It’s not going to have escaped the attention of even a single Partick Thistle fan that we haven’t had our troubles to seek on the field of play this season. While tonight’s fixture with Raith Rovers offers us the opportunity to reach a national Cup Final as well as some welcome respite from the slog of league football the fact that we sit foot of the Scottish Championship with a dozen league games to go is never far from the thoughts of Thistle fans.
If it has been, another, difficult season on the pitch then it has hardly been plain sailing or uneventful off the pitch either. We currently have our third different Board of Directors presiding over the affairs of the football club this season. Football is often a turbulent business and is often a more interesting, more intriguing, beast for that turbulence but the amount of change that Partick Thistle have had to contend with this season can hardly be conducive to stability.
Yet despite all the on field struggles and off field flux this remains an exciting time for Partick Thistle Football Club. From all the flux and change has emerged a fantastic opportunity; the opportunity for Partick Thistle to be owned by the people who care most about its future, the supporters of Partick Thistle Football Club.
When Colin Weir, through Three Black Cats (3BC), purchased the majority shareholding in our football club on November 21st last year the purchase was completed with the intent to gift, and we can’t underplay the significance or generosity that comes attached with that word, that shareholding to the Thistle fan base via the creation of a fan shareholding entity.
The not inconsiderable task that has been handed to this Working Group is to develop that fan shareholding entity, to produce a model of fan ownership that, once approval has been provided by 3BC, will be implemented once the shares are gifted to the fan shareholding entity.
Nobody, least of all this Working Group, is under any illusion that exciting opportunity as this may be, that it comes without challenges that will need to be met. Nobody is under any illusion that the untimely passing of Colin Weir in December last year doesn’t add further complexities to the task in hand. It remains a task, however, that the Working Group is continuing to perform with drive, enthusiasm and vigour. This is an opportunity that is about so much more than just the foreseeable future of our Club. This is about creating something that future generations of Thistle fans can take pride in, and ownership of, in the years ahead.
To try and ensure that the Working Group, which is 100% independent of any pre-existing fan group, is as representative of the Thistle support as possible volunteers were sought from within the fan base to participate in the process of creating the fan shareholding entity that will ultimately receive the gifted shareholding. The quality of applicants looking to take part in this process was impressive to say the least. There is a huge, largely untapped, skills set within the Thistle support which belies any suggestion that becoming an effective, robustly structured fan owned club is out with our capabilities.
The creation of the fan shareholding entity and model for fan ownership involves the Working Group having to complete a variety of tasks. To help facilitate the completion of those tasks various sub-groups were created with the Chair of each sub-group reporting back to the Working Group.
In the last programme we turned the spotlight on the sub-groups responsible for creating the structure of the shareholding entity and the sub-group looking at Finance and Membership.
Today we focus on the New Legal Entity and Fan Engagement Sub-groups.
New Legal Entity
The task that this sub-group has been asked to look at is the creation of the legal framework for the new ownership entity.
This group is Chaired by Stewart Rennie. Stewart is a Jags fan of some 40 years standing and is a lawyer, and partner in niche firm Rennie McInnes LIP, who specialises in corporate and insolvency law. Stewart brings relevant football experience to his role with the Working Group 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 debt through a CVA. Stewart is supported in his sub-group by:
Russel’s introduction to Partick Thistle came in season 1973-74 when we played Ferranti Thistle in the Scottish Cup. Brought up in Partick, Russel now lives with his wife and children in Dunfermline and is a solicitor in his home town. Despite living in deepest, darkest Fife, Russel has been a Thistle season ticket holder for more than 20 years and he watches Thistle, in the company of his dad, son and equally long suffering friends, from the confines of the John Lambie stand.
A trustee of the PTFC Trust, Maryhill born Gordon first started attending Firhill in 1966 and has seen the Jags playing at all but two current Scottish grounds.
Gordon taught in Glasgow secondary schools for eight years and then spent more than 20 years in FE colleges. His college career progressed from lecturing to various management areas, including marketing. Gordon then spent six years managing national educational development work before retiring.
Elainne has been a Thistle fan for 30 years having being introduced to Thistle at the tender age of 8 by her dad, Iain, who runs the John Lambie Jordanhill Supporters Bus. Aside from being a Jags fan, Elainne has never had any previous involvement with the club but is keen to get involved in this new, exciting chapter in the Club’s history where her legal background can be useful in navigating some of the challenges ahead.
The Fan Engagement sub-group has responsibility for organising all public events, surveys and consultations but has a brief that in truth extends beyond those parameters. The sub-group is Chaired by Andrew Donnelly is a Jags fan with a young family all of whom are passionate Thistle fans. Andrew is a contributor to the highly entertaining and often though provoking Jagscast podcast.
Andrew is supported in his role by:
Craig is a young Thistle fan keen to get more involved with the club that he supports and helps offer an invaluable fresh perspective on the subject of fan engagement.
A long standing Thistle fan, Donna’s face is one of the first you will see on a matchday if you enter the Jackie Husband Stand at the south end. Donna is one of the Club’s 50/50 half time draw ticket sellers. Popular and engaging with the ‘gift of the gab’ she is ideally suited to the Fan Engagement sub-group.
Idem has been a Thistle fan for 38 years and has been active in campaigning for disability rights since the mid 1990s, including being involved with the Disability Rights Commission. Additionally Idem has been active in raising awareness of learning disability rights within political parties as well as being involved in STUC anti-racism campaigns.
Donald is a season ticket holder of many years standing. After spending 28 years as a Training Manager with a large Scottish voluntary organisation, Donald retired 2 years ago.
Simon is a lifelong Jags fans who has spent many years working in the printing industry. For 27 years he ran his own printing business and now works for the biggest print group in Scotland. Simon has previously been involved in Thistle voluntary projects through selling club calendars and as far back as the ‘Save The Jags’ campaign through printing and donating tickets, leaflets etc.
In other news we are still trying to firm up a confirmed date for the next Working Group public meeting. We will naturally provide more information once we have a confirmed date but at the time of this article going to print we are looking towards sometime in the middle of next month for this. We thank you for your continued patience on this issue.