Thursday, September 02, 2010

Partick Thistle Fans Boardroom Conspiracy

A guest post from a concerned Partick Thistle fan. Seems the Jags Trust, Scotland's first supporters trust and an instrumental force in saving Thistle, isn't as welcome as it one was at Firhill.

I don't know much about the story. And there are probably two sides to it so feel free to respond. An interesting read though:

A football club is nothing without its fans...

...but that doesn’t seem to be the view at Partick Thistle, where the first supporters trust in Scotland was set up in 1998 after the “Save the Jags” campaign prevented the club slipping into administration. The Jags Trust’s reward back then was to be gifted one fifth of the newly created shares in the club and a promise of a place on the board. This new dawn for Scottish football saw hard working directors Brown McMaster and Tom Hughes being gifted the same amount of shares as “custodians”, in order to make sure that control of the club could never again be held by one individual and the club would never again sleepwalk into a financial crisis.

Fast forward to 2010, where the club has just told the Jags Trust (after discussing the matter at two recent board meetings) that its latest board nominee has not yet been invited to join the board. This doublespeak (they’ve not said no, just not said yes) seems to indicate that the club now has a problem with the concept of supporter representation on its board, at a time when Stirling Albion’s move to fan ownership has only recently been announced.

To the outsider looking in, the trust’s announcement on its own website holds little in the way of a clue as to what the heck is going on in the Firhill boardroom. The club chairman, Allan Cowan, who was instrumental in the 1998 fans campaign, has reportedly told the Jags Trust that it needs to “concentrate on activity which directly benefits the club”.

This is confusing, since, amongst other activities in the recent past, trust members voted to merge their own, profitable fundraiser, with the club’s new scheme, allowing the club to take direct control of an income stream that is vital to continuing to pay its debts. Jackie McNamara’s loan signing last season was funded by the trust, prompting the chairman to say “without their financial assistance we would have been unable to bring Jackie to Firhill at this point and our grateful thanks are extended to the Jags Trust”.

It seems that as one boardroom is being opened to the fans at Forthbank, the door at Firhill is being closed in the face of an active and supportive trust. At least two board meetings have now taken place with no representative of the fans present, a development that can only be viewed with suspicion in the absence of any reasonable explanation.

Thistle fans are entitled to wonder what on earth is going on in the boardroom that will not stand the scrutiny of their representative, while fans of other clubs with a place in the boardroom will now be looking over their shoulders in case the habit is catching. Conspiracy theorists will no doubt watch this with interest – here’s hoping that it can be sorted out soon and that it will all turn out to be a misunderstanding, because if it isn’t then there’s a clear message to Thistle fans that they are not welcome at the top table.