BOARD UPDATE

We write once again to update Falkirk FC owners and supporters on the status of the club. With nine months of the financial year and football season now behind us, our performance at the end of Q3 is positive both on and off the pitch.

John and Paul, their backroom staff plus all the players deserve huge credit for the relentless consistency they have shown in delivering a 17-point lead at the top of League One. Three consecutive 23-point quarters and 27 games unbeaten, with 65 goals scored and only 16 conceded is simply phenomenal form. Along the way they’ve set new club records for unbeaten runs, in all competitions and for league games only, with the latter currently at 29 and counting.

John has also made it clear that there will be “no slacking” as we push towards making our league position mathematically unassailable and do our utmost to remain unbeaten in the final quarter of the season. While we haven’t won anything yet, and certainly won’t be celebrating prematurely, this season now has the potential to become one of the best ever in the club’s history.

Off the pitch the club is also making excellent progress, with further growth in commercial income, strong season ticket sales and gate receipts, plus sold-out hospitality and advertising. Not to be outdone by the football department, Jamie and his team have also broken club sponsorship and retail records, with almost 5000 replica kits sold in the first year of our new relationship with O’Neills. Perhaps less visible to fans, but nevertheless vitally important, a great number of improvements have also been made behind the scenes, to business management systems, processes and infrastructure.

Overall, we are therefore satisfied that the club is in a significantly better place than it was two years ago and that every aspect of its operation is heading in the right direction. We’d like to thank every member of staff, volunteer, sponsor, commercial partner or supporter for their contribution in helping us turn the club around. That said, many challenges remain and we cannot allow the club to rest on its laurels. While we’re financially stable for now, we’re certainly not well-off and still have a long way to go to reach our goal of creating a sustainably successful club in the Premiership.

As we’ve said many times, due to the gross inequalities of financial distribution between leagues, to achieve our goal we estimate that the club needs to generate an extra £300k-£500k each year, on top of a strong trading performance. This is required to simultaneously fund a competitive and successful first team, to fully rebuild our Academy and to continue to invest in the football and non-football infrastructure needed to underpin sustainable success.

This season, like last, we budgeted to make an operating loss within the above range, and we’re pleased to report that the business is again performing better than budget. This will once again reduce the expected loss but, unlike last season when we reached the Scottish Cup semi-final, won’t get us back to breakeven. For the first time in three seasons we have no serious cashflow concerns and the operating loss can be covered by cash reserves, but these will be depleted going forward meaning the club cannot carry large losses again next season. As a fan-owned club without a wealthy benefactor underwriting the business, we (as fans and owners) must continue to do it ourselves. This season has been phenomenal so far because we have all invested in our club, and the results we are all currently enjoying are our reward – our return on that investment.

The £800,000 invested in share purchases over the past two years was essential in stabilising the club and has provided the platform upon which this season’s success so far has been built. Almost 900 fan-owners are now funding our club via monthly donations, over and above the excellent on-going support shown by all fans for the club’s commercial activities. It’s clearly no coincidence that the stronger we make the club financially, the better we can perform on the pitch and this in turn fuels further opportunities for commercial growth. We’re now fully fan-owned so it makes sense for us all to invest in our business to help it succeed. It’s also essential that the whole fan-base pulls together, involves as many supporters as possible and continues to work together as a team.

This is evident in the collaboration between the two main vehicles for increasing fan-ownership – the Patrons’ Group and the Falkirk Supporters’ Society. The latter recently passed an important milestone in acquiring over 25% of all club shares and were helped over the line by share donations from Patrons’ Group members – a great example of teamwork in action between fan-owners, and proof positive that we are all on the same side. Perhaps more obviously, we are also seeing great evidence of teamwork every Saturday both on and off the pitch. The players are clearly pulling their weight but so are the fans, with the Ultras leading the way in creating an incredible atmosphere which we know lifts and inspires the guys on the pitch. We’re winning because we’re working together and the more of us there are, the stronger we become.

We’d therefore continue to encourage as many fans as possible to take that extra step and become a part-owner of the club. The simplest way to do so is to join the Falkirk Supporters’ Society. All FSS contributions go straight into the playing budget and this will continue next season. It was this season’s uplift in membership which enabled us to sign Ethan Ross, Dylan Tait and Ryan Shanley, as well as helping with contract extensions for Coll Donaldson, Liam Henderson, Leon McCann and Callumn Morrison. Fan ownership is clearly working for Falkirk FC but to really kick on, hopefully in the Championship next season, we’d love to see more and more supporters getting involved. There’s no cap on FSS membership or monthly contributions, so the more fans who join and the more each contributes, the bigger the budget and the better the team. Also, the sooner fans sign up the quicker we can confirm John’s total budget for next season, giving him more time to recruit the players he needs. We’d urge all Falkirk supporters (if they can afford £10pm or more) to join FSS here  https://falkirksupporters.org/subscribe/

We’ve also been exploring ways to further grow the Patrons’ Group and have agreed a new, long-term initiative which will help fund the rebuild of our Academy. For a minimum contribution of £100pm or £1000pa, supporters can join the group enabling them to vote for Board representatives and/or stand for election themselves. In addition, we’re close to securing an annual five-figure donation which will help fund the Academy for the next ten years and hope that others will similarly step forward, to ensure we can continue to offer new modern apprenticeships and elevate our Academy back to the Scottish FA Performance Level from 2026. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact Kenny Jamieson on kenny@dreamweavers.org.uk.

Last month we were delighted to announce that both John and Paul have signed contract extensions to 2026, our club’s 150th anniversary, and it’s this continuity and long-term planning which are key to building a sustainably successful future for our club. Keeping the core of our current playing squad together is essential and it’s great to already have 12 players signed for next season, with hopefully more to come soon. Once again, the priority will be quality over quantity, so we’ll be looking to attract new recruits who can make us even stronger. To support this, there will never be a better time than right now for fans to get behind our funding model. This season has surely shown that the key to our success is stability and making steady, step-by-step progress.

If we can get there we clearly want to be able to compete well in the Championship, but we’re still closer to the start of our journey than we are to our desired destination. Getting out of League One is just the beginning. Hopefully we’ll get over the line soon and, if we do, we all deserve to savour the moment and take time to fully enjoy the experience. However, we mustn’t underestimate just how hard the next step will be. We must be ready to go again next season and continue to be relentless in our quest for progress both on and off the pitch. If we all get our shoulders to the wheel and keep pushing in the same direction, the unity and momentum we can create is phenomenal.

Match attendances have been superb all season, with home crowds consistently between four and five thousand (and sometimes more) with over half being Season Ticket holders. All ticket prices will be frozen next season even if we’re in the Championship, so we’d anticipate another big uplift in both Season Ticket sales and match attendances. What would make a massive difference would be to bring the number of supporters participating in fan-funding much closer to the number attending matches. This would increase our collective power and could potentially make us unstoppable. We do however appreciate that some fans just want to enjoy coming to games and are loyal supporters of the club. This doesn’t in any way diminish their value or our appreciation for their support. We also appreciate every penny of supporters’ hard-earned cash which comes into the club, however it arrives.

As a board we passionately believe that fan-ownership is the best way to protect and grow our club. This remains our mandate from shareholders and we believe it’s working. Every week nearly a hundred volunteers and staff work tirelessly to make our club a success and we couldn’t make any progress without the support of thousands of others. We’re succeeding together and we can’t thank everyone enough for their incredible support so far. There are nine games left this season. Let’s give John, Paul and the players the backing they need to get us over the line and make sure we enjoy every second of it. But let’s also start now to get right behind the team for next season and ensure we’re as strong as we possibly can be.

Many thanks.

Falkirk FC Board

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