THE announcement that Partick Thistle will be the latest Scottish club to be fan-owned following Colin Weir’s purchase of a majority shareholding has been met with equal parts optimism and scepticism from across their fanbase.

For every supporter excited about the prospect of having a community-owned club, there is another who worries about competing while relying on the generosity of an already stretched core support.

There is a wry chuckle of recognition from Douglas Dickie, co-chair of the ‘Well Society, when told of these differing viewpoints. He has heard these concerns before, and while he doesn’t dismiss their legitimacy, he offers the example of the fan ownership model at Motherwell as evidence of what can be achieved at a club of a not too dissimilar stature.


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“There was a lot of scepticism when the ‘Well Society launched,” Dickie said. “Now we are a number of years down the line and we’ve been reasonably successful both on and off the park.

“There is a lot of commitment involved. People are buying season tickets or sponsoring different things, so it’s always difficult, especially in the current environment.

“I think it can succeed at Thistle though. They are fortunate they have Colin Weir, and the shares are going to be a gift to the fans.

“We had a slightly different scenario in that we had Les Hutchison coming in at the right time for us, and that was very helpful, but he had to be repaid. I think Partick Thistle have a good foundation there.

“I think the fan-based model is certainly one for clubs to seriously consider.”

Dickie was keen to lay to rest a misconception that fans having a voice on the board as owners translates to laymen having a say in the day-to-day running of the club.

“We have a ‘Well Society board that sits with eight or nine members, and then there are two representatives that sit on the main executive board of the club,” he said.

“We’re effectively fan representatives, and carrying any communication between the Society board onto the executive board.

“There’s a distinction. The executive board are responsible for the day-to-day running of the club. The Society board are, in the main, elected members, with two or three co-opted members with certain skills. It’s a democratic organisation, and it’s a separate entity.

“Primarily we are there to financially assist the club, because that is what you would expect from the owners of a football club, to step in when and if required.


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“We are now debt-free. We have to run the football club on a prudent financial basis, which at our level, brings its own challenges.

“But if there are strategic decisions, the Society board have to be involved in that as owners, and if there are any major issues – such as moving ground, for example – that’s got to be a collective responsibility.

“It’s a balancing act between the interests of the football club, the fans, and finances.”

As well as allowing the team to flourish on the field though, the hard work put in by those involved in the running of the club and the ‘Well Society has allowed Motherwell to enhance its role as part of the fabric of the town once more.

“A football club is a cornerstone of a small community like ours,” he said.

“We work with the club, the academy and the community trust, and we’ve helped them. Fans can directly see our contribution.

“Fans now are quite proud of being owners of the club.”