Lewes Football Club

Lewes Football Club
The Community Shares Company guided us through a complicated rule change with the minimum of fuss, then wrote our offer document that helped to secure £200,000 of funding towards the construction of a 3G pitch. This project represents a major step change towards long-term sustainability for our club and the Community Shares Company has been vital to our success.
Lewes Football Club

We helped Lewes FC raise the £200,000 they needed to develop the first phase of their ambitious plan to become sustainable.

Like many clubs in British football there had been brushes with insolvency and it was being kept alive as a labour of love by dedicated fans and Directors. But the club’s fundamental economic problem had never been properly addressed.

Simply put, the club earned money for a few hours on around 70 days a year when it played home matches but had costs 365 days a year. It was also tucked away on the edge of the town and needed to connect to more people than just the 400 who regularly watch the men’s first team.

In 2010, a group of fans came together to rescue the club from extinction due to an unpaid tax bill and saw it as a catalyst to move the club in the right direction. They swiftly opened membership to the wider community and the club now has over 800 owners.

The first stage of their plans involve building a 3G artificial pitch next to the ground, which will give them a regular income from renting it to the many amateur football teams in the area and bring more people into contact with the club than normally watch matches. Then they will build new changing rooms and a cafe/bar area to increase their revenues and, finally, they plan to develop a music and arts centre.

This will only happen if the club can appeal to people who might not be fans but who recognise a sound investment in their community. We worked to tighten up the business plan to give an understanding of how the club’s financial picture would develop and enable investors to get their capital back with modest interest.

We helped the club get advanced assurance for their offer, through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), meaning they could promise people that the investment would attract tax relief to the tune of 30% of the total amount people invested. And we helped organise a tricky ballot of members to agree some important rule changes, which could have derailed the whole project if they’d not been agreed by the right number of people.

We’re now working with the club on the second phase project, which will need a second share issue to raise around £900,000. The experience of the first phase will stand them in good stead. When investors can see the first phase being built before their eyes, it gives confidence in the enterprise and makes people even more likely to back the next phase.

The Project
  • They wanted to build a 3rd generation artificial pitch for the community to use which would earn revenue all day, every day, and provide a much-needed reliable, safe and top quality facility.
  • They had secured various grants but needed to make up the difference of around £200,000.
What we did
  • The club was already a Community Benefit Society but their rules didn’t allow them to issue shares. Rather than a complicated set of amendments which would have been confusing to members, we rewrote their entire rulebook and oversaw an online ballot of their 900 members. We needed at least half of the members to vote for the changes to go through. Over 60% voted, with 99% in favour.
  • We helped develop the business plan to ensure that the projected profit was both robust and attractive.
  • We ensured the offer would be eligible for Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief.
  • We wrote the offer document and worked with the club on getting it placed on the Microgenius platform, which provides an easy online system to get people’s investment. As a condition of being listed on Microgenius, share offers must be in line with the Community Shares Unit best practice. We liaised with the CSU team to get the offer compliant.

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