Falkirk: Almost 1000 fans pledge around £600,000 to buy stake in club

Falkirk

Almost 1000 Falkirk fans have pledged to invest around £600,000 to help push forward a fan ownership scheme at the Scottish Championship club.

Kenny Jamieson, who is running the project, said there have been pledges from as away as Alaska and Hong Kong.

And, although the pledges are short of the initial target of £800,000, the fans group have decided there is enough interest to move their plans forward.

"This allows us to kick-start things," Jamieson told BBC Scotland.

"It's a gamble and there are no guarantees. I would hope to get well over 1000 fans to sign up. That's a huge source of monthly rolling income and there's no reason for that to end.

"Supporters have pledged to commit for two years, but they'll know we hope the vast majority continue to try and raise the money."

It is understood that the club has been running at an underlying operating loss of between £200-300,000 a year for the past decade, but has covered that by selling players or with cup runs.

However, that loss was based on Falkirk finishing in the top four of the Championship - but they are currently bottom and finished eighth last term.

Jamieson and fellow supporter David White feel the club are too heavily reliant on their six major shareholders and believe fan ownership can help Falkirk return to the top flight after a nine-year absence.

The £800,000 generated would stay within the club and be used to supplement manager Ray McKinnon's playing budget.

If the plan proceeds, the idea is to have the new scheme up and running by May this year.

How would it work and what happens next?

Over the past 18 months, Jamieson and White have looked at fan ownership models at rivals Dunfermline Athletic, as well as St Mirren, Hearts, and Motherwell.

Their own plan is a two-tier one. They want fans to commit to become 'Patrons', with a investment of £5,000 or more, or 'Supporters', with a monthly donation of at least £5 for a minimum of two years.

The next step is to work with the club to determined how the fans might buy the 2.4m new shares they have earmarked.

"Recently, a consortium of local businessman proposed to put money into the club, in return for seats on the board and for some changes," Jamieson said.

"The major shareholders deemed that wasn't right for the club, but it did spark a conversation. They said they were open to fresh ideas, investment, they liked the idea of fan ownership.

"The club is stable, but flat at the moment. If nothing changes, at best we will continue to be a Championship club for the foreseeable. At worst, we could end up in League One."

You can hear more from Jamieson on BBC Scotland's Sportsound on Tuesday, 5 February from 18:30 GMT

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