The County Ground FAQs – TrustSTFC

The County Ground FAQs

The County Ground FAQs

Why did we need to buy The County Ground as a joint venture?

The stadium has not seen significant investment since 1994 when the old two-tier Shrivenham Road Stand was replaced by what is now known as the Don Rogers Stand. Ownership needed to change in order to allow for investment into the stadium and supporter involvement will not only allow us to play our part, but also ensure the continued protection of our stadium and ensure its use is for the benefit of Swindon Town FC.

Is TrustSTFC and Swindon Town Community Mutual the same thing?

Yes, the company behind TrustSTFC is Swindon Town Community Mutual Ltd. We are a well-established, member-led supporters’ group, and a Registered Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. We are also governed by the FSA. Within the structure of the organisation is a binding statutory asset lock which ensures that any value created has to be held for the benefit of the wider supporter base and community. No value (such as dividends or sales proceeds) can be shared between its membership.

Why can I not buy a direct share in The County Ground?

The County Ground is owned by the Joint Venture (JV). If we were to issue shares in that JV they would purely be ceremonial and would hold no value, either financially or in terms of having a say in how developments progress in the future. 

What share option is available?

Through the last few years, a great deal of research and investigation has taken place to determine the most effective way for supporters to share in the ownership of the County Ground. We need to maintain an active shareholder base over the decades to come and ensure that crucial decisions regarding our 50% of the County Ground can be made.

Becoming a TrustSTFC member and owning a voting share in Swindon Town Community Mutual Ltd is therefore a fantastic option for all supporters. For a nominal annual fee of £19.69 you will receive a digital certificate that can be easily shared on social media to reflect your support and more importantly you will have the chance to contribute ideas around the future of the stadium and vote on annual plans. Note: if you do not renew your membership annually then your membership and voting share rights will end on the expiration date shown on your voting share certificate.

I’m an existing Trust Member, do I need to do anything?

No – you are already a voting shareholder regardless of your current monthly donation level and will get your digital certificate in the days following our AGM launch. If your annual contribution is already over £19.69, then any surplus will be moved into a new tax-efficient fundraising account called The County Ground Community Fund.

That means, for example, if you are currently donating £10 a month to the Trust, it equates to £120 a year. Of this £19.69 will go towards regular Trust activities, and £100.31 will go into The County Ground Community Fund and toward County Ground improvements.

Why do I have to pay an annual fee to retain my share?

Having a share means you get to vote on important decisions related to the County Ground and with the annual renewal approach, it means we can keep you regularly informed via email and ensure we have engaged shareholders who will vote when it matters. The alternative could be shareholders that lose interest, may simply forget their ownership, or pass away.

Will my share be of any value, and will I be able to sell it?

The share is a voting one, enabling you to have a say in the Ground development, and is renewable each year. Unlike conventional shares, it has no intrinsic value, and cannot be sold, traded nor transferred (other than on death). 

How will TrustSTFC retain its independence from the club whilst simultaneously working with it in a joint venture?

The legal agreements set out a formal, structured approach to how the County Ground will be owned and developed jointly between the Club and supporters. Whilst negotiating the contracts, the Trust and its legal advisors have tried to consider all eventualities, including the possibility of less engaged Club owners in the future. Trust STFC will continue to engage with, and where necessary challenge the Club on other matters without impacting the JV framework.

Will shareholders get full transparency on joint venture activities?

As with any commercial operation, there will be times where releasing sensitive information into the public domain could be damaging to the Club, the Trust or to the County Ground. That said, the Club understand that TrustSTFC is a member-led organisation who will be shareholders in the ground. The Directors of the JV appointed by the Trust have a legal responsibility to act in the best interests of the Trust’s shareholders (i.e., its members) and will provide as much transparency as possible, but we ask members to recognise that it will not be possible to guarantee that everything is shared.

Is TrustSTFC a one issue society now, solely focused on the County Ground?

Not at all. Our wider commitment to the fan base and wider community will continue unchanged. A small team of the Trust Board work on the County Ground but it’s business as usual on all other fronts. 

Will anyone be paid for being a board director of the joint venture?

No. Board Directors representing TrustSTFC will volunteer their time and offer their services free of charge.

When will development start?

The development will be very challenging as there are many improvements required. Whilst there are lots of individual suggestions out there already, everything needs to be considered and the Joint Venture board will meet in the near future to discuss the approach to the forthcoming development programme. Plans will be shared with all voting members. Everyone can then play their part by giving feedback and ideas.