“I believe it is the biggest decision/challenge facing our Club in a generation and one we all need to get right. Your objective view is just as important as mine...and Braintree Council”. Lee Harding, Chairman & Chief Executive
AN OBJECTIVE VIEW
Braintree Town Football Club PROUD TO REPRESENT OUR TOWN & DISTRICT
No need for relocation APRIL 2018
Produced by The FSA (FRIENDS & SUPPORTERS’ ASSOCIATION) www.braintreefsa.co.uk braintreefsa email: firstname.lastname@example.org
more than just a
Braintree East is our manor and Crittall’s Sports Ground our patch for close on 100 years. From the seeds of Braintree’s glorious industrial past, a milestone is about to be reached - our 120th Anniversary Year (1898 - 2018). However, under investment in this particular ward over many decades, has blighted the quality of life for its residents in comparison to every other ward in Braintree. This is in spite of being blessed with a surfeit of open green space. Our social housing stock has stagnated through a lack of fresh ideas and uninspired planning. It is claimed that the best thing to come out of Braintree East is the image in one’s rear-view mirror on approaching Galleys Corner roundabout and the A120!
Braintree Town Football Club is a vital part of the DNA of Braintree East and proud of the fact. Not for the first time vultures are circling over Crittall’s Sports Ground with a view to realising its development potential.
An opportunity does however exist and a long overdue ‘regeneration strategy’ could be adopted for the benefit of all, with the community sports hub central to the future well-being of the Football Club.
HAS BRAINTREE EAST’S TIME FINALLY ARRIVED...?
The FSA (Friends and Supporters’ Association)
D E ....for relocation E N o
The template for success has already been drawn....and we have first hand experience of it, at places such as Bromley, Sutton, Maidstone and on our own doorstep Sudbury. A model that is proven to work, both for the club and the community at large. A model that would also work for us here, in Braintree, at Cressing Road. As luck would have it, a start has already been made with a £50,000 investment in a complementary drainage system endorsed by STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) consultant Gordon Howitt, and installed by local contractor Martin Guy Ltd, under the supervision of former professional golfer Oscar Smith. • Why would we want to write that off? Surely this investment is for the long term! • “However, the Football Club have a lease on the 5 acre (training pitch/car park) and the right to renew. The Council have indicated their plan to develop this site by including it in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment for development in 2022. Short term, the Council could negotiate with the Football Club for the early surrender of their lease...” Well, why not? There is our opportunity to fund an astroturf pitch on the main stadium at no cost to the taxpayer. • PLUS... • NO NEED to write off £50,000 pitch drainage • NO NEED to enter into any groundshare option • NO NEED to impose extra travel costs on supporters • NO NEED to seek pastures new • NO NEED to asset strip the Club • NO NEED to transfer the sporting covenant • NO NEED to see houses built in our own back yard • NO NEED TO RELOCATE! • This August will see the 120th anniversary of Braintree Town Football Club. What better way to mark this momentous occasion than by delivering some certainty for Braintree East?
Today’s ambition... is tomorrow’s legacy!
The way forward...
D E E N o
The FSA (Friends & Supporters’ Association) recently sought the professional advice of a marketing consultant who is familiar with the Club and its recent activity. Put simply, his remit was to consider how BTFC’s current exploitation of its commercial potential compares with that of the majority of other clubs at our level within the hierarchy of English non-league football.
Based upon the factual information I had placed at my disposal by way of a background for the purpose of providing a thorough assessment, such as a reported loss of £50k for the year ending July 2016 and an expected deficit in the region of £100k for the current season as a result of last season’s relegation, it would seem that many of the income streams that may have previously benefited the Club have seemingly collapsed without redress, let alone replacement. That this situation has been allowed to develop is not only due to previous sponsorship targets going unfulfilled, but also seemingly due to a lack of any new viable targets even being set to give the business side of BTFC any real focus. Although it may seem elementary, any business, no matter the industry that they operate within, can only expect to survive, let alone prosper, by ensuring their level of expenditure does not exceed their income. Therefore, for a Club like BTFC to succeed, there is a need to take a professional approach that also offers those that want to get involved with the Club both viable reasons to do so and sufficient value for the money that they elect to put in. However, the reality is that, where there are seemingly significant failings at the commercial level to the all too obvious detriment of an entity like BTFC, this is easier said than done! In order to be able to successfully sell the Club to the local business sector, in Braintree and the surrounding areas, there is a clear need for an expertise that has been recently seemingly severely lacking for BTFC. One only has to consider the state of the official Club website and the outdated commercial brochure, let alone the sorry state of parts of the stadium, to see that there is a significant lack of even minimal investment in even the most essential facets of the Club. All factors that hardly encourage sponsorship from the business community, let alone greater footfall on match days to enhance the financial coffers! Standing at the Clubhouse end of the football stadium itself, it was also somewhat striking to wonder how many of the current pitch-side sponsors are still actively supporting the Club and how many are enjoying free exposure, not only due to how much the current signs condition varies but also because of the apparent lack of any official record? Having spoken to several established business contacts in the district, some who have had previous dealings with the Club, it only seems to speak even greater volumes for BTFC’s current commercial failings that most of my contacts appeared to share in the view that the Club does not help itself with how it deals with those few businesses that do take a commercial interest. Based on my years of experience to date working with businesses across a broad myriad of industries, I conclude that, although the vital community support is out there for BTFC to thrive as a self-sustainable enterprise, this support must be treated in the right way, not only to attract their commercial involvement but also throughout their relationship with the Club. It may seem trite to say, but all that is really needed is the correct commercial approach to first attract and then retain viable sponsorship from businesses within the region and beyond for significant improvement to be made to the Club’s position both on and off the field.
Extract from an article in the Braintree & Witham Times 12th October 2017.
A Braintree District Council spokesperson said: “We have worked with the football club for many years looking into options to relocate the stadium. If a suitable and viable alternative site cannot be found then the club can remain indefinitely at their current ground which they own, and also remain in occupation of the training pitch land until 2030. The club has rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act to renew its lease past 2030. “There is no reason why the club cannot continue to operate at their current home for as long as it wants to, however we will continue to assess any future proposals brought forward by the club backed by a sound business case.”
Braintree Town Youth & Girls FC FA CHARTER STANDARD COMMUNITY CLUB Braintree Town Youth & Girls FC runs 28 teams plus a mini soccer school. We are the largest club in the area, coaching 5, 7, 9 and 11-a-side teams for both boys and girls with a progression to higher levels. The Club is an FA Charter Standard Community Club, the highest FA award available to grassroots clubs. The aim is to provide football in a fun, safe environment to develop as many youngsters as possible. Would it not be a fantastic opportunity to develop this aspect of our Club further? What great advantages there would be to have all-year training and playing facilities at the Cressing Road stadium with first class facilities for our youth and community to really benefit from.
Today’s youth... is tomorrow’s future!
D E E N o
CASE STUDY: MAIDSTONE UNITED FC
“THERE ARE 1,000 KIDS PLAYING HERE EVERY WEEK....’LITTLE JIMMY’, WHO’S BEEN PLAYING HERE, THEN WANTS TO GO AND SEE A GAME” Seven years ago, Maidstone were both homeless and penniless. They shared a stadium with Kent neighbours Ashford United and trained at a local park. Players and staff were rarely paid on time and a hardcore following of 300 fans faced up to the prospect of losing their beloved club. Bankruptcy appeared inevitable until the Stones were saved by shareholders Oliver Ash and Terry Casey, who purchased the club and formulated an ingenious plan to end all of their financial misfortune. They proposed building their own ground, featuring a 3G pitch that would become not only a community hub, but also a cash cow. The surface would be rented out to local sides and clubs every day of the week, while ensuring first-team games and training sessions would never fall victim to the inclement weather. Supporters bought into the scheme and the Gallagher Stadium - situated in the heart of the town - opened in 2012. Business has been booming ever since. “The whole business model is built around the pitch,” Ash tells FFT before kick-off. “Most clubs at this level aren’t financially sustainable and don’t generate enough income, so have to rely on injections of cash from wealthy owners to buy and pay their players. But we didn’t want that. We wanted to build a real business and generate our own money. It’s a tough ask, but so far we’ve been able to do it.” The pitch generates £150,00 a year in hire fees, but the knock-on effect of Maidstone involving a local community on a daily basis is paying the biggest dividends. “There are
1,000 kids playing here every week,” says Ash. “Parents will come down, have a coffee and use the restaurant. They then realise they can rent a room out for a meeting or a function. ‘Little Jimmy’, who’s been playing here during the week, then wants to go and see a game. It breeds loyalty. Our crowds have grown year upon year for five seasons and that’s a big reason why.” One of the club’s savvy initiatives has been to set up soccer schools, which involve first-team players coaching youngsters. Maidstone boss Jay Saunders believes that has been key to the increasing number of kids watching his side on a Saturday afternoon. “The pitch has created a relationship between the players and the fans,” he says. “We used to get gates 500-1,000 people, but now we’re disappointed if we’re playing in front of anything less than 2,500. The results have helped, but the pitch has been massive in boosting attendances.” Still, state-of-the-art pitches do not come cheap. The cost of laying the surface – which has to meet FIFA standards – was £300,000, and the club also had to fork out another £200,000 to relay it a couple of years ago. However, the £5,000 they have to spend on maintaining it each year is a fraction of the £40,000 required to manicure traditional turf. Meanwhile, synthetic blades have spared United the considerable expense of building a brand new training facility. Maidstone’s first XI, entire academy system, women’s side and disabled team are able to train and play here every week. Article from FourFourTwo.com December 2017
James Cleverly, MP for Braintree, pledges to do all he can to help secure the future of Braintree Town Football Club in the local community “I always want to see Braintree Town at the heart of the community doing what it has done for so many years... “...I will continue to work with fans and with the council to find something that sees the club not just survive but thrive.” Extracts from the Braintree & Witham Times, 20th October 2017.
CASE STUDY: BROMLEY FC
“THE PITCH WILL ALLOW OUR ACADEMY TO GROW TO 120 SCHOLARS NEXT YEAR FROM THE CURRENT 60, SO WE CAN OFFER EXTRA FOOTBALL TO 16 TO 18 YEAR OLDS” Bromley’s rise built on solid foundations Vanarama National League members Bromley Football Club have embarked on a major programme of improvements at their Hayes Lane Stadium to provide the club with a sustainable, long-term future. Tony Incenzo, FC Business magazine, spoke to Bromley’s general manager Jeff Hutton, here are some extracts from the article published in 2017. Jeff, you are currently installing a 3G synthetic pitch at Hayes Lane. What are the costs and benefits? The new 3G facility is costing £479,000 and is being installed by Blakedown Sports & Play Ltd. We have already experienced the benefits as we have a piece of land behind our South Stand where we installed an 11-a-side 3G pitch and a 9-a-side 3G pitch two years ago. These are rented out to local community teams and local schools. But we have around 500 young footballers with Bromley FC from the age of five and six years old all the way through to our first team. Many of their training sessions and matches currently take place away from the main ground, hiring out facilities elsewhere. Therefore the new 3G main pitch at Hayes Lane means that we will be able to bring a lot of our youth teams back home as it were. In addition, the pitch will allow our Academy to grow to 120 scholars next year from the current 60, so we can thereby offer extra football for 16 to 18 year olds. In effect, we will have an opportunity to develop more home-grown Bromley players with a pathway from primary school age all the way up to our National League squad. And looking at matchday activities when our first team are playing at 3pm, we will be able to have one of youth teams get on the 3G surface at half-time and play a 7-a-side game in front of 1,000 to 2,000 spectators. Overall, the new pitch will make everyone feel even more part of our football club which is already at the heart of the local community. In 2018, you will start building a new South Stand at Bromley with an adjacent community hub. How will this impact on your business plan? The new stand will cost in the region of £2 million and will have just under 1,500 seats. When we were promoted to the National League in 2015, we had to meet the ground grading requirements which specified 500 seats. We just about scraped through with 502 in place. These are the
only seats in the whole ground, which has an overall capacity of just over 4,000. Other than our main stand and the temporary seats that we installed behind the goal, our facilities are probably not the best in the league. So the new stand will be a fantastic addition to the stadium and what we are able to offer supporters on matchdays. The community hub behind the stand will be a two-storey sports hall. We would like to find a good community enterprise - maybe a company that is already linked in with the local authority - to move in as a tenant and use the hub as a base to offer their services. This partnership will help increase the usability of our football club for the benefit of the entire Borough of Bromley and beyond. So the Hayes Lane facilities can be utilised seven days a week, not just on a matchday. It is clear that your main aim is to be sustainable for the long-term future. Do you see Bromley eventually winning promotion to the Football League? That sustainability will come from being community focused. By engaging the local community, we will have new income streams from the main 3G pitch and the community hub that will allow the football club to develop and grow. All that the board of directors want to do here is to put the new funds generated back into the football club. They want to continue improving the stadium and the playing budget to allow us to compete. The enthusiasm and the energy from the directors for Bromley to continue moving forward is so evident. We only need to improve on our league position by three or four places next year to creep into the Play-offs. There is no doubt that the board want us to become a Football League outfit, but they don’t want to gamble and throw money at it like other clubs have done in the past. There is no financial shortcut at Bromley. We want to achieve our aims in a sustainable way.
For the many...not the few!
For the many...
noNEED not the few! No Need logotype and brochure ÂŠ 2018 Mike Parker (07846 207925). w: mikeparker.design All rights reserved.
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