Fitz on board as Saints explore a community bid

Fitz on board as Saints explore a community bid

Graeme Macpherson, Evening Times


St Mirren legend Tony Fitzpatrick is to join the club’s board in an advisory role as ambitious take-over plans move closer to fruition.


A group of businessmen have been investigating the feasibility of a Community Interest Company (CIC) based purchase of the 52% shareholding put up for sale by a consortium of the club’s directors 18 months ago.


The radical scheme, which would allow fans to become “members” and vote on matters similar to successful schemes at clubs such as Barcelona, also relies heavily on interaction with charities, community groups and local businesses.


With other new funding also in the pipeline, it is hoped a deal could be completed in the next few weeks.


If successful, St Mirren would become one of the largest working examples of “social enterprise” in the sporting world.


The take-over is being led by Richard Atkinson, a director of the Maxi Group, an Irvine-based haulage and property firm, who last summer became St Mirren’s commercial and development director.


Chris Stewart, a partner at legal firm Digby Brown, was also appointed at that time as company secretary.


Now Fitzpatrick, who already has tie-ins with the club through his Kan-Do training and development programme and sponsorship deals, will join them, as will Scott McLennan, a former local director of Lloyds TSB, ahead of the proposed take-over moving forward.


“I’m delighted to be involved in this and I believe it’s the way forward for St Mirren,” Fitzpatrick said.


“I’ve had every job at St Mirren. I was on the ground staff way back, I’ve been a community coach, manager twice, and player, so it’s fantastic to be back again.


“My role is advisory just now and we’ll see where it leads. It’s not a short-term fix this idea.


“We’re in for the long haul and we’re not in it for any financial gain. None of us are getting paid, we’re doing it for the love of the club.


“It’s taken me a long time to get my head around it all but now I understand it and it’s a fantastic opportunity.


“It’s a ground-breaking idea and I think other clubs will follow on. It’s the way forward and St Mirren will benefit in a big way.


“It will hopefully stop one individual coming in and dumping all their debt on the club. St Mirren will be owned by the community and that’s the way forward.”


Atkinson said: “Tony and Scott have been involved in the background since the start so we’re delighted to bring them to the forefront of the proposal.”