Dorking FC is the oldest senior football club in Surrey, rich in history dating back to 1880. In 2014, the club fell on hard times after years of neglect, its home ground at Meadowbank closed for health and safety reasons. But a group of community-minded local professionals stepped in to save Dorking FC from inevitable closure, taking control and converting the club to a Community Interest Company, with all its assets belonging to the local community.
The group agreed to vacate the home ground for two seasons, financing the club on a voluntary basis, while the Council redeveloped the Meadowbank ground as a new facility for the whole community - a sporting hub for local youth clubs with more than 1,000 young local players, as well as a new home and clubhouse for Dorking FC. The new Meadowbank would also revitalise a run down area of the town centre, providing social as well as sporting benefits.
The Council has announced that its redevelopment work must be delayed by a year and the new home ground will not now be ready until 2017/18. This means that Dorking FC has been forced unexpectedly to finance a third season playing away from home, resulting in a cash shortfall.
Playing non-league football without a home ground and clubhouse gives very little opportunity to generate revenue. Careful financial management has seen the club through two seasons, but we need now to raise an additional £30,000 of funding to see us through a third season without a home. We hope to raise a proportion of that online through donations.
Read more on the delays and its impact on Dorking FC here.
Why should you care about this?
Meadowbank has been the home of Dorking FC since 1953. It's an iconic location - within the heart of the town, a stone's throw from the high street, with views across the North Downs and within the sound of the pealing bells of St. Martin's. By keeping Dorking FC going through just one more season, we are preserving a great slice of football history and heritage for Dorking and Surrey, and we're ensuring a bright future for Meadowbank as a focal point in our community.
We have signed Heads of Terms on a long term lease for the new Meadowbank, when it’s completed. It will provide a home for our senior players, Under 18s and Ladies, along with an all-weather training facility for all the youth clubs in the area, and see us operating the clubhouse at the heart of the town, seven days a week. We have a strong, sustainable business plan when we return home - but we have to survive another season to get there.
There's a huge reward waiting for the whole community if we can pull together and get through this next year. Combined with our commitment to youth development and local talent, it would be a shame if the Club were unable to meet its financial commitments and be consigned to history with the return home and a new community Meadowbank tantalisingly within grasp.
How will the money be spent?
The money will be spent to maintain the Club's ability to operate through an unexpected season without a home ground and facilities to generate revenue, due to the Council delays.
As a Community Interest Company, Dorking FC is 'asset locked'. The assets belong to the club - not the directors - meaning the club’s assets remain community assets forever, by law. So you can be sure the money you donate can only be used for the benefit of the community.
When does your money come out of your account to Dorking FC?
Your pledge comes out at the end of this Crowdfunder campaign. In this case, it'll be on the 9th of March 2016.
When will supporters see the difference?
By funding the club through one extra season of homelessness, supporters will see Dorking FC survive to return to our historic home in Meadowbank in the 2017-18 season. The future is very exciting. Dorking FC is doing something different. We have launched an Under 18 team with links to all the local youth sides and we have a new Ladies team. Back at Meadowbank in 2017 we will complete our pathway for local young players to play for their town's team as part of the non-league football pyramid.
We also aim to create an FA recognised blueprint for grassroots football administration - a professional set-up with an amateur ethos. Read more on our vision for Dorking FC here.
Access for all, free football for players of all ages and gender, quality coaching and superb facilities shared with all the local youth clubs. Not simply a football club - but a social enterprise.