Motherwell virtually debt free - but it's 'just the end of the beginning'

By Scott MullenBBC Sport Scotland
Motherwell's Fir Park Stadium
Motherwell will assess the viability of staying at Fir Park Stadium

Motherwell chief executive Alan Burrows says "this is just the end of the beginning" after the fan-owned club announced they are virtually debt-free.

Payments of around £1.5m have been repaid to former owners John Boyle and Les Hutchison, who helped facilitate the Well Society's 2016 takeover.

In the region of £80,000 is still owed through loans to five fans.

"It's very important now for nobody to rest on their laurels, for no-one to put the tools away," Burrows said.

"This should be viewed as the catalyst for what we do going forward rather than a pat-on-the-back exercise. It's always nice to do that, but clubs who think they have achieved what they had to achieve can go stale quickly."

Motherwell's chief executive told BBC Scotland that the club should concentrate on their "long-term sustainability and viability", and their infrastructure and facilities, over the next five to 10 years.

Taking club to next level

Motherwell chief executive Alan Burrows and manager Stephen Robinson
Alan Burrows and manager Stephen Robinson have their side riding high in the Premiership

Burrows has revealed one of the options that may now be explored is the possibility of moving away from the club's home at Fir Park.

The Lanarkshire club have resided on the site since 1895 but must consider the costs of maintaining a stadium that was largely redeveloped in the mid 1990s.

"I think everything has to be on the table," Burrows said. "We have got to look to always try our best to keep up with modern standards, both in terms of training ground and a stadium.

"From my own point of view, I have been working within the ground for a long period of time. We are now in 2019 and the stadium probably has to be a debate and a question that is put on the agenda quite high in the not too distant future. A training ground goes without saying.

"We have a really good facility at Dalziel Park, but we need to look at how we can either develop that or somewhere else to try to take the club to the next level."

'The shining light through administration'

Friday's announcement heralded a landmark moment for Motherwell.

In 2002, the club fell into administration, only avoiding relegation on a technicality, while making large swathes of the playing squad redundant in a bid to keep afloat.

Now 17 years on, Stephen Robinson's side are third in the Scottish Premiership, bringing in revenue through player sales and funds from supporters through the society as the only top-flight club without a benefactor.

"I never thought the club wouldn't get to this stage because I've been the person responsible over the past five years to try to get us there," Burrows said.

"I want to praise our chairman, Jim McMahon, who was brought in from the point of administration to be a guiding light through that and he's been here ever since. He has been phenomenal for the football club. He is the unsung hero.

"We need to now look at how we kick the club on and make it modern, vibrant and attractive as a community-owned club.

"That's my focus and will be a big part of the board and the Well Society's focus to try to make that happen."

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