go towards the running of the club and £1 of that will entitle fans to vote in the newly formed democratic organisation.
Speaking after the launch event of the share scheme at Chadwell Village Hall a Blues spokesman commented “We have had some fantastic feed back since the share launch and our supporters have embraced the community share offer with real gusto.
“We are extremely excited at the prospect of Grays Athletic becoming a supporters owned club, you only have to look at the recent success of AFC Wimbledon to see the benefits of a club being run by its supporters.
£30,000 is a large amount of money but we are confident that we can raise the required funds to meet the FA and league approvals by the end of July. We would like to invite all our supporters to get behind the community share offer and become active members of this fantastic football club.”
To become a member and purchase shares in Grays Athletic Community football club visit www.graysathletic.co.uk to download an information pack and share application form. For more information on Supporters Direct visit: www.supporters-direct.org.
Images: Peter Jackson