Trust still seek answers as Raith takeover talks advance

Raith director and Stark's Park owner, John Sim
Raith director and Stark's Park owner, John Sim

John Sim’s proposed takeover of Raith Rovers remains on course – despite concerns from the Raith Trust over unanswered questions.

A deal that will see ownership of the club transfer to Stark’s Park Properties, the company which owns the stadium and where Mr Sim is the majority shareholder, is believed to be at an advanced stage.

The finer details of the restructure are currently being finalised and are in the hands of lawyers, but Raith chairman Alan Young told the Press that while progress is slow, things are moving forward.

“We are still in discussion, but there is no agreement as yet,” he said.

“We’re in dialogue with John Sim but when someone is on the other side of the world, and lawyers are involved, it’s difficult to move things quickly.

“We’ve also got shareholders and supporters, the lifeblood of the club, who are keen to put their views across and we’ve got to take account of them.

“Things are progressing slowly but we’d like to get it completed sooner rather than later.”

With Mr Sim already wielding significant power at the club as both a key board member, and stadium owner, asked why the takeover is necessary, chairman Young replied: “It’s a means whereby the club can have a degree of financial stability it hasn’t had for ten to 15 years.”

While welcoming Mr Sim’s intentions for the club, which include installing an artificial surface at Stark’s Park, Raith Trust chairman Alan Russell expressed a wish to have some key questions answered prior to any deal being completed.

“We do share the aspirations of John Sim for the club,” he said.

“Everyone wants the club to be run sustainably, responsibly and would welcome new investment if it happens in the right way.

“All the people involved in this takeover are well known to the club and have club’s best interests at heart so it doesn’t feel like a hostile takeover, or a big threat, but there are a lot of unknowns in it that make us a little bit nervous.

“We would like to go into this takeover with our eyes open, rather than the takeover being completed, and we still have a load of questions that weren’t answered.”

Mr Russell outlined the Trust’s three main concerns as, firstly, the lack of a detailed business plan, secondly, where new investment will be sourced from and, thirdly, what safeguards will be put in place to retain supporters representation at boardroom level?

There are also questions over the future leasing arrangements between the football club and the stadium, with Stark’s Park Properties currently making significant annual profits by charging the club £7000 per month in rent.

“We’ve had no real answers so far,” Mr Russell added.