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Posts Tagged ‘400 Club’

If you like a lot of success at Rovers, join our club!

The Champions League Final later this month will see Chelsea take on Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena in Munich. Shamrock Rovers fans will have an interest in the outcome of that game as a win for Bayern will help Rovers’ seeding in the draw for next year’s Champions League competition. Another reason to support Bayern is that they, like Rovers, are a fans owned club.

Three of the four semi-finalists in the Champions League this year were fans owned club like Shamrock Rovers. Only the Roman Abramovich owned Chelsea, who overcame Barcelona in their semi, were the exception. Barcelona weren’t able to find a way past the blanket Chelsea defence and weren’t helped by having no option B available to them of potentially throwing a “big man up top” when chasing an elusive goal.

Last year, the Professional Football Players Laboratory demographic study found that Barcelona had the smallest playing squad in height terms across the 534 professional clubs playing in the 36 top divisions in UEFA. The Barca squad had an average height of just 5ft 9inches. Second smallest on that list was Shamrock Rovers!

While Barcelona’s squad may be smaller than Rovers in average height, they do have more members than us. Their 180,000 membership dwarfs Rovers’ 425 or so members but we have do have an advantage over Barca. Their membership is currently closed to new members but here at Shamrock Rovers we are very much open for business and new members are very welcome to join.

On Saturday 5th May, Shamrock Rovers will have the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the members club. The outgoing board will be giving members a summary of where the club is at and outline the future direction of the club. The club is in rude health compared with when the original incarnation of the members club, the 400 Club, was formed a decade ago.

Back in 2002, the 400 Club was started as a mechanism to generate funds for the football club, which at that time was privately owned. The aim was to fund the completion of the then stalled Tallaght Stadium project. When Shamrock Rovers entered Examinership in 2005, it was the 400 Club who ran the football club during that time. Fans of Shamrock Rovers joined the 400 Club in large numbers then pumping considerably money into the club to try and save it. Membership reached just below the 500 mark when the 400 Club was ultimately successful in saving and taking ownership of the football club (along with Ray Wilson).

Membership peaked at above 500 in March 2009 when Rovers played their first game in Tallaght. However, membership numbers have dropped from this high point to where they now currently stand, around the 450 mark since then.

There is no doubt that membership numbers have dropped due to the difficulties in the Irish economy and pressure on fans personal finances. The urgent need for funding that was required to save the club during examinership is no longer there. The steady structures that the football club board have put in place, alongside the financial boost of getting to Tallaght and the difficulties that other League of Ireland clubs face have placed Shamrock Rovers in a great financial position. This coupled with the success on the pitch means that maybe some fans feel there is no longer a purpose to being a member.

Membership costs 600 euro for an adult and there is a reduced rate of 300 euro for seniors and students. This is higher than membership costs at other clubs, however Rovers offer an extensive membership package for that price. Existing members at Barcelona, whose membership is closed to new entrants, pay 150 euro giving them a vote in the presidential election, the right to buy a season ticket and get a discount in the club shop. Bayern’s membership is 60 euro but they can keep the price down when they have 300 times the number of members Rovers have. Also their membership only gives them a discount of 2.50 euro on a ticket in the Allianz Arena and a free match programme.

At MLS side Seattle Sounders, season ticket holder are automatically members with the cheapest ticket costing $436 dollars and average ticket $750. For that price they get a vote at their AGM and a discount at their club shop. Closer to home there are a number of clubs in the English Football League that are fans owned. Clubs such as Exeter, Brentford and AFC Wimbledon have membership schemes with an annual cost of less than £25 but membership only gives voting rights at their AGM.

So what do you get at Shamrock Rovers? Membership entitles you to a free season ticket (worth a minimum of 210 euro), priority status for all Friendly, Domestic Cup, European home and away match tickets, access to the Glenmalure Suite for member and a guest on match night, free car park pass as well as the voting rights at the AGM. You also get to say that you part-own Ireland’s most successful football club and know that your financial contribution will help the club progress both on and off the field.

The members club that owns this great football club is only as strong as its members. We are lucky to have close on 2,500 season ticket holders here at Rovers but wouldn’t it be great if we could convert a portion of those committed season ticket holders into members. It would bring a significant financial boost to the club. That could only help Rovers to continue with the success we have seen at the club in the last two years. For fans who become members, they don’t just have a sense of ownership at Rovers, they have actual membership at Rovers. Your club needs you and if you like a lot of success at Rovers, join our club!

Published in Hoops Scene 7 (Shamrock Rovers v UCD/St. Patrick’s Athletic, May 2012)

Media Watch: Evening Echo (Hoops are ones for City to admire)

November 24, 2011 1 comment

Article by Alan Smith and published in the Evening Echo (Friday 11 November)

While City will look to topple them next season, Shamrock Rovers remain a benchmark in terms of fan-owned clubs. Back in 2005, when City were riding high en route to a premier division title, the Hoops were in Examinership.

The passionate support wouldn’t allow the club go to the wall however and after a long convoluted battle, the 400 club acquired ownership of the club at the end of the Examinership period in July 2005.

Fast forward six years from the same first division Cork City had to ply their trade in for the past two seasons to the Europa League group stages, the rise of Rovers under the supporters’ control is a sporting fairytale.

“Being a part owner of the club certainly has made the recent success even sweeter,” Macdara Ferris, an original member of the 400 club says. “I’m not just a fan and I don’t just support the team but I actually part-own, with close to 500 others, the league champions. It is great to be able to say that. When we say that “our” club won the league, we really mean it as we don’t just have a ‘sense of ownership’ but have actually ownership of the club.”

Rovers will pocket over €1m from their success in 2011 and while there would have been a danger of reckless spending under previous ownerships, there’ll be no fear of that with the fans making collective decisions. “The success in Europe has provided a significant financial boost for the club with €1 million coming directly from qualification for the group stages of the Europa League alone. It will up to the board, backed up by the membership, how that money will be spent. Many members will be keen to develop training facilities in Kiltipper, close to the stadium in Tallaght, that can help develop a few more players to join the club to help us maintain this success in years to come.”

One of the biggest benefits of being a fan-owned club – and its the same case with FORAS – is that the board are elected by the members. Ferris attributes some of Rovers’ success to the wide array of skills that board members bring to the table. “The members elect the board at Rovers and we are very fortunate that within our membership we were able to vote directors onto the board with a wide skill set including expertise in marketing, finance, media, legal and commercial matters.”

However, he believes the most important ingredient to their success has been the ‘ordinary’ fans that volunteer their services to the club. “At all League of Ireland clubs there is a huge element of volunteer support in the running of clubs but I think at a members club the wider fan base are more likely to give of their time knowing their work is helping their club. The members helping out on matchday all do jobs that contribute to the club both financially and help add to the club.”

History repeating?

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Article in FAI Ford Cup Final match programme (Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers, 14 November 2010)

It is fitting that Shamrock Rovers are playing in the FAI Ford Cup final on the 25 year anniversary of the club’s win over Galway United in the 1985 final. The Hoops dominated Irish football in the mid 1980s winning four league titles in a row and claiming three doubles starting in 1985. It could have been four doubles in a row but they lost in the cup final the previous year to UCD after a replay. Pat Byrne, who captained the Hoops during this historic time, remembers the loss to UCD as a factor in winning the cup in ‘85 and the other trophies in the seasons that followed. “The fact that we had lost the previous year made it even more important to win in 1985,” recalled Byrne this week. “We really felt the pain of that defeat and that result made us stronger helping us to go on to achieve what we did. Having got to the cup final again, we wanted to win it. It made us appreciate it more.”

En route to the 1985 final, Shamrock Rovers beat Bohemians after two replays, won 3-2 away to Drogheda United before overcoming Sligo Rovers 2-1 in the semi final. It was Noel Larkin who scored the only goal of the final ensuring that the FAI Cup went to Milltown. Even though it is 25 years ago and Noel Larkin is on the other side of the world, he can clearly recall the goal. “John Coady did all the work,” said Larkin from his Brisbane home. “He was fantastic on the left side of midfield using his speed to get by people. He got to the by-line sending a low cross to the near post. I got there before the defender and touched it with the outside of my right foot into the net.” Larkin has another indelible image from the day which occurred after they had claimed the trophy. “When I went over to my Dad after, the tears of pride and joy were streaming down his face. That to me is the memory I have of winning the cup that day. It means so much, to so many people, not just the players on the day.”


(Photo George Kelly)

Shamrock Rovers arrive at Aviva Stadium today as league champions and chasing a double just like the side 25 years ago were doing. Back then, the Hoops had wrapped up the league prior to the semi final unlike this season which went all the way to injury time in the very last league game. Pat Byrne believes having claimed the league title ahead of the final, it helped the Milltown based team back then and it should help the Tallaght based team today. “It took the pressure off to be honest as we had won something,” said Byrne, “and now we wanted to win the double. The expectation is high at Rovers and rightly so. It is so important to achieve your first league title so I think it will help them for the cup final this year.”

Endgame

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Article from Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers v Drogheda United, October 2010)

“Old endgame lost of old, play and lose and have done with losing” (‘Endgame’ – Samuel Beckett)

With just two league games remaining and the small matter of a Cup final to come, we truly are entering the endgame of this exciting 2010 season. Tonight is our last home game of the season and fans, players and management are certainly done with losing. It is a must win game for the Hoops tonight against Drogheda United as Rovers aim to end the season with three wins from the remaining league and cup games.
The passion from the stands must be match be fortitude on the pitch if the club that we care so deeply about is to garner something from this season. The pain of losing and the joy of winning are elevated by the attachment that we have for The Hoops. For some people it is love at first sight. For others it can be the dawning sensation that you have fallen in love and that this football club is the one for you. To paraphrase the terrace chant in our case it is “We love you Rovers we do, Shamrock Rovers we love you.”

For me, I was smitten at a young age. I was drawn in by the action and the bright lights. Those bright lights were the floodlights at Milltown. As a very young kid my father brought me to Milltown. I was really impressed by the floodlights, I used to love when it got dark at games and the big lights came on. I’m in no doubt that young boys and girls being brought by their parents now to see Rovers are transfixed by the green and white hoops under the dazzling and towering floodlights here in Tallaght Stadium. To see often three generations of Rovers fans at games is great to see, with the new generation learning of our club’s old traditions and making new ones of their own.

It must be the ultimate betrayal for a parent to have a child who for whatever reason won’t support the family team. My Aunt married a Bohemians Club member (who incidentally had also lined out for Rovers at underage level). However his father, a committee member at Dalymount, probably made a mistake in bringing his daughter to see Shamrock Rovers take on then English League Champions Chelsea in 1955. As recounted in Robert Goggins’ “The Hoops”, Rovers raced into a 3-0 at half time in this benefit game for Paddy Coad. While Chelsea did score two in the second half, Rovers won the match and the daughter fell in love with the green and white hoops and is now one of the group of over 400 who are proud club owners here at Shamrock Rovers. It is no wonder that the match programme always has some pictures of some very young fans in Rovers bibs as their parents indoctrinate their children into the green and white hooped faith as early as possible! It will be a massive Shamrock Rovers attendance at the upcoming Ford FAI Cup final and hopefully many of the new attendees, who will no doubt attend on the day of this blue ribbon event (or even green ribbon event), will become transfixed with supporting Rovers.

People like to keep souvenirs or a maybe a keep safe to remind them of the good times. In a story told to Eoghan Rice in his oral history of Shamrock Rovers “We are Rovers”, I told the story of my last trip to Glenmalure Park in Milltown at age 12. The story has been recounted a number of times but it seems to resonate and is telling about the loss of the ground. “I dug up a bit of the pitch and stuck it in a crisp bag. I kept it in a Chinese takeaway dish for around three years. I used to water it regularly so it was still growing and I put little Subbuteo men on it. Unfortunately, one day I dropped something and it hit the shelf that I kept the grass on and a part of Glenmalure Park flew across the room and fell into countless bits. I tried putting it back together but it was gone.”

Milltown is gone and aren’t we lucky now that we finally have such a fine stadium to hopefully replicate the success of those times at Milltown. Manager Michael O’Neill spoke last week about the sense of history around this club and how it is so important that we forge new history here by being successful. The key is to draw from that history as inspiration. When the Hoops entered the field of play last Sunday afternoon in the FAI Cup semi final they were greeted by three massive SRFC Ultras banners depicting FAI Cup successes down through Rovers history. Paddy Coad, Pat Byrne and Noel Larkin were each depicted with their hands on the cup which the club has won a record 24 times. To back up the display of history, the fans, not only in the East Stand but also in the Main Stand, attempted to raise the roof with their vocal encouragement of the team. Over the last month, the Hoops have been tantalisingly close to winning a number of games as this season draws to a close.

Late goals away to UCD, home to Sporting Fingal and Saint Patrick’s Athletic have tested the resolve of all involved in the club. However, the support from the stands has been as vocal as it has been all season if not better. The supporters who have been with the club for years and those that have joined our odyssey only recently have their part to play. Rovers forged a lead twice in last Sunday’s FAI Cup semi final but we pegged back both times by Saint Patrick’s Athletic. The team dug in hard at the end of the game but couldn’t quite close the game out over 90 minutes. The team were undone in injury time by what has to be said was a spectacular own goal. With all those late goal concessions, it was a challenge for the team to go to Inchicore on Tuesday for the semi final replay. Just like at the recent league encounter, Rovers fans snapped up the replay tickets as soon as they went on sale and packed the away sections of the ground. To see Craig Sives celebrating the 1-0 win, thanks to Chris Turner’s excellently taken goal, down amongst the fans in front of the shed showed what it means to the players to get a win and move on to the final. It does mean that whatever happens over the next two league games, Rovers will have a day out in the inaugural cup final in the redeveloped Lansdowne Road. No doubt we will see a colourful and vocal display from the stands in Aviva Stadium from the Hoops supporters with fans making the most of the Cup final day to encourage the team when they most need it. Some more words from Beckett come to mind for both the players and supporters as we reach endgame of the season.

“Let us do something while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed…those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!” (‘Waiting for Godot’ – Samuel Beckett)

Examinership (October 2009)

February 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Article from Shamrock Rovers match day programme against Drogheda and Cork (October 2009)

In the space of four days Shamrock Rovers have a double header of games playing first against Drogheda United and then against Cork City.  During the past four years, all three clubs have entered Examinership with the High Court deciding should the clubs go out of business or continue as a going concern.  All the clubs had run up significant debt and sought High Court protection from their creditors who were owed sizeable amounts of money including the Revenue Commissioners who were owed a combined total in excess of 1.5 million euro.  Hughes Blake was the accounting firm appointed as Examiners for all the clubs.

Examinership allows court protection from creditors for typically 100 days.  With High Court approval a large proportion of that debt is written off and a plan put in place to pay creditors and for the future financial viability of the club.  As we have seen in the last month, companies may not get approval to even get an examiner appointed (e.g. Liam Carroll’s Zoe Development companies) and even if they do, they don’t always survive going into Examinership (e.g. O’Brien’s Irish Sandwich Bars).  If an agreement can’t be made with creditors, then the company goes into liquidation with any assets sold off with preferential creditors like the Revenue Commissioners and employees getting paid first.

Shamrock Rovers were the first club to go through the process back in 2005.  With Rovers this season riding high at the top of the table, playing in front of full houses in Tallaght, the club is almost unrecognisable from that which went into Examinership and shows how far the club has come in such a short amount of time.

Under the previous club owners, Rovers’ debts had spiralled out of control with debts of around 2.5 million euro to a long list of creditors including players, the Department of Justice, the Gardaí and various companies who were owed money for services including portable toilets, first aid at matches, bus hire companies and training facility providers.  A laundrette won a case in court over money they were owed for washing the famous green and white hooped kit.  The largest debt was to Revenue at over half a million euro and this figure increased during the Examinership period when the club’s books were reviewed in detail.

Rovers were fortunate at this time that there was already a support structure in place, through the 400 Club, who were able to fund and run the club during Examinership while the Examiner went about trying to get a new owner and agreeing payment to the creditors.   Seven potential investors came forward to discuss taking over the club.  It was a different economic era in Ireland at the time and it seemed most were eyeing up the potential development opportunities with the Tallaght site.  However, these investors, when looking in greater detail, saw that they were not likely to make any profit on the site which now had a lapsed planning permission.  So it was the 400 club who were the last man standing and took control of the club post Examinership.  It was a club with a much different playing squad as all the players in the squad were made free agents with notable players like Pat McCourt (now at  Celtic) leaving for Derry and Dave Mooney (now at Norwich) joining Reading.  The wage bill was reduced by 1/3 down to 10 grand a week.

The creditor scheme at the end of the Examinership process saw Revenue write off a huge portion of money owed to them, preferential creditors receiving 4c for every euro owed and unsecured creditors, who were owed over a million euro in total, received about 2 per cent of that figure.  Players that were owed money received 2/3 of that owed to them.  Some former players who were due money decided to waive the amount owed.

Entering Examinership, Rovers had debts of 2.5 million euro and exited debt free having paid a significant six figure total as settlement.  Obviously clubs racking up huge debts in the vain attempt in hitting the Champions or Europa League jackpot isn’t exactly fair on other clubs who manage their finances prudently.  Therefore the League put in place rules that a club going into Examinership would be docked 10 points and both Drogheda United and Cork City received this sanction.  That season Rovers were docked eight points during Examinership but this was due to the fact that it emerged that the previous club owners got the club’s licence on the basis of misleading financial accounts.

Drogheda United’s troubles stemmed from the failed planning process on their proposed stadium in Meath.  They had debts of over 700,000 euro with half a million owed to Revenue when they went into Examinership but with a fire sale of players and their supporters raising 300,000 euro, the club avoided being wound up and kept their place in the Premier Division so that they are able to come to Tallaght this week to play what could be called an “Examinership derby”.

When Cork City went into Examinership last year, they had with debts of 1.3m euro with Revenue owed a quarter of that amount and their kit supplier owed 25,000 euro.  Once again Dave Mooney was on the move as part of an Examinership sale.  Cork received 400,000 euro from Reading for the former Rovers man.  However, even after successfully negotiating the Examinership process, much to the fans disgust the club last month was back in the High Court facing a winding up order put in place by Revenue.  In an incredible day in the Court, it seemed certain that another Cork club would go the way of Cork Athletic, Cork Alberts, Cork United, Cork Celtic etc.  It took the intervention of a benefactor who lent them 200,000 euro money to prevent Cork City going out of business.  However, despite the ruling, Cork City is still in some difficulty.  A friendly match against a Celtic selection was to bring much needed funds to the club but the expected full house didn’t materialise.  A low point was reached when the club nearly didn’t fulfil an away fixture against St. Patrick’s Athletic because the bus company hired wouldn’t leave Cork until their debts were paid.  The situation in Cork remains unresolved with club owner Tom Coughlan and fans group FORAS in disagreement as to what way the club should be run.

It is safe to say that based on evidence to date that Shamrock Rovers is a good example of how Examinership can work.  Rather than the club being liquidated, it is now an integral part of the Tallaght community bringing welcome money and good publicity to the South Dublin Country Council area.  Our club gives employment to playing squad of 23 players and back room team and the club generates a tidy tax amount for the public coffers.  The full houses in Tallaght all season have also generated large amounts of money for the exchequer.   It was a self confessed Bohemians fan in Justice Frank Clarke who presided over the Rovers Examinership case and his decision has meant that Rovers survived to play today and go head to head with Bohs for the 2009 League of Ireland title.

Members Club (March 2009)

February 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Article for Shamrock Rovers match day programme (March 2009)

Different football clubs have different ownership structures.  Some clubs are very much shaped by their Chairman.  Chelsea have an oligarch, Shelbourne had an Ollie Byrne.  The fans of Shamrock Rovers Football Club took over the ownership of the club back in July 2005.  The club had gone into Examinership earlier that year.  At the end of that Examinership period, the Shamrock Rovers fans group, the 400 Club, were the last man standing and took control of the club.  We are now a members club which operates on a one member- one vote principal.  The members elect the board of directors who run the club.  Tomorrow will see the AGM of Shamrock Rovers Football Club taking place across the road from the Tallaght Stadium in the Maldron Hotel.

The Shamrock Rovers membership model has provided great stability for the Hoops in turbulent times for both the club and for League of Ireland football.  Rovers have prepared a budget in recent seasons and have stuck to it.  The wide number of members with diverse expertise and a huge amount of enthusiasm is a great resource to call upon for the club.  Supporter involvement in running clubs helps with ensuring good corporative governance as well as ensuring a certain level of democracy.

Many Irish football clubs have struggled to pay player wages and other bills in recent years.  Some clubs have gone full time and have struggled with the wage bill and reverted to part time status or have let players go.  Clubs like Sligo Rovers, Galway United and St. Patrick’s Athletic have all found themselves having to cut their cloth.  While Kilkenny City has folded, Cobh Ramblers have dropped to the A Championship with Cork City and Drogheda United entering, and successfully exiting, Examinership.

The membership model is different from the shareholding model that was in vogue in the 1980’s.  Clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United floated on the stock exchange making their owners very rich.  While fans could buy shares, their shareholding was dwarfed by a small number of shareholders, including some financial institutions, who held most of the shares.  Rather than reinvest all of the profits from the club on the pitch or in stadium development, shareholding dividends were issued to the members.  At Manchester United in 2005, Shareholders United had over 35,000 members who were United shareholders but they could not prevent the Glazer family taking over the club.  Fans at English clubs have changed unwanted owners like Martin Edwards or Ken Bates for another set in Glazer or Gillette and Hicks.  While some “foreign” owners like Randy Lerner at Aston Villa and Roman Abromavich at Chelsea have seen their clubs be more successful on the field, the sense of detachment from the fans to the clubs owners and players continues.

Yet the membership model is a tried and trusted model for many clubs.  The two biggest names in Spanish football are members clubs in Real Madrid and Barcelona who have in excess of 150,000 members.  Members elect the club president who in the past as part of their election campaign stated if elected they will bring a certain star player to the club.  Maybe we will see one of the Directors seeking re-election at the Rovers AGM tomorrow promising to bring a star Tallaght player such as Robbie Keane or Richard Dunne to the club if elected!

In Germany, Bundesliga clubs are members clubs with the Clubs administrators elected by the membership.  At least 51% of the ownership of any Bundesliga club must be held by the football club members.  While in Britain recently there has been a plethora of non-British club owners, the membership model is being promoted by the organisation Supporters Direct.  Their aim is to promote supporters involvement at the highest level in the running of football clubs through football trusts.  Such football trusts now own or control a number of clubs in British football including English club Stockport in League 1 and three clubs in League 2 (Brentford, Exeter & Notts County).  In Scotland, fans were successful in taking over Clydebank and Gretna.  The new Gretna club emerged following Gretna’s liquation after the death of owner Brooks Mileson who had been involved in discussion with taking over Shamrock Rovers during the Examinership period.

Some clubs have maybe taken the membership element too far.  Ebbsfleet United, managed by former Irish international Liam Daish, play in the Blue Square Premier Division.  In 2008, they were taken over by an amalgamation of online football fans through myfootballclub.com.  Their membership set the weekly playing budget and vote on all transfer dealings.  Last month, their membership voted to give free admission to their game attracting an 18 year high crowd to the game which was broadcast live online to their membership.  Their membership numbers have dropped in recent months but it is a membership experiment that many are watching with interest.

In America, Seattle was invited to take up a place in the top division of Major League Soccer for the 2009 season.  Seattle comedian Drew Carey was instrumental in setting up their members club with the Seattle FC Alliance voting on the General Manager.   A vote was also held to choose the team name with nearly 50 % of the 15,000 members voting for the name Seattle Sounders.

At Shamrock Rovers, our membership structure provides vitally important financial support as well as providing democratic structures for the club.  If you are interested in taking ownership of part of this great Irish sporting institution, membership details are available on the web (http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/members/) and new members are always welcome.  The greater the size of our membership, the stronger a club we can become.