Motherwell Begin Crucial Shareholder Vote on Proposed Takeover

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Motherwell Football Club is facing a crucial decision as its shareholders prepare to vote on a proposed takeover bid.

Former Fir Park chairman, Brian McCafferty, has cautioned fans against accepting the offer, warning that it could jeopardise the club's financial stability.

The Motherwell board has recommended that shareholders accept a £1.95 million offer from Wild Sheep Sports, a company established by American TV executive Erik Barmack and his wife, Courtney.

This deal would see the Barmacks acquire a 47 per cent stake in the club.

However, the Well Society, the fan-run majority shareholder, has urged its members to reject the plan in a ballot that opened on Monday morning.

The outcome of this vote will ultimately determine the future direction of Motherwell Football Club.

"The Wild Sheep offer would put fan ownership and the financial future of Motherwell at major risk," said McCafferty.

“The revision to allow the Well Society to retain slightly more than half of the shares is largely symbolic as the deal immediately hands Wild Sheep effective control.

“Although both groups will have three representatives on the board, Erik Barmack will have a casting vote as chairman and the deal stipulates that Wild Sheep will develop overall strategy in conjunction with two club executives. The Well Society is only entitled to ‘discuss’ these key decisions.

“Much has been made of the independence of the two club employees on the board, but people come and go at football clubs all the time – especially if they disagree with the chairman – and Wild Sheep could appoint any replacements. So it’s unquestionably boardroom control.

“There are other factors that risk fan ownership, including what happens if the Well Society misses its financial obligations to almost match the Barmacks’ investment. This remains unclear, and I’d expect many fans would stop paying subscriptions if control is handed to an overseas investor.

“Fans would have no say over other investors Erik Barmack has talked about introducing and Wild Sheep could be entitled to take a share of the club’s profits after year six.”

A message from current chairman, Jim McMahon, ahead of the voting period opening today read: "A lot of the debate about the Barmack offer and the Well Society (WS) plan has been constructive and forward-looking.

"Some has been more negative and I cover a couple of those aspects below in the hope they can now be put to the side in the decision on how to vote.

"Point one, I can somehow benefit personally if the deal goes ahead.

"I don’t have shares in the club. I have never held shares. I have contributed to the WS since it was formed. I have one vote as a member.

"Point two, why do this now? We don’t need to. And here my words 'We have enough money to see us through this season and a bit of next' have been quoted and it’s been suggested they should be 'Shouted from the rooftops'.

"They are completely accurate and I agree they should be shouted out. Everyone involved in getting us into that position should be proud of what has been achieved over the seven years of fan ownership. But my next sentence should be included for balance.

"'You get the best deal when you don’t need the money – if you do need money the terms will be much less attractive.'

"This is an attempt to move away from season-to-season budgeting to a more sustainable basis.

"As has been pointed out, this is a vote on the Barmack proposal, not the WS outline plan. But there is one key area where some read-across is vital – new investment.

"New investment will determine how the club’s finances look in the future. Both plans trail that. The Barmack deal outlines the investment amount, £1.95m, which has stringent safeguards built in and accepts that all the increased value from that investment stays inside the club.

"The WS plan also looks to bring in new investors and highlights that the Society is talking to interested parties. It is unfair to expect that aspect to have been finalised and to ask for chapter and verse on how this would work at this point.

"But it is fair to ask in general terms:

"How many interested parties are there at present? If they all become investors, how much investment would that mean in total?

"Will all of this be new money? Will this be put in as ordinary share capital and therefore become part of the permanent capital in the club?

"Will this be at a value for the club which is greater than the Barmack offer?

"Will this come with the agreement of the investor that all the extra value created by their investment will stay in the club?

"This basic information will allow members and shareholders to weigh the current offer against other alternatives.

"Jim McMahon, chairman."