In the run-up to Christmas, we held the first of a series of informal meetings for our members to explore specific topics in detail with us. On this occasion the format was extremely informal – an open invitation to join us for a drink and a chat in the Novar Bar before a match – and the topic being explored was the structure of the football club.
Our intent was to share what we as a Trust Board know about the structure and interaction of the various companies that are part of and that own Raith Rovers, to de-bunk some of the myths that might exist about who owns what, and to bring the concerns of our members into our own understanding of the issues.
For those who couldn’t attend, here is a summary of the information we shared.
Starks Park – the physical assets
Starks Park is owned by Starks Park Properties Ltd (the company formerly known as West City Developments Ltd, prior to being re-named in late 2007). Under the Reclaim The Rovers takeover, the ownership of West City became:
In addition to his majority shareholding, John Sim holds the £500,000 personal guarantee to the Allied Irish Bank on which the “mortgage” is secured.
“The Football Club” – the team, league membership and other assets
The football club is owned by Raith Rovers Football Club Ltd, which has the following shareholders:
In addition to it’s shareholding of 49% of the ordinary shares, Raith Rovers Holdings also owns 56% of the preference shares in RRFC Ltd – giving it majority voting rights.
Raith Rovers Holdings Ltd in turn has the following shareholders:
Clearly, the power lies in New Raith Rovers Ltd, which is the legal entity created during the Reclaim The Rovers takeover. In addition to holding a majority shareholding in Raith Rovers Holdings, which in turn has a controlling interest in RRFC Ltd, it is the largest of the minority shareholders in Starks Park Properties. Here is a breakdown of the shareholding of New Raith Rovers Ltd:
It goes without saying that all of this represents an extremely complex structure! In an ideal world we might hope to see just one company in place to operate all aspects of the football club, but unfortunately this ceased to be the case a long time ago, when the club was split into RRFC Ltd and Raith Rovers Holdings Ltd; and continued with the sale of the ground to West City in the more recent past.
The creation of the New Raith Rovers consortium and the resulting additional complexity in the club’s structure was a result of the speed at which we needed to move to secure the future of the club, and the reality that the resources at the consortium’s disposal were insufficient to make an offer to each and every individual shareholder in each of the companies – which would be necessary if the club were to ever collapse this structure back down to a single company.
The good news is that when Dave Somerville spoke at our recent AGM, he shared our concern about the complexity of the club structure. This is definitely an issue that is on the club’s agenda as well as our own. Being concerned about it clearly is not the same thing as being able to do something about it, but it is refreshing given our recent history that the club and its supporters share the same concerns.
We should also be encouraged that we have a strong position in this structure, and have been able to maintain this position in the two years that have passed since the takeover. Every pound invested by the supporters’ groups in the Raith Forum serves two purposes – it purchases a share in New Raith Rovers Ltd, and it contributes to the running costs of the football club.
We intend to hold more sessions like the one in December throughout the coming year. If there is a particular topic you would like to talk to us about, use the Comments area below to let us know about it.