The second largest shareholder at Greenock Morton Football Club has announced today that it is formally exploring if community ownership of the club could work and how best this can be achieved.
Non-profit company Morton Club Together (MCT) is embarking on the exploration of a community ownership project with “energy, urgency and positivity”. It is acting in response to a mandate presented to it by its 390+ members in a recent survey, and through taking account of feedback from the wider fan base.
MCT Founder and Chair, Graham McLennan, said;
“Over 400 MCT members have already contributed £6000 a month to the Morton first team budget since August, which has boosted funds available to the Manager by more than 20% this season.
“From a standing start in May last year, MCT and our growing band of members have shown we can make a difference. The club is going through a major transition, based on a break even budget. Of course this means it’s tough times right now at Cappielow and we believe that with hard work and by all pulling together, an exciting future could lie ahead with the fans in control.
“We’ve already had the debt that Morton faces reduced by £500,000 and have an agreement with majority owner, Golden Casket, to have the remaining £2m debt written off by the end of next season, assuming we hit our target of contributing £400,000 to the first team in that period. So every £10 contributed by MCT members means Morton is more than £70 better off.”
Experts believe that a debt free Morton, could well be a viable and competitive proposition through majority community ownership. St Mirren is working towards this outcome and the Foundation of Hearts plans to take over a controlling interest in their club, from Ann Budge, later this year.
Stewart Farmer, also a volunteer director at MCT added;
“The current majority owner has stated that community ownership is their preferred future for Morton, and our members have positioned MCT well to be the vehicle to deliver it. Within an estimated 9 months we’ll have left no stone unturned in exploring if community ownership of Morton is possible and, if so, what our plan is to achieve it. There are many questions and challenges ahead. We’ll work tirelessly to find answers and overcome the challenges.
“Morton fans could choose to continue to wait around for a white knight to appear over the horizon, and there’s no indication that this is going to happen.”
And in a call to arms, Morton Club Together is today asking more fans to dig deep to join the existing members, in a show of strength.
Gordon Ritchie, another of the MCT directors, also added;
“Almost every fan we’ve spoken with wants change. MCT is the only game in town to make this change happen.
“This is a strength in numbers situation. If supporters out there can afford to contribute £10 a month, we’re urging them to join us today by pressing a few buttons on our website. All Morton supporters can take responsibility for the Morton we love and demonstrate that we mean business. Talking and waiting is not an option any more.
“The beauty of MCT is that every penny of members’ contributions goes straight to the first team budget. Our best chance of staying in the Championship is to boost the playing budget so that the Manager has more money to attempt to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window. Staying in the Championship makes the dream of community ownership, and building a successful footballing future, much closer to being possible. So joining MCT really is a win-win!”
“As we’ve said from day one, we want more supporters to step up and help us drive MCT and Morton forward. We’re not saying to people simply to fork out their hard earned cash and that’s that. We’re giving supporters the chance to directly help and change their club for the better, become part of the possible majority ownership and shape the future for our Morton. MCT is open to all!
“Stewart and I didn’t know Graham before May last year. We are now active directors of MCT. If you believe you could help us and the MCT team to help Morton, and you believe that fans have a right to be fully engaged, please come forward. This is our big chance!”
Crawford Rae, Chairman of Greenock Morton and current majority owner, Golden Casket, commented;
“My family have invested significant resources into Greenock Morton Football Club for over two decades as it was my Father’s principal ambition to return the Club that he loved back to the top flight of Scottish Football. It is therefore imperative for me to ensure that the legacy my Father has left behind can flourish, grow and hopefully achieve this ambition for all the people of Inverclyde.
“If Morton Club Together and all of its members can demonstrate a cogent plan and the capability to deliver it, then we believe this could be the best option for the Club and I will ensure that Golden Casket and Morton FC co-operates fully with MCT throughout the process of exploring if and how majority community ownership of the club we all love could be delivered.”