How Much Will Membership Of The Proposed Trust Cost?
We have taken some time to study other Supporters Trusts at other Premiership Clubs and outside of the Premiership. If you weren’t already aware, there are currently over 150 Supporters Trusts across the UK and at least 8 in the Premiership. We say at least 8 as it would appear that another may have been formed recently but we haven’t been able to clarify this and their website is not “up and running” yet.
One of the areas we have looked at, is the cost of membership. The majority of Premiership trusts charge a membership fee of £10 per annum and the most expensive was a London club at £24 per annum. The cost of membership of the proposed trust will have to be debated and voted upon however, it is our view that the membership cost should be low to ensure that it is affordable to as many supporters as possible. In addition to an adult membership fee, other categories of membership will have to be debated and voted on including pensioners (over 60s), family and junior memberships.
As well as individual or family memberships, we suggest that corporate memberships should also be available. From the limited research we have done in this area it would appear that the average cost of a corporate membership is £100. Again, this would be open to debate.
We have received many e-mails from potential members stating that they would be happy to pay £50 a year (and some more than this) and whilst this would be admirable and welcomed by the proposed trust, it is important that the cost of membership is not a major factor when potential members decide to join. We have also received many e-mails saying that if the membership fee isn’t enough then the trust will not be able to raise much money. What is in place with every Supporters Trust we have looked at, is the option for those members who can afford it and want to contribute more can do so by way of an additional donation.
So how much do we expect to raise by way of membership and donation? That is a very good question. The biggest Supporters Trust in the UK has approximately 35,000 members, their basic membership fee is £10 and they charge slightly more for European and Rest of the World based supporters. What we have not been able to establish is if they have any corporate memberships.
We realise that one of the reasons why many supporters feel disillusioned with the game is the over commercialisation that has occurred and continues to occur within the game. In fact, if recent reports are to be believed the Premier League are about to break it’s involvement with the FA at the end of this season so that the Premiership League/ teams can further exploit their “brand”. Whether this happens or not we will know shortly, what lies around the corner in respect of "brand" development and further commercialisation who knows.
Although we suggest that the proposed trust is as commercialisation free as possible, we do think that the avenue of corporate memberships should be explored. We have at our disposal a database of 14,000 companies the majority of which are based in and around Manchester. We are in the process of using that database to test the water, those results will be made available on here when appropriate.
Going back to the how much do we expect to raise question, well according to Roy Morgan International (a research company) Manchester City are the 10th most popular team in the United Kingdom with an estimated 886,000 Manchester City supporters in the UK alone. If we take a conservative worldwide figure of 1,000,000 Manchester City supporters then we know the full potential membership. Of course we are not stupid enough to think that they would all join but if we managed to get just 2% of that figure it would be a fantastic start! And of course, at this stage we do not know the potential corporate memberships that could be out there.
In short, how much in total will be raised is a big unknown and the potential membership figures are huge. What the proposed trust does with the funds will also have to be discussed and voted on (we will write an article or two on this before the Open Meeting) but please bear in mind that at current stockmarket prices £130,000 would buy you 1% of Manchester City Plc if the shares were available. The potential for the proposed trust and indirectly it’s members to acquire a worthwhile stake in the club in a relatively short space of time is a real possibility.