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Trust Stance in Stadium Discussions

December 2, 2016

sb-with-dfc-plans

THIS week’s Lennox Herald has an article setting out the position of the Sonstrust, reflecting the views and concerns of our members, about ongoing discussions with DFC’s owners about the current new stadium proposals. 

We are reproducing it here so that all supporters can see it. Comments welcome. The Herald‘s report of our general meeting on 23rd November is online here.

The developers’ display boards are also reproduced below and open to further comment. We are collating all fans’ responses to the development proposal and taking up the key issues on an ongoing basis. We will continue to report back, and we will also summarise press coverage and comment. The Lennox Herald article (Thursday 1st December) is as follows, with a picture by Andy Scott:

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IN last week’s Lennox Herald, Ian Wilson, a director of Dumbarton FC and lead representative of the club’s majority owners, Brabco 736, directly challenged the Sonstrust to give “vocal and written support” for plans to relocate the club’s stadium to a new site at Young’s Farm.

The trust, a registered provident society, is a shareholder in the club. We are represented on the club board, provide many services free of charge (including running the club’s website and match day programme), and act as the collective voice of Sons fans. We are glad, therefore, that the owners of Dumbarton FC recognise our importance, and that of the fans, for the club’s future.

Since a stadium move was first mooted three years ago, our position has been consistent and clear. We would back a realistic, sustainable proposal that demonstrably secures the future of the club, is in the interest of supporters, and benefits the local community and its environment.

Is the plan set out at the pre-planning consultation on 11th November and presented by Mr Wilson and his colleagues to supporters last Wednesday such a proposal? That is what we are in the process of finding out. Over 70 fans attended the Q&A session with Brabco and their planning consultant. The level of questioning was detailed and high.

We have received assurances that the entire liability for this development rests with the owners and not with the club. Also that the stadium is a ‘turnkey’ project – there will be no ground sharing prior to the move. Moreover, all proceeds from the use of the stadium for commercial purposes will go to the club, we are told. Those are positives that we will look to verify.

On the other hand, there was real concern at the disclosure last week that the club may not own the new stadium outright, but that it may be leased back over a long period on a peppercorn rent or equivalent. For many, that issue is a deal-breaker. Unsurprisingly, there are also questions about the practicality of the plan financially, about planning issues, and about what this development will mean for the club in terms of future direction and ownership.

The overriding priority of the supporters’ trust is to represent the interests of the fans and to seek the security of Dumbarton FC. We want to be positive about proposals that can take forward the club we love. But it is also our job to be vigilant. It is therefore the task of the owners, who are looking to profit from this development alongside the club, to convince West Dunbartonshire Council, Sons fans and the local community that what they are proposing really is a ‘win-win’ situation for all of us. We cannot and will not provide a ‘blank cheque’.

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Simon Barrow is an officer of the Sonstrust and its spokesperson on the stadium relocation issue. He has been a Dumbarton supporter since 1969. He is also chairman of the Scottish Football Supporters Association. You can email him here.

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