Fan ownership hailed by Bryan Jackson

Bryan Jackson has championed fan ownership (Pic by Neil Hanna)
Bryan Jackson has championed fan ownership (Pic by Neil Hanna)

With Motherwell FC on the brink of being fan owned, the man who helped save the club after it plunged into administration 14 years ago has championed the initiative.

Corporate recovery expert Bryan Jackson was with PKF in 2002 when he axed several players and staff to counter £2 million losses incurred as owner John Boyle was paying players massive wages in a bid to challenge big guns Celtic and Rangers.

But the days of big spending are now over for Scottish clubs and Jackson sees fan ownership as a positive way forward.

Jackson said: “The interesting thing about my job over the years has been that when the crisis hits, fans fully mobilise.

“What we’re trying to do is get the mobilisation before the crisis. Even if there’s not going to be a crisis, it doesn’t mean that fan ownership isn’t the way forward anyway. So that’s why we’re trying to encourage it.

“If you look at all the administrations I’ve been involved in, it’s the fans that have really saved the clubs each time.

“The last four (Dundee, Dunfermline, Portsmouth and Hearts), interestingly, have all been sold to the fans. So there is certainly a trend now of that being the way forward.”

With current ’Well owner Les Hutchison having agreed to sell the club to supporters group the Well Society for £1, fans have expressed concerns on social media that not having the billionaire philanthropist on board any more could greatly reduce the budget for new signings.

But Jackson said: “When the billionaire is there it’s a bit false and it’s not sustainable.

“It’s a question of time. Will that person be there in five, 10 or 20 years?

“If you look at history, the time does run out.

“So yes, you do get some success on the park but it tends to be a bit limited because it’s not being generated by the resources at the club from the real fanbase.

“Gretna was an extreme example of that. It was really funded by one individual. The gentleman involved lived the football dream but he left behind a financial disaster and the demise of the club.”

Bryan was speaking at the launch of club consultancy unit Club Development Scotland, a new service providing legal, financial and governance support to community groups seeking involvement in club projects.