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A small step, but fresh talks encourage Motherwell fans

THE loudest cry, as the issue of league reconstruction rumbles on and on, is that the clubs have not listened to their supporters.

At Motherwell, they hope to eventually cut out the middle man.

The utopian ideal of the Fir Park club being run entirely by their fans, who could then take decisions based on the wishes of the wider support rather than having to wait to be asked for their thoughts, may still be a few years and around £1m away, but in the eyes of the Well Society it remains an achievable goal. They will take a sizeable step towards that ambition today when they meet to discuss the mechanism for voting two of their members on to the Motherwell board of directors, a move that will give them a voice on all future matters affecting the club.

The objective is to have the board comprised entirely of elected supporters. To achieve that, though, the fans are going to have to dig deep. John Boyle, the former chairman, has offered to gift his majority shareholding but fans have to first raise £1.5m to cover the occasions when Boyle used to dip into his personal fortune in times of need.

To that aim, an industrial and providence society has been established into which supporters contribute at different levels in return for different benefits, raising around £400,000 to date. That sum entitles them to two seats on the board but they now need more backers if they are to gain full control.

"We reckon we're about 18 months to two years away from reaching the £1.5m," said Graham Barnstaple, the chairman of the Well Society. "We realise it's quite a big ask but we're hoping supporters, and even businesses and the wider Motherwell community, realise what an opportunity this is. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the fans to own their club. We would make all the major decisions and not have to defer to anyone else.

"Our views, we hope, will hold greater significance once we've got two members elected on to the board. That would give us greater credibility and put us in a position where we can make a difference. We'd be able to take the fans' views direct to the chief executive and the rest of the directors."

There is an irony that Motherwell's relatively stable finances means supporters do not see a need to rush to put their hands into their pocket. "People don't perceive the club as being in crisis," said Barnstaple. "At Rangers and Hearts, and at Motherwell a decade ago when John Boyle took the club into administration, there was a big surge because people appreciated the severity of the situation.

"We've got to try to keep momentum building as this is the only way to secure the long-term future of the club."

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