Day-to-day chairman role passes to deputy

26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie.
26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie.
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Martin Ritchie remains Falkirk FC chairman in name, but he has taken a step back from his ‘hands-on’ approach.

The annual shareholders’ meeting of Falkirk Football Club was told Mr Ritchie would be stepping down from his day-to-day operational role at the club to focus on the long term strategy at Westfield.

26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie and vice chairman Douglas McIntyre.

26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie and vice chairman Douglas McIntyre.

Replacing him and taking on the responsibilities will be deputy Douglas McIntyre tasked with the liason with head coach Gary Holt and general manager David White.

The changes will apply until the end of the financial year for the club, in May.

During this time, Mr Ritchie will head-up a focus group to assess the long-term strategy of the club and the board and “look at the bigger picture and how the club is run and funded moving forward”.

It sounds a little bit vague. That’s because it is. Falkirk supporters society, among other fans groups, have been calling for a long-term review of the club and this is it. “It’s an evolution, not a revolution,”Mr Ritchie explained.

He added: “I’m going into it with no leanings one way or the other, it’s exploratory to see where the club takes us.

“It may be a chance to modernise how the club and board is run - I don’t know if there is a modern model - but that’s what this is about, finding the way forward, long term for the club.

“I don’t think the business model at the moment can be completely self-sufficient without a backer. The same people are coming in to help the club through the peaks and troughs of cashflow.

“Having Douglas (McIntyre) take on some of the day-to-day duties with David and Gary which I had been carrying out allows me time to take a lead on things.”

There are goals and aims in the open-ended plan however; to strengthen the board and improve local links even further since relocating the team back to the town during the summer.

One short-term aim will be to add directors over the coming three months following the resignation of Colin McLean on health grounds. One key element in that strengthening programme is sourcing a finance director. But that too, opens up its own questions for Mr Ritchie in his new outlook.

“We’ve got to look at the make-up of the board - there are very few people on there simply down to the volume of shares owned. So how do we add and strengthen? And how do we choose and recruit ensuring the skills bases are covered that are necessary going forward?”

It’s a change in the chairman’s role, and one that could have a lasting effect on the position, the board and the individuals involved.

“It’s sometimes a thankless task being the chairman of a football club and I welcome the opportunity to take time to look at our future and out role in the community.

“It’s a change from my approach - I think I’m quite hands-on when in the past Campbell Christie was different, more presidential. Maybe there’s another way of working which we’ll see during the next few months. By the year end we hope to have established the right way to go from there, What that right way is, is the point of the exercise.

“The supporters groups were seeking a long-term review and we agree - but it’s evolution of the club, not a revolution.

“Since we have been inovlved since 1998 the club has taken on a more community focus - the Deans’ and George Fulston were not local people with local links.

“That’s one thing I expect to see in the long-term strengthening further. It needs to go beyond fans of the club - though they play a big part but we’ll look at further links with local groups such as the Falkirk Community Trust, our role locally. Where that leaves us at the end of May we’ll wait and see, but I believe we’ll be stronger locally, and hopefully moving in the right direction long term - because I don’t see a group of Texans coming in to fund the club as they have Dundee. So it is a case of looking now to how the future club is funded.”