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Fans Seek New Stadium Assurance

February 16, 2018

SonstrustAGMMEMBERS of the Sonstrust have given the green light to outline planning permission for a possible stadium relocation, but only if there is a cast iron planning guarantee that the current one will not be sold until a new one is built, and with the clear proviso that any move must be financially sustainable and beneficial.

The poll of more than 300 trust members saw a significant majority agree to the organisation — an officially registered provident society / supporters’  cooperative — giving backing to the planning consent which Dumbarton FC and its owners will seek from West Dunbartonshire Council next month. The full result will be published over the weekend. 

The vote is an endorsement of the trust’s position of constructive engagement with the club’s owners over their development proposals, but the trust board is strongly emphasising that their ‘stage-by-stage’ approach is still in place, and that there is a long way to go — especially with regard to financial planning and assurances of sustainability if the project gets the go-ahead.

The evidence is that fans are seeking to take a positive view of the opportunities a new stadium development could offer, but this qualified endorsement is only part of the process and is certainly not a ‘blank cheque’ for the developers.

Many would still prefer to be able to stay at the Rock, but are realistic about needing to take a careful decision about what is in the best interests of the club.

In another question on the ballot, which went to all trust members by email or post, a huge majority firmly oppose the idea of ‘colt teams’ from Premiership clubs gaining access to the lower leagues in Scotland.

More to follow on both these developments — meantime, ‘mon eh Sons for the trip to Oswestry to take on TNS this weekend in the semi-final of the Irn Bru Cup!

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Make Your Vote Count!

February 3, 2018

YourVoiceA REMINDER to all trust members that you have the chance to vote RIGHT NOW on two vital issues — the stance of our trust towards the planning application stage of the new stadium proposal, and the question of colt teams in the league.

You should have received your ballot paper by email or post by now. The deadline for voting is midnight on Tuesday 6th February. However, we have been told that some people voting by post only got their papers on Thursday or Friday… so for postal votes ONLY, we will keep the ballot open until Friday 9th to make sure everyone has a fair chance to have their say.

A few questions have come up online and through correspondence, so we thought it would be helpful to respond to those publicly. First, some have asked, “Why isn’t the vote about saying yes or no to the whole stadium move deal, not just the planning application?” The answer is that the whole deal isn’t on the table yet. But if you’re certain that you’re for or against a move no matter what, you can vote accordingly in this ballot, and you can also leave a comment. Equally, as the covering letter for the ballot makes clear, the planning application isn’t the end of things — far from it. So we need the flexibility as an organisation to respond according to changes in what’s happening, so that we can say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ as appropriate — on the basis of what best secures the club’s future. That’s why we’re taking this whole process stage-by-stage. But be assured that the trust board and its representatives will continue to consult and involve our members in all key decisions moving forward, whatever happens.

Another question raised is, “Haven’t we already voted?” That is a reference to two shows of hands in two of the four Community Suite discussions, plus the results of the feedback submitted to the club/owners/trust at or after the two pre-planning statutory consultations in 2014 and 2017. The answer is that neither of these was specifically for trust members, and there are members who will not have been present or did not participate, as well as non-members who did. Plus while a ‘show of hands’ is only indicative of those who happen to be there, a formal ballot ensures that everyone can take part and express their view. (Incidentally, the results of these other ways of testing opinion, and from the 362 feedback comments we’ve registered online and elsewhere, have been very mixed, so this ballot may give us a clearer picture.)

Lastly, some have asked, “Why are only trust members voting?” and “Does the trust claim to speak for all Sons fans?” The answer is that this is a vote about the stance of the trust on two issues, so it’s obviously for members, not non-members, to decide. Numerically, the trust has in membership a clear majority of regular fans. We try to take into account the views of those who choose not to be part of an organised, democratic fan group that holds shares and a board seat in the club and is a registered co-op — but we cannot represent them formally, give them a vote, or give them the same say if they’re not a member. Membership is obviously a decision of individuals. Equally obviously, we’d like EVERY Dumbarton fan to join, have their say, elect their representatives and play a part in moving our club towards ever-greater support involvement, engagement and stakeholding. Thankfully, hundreds have chosen to do that already… but it’s never too late to join! By joining together and deciding things together, we are stronger. In that sense the trust is there for ALL of us.

If there are other comments or questions, do leave them here and we’ll get back to you. Thanks to one and all for your commitment to the future of DFC. ‘Mon eh, Sons!

Trust Ballot Out This Week

January 29, 2018

BallotMEMBERS of the Sonstrust will be getting a chance to vote on two important issues this week. If you’re signed up as a member, you’ll be getting your voting form and accompanying information by email or by post.

The questions we are looking for a response on are, firstly, whether or not the trust should give official support to the planning application for the new stadium (which is by no means the last chance to express a view on the proposal, but obviously a significant milestone in its forward movement).

Second, we’d like to know what you think about the proposal for Premiership ‘colt’ teams in the lower leagues of Scottish football — something which doesn’t impact Dumbarton directly yet, but which fans will want to respond on NOW, before it simply happens without us being consulted.

In case you were wondering, we’ve delayed the members’  ballot by a further week so that BOTH questions could be put, to save everyone time and money. But it’s important that we do this. Your voice matters! 

You may also have seen the updates in the local press about the change in the timing of consideration about planning consent for a stadium at Young’s Farm. This has moved back from 31st January to 21st February for the planning committee, and will now also go to the full council (as the trust has been predicting for some time) at the end of March.

That change emphasises the importance of the decision for the whole town, as well as for us. It also gives us as a trust time to move some associated issues forward in our ongoing conversation with the club’s owners.

More to follow on all that shortly.

FAQ on Stadium Relocation

January 12, 2018

Brabco faq

THE owners of Dumbarton FC have given public responses to ten key questions posed to them by the Sonstrust, based on the trust’s engagement with its members and monitoring of questions and issues raised by fans on social media over a number of weeks. 

Along with the six assurances provided to supporters by Brabco, the FAQs seeks to summarise in brief and readable form some of the issues involved in lengthy, detailed discussions that have taken place over several months between the clubs owners and representatives of the trust. The talks have included exchanges about stadium ownership, the process of moving, the commercial and business case, changes needed at the club from both the fans’ and owners’ perspectives, and much more.

There will be an opportunity to hear more about this and to ask questions at the forum in the Community Suite at the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium tomorrow (Saturday 13th January 2018) before our game against Championship leaders St Mirren. We will also be hearing directly what the Club Board thinks from vice-chairman Colin Hosie.

This material (attached, link below) will be sent out to trust members by email shortly, together with an opportunity for them to indicate whether or not they feel the trust should give a public ‘green light’ as a body to the planning application being considered by West Dunbartonshire Council on 31st January (a key stage in what has been, and will be, a long process if all this moves ahead). The other option will be to continue to leave it to individual members to make representations as they choose.

The trust will be writing as a matter of course to councillors to seek an assurance from them that a fixed condition of any planning consent would be a requirement that a new stadium be ready before any sale at Castle Road. That is a condition that Brabco have publicly accepted and are expecting, as part of their assurance that there will be no ground share involved in the proposed relocation, and therefore no threat to the security of the club.

You can read the full ten-point FAQ and the six assurances here: Brabco FAQ & Assurances.

 

50/50 MATCHDAY CO-ORDINATOR REQUIRED

January 10, 2018

THE Sonstrust are looking for a reliable supporter/trust member  to become part of the half-time draw (50/50) team.

The half-time draw is co-ordinated by the Supporters Trust but we need a match day supervisor and if you are over 16, available for all home matches (Saturdays and midweek), reliable, have an outgoing personality then you could be the person required.

Interested? Then contact Alan Findlay on 07904 666 014 or drop an e-mail to secy@sonstrust.net

Alternatively leave contact details in the comment section of this post and we will respond.

Owners Give Written Assurances to Fans

January 9, 2018

meeting3

THE owners of Dumbarton Football Club have given six written guarantees to the club’s fans through the Sonstrust about the conditions applying to the planning application for a new stadium development at Young’s farm.

The move comes after a three-hour meeting of trust representatives with Brabco director Chris Stainton last Friday, and the first of two Q&A session at the club’s stadium ahead of Dumbarton’s game against Dunfermline on Saturday.

The statement (which will be made available to fans) has been co-signed on behalf of Brabco by Chris Stainton and by former Dumbarton FC director Ian Wilson.

It promises that “the new stadium will be owned in such a way as to secure its continuing use as a sustainable facility for DFC into the foreseeable future” and that “there will be no ground share during the relocation process”.

Brabco also pledges that there will be significant changes to the club’s governance and board, with the trust guaranteed continuing board representation and a commitment to find “people with the right skill sets to move the club forward.”

In addition, the Sons’ owners agree with the trust that Dumbarton needs to be a strong community club. They pledge to involving fans in commercial planning for the new development, and commit the club to “best practice processes for engagement with the DFC fanbase.”

Brabco has also committed publicly to bringing the ownership of the club onshore, which the trust has pushed for. That is in process at present.

Should the relocation move ahead, trust representatives also foresee the opportunity arising for us as a fans’ group (or for our CiC vehicle) to increase our holding and influence in the club.

The commitments Brabco have now made in writing represent significant progress in our discussions with the owners of Dumbarton FC in recently, following nearly nine months of exchanges and meetings.

We have negotiated based our own cast iron priority as a trust – which is the to ensure the security and flourishing of the club we love.

Moving forward, and whatever transpires in terms of the stadium issue, we want to see substantial community engagement, better governance, fresh commercial development to support the team, and a real and lasting partnership between the club board, the majority owners and the trust.

We have had beneficial conversations with the owners about how this can take shape, and we will bringing further ideas and proposals of our own in the coming weeks, in consultation with our members.

ANOTHER CONSULTATION ON SATURDAY

In the meantime, a second Q&A session will take place before the St Mirren game on Saturday 13th January (2pm in the Community Suite), ahead of a vote of trust members on whether or not the trust should give its green light to the next stage in all this, the planning application – bearing in mind that even if that hurdle is passed, there’s a long way to go. That vote should take place for trust members early next week.

The meeting on Saturday will involve DFC vice chair Colin Hosie explaining the club board’s perspective on the way ahead, as well as trust representative on the club board, Alan Findlay, the leader of our trust negotiating team, Simon Barrow, and members Stevie Lynch and Alistair Thorn.

(Brabco’s PR team will likely be present again on Saturday, but this particular Q&A at 2pm is for fans and trust members, focusing on what’s the best future for our club, and the risks and opportunities involved in a decision to stay or move.)

Trust Q&A Before Dunfermline Game

January 4, 2018

IMG_5625THERE will be a brief update from the Sonstrust on the stadium relocation proposal and a chance for people to make comments and ask questions before the home game against Dunfermline on Saturday 6th January.

We’ll start around 1.50pm for half an hour in the Community Suite. And yes, bar service will continue as usual!

The Playfair team, who are promoting the new stadium plans on behalf of DFC’s owners and the club, will also be around with their display and leaflets. So you can question them, too.

In addition, this will be the first chance in 2018 to renew or take up your Sonstrust membership, and Tommy Hughes will be keen to sign you up at the trust table.

Last year we reached our highest ever membership number of 360, and this year we are going for 400. It costs just £10 to renew or join, makes you part of a shareholding in Dumbarton FC, and gives you a strong voice in decisions about the future of the club.

As a percentage of season ticket holders and regular fans we have the one of the largest memberships in Scotland, bringing together the great majority of Sons supporters in a registered provident society (co-operative).

Please help make us even stronger… and support the work we do: running the club website,  programme, commercial activities and 50/50 draw, Sons TV and matchday media, holding social events, raising funds, consulting fans, representing your concerns to the club and owners, and having a voice in the boardroom through our trust director.

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