First division side Stirling Albion have become the first senior Scottish side in history to be owned by their fans, after the club’s Supporters Trust struck a landmark deal with chairman Peter McKenzie.
The agreement will see the Trust collectively pay off £300,000-worth of the club’s debt, with McKenzie agreeing to waiver a £1.2 million loan repayment he is due.
The Trust, who began their ‘Buy Stirling’ campaign to purchase the club back in May of last year, have garnered members from right across the world and can reportedly number both Real Madrid’s preening grease-swathed man-toddler Cristiano Ronaldo and monosyllabic tennis grouch Andy Murray (who hails from nearby Dunblane) within their burgeoning 2,000-strong ranks.
The campaign used innovative techniques to raise awareness, with various fund-raising media stunts being deployed over the course and a rather smart community website being set up to establish a fixed point of contact for members and interested parties alike.
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With the news of the takeover breaking yesterday, Stirling’s 84-year-old now-former chairman McKenzie told the local press of his relief in knowing that the club will remain in safe hands;
“I am thrilled that the true fans will look after the future of this great club. I had a few offers on the table but it was always my wish that the club remain within the local community.”
It is two years since McKenzie signalled his intentions to relinquish his majority shareholdings and stand down as Stirling chairman and, at the end of a gruelling – but eventually amicable – takeover, Trust spokesman Paul Goodwin echoed the sentiments of Stirling’s outbound chief;
“Throughout the negotiations Mr McKenzie made the wellbeing of the club and its position in the community key factors in any agreement he made.
This acquisition has the potential to be a landmark moment for the future of Scottish football as it marks the first senior Scottish football club to come under the direct control of its fans’ supporters trust.
Everyone knows that there are severe pressures on football at all levels just now and we are under no illusion, and no-one else connected with the club should be either, that there is a very challenging future ahead.
The Trust is absolutely committed to supporting the management and the team, developing the club’s role and presence in the wider Stirling community and undertaking some innovative commercial activity in order to generate new income.”
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Now that the fans officially own the club, the Supporters Trust manifesto stipulates that their members will have the following rights;
- Voting rights on major club decisions (one vote for every one member)
- A weekly manager’s video update
- Weekly match highlights via email
- Automatic entry into regular prize-draws (prizes include seats in directors box/seats on team coach)
- 10% discount on official club merchandise
- Weekly draw to nominate club mascot
- Local discounts within the city itself
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In these days of hostile takeovers and belligerent foreign oligarchs, isn’t it refreshing to see a modicum of humanity being displayed by a football club and it’s owners?
Hats off to Stirling Albion. Up the Binos!