Gloucester launch Project Kingsholm
September 25, 2003

Gloucester Rugby Club and its supporters have launched a campaign to raise £2 million to initially increase Kingsholm's capacity to 14,000 and welcome fans representation on to the Club's board.

The rugby club is joining forces with its loyal and passionate supporters to provide them, the city and the regional community with a stadium to be proud of.

In order to achieve this ambitious project the supporters and rugby club have formed an independent supporters trust, called the Kingsholm Supporters Mutual (KSM). The KSM, managed by a steering group of dedicated and committed fans, will be raising funds through memberships and the subsequent share issue, which will lead to a representative on the rugby club board.

When the Kingsholm project reaches its target Cherry and Whites chairman and owner Tom Walkinshaw will dilute his control in the Club through the sale of new GRFC shares.

Commenting on Gloucester RFC owner Tom Walkinshaw said: "The fans will be offered the chance to purchase shares in GRFC via the Kingsholm Supporters Mutual. That money will be used
exclusively for rebuilding the stadium."

Gloucester Rugby Club plans to redevelop Kingsholm in three phases, with work starting, if finance is in place, at the end of this season, in time for the start of the 2004/05 campaign.

The first phase is the most crucial and includes the demolition of the current grandstand and clubhouse, and the construction of the new 3,500-seater stand with conference and educational facilities, as well as bars, club shop and improved facilities for supporters.

The development and increased capacity to nearly 14,000 will generate more revenue and create a 365 day-a-year operation that will support the Club in its bid to host international fixtures, non-sporting event and establish Gloucester as a progressive and important regional city.

Phase one is set to be followed by improvements to the Shed terracing and the Kingsholm Road end of the ground.

The new 3,500-seater grandstand will cost approximately £6 million, financed in two different, but connected ways. First of all, the club must raise an initial £2 million, which we hope to achieve through the Kingsholm Supporters Mutual, sponsorships, debentures and other commercial fundraising methods.

Tom Walkinshaw will be diluting his control of the club by the sale of the GRFC shares to the members of the Kingsholm Supporters Mutual in exchange for the funds it has raised. All the funds of which will go towards the redevelopment.

The Club's owner fully supports the new Kingsholm Supporters Mutual and its active representation on the Board of Directors and commenting on he said: "When I think back to several years ago, it was quite clear we had to find a way to build the club up and establish it at the top echelons of the league.

"We then had to put the proper structure in place, on and off the field, to achieve that and it has all been done.

"The next step was a big step, either a relocation or a redevelopment of Kingsholm, which is a substantial project to undertake. We are now ready to go and do it but we need to know that the supporters and the community at large are supportive of it.

"We are saying we have got the performance on the field right and now we need the facilities to help that grow."

Walkinshaw added: "Since I have been involved, we have always said when the time was right, the fans would get the opportunity to own part of the club. The demands of the league insist we need more seats than we have so there is no point in us being in the top three and then failing to meet the criteria.

"There is a period of time when we have to meet the minimum requirements and other clubs are looking at similar things.

"We are approaching a time window when we have to say 'right, we are going to press the button on this.'

"Renting a football ground, I believe, is not the way forward and the people of the west country want their own stadium that is exclusively for rugby."

Walkinshaw is welcoming all supporters and people from Gloucester to be part of this exciting project, that will not only work for the rugby club, but also the entire region. All the funds raised are targeted at the new Kingsholm development.

"The mutual is a membership structure and from that, the fans will be offered the chance to purchase new equity.

"That money will be used exclusively for rebuilding the stadium. If we can find a third from the fan-base, the management has got the job of finding the other two thirds from other sources. In total, it will cost £6m.

"I am passionate about Gloucester because I have come here for years. You have to understand the fan base - they live, eat and breath their rugby - just like Manchester United supporters live, eat and breathe their football.

"This is rugby land. The stadium project is not just for the city of Gloucester, but the whole of the West Country and wider community."

Supporter Mutual organisations are common in professional football and they have achieved good results, including AFC Bournemouth's £1million project towards a 10,000-seater stadium

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