Falkirk board pledge 'fresh minds and renewed focus' and ownership announcement

Former chairman Martin Ritchie.
Former chairman Martin Ritchie.

Falkirk WILL have new owners and reform within the club - and plan to announce details within two weeks.

The Falkirk Herald today revealed talks on the new investment into the Bairns had been delayed by a week to allow some potential bidders for the club to supply further details on their offers.

Mr Ritchie is also one of the club's major shareholders. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Mr Ritchie is also one of the club's major shareholders. Picture: Michael Gillen.

And former chairman Martin Ritchie confirmed the postponement this morning but said the club 'plans to go into next season with fresh minds and a renewed focus' with announcements on ownership and on management change within the club, plus player signings, over the next two weeks.

The proposed 'root and branch review of the club, announced in the wake of Margaret Lang's departure as chairman, has been put on hold as well as the search for her successor.

In a statement detailing the club's 'most extensive period of change since provisional liquidation in 1998' he said he still expected the Bairns to still have the largest playing budget in League One next season. However he added the board is seeking means of securing additional finance to tide the club over until a new owner arrives.

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All of the proposals being considered are said to include a 'immediate cash injection' to the team, but the club has been 'pragmatic' and anticipate reduced crowds in their first season in Scottish football's third tier since the early 1980s.

Mr Ritchie's statement, on behalf of the board said: "Falkirk Football Club is gearing itself up for the most extensive period of change since the 1998 provisional liquidation. These changes are not just to address the immediate task of gaining promotion back to the Championship, but to build a club that can be successful and sustainable in the years to come.

"In the next two weeks, we will bring you announcements on ownership and on management change as well as keeping you informed of player signings. The club plans to go into next season with fresh minds and a renewed focus.

"As you were aware, the club has been speaking to potential investors and buyers for some weeks. This activity has intensified over the last two weeks with a small number of very serious proposals emerging, including proposals from the fans’ initiative. All the proposals include plans for immediate cash injection into the team, strategic football development and long-term sustainability of the club. The contents of these proposals are clearly confidential and sensitive, and so we cannot say more about them just now.

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"This has progressed faster than we had anticipated and we are now confident that there will be a change of ownership in the near future. New owners will certainly want to establish their own board of directors. We have therefore put plans for an interim chairman on hold for now, in the expectation that a prospective buyer of the club would want to decide who the chairman should be, whether interim or permanent. We have also put the “root and branch review” on hold because, again, we would expect new ownership to want to establish their own way of managing the business.

"All this has not stopped the club from planning for next season. Detailed planning has been carried out with realistic budgeting for League One. Our focus has been on maintaining as much of our income at the same levels as last year whilst taking a hard look at costs. The intention is to maximise the amount we can put into the player budget.

"We have had to be pragmatic and accordingly reduced prices for League One. We also have to anticipate lower attendances due minimal away support. We have to accept that there are things that we simply can’t afford on League One income and that these have to be addressed.

"Working on a break-even budget, this should still leave us with the largest player budget in the league and in a strong competitive position to be promoted back to the Championship.

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"New ownership will bring us new investment. However, it will take several weeks to conclude any deal. Last year’s football management turmoil and the very high player turnover has left our cash reserves depleted so there is not a pool of cash to draw on. The board is exploring ways to find additional finance should it be needed before the new owner arrives.

"The club is in a period of transition and our supporters can expect to see changes in the ownership and management of the club. In the meantime, this is the busiest period at the club with season tickets going on sale, new strips being launched and commercial contracts renewed. These activities all underpin our push for immediate promotion back to the Championship."

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