Partick Thistle: Lottery winner Colin Weir withdraws funds amid ownership concerns

Partick Thistle chairman David Beattie and academy director Gerry Britton
Colin Weir gave financial backing to Partick Thistle's youth academy

EuroMillions winner Colin Weir, who set aside £6m for Partick Thistle's new training ground, has withdrawn his financial support for the club.

Weir cites "uncertainties about its potential new ownership".

The Scottish Championship club had earlier issued a statement admitting that two team buses had been cancelled amid cost-cutting while talks continue.

"I can't provide the benefits of significant monies and a facility to an unknown entity or group," he said.

Weir, who won £161m in 2011, pointed out that he had invested "around £2.5m to date, including a sum that allowed the club to become debt-free" and had been backing the new training ground and supporting the running of the Thistle Weir Youth Academy established in his name.

"Current uncertainties about its potential new ownership, combined with no substantive plan for the club's future and the instability caused by recent board changes, mean I feel unable to make any further investment in the club at this time," he said.

"I have heard nothing from the board/majority shareholders group that gives me confidence to continue with my support."

Thistle's board had been responding to reports that manager Gary Caldwell's playing budget had been reduced.

"The current board strongly refutes any suggestion that £200,000 has been removed from the playing budget," they said.

"The current board have honoured the playing squad budget signed off by the previous board."

In a separate statement released on Wednesday, the board said they were "extremely disappointed" that Weir was removing his financial support, which they added was "nothing short of transformational".

"The current board and management are already working to put plans in place to ensure this does not mean an end to the fantastic work being done in our academy and with our women's team," they continued.

'Significant deficit'

Colin Weir and wife Chris
Colin and Chris Weir announced in April they are "to divorce amicably"

A team bus was cancelled before Saturday's opening league draw away to Alloa Athletic and there will not be one for the trip to face Greenock Morton on 23 August.

Thistle, who will reinstate the team bus thereafter, say "a major proportion" of Caldwell's playing budget "was already committed when the new directors were appointed".

"However, the budget did run at a significant deficit, which could not be recouped from the club's recurring income," they stated.

Part of the shortfall will be covered by the sale of 18-year-old winger Aidan Fitzpatrick to Norwich City and a sell-on fee following centre-half Liam Lindsay's transfer from Barnsley to Stoke City.

"The remainder of the deficit will be funded by adjusting aspects of our logistical operations," Thistle said.

Thistle finished sixth last season but insist that they can still challenge for the title and promotion in the coming campaign.

"The current playing budget available to the manager is likely to be around the third or fourth highest in the league," they stated.

"As a result of these factors, we are able to fully support the manager's aspirations to challenge at the top of the Championship this season.

"Any suggestions that the ultimate target is anything other than promotion are false."

'Bus issue a non-starter' - Miller

Former Scotland striker Kenny Miller, who joined Thistle this summer after leaving Dundee, is unconcerned about the latest developments.

"The bus issue is a non-starter," he told BBC Scotland. "It is not any drama for players to jump in cars and head to games - particular if they are within half an hour.

"In terms of the other stuff, it's been going on for a number of weeks now, but as players you look at one thing only and that's winning games of football."

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