A message from the Chairman about the 3G vote

To all Bath City FC Supporters

As I’m sure you are all aware, we have now reached a key stage in the discussions about the potential of installing a FIFA Quality Pro Pitch (3G) at Twerton Park. The Supporters Society Board has now set up a vote at the EGM on Wednesday 25th April, as well as online and by post, about progressing further with the investigations into the feasibility of the project and its overall effect and impact on the Club and community, and pursuing replacing the pitch subject to a sustainable business plan. The vote is open to paid up members of the Supporters Society as at the date of notification (11th April).

Hopefully you will have followed the debate and seen the information on our website about this. Both the full Feasibility Study and an Executive Summary are available to read online, and all the back-up sources of data are also available through the Club’s office – contact Carole Banwell if you’d like to see this. A lot of work has been done to date by a small, dedicated, cross-functional team, but we want to do more detailed work now to “stress test” what we have done so far and gather more information, especially about potential sources of funding.

The Supporters Society is now asking that all members vote “Yes” or “No” to the following motion:

“Bath City should immediately and provisionally pursue replacing the Twerton Park pitch with a “FIFA Quality Pro” surface subject to the conditions in the feasibility study being met. This would include a clear and sustainable plan to secure capital funding.”

The Bath City Football Club Board recommends voting “Yes” to this proposal.

The vote is, therefore, about giving the Club Board backing to actively develop a business case and funding model for the installation of a FIFA Quality Pro surface and satisfying the caveats laid out in the feasibility study which include the approval of the Society Board and the Club Board. It is not a decision to immediately install one. We still have further questions to answer, but there is no point spending many more hours of hard work on this if the Club’s supporters and stakeholders do not believe that this is a project worth looking at in more detail. It is an important matter, hence the need to think about and discuss it thoroughly. We held a useful presentation and discussion on 22 March at the Club, which was also covered on Bath City FC’s internet radio – listen here and read the report of the evening here

And for clarity, “3G” simply means “third generation.” The designs of synthetic pitches are constantly evolving and there are many variations in use, the quality and volume of their use and maintenance standards vary considerable. We want to install an international standard pitch, unlike some of the very hard, unforgiving and “bouncy” pitches you may have used or witnessed elsewhere.

Financial Stability was the number one concern of our supporters when we conducted extensive research last year and also among people who invested in the Big Bath City Bid. The key driver for this project is the Club’s continuing trading loss, which highlights the urgent need to achieve a significant increase in our revenues and profitability for financial sustainability. Making the Club financially secure, for the long-term, has to be the Board’s top priority, as without the finances, we cannot raise a squad or successful team to win games.

Since becoming a community owned Club last year, we have also spent some time with a cross section of supporters and stakeholders redefining what we are all about, above and beyond playing and winning football games. A lot of people bought shares because of the community “vision” and the positive impact we can have on Twerton and the wider community. Rather than using the usual corporate models, we have now created a simple statement which we think summarises what we are about, and we will be using it more widely with you – our fans, potential sponsors, partners and funders, so they also better understand what we are all about. We have printed it below, as it is important in the context of what a 3G pitch might add to the community as well as the Club. We hope the statement makes good sense, and would welcome any additional thoughts and feedback?

Bath City FC Vision

“We want to achieve success on and off the pitch, as an authentic and progressive Club, which is owned by the community and predominantly run by a dedicated team of volunteers.

We aim to be successful, professional and efficient and to achieve long-term financial sustainability, whilst being open, inclusive, considerate and diverse.

We will bring people together by hosting exciting, entertaining football matches, played with a good spirit, and in a great atmosphere.

We will organise other events to contribute to the wider community, so that Twerton Park becomes a hub for activities, organisations and services for people of the surrounding area.

We intend to be an integral part of city life, not only in Twerton, but of the whole of Bath, owned by hundreds of supporters, and followed by many more. We are truly the people’s club.”

The timing of this 3G discussion is also being led by the ground redevelopment project. While 3G could be introduced independently of the latter, the Feasibility Study concludes it would be a helpful to coincide the projects for two reasons:

  • We, and our consultants, believe the intent to install a 3G pitch would be welcomed by the Council and be seen as a very positive addition for the community, and hence likely to help with gaining planning permission for the overall re-development project. And the gaining of planning permission is a trigger for a significant capital injection into the Club, which writes off all our debts;
  • By making the change to the pitch during the re-development, we would also likely save costs and certainly reduce disruption to both the Club and the local community by doing the works concurrently.

As part of the Supporters’ Society 2016 Business Plan, we signalled 3G as a potential option which would be considered once the change of ownership had happened, and we are now at the next stage and it is time to consider this option. We believe it offers the vision of a broadly based community football club, catering for all ages, abilities and gender, centred in the heart of Twerton. It also helps secure the strategic priorities under Society ownership of achieving financial sustainability and having a positive community impact.

Because of the work and findings of the in-depth 3G Feasibility Study, both the Club Board and Society Board now recommend pursuing the 3G project further, and progressing to a FIFA Quality Pro pitch at Twerton, but subject to the following criteria:

  • Supporters, stakeholders & community engagement/endorsement (hence the vote to progress further, more detailed investigations);
  • Further clarification of Football League’s position (Our clear aim is not to jeopardise promotion should the opportunity arise);
  • An appropriate funding strategy for upfront funding of the installation;
  • More analysis on assumptions in the study (eg demand & operating costs);
  • Including 3G in the re-development project, as it would likely reduce certain costs and increase the likelihood of a successful planning application, due to the positive financial and community impact.

There is much to consider, so please do read at least the Executive Summary and if you can, the full Feasibility Study on the Society website, and let us know your view by voting on the 25th April, in person, by post or online.

And finally, thank-you all for reading this and also (in anticipation) for participating in the vote on the 25 April. It is an important subject and deserving of thorough debate.

Nick Blofeld
Chairman, Bath City Football Club