FC CLACTON is teaming up with Triodos Bank UK to raise £400,000 through a crowdfunding bond offer.

The FC Clacton Community Society plans to use the funds to overhaul its facilities, generate new income and build long-term resilience into the club.

FC Clacton’s co-owner Stephen Andrews said: “We operate from season to season, hand to mouth raising money for the various works required to keep the club going – patching up the floodlights, using volunteers to prop up fencing and other immediate problems that need fixing.

"We do it because we love the club and see the impact it has for the fans and the players of all levels, but it is hard work and becoming increasingly difficult.

"This funding marks an exciting new chapter as it will allow us to secure our future and increase the impact that we can have.”

FC Clacton runs teams for every age group from under-seven through to seniors and veterans.

It hosts more than 600 players each week, with 40 boys’ and girls’ youth teams, informal fun sessions for girls of all ages, weekly training for under sixes and senior men’s and women’s teams.

At present, FC Clacton faces a number of challenges with its existing facilities.

The grass pitch, which is located on an old landfill site, is often unplayable both in dry weather and after rainfall and requires a high level of maintenance by volunteers.

With the funds raised from the bond offer, the club plans to lay an all-weather, artificial pitch and upgrade to LED floodlights.

The improvements will allow the club to not only provide better facilities for its teams, but also to welcome local schools, evening leagues and walking football teams, helping build FC Clacton’s sense of community and improve the club’s long-term prospects.

The updates are also being planned with the environment in mind – the artificial pitch can be recycled at the end of its life and will have a natural cork-based crumb and the LED floodlights are set to reduce electricity use and light pollution.

The club’s teams currently spend money hiring pitches and facilities around Clacton.

By bringing all the teams’ training and home matches together, the Seasiders plan to generate stable income.

The club has been severely affected throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and with no matches, FC Clacton has not received match subscriptions from players, clubhouse income or match day receipts – leading to a number of financial pressures.

Emergency grants provided by the local authority have allowed the club to weather the pandemic and it now hopes the new pitch improvements will help it to come back stronger than ever.

For investors, the ten-year bond will pay four per cent gross interest per year, with a minimum investment of £50.

It is also available within the tax-efficient Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) wrapper.

As with all investments, interest payments and return of capital are not guaranteed and like all ISAs, the IFISA is subject to eligibility criteria.

The capital raised through the bond is part of a funding package developed by Triodos Bank UK in partnership with Crowdfunder and Access - The Foundation for Social Investment as a pilot project to bring together three types of capital – bonds, reward-based crowdfunding and grant – to offer an affordable, patient and flexible finance option for community-focused organisations.

The blended funding package aims to create lasting change and build resilience in community groups as the UK emerges from Covid-19 with the intention to build back fairer, greener and stronger.

For FC Clacton, the £400,000 raised in bonds will be blended with grants from the Football Foundation and Access, its own reserves and a Crowdfunder campaign, to bring a total of £650,000 total amount to fund the refurbishment and allow for contingency and working capital.