Bristol City Football Club Supporters Trust

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A warning from history that went unheeded

Friday February 3rd 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of a defining moment in the history of Bristol City Football Club. In 1982 The Robins came perilously close to extinction for debts amounting to £1.5million.

A consortium of Club directors and local businessmen led by City supporters Deryn Coller and Ken Sage put together a rescue package, but it would only work if eight contracted players accepted immediate redundancy. Peter Aitken, Chris Garland, Jimmy Mann, Julian Marshall, Geoff Merrick, David Rodgers, Gerry Sweeney and Trevor Tainton - the so-called Ashton Gate Eight - fought their corner, but at the eleventh hour selflessly accepted the terms that would allow the club to survive.

Ashton Gate Eight plaque

The Ashton Gate Eight plaque at
the back of the Atyeo Stand

For the only time in its history The Football League allowed Bristol City to retain their status as a then third tier club. A new board of directors under a new company Bristol City (1982) Plc replaced the liquidated company. Nowadays any club in a similar position would have to start afresh the following season, possibly dropping several divisions lower down the Football Pyramid.

City’s plight is a warning from history that went unheeded.  Since 1992, 52 clubs who are or have been in the top 92 (Football League and Premier League) have suffered from insolvency events. Portsmouth, of The Championship is the latest club in crisis, after being issued with a winding-up petition by HM Revenue and Customs on 3rd January, owing tax payments of £1.6million.

“These situations clearly can’t continue and we’re delighted that UEFA are committed to the financial sustainability of club football and ensuring that their members’ appoint a Supporters Liaison Officer to be part of their decision making processes from the start of next season,” said Stuart Rogers, Chairman of Bristol City Supporters Club and Trust.

Rogers was referring to the recent publication of Urfa’s fourth club licensing benchmarking report, which analysed the financial results of over 650 clubs from the top divisions in UEFA's 53 member nations.

At the report’s launch UEFA's General Secretary Gianni Infantinto said; "In a club these days, everything changes – players, coaches, owners, directors, managers – but the fans and the link with the society remains the same. And this is what we need to protect. And when we look at the financial figures in particular, we have to be worried about the trend and we need to tackle that. We need to establish a safe and healthy environment for European club football to continue to develop and prosper."

The final words are left to Stuart Rogers. “Bristol City supporters will never forget the Ashton Gate Eight, their sacrifice and loyalty to the club that we love. It is unthinkable that this type of gesture would ever be repeated in the modern day game. Our legacy should be a thriving football club; one at the heart of its community and one in which supporters play a leading role in shaping the decisions that affect the future of Bristol City FC. We believe that Supporters Trusts are well equipped to perform that role.”

Please see for links to Supporters Direct’s recent press releases and campaigns.

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Paul Cheesley
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Paul Cheesley
Bristol City Supporters
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