Plan B

Plan B

In November, Rafi Razzak announced he will be standing down as Chairman of Basingstoke Town Football Club (BTFC), and launched Plan B, the Club’s strategic review to explore the best options for the Club moving forward – you can read the original press statement here.

What Is Plan B?

Rafi has also made it clear that he intends to leave the Club in a secure position before handing over to a new owner. As a result, Rafi will dispose of his shares in the Club, help with any redevelopment and make sure that the Club is financially secure.

All possible options will be reviewed to find the best solution for the Club. This will include looking for a new owner, or owners, to replace Rafi.

Securing a successful future for BTFC requires a clear vision that includes being in an informed position to brief any potential new investors on the Club’s current and future financial positon, and its plans for growth and development in the future – including where it will play football.

Simply telling the world that the Club is up for sale will not secure this investment, and drawing attention to the potential sale before we are ready, will reduce our chances of success.

The following sections explain what we are doing and roughly when things are likely to happen. This process will take time and we ask supporters to bear with us as we develop our plans to help answer the questions we know they will have.

We have previously committed to providing updates and we will do so on this website, when we have something meaningful to say.

To secure the long-term future of the Club, we all need to be positive, a united Club has more chance of success. It should also not be forgotten that we are continuing with our day to day activities such as the academy, training, playing, community, and the running of the clubhouse.

The Options

There is far more needed for the successful future of BTFC than simply selling it. No potential investors will get involved without a clear understanding of what they are taking on. Not only does this mean a clear plan for the next few seasons, but also where the Club wants to be in five seasons or more.

The Camrose ground does not meet modern league standards, and is not suitable for the long-term needs of BTFC. Therefore, we are currently working on four options:

  1. Redevelop the existing ground with additional investment coming for its partial redevelopment and new investors.
  2. Find an existing sports ground with the potential to upgrade, with the upgrade being paid for with investment from the redevelopment of the old ground.
  3. Build a completely new stadium complex, with the new ground being paid for with investment from the redevelopment of the old site and new investment.
  4. Work with another club either through ground sharing or merger.

Our preferred solution would be to move to a site we can upgrade, as we would be able to build the latest facilities that will satisfy our needs for many years to come.

The Process

We need a significant amount of new investment to deliver this plan, this cannot be achieved over night, and so we have started the following process:

  1. The Review – November – March

    We are not only identifying workable solution from the four options, but we are developing a Club vision, which will be essential for any new investors. This includes not only a scope of exactly what the Club need now, and in the immediate post Rafi era, but also about the long-term aspirations of the Club. This helps us to be precise about what our new facilities will look like, such as the new capacity for the ground, facilities for the fans as well as changing, training and physio facilities for the team. In addition, we also need to decide on new training rooms for our academy, offices for the new management and importantly a new pitch – ideally an all-weather pitch that could be used for training as well as matches.

    All these elements are essential before we can have detailed and meaningful discussions with real investors and the planning authorities.

  2. Developing the options – January – March

    As we work-up the best options, we will be in discussion with potential investors and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council – who are the planning authority and therefore a key stakeholder in any potential site developments.

    To manage the process of moving to a post Rafi era, a transition management group will be started in early January with the purpose of establishing a new team to help run the Club from next season. The first meeting of this transition group, which will include fan representation, will be chaired by David Knight, current CEO. Further details on the transition group will be released before Christmas.

    One important task for the new management team will be the need for the newly reformed supporters club to encourage more members and to help bring more fans to the games, as well as establishing ways for positive communications between the club management and fans.

  3. Consultation and finalisation – March – May

    As the preferred option is produced and appropriate financial plans are developed with suitable investor support, there will be consultation with all stakeholders including fans and other interested groups to help ensure a smooth transition.

    It has already been confirmed that on 25th May the final decision on the future of the Club will be announced, with Rafi handing over the Club to someone else.

    Clearly, at this stage we have far more questions than answers, but we believe this process will provide the best route to an effective well developed plan that will allow BTFC to continue to grow for many seasons to come.

Plan B Updates

[ 10th May 2017 ]

Basingstoke Town FC is pleased to announce that it will continue to play its home games at The Camrose.

Chief Executive David Knight said:

A lot of hard work has been going on behind-the-scenes as the club prepares for next season and the future.

While much work has still to be done, I am pleased to announce that the club will continue to play at The Camrose.

The club wishes to place on record its thanks to Farnborough for their kind offer of a groundshare for next season, and we appreciate their patience and support during the last few weeks. We look forward to meeting them this season following their promotion to the Southern League Premier Division.

A date for a supporters’ forum meeting has now been provisionally set for Tuesday, May 23 commencing at 7pm in the clubhouse. An agenda for the evening will be published nearer the time.

Arrangements for pre-season friendlies are also being made and will be published in due course.

[ 28th April 2017 ]

The IMG have strived to provide updates whenever possible and appreciate that this is an extremely difficult time for the fans and wider community, so thank you for sticking with us. Please see the latest update from the IMG below:

  • The club are seeking urgent written clarification from BDBC on whether football can be continued to be played whilst a planning application is submitted. Previous verbal statements from councillors and the planning department had been contradictory. If a planning application can be submitted whilst football is still being played, then there is the possibility of starting season 2017-18 at The Camrose.
  • In the light of the uncertainty about planning ‘rules’, Farnborough FC and The Southern Football League have kindly agreed to extend the deadline regarding activating the provisional ground share agreement until Friday 5 May. The club thank the League and Farnborough for agreeing to this.
  • A supporters meeting is to be planned for mid-May with the precise date decided upon shortly. The aim is to settle on a date when maximum information is available.
  • Steve Williams will be joining the IMG with the brief to assist on the development of the club into a Community Club, owned and run by its members in the interests of the community. He will also help seek support from the council for a site to be developed for the club in the town. Williams was a player and manager at the club in the 70s/80s and is past chairman of local sports charity Overton Recreation Centre.
  • IMG confirmed the need to develop the Community Club constitution and rules quickly over the next few months and would form a sub group to focus on this.

[ 4th April 2017 ]

The IMG have released this short statement to help clear any confusion that may exist regarding other commercial and community services that are provided by Basingstoke Town FC from the Camrose site for the foreseeable future.

Although the club have agreed a provisional ground-share arrangement for 2017-18 with Farnborough FC – with the hope being still to find a suitable ground within the borough before this option needs to be invoked – the intention is to continue providing its additional services such as; the Academy, Youth & Community coaching, Clubhouse and more, from the Camrose site into the 2017-18 season – the only restriction being that the club cannot play football (or other sports) at the site. Where this restriction directly effects any of the aforementioned services, the club will arrange for suitable locations within the town and borough to be utilised as a substitute to the Camrose.

Will Wilkinson, Head of Digital and Marketing and a member of the IMG, said:

“Every member of the IMG recognises that this is an extremely difficult time for the club and that our fans, players and the parents of children utilising the Camrose facilities are all seeking reassurances, so we hope that this brief statement helps to allay any fears that the community may have. For the IMG, it is business as usual and we are 100% focused on moving through this challenging period and becoming a stronger, united and community-orientated club going forward.”

The IMG will continue to provide regular updates whenever there is meaningful information to share, in order to keep the community of Basingstoke up to date with developments of the town’s football club.

[ 28th March 2017 ]

Basingstoke Town FC officials have taken steps to clarify the position regarding where the club will play first team football next season.

As has been previously reported, Rafi Razzak, chairman of Basingstoke Town FC, has confirmed that he intends to leave the club at the end of this season, and the plan is for the club’s existing Camrose ground to be sold for redevelopment. Part of the funds from this sale will then be used to help the club move forward at a new home.

David Knight, CEO of Basingstoke Town FC, said: “Everyone at the club who has been involved in the decision-making process about its future has been working hard to find a new ground in the town or borough. That is, and will continue to be, our main focus and goal.

“Following the collapse of two potential options for a new ground, further discussions are now taking place. However, what has become clear is that the club has to have a ground-share option available for the 2017-18 season in order to meet a Football Association March 31 deadline which requires clubs to state where the first team intends to play football in the coming season.

“With this in mind, the club has agreed a provisional ground-share arrangement for 2017-18 with Farnborough FC. The finer details have still to be confirmed and these will be announced as soon as possible.

“Farnborough is considered to be the best ground-share option, particularly because its high-quality facilities will enable our first team manager Terry Brown to retain and attract the quality of players that he needs as part of the ongoing work to deliver long-term progress and success.”

Mr Knight added it is still possible that the club could find an alternative home within the town or borough for the 2017-18 season but time is clearly running out, and any attempt to do so will require the help and support of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

He explained: “The success of any proposal to find a new ground within the town or borough will depend on significant co-operation from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

“Everyone at the club hopes that local councillors will be keen to offer their help and support. We are keen to work with the local council to help the club remain in the town which has been its home for more than 120 years.”

If the club has to relocate to Farnborough next season, the aim will be to return to the borough as soon as possible.

Mr Knight said: “With this goal in mind, the club has entered into discussions with Whitchurch United to explore a long-term ground-sharing possibility.

“There is also the potential to expand and develop another site within Basingstoke, but discussions are at a very early stage in this instance. Should this become a viable option, the club will announce those details at the earliest opportunity.”

[ 21st March 2017 ]

TalkSport and TalkSport 2 reporter, Tony Incenzo, comments on Basingstoke Town FC’s recent announcements as part of his Non-League Round Up.

Listen to Tony’s round up here.

[ 16th March 2017 ]

BTFC cannot stay at the Camrose, as it is no longer economically or practicably feasible. The departure of chairman Rafi Razzak also ends his significant ongoing financial support, without which the club would have closed many years ago. Rafi has made it clear that he wants to recover his loans to the club through the redevelopment of the Camrose site, which, if done effectively, could also generate some additional money for BTFC to invest in a new ground.

Plan B has involved the review of potential sites in and around the town and discussions with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) the planning authority and major landowner in Basingstoke, to try and find new sites for the club, and to see what kind of redevelopment of Camrose would be acceptable to them.

After reviewing several sites, BTFC had concentrated on just two options, but we can now confirm that neither option is possible.

The search for a greenfield site was dependent upon getting enough money from the redevelopment of Camrose to clear the company debts, cover the cost of the land and generate enough income to pay for the building of a brand new stadium.

Commenting on this option Rafi Razzak says: “This was effectively Plan A – ‘Lite’, a smaller capacity ground than proposed for Old Oak Common, but requiring millions of pounds for the new build. The only way we could deliver this was via approval of a retail development for Camrose, i.e. a high value land redevelopment.

“It is clear from our informal discussions with BDBC, that they would probably favour a housing proposal for Camrose. This would constitute a lower value redevelopment scheme and would result in substantially diminished capital available to re-site BTFC.”

As a result BTFC looked at redeveloping the Winklebury football site, currently occupied by Hampshire Football Association. With previous football activity at the site and space, in our view, to accommodate both Hampshire FA and BTFC, this seemed like an ideal compromise. This would be an enhancement of an existing football facility and so would require considerably less expenditure than developing from scratch on a green field site.

The Winklebury redevelopment would be possible with an appropriate housing scheme at Camrose. However, through ongoing discussions with the Council and the Hampshire FA, this is no longer an option.

Rafi continues: “Hampshire FA has been in discussion with BDBC for some time and has recently submitted detailed plans, very similar to those BTFC were working on, for the redevelopment of the Winklebury site for their own needs. Hampshire FA considered leaving the site, but has decided to stay and increase its use of the facilities at Winklebury. They do not want any partners and have developed a business plan that would not allow enough pitch time for BTFC.

“I have no issue with Hampshire FA’s proposals as they are simply trying to utilise the site more effectively and become more self-sufficient. However, I believe it would be unlikely that BDBC would favour a new scheme over a similar proposal from the incumbent tenant with a substantial lease on the site. Effectively we have wasted time and money looking at this scheme.

“We are very disappointed with the lack of tangible help from BDBC, which despite encouraging us to submit proposals over several years, stopped our original plans for a new stadium in the town last year. At numerous meetings since then, they have offered to help, but in reality they have not offered any new sites for us to consider and they seem unlikely to allow a retail development at Camrose – which could help BTFC to build a new stadium within the town.

“We are now left with few options, and anything we do from now will only involve ourselves. It’s very sad indeed”, concluded Rafi.

BTFC, is very aware of concerns among fans who, understandably, want to know what is happening and where the club will play football next year. We will continue to develop plans for a contingency site and will give updates when further information is available.

[ 22nd February 2017 ]

The Interim Management Group (IMG) for Basingstoke Town Football Club announced in January that it was looking to move the club into community ownership, once its current Chairman Rafi Razzak retires from the Club’s management at the end of May.

Before starting the move to community ownership, a decision has to be made about where the club will play football in the future. Staying at the Camrose Ground is not practicably feasible.

One option reviewed by the IMG was a scheme to raise money by redeveloping part of the ground and simply moving the pitch. However, after careful consideration this option has been rejected as it created operating problems and failed to provide enough money to help relocate the pitch and stands, upgrade facilities to modern requirements, and clear the club’s debts.

The options have been discussed with the IMG and they have confirmed that BTFC will have to move from the Camrose.

After reviewing several options, the IMG has now focused on just two potential outcomes: a move to a greenfield site with the development of a brand-new stadium, or a move to an existing site which has the potential to be upgraded to meet the club’s needs.

Commenting on the move Will Wilkinson, Head of Digital and Marketing at BTFC says: “We are now looking at options to redevelop the Camrose Ground to generate enough money to cover the cost of the land, clear the club’s debts and leave money left over to pay for the move. The key to which option we can take is dependent on how much money we can get from the redevelopment of Camrose. We hope to have a final decision on our preferred long-term solution during March.

“At this stage, it is not clear where we will be playing football in the 2017/18 season, but the IMG will be developing a number of different options, including developing a contingency plan just in case we need to move to an alternative ground while we await completion of our new long-term stadium.”

The Interim Management Group also announced that there would be further updates within the next two weeks and that there would be a Fans meeting in March, once the IMG had got a firm picture on the transition to new ownership. As a result, there will be no Fans Forum this week.

[ 6th February 2017 ]

The next meeting of the IMG has been put back slightly, to 22nd February, to enable further discussions with the Council and Supporters Direct to take place. There will be further updates given shortly after the meeting. In addition, the fans forum is still scheduled to go ahead on 1st March.

[ 13th January 2017 ]

Read the community ownership announcement here.

[ 22nd December 2016 ]

As part of Plan B, David Knight CEO Basingstoke Town FC, has organised an Interim Management Group (IMG) which will evaluate the options under review, as part of the proposed long term strategy for generating a sustainable future for the Club. The IMG will also help manage the Club through the transition period following Rafi’s departure at the end of the season.

The IMG will initially consist of 10 existing officials, along with some new external professionals bringing appropriate skills for the transition, as well as supporter representation. The membership of the IMG may change as the needs of the Club develop.

It is expected that the first meeting of the IMG will be held w/c 9th Jan 2017, followed by regular meetings. Updates from these meetings may also be published along with other updates on significant progress.

The IMG will also organise a Supporters Forum, which has been provisionally booked for Wednesday 1st March at 7.00pm, in the Clubhouse. Confirmation of the Forum will be given later, as the timing is dependent on the progress of the options in Plan B.

The initial Interim Management Group includes:

  • David Knight – CEO
  • Alan Turvey – President
  • Terry Brown – Manager
  • Martin French – Supporters Club Chairman
  • Ian Halloway – Current Director
  • Mark Jones – Head of Ark Cancer Charity Fundraising
  • Mark Lane – Chartered Accountant
  • James Mathie – Supporters Direct Club Development Manager (part of Supporters Direct)
  • Sarah Parsons – Current Director
  • Will Wilkinson – Head of Digital & Marketing
  • [Edit] Steve Williams – Community Ownership Lead (former player/manager)

Questions, Suggestions and Recommendations

As per the original press statement, Basingstoke Town FC continues to invite all interested parties to take part in the review process, with further details being released via the club website and in line with the documented process above.

You can submit your questions, suggestions and recommendations anonymously using the form below.

Work with us to shape the #NewEra of Basingstoke Town FC.