Following the resignation of the Manager there has been significant unhappiness and concern voiced by fans. This was compounded by a follow up story in the Greenock Telegraph yesterday with several concerning comments, followed by an article in a national publication discussing the perilous position of a number of Championship clubs. We are also aware of an online petition that has gained many signatures that relates to the future ownership of Cappielow.
At Morton Club Together (MCT), we understand and share many of your concerns. The purpose of this statement will be to give you as many answers as we are in a position to provide.
First of all, we want to assure fans that, as far as MCT are aware, the club is not on the brink of going into administration. As outlined last week in our statement, the financial situation is certainly difficult right now, and the next few months are going to be tough, but everyone is working tirelessly to ensure the club is in as positive a position as possible.
With regards to yesterday’s Greenock Telegraph article, we would also like to share with you what we know. If David Hopkin was paying players money directly, he was doing so without the knowledge of the football club’s Board. Greenock Morton has never failed to pay players contracted wages.
In addition, player meals were one of the necessary budget cuts made at the beginning of the season as part of the cost-cutting efforts to ensure the survival of the club. The players took the decision that they would chip in and keep the team meals going. If David Hopkin was subsidising this, it was through his own choice. The playing and coaching staff were asked to reduce their wages this year to assist the club. All players agreed to do this. They are a credit to Morton.
Despite the budget cuts, the club put together a budget which allowed the signing of a first team squad of 22 players. We have noted comments that it was due to budget constraints that we only have one first team keeper, but it is clear that with a squad of 22, two goalkeepers could have been accommodated.
We fully understand the frustration of supporters at this time, but we felt it important to outline our understanding of these matters.
Despite what you may have read in the press and on social media, the club has a credit balance in the bank and is currently in no danger of administration. MCT has been assured by the Rae family and Golden Casket that they will continue to underwrite the financial security of the club until the end of the season. Any comparison with the stewardship of Hugh Scott is both inaccurate and deeply offensive.
We would also like to provide clarity around the issue surrounding Cappielow when MCT take ownership of the club.
Cappielow is the club’s spiritual home and MCT understands the strong desire of fans to be in ownership of the stadium as part of Community Ownership.
When the potential of Community Ownership arose in the summer, MCT advised that a proposition had been suggested in early negotiations where in any transfer of shareholding to MCT, the stadium would be retained by the present majority shareholder.
As was explained at the time, the strategy behind this was that in any future event, should MCT ownership of the club fail, then the ground would be protected from any potential creditors should the club experience any financial problems.
There have been several valid questions and concern raised over this arrangement. This proposal was an outline position, and the details were still to be agreed, however, future ownership of the ground is central to our negotiations on the terms of the lease.
The present position on this has not altered and the stadium issue is contained within a legal document which has been drafted by our solicitors as part of overall transfer of shares in the club. This document was issued to the club’s solicitors some months ago and we await the response on the finer points including the potential route to ownership of Cappielow.
We are advised that there are a few minor issues requiring investigation by the club’s advisors before any final legal draft can be reached on the potential transfer of shares and the detail on Cappielow.
The intention is that once an agreement is reached that the detail is shared to members and the wider fan base on the key parts of MCT’s proposal to take ownership of the club. This intends to include our business plan; our proposed governance model and the detail around Cappielow.
We would ask members and the wider fan base to understand that the details are both complicated and time consuming to conclude. However, many hours have been put into this by MCT through its team of volunteers and progress has been achieved.
We realise there is, at present, an immense level of unhappiness and disillusionment expressed by several people and in relation to MCT’s position on this we can only ask for continued patience on this issue. We would restate that this is complicated, and it is not a simple task that is being undertaken.
As mentioned, we fully understand and share your concerns. Over the last week, MCT has reached the milestone of 700 members. We fully believe Community Ownership is the fresh start the club desperately needs.
We are committed to making Community Ownership a success, and we are fully committed to giving you all a club you can be proud of and can be part of.
We would like to finish on a positive note and put on record that despite the rollercoaster week for the club, the players have responded superbly and our away win at Dunfermline is testament to their professionalism and dedication and we thank them for this.