The Chairman answers fans' questions about building a new North Stand...
Stevenage Chairman Phil Wallace invited fans to the Broadhall Suite last night, to fire away questions about the new Mini-Bond scheme, which allows fans to invest in the future of this football club.
How disability friendly will the new North Stand be?
One of the drivers for this project is how we treat disabled people at the moment. It’s a shame, they're out there in the cold and freezing rain with nowhere to get hot drinks or hot anything. Nowhere to go at half time. If they want to use the lavatory it’s substandard. It’s about facilities, we shouldn't be doing that. You know what it looks like from when you drive past on the A602. That’s not what we should be doing. The reason we’re doing this stand is we must upgrade the club.
Will disabled fans be going in the same stand together?
We’re pretty sure they will, we will segregate 17 spaces, 9 on one side, 8 on the other. We’re looking at the left side of the stand for home fans, and right side for the away or vice versa. Ideally, the away disabled fans should be in the South Stand with the away fans, but if you remember the way it’s constructed, there’s no way we could do that.
You've now split the stand into two phases. Phase 1 is the stand, Phase 2 is the commercial aspect. How are you going to finance the repayment of the bond?
It’s 5 years. We raise £500,000. With interest it’s £120,000 a year to repay. We've got a good chunk of that already. We've got a disabled sponsor in mind, we've got a pitch facing sponsor, and a road facing sponsor. 22,000 cars a day go past that road, so it’s a good asset. We know we’ve already got about £75,000 There’s quite a lot of money there.
You say you want to improve the image of the football club from the road. If you're only building Phase 1, which is the stand, you're still going to see the back of the stand.
It won't be the way we want it to be instantly, but it will look like the South and West Stands. We’ll make it like that, with a big space in front of it where we’ll put the next phase.
What’s the timescale of each phase?
Phase 2 is £800,000 so we’ve got to get that right. Let’s just build Phase 1 first.
Why don't you just go to the bank and borrow the money like everyone else?
I wouldn't be talking to you tonight if I’d gone to the bank. It wouldn't be ‘Shock Horror - Football Club Takes Loan’. This is engaging us with the fans, there’s a lot of people talking about this now. I wanted to engage with people so we did it together.
The minimum is £300,000. If we don't reach that, will people have no return on their bond?
Theoretically yes, that doesn't mean we keep it. If we don't get £300,000, we won't do it and we’ll send people their money back. If we only reach £300,000, we’ll find the other £200,000.
What happens if we get relegated?
If we get relegated it doesn’t make any difference at all. We’re doing it to improve the facilities of the football club.
If you decide to leave the club, where will this leave the money?
Each year we get this money, we’ll ring fence it and put it into an escrow account. The sponsor money is included in that. The money will stay with the football club.
Is it a secured or unsecured loan?
It’s unsecured, if the football club goes bankrupt and bust then you lose this money. I’ve been here for 18 years and we haven't gone bust yet.
On the 8% credit, how long have we got to spend that in the club shop?
It’s annual, you have to spend it in the year you get it.
The council still aren't prepared to put anything into this club. How is this project going to happen if you do not own the ground?
They don't have the money. They own the ground, we’re improving their asset. We’ve got a lease and looking to extend it. They can't do anything to this ground anyway, it’s got all sorts of covenants on it.
One of the covenants is that you can't make any money from buildings under the stand.
The covenants are that we can't make money from anything non-football. We can't put a nightclub in there, but we can have conference rooms and banqueting, that’s okay.
After the 5 years, are you confident you’ll be able to repay the 4%?
It doesn't phase me in the slightest. I do have cunning plans, I’m very happy with this.
If we were to invest more than we wanted to spend in the club shop, could we split it and have half club credit?
No, it’s either one or the other.
If you wanted to invest £5,000, could you split that into two, and have one with 4% and one with 8% club credit?
Is the £75,000 from sponsors per annum?
Yes. There's a mix of sponsors and more to come. It’s not difficult to raise the money, this is the fun part for me. It’s been really good to engage with fans. This phase is not really a money thing. The next phase will be a money thing.
Will the North Stand bar be relocated?
There will be a bar in the North Stand, quite a nice one with sports screens. This will be completed in Phase 1.
Full details of the Stevenage FC Bond and how to invest can be found at www.tifosy.com/stevenagefc.