Welcome to the first stop in owning your own American Football Club!
This page explains how our ownership scheme works, answers some common questions that we’ve been asked in the past and also gives details about how to own your own share in Hastings Conquerors American Football Club.
Why fan ownership?
Using the UK’s main national sport of soccer as an example, the past 10-15 years have seen a worrying increase in the number of clubs which are poorly run and which have an agenda not in line with those that support the club and invest into it emotionally. Several of these clubs have since folded, and several have re-emerged under community ownership. A system where the fans and those who care about the club get to control the club is needed. Not a system where one rich owner gets to call all the shots, an owner who could leave one day and take his/her money with them, leaving the clubs future in the balance.
When we started the Hastings Conquerors, club founder and chairman Chris Chillingworth decided that he wanted to build the club as a co-operative from day one. A Club where the members, coaches, families and supporters both near and far all owned a stake in their club and therefore had the power to control how it was run and where it was going. Chris believed that the combined direction of many was a more sustainable and realistic driving force for the club, preferable to allowing one person to take control and do what they wanted.
The Hastings Conquerors registered in the UK as an Industrial and Provident Society in September 2013 and are the UK’s first co-operative American Football Club. A similar model to that of the Green Bay Packers, and soccer clubs such as FC Barcelona and FC United of Manchester.
Instead of relying upon the financial strength of one owner, being a fan owned club means that we rely on the collective financial strength of many Shareholders. For example, instead of one owner putting in £10,000 of their own money each year, we may hope to sell shares at £30 each and have 1000 owners a year, raising £30,000 for the club. The figures themselves aren’t important at this stage, but this example explains the concept of why lots of people putting in small affordable amounts can make a significant difference, stronger than that of one owner. It is also worth considering that one owner can also lose interest and walk away with their money. Under our model, one member leaving the club has less of a financial impact on the club and we can continue to grow and build this sport further in our town.
Being a fan owned club also means that we should stay true to our course over the years. With an elected team in charge of the day to day running, and with votes regularly passed out to its members for decisions to be made, the Hastings Conquerors are a club run by its community, for its community. This means that the club will continue to serve its members best interests at all times. If the general consensus is that the club should invest in growing the sport through youth, this is what we shall do. If the general consensus is to try and develop our women’s game, then it is up to the members, and the club will be driven in this fashion.
Heard enough? Join us by clicking the link at the bottom.
£30 for 1st year, £10 for annual renewal (In order for us to become sustainable, we need Shareholders to renew annually).
Within the first few months of the Club being built, a working group otherwise known as the interim committee, was initiated to take on the day to day running of the club. The group led by its founder Chris Chillingworth immediately set about creating a 5 stage plan to get the team the very basics it needed to start playing the sport and growing the team. One of the factors decided upon was the price of the shares. The group decided that the cost needed to be affordable to as many as possible, but also high enough to make a difference and help pay for the administration costs of printing, stationery and website work required, and to help inject some capital into the club to help us grow the club and the sport in Hastings. The figure of £30 was mutually agreed amongst the committee and has never changed since.
You can opt to pay more than £30 for your membership share, however you can only own one, and paying more will not give you any more rights or votes than the next shareholder.
What do I get?
For the £30.00 fee (around $50 depending on the current exchange rate) you get:
- A Hastings Conquerors share certificate.
- A new covering letter welcoming you as a shareholder of the club.
- Exclusive access to members only sections of the website including a Members Forum.
- The right to vote and stand for the committee of Hastings Conquerors American Football Club.
- The right to vote on important shareholder issues throughout the year.
- Access to club quarterly Treasury, Coaching, Marketing and Chairman reports.
- A Hastings Conquerors car sticker.
The £30.00 consists of the share value of £1.00 and the remaining £29 covers your membership.
How many shares can I buy?
No one can own more than one share in Hastings Conquerors American Football Club, no matter how much money they put in.
Our system is, ‘one owner, one share, one vote’. This has been written into our club’s Constitution and protects the club from ever being taken over by one person. No one can ever become a majority shareholder. Everyone who owns a share has as much voting power as the next Shareholder, whether you are the Chairman, the star Quarterback, a local Hastings resident, a sponsor of the club, or a keen long-distance supporter from the USA.
However, you are welcome to buy a share for someone else too; a friend, a family member or even a child (although they won’t have voting rights until they are 16). Just enter whatever name you want to be listed as the shareholder in the ‘name’ box when you register, which if you are ready and willing to join us, can be done here.
Any share you buy will be valid for a year from the date you apply.
Still not convinced?
It’s a great way to support all the work that Hastings Conquerors American Football Club does. We are a not-for-profit co-operative. This doesn’t mean we do not make a profit. On the contrary, we look to make a profit as much as any other business would. The difference is that any profits we do make must be re-invested into the club or its local community of Hastings. It must be spent on making things better for its members or the community. It cannot go into any owner’s pockets, or the private pockets of silent partners as are often seen within the organisation of soccer clubs, even at non-league level. Everything is transparent if you are a shareholder.
It’s not just about the Senior Team. We are currently trying to build a Juniors team for the players between 16-18 who are desperate to try playing this sport but have never had the opportunity. There has never been an infrastructure for American Football in Hastings or the surrounding area. To play this sport you would have to drive over an hour to Brighton or Maidstone which just isn’t sustainable or practical for many people in Hastings.
The Conquerors are now beginning to provide that infrastructure. We are creating Coaches, training them up through the sports National Governing Body BAFA. We have players wanting to move into coaching Youth and Junior versions of the game. We have established relations with local sporting facilities to ensure there are places to play this sport. We work with the local council on trying to identify ways to grow this sport. We have a number of very generous sponsors (whom you can look at here on our Friends page) that help support our work financially too.
Yet we have no intention of stopping there. We have plans to bring the non-contact version of the sport into our local schools. We want Hastings to have a female representation in what is one of the fastest growing areas of this wonderful sport. We want to teach more people who are interested that there is a different sport out there other than soccer, cricket and rugby. An exciting, explosive, physical and strategic sport that anyone can play despite their age, weight, fitness level, sex, race or religion. Just come down to one of our training sessions and watch the camaraderie amongst our team. We are a family here at the Conquerors, who socialise outside of the sport and who look after each other both on and off the pitch. It has often been said that if you join the Conquerors you automatically inherit 60+ friends, whether you like it or not!
Your support will allow us to branch out to other groups within Hastings where we can provide other services to local residents. For example, our strategic linking model, which looks to link in with local photography students to take pictures for our website, or budding journalists who can cover our match reports for the local paper, or sports therapy students interested in helping develop their practical skills in a real world sporting environment. We want to work with local Sports Nutritionists to help improve our players dietary habits and promote healthy lifestyles. We’d like to eventually put a program in place to help players with lifeskills such as managing finances and debt. We’re not just about the sport, we are about the individuals at the club too. All these skills and talents locally can hone their practical skills here at Hastings Conquerors in exchange for real life references that could be placed onto their first CV’s, enhancing local student’s job prospects. After all, there’s nothing quite like real life hands on experience to improve your chances.
There are no boundaries to what Hastings Conquerors American Football Club can achieve. With the collective skills, power and financial support of people all over the world interested in being part of our family we can aim high and keep going once we’ve reached our goals. A new American Football Academy? A purpose built venue? More coaches to help grow the sport? A local flag football league? A Conquerors Charity arm? Oversea’s Coaching Trips? The ideas and possibilities are endless.
Hastings Conquerors American Football Club are the UK’s ONLY fan owned American Football team. You cannot get this experience anywhere else. Perhaps you have some ideas on what our club can do one day in the future. Perhaps you can help shape us. All it takes is a spark. One great idea fed to our pool of owners who can then take that idea and with their collective abilities, put it into action and see it come to fruition. Join us today and be a part of something new and exciting in Hastings. Help us build something new.
Some legal stuff you should read
Firstly, purchasing a share in Hastings Conquerors American Football Club is not an investment. There is no return on, or of, the money that you put in.
Secondly, Hastings Conquerors American Football Club is registered as an Independent and Provident Society. Which means that (like a company)
(1) it is a legal entity in its own right, independent of the members and
(2) the liability of members is limited to the value of their nominal £1 shareholding (which will be taken at the time of joining out of the £30).
Any claim arising from the activities of the Society will therefore be a claim against the Society not the members. If the Society were to become insolvent, the members would lose their £1 stakes but could not be called upon to contribute further.
In short, buying the share doesn’t lay you open to any responsibility or liability.
For the Rules of Hastings Conquerors American Football Club Limited (Registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 – 78) CLICK HERE
CONQUERORS ON 3!