Your Questions Answered
What is Rovers Trust?
Rovers Trust is a Community Benefit Society that has been created to secure a supporter and community-based ownership interest of Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
Who is behind Rovers Trust?
Rovers Trust is the result of a merger between Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust (BRSIT) and Blackburn Rovers Supporters Trust (BRST).
Daniel Louis Grabko, an American finance professional based in Sweden, created the concept of BRSIT. Following close collaboration with Wayne Wild, director of WEC Group (former Darwen End stand sponsors at Ewood Park), BRSIT was born. They were joined by Neil Thornton and club Legends Simon Garner and Glenn Keeley in forming the Board of BRSIT.
Headed by Duncan Miller and Ozz Jones, BRST has been working towards supporter representation at Blackburn Rovers Football Club since its inception. BRST held the mandate as the official supporters' trust of Blackburn Rovers by the independent government body Supporters Direct.
Both the board of BRSIT and the committee of BRST believed that the interests and goals of the two groups complemented each other in such a way that unification would be beneficial not only to both organisations but also to the community of Blackburn Rovers supporters as a whole. The result of this merger is Rovers Trust.
In addition to enjoying the full backing of Supporters Direct, many high profile supporters and local businesses have already announced they are backing the merger of these two groups and their unified message. These champions include local MPs Jack Straw, Jake Berry and Graham Jones; regional MEP Brian Simpson; Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council Kate Hollern; Sir Bill Taylor and Lord Taylor of Blackburn.
Prominent local businesses such as Senator International, WEC Group, MW Printing, Thornton Media and Jubilee Tower Credit Union have confirmed their support. Rovers Trust hopes that fan groups who supported BRSIT such as Ewood Blues, The BRFC Action Group, BRFCS and the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Club Norway will also back the move.
Why is Rovers Trust raising money?
To enable a successful bid to gain an ownership interest in Blackburn Rovers, thus making it a community-based, supporter-owned club.
Why is this the right ownership model for a football club?
This model will ensure BRFC will be run in the best interests of the Club; it’s owners would be the supporters and surrounding community who are most interested in its long-term success. Income and profit would be reinvested for the benefit of the Club and the community rather than for owners, investors or shareholders.
In parallel with raising enough capital to buy the Club we want to offer an affordable Rovers Trust membership accessible to every Rovers fan. This would enable members to have a vote in how the future Club is run, should enough capital be raised for the Trust to negotiate with the owners.
The members would elect the majority of the Board, alongside other highly skilled and respected Directors. Rovers Trust and its members would hold this Board to account as the ultimate owners of the Club. The Board would not run the Club but oversee paid staff to ensure strategy is implemented with a prudent hand as set out by the membership.
What is the fundraising target?
As much as will be required to meet a realistic valuation of the club at the time of sale – an initial target of £10 million has been publicised to give supporters an idea of the level of funding that is likely to be involved. It could be more or it could be less, but we believe £10 million shows that the community backs this scheme and that we are serious.
The Campaign So Far
BRSIT, now operating under the trade name Rovers Trust, has been asking all fans to pledge what they can to show how serious they are about making this proposal of supporter ownership work. So far close to £3 million in pledges has been raised from nearly 2,000 Rovers supporters, which is a fantastic achievement. Of course we want and need more but we feel with the interest that has been generated, now is the time to take this to the next stage and convert these pledges into cash and seek more funding.
We know how ambitious a project this is, therefore we want to ensure that the money is raised in a way that protects supporters; if we cannot raise enough capital, or negotiate a purchase with Venky’s, the funds will be returned.
How will my money be protected?
We will request that all money is paid into a solicitor Escrow Account accompanied by supporting documentation from the depositor. Nothing will happen to this money without your permission and you will have the opportunity to withdraw it at any point.
Should enough money be built up in the Escrow Account, negotiations with the owners take place and we find ourselves in a position to purchase the Club, we will then offer a full prospectus outlining a target required, financial projections to show how the Club will be run, plus more detail about the structure to demonstrate how supporters and the community will own the Club. Permission will be sought from contributors to the Escrow account to acquire the Club and if a target amount is achieved and the Club is acquired, this money will then be turned into share capital in Rovers Trust.
Complete information will be available in a pre-share offer document that will be sent out to all potential shareholders who have pledged to purchase a share. A copy of this document will also be available on this website.
Will all of the money raised be used to buy the club?
Any bid will be structured so that no shares will be issued until an agreement is made on the purchase of the club. At this point, sufficient shares will be issued to cover the purchase price and any fees involved in the transaction. No fees will be incurred other than those enabling a successful purchase.
Will you raise more money from the bank?
Rovers Trust has no plans to use bank debt or any form of leveraging to finance a takeover bid.
Has Rovers Trust made an offer for the club?
No. Rovers Trust is seeking dialogue with the current owners directly and through intermediaries.
How do you know the current owners want to sell?
We don’t. However, we do believe the current owners will want to explore their options during the 2012/13 season, based solely on the financial performance of the Club during their tenure, regardless of league status and position. The knowledge they have a willing buyer in Rovers Trust can only benefit them when they decide whether to sell or retain ownership.
What if a competing offer is made for the club?
If a competing offer is made for the Club Rovers Trust will react accordingly by contacting the group responsible for the bid and entering into discussions with a view towards cooperation depending on the motivations, intentions and constitution of the group. If the competing bid can help to achieve Rovers Trust’s goal, then it will consider joining forces in order to increase the likelihood of success of any bid.
Given Rovers Trust’s intentions for the Club and that we are a Community Benefit Society, any share offer must produce tangible benefits for the community; any partnership would have to guarantee sufficient rights and influence for Rovers Trust for it to work. If a partnership with another bidder were a possibility, again this would be fully detailed in a share prospectus showing exactly how this would work and the influence supporters would have in the new partnership, so fans could decide whether or not to support this proposal financially.
The Structure of Rovers Trust
What is a Community Benefit Society?
Rovers Trust is a Community Benefit Society, part of the Co-operative sector, and is registered with the Financial Services Authority. We believe it is the legal form best suited for our ambitions as to how our Rovers should be run.
The CBS concept is about community engagement. It is about ordinary people supporting the development of something they care about. These ventures may be a local service – a shop or pub - or an enterprise with regional, national or even international benefit. Resources are pooled collectively and supported and protected by a governance structure based on the democratic principle of one member one vote. Members are the lifeblood of these societies, not just because of the money the members invest in the venture, but also because of their involvement and participation, which sustains and feeds it.
What are some of the benefits to a CBS?
There are a number of benefits including the following:
- Members decide who represents them at Board level.
- An asset lock ensures that individuals cannot benefit on solvent dissolution and the society cannot be converted into a company with the possibility of money lost to private gain.
- One member equals one vote, which means that all members, regardless of membership level, will share in the same basic rights; this is a democratic society, inclusive of all members, not just a select few.
- We can raise finance using a unique method, popularly known as Community Shares
- raise money without ceding democratic control
- stimulate member recruitment, investment and engagement
- allow the Board to control share capital; it is only withdrawable at the discretion of the Board
- are exempt from costly financial promotions regulation
- are about fair finance; if the CBS is profitable then investors can gain interest and shares may be withdrawable.
More information about Community Shares will be published in a prospectus should Rovers Trust be in a position to buy the Club.
What is Rovers Trust’s view of the supporters and the various supporters groups?
Rovers Trust believes the backing of a vibrant and diverse supporters community is vital to the ongoing and continued success of any football club. Rovers Trust is respectful of fans’ right to peaceful protest, but does not condone any violence, personal attacks, or otherwise destructive behaviour made towards fellow supporters, the owners, directors, manager or players of the club.
The Next Steps
I still have questions, how can I have them answered?
You are welcome to contact Rovers Trust at any time via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rovers Trust will also be sending out regular updates to all potential shareholders who have pledged their support on the Rovers Trust website – www.roverstrust.co.uk.
I want Rovers to be owned by the supporters, what do I do next?
You simply have to go to the Rovers Trust website, fill out the membership form, and submit your membership fee. Then if you haven't pledged yet, please do so if you can. Explore this website, find out about us, read our information and be active: Contact us, let us know if you want to contribute your time to helping the cause!
You will receive regular updates and we hope your money will allow Rovers Trust to enter into negotiations with the current owners. If Rovers Trust can negotiate a deal for the club in principle, a full share offer document will be produced and distributed to you and Rovers Trust will send a notice out to ask you to allow the money you deposited in escrow to be transformed into community shares in the Society.