Exeter City FC: at the heart of the community

Exeter City is a successful professional football club that is owned by its fans. The majority shareholder of Exeter City is the Supporters Trust.

Exeter City is a successful professional football club that is owned by its fans. The majority shareholder of Exeter City is the Supporters Trust.

With many Trust owned clubs reverting back to private ownership in order to achieve progress, Exeter City FC continues to survive in a football world built on debt and private capital. 

“The fans effectively own the football club,” said David Evans, Youth Commercial Manager at Exeter City.

He explained how the Supporters Trust elects a Board of Society who makes decisions on its behalf. Two members of the Supporters Trust are also part of the Board of Society.

Concern for the local community is an important issue on Exeter City’s agenda. The club is engaging with the local community through various 'Football in the Community projects'. With funds raised by The Foundation, Exeter City runs soccer schools and Tiny Tot clubs, education programmes, street soccer and numerous other activities for people of all ages.

"Exeter City is at the very heart of the Community, and the Community own Exeter City Football Club," said Mr Evans.

In 2012 Exeter City won the Express & Echo Award in the City of Exeter for the Best Business for Corporate Social Responsibility.

The club was under private ownership from 1904 until 2003. However, with the club relegated out of the Football League and in Administration with debts of £4.8 million in the summer of 2003, a Supporters Trust was formed to take over in the summer 2003, and try to save Exeter City Football Club.

“A football club owned by a Supporters Trust lives within its means, so is less likely to go bust,” said David Evans.

Nevertheless, the club is struggling to compete “on a level playing field” and two main threats to its ambitions are making profit to sustain its activities and ground redevelopment.

The ground facilities are in need of modernisation and this means that income is likely to limit both profitability and ambition. The club needs to replace its aging grandstand within the next two seasons. Funding the ground redevelopment is a great challenge for the club, given Exeter City FC are a supporter owned club with no assets.

“It isn’t dramatic to suggest that the future of a co-operative model of ownership in the Football League is resting heavily on the shoulders of Exeter City FC.

“Should Exeter City succumb to the same pressures that befell other former Trust owned clubs then it could sound the end of the movement at a level beyond amateur football,“ argued Mr Evans.

Exeter City as a Trust owned club has enjoyed success. The club gained successive promotions from the Football Conference in 2008 and League Two in 2009, but have recently been relegated back to League Two in 2012.

The Exeter City Supporters Trust currently has 2,750 active members, all of them owning a piece of Exeter City Football Club. 

To join Exeter's Supporters Trust or to find out more about the club visit http://www.ecfcst.org.uk/ or email [email protected].

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