Saturday, 9 April 2011

Fans with a real stake in Scottish football

First published in Sons View, 09 April 2011, Dumbarton -v- Peterhead

While the Sonstrust took a pioneering lead in establishing supporters’ trusts as an established and growing feature of Scottish football, others have continued the movement forward – not least Stirling Albion and Clyde, who have become Trust-owned and Community Interest companies respectively.

Both, of course, face massive challenges on and off the pitch. But they have also made significant strides forward in the face of huge financial obstacles. The current economic climate, and the structure of the game, makes it increasingly difficult for small teams.

That’s why it was so encouraging to hear that a SPL club, St Mirren, are embarking on “something very special”, according to businessman Richard Atkinson – who is seeing through a radical community-backed takeover of Saints.

Atkinson has set up a Community Interest Company called ‘10,000 Hours’ to buy a controlling 52% stake in the club, which was recently put up for sale by five of the current directors.

The total £2 million deal is going to be financed by local people, charities, community groups and businesses buying shares. That will include around 300 fans contributing £10 a month, which will get them a say in how the club is run. There will even be a chance to earn a seat on the St Mirren board.

Overall, the Saints will then become a partnership of individuals and organisations, ensuring that a wide range of people have genuine stake in the future of the club. Community links, expertise, further funds, and networks to others are also created.

Richard Atkinson told the Paisley Daily Express: “We’ve launched a website – – that will [everyone] to register their details if they wish to join the CIC. The reason for the name of the company is that 10,000 hours of professional training or education in any complex task is generally seen as what is required to bring you to a world-class level.”

He adds: “At the heart of this, it’s not just talking about being naturally talented, it’s that if you put the hard work into any task, you can be world class. Hopefully we are now going to see the benefits of that kind of mentality coming through at St Mirren.”

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