Essex-based FC Clacton Community Society plans to use the funds to overhaul its facilities, generate new income and build long-term resilience into the club.
The football club in Clacton-on-Sea has been part of the community for over 120 years – it was originally formed in 1892 and was incorporated into a community benefit society in 2016. The club says it runs an open and inclusive space, with teams for every age group from under sevens through to seniors and veterans. It hosts over 600 players each week, with 40 boys’ and girls’ youth teams, informal fun sessions for girls of all ages, weekly training for under sixes and senior men’s and women’s teams.
At present, FC Clacton faces a number of challenges with its existing facilities. The grass pitch, which is located on an old landfill site, is often unplayable both in dry weather and after rainfall and requires a high level of maintenance by volunteers. With the funds raised from the bond offer, the club plans to lay an all-weather, artificial pitch and upgrade to LED floodlights.
It says the new funds would allow it to only provide better facilities for its teams, and also to welcome local schools, evening leagues and walking football teams, helping build FC Clacton’s sense of community.
The updates are also being planned with the environment in mind – the artificial pitch can be recycled at the end of its life and will have a natural cork-based crumb, while the LED floodlights are set to reduce electricity use and light pollution.
This investment is an opportunity for FC Clacton to create long-term resilience. The club’s teams currently spending money hiring pitches and facilities around Clacton. By bringing all the teams’ training and home matches together FC Clacton plans to generate stable income.
The club says it has been severely affected throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Without matches being played, it has not received match subscriptions from players, clubhouse income or match day receipts – leading to a number of financial pressures. Emergency grants provided by the local authority have allowed the club to weather the pandemic and it now hopes the new pitch improvements will help it to come back stronger than ever.
For investors, the 10-year bond will pay 4% gross interest per year, with a minimum investment of £50. It is also available within the tax-efficient Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) wrapper. As with all investments, interest payments and return of capital are not guaranteed and like all ISAs, the IFISA is subject to eligibility criteria.
The capital raised through the bond is part of a funding package developed by Triodos Bank UK in partnership with Crowdfunder and Access – The Foundation for Social Investment as a pilot project to bring together three types of capital – bonds, reward-based crowdfunding and grant – to offer an affordable, patient and flexible finance option for community-focused organisations. The blended funding package aims to create lasting change and build resilience in community groups as the UK emerges from Covid-19 with the intention to build back fairer, greener and stronger.
For FC Clacton, the £400,000 raised in bonds will be blended with grants from the Football Foundation and Access, its own reserves and a Crowdfunder campaign, to bring a total of £650,000 total amount to fund the refurbishment and allow for contingency and working capital.
FC Clacton’s co-owner Stephen Andrews said: “We operate from season to season, hand to mouth raising money for the various works required to keep the club going – patching up the floodlights, using volunteers to prop up fencing and other immediate problems that need fixing. We do it because we love the club and see the impact it has for the fans and the players of all levels, but it is hard work and becoming increasingly difficult. This funding marks an exciting new chapter as it will allow us to secure our future and increase the impact that we can have.”
Dan Hird, head of corporate finance at Triodos Bank UK, added: “While the club is doing the best that it can in challenging circumstances, at the moment the facilities are holding it back from the potential impact it could have. We hope that this funding will allow FC Clacton to strengthen its position as a cornerstone for the community and help more people to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of team sports in Clacton-on-Sea.
“As we look to rebuild from the pandemic, it’s vital that we find new, innovative ways to support community-based organisations. Investors will be able to know that their money is helping a community asset to thrive, while investing for their own long-term future.”
Triodos warns that investments offered on its crowdfunding platform are not readily realisable, which means that they may be difficult to sell, and you may not get back the full amount invested. Investments are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and your capital is at risk and returns are not guaranteed. Repayment of capital and interest will be dependent on the success of the organisation’s business model and past performance isn’t a reliable indicator of future performance. You should always read the offer document in full before deciding whether to invest as it will cover risks specific to an individual investment. You can read more about the general risks associated with making these types of investments here. If you are unsure if any of these investments are right for you, you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.