Frome Town Football Club will soon be community and fan-owned: Get on board
It’s all change at Badgers Hill as the newly formed Frome Town Community Benefit Society is being set up. Last August, Frome Town Council paid off debts of the Frome Town Holdings Ltd in exchange for the option to acquire the site for £1. Frome Town Council did so to secure the football site at Badgers Hill for the Frome community. A public meeting followed in October and there was an agreement to work towards setting up a Community Benefit Society (CBS) to take on the site, return the club to community and fan ownership, and initiate long term development plans for the club and the site. Since then, a small but dedicated team consisting of Frome Town AFC, Frome Town Council and the Football Supporters Association, as well as members of the public, have worked toward its formation. Over 40 other clubs have gone through this kind of reorganisation with the help of the national Football Supporters Association.
A community benefit society is an organisation that operates on a not-for-profit and democratic basis to benefit the community. The main driver of Frome Town Community Benefit Society is to ensure that the Badgers Hill site, home of Frome Town AFC, can grow into a “a thriving and dynamic community asset which brings sporting, social, cultural, economic and educational value to the residents of Frome” and to offer the club a route to community ownership and a financially stable future.
The CBS is now looking for a range of volunteers to take on the board roles required to ensure that the Frome Town CBS can start operating and support the long-term development of the football club. The CBS will take on the lease for the site, prepare the members’ offer and work closely with the clubs, existing tenants, the wider footballing community, and Frome residents to make it a success.
The new board’s focus will be to improve the facilities and support collaboration between all football clubs in Frome. It will ensure the grounds are accessible and used more widely by Frome’s communities. The CBS board will not get involved with day-to-day footballing decisions of the Women’s and Men’s 1st teams or other existing clubs, but work together with them to develop the teams, and improve access and involvement for the benefit of the entire community.
The new interesting and varied board roles include the Head of Football, through to Head f Facilities, and Head of Member Engagement as well as the more traditional roles of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.
Derek Graham, Chair of Frome Town AFC said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that the Frome Town Community Benefit Society is now formed. We can now press on with the steps necessary to transfer ownership of the club to the fans and the wider community, through the CBS. There are a number of exciting opportunities opening up which could lead to some real positive changes around the ground. Thank you to everyone that has helped so far, but I hope that more people that love the football club can get involved to take this great club forward and secure our long term future.”
Frome Town Councillor Mel Usher said pointedly: “It’s an important time for football in Frome. Whilst the Town Council paid off the majority of debts and will take full ownership of the ground in the not-too-distant future, there is still much to be done in the next couple of months.
Volunteers, funders and members are invited to get involved in a meaningful way. The previous owners, Frome Town Holdings, need to bow out, leaving a new, clear identity and opportunity for a fresh start.
People who are interested in football in the town need to come forward and join the Community Benefits Society, whether as volunteers on the board or members. It’s your chance to be involved, to build a strong future for the club, it’s still all to play for, and it can be sorted, so the time to act is now.”
The formation of Frome Town CBS also means that work can begin to raise much needed funds for repairs and improvements. Funding from the Community Ownership Fund and Football Foundation funding are being explored. This will help secure investment into the site and ensure that the site is fit for purpose moving forward, as well as enabling the site to open up to other groups and community uses.
It’s an exciting time and there are a number of ways to get involved: If you would like to join the board, head on over to the new Frome Town CBS blog www.BadgersHillNews.org. Alternatively, if you would like to have all our news directly into your inbox and be the first to find out how to become a member, sign up to our newsletter to keep in touch: www.bit.ly/badgershillnews