Thank you to everyone who responded to our wider fan consultation on the future of the Player Development Fund (PDF). The consultation period has now closed, and we had a very encouraging response to the paper.
172 people took the time to provide feedback on the proposals (available to read here), which was 90% favourable in supporting the suggested changes. Of the 155 positive responses, this included 109 people who would be willing to contribute for the first time which is hugely encouraging.
Firstly, of the 17 people responding to the paper saying they would not support it, eight people helpfully provided reasons. Four related to dissatisfaction on previous decisions taken by board or management, three people feel they are contributing enough already and one mentioning that minimum contribution level is too high. Whilst we understand the reasoning, this proposal is an intention to move the club forward on a consensus basis. Of course, we make acknowledgement to any wrongs of the past. We can’t correct what has happened; only learn and avoid repeating past mistakes. This fund is very much an option to people who feel they can or wish to make a further contribution to our club on a regular basis. We are therefore grateful for the feedback and we hope that in time people can regain their trust that decisions taken will always be with the best intention to progress our club.
Within the 155 positive responses, 10% provided suggestions for consideration. This is exactly what the wider fan consultation period was for: engagement and listening. We can categorise these into ideas that we wish to adopt, investigate further or ideas that we feel should not be adopted. For the ones that cannot be implemented, it is important to state our reasons why and these are noted below.
Nine people who mentioned the prize fund. Five thought it should be removed, and four thought increase it in size or regularity
Response: The fact that the positives and negatives are almost cancelling out perhaps indicates there is no perfect fit. It is felt though that the inclusion of the prize fund, plus the boardroom experience and strong third prize on quarterly basis may attract new contributors who may otherwise not be interested. In addition, this model is successfully adopted by other clubs and it does appear to help retention levels. Of course, anyone lucky enough to win the cash prize could always choose to reinvest back into the club if they wish too!
One response each for increase gate contribution (suggesting that a donation is made at the gate), tying the fund to a long term share purchase or restructuring, or a stadium improvement project
Response: The idea of an additional gate donation does not bring the sustainability and regularity of income that this fund seeks to provide. In terms of stadium projects, this suggestion was included as part of the original consultation phase with the Forum and existing contributors but was removed for a few reasons. Firstly, it made the fund proposal too clunky to explain and administer where simplicity was seen as a strong selling point. Secondly, adding another objective was spreading the fund too thinly across too many targets and finally, the attractiveness to contributors was more about enhancing the football team rather than the facilities. In relation to a restructuring, the fund is intended to help the operations of the football club rather than a share purchase. As a league one club, cash is vital and our number one football priority is promotion. The fund could be adapted at some point in the future if there is support to do so from contributors.
Finally, two people mentioned £10 contribution levels and three mentioned adapting Rovers Lotto
Response: When reviewing the contribution levels, we looked at existing contributions and there were only three contributors currently less than £5. Whilst we are grateful for all contributions, there was a consensus view that £10 is a reasonable level to attract the optimum sustainable contribution. Each £10 will gain an entry for the quarterly draw which is an attractive incentive. In relation to Rovers Lotto, whilst there may be some overlap, these are actually in the main serving different markets. Many of our lotto contributions come from non football fans who wish solely to win a weekly cash prize. The lotto is also regulated, and the rules around how it must be run would make it difficult to adapt. The PDF is more about regular contributions to our football fund, with an option to reward those who do. We believe that there is room for both schemes in our club offering.
In terms of positive suggestions that were made, there is an acceptance that:
- regular promotion and publicity of the fund should happen
- regular updates towards the target must be made
- quarterly updates to contributors are a necessity
- a need for transparency
Response: These are all extremely valid. In terms of transparency, a separate bank account is in place which will allow us to track contributions and report. In relation to exactly how this is spent, the indication from the outset was that we would aim to fund three modern apprentices (we currently have two and are seeking a third) and the remainder would be used towards the first team budget. The money apportioned to first team players will be used as part of the overall budget available to the manager towards attracting new, better quality or in retaining our best players – not necessarily in providing an additional player. The manager is assembling a squad this summer for giving us the best opportunity to gain promotion to the Championship and this money will help this aim.
In relation to the points under further consideration and investigation:
- methods for receiving overseas contributions
- renaming the PDF
- incentive for signing up
- lotto sellers rolling in agent commissions to the fund
Response: Again, these are all very good ideas, could add to the PDF package overall and will be looked at carefully for implementation.
Finally, next steps for the PDF are that we will be looking to formally launch as soon as we can, aiming for a 1st July launch. Given 75 existing contributors, plus 109 new responders within the 155 positive responses received, have provided enough confidence that we have a solid platform to build from. We have our bank account in place already, and we had 23 people as part of consultation who indicated a willingness to actively help in the running of the scheme where possible. We have already completed the application to Fife Council to allow the quarterly raffle to take place. There will be some admin activities to set up in the background to allow new contributors to join. The important thing though is that the manager knows he has the basis of a budget contribution he can use to get this club to the Championship. We aren’t done yet, but it is a great start!
More information on the PDF will be released as soon as we can. Many thanks to everyone and, if you have any further comments, please contact us at pdfraithrovers.net