The recent election of the supporters representative sparked a lot of discussion amongst Rovers supporters regarding the role of both the Raith Forum and the supporters representative. In order to clarify these issues we’d like to revisit the principles of shared ownership that were agreed by the various supporters groups several years ago.
During the 2005 “Reclaim The Rovers” fundraising campaign and subsequent takeover, the five supporters groups (Raith Rovers Supporters Club, 200 Club, Jim McMillan Club, Fife’s Finest, and Raith Supporters Trust) agreed that the Raith Supporters Trust would hold the collective supporters’ shareholding on behalf of the Raith Forum, due to its legal status as an Industrial & Provident Society. The Raith Supporters Trust would subsequently also administer the ongoing process of electing a board member to represent this shareholding on the board of New Raith Rovers Ltd.
At the time of the takeover, the funds raised by supporters during the campaign purchased a shareholding in New Raith Rovers Ltd of around 14% of the shares issued. As a result of new investment in recent years our collective shareholding now represents approximately 11.5% of the issued shares in New Raith Rovers Ltd.
A clause in the Memorandum and Articles states that a shareholding of 10% guarantees representation on the board of directors of New Raith Rovers Ltd, therefore it is essential that we maintain this level of investment.
In March 2006 at a meeting of the Raith Forum, it was agreed that all future contribution of funds by the member groups should be made as investments and held in a single shareholding by the Raith Supporters Trust on behalf of the supporters groups. A single shareholding gives the supporters the strongest voice possible within the company structure, while also ensuring that the supporters’ contributions can directly support the running of the football club.
Since 2006 further investment has been made via the Raith Supporters Trust by a number of the Raith Forum member groups and also by other non-member groups (most notably Fife’s Finest). However, in some cases shares have been purchased by supporters groups directly or made in the form of donations, and therefore cannot contribute to maintaining the fan’s collective shareholding.
It is critical that we continue to invest in the club through a single shareholding and therefore strive to channel the vast majority of our contributions to the club through this route. The football club board have made it clear that they are very comfortable with the principle that contributions by supporters groups can be treated as investments in return for shares.
This may seem like a relatively unimportant issue at present as we have a very positive relationship between the board of the football club and the supporters. Our own experience in the years leading up to the 2005 takeover, and the experience of fans at other football clubs where the relationship has not been so positive should be a clear reminder to us how fortunate we are at present. It is in these tougher times that issues of ownership and governance take on greater importance to us all, and maintaining the strongest voice possible during the good times is part of our “insurance policy” in case we ever find ourselves in the face of another crisis in the future.