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Albion fans first in Britain to own club

Manchester United fans have examined the idea, Liverpool supporters toyed with a plan and even Rangers diehards put forward formal proposals.

But today it will emerge that the loyal following of humble Stirling Albion of the Scottish First Division have succeeded where fans of more glamorous football clubs have so far failed – in delivering the first fully owned community club in British football.

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A press conference at Forthbank this morning will confirm that the historic takeover bid of Albion has succeeded.

The Stirling Albion Supporters Trust has been campaigning for the past 14 months to buy-out long-serving chairman Peter McKenzie, 84, and a deal in the region of £300,000 has been finalised.

The trust’s bid has been aided by the Buy Stirling Albion campaign, which has raised £100,000 in the last year.

A takeover bid by sports surgeon Gordon Mackay was rejected earlier this year by McKenzie, who has long been subsidising the club.

But Stirling Albion are around £1.5 million in debt and have survived two winding up orders in the last 12 months over unpaid tax.

Last year, the local council took action to recover £67,000 in unpaid rent and rates for use of Forthbank Stadium. That figure has risen to £100,000 and legal proceedings were opened this month at Stirling Sheriff Court.

In May, McKenzie, made a £41,000 payment to save the club from liquidation and HM Revenue and Customs received a further £48,000 in November.

McKenzie announced in June 2008 that he wanted to step down as chairman and guarantor and make his majority shareholding in the club available for sale to any interested parties.

This triggered the innovative community scheme that asked members to purchase a £40 stake in return for a future say in how the club is run once a proposed takeover was completed.

The Buy Stirling Albion campaign gathered around 2200 members and attracted further celebrity endorsement from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gordon Ramsay.

Andy Murray and his Wimbledon doubles winner brother Jamie also took a stake in the new set-up after they signed up to the supporters’ campaign last year to save the club.

When the trust made a formal bid to buy the shareholding a fortnight ago, Buy Stirling Albion campaign spokesman Paul ­Goodwin said: “It has always been our firm belief that Stirling Albion must remain in the hands of supporters and that the club must play a greater part in the Stirling community.

“The club has been owned by Stirling Albion fan Peter McKenzie for many years and we want that to be the case in the future too. It is important that the hard work in making this club a success is continued by Stirling Albion fans, and the people of Stirling to ensure its rightful place at the centre of the community

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