Supporters Direct look at ownership

Martin Ritchie, Douglas McIntyre and Lex Miller feature in the Falkirk major shareholders. Picture by Michael Gillen.
Martin Ritchie, Douglas McIntyre and Lex Miller feature in the Falkirk major shareholders. Picture by Michael Gillen.
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Supporters Direct Scotland has shone a light on who owns how much of Scotland’s football clubs.

The group has researched clubs and issues of transparency and engagement in each using public documents to produce {http://bit.ly/2sfpT51|the first index into the governance and ownership| SD Scotland Index}. It follows recommendations from a working group on Supporter Involvement in Football Clubs (made up of the Scottish FA, SPFL, SD Scotland, Scottish Government and Sportscotland) which also included incorporation of Supporters Liasion officers which has been taken up by many, including locally.

Sandy Alexander is listed as the Bairns' biggets shareholder. Picture by Michael Gillen

Sandy Alexander is listed as the Bairns' biggets shareholder. Picture by Michael Gillen

The index also shows the major shareholders in each club.

Sandy Alexander is Falkirk’s largest shareholder, followed by former chairman Martin Ritchie – who holds shares of his own and via a timber business.

At Ochilview, the Warriors Sports Society is listed as largest shareholder, but more than half is owned by ‘others’ outwith the five largest stakeholders.

In ‘transparency’ criteria set out by SD Scotland the Warriors do half (ownership and directors identity published) but the Bairns are not listed for any (financial data, ownership, directors identity, board meeting details published). However much of this information can be obtained at Companies House.

Falkirk club ownership published in SD Scotland Supporters Direct Scotland Index on club ownership June 2017

Falkirk club ownership published in SD Scotland Supporters Direct Scotland Index on club ownership June 2017

In terms of engagement Falkirk fulfil two criteria (SLO and structured dialogue) but don’t have a supporters representative. Stenhousemuir have corrected the index and as well as ‘structured dialogue’ DO have a supporters rep and recently appointed an SLO.

Andrew Jenkin, Head of SD Scotland said: “Although all the information is freely available, to our knowledge this is the first index providing the breakdowns of ownership and what clubs are doing to involve fans. We appreciate there is no definitive model of ownership, which is reflected within the results.

“We hope it provides a useful footing for constructive conversations about the sustainable development of clubs based on supporter involvement.

“We’re very thankful to the work of Alan Russell and the Raith Rovers Supporters Trust for their work in developing it.”

The Trust owns a section of Stenhousemuir shares.

The Trust owns a section of Stenhousemuir shares.

Alan Russell added: “Club ownership structures can be complex – none more so than my club – and it can be confusing and time consuming to find accurate and up-to-date information.

“We have tried to keep things simple and transparent without losing sight of crucial details. We will update information periodically so this remains as accurate as possible, and encourage use of this as first port of call to know more about their club’s ownership and governance.”

The Falkirk Herald asked both local sides if they would be working towards fulfilling the SD Index Engagement and Transparency criteria.

Stenhousemuir director Iain McMenemy said: “Stenhousemuir FC has a proud history of fan and community involvement and we believe we were the first professional club in the UK to become a registered Community Interest Company.

Stenhousemuir club ownership published in SD Scotland Supporters Direct Scotland Index on club ownership June 2017

Stenhousemuir club ownership published in SD Scotland Supporters Direct Scotland Index on club ownership June 2017

“Whilst we welcome the Supporters Direct report, we are disappointed that the information is incorrect. We have always had a Supporters’ Trust member on the Board, and we have recently appointed an SLO.

“Working hand in hand with our fans has always been a priority at Stenhousemuir and this will never change.”

A Falkirk FC spokesman added: “Falkirk FC fully recognises the importance of the information published by Supporters Direct Scotland.

“As a club we took into consideration the role of a supporters’ representative on the board and agreed, after initiative was taken by supporters’ representatives, to move to our Fans Council model to allow greater engagement with our wider fanbase. The Fans Council, operating with its own constitution and called Falkirk Fans, has worked well and we have received positive feedback to the openness and transparent dialogue able to be had. Issues raised in articles such as this will, if they think appropriate, be discussed at their next meeting and with the club.

“To ensure these discussions are accessible to as many of our supporters as possible minutes are posted on the club website at the earliest opportunity.

“Andrew Jenkins has himself attended one of our Falkirk Fans’ meetings and commented very positively on the high level of club to fan engagement witnessed. We will continue to try to develop our dialogue with supporters in order to improve relations for the greater good of the club.

Stenhousemuir believe they were the UK's first Community Interest Club.

Stenhousemuir believe they were the UK's first Community Interest Club.

“All financial data, football club company officers and shareholders are available to view via the Companies House website.”