Raith fans want to begin talks

Stark's Park, home of Raith Rovers - both are the focus of much speculation
Stark's Park, home of Raith Rovers - both are the focus of much speculation

Raith Supporters Trust hopes to enter dialogue soon with club director John Sim on his potential takeover of the club – which many Raith followers only heard about first when they read last week’s Press.

The Trust received a detailed run-through on Tuesday evening of Mr Sim’s proposals, and also heard of initial talks between Starks Park Properties Ltd and New Raith Rovers Ltd – both of which have Mr Sim as a major shareholder – which could see the stadium and the football club fall under single ownership.

Initially, Trust chairman Alan Russell said there were strong reservations about a football club being under the control of a single individual.

However, while they did not know Thailand-based businessman Mr Sim as well as some of the other Raith board members, they believed his intentions were good.

“He may have been diff icult to deal with in the past, but he has stuck around the club for 12 years, and does genuinely seem to want what’s best for the football club,” said Mr Russell. “You would not put your money into something and leave it there for 12 years if you had ulterior motives.”

The Trust hoped there would be “structural safeguards” for the club and the stadium. “There are lots of alternatives to limited liability companies,” said Mr Russell. “There are ways of setting up firms so they protect the assets. We would like to explore a lot of these with Mr Sim, see what makes sense and what would help him achieve what he wants, which seems to be having the club run sustainably and responsibly.

In a later statement, the Trust said: “We share the concerns of the boards of both companies that the football club must live within its means sustainably and play a long-term active role in the Kirkcaldy community. Relegation has brought additional financial pressure to the club, which was already struggling to thrive in challenging economic circumstances.

“We intend to play as active a role as possible in ensuring Raith Rovers navigates these challenges, and are open to discussing how best to achieve this.

“Supporters’ trusts will always be wary of situations where one individual can control the direction of the clubs we love; even with owners who have the best of intentions, we have seen the dangers of this model play out in front of us.

“In our discussions over the coming weeks, we will stress the need for permanent safeguards to be built into the structure of the club and its associated companies to protect Raith Rovers against this.”

“The supporters’ place on the board of the football club exists due to the hard work and generous financial contributions of Raith Rovers fans over the years.

The Trust’s shareholding is owned on behalf of all supporters, whether they are members of the Trust, other supporters groups, or just as individual supporters whose contributions helped us to secure our voice in the Stark’s Park boardroom.

“We believe it is imperative that the Raith Rovers supporters’ voice continues to be heard and the wishes and concerns of the fans are fully considered in any changes to the structure and direction of the football club.”

Issues needing resolved as Raith talks continue