CDS Co-Sponsor ‘Everything to Play For’ Conference

On the 9th June 2019, the Scottish Women’s National team will make history when they play their first ever match at a World Cup Finals against England in Nice.

As part of the celebrations of this fantastic achievement, a conference on women’s football in Scotland will be held at Hampden Park on International Women’s Day – 8th March 2019 – which Club Development Scotland are delighted to be co-sponsoring.

The conference will mark the history of women’s football in Scotland and look to build on current successes in the National and domestic game to inspire the next generation of footballers and consider how to fulfill the potential of the women’s game – there is Everything to Play For!



FUNDING: The Aviva Community Fund


The Aviva Community Fund is offering up to £25,000 to local community projects across the UK. It’s a competition rather than a straightforward grant application and relies on you winning a public vote. There’s a total pot of £1.5m.

The Aviva Community Fund offers you the chance to get funding for an important cause in your community.

Open to everyone – Aviva customers, employees, insurance brokers or financial advisers (whether associated with Aviva or not) and the general public – Aviva want you to enter a project for your community and tell us what a difference these much-needed funds could make.

Get enough votes from friends, family and supporters in your community and your project could be entered into the Finals, where a judging panel will award the funds.

From our understanding – projects can very much be based around community sport clubs.

Funding Themes

There are four project categories to choose from in which to submit your entry:
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Skills for Life
  • Community support
  • Inclusivity

Submitting a project

Creating and submitting your project is easy. Just follow these four simple steps:

  1. Identify a project that will have a positive impact in your community. You can submit a project for or on behalf of any not-for-profit community organisation.
  2. Enter it in the Aviva Community Fund. (You’ll have to register.)
  3. Add photos and videos to paint a better picture for the public.
  4. Get your friends, family and more to vote for your project. Promote it by getting in touch with them, by using Facebook, Twitter, community events or any other way that will get attention.

About the judging

Judging will be based on the following:

  • Impact 40% weighting
  • Longevity and sustainability 35% weighting
  • Likelihood of success 10% weighting
  • Submission 10% weighting
  • Originality 5% weighting


Club Development Scotland Assist Annan Athletic With Ownership Restructure

We’re delighted to be supporting Annan Athletic via our Club Development service in their proposed ownership restructure. We’ve been advising and working with the club for the past year and are looking forward to attending their Open Meeting on the 19th of January where we will be on hand to answer any questions regarding the proposed structure and legal model.

The statement from Annan Athletic reads as follows:

“As it stands, Annan Athletic is essentially an unincorporated members’ club with a Constitution that doesn’t offer the club the necessary protection and powers required. We firmly believe that the correct model for the club is 100% community ownership through a Community Benefit Society (CBS) legal model.

A working party taking advice from Supporters Direct believes that the CBS is an appropriate legal structure to adopt which will safe guard the club, offer its members and the board limited liability and protects the club’s assets. By undertaking this process, the club will have constitutional community benefit and will commit to reinvesting all profits back into the club.

In order to move ahead with this proposal, we are undertaking a consultation process, not just with our existing social club members, but with anyone who cares about the club from the area. As part of this, we are holding an open meeting on the 19th of January at Galabank Stadium where representatives of Annan Athletic FC and Supporters Direct will be available to answer questions regarding the CBS model.”

You can hear from Phillip Jones from Annan Athletic on the proposals in an SD Podcast interview here.

In the interview, Phillip says:

“We’ve worked very closely with SD and we’ve looked at other clubs and the models available. We’ve determined the CBS model is best for us because 1) the liability is limited to £1 for members and 2) to protect our assets and 3) (and more importantly) is to give everyone a vote on decisions and that confirms our ethos of the society – it’s a true democracy and when this consultation is finished, we’ll be 100% fan owned”.

“The benefit of the CBS model is that every member of the society has a real investment in the club and it breeds an awareness of the club and a willingness for it to succeed. The other advantage is an individual who aspires to be on the board can do so via the structure and can be a real benefit to the club and although its all unpaid, there’s a real good feel good factor because you’re helping the entity succeed.”

“The expertise from Supporters Direct has been immense”.

Fairtrade: A Game Changer for Football

If the revelations being squeezed out of the FIFA scandal have taught me anything, it is that some people cannot be trusted to maintain a level of integrity within football. Some of the people who ought to be protecting and raising the standards, expectations and levels of trust within the game have been caught doing quite the opposite for their own interests. It would be easy to feel disillusioned with football, I believe there is a another way forward for the global development of football, one which looks not only at the bottom line, but that double bottom line and impact of finance and people.

As someone who has played, watched, worked in and loved football since my Dad took me to my first game aged 5, I believe governed properly, football really can be a force for economic, social and community good. No more evident has that been for me than in the last five days.

The first Fairtrade certified sports balls were produced in 1998, however, over the last fifteen years the production and sales of Fairtrade certified sports balls has failed to match the exponential growth in Fairtrade labelled products globally.

Through my work with Supporters Direct Scotland, I was invited onto a working group interested in the establishment of a non for profit social enterprise selling and raising awareness of Fairtrade footballs.


The objectives of the organisation are:

  • To benefit the workers involved in the manufacture of sports balls
  • Enhance the health and well being of their users
  • Educate the public about FairTrade in general

Since those initial working group meetings, we’ve established a Community Benefit Society (a legal structure which protects assets for the purpose of which they were attained), raised over £100,000 via a Community Share Offer (through which people were encouraged to make a social investment in the enterprise), started trading as ‘Bala Sport’ and ordered over 8,000 balls as an initial stock.

Within this process, the working group became the founding Directors of the organisation and within this role I was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Pakistan where our balls have been produced and where, through the Fairtrade certification Bala and football production factory possess, Fairtrade benefits have been making that double bottom line of people and profits.

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Sialkot single handedly produces around 70% of the world’s footballs annually (about 29 million footballs) and gained celebrity status when it produced the “Tango Ball” used in FIFA World cup in 1982 and last year produced the Adidas ‘Brazuca’ for the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Pakistan has its well documented problems. There are ongoing disputes with its neighbours India regarding the ownership of Kashmir (during our stay, shelling continued between the two and there are areas close to the border of Pakistan that foreigners are prohibited from entering), natural disasters to contend with (such as Monday’s 8.1 earthquake which effected more western parts of Pakistan, although factories in Sialkot were evacuated and two people within the city sadly died) and wide spread deprivation.

Deprivation is not unique to Pakistan. 94% of the world’s income goes to 40% of the people, while the other 60% must live on only 6% of world income. Half the world lives on two dollars a day or less, while almost a billion people live on less than one dollar a day.

This is where Fairtrade and Bala Sport can and will make a difference. A stitcher making a Fairtrade football earns twice as much per ball as they do for a non-Fairtrade football. Buying a Fairtrade football removes you from an economy which treats children and their families unfairly. Additionally each Fairtrade certified sports ball producer has to have a Fairtrade Premium Committee comprising representatives of factory workers and stitchers. The Fairtrade Premium Committee consults with those they represent and decides upon the best use of the Fairtrade Premium money.

During our stay, we’ve visited a handful of factories. Some are Fairtrade certified, others are not. What is interesting is that the factories that are Fairtrade certified also produce the non Fairtrade balls such as Adidas, Nike. Puma and Sondico – but the workers are underpaid (usually below the minimum wage) and overworked.

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During our stay we’ve visited some of the projects that Fairtrade premiums have helped fund. These include projects and initiatives for the workers such as:

  • Free eye care and check ups (with workers getting a chance to purchase cheap glasses if required, of which around 40% do)
  • Water purification points (with open access to workers and the local community)
  • A free bus for female workers so they can get to and from the factories
  • Free Hepatitis B & C checks (and paid treatment if required)

One factory owner said in conversation “the workers are our assets, not our liabilities” – and these projects, funded through Fairtrade football purchases go to show it. These go to show the difference Fairtrade can make in addressing the issue of deprivation and have tangible benefits which many people (there are thousands of stitchers within Sialkot) can benefit from if there factory is a fair trade certified one.

However, the workers only get the benefit of the premium when people purchase Fairtrade footballs, drumming home the importance of increasing awareness of Bala within the UK.

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The process of stitching is an art form and each of the workers are highly skilled individuals plying their trade on a daily basis. Although, the industry of football production is evolving. New technologies have signaled a shift from hand stitched balls to hybrid balls which use a combination of machinery and people (albeit fewer). Competition from China also offers a threat to the livelihoods for many of these stitchers.

While some of the factory managers feel there are opportunities for the younger workforce to utilise the growing technology that will compliment ball production, there is a fear some of the older stitchers may not be able to adjust to the shift and learn the new skills required. It is not yet known whether or when the purely hand stitched positions may be redundant, but with machinery able to produce more footballs at lower costs, it would be difficult for factories to ignore their emergence for long.

However, generally, I’ll leave Sialkot feeling inspired for I’ve been fortunate to see how, through people purchasing Fairtrade sports balls, Bala are helping to improve the lives of many people. I’ve been reminded of the joy and benefits football can bring to people, society and communities, as shown by the photo below, which I took at an orphanage we visited and donated balls to.



You can buy your own Bala ball at now

Funding: Big Lottery Community Assets

Through Community Assets grants, The Big Lottery aim to “empower people to create strong and resilient communities by helping them to acquire, manage or develop assets such as buildings or land.”

As our mission at Club Development Scotland is to;

“Enable the development of sustainable  clubs based on community involvement and ownership”

this fund sits very comfortably with us and is one we’re keen to help clubs make the most of. Community Assets is a rolling fund which groups can apply for between £10k-£1m. It is well primed for sport clubs currently leasing assets who wish to develop their activities through purchasing facilities.

Although there is nothing that prevents sport clubs being able to apply for this fund, to date only one sport club has been successful in securing Community Assets grant funding. Real community sport clubs are extremely well positioned to be able to deliver the outcomes required from Big Lottery and must be able to demonstrate their application is:

  • rooted in the community, are genuinely community-led and gives the community a stake in local decision-making
  • is connected to other organisations and services in the community
  • shows clearly the changes that will take place and why this is the best way to deliver these changes
  • and shows the developments will be economically sustainable once our grant has ended.

This fund is very much about community development through sport, so just applying to take ownership of a club house for activities which are purely sport for sports sake will not progress. Applications will need to focus on how sport is being used as a vehicle for positive social and community change. Big Lottery will focus their funding where it will have the most impact and will prioritise applications that address disadvantage and inequality.

There is no end to the amount of work sport clubs are currently doing in this area and could do in the future and we’d be happy to share some of the examples we’ve come across of clubs that operating in the wider geographical community’s interest.

Before you apply to the Community Assets fund, you may want to develop your idea further and if there is development work that needs to be conducted (i.e. a feasbility study), the Big Lottery’s Investing in Ideas awards grants (between £500 to £10,000) could be right for you. The fund is open to organisations to enable them to think about, develop and test new ideas or improved ways of working that will bring real improvements to communities, and the lives of people most in need.

If you’re interested in support and advice on the fund, feel free to get in touch with us. We recently wrote a blog for Sported on how sport clubs can make create positive community capital which might get some thoughts following.

FUNDING: Community capacity & resilience fund

This fund could apply to sport clubs that use sport as a vehicle to make concerted efforts to engage with their communities most vulnerable and offer greater social benefits. 

The details below are from Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation’s website, where you can apply for funding.

Third sector organisations can develop their community organisation’s capacity to tackle welfare reform and inequality with a grant of up to £5,000.

The fund will increase the capacity and resilience of communities and third sector organisations to provide people with the support and skills they need. Awards range from £1,000 to £5,000, with project activity expected to start and finish between January and August 2017.

Applications are invited from third sector organisations with an annual income of £200,000 or less.

Fund criteria

Successful projects will achieve one or more of the following:

  • Expand/develop your organisation’s capacity to meet demand in relation to welfare reform
  • Develop a pilot project which focuses on tackling the impact of welfare reform and inequality
  • Help organisations work in partnership to support people
  • Develop people’s ability to prevent themselves from reaching crisis point


The closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 31 October 2016.


If you have any questions please contact Irene Connelly on 0141 559 5027 or email



BLOG: Barcelona city and a Culture of Exercise?

My girlfriend and I recently took a week’s annual leave and headed for Barcelona for a short getaway. It’s a city I’d never visited but after our first evening there, I was soon pleased with our decision. The city itself is incredibly well designed and we were able to walk to all our points of interest from the hotel (admittedly we walked around 8 miles a day).

What was of most interest to me was the Catalonia attitude and culture towards health and exercise. They have dedicated lanes for bikes and joggers . As we walked the main streets of the Barcelona, I noticed they featured what I can only describe as street side ‘exercise parks’ with a range of fitness equipment free and easy to access anytime of the day. What was more incredible was people were using them. The idea itself is excellent and something we could further consider introducing into British cities. Barcelona is a busy city with not a huge amount of green land, by making exercise as accessible as possible (right on the main street), we would be reducing barriers to exercise for all (indeed it mostly over 50s and 60s I saw using the equipment). The next question would be whether exercising in such a public venue could be ‘culturally acceptable’?

A gentleman makes use of the free to use exercise bike while Barcelona has dedicated cycling and jogging lanes.

BLOG: Barcelona and being more than a Multi Sport Club



Last week I was fortunate enough to visit the Nou Camp – which for me, as a football aficionado, was the highlight of my fleeting visit to Barcelona. The Nou Camp will feature on every fans’ Stadium ‘To-Do List’ and if it doesn’t, it perhaps should do. It was marketed as the ‘Nou Camp Experience’ and although somewhat pricey I didn’t begrudge the €23 entry fee for museum and stadium tour, as it was that fee alone for the view of the stadium from pitch side.

What struck me instantly upon walking through the gates was that this was essentially football’s answer to Disneyland with a whole village of complexes, merchandise stalls, eateries and bars surrounding you as you head to the jewel in the crown. This is something I’d be keen to see further within Scottish sport – stadiums at the heart of a community.

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As you walk out of the tunnel onto the pitch and take in just what an incredible stadium the Nou Camp is, you are instantly struck with the words ‘Mes Que Un Club’ spelt out in yellow within the stands. ‘More Than A Club’. The club was created by foreigners and soon became a focal point for Catalonism, and when Francisco Franco banned the use of the Catalan language, the stadium of Barcelona became one of the few places the people could express their dissatisfaction, thus showing the ways in which sport and politics and wider society interact on so many levels.


Beyond the history of what differentiates it from others, it was the founder’s approach to being a ‘Multi Sport Club’, commitment to social responsibility and governance that really sets it aside.

FC Barcelona have a rink hockey department, an ice hockey team, a rugby league team, a basketball team and a futsal team (they also previously had a baseball team). The whole sport campus in which the stadium is based acts as a home for its other sports and the games of the other teams are advertised and promoted across the city, although they might not receive the level of attention the football club gets (which isn’t an issue unique to Spanish culture).

I like this approach and it’s something I’d be keen to see more clubs adopt within Scotland. What we can most relate this to is the rise in Community Sport Hubs, with clubs sharing assets and making them viable social enterprises through their cooperative approach. I like it not just from a sustainability perspective, but a developmental point of view for young people.

At the Scottish FA Convention last year, I was able to hear from the Assistant Manager of the Icelandic football team who spoke about their approach to youth development. Whereas in the UK, young children are often shoehorned into a sport and expected to play that sport alone, in Iceland, children play various sports until the age of 16, at which point they’ve developed a wider range of techniques and skills.

The club’s commitment to being more than a club also reaches their social responsibilities and they’re renowned for once paying Unicef to host their logo upon their shirt (very rare in the modern day where clubs think mainly as businesses, rather than assets of community and social benefit). The club continues to work with Unicef using sport as a tool for social development (sport’s ability to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals is worthy of a blog to itself) and their work and partnership is proudly displayed within the museum.

Finally what interested me about the ‘Barca Experience’ is the club’s pride in being a democratic member owned club. While there may be some issues about how you would come to run in an election to the be the club President, it’s important to note that is operated on a ‘one member – one vote’ system which in a day and age of clubs being public limited companies, is commendable its stayed true to its member owned roots (again, this is worthy of its own blog).

On display at the ‘Camp Nou Experience’.


Our learnings? 

  • Member owned clubs can work at any level of sport (it’s not just for small clubs!)
  • Multi Sport Clubs and Community Sport Hubs can help young people develop and they shouldn’t be pigeon holed into one sport from a young age
  • More clubs, businesses and organisations should come together to share and make the most of community sport assets such as stadiums, pitches and other facilities
  • Clubs should be assets of community with a responsibility to give back to tackle issues within local communities, but also abroad (and this doesn’t stop them being viable businesses).


By Andrew Jenkin

Head of Supporters Direct Scotland & Club Development Scotland

You can find out more about our consultancy services and how we can help you grow a winning club by visiting



A New Way To Bring Community Benefit

I took this photo while visiting Pakistan to see where Fairtrade Bala Sport balls were made and the impact the Fairtrade premium was having upon the local communities. This photo was taken at an orphanage where Bala Sport donated footballs to the children staying there.

Ownership of things matter. Good ownership gives people a say in things they care about, a sense of motivation and a stake in its success – much like being part of a sports team.

However, poor ownership and governance of clubs can have catastrophic effects. Over the years, many professional sport clubs have seen the impact private (and sometimes reckless) ownership can have on clubs, with numerous clubs falling into administration and sometimes liquidation. The same effects of poor governance can hamper non-professional and amateur clubs too, with many being unsustainable and eventually wound up through lack of engagement from volunteers, members and participants.

A preventive step to avoid such disasters is to really think about the ethos, legal structure and ownership of the club. Many clubs claim to already be or feel community orientated and owned, but might not technically be. Many unincorporated organisations or companies limited by guarantee may have significant input from a membership and run in a community’s interest, but not setup in the best way to deliver value to them.

A model we’ve been promoting and working with sport clubs for over 15 years now is the Community Benefit Society model, a type of cooperative ownership structure. This model does exactly what it says, operating for the good of the community, rather than one or two individuals, and enshrining community benefit within its governance structures and constituting documents.

From the outside, cooperative clubs may look like any other club, but inside they are very different. Members have an equal say in how the business is run and they even decide what to do with the profits, working on a one-member/one-vote basis.

Not sure if it’s right for your club?
Maybe you’re unincorporated and thinking about growing your club through development of a facility or taking on ownership of an asset to encourage more participants, successes and have to a greater impact within your community or society. If so, a cooperative CBS model could be a great fit. The major benefit of community ownership of clubs is it gives the community a greater influence in how the organisation operates, in turn leads to superior off the field performance. However, there are many other benefits of the CBS model,

-limited liability for its board,
-asset protection,
-increased trust in your governance through partners (including members, councils and funding bodies),
-increased sustainability,
-increased volunteering through members feeling more engaged with the club,
-increased engagement with your members (who are now co-owners),
-knowledge that your profits are being reinvested back into the club and community,
-a commitment to delivering social value being written into club rules,
-perhaps most significantly, an ability to raise capital through a unique and innovative form of crowd funding – community shares.

Community Shares
Community shares are a way of raising finance by offering shares, but in a secure, co-operative legal form. As opposed to ordinary shares in ordinary companies, they seek investment from people that are most interested in the long term success of the Club as a community asset – with the added bonus that it is cost effective way that avoids the red tape that a private Company would face. By giving your supporters and community the chance to invest in the Club it strengthens their connection with it, and as we have seen with FC United it can open you up to significant grant funding opportunities.

It’s the same model that helped Portsmouth supporters take control of their club. Supporter owned Wrexham built a new shop and offices at the Racecourse Ground, and FC United of Manchester raise almost £2 million towards a new facility in Moston that will cost about £5.5 million. Outside of sport, more than 300 pubs and small shops which are now owned by their customers, many relying on community shares to raise the finance.
If you’re interested in either the CBS model for your club, or launching a community share offer, you should speak to Club Development Scotland, leaders within the community ownership and sport sector. To date we’ve helped clubs raise over £6million through community shares and offer a range of support mechanisms to clubs through our consultancy services. Visit our website @ now or read our brochure here.

Club Development Scotland is Supporters Direct Scotland’s consultancy arm. Supporters Direct Scotland are a cooperatively owned organisation concerned with the promotion of good governance and sustainable sport clubs. They have 25 members across Scotland and are a member of the Scottish FA Congress. You can follow them on Twitter @SuppDirectScot

Supporters Direct Scotland Announce Pro Player Plan as Key Sponsor Ahead of New Season


Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS) is delighted to announce Pro Player Plan as a key sponsor of their work throughout the upcoming 2016/17 season.

Pro Player Plan, a bespoke life, critical illness, injury and income protection insurance service, will provide sponsorship of SDS’ work as a preferred partner and promote their services across SDS’ channels of work (including Club Development Scotland and the Scottish Fans Network).

The deal is the biggest ever of its kind for Pro Player Plan and will see it’s Whole of Market Insurance Service, previously the preserve of Professional Athletes, promoted to Supporters Direct Scotland’s members, across it Scottish Fans Network and through its Club Development Scotland delivery arm ahead of and throughout the start of the new season in August.

Andrew Jenkin, head of Supporters Direct Scotland said “We’re delighted to be working with Pro Player Plan on this sponsorship deal. Tony and his team provide a highly professional service which all sectors of Scottish football can benefit from. Through our channels of work, there is a great opportunity to provide supporters and clubs with information and details of impartial and evidence based planning and insurance. This is an exciting deal with endless possibilities and we look forward to working with them over the course of the deal.”

Pro Player Plan’s Tony McGarrity said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Supporters Direct Scotland as key sponsors and partners in the 2016/17 season at this truly exciting time for the fan empowerment and ownership movement.”

“Scottish football fans can now access the same insurance service we offer to a range of Scottish Professional Football Players and like that the range of Injury, Income, Life & Critical Illness Insurances we provide could be identical to that of their favourite player! We have recently included Club Insurance to our range. Supporters Direct Scotland and their Scottish Fans and Club Development Scotland work is a perfect partner for Pro Player Plan and we have a shared vision of a positive future for responsible supporter ownership of clubs in Scotland.”

“We wanted a vibrant and contemporary opportunity to support. We love football so we are delighted to be working with the Supporters Direct Scotland on one of the best opportunities in Scottish Football.”

“This partnership will put Pro Player Plan at the heart of the Scottish football fan ownership and engagement movement. Getting people engaged and enthused with great sporting opportunities within their communities is the objective for all parties.

To find out more about Pro Player Plan’s services, visit or follow them on Twitter @proplayerplan.

Working Group on Supporter Involvement Development

Following Wednesday’s Scottish FA AGM, Scottish FA members are to declare to the governing body the identity of a club’s ultimate beneficial owner. With this, the Scottish FA will be able to publish the details disclosed under an amendment to Article 11.1.

A recent report revealed that many clubs have ultimatum beneficiaries who supporters have little or no awareness of. Wednesday’s AGM means supporters will be able to uncover who many of the people in charge of their clubs are.

This amendment comes as a response to the Working Group which Supporters Direct Scotland sat on with SportScotland, the SFA, the SPFL and Scottish Government and the amendments will provide enhanced transparency for supporters so they can better understand their clubs’ ownership structures.

Other recommendations include the establishment of Club Development Scotland and the development of the Supporter Liaison Officer programme, both of which we have taken on. A full list of recommendations can be found here.

These recommendations are designed to give supporters greater transparency around the governance and ownership of their clubs and more information so they can best prepare and organise themselves for further involving themselves within the games ownership.

Supporters Direct and ShareIn Kick Off Major Plans for Crowdfunding Platform

We have today announced a unique partnership with ShareIn, designed to empower football supporters to play a bigger role in their team’s future.

Using ShareIn’s crowdfunding platform, Supporters Direct is now able to enable communities to raise capital for projects around their clubs, which could include ownership. This applies to all levels of sport in Scotland from professional clubs to grassroots community clubs.

Supporters Direct have worked with football supporters across the UK to help empower them to play a greater role in their club, through engagement, and ultimately ownership.

This new crowdfunding platform will offer supporters the opportunity to buy community shares in clubs online, with the use of ShareIn’s white label crowdfunding platform.

The website will be available to use from July.

Andrew Jenkin, Head of Supporters Direct Scotland comments:

“One of the key things we’ve learnt in recent years is the critical need to develop the type of crowdfunding platform which is flexible for supporters to use in raising capital, and we’re sure in working with ShareIn we’re now able to deliver this.”

Jude Cook, CEO and Co-Founder of ShareIn adds:

“With football fans having such passion for their clubs, crowdfunding is an obvious approach to help fans realise their team goals. We provide the technology so supporters will have a simple, easy to use way to build community ownership online.”