Venue: Raith Suite, Stark’s Park, Pratt Street, Kirkcaldy
Present: A Beedie, A Cameron, A Condie, I Ferguson, G Fyffe, K Fraser , Donald Glass, Duncan Glass, A Gourlay, D Gourlay, D Hossack, G Howie, J Julier, J Knight, N Langtree, G McDonald, C McFarlane, D McKenzie, I Meldrum, D Morrison, P Murray, S Murray, A Nicholson, G Peattie, M Penman, T Phillips, J Proctor, J Rowbotham, C Smart, G Taylor, B White, M Wilson.
In attendance: E Doig, E Drysdale.
Apologies: G Anderson, J Anderson, J Clarke, G Condie, M Cunningham, T Cunningham, J Drysdale, S Lawther, J Mainland, M Melville, D Wright.
Blair White welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted that we had received numerous apologies. Blair explained that Eric Drysdale and Eddie Doig had been invited along to act as observers for RRFC and the Supporters Club respectively.
James Proctor gave a presentation on the background of Supporters Trusts and provided information on Supporters Direct.
He explained how he and Mike Melville started discussing the vision to establish a Raith Rovers Supporters’ Trust which could be the first of its kind in Scotland. James provided background information on Trusts which were operating in England. He had also attended a seminar organised by the Scottish Independent Supporters’ Coalition (SISCo) which had gone onto lobby Parliament. Whereas in England there is funding to help Trusts with start-up costs, there is no such facility in Scotland.
James answered numerous questions from the floor:
Q. Won’t a Trust fulfil the same role as Friends of the Rovers?
A. No, FOTR is for a finite period (till June 2001) and for a donation there is no real return to participants. A Trust would provide an active forum to assist the Club in many ways and was designed for the long term. There is opportunity for regular dialogue with the Club and allow fans to make a real contribution to their Club. Being independent allows us to make our own democratic decisions.
Q. Will a Trust purchase Shares in the Club?
A. Yes, it is hoped a Trust would buy Shares in the Holding Company allowing us representation at Shareholders meetings. Eric Drysdale confirmed that there are no unallocated Shares in the Football Club but there is just over £100,000 unissued Share Capital in the Holding Company. He also confirmed that the Holding Company control just over 50% of the Football Club Shares.
Q. Can a Trust have a representative on the Board of Directors?
A. Yes, provided that someone is nominated and elected onto the Board at an AGM. [At this point there was a short break where individuals who did not wish to be involved in the pursuit of forming a supporters’ trust could leave.]
The meeting considered what the formal name of the Trust should be.
Two proposals were accepted from the floor, these were:
- “Raith Rovers Supporters’ Trust”
- “Raith Rovers Independent Supporters’ Trust”
There followed a vote by the members (a =12, b=16) and Raith Rovers Independent Supporters’ Trust was duly accepted as the formal name.
The agenda had provided three outline objectives of a Trust:
- To provide a democratic forum for making the views of supporters known to the Club in a positive manner
- To provide additional income to the Club through regular purchase of Shares
- To foster an environment where supporters feel they are genuinely part of the “Raith Rovers community”
The objectives were discussed and the following points were raised:
- It was suggested that Objective b was too specific and could restrict how we utilise our funds
- Investigate Charitable Status
- It was suggested that an Objective be “to work in conjunction with the Board for the Benefit of the Club”
Another possible Objective was “To purchase Shares and then strive to have the Trust represented on the Board of Directors”.
It was agreed a Steering Group would explore these further and submit recommendations to be included in the Trust’s constitution, which will ultimately be accepted by the members of the Trust.
James Proctor outlined three options for the formal strucure of the Trust, these being:
Industrial and Provident Society
Benefits are – one man one vote, community orientated, to be affordable to all, there is limited liability for Members.
Negatives are – may cost around £1000 to establish.
Benefits are – limited liability, cheap to establish.
Negatives are – not always democratic, can be taken over by majority Shareholders who then have power.
Benefits are – cheap and simple to establish.
Negatives are – very loose structure liable to split if Members become divided.
After an open discussion the meeting felt that option a, an I & P, was the preferred route. It was agreed that a steering group would be asked to look at this option in more detail. Copies of the “Model Rules” were available for anyone who wished a copy.
It was agreed that the Steering Group would look into the estimated costs involved in establishing an I&P as the meeting felt they seemed quite high.
In the main, funds will be generated by members of the Trust.
There was a discussion on this aspect and there appeared to be a consensus that an Annual Membership of £60 would be the sum which would attract the greatest number of members and revenue to the Trust. It was envisaged that this would preferably be collected through monthly Standing Order to keep administration to a minimum although it was noted that other possible payment methods, ie cheque, would not be ignored.
Membership would provide one vote per member in keeping with an I & P. Blair White acknowledged that some members had already made donations to establish the Trust which were in excess of the minimum envisaged monthly membership. He requested that contributors should simply use a rule of thumb of “£5 = 1 month’s membership”. However, he hoped that people would be encouraged to start regular contributions as soon as possible to establish a steady revenue stream.
Although £60 was the minimum envisaged Annual Membership fee, it was agreed that Trust members would be able to contribute more if they wished. However, it was made clear that the principle of “one member – one vote” was paramount. It was suggested that a trust might seek to approach the business community to offer an alternative way to help Raith Rovers. It was also agreed that a Trust would not conflict with the Supporters’ Club by running any fund raising events that clashed with the SC activities. It would be the Trust’s intention to work in harmony with the SC for the benefit of the RRFC.
The Supporters Club may be an organisation which a Trust would like to be represented in an ex-officio capacity once the Trust’s Board is established.
Potential targets as future members or funds might be:
- Exiled fans (some of whom can be contacted through the Web Site)
- Local Business
- Friends of the Rovers members as this scheme will end in a few months
- Ex players
- Lapsed fans
Eric Drysdale also stated the Club had lists of season ticket holders, buyers of the Millenium Video and the Share Register and there might be an opportunity to use these to target potential members of a trust.
Blair White encouraged the meeting to “sell” the concept of a Trust. James and Blair stressed that they were keen to see a wide fan-base at the heart of the constituted Trust.
Garry Fyffe stated that a Bank Account had been opened to take the donations. It was with the Bank of Scotland, Mitchelston, Kirkcaldy and has £3,838 on deposit so far from donations.
Use of existing funds
James Proctor and Blair White initiated a discussion concerning the use of the existing funds. JP stated that they had received an approach from the club concerning any initial potential share-purchase being used to assist the financing of the purchasing of the 121 classic “two-hooped” strips on order from TOFFS. All the strips are pre-ordered but require payment before delivery and the Club needs assistance with the cash-flow.
JP and BW stated that they saw this as an ideal opportunity to achieve five goals:
- Achieve an initial stated aim of buying 500 shares in the club. This aim had been stated in the leaflet handed out at the home game v Falkirk on Sat 4 Nov
- Provide an investment to the club at a financially difficult time and demonstrate that a Trust had the potential to be of benefit
- By targeting a share-buying towards the strip purchase, there was the opportunity to show fans that a Trust could make a meaningful difference
- By facilitating the strip-purchase there was the opportunity to maximise PR
- By becoming an active share-holder there was the opportunity to attend the shareholder AGMs/EGMs
JP proposed that £2,500 worth of shares should be purchased in the name of Raith Rovers Independent Supporters’ Trust on the proviso that the cash should be used to facilitate the purchasing of the classic strips.
Several attendees at the meeting felt there was a case for not purchasing any shares until the Trust had been properly constituted. There was a proposal from the floor that no shares should be purchased until the Trust was formerly constituted.
The two proposals were put to the meeting for a vote:
- Immediate purchase of shares: 19 votes
- Purchase of shares after consitution of Trust: 9 votes
The meeting duly agreed that £2,500 worth of shares would be purchased on the understanding that the club would target the money towards bridging the cash-flow problem on the strip-order from TOFFS.
The meeting duly appointed a Steering group to develop the ongoing work in relation to the Trust:
- James Proctor (Chairman)
- Mike Melville (Vice-Chairman)
- Blair White (Secretary)
- Garry Fyffe (Treasurer)
- George Howie
- Neil Langtree
- Tom Phillips
Date of next meeting
No date was fixed, but will be held within 3 months