Bury St Edmunds: Bury Town chairman targets £100,000 fundraising effort
11:39 28 January 2014
A football club has called on its supporters to help it raise £100,000 and get the good times rolling once again.
The ambitious call was made by Bury Town chairman Russell Ward at a packed supporters meeting at Ram Meadow on Monday.
Around 100 fans heard Mr Ward and new commercial directors Dan Bush and Clive Boughton outline short and long-term plans to get Bury Town back in shape on and off the pitch after recent financial troubles.
The club is now targeting £100,000 a year from commercial activity, and backed forming a new supporters club to help raise money and bring the club’s loyal fans closer to the directors.
Mr Ward said the £100,000 target would help the club hit the ground running next season, as it targets promotion to the Conference South within two years.
He added: “There is no debt. There are some loans that are outstanding to directors, but we’re not in debt. What we’ve done is adjust the playing budget to avert that.
“It’s not money that is needed, but it’s money we feel we can achieve with a lot of hard work. With a target of £100,000 to be raised, that will give us a solid financial platform going forward.”
The club will also now rekindle a supporters club, which has not been seen at Ram Meadow since before Mr Ward took the club’s chairmanship 14 years ago.
He said: “It has been said over the years we haven’t been as open with the supporters as we could be. Now we’ve got a chance for the supporters club to work with the directors.
“We want to make the supporters group a self-sustaining group, if you like, without our involvement.”
Some fans questioned the strength of the squad after a number of high-profile departures, with Russell Short the latest to leave.
However, Mr Ward called on fans to grit their teeth for the remainder of this campaign, with Bury still going strong in eighth place in the Ryman League.
He added: “Everyone has got to roll their sleeves up and get on with it. It’s hard at the moment, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Someone else will get their chance.
“The end of season needs to come, we need to rebuild and we’re determined to get it right.”
He continued: “We spent money on players perhaps we shouldn’t have done. We signed some players on the basis of someone promising us some money - should we have waited?
“When you believe it’s coming, you take it as it is. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but we can’t turn the clock back.
“The amount we’ve paid our players, we’re no way near the biggest payers in any league we’ve been in, and I’m going back to our time in the Thurlow Nunn League.
“We need to make sure Bury Town is an attractive club, but that attraction isn’t just financial.”
Mr Ward said there could be a high-profile pre-season friendly at Ram Meadow next year, but that efforts to coax Ipswich Town to west Suffolk were not working.
Ipswich visited Ram Meadow for five seasons for pre-season friendlies as part of the deal that took former Bury captain Ian Miller move to Ipswich in 2006.
However, Ipswich have been playing other non-league teams since the deal expired.
Mr Ward said: “We’ve tried in every way. We’ve tried through the front door, we’ve tried through the back door. They now seem to want to share it out.”
Mr Ward hinted at future big sponsorship deals and fundraising events, some of which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Ideas included a Bury Town FC fundraising weekend and a new business club linking up with local businesses.
Mr Ward also said the club will aim to improve existing events such as the summer ball, sportsmen’s dinner and end of year presentation.
He added: “We really feel the key to it is to get more people down here.
“It’s something we’re all desperate for, to increase revenue streams. It’s a real, real must for us and we’ve made a lot of progress in the past few days.”
Fans put forward a number of their own suggestions, such as long-term season tickets, raising the price of concession tickets and the eligible age for concession tickets to 65, as well as installing a new temporary stand at Ram Meadow, which is likely to remain Bury Town’s home until the start of the 2016/17 season.
Another suggested improving the club’s presence on social media, which Mr Ward agreed with.
The club is also looking to set up a scheme where supporters are notified of upcoming fixtures and other club news by text message.
There was also talk of improving links with the Bury Town youth section, and setting up the club’s own academy.
The West Suffolk College football academy has been a cornerstone of Bury Town’s success in recent times, but Mr Ward said the scheme had suffered as more academies of a similar format set up around the country.
He added: “The college set-up has diluted from what it used to be. The amount and quality that come through into the first team is not there.
“An academy where we’re in control of it ourselves is the way to go.”
The first fundraising event is an evening with Bury players at Valley Connection in Churchgate Street. Tickets cost £19.99 per person, call Dan Bush on 07753 371534.
Bury Town are due to play Kingstonian at Ram Meadow tonight, providing it passes a pitch inspection at midday.