300 fans attended the Alona Hotel last night as the Board of Motherwell FC outlined their plans for the future of the club.
The top-table panel, consisting of board members Derek Weir, Bill Dickie, Leeann Dempster, Andrew Wilson, Jim McMahon and John Swinburne were joined by ‘Well skipper Stephen Craigan.
The evening, compered by Andrew, kicked off with a general welcome and an outlined the clubs’ objective of becoming a unique fan-run club.
Derek Weir gave a short presentation about the legal side of the new Well Society, detailing some of the stresses, strains and pains of the last few months as the club constructed the Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) with lawyers and still await approval from the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
[pullquote]There are too many negatives around Scottish football at this time, but together, the club and fans, have a real chance to do something incredibly positive and secure the future for this club for our children and our children’s children.[/pullquote]
Jim McMahon, a board member since 2001, then outlined some of the financial aspects of how the Society will work and operate. Jim also outlined the share transfer plans with approximately 45% of Mr Boyle’s holdings being transferred to the IPS upon completion with the remaining 55% migrated when the society is fully functioning and ready to take on majority control of the football club.
Jim also talked at length about his hope of raising capital somewhere in the region of £1.5 million, although no actual membership target has been set, to act as a buffer in temporary cash flow situations.
Leeann Dempster, Chief Executive, then spoke in-depth about how the board had come to their current proposals and a breakdown of the various memberships that will be on offer when all plans and proposals are confirmed. Several levels are available, starting at £300 for the ‘Steel’ Membership with the ability to spread payments interest free, all the way through to the premium “1886” Membership, aimed at successful business’ and individuals, with a mouth-watering array of benefits.
Leeann was also keen to stress the one member, one vote philosophy no matter the financial commitment and hoped the Society would be fully up and running, with the ability to take membership fees by November or December.
Finally, Stephen Craigan gave an account of what the fans and the club mean to the players and how the stronger involvement of supporters through the Society would benefit the club, even on the pitch. The 54-times capped Northern Irish International recalled some of his days with the club and memorable occasions whilst wearing Claret and Amber and encouraged everyone to get on board.
He also revealed that former hero James McFadden has agreed to become involved as the first member and that he, along with his 20-month old daughter, would become member two and three.
Bill Dickie, Vice-Chairman, and John Swinburne both gave short address’ giving their backing to the Society. Mr Swinburne, in particular, gave a rousing speech about his long and illustrious life watching Motherwell and encouraged everyone to follow in his footsteps when he first received shares some 40-years ago.
Following the formalities, the floor was open to ask questions in a Question Time style Q&A. A mixture of clarifications, ideas and encouragement; over thirty questions, varying from the financial model, timelines, a family option and others were all discussed at length.
The evening ended with a vote of thanks and a promise of more meetings and consultation with fans as the fine-tuning before the proper launch continues.
Afterwards, Leeann Dempster told motherwellfc.co.uk, “We are all delighted with the turnout and the overwhelming positivity and feedback we received from supporters.
“We have unanimous board support for this exciting venture. Many clubs turn to their fans at a time of weakness, of financial difficulty. We are approaching fans now at a time of strength – on and off the park.
“Together we can ensure a great football for Motherwell FC. I have consistently said over the past two years that our ultimate aim is to become the best run family-friendly, community club in Scotland and tonight was a massive step in that direction. This is a historic opportunity for the club and its supporters to really make a mark for the future.
“There are too many negatives around Scottish football at this time, but together, the club and fans, have a real chance to do something incredibly positive and secure the future for this club for our children and our children’s children. Perhaps even point the way forward for the whole of Scottish football.”