Peter Phillips Underlines The Importance Of CherryShare II

Last updated : 21 September 2004 By Andy Burton
I am confident that we will overcome these latest problems as we have so often in the past. But it is unlikely that we will be rescued by a "white knight". We, the fans, are going to have to do it ourselves yet again.

It is very difficult to keep going back to the same supporters asking for money, and it is not surprising that a degree of scepticism has set in amongst many of our long suffering fans. But the threats are very real. Unfortunately, we do not have the option of "doing a Leicester City". Almost £4 million of our current debts are secured against the stadium. These lenders would not be interested in a 10p in the £ CVA deal. They would insist on selling the stadium to recover their money and would appoint a receiver to sell the assets to the highest bidder. AFC Bournemouth might survive, but we would certainly be homeless.

It is fair to ask how the current state of affairs has arisen, when we appear to have made good progress on so many fronts over the past couple of years, and raised so much money through CherryShare and other initiatives.

The answer of course is that the money we have raised was never enough to solve our underlying debt problems. Two years ago I said we needed to raise £2 million to stop the stadium sale and give us a fighting chance to turn the club round. CherryShare in fact raised about £650,000, a remarkable achievement by the fans but nowhere near enough.

The money we raised including last year's Loan Notes has kept the club alive. We were able to lift the transfer embargo, so enabling Sean to bring in players of the calibre of Moss, Cummings and Browning. We reached a deal with Barr, saving over £500,000 on what they were claiming, we kept our stadium, we have transformed the shop, created a hospitality business and made many other improvements.

But up to now these improvements have not been enough for the club to make a profit, or to eat into our debt mountain. We still need to find that extra million, and we need some of it urgently.

The Club has rarely had such great potential. With the new stadium and the growing pride in the club around town, we have a genuine opportunity to create a thriving Championship club (that's First Division in old money). Running the football club feels rather like walking a tightrope. We know where we are trying to get to, and every step takes us a little closer to the safety of the other side, but we also know that at any moment we could topple off and crash to the ground. The further we walk out on to the rope the wobblier it seems to get.

The end of the close season is the most difficult time of the year for football clubs. This year we tried to bridge the gap with concerts, but they made a loss. So we start the season owing money to such friendly sympathetic souls as the Inland Revenue and our old pals Bristol and West.

That's why we are launching CherryShare 2. The original was probably the most successful fund raising initiative in the history of the club, and the many "exiles" who took part and bought shares can take a great deal of the credit for our survival and the progress of the last two years. Now we need to do it again. If we can raise anything close to the previous total, this will give us the momentum we need for another successful season and beyond.

Peter Phillips, Chairman of AFC Bournemouth

To get involved with CherryShare, please visit this page on our web site, or complete the form to be sent with the next edition of EXILED.