Thursday 21st November, 2019 at 10:15am
FIRST STEP TOWARDS FAN OWNERSHIP AT PARTICK THISTLE AS
COLIN WEIR ACQUIRES MAJOR SHAREHOLDING IN CLUB AND BUYS LAND AT FIRHILL
Fan ownership came a step closer today for Partick Thistle with the sale of shares in the Club by its majority shareholding group to Three Black Cats Ltd (TBC). In an associated transaction, Firhill Developments Ltd (FDL) also sold its holding in land at the Club’s ground to TBC, which is owned by Jags’ fan and Club Patron Colin Weir.
He was approached by Thistle for Ever (TfE) in early September looking to secure his support for their early stage plans for fan ownership after a majority shareholders group took over at Firhill as a precursor to selling their shares. TBC has subsequently been working on a linked purchase with both Thistle and FDL shareholders, with the aim of then gifting the shares to fans.
With the sale now completed, TBC will immediately transfer the ownership of the land purchased back to the Club within seven days. This means that the main stand, known as the Colin Weir Stand, and the undeveloped land to the south of the ground known as “the bing” reverts back to Thistle ownership after 10 years.
TBC will gift the 55% shareholding that it has acquired directly to a new fan shareholding entity currently being developed, based on the Well Society model at Motherwell FC. To allow fans time to get the preferred structure in place with the support of the Thistle fanbase, the shares will be held by TBC then transferred to fans no later than the 30th March 2020.
However, the substantive difference between this and all fan ownership models to date is that TBC has no requirement for the purchase price of shares to be repaid. That means the new entity will start life debt-free, in line with the current status of the Club.
In the meantime, TBC, as the majority shareholder, will replace the current Board with an interim board comprising of a mix of experienced business people and fan representatives. This Board will focus on running the Club over that period while, in parallel, TBC has asked that a separate working group be set up jointly by the PTFC Trust and Thistle for Ever to create the new entity that will be gifted the shareholding.
Speaking on behalf of the majority shareholders group, David Beattie said:
“We are pleased that our hard work in recent months has resulted in today’s sale. Our aim has always been to secure the future of the Club and we have done this by selling our shares to a man whose support and love for this Club is beyond question. Colin Weir undoubtedly has the best interests of Thistle at heart and, although there were alternatives, we believe that his plan to support fan ownership is the most exciting way ahead for this Club.”
Gavin Stewart, Chairman of Firhill Developments Ltd, welcomed the land sale saying:
“We purchased the land at Firhill, as fans, at a time when Thistle needed investment to survive. We could not be happier to see Colin, another fan, now purchase the land and restore it to Club ownership as it moves on to a new and exciting stage in its history.”
Colin Weir, on behalf of Three Black Cats, applauded the shareholders in both groups and thanked the fans who’ve helped him to date, saying:
“I am grateful to the majority shareholding group and FDL for working with Three Black Cats to pave the way for the exciting prospect of fan ownership for Thistle. I will ensure that the trust they are placing in me is not misplaced.
“Thistle for Ever (TfE) planted the thought of fan ownership as a real option in my mind. From there, TBC has taken the dream and is turning it in to a reality. But this has all happened quicker than anyone might have anticipated. That’s why I have offered a three to four month window for fans to get everything in place before handing over shares. They want to get it right and I want to be sure that when the new entity is operational, there is a structure there that will allow for a smooth transfer of ownership. This is a major financial commitment on my part as fan owners will not need to repay a penny – but I believe this gives fan ownership the best possible start.
“There will be a further announcement later about the members of the interim Board and, subsequent to that, in relation to my funding of the Thistle Weir Youth Academy.
“Today is a great day for a Club that means everything to me. I hope that fans can get behind this exciting development. They talk about Thistle being their Club – and now it really will be.”