In advance of the AGM of the Partick Thistle Football Club Limited, the TJF Board calls on the trustees of the PTFC Trust to consider each vote to reappoint directors with care, understanding the supporters’ views on the individuals concerned.
The current position
The shares have passed to the PTFC Trust. Their engagement has been minimal, and they have still not contacted beneficiaries.
The outcome is:
- Unconventional (not in-keeping with fan ownership at Motherwell, St Mirren, Hearts or Morton)
- Not fan-led (the trustees were hand-picked and won’t commit to democratise their organisation)
- Not fan-initiated (this model of ownership was conceived and advanced by Club officials)
- Totally lacking in fan engagement (the trust does not even know who its beneficiaries are)
- Not popular with fans (as recent protests and our own survey of TJF members demonstrates)
- Eschews what ‘good’ looks like in respect of fan ownership (there being no fundraising capability and woefully inadequate representation) and
- Uses a vehicle deemed inappropriate three years ago by some of those involved in the decision to gift the shares to that very vehicle now.
The articulated vision of fan ownership for Partick Thistle at the time of Colin Weir’s passing is not what we ended up with. Everything in the public domain suggests he was a man of honourable integrity. We believe that he had no intention of using Thistle For Ever as a Trojan Horse. We believe he intended to deliver genuine conventional fan ownership, and was not party to, nor responsible for, what followed.
However, those arguing that what has ultimately been delivered is in line with Colin Weir’s wishes are effectively suggesting this whole journey was predicated on a deceit at the outset. We do not believe Colin Weir was party to any deceit, and we believe that, had he not passed away, genuine conventional fan ownership would have been delivered. It has been derailed by other agents.
As a result, the supporters are now divided.
The Club AGM and re-appointment of directors
Prominent fan (and a member of the original Thistle For Ever group) Colin Quinn tweeted this weekend that there is still time for people involved to do what they ought to do. We agree with him.
It is time for people to do the right thing, and to deliver proper conventional fan ownership for our club and supporters to be proud of.
The PTFC AGM is tomorrow evening. The current trustees of the PTFC Trust have been full of praise for the football club board. However, in light of what is known and escalated protesting, we do hope they understand why the supporters cannot heal and move forward whilst some of the people responsible for what has occurred remain in post.
It is time for the PTFC Trust to do the right thing, and to vote against the reappointment of anyone culpable, or who has turned their back on fans, or who has been guilty of hypocrisy during this lengthy process. It is time for them to put the fans they themselves chose to want to represent before Board relationships. If they do not, they become just as culpable in our view.
If the Trust wants to bring everyone together, these actions are surely necessary. Should the trustees choose not to, then fans will have an irrevocable view of their motivations in becoming the new trustee group.
What is “the right thing”?
It is the view of the TJF Board that the right things for the trustees to now do to fulfil their fiduciary duties with proper motivation are:
- Not to reappoint any Football Club Board members culpable for the present situation;
- To consult widely on how to make the Trust Deed fit for purpose as a governing document for a fans organisation; and
- To appoint a majority of their trustees via democratic election no later than May 2023.
In particular, we think it is the right thing for Jacqui Low, Alan Caldwell, Andrew Byron and John Penman to stand aside, or not to be re-appointed to the Club Board. As key protagonists in the ownership journey, they bear the ultimate responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves now.
What happens next?
The way forward is dependent upon the PTFC Trust trustees doing the right thing.
If they do, supporters can surely work together to deliver the best that can be salvaged with the limitations of the vehicle and the opening credibility deficit. TJF could assist with this in several ways.
It should be noted however that TJF are at an advanced stage of obtaining detailed and very specific legal advice in respect of a number of individuals involved. We obtained general legal information in August on a couple of the relevant areas.
We are now taking a more detailed look at matters on behalf of some of our members who are Trust beneficiaries, and in respect of some members who are minority shareholders of the Football Club. We are a willing facilitator for those people to come together and get the best available advice for them. It is not what we want to do, but we will do what is necessary.
Having met them, we think the PTFC Trust trustees are capable of understanding the gravity of this situation. They need to look at everything that is in the public domain, and ask themselves whether they truly believe this outcome is what was intended.
This is surely the last opportunity for the trustees to do the right thing.