News Archive

Single Structure

Wednesday, 25th November 2009
The Trust has been advocating that Clyde Football Club moves to a single structure and it has now released further information on the reasons for moving to a Member Owned Club.

As a club we are faced with difficult times on and off the park. The Clyde Supporters Trust believe that the seeds of this were sown by the accumulative effect of mis-management of our club.

There have been times when performances on the park have masked the situation but in general our club has been steadily in decline off the park over many years. We believe all supporters of the club have to unite on addressing the core problem and that is how our club is led and governed.

The decline of our club is not irreversible yet but our actions now will determine if we have a future or not. Now is the time for change.

Why not stay as we are?
The current structure of 3 boards and seventeen directors is not sustainable. It is costly, breaks lines of effective communication and successful commercial operation and the legal responsibilities of the companies are not aligned. It also creates the debilitating environment of ‘them and us’ which would drag any organisation down.

Are there other options?
In theory yes, but the prime alternative is for the club to be sold to a single controlling person. The very model that has brought the club after 130 years to have no infrastructure and too often to have courted oblivion. Added to that, there have been no credible suitors over the years willing to engage with the club in anything other than the shortest of term fixes. The only long term thinker was put off by the club factions.

What are the basics of a member owned club?
A member owned club has only one role – to make the club more successful through working with its supporters, community, local businesses, council and any other stakeholder.

It has basic principles that underpin everything it does:
Democratic – one member one vote – real influence over your club
Transparent – clear plans and strategies laid out in advance and reported on
Accountable – clear individual responsibilities and mechanisms to hold officers to account
Not for Profit – no member can financially benefit
Inclusive – welcomes everyone that wants to benefit Clyde & its community
Affordable – has to have structures that make membership affordable to all supporters

It’s not complicated or threatening and is founded on the principles of cooperation and involvement that have been the foundations of the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The member owned club is built upon sets of rules that encourage the club to do what supporters want to see happen with their club, issues such as youth and community development, allowing supporters to influence policy and operations are written into the constitution.

In what ways is a member owned club different from what we have?
What we have is a standard limited company operating the club; its legal focus is to derive a financial return for those that have bought shares in the club since it was registered as a limited company – completely contradictory to reality.

It has no rules in any of its structures that encourage improving the clubs standing as an organisation, to be a supporter of youth development and community engagement, indeed these can be contradictory to the legal reason to exist of giving a cash return to shareholders.

The structures and rules of a limited company create no expectation that a supporter would recognise and therefore no accountability exists.

There is a complete absence of transparency to supporters as the operation of the club and its finances are only historically available to a limited number of shareholders and since voting is based primarily on the power of cash, then the controlling shareholder has no need to take account of any other shareholder.

Would we be better perceived as a member owned club?
There is no doubt that in the bankrupt world of football, particularly Scottish Football, the outside world would engage more beneficially with Clyde if it was a single, transparent, community owned club as opposed to a complicated structure that is legally designed to transfer financial benefit to those with shares. There is a large public and charitable sector that could support a ‘not for profit’ member owned club but not a standard limited company.

What does the process of becoming a member owned company involve?
There are different ways to approach this, either forming a new company or converting the existing Clyde Football Club Ltd. Which route is chosen would be simply a matter of expediency depending on the outcome of discussions as to the exact structure and nature of the rules and interaction with SFA/SFL.

The more important part of the process would be to identify what the rules of our club are. This would be part of a consultation process with stakeholders, starting with an outline of a set of rules that are developed through discussion to create the most innovative and strongest set of rules to set Clyde on a strong constitutional footing, these are then enshrined in the new structure with strict controls over changing those rules.

How long could it take?
With honest participation and a positive goodwill to do the best for Clyde then it could be fully up and running before the January window closes and very easily before the end of the season. Progress to date has been slow due to a lack of priority given to the topic and a lack of willingness to engage in developing the concept.

Is there anything that could stop this happening?
Yes, some shareholders could block it and we might run into technical and administrative issues with the football authorities, but given the hoped for positive goodwill and honest participation then there should be no insurmountable barriers.

Don’t we have other priorities?
We have plenty of priorities but the very basis of club operation is now fundamentally threatened by the current structure. The club board believes that it must have a structure of operation that recognises the changing shape of football and society in general.

There is no greater priority for our club than having an effective board able to run the club as successfully as possible in some of the most difficult times ever to have been experienced for football clubs.

The club see this as a fundamentally necessary step in rebuilding our club, the board is hogtied until it can get this change made.

Will it really mean that the club is better run?
There are no guarantees as this is down to people, however, the transparent democratic environment makes it far more likely that the good people that step forward stick to the game and don’t become seduced by the darker side of running a football club. Those same people will also be supported to succeed by the rules of the club that are designed to build foundations for a strong club as opposed to operating within a legal structure that gives excuses for short term speculation.

The member owned club can also self impose, through its rules, restrictions in relation to debt and creditor abuse similar to the environment surrounding the very profitable Bundesliga.

There are no guarantees but the environment for better performance is immeasurably improved.

Need more information?
If you have specific questions then contact us via email: [email protected] or by post: 84 Hamilton Road, Motherwell, ML1 3BY

So what next?
Give your club a mandate to make this happen send your support by contacting us via email: [email protected] or by post: 84 Hamilton Road, Motherwell, ML1 3BY


What are the basics of a member owned club?
A member owned club has only one role – to make the club more successful through working with its supporters, community, local businesses, council and any other stakeholder.

It has basic principles that underpin everything it does: