Rallying Call to the Inverclyde Community, Morton Supporters Worldwide and Football Lovers Everywhere!
Greenock Morton Football Club Supports Ambitious Plan to Deliver Change of Ownership
A group of Greenock Morton supporters is today lauching an ambitious and innovative drive to start the process of shifting the balance of ownership of the club towards what it describes as “an inclusive structure that will enable individuals, families and organisations from the Morton community to own a stake in the club for as little as £10 a month.”
A newly set up Inverclyde not for profit organisation – Morton Club Together (MCT) – is targeting up to £400,000 of new shareholdings in Phase One of the programme, which will run for two years from June 2019 to May 2021. Success will mean up to 15% of Greenock Morton will be owned by new community investors, immediately becoming the second biggest shareholder group at Morton. And there is a commitment that every penny of the new investment will go towards improving the Morton first team and other projects that will target a sustainable and profitable Greenock Morton moving forward. Future Phases could result in community shareholders owning the majority of Morton.
Morton Chairman, Crawford Rae, recently announced that the current major shareholder in Morton, Golden Casket (an Inverclyde business owned by the Rae family, employing 150 people) is no longer able to subsidise the operating losses of Greenock Morton Football Club. Since his late father and former Morton Chairman, Douglas Rae OBE, saved the club from liquidation in the year 2000, Golden Casket has ploughed more than £2.5m into Morton. Rae is clear that Golden Casket will consider any serious and significant potential new investment in Morton, and he is impressed with the proposition Morton Club Together have pulled together. Therefore Greenock Morton Football Club and Golden Casket Ltd has committed to do all it can to support and work in partnership with Morton Club Together to maximise the chances of success.
Founder of Morton Club Together and lifelong Morton supporter Graham McLennan stated:
“As a Morton supporter who went to my first game in 1978, I believe Morton is ready to do everyone who cares about it justice through this new initiative. I see Morton as the spirit of Inverclyde. Morton has been a constant community asset and outlet through 150 years of local history. It’s time to say thanks to Morton and to give it our help. And at the same time achieve all our ambitions by being winners on and off the park.”
“We are all frustrated at Morton’s current plight and I could see that the Board was stymied in terms of options to move forward. There is no doubt that, just as Morton is on the brink of flourishing thanks to recent investment in its award winning community work and the development of young sportsmen and women, its future is in serious doubt. I am not going to stand by and watch Morton go backwards or disappear. I wanted to offer my help to Mr Rae and the Board and I approached them a few weeks back. This project will immediately and passionately address the frustrations, desires and financial necessities surrounding Morton right now. I believe there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there who will get behind the project. And today, I am urging lovers of Morton, lovers of sport and believers in the power of community spirit to come forward and work with us.”
“For as little as the price of a monthly Netflix subscription, or a weekly cup of coffee, we can become genuine shareholders in Morton – one of the oldest football clubs in the world – and have a formal say its future success and everything it delivers for the community of Inverclyde and beyond.”
“The Board has indicated to Morton Club Together its support of our plan, which was cemented in my heart and mind after the recent Morton community forum in Gourock. The supporters and community members at that event clearly love Morton as much as I do and were calling for the Board to take action to ensure that Morton survives and thrives and creates opportunities for people to get involved and feel more part of things. MCT knows that not everyone will be able to, or will want to, invest financially which is fine. MCT still wants to work with all Morton stakeholders to ensure that as many people as possible are actively engaged in a Morton that we can all be proud of.”
Morton has pledged to “cut its cloth to suit” in order to steady the financial ship. It will also focus on its award winning Community Trust and Youth Football Academy to continue to engage hundreds of local youngsters and families in order to produce high quality young players, like new star man and fans favourite Reece Lyons (19). Reece has just signed a new two year contract and has quickly established himself as a first team regular this season.
At the Morton community forum event in Gourock last month, Rae stated that he is proud of the work of the Morton Youth Academy and that this is core to the Morton business plan. Fans at the forum asked for the creation, alongside the local community, of “The Morton Way,” on and off the pitch.
McLennan said this struck a chord with him and fellow supporters and that’s where the Morton Club Together idea came to life. The vision is that Morton Club Together will “support the Morton Way.”
This will be built around Morton stakeholders and MCT insisting on a total commitment to get young Inverclyde born and bred players developed, ready and on the park, in a winning Morton team, as soon as possible.
“If we can help youngsters achieve their ambitions as players and people, and support them on to bigger clubs and careers then that helps them, their families, Morton and the wider community. Lots of clubs talk about doing this. Morton is absolutely doing it and, having watched the Morton Reserve and Youth teams play many times, Morton will start to reap the financial and community benefits of this approach very soon.”
“The investment proposed by Morton Club Together could prove absolutely vital to this plan. It will, amongst other things, provide the time required to enable this young talent to fully develop. Like Reece, Morton has a fabulous group of players emerging, many of whom are cutting their teeth in the top flight of Scottish reserve football, playing the likes of Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen every week. They recently played brilliantly against Manchester United at Cappielow. Make no mistake; these kids are good, supported by a superb coaching team, many of whom are volunteers. But if Morton doesn’t exist, or can’t offer them the chance to develop here, we will lose them all for no return.”
“I believe Morton is a very special community focussed club, and even non-Morton supporters have a lot of time and affection for it. In the 1960s, our Manager Hal Stewart revolutionised British football by being among the first to bring foreign players to our shores – the so called “Scandinavian invasion.” And Allan McGraw’s exploits as a Manager in the late 1980s and early 90s created opportunities to develop young talent the likes of Derek McInness who “Mr Morton” McGraw ensured was “the first player on the team sheet every week, no matter what.”
In an incredible gesture, Mr Rae stated at the recent forum in Gourock that he will push his family to agree for the £2.5m currently owed to Golden Casket by Morton Football Club which was never called in by his late father, Douglas Rae OBE, to be written off if any significant investment proposition is made to the Morton Board. The Morton Club Together initiative has subsequently agreed with Rae that if it raises or exceeds its £400,000 target, then this will trigger his commitment to see this through.
“As a lover of Morton and an Inverclyde resident, I am determined to ensure that MCT helps deliver a sustainable solution that will allow Morton to thrive and continue to deliver the footballing and community benefits that it has delivered for, and with, the community of Inverclyde for almost 150 years.
”What Douglas Rae and his family have done for Morton is legendary and we all owe him and them so much. I can think of no greater legacy, and mark of respect and thanks, than for all of us to pick up the mantle through Morton Club Together and jointly take Morton into a bright future.”
Morton, founded in 1874, will be 150 in 2024. It won its only major trophy, the Scottish Cup, in 1922, so the centenary of this triumph is only 3 years away.
McLennan highlighted the urgency of the situation and the MCT openness to work in partnership with any party who shares his vision for the future of Morton, by saying,
“The reality is that despite our history and legacy, there is no guarantee that Morton will reach these exciting milestones. The team and I of supporters and experts I have pulled together to lead Morton Club Together are prepared to continue to work tirelessly, completely voluntarily, to make this work. I may be mad, as I am totally convinced that it will!”
“While Morton Club Together would, in principle, welcome alternative and additional major investment proposals to address the immediate threat to Morton’s future, we are not aware of any other significant propositions currently being developed. If there are any, MCT believes that an element of community ownership should be retained by Greenock Morton Football Club, to at least the 15% level initially being proposed by Morton Club Together. We see this as a healthy and critical factor in the delivery of The Morton Way and a sustainable and successful Morton.”
The pledging process starts today and in the coming weeks work will be done to promote details of the plan and opportunity with as many people and potential investors as possible, highlighting how succeeding in the project will “support The Morton Way.”
More information can be found at the Morton Club Together website (www.mortonclubtogether.com) where potential investors can pledge investments of between £10 a month for up to two years, and lump sums of up to £100,000.
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