How did Vrienden van Feyenoord come about?
During the 2009-2010 season Feyenoord found itself in serious financial difficulties. There were sizable debts, a substantial negative shareholders’ equity and there was a serious threat to the club’s continued existence. At that time a group of wealthy Feyenoord supporters, led by Pim Blokland and under the name of Vrienden van Feyenoord (VvF), decided to help the club. The VvF started a dialogue with Feyenoord and an amicable agreement was ultimately reached on the formation of the VvF and a contribution of (risk-bearing) equity of up to 32.6 million euros (of which 2.6 million euros premium) raised by around 30 parties. The VvF acquired 49% of the shares of Feyenoord in return, because it did not wish to hold the majority of shares of Feyenoord in any circumstances. The remaining 51% of the shares are held by Stichting Continuïteit Feyenoord (STICO).
What rights does VvF have?
At the time, it was agreed that VvF had the right to an annual dividend in cash of (up to) 4%, with the exception of the years when Feyenoord had qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. A maximum dividend of 6% applied in that case. The dividend would only be paid out if the results and the financial position of Feyenoord allowed it. No dividend was paid out in the first three seasons (2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013), dividend was paid out in the next five seasons, but in 2018-2019 season there was again no dividend. On average, over the past ten years the VvF has received 2% dividend per season. In addition, the VvF was provided with four business seats, one parking permit and experience rights for every million euros invested.
Lastly, the VvF was given the right to nominate two people to sit on Feyenoord’s supervisory body, the board of directors and the majority shareholder STICO, which, among other things, is responsible for safeguarding the continuity, identity and cultural heritage of Feyenoord.
Which conditions were amended in June 2018?
The VvF and Feyenoord assessed the goals and agreements in June 2018. The conclusion at the time was that the goal of the VvF, returning Feyenoord to financial health, had largely been achieved, notably through strict financial management, good sporting performances and transfer results. The VvF therefore felt that it was time to discuss its withdrawal. For that reason, Feyenoord and the VvF agreed that the goal for the coming years was a phased buyout of the VvF in a way that protected Feyenoord. However, only if Feyenoord had the wherewithal to do so.
Agreements were also reached on changes to the conditions of the agreement. The scarcely used experience rights were terminated and the annual dividend was reduced from no more than 4% to no more than 2%. Again, the dividend would only be paid out if Feyenoord’s financial results and financial position allowed it. For that reason, once again no dividend was paid out to the VvF in 2019. Based on the amended agreements the non-payment of dividend in any year leads to a one-time increase of the dividend to 3% the following year, but only if the liquidity position of Feyenoord allows it.
What has been agreed with regard to the VvF buyout?
Feyenoord and the VvF also reached agreement on the procedure Feyenoord must follow to buy out VvF and the conditions that need to be met. In essence, Feyenoord will be able to buy back the shares held by VvF at the same price as VvF paid for them in 2010. That means that the VvF will waive any gain it might otherwise have realised on its shares if their value has risen in the intervening period. Feyenoord is permitted to buy back the shares whenever it wishes, but, pursuant to a number of specific agreements it would be preferable for this buyback to be spread over a number of years. The scale of the annual buyback of shares is a fixed percentage (15%) of the net revenue from European football and the net transfer results (20%). Feyenoord has an obligation to buy back the shares if no dividend is paid out to the VvF for two successive years. However, Feyenoord can always decide not to buy back the shares if the club’s liquidity position at that time does not allow it. Shares and premiums amounting to EUR 4.6 million were bought back from the VvF in 2018 and 2019. The VvF’s shareholding in Feyenoord is consequently around 46%.
The number of business seats made available to the VvF will be reduced in proportion to the reduction in the VvF’s stake and the right to nominate supervisory board members and members of the board of STICO at any time will be limited to one or will even expire. It has been agreed with the VvF that the shares that are bought back cannot be sold to another investor within 18 months without the VvF’s permission.
What happened to the share of Supporters Steunen Feyenoord?
The VvF used the sums it has received from Feyenoord for the sale of shares over the past two years to pay back in full the businesses and supporters that invested 1 million euros in the VfV in 2010.
The supporters, united in Supporters Steunen Feyenoord, have made their share in this (approximately 700,000 euros) available to Feyenoord for the development of the Feyenoord Academy at the new Varkenoord.
How many people are involved in the VvF?
The VvF consists of around 30 private individuals and businesses.