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Goggles & Flippers

Governance Of Our Club

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I've decided to compose this thread based on my own experiences thus far and from a few things that have come to light over the past few weeks.

 

Firstly the society invited members to volunteer and list their credentials to be considered to be co-opted to the board back in March. I was contacted by the chairman after the closing date and advised that this endeavour was essentially a fait accompli and there were two people lined up in the wings from an earlier period. However, would I be interested in joining as a “special advisor” along with a number of others including a Podcast host. I explained that I didn’t feel I had any special qualities to offer over and above your rank and file plus my experience in the past would suggest that such a moniker would be ridiculed. He accepted that and went on to explain that we could sit on the WS board, contribute but not have voting rights, all which seemed perfectly reasonable, so I accepted. With hindsight I suppose I should feel pleased I was at least formally asked opposed to finding out I was recruited via twitter.

 

In advance of the first “full” board meeting I along with a number of others received an email inviting us at 4pm to the June meeting, this was hastily changed to 5pm. I understood and was told in advance, that my involvement would be no different (other than voting rights) than a fully elected or co-opted member. At that meeting I asked for clarification on the matter and I was advised that there was potentially a “democratic” issue with the special action group members attending the WS in it’s entirety. I was invited to attend under certain terms and already these had changed. Being wheeled in after the main business is done for what appeared to be a mixture of a focus group, some blue sky thinking, extra labour, or pseudo-endorsement by a critic now bound by collective responsibility was a diluted version of what I had been sold. I found this hard to countenance as I can surely lobby or petition board members at any time, in fact I’ve been asked to present on my ideas in the past which I did willingly. I asked for clarification on the attendance, and was told it would be considered and I would be advised. Rather than receive any correspondence I have just been removed from the mailing list. I don’t know if this is burying heads in the sand, sweeping things under the carpet, lack of basic courtesy’s or ineptitude.

 

The recruitment of new members has been effectively stagnant over the past few years, half hearted initiatives have not worked. The negotiations with Les were cited as a reason for this however I would ask you all to consider IAG’s attempts to takeover Aer Lingus or Cadbury's and Hershey's. They did not cease day to day operations of getting people from A to B or making chocolate bars to focus on the takeover, it is their core business and the reason that they were being taken over. Unfortunately there was a lack of a clear plan, accountability and prioritisation to ensure recruitment ran in parallel with other the business of the WS.

 

Sometimes the truth is hard to hear. If they truly feel they have been effective, done as much as they could have and have not seen evidence of anyone else in the WS membership who could take things further, then by all means continue. However I would have assumed the underperformance over the past few years would have resulted in some falling on their swords and stepping aside. The WS board are not a true reflection on the demographic of the support or the WS (they are however representative of who turn up to AGM’s and vote), rather than address that fact women and younger members have been invited to get involved as a sticky plaster rather than a tangible solution.

 

In the past few days I've seen additional questionable things happening such as the alleged change? in the primary objective (as noticed and highlighted by Steelboy). Maybe this can be clarified.

 

I've heard of accusations that some of the new players to arrive since Les took over aren't actually owned by the club but who's contracts are actually held by him/holding company separate to the club. Also only by a bit of digging by Superward this came to light:

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Why was this not shared formally? It's hardly secret if it is in the public domain but we've apparently missed some of the repayments already.

 

I accept that an executive such as the WS board has to make decisions and does not have to consult the general membership on every move. However in the past 12 months we've seen a number of defining decisions as to their direction without any consultation or votes at all (Les' involvement, constitution of membership, benefits structure). There's a lack of transparency and if anything an insulation of the WS board from those they are charged with representing. Ivory Towers?

 

Two months ago I contacted the WS board and asked for a figure to invoke 30 (b) of the Society Rules, a figure that equates to 10% of the adult voting membership necessary to convene an Special General Meeting to get to the bottom of things and have a degree of accountability. I was advised that the chairman would contact me and address my concerns. Needless to say I'm still waiting. However I was furnished with a figure of 1,064.

 

I sincerely seen the WS and fan ownership as an opportunity to do things different from the stoic, distant and tired way football clubs were managed in the past. What's the point in replacing a 1950's management structure and view of their customers/fans with the same 1950's management structure carried out by volunteers who could be sat there with nothing else than an endorsement of 30 of their peers. I seen it as a way to get a fresh look at things, implement truly revolutionary ideas, engage with parts of the support who had lapsed and those who had yet to associate with the club. However I look and see a distinct lack of dynamism, lack of any innovative ideas and lack of focus on the priorities.

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It will take me a while to digest everything in this post, but thanks for taking the time to lay it out in such detail.

 

An immediate question though is that this seems to be focused on WS who have no (or minimal) say in the governance of our club at this stage. Isn't the club ultimately owned and run by Les currently, and the outstanding loans owned by the club? The WS doesn't come into play from a governance perspective until the loans are re-payed.

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The more I read about the 'Well Society, the more I think of the Supporters Trust, except that was a tenner per year rather than multiple hundreds to sign up to.

 

Closed shop, cloak and dagger, usual faces, lip service, poor communication, general malaise to downright ignorance- it's just like the MST have changed their letterhead.

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The more I read about the 'Well Society, the more I think of the Supporters Trust, except that was a tenner per year rather than multiple hundreds to sign up to.

 

Closed shop, cloak and dagger, usual faces, lip service, poor communication, general malaise to downright ignorance- it's just like the MST have changed their letterhead.

Did you not play a part in the MST?

 

The original post makes very interesting reading. There is a lot more going on that we don't see and the rumours may have some substance!

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It will take me a while to digest everything in this post, but thanks for taking the time to lay it out in such detail.

 

An immediate question though is that this seems to be focused on WS who have no (or minimal) say in the governance of our club at this stage. Isn't the club ultimately owned and run by Les currently, and the outstanding loans owned by the club? The WS doesn't come into play from a governance perspective until the loans are re-payed.

 

The club is run by Hutchinson at the moment. The situation is essentially no different to when Boyle or Chapman were in charge.

 

The Society is a different matter and the members should have much more of a say in the direction it is heading in. For me it should be all about fan ownership but it seems a long way away from that now. With hindsight I think any attempt at fan ownership which is to be succesful has to come initially from the fans themselves and that the Society being set up by the club with the terms and conditions set by them has hamstrung us from the beginning.

 

Fan ownership requires more fans to invest and members to invest. Repeatedly parroting 'we need your money' isn't going to work, the society has to demonstrate what differences the new ownership model entails and the benefits that will bring the members. At the moment I would say that transparency and communication from Fir Park and the Society is very poor and people are unlikely to invest further. I personally am not going to put money in to pay for a fitness coach when the club is running a 25 man first team squad (and there is no communication of how much the society is paying or how Boles was chosen for this role) and I also don't think the people who paid £130,000 for 5% of the club look particularly competent to attain fan ownership when the majority shareholding was later sold for £1 (this makes the Royal Mail sell off look like a great deal).

 

However the Society still holds a lot of money contributed by the support and it would be better if the membership is kept informed of what is happening with the funds.

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It will take me a while to digest everything in this post, but thanks for taking the time to lay it out in such detail.

 

An immediate question though is that this seems to be focused on WS who have no (or minimal) say in the governance of our club at this stage. Isn't the club ultimately owned and run by Les currently, and the outstanding loans owned by the club? The WS doesn't come into play from a governance perspective until the loans are re-payed.

 

Yes it's focused on the Well Society as they are accountable to their membership and the wider fanbase as that is their target audience and potential membership. They also have two members on the full club board, chairman who is also club chairman and also in 4 short years will be looked upon to run the club day to day. The loans you cite are relevant as the deal signed up to on our behalf allows any shortfall in the repayment from the club to be met from the Well Society coffers.

 

They steamrollered Les' involvement (which I accept may have either been the lesser of any evils or a piece of business acumen) however we as a membership were not consulted, informed and even now nine months since the dust is settled find out snipbits of information regarding the deal here and there or as Superward discovered, a bit of detective work.

 

A number of good people associated with the WS have already cashed in their chips and walked away, mostly due to exasperation and intransigence.

 

I don't dispute those involved put their names forward with the best of intentions and don't question their character or reasons for doing so. However, I think with any office that comes with influence or a degree of political maneuvering, eventually these initial ideals are pushed to the side and self aggrandisement and protecting ones position takes over.

 

I hope I'm not the only one who sees a certain degree of irony in a successful, multi-millionaire, tax exile, citing how the economic fortunes of Lanarkshire has made things particularly tough for the community. However in the same breath has insisted any shortfall is repaid to him from our £500k and has a view that no discounts, initiatives or other help should be offered to encourage greater attendances. Now it could be argued that as a philanthropic gesture, he is entitled to insist that the club is self sufficient when he leaves and I do get that but the language and the "if you don't like it, live with it or jog on" attitude is slightly grating and sits at odds with the caring, considerate benefactor narrative back at the turn of the year.

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I think one problem with it is some believed they'd have a say on a lot of things.

 

When the thing first broke, I thought it would be like the Spanish Membership system where the Society would decide who was Chairmen (see Presidential Elections) where the running and financing was on the Chairman and Club, while Society funds would be only used under extreme circumstance, usually leading to the Chairman removal due to his failings or if a change to the club Charter was discussed (see Athletic Club)

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The main issue we have is that the fundamental concept of the WS ie fans investing their cash and eventually as a collective owning the club was a non starter, as we dont have a big enough fan base.

Now what we have is the money that has been put into the WS so far by those who have signed up is being used to service loan reypayments,possibly pay for club staff (new fitness coach), and who knows what else. So as i see it financial commitments that should be the responsibility of the club have been passed on to the supporters, people signed up thinking they would one day be a part owner not a source of crisis loans for the club.

As for Mr Hutchison he could not give a toss about the club, all this community spirt nonsense he spouts is patronising and annoying, he is a millionaire tax exile ffs. I would love to know what sort of security he has on his loan if the club defaults does he end up owning Fir park?

The way forward for the club is not the WS yes we probably need an owner to put in some cash, but the club needs to be financially viable ie living within our means maximising the revenue streams and trying to turn a profit. That way we wont need to seek crisis loans from millionaire tax exiles or constantly turn to the fans to contribute more cash for very little in return.

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IMO Motherwell FC is not going to be fan owned, the way the society have gone about their business from day one has been amateurish at best and I have not one single bit of confidence in giving them even £10 per month as I feel they do not have a clue what to do in the best interest of the club.

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Whilst obviously concerned at what the future holds in terms of the Well Society I'm actually quite happy to continue to chuck in my tenner a month.

 

If nothing further is achieved the very fact that there should (on the assumption that the WS kitty isn't raided for loan repayments) be a fund of sorts sitting there, being added to each month and gaining interest and ready to be of use in times of cash flow difficulties or crisis is worth that modest monthly investment alone.

 

The rest? We'll see what happens.

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I've heard of accusations that some of the new players to arrive since Les took over aren't actually owned by the club but who's contracts are actually held by him/holding company separate to the club. Also only by a bit of digging by Superward this came to light:

 

 

Isn't that 3rd Party Ownership and not allowed in our game?

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Yes. If that's true expect to be playing Championship Football (at least) come next season even if we win every game from now till season end.

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Isn't that 3rd Party Ownership and not allowed in our game?

The SFA won't register a third party contract so it can't be that.

 

Dundee United were loaned money against potential future transfer income. It's possible that Hutchinson has a claim on any fees brought in (good luck with that btw).

 

Is it definitely true that the Well Society has to pay him back if the club don't?

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With respect to the loan repayments, that has been covered in the press and in blogs so far. Any shortfall in the club being unable to meet the terms as outlined in the spreadsheet above, the Well Society has to make up the shortfall.

 

What they also don't convey is for example Louis Moult is sold this January for £1m then essentially the deal would effectively be a fait accompli. But the Well Society don't really want fans to consider this as it may dry up recruitment and Les has stipulated a membership of 2,000 (adults, not total, from memory) to ensure there's a big enough base to draw funds from if required as I assume all members would be in some way liable/responsible as owners.

 

I'm only conveying what I've heard and accept it may be conjecture or a half truth that is close to the truth. It may be as simple as a caveat that any future sell on revenue for a player, our owner gets his initial transfer fee investment back first then the club.

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As for Mr Hutchison he could not give a toss about the club, all this community spirt nonsense he spouts is patronising and annoying, he is a millionaire tax exile ffs. I would love to know what sort of security he has on his loan if the club defaults does he end up owning Fir park?

 

 

The answer to this question is yes; he has a charge over the land at Fir Park. Whilst this might alarm a lot of people, so did John Boyle....

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With respect to the loan repayments, that has been covered in the press and in blogs so far. Any shortfall in the club being unable to meet the terms as outlined in the spreadsheet above, the Well Society has to make up the shortfall.

 

 

I didn't realise that our funds were used as a guarantee against his loan.

 

Absolutely disgusted by that.

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Whilst obviously concerned at what the future holds in terms of the Well Society I'm actually quite happy to continue to chuck in my tenner a month.

 

If nothing further is achieved the very fact that there should (on the assumption that the WS kitty isn't raided for loan repayments) be a fund of sorts sitting there, being added to each month and gaining interest and ready to be of use in times of cash flow difficulties or crisis is worth that modest monthly investment alone.

 

The rest? We'll see what happens.

Andy, I get where you're coming from but this is the where doubt lingers regarding ongoing donations. Your assumption is a big one.

 

When considering starting up my £10 payments, one of the concerns I raised a month ago was about this very aspect. I asked for clarification regarding... 1 What is the Current Balance of WS monies. 2. How much has been ingathered in total. 3 How much has been provided to MFC and how much has been repaid to date.

 

To date I have received no answer which worries me as the figures should be readily to hand and should surely be open to Members.

 

Formal Accounts are only available up to June 2014 and as such provide no clarity regarding the ongoing position. If funds have been provided to assist Cash Flow, then well and good. But is it still the intention that these loans are to be repaid ASAP? That question also remains unanswered and the change to the Society objectives confuses matters further.

 

It must be remembered that the responsibility of the Society Board Members should first of all be to the fans and NOT the Football Club and/or Les Hutchison. The more that basic questions remain unanswered the more it seems that there is a blurring of the lines. To stimulate take up of Membership I just cannot understand why the Society Chairman will not publically address all the concerns raised by fans with the best interest of the Society and Football Club at heart.

 

A month ago I was told plans were in hand for a meeting within two weeks to publically address whatever issues Members wished to raise. I was also advised that fans who could not attend could submit questions online and a full Q&A response would be posted on the Web Site. Again, nothing, which does little to inspire confidence that all is well and above board Without doubt, transparency is an issue.

 

I can only reiterate, I too want to start providing funds on a monthly basis and for the Society to be a success. However, Unlike Andy P, I will not do so until such time as I am convinced that any monies collected are being utilised in the manner promised when the Society was established.

 

Probably just a coincidence, but since I submitted my questions to the Society I have received no phone calls asking me to consider starting up a standing Order. Prior to my EMail, I received at least one phone call per week and several Emails.

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The answer to this question is yes; he has a charge over the land at Fir Park. Whilst this might alarm a lot of people, so did John Boyle....

John Boyle still has a Charge as it would seem he is still owed £350k. It also appears that in June of this year the Club and the Society between them could not cobble together £40k to meet payments due to Messrs Hutchison and Boyle in reduction of the Loans secured by Fir Park. The Standard Security was registered in January 2015 and there does not appear to have been any change since.

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Andy, I get where you're coming from but this is the where doubt lingers regarding ongoing donations. Your assumption is a big one.

 

When considering starting up my £10 payments, one of the concerns I raised a month ago was about this very aspect. I asked for clarification regarding... 1 What is the Current Balance of WS monies. 2. How much has been ingathered in total. 3 How much has been provided to MFC and how much has been repaid to date.

 

To date I have received no answer which worries me as the figures should be readily to hand and should surely be open to Members.

 

Formal Accounts are only available up to June 2014 and as such provide no clarity regarding the ongoing position. If funds have been provided to assist Cash Flow, then well and good. But is it still the intention that these loans are to be repaid ASAP? That question also remains unanswered and the change to the Society objectives confuses matters further.

 

It must be remembered that the responsibility of the Society Board Members should first of all be to the fans and NOT the Football Club and/or Les Hutchison. The more that basic questions remain unanswered the more it seems that there is a blurring of the lines. To stimulate take up of Membership I just cannot understand why the Society Chairman will not publically address all the concerns raised by fans with the best interest of the Society and Football Club at heart.

 

A month ago I was told plans were in hand for a meeting within two weeks to publically address whatever issues Members wished to raise. I was also advised that fans who could not attend could submit questions online and a full Q&A response would be posted on the Web Site. Again, nothing, which does little to inspire confidence that all is well and above board Without doubt, transparency is an issue.

 

I can only reiterate, I too want to start providing funds on a monthly basis and for the Society to be a success. However, Unlike Andy P, I will not do so until such time as I am convinced that any monies collected are being utilised in the manner promised when the Society was established.

 

Probably just a coincidence, but since I submitted my questions to the Society I have received no phone calls asking me to consider starting up a standing Order. Prior to my EMail, I received at least one phone call per week and several Emails.

this!!!!

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I didn't realise that our funds were used as a guarantee against his loan.

 

Absolutely disgusted by that.

 

Kinda the reason why I started this thread. I accept an executive of any group has to make decisions and I never assumed that every item would be put to a vote, but major things such as this should have been brought to everyone in advance to scrutinise and debate. Stuff like race nights and other stuff I'm happy to have decided for me. There's just an increasing chasm of accountability and transparency as time progresses.

 

In the fall out of Baraclough leaving we find out the club chairman finds out after the deed is done, even if he wasn't consulted as a courtesy he should get a heads up opposed to reading it in the newspaper, however no different how 1,000 members tend to find the details of the entity we've invested in. Left me wondering if the position is purely symbolic?

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Quite honestly I don't think any official of Club or Society does anything without Les Hutchison's say so. No hard proof, just a nagging doubt. With the football club I can almost understand it being the case, but no way should it be the same with the Society. Somebody from the Society please prove I am wrong

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hell of a lot of feelings about the Society on here that match mine but put much more eloquently that i could have done.

 

i think the biggest problem the WS has is that the club set it up and the club pretty much run it.

 

As i was saying to a friend this morning. For my initial money i got to vote on the Sevco issue and that's it nothing since. The WS bought shares in the club (or converted a loan into shares) but we had to find out from newspapers etc that Les had bought the club.

 

Not saying that he isn't a good thing for Motherwell but i do question what is going on behind the scenes. We seem to be taking a lot of money off him with absolutely no way of paying it back unless we manage to sell players for big money. we've been so good at that in the past. Even with 2000 adults paying £10 a month (£204k a year) that won't make a dent in the amount he is owed.

 

Although i must have lost my voting paper for saying i was ok with underwriting the club getting these loans.

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Members and indeed non members seem to have numerous, as yet unanswered, questions about the Society. I assume that there's provision within the rules to call an EGM at which members can ask questions of the committee. Failing that questions can be asked at the AGM.

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Members and indeed non members seem to have numerous, as yet unanswered, questions about the Society. I assume that there's provision within the rules to call an EGM at which members can ask questions of the committee. Failing that questions can be asked at the AGM.

 

Section 30b of the society rules state that 10% of the adult membership are required to do so. I was informed that a change in the rules (again passed by the board without consultation) means that as soon as you have paid your first monthly instalment on the way to the £300 steel membership then you have a vote, so the number required increases.

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