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Supporter-owned movement continues to grow

FC United has written to Lewes FC to offer congratulations and assistance after the Conference South team became supporter-owned.

The Board was also pleased to see that a supporters’ trust has been established at Italian side FC Unione Venezia where fans hope to create the country’s first community club.

After 11 years in charge at Lewes, owners Martin Elliott and Kevin Powell are relinquishing control and passing the club onto the community so that it can follow a democratic model of one member, one vote similar to FC United.

Elliott and Powell stated: "We’ve been privileged to be the custodians of this great club for the last ten of its 125 year history. The fact that we are now opening up a new era where the whole community will be the custodians feels like a great way to recognise the true heroes of Lewes FC - its fans and army of volunteers.

"We thank fellow directors that we have worked with, in particular Kevin Fingerneissl and Terry Parris and we must also pay tribute to Derrick Parris and Peter Hiscox’s amazing team of people in the Members’ Club. Owners change, players change, managers change but fans are forever. Now we can feel like supporters again in the community scheme."

LCFC, the new Community Benefit Society which now assumes control, was formed by a group of local fans and business professionals: - Rooks125. It was this group who approached the club earlier in the year with proposals for community ownership.

A statement from Rooks125 said: "Community ownership is not a magic wand. But it is an entirely different approach from just another private individual or consortium coming in with a bit of cash and promising to get everything done overnight.

"Our absolute commitment is to continuing the development of Lewes FC as a club that Lewes and the whole of East Sussex can be proud of - proud of its football achievements and proud of what it puts back into the community."

Lewes FC Team Manager, Steve Ibbitson added: "What’s important to me is stability and the sense that we’re all in this together. Last year was a case of keeping the Club afloat in the hope that something like this would happen. If it hadn’t, there was a real danger of the Club going into freefall down the leagues, or worse.

"The great thing is that we can now look forward to an exciting new future whilst still playing at an exceptionally high level of football. It’s a great opportunity to push the Club’s development but that will only happen with hard work, commitment and sensible budgeting.

"I want to call on the fans and the whole town to rally round and let us know how we can help each other. It’s the town’s club now and I for one am delighted at this turn of events."

FC United general manager, Andy Walsh visited Lewes supporters last season to encourage them to take the leap into full supporter ownership of the club.

Lewes have become the latest in a growing group of English clubs that are supporter-owned which includes AFC Telford United, AFC Wimbledon, Brentford, Cambridge City, Chester, Chesterfield, Enfield Town, Exeter City, Runcorn Linnets, and Scarborough Athletic.

In the Evo-Stik Premier Division there are also now three clubs which have supporters’ trusts; Halifax Town, Worksop Town, and Northwich Victoria.

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First Posted ~ 16:32 Mon 12 Jul 2010
News ID ~ 2960
Last Updated ~ 12:56 Mon 21 May 2018