BREAKING NEWS: An Update From The BWFCST Steering Group
Below is tonight’s statement from the BWFCST Steering Group.
In line with the Trust’s objectives and rules, which include ‘achieving the greatest possible supporter and community influence in the running and ownership of the Club’, BWFCST has been in regular dialogue with the Club’s management regarding its sale.
We have written to the owner, Eddie Davies. We have expressed our commitment to help lead an acquisition, in conjunction with local institutions and businesses, from whom we have received a very positive response. Our objective is to raise sufficient funding to secure the future of the Club for the benefit of the supporters, the community and the town. We would not engage with anyone who didn’t share our commitment to a community investment.
We have requested immediate access to management and financial information and preferred bidder status.
We would make every effort to achieve a solvent purchase, to avoid losses for creditors and a points deduction. This could only be assessed and confirmed once the above access is granted, to enable us to establish the extent and timing of the funding needed. If administration proved unavoidable, we would work with the Club to make the best of that situation. If we believe that a supporter led takeover is feasible, we will consult with supporters before moving forward with a bid.
Ideally, we would have started this process once membership fees had been taken, an AGM held and a board voted in, but time is against us and we have had to act now to try to secure the Club’s future. We continue to take guidance from Supporters Direct, who have 15 years’ experience of helping supporters at other clubs through similar situations.
We understand that you, as fans, will have questions about this move. We have attempted to answer as many as possible below.
Was this the intention of the Steering Group all along?
An acquisition of the Club which the Trust could be part of has always been an option available to the Trust (as outlined in previous communications and in item 5.1 of the Model Rules, available here). Since the initial meeting on January 6th 2016 things have moved very quickly, and the Steering Group, on behalf of the Trust, is now looking to secure access to funds and resources to take part in a community-led bid, for the good of the fans and to secure the long-term future of the Club.
So, will the Supporters’ Trust own the Club outright if the bid is successful?
We do not believe that the Trust could raise enough money alone to purchase the entire club. So, we are examining a similar model to that at Portsmouth, where the Trust, with a combination of local institutions and businesses, would acquire the Club. Consequently, the Trust and its members would own a percentage of the Club, depending on how much money the Trust could raise. The more the Trust could raise, the more of the Club it would own.
The Steering Group hasn’t been elected, and the Trust isn’t yet fully formed, so why are they making a move to help buy the Club?
The situation is urgent and we have to act now. The winding-up petition is due to be heard in the High Court on February 22nd, so the Steering Group, under the guidance of Supporters Direct, has decided to participate now in this community-led bid, before it is too late. A formal participation when funds are raised will be subject to consultation with supporters.
Does this mean the Steering Group members are now on the board of the Trust?
No – there will be Trust board elections as soon as possible. The fact that the Trust is trying to help buy the Club changes nothing with regards to how the Trust works.
Do the Trust’s members, or the Steering Group members get a seat on the board if the bid is successful?
There would be significant involvement of the Trust on the board. Once the Trust’s board has been elected, the members will then select their representatives on the Club’s board to ensure there is constant dialogue between those running the Club and the Trust, and ultimately the fans. The number of individuals from the trust on the Club’s board would be linked to the amount raised by the Trust.
Richard Hurst is the interim Trust Chairman. Would he be the Bolton Wanderers Chairman if the bid was successful?
No. Richard does not want to be the Bolton Wanderers Chairman. If the bid is successful, the Trust, in conjunction with the participating local institutions and businesses, will select a Chairman when the time comes. This will be someone who can lead the Club forward in a transparent and professional manner.
How can the Trust help buy the Club at such an early stage?
The Trust is now fully registered and, in accordance with the Model Rules, can help acquire a stake in the football Club.
Where is the money coming from?
Local institutions and businesses have approached the Steering Group to offer funds to enable the potential acquisition to take place. All those involved are lifelong Bolton Wanderers fans and committed to the idea that this is a community led acquisition. This is in line with the Portsmouth model explained so passionately by Ashley Brown (Pompey Trust Chairman) and his colleagues at the meeting on January 6th.
We will keep supporters updated on this and on progress in setting up the Trust. If you have any further questions, please email: Enquiries@BWFCST.co.uk.
Thank you for your continued support.