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Trust response to comments by Ian Wilson

April 10, 2017

sonstrustlogoAN article profiling the views of Brabco lead developer and Dumbarton FC director Ian Wilson appeared in the Scottish Sun newspaper on Saturday 8th April 2017, containing various claims about the proposed stadium location and the alleged attitude of Sons fans.

In particular, Ian Wilson stated:

“[N]egativity is coming from a small group. I don’t know if that’s because we’ve not involved them enough but I’m trying to correct that.

 “I’ve met the Sons Trust and other fans to get them involved. I’m incredibly disappointed some fans feel the way they do.”

The Sonstrust board is not aware of the existence of the ‘small group’ being referred to here, or their views, but we are asking Brabco for clarification about this. (We have been actively willing and able to introduce our owners to fans and to enable fans to engage with them. We last did that on a large scale at an open meeting in November 2016.)

For factual clarification, the Sonstrust, unlike any ‘small group’ with whom Mr Wilson is in contact, has a membership that is approximately the same size as the entire season ticket and regularly attending supporter base of Dumbarton FC (not including under-16s, who are not eligible to join a provident society). We continue to grow as a registered cooperative, a shareholder in Dumbarton FC, the holder of a seat on the club board and the provider of regular services and financial backing to DFC. We are the representative body “for every Dumbarton fan”, as our membership badge proudly makes clear. That is based not just on our membership, but on a demonstrable record of listening to and representing the fans, to whom we are accountable, over many years. We also have the active support of our local MSP and of leading figures in the wider Dumbarton community, for which we are very grateful.

The trust’s clearly-stated position on the stadium relocation question is that we are willing to back any plan, whether for relocation or for staying at the Rock, which can guarantee the security and sustainability of the club and demonstrate benefit for supporters, the community and the local environment. Our position is therefore one of constructive engagement, not the negativity Mr Wilson alleges some to be displaying. However, rightly and properly, there are no ‘blank cheques’ as far as the financial security of the club we love is concerned.

What we have been asking for over the period of three years, since Brabco’s proposal was first mooted publicly, is a clear, costed plan that demonstrates the necessity, feasibility and sustainability of a stadium relocation. We are glad that, after many months of us asking, Brabco are now meeting with us and are promising that they will provide evidence as their project moves forward. We have yet to see any plans, but look forward to them being presented. We have made it clear that, in return, we can provide expert local knowledge, as appropriate.

The trust’s responsible stance on the stadium issue is guided by extensive, direct consultation with hundreds of Dumbarton fans, in person, in writing, at two open meetings, through mailings, across four AGMs, and through regular social media contact over many months. This includes nearly 250 comments documented in writing, related to information from the statutory consultations and two open meetings – the most feedback collected by any party so far on these matters, including Brabco and its planning consultant. Fans are therefore well informed on the issues that have been made public so far, but there are naturally still many questions we would like addressed – including those posed by the local press, some of which have not yet been responded to.

The unanimous wish of Dumbarton fans is that whatever is done regarding the stadium should be done in a way that secures the future of the club. We welcome any assurances from Brabco, the controlling shareholders, in this direction, and we look forward to seeing such assurances formulated in a binding way.

There are other important issues raised by Mr Wilson’s interview with the Scottish Sun which are very important to Dumbarton supporters and to all who care about the future of the club.

The main one is the eventual ownership of the proposed new stadium. Fans have made it abundantly and overwhelmingly clear to us that they wish the stadium to be owned outright by the club. We do not see any tax issues getting in the way of that, but will engage directly with Brabco and the club about technical and legal matters, based on the top-level, independent financial advice. We had thought that this issue was on the way to being resolved in a satisfactory way, but it appears from Ian Wilson’s statement that it is “likely” that the club will not own the stadium. We are seeking urgent clarification about this. We want the best possible solution, of course.

We remain positive about the future of the club, the capacity of fans to ensure its survival and flourishing along with the hard-working club board, and our ability to ensure that any stadium development or relocation is done in the appropriate way, with proper accountability, evidence and transparency.

Dumbarton fans will always be positive about plans to strengthen and develop our club in ways that involve them and are credible. Suggestions to the contrary, from whatever source, are unhelpful, disrespectful and wrong. The Sonstrust continues to believe that the best way for Brabco to demonstrate their goodwill is to back our call for a club AGM or EGM, at which all shareholders can ask questions and make comment about the largest development this historic club will ever have been involved in.

We are also monitoring progress on bringing our controlling shareholders’ operations fully onshore, and we note that fans would still like to know the identity of all owners of the club. This kind of openness is the way to address lingering doubts or fears from whatever quarter.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Allan Clarke permalink
    April 12, 2017 10:35 pm

    Well done to the Trust on this response.

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