IT is an old adage of public relations that when an organisation finds itself facing a barrage of flak, the very worst thing it can do is nothing at all. It’s important, the thinking goes, to present an alternative version of events, to seize control of the narrative and provide a different take on whatever goings-on have become the outrage de jour.

This is supposedly PR 101; a golden rule to be adhered to at all times. By saying nothing at all, you allow your opponents to spread disinformation and the void of silence is filled with angry, dissenting voices.

Every media student in every university, college and school throughout the country is aware of this truism – yet as Partick Thistle’s fan ownership dispute rages on, many of those directly involved in the share transfer have repeatedly refused to be drawn on any aspect of it.

For the PTFC Trust, the fans’ group that is receiving Colin Weir’s 55 per cent stake in the Maryhill club, the transgression is more easily forgiven. That the whole deal was negotiated in the shadows, under the veil of anonymity to the public and their fellow fans alike, was an error in my view. You simply cannot claim to represent a fanbase who don’t know even know your identity.

To the Trust’s credit, they held a Q&A session at Firhill last Friday before the Jags’ match against Inverness and invited fans to come along. They have also cherry-picked questions from supporters and provided brief (and often unsatisfying) answers to their concerns on social media in the last week or so. But that’s about the sum of their fan engagement over the last two and a half years.

Dramatic change is required if the Trust is to resemble anyone’s definition of fan ownership. Since its formation in 2015, there has been a solitary election in 2018 and we do not know when each of the current five Trustees were appointed – or, indeed, by who. There is little accountability to its beneficiaries and it does not wield any influence over the club board. In fairness to the PTFC Trust, they have promised sweeping changes to its policies in these areas but they have still to enlighten the wider support about their designs.

The club itself has insisted that fan representation on the Partick Thistle board remains “an option” – a claim echoed by the PTFC Trust – after non-executive director Alan Rough suggested on PLZ Soccer last week that the Trust wouldn’t have any seats on the board.

Those few minutes of a soft-ball interview are the only indication we have had from any individual on the club board on the whole debacle, and they raised more questions than answers. Rough alluded to speaking to “the eight” Trustees after board meetings to bring them up to speed on what was discussed but at the time of his comments, there were only six. Rumours abound of other people involved in the deal that have refused to put their name to any public declaration from the Trust.

I have a lot of sympathy for the PTFC Trust. There is nothing to suggest that these people are anything other than dyed-in-the-wool Jags fans who have the club’s best interests at heart. But that does not make them immune from criticism or scrutiny and the sooner they allow this, the better it is for everyone involved. Ultimately, such a process only excludes and frustrates the supporters – the very people they are there to represent.

My sympathy doesn’t quite stretch as far with Jacqui Low, the chairman of the club and one of two directors of Three Black Cats (3BC), the company that owns Weir’s stake that has been charged with handing the shares over to fans. Having worked successfully in PR prior to becoming involved with Thistle, Low’s expertise in this area is substantial and beyond dispute.

Over the last few months, Low has pulled up the drawbridge and repeatedly turned down any and all media requests to shed a little light on the matter and be held to account in any meaningful way. 3BC has purposefully chosen to keep fans in the dark, which raises an obvious question: why?

Low knows fine well how damaging a policy of silence is to 3BC’s image and its handling of the whole affair. She knows that suppositions, conspiracies and misinformation will inevitably fill the void caused by the lack of concrete information on offer. And yet she has elected to press on nonetheless, refusing to poke her head above the parapet.

For me, Low’s approach leads to a worrying conclusion: that the current muddled state of affairs is preferable to disclosing the detail behind the move to fan ownership. Any PR textbook will tell you that the worst approach possible is to do nothing whatsoever and Low has consistently acted against this conventional wisdom, which begs the question: why can’t fans be informed of the process that has taken place behind closed doors? What detail is so terrible that it cannot be brought to light?

As a journalist, the situation frustrates me. I want to speak to people on both sides of the argument, present their cases clearly and give them a fair hearing. It is my job to inform supporters and provide balance but the approach thus far from 3BC in particular makes that incredibly difficult.

As a fan, I am angry. Myself and thousands of other Partick Thistle supporters are being treated with disdain; implicitly being told not to worry ourselves with all this fan ownership nonsense, that we are undeserving of a full and detailed account of how the decision to gift the shares to the Trust came about.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This conspiracy of silence achieves nothing and only serves to frustrate an already neglected fanbase, and it is the responsibility of 3BC to provide a thorough explanation as to why the Trust was chosen to receive the shares ahead of other proposals. Fans deserve better than the Kafkaesque charade that is playing out before their very eyes, and their legitimate concerns can only be dismissed or ignored for so long.