Tag: Gretna

A Matter Of Trust: Some Supporter-Owned Highlights From 2011

It is the end, then, of another long, hard season, and perhaps now is an appropriate time to be looking at how those clubs that are owned and run by their supporters trusts this season managed to fair. As AFC Wimbledon paraded the trophy that confirmed their accession into the Football League nine years after their formation, the words of the FA’s committee, that a new club in the borough would be, “not in the wider interests of football”, have never sounded more hollow. Wimbledon, however, are just one of nineteen clubs in England, Scotland and Wales that are owned by supporters trusts, and they are not the only one of these to have had some degree of success this season. It is worth, then, taking a moment to reflect upon some of the other Supporters Trust-owned clubs that have had cause for celebration this season. Gretna FC 2008: Gretna FC were a prime example of how the sugar daddy model of football club ownership can fail. Funded by Brooks Mileson, the club rose swiftly through the ranks of Scottish football, played in the UEFA Cup and competed in the 2006 Scottish Cup final, where they only lost on penalties to Heart of Midlothian. However, promotion to the Scottish Premier League meant that the club had to abandon its home, Raydale Park, and play its home matches at Motherwell....

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Franchising In Scotland

In Scotland, the harsh realities of the wrong people getting involved in football clubs has been even more pronounced that it has been in England in recent years. Meadowbank Thistle were unceremoniously moved to Livingston, and several clubs have been left homeless or playing in two-sided grounds because of aborted development projects, but the most convoluted story of all has a particular relevance today, as it involves the financial collapse of two clubs, which led to Gretna FC being voted into the Scottish League in circumstances that are best described as “murky”. Their seemingly imminent collapse provides an apt coda to a story that should bring shame upon the administrators of Scottish football. Clydebank Juniors FC had been stalwarts of the Scottish junior football scene since the end of the nineteenth century, and found their way into the senior game there when they were controversially merged with East Stirlingshire to form ES Clydebank by owners that wanted to cash in on what they perceived as bigger crowds on the outskirts of Glasgow. The club lasted for just one season, 1964/65, before being separated through after a lengthy and messy court case. Clydebank FC were admitted to the Scottish League in their own right in 1967, following the collapse of Third Lanark. They had a fairly unremarkable stay in the Scottish League, but their troubles started in 1996, when their...

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Too Much, Too Young?

Some of you will have already seen the piece that I wrote for “Pitch Invasion” on the boom & bust football culture in Essex over the last fifteen years or so. The dangers of being dependent on a single benefactor are being thrown into even sharper perspective north of the border, where Gretna FC’s existence is now under threat as the result of a serious illness contracted by their long-time owner and benefactor. With few assets and money draining out of the club in an alarming fashion, the big concern is that they will not be able to survive a spell in administration. It is, I have to say, yet another cautionary tale for supporters hoping that a multi-millionaire will walk into their club and make everything alright. Gretna spent their first few decades scrabbling around in the lower reaches of the English non-league game, before transferring into the Scottish League in 2002. With Mileson providing considerable financial backing, they soon showed that anyone with a bit of financial muscle could overpower the semi-professionals of the Scottish lower divisions, and they became the first club in the history of Scottish football to be promoted from the Third Division to the SPL in successive seasons. As they won the Scottish Second Division title in 2006, they also made it to the Scottish Cup final. They lost on penalties at Hampden...

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