While it may appear differently from the outside the Working Group have been very busy of late and over the course of the next couple of pages we will provide an update on our most recent activities. Before doing that, however, there is no harm in providing a brief overview of precisely what the Working Group has been tasked with doing.
As all Thistle fans will be fully aware of, on November 21st 2019 Three Black Cats (3BC) acquired the majority shareholding in Partick Thistle Football Club with the intent of gifting that shareholding to the fans upon the creation of a democratically based member organisation that supports the practical operation of community ownership. Something very much along the lines of what is successfully operating at Motherwell FC. An associated transaction on the same day also saw 3BC purchase Firhill Development Ltd which sees ownership of the Colin Weir Stand and the undeveloped land behind the goal at the South end of the stadium return to the football club.
So why has the Working Group been created and what is its role?
To help create the organisation to which the majority shareholding will be gifted to, 3BC invited the PTFC Trust, who own 19.28% of the shares of Partick Thistle Football Club, and the campaign group Thistle For Ever (TFE) to set up a Working Group to identify the best model for fan ownership of Partick Thistle. This Working Group was to operate fully independently of any one fan group and was created to provide a forum to bring fans from all parts of the Club together and engage with fans directly about the project.
It is with those latter activities that the Working Group has been primarily involved with over the last few weeks, the holidays over Christmas and New Year inevitably prolonging that process.
Applications were sought from within the fanbase as a whole from those that had an interest in assisting with the Working Group and its various subgroups so as to maintain its overall independence and ensure that it is a representative of the Thistle support as possible.
The Working Group were delighted with the number and range of applications received and as we indicated in our programme notes in the Dundee United programme we were actively engaged in matching those applicants’ talents and approaching them to see if they were happy to take on the roles offered to them. That process has been completed and we are now in the position of being able to provide an overview of the Working Group’s overall structure. Also in today’s programme, we start to provide a brief background on some of those already involved. Future programmes will allow us the opportunity to explain the roles of Members and Sub Groups in greater detail and to introduce more members of the Working Group and subgroups. With the range of supporters involved we hope most of you will find at least a few familiar names.
So without further ado.
CHAIR: Ian Wright
Ian is a lifelong Jag with a long standing association with Thistle having been either a season ticket holder or Golden Thistle member for over 30 years as well as being a shareholder in the club. Ian founded and for 25 years, until it was successfully sold, directed Garthland Design and Print who for 18 years produced the Thistle programme. Trained as a graphic designer, Ian also has qualifications in business management and most recently qualified as a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents. He hopes to use all his experience to help steer Thistle on a clear course to a bright future.
SECRETARY: Allan Heron
Allan is a retired IT Operations & Release Manager who has followed Thistle since 1968. He has been a past Secretary of the Jags Trust.
WORKING GROUP MEMBERS
PROJECT MANAGEMENT CHAIR: Craig Dunn
Craig is a Project Manager who has been a Thistle fan for 35 years and attends matches home and away with his young family.
MODEL FOR COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP CHAIR: Paul Goodwin
Responsible for: Creating the structure of the shareholding entity that will hold the gifted majority shareholding.
A lifelong Jags fan Paul is a marketer to trade, Paul worked on a range of high profile roles including marketing director for HMV culminating in establishing his own successful specialist Sports and Entertainment agency. Paul ran the first major campaign to bring Stirling Albion into community ownership saving it from liquidation. His experience and knowledge contributed to the successful community ownership at Hearts, Dunfermline and Annan. In 2015 Paul co-founded the SSFA and continues to work with a number of clubs around community ownership.
FINANACE AND MEMBERSHIP CHAIR: Stuart Callison
Responsible for: Determining who will be members, what it will cost to run and how finances will be arranged and pledges made.
Stuart is a Thistle fan of 50 years standing. For the last 10 years Stuart has been the CEO of St Andrews First Aid and has been instrumental in transforming that organisation into a respected part of Scotland’s third sector landscape. Stuart, a CIPFA qualified accountant, has a strong financial background with experience of Value for Money programmes from his time at the UK National Audit offices in both London and Edinburgh.
NEW LEGAL ENTITY CHAIR: Stewart Rennie
Responsible For: creating the legal framework for the new ownership entity by working with external specialist lawyers.
A Jags fan for well over 40 years, Stewart is a lawyer who specialises in corporate and insolvency law and is a partner in niche firm Rennie McInnes LLP. Stewart has relevant football experience having acted for a group of investors who formed a consortium with the Clyde Development Trust to buy out the then chair of Clyde FC and clear their debts through a CVA.
FAN ENGAGEMENT CHAIR: Andrew Donnelly
Responsible For: Organising all public events, surveys, consultations etc.
Andrew is a Jags fan with a young family who are all passionate Thistle fans. Andrew is a contributor to the highly entertaining Jagscast podcast.
COMMUNICATIONS CHAIR: Tom Hosie
Responsible for: All written materials and social media
Tom has been a Thistle fan since 1977 and between the years 1992 and 2014 edited the Club’s official programme as well as in the latter portion of that period filling the role of website and social media editor as the club started to develop its social media profile.
As indicated in our last update we decided to reschedule our next public meeting until a respectful period after Colin Weir’s funeral. With that service now having taken place we hope to be able to confirm a date for this very soon. We intend to have a guest speaker from a club already operating with a fan ownership structure, then to introduce as many members of the Working Group and subgroups as possible before inviting questions from the floor. Please check our social media platforms and the official club website for more information.