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Football club owners and shareholders must be revealed, says report

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Mysterious owners and main shareholders behind Scottish football clubs must be revealed, a government report has said.


A group set up to examine the involvement of supporters in the running of football clubs in Scotland has published its final report.


The report, ordered by the Scottish Government last year, has called on clubs to reveal their owner and main shareholders to fans to increase transparency.


Another main recommendation is that details of directors and board meetings are made available to fans of all clubs.


There continues to be challenges in identifying the owners of some clubs in Scottish football and this should be resolved, the report stated.


The report said: "While the ownership of most Scottish clubs is readily apparent, there have been and continue to be challenges in identifying the owners of some clubs.


"Given the contribution these clubs make to communities and to the nation it is clear that supporters and others in a community should have the right to know who owns their football clubs."


The group involved in writing the report, which involved senior figures in the SPFL, SFA and sportscotland, recommended that the identity of the "ultimate beneficial owner of a club" should be declared.


It added that if the owner was a trust involving a group of people, then the individuals should also be identified.


This recommendation is relevant to the situation at Rangers where a number of mysterious trusts and firms hold major shareholdings without fans knowing who they are.


The report said: "To participate in the Scottish Professional Football League, a club must declare to the SPFL and to the SFA, and publish, the identity of the ultimate beneficial owner of the club.


"Should that owner be a trust, the club must disclose the ultimate beneficiaries of the trust and the name of the trustees.


"Of fundamental importance to supporters are the risks to their club where an owner does not have, or does not appear to have, that club’s best interests at heart."


The report also recommended: "That further consideration is given as to how best to protect supporters and communities, in circumstances where an owner may be seeking to exploit the value of a club’s assets for personal gain.


"Naturally supporter interest in club ownership is concerned with clubs’ financial sustainability, and hence tends to be intensified where a club has financial difficulties.


"Indeed in the majority of recent Scottish football club financial failures, supporters have been involved in one form or another in the ownership structure which allowed their club to exit administration."


The implementation of these recommendations will be overseen by the working group and taken forward by the clubs and governing bodies.


Jamie Hepburn, minister for sport, said: "Supporters should be at the heart of their football clubs, but too often they have felt marginalised and excluded.


"We established this working group because we wanted to find ways of making supporter involvement easier, and of strengthening the relationship between clubs and the communities they represent.


"The group has come up with some interesting recommendations and it is now dependent on everyone involved, including the Scottish Government, to make these work.


"These are challenging times for Scotland’s football clubs. The Scottish Government agrees with the working group that a legislative approach to addressing many of these issues is simply too prescriptive and not desirable or necessary at this stage."


Stewart Regan, Scottish FA chief executive, said: "The Scottish FA acknowledges the need for greater supporter involvement in the national game. It is also supportive of the need to enhance fan engagement, not just in-stadia but expanding our digital provision.


"We have been pleased with the commitment shown by our colleagues in the working group and look forward to working together to implement the recommendations contained in the report."


Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said: "Supporters are the lifeblood of the game in Scotland. We welcome initiatives that are designed to increase fans’ engagement with their clubs."



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It's incredible that Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster still have anything to do with running Scottish football when their combined actions and inaction back in 2012 clearly made their positions untenable and should have seen them sent packing.

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Wonder whether Desmond's soft loans and paybacks will appear somewhere.


Of course, it would also be good to know what the consequences would be for clubs, if their companies reject to publish confident information? I mean, how confidential will the info remain? On the same note, is there no conflict of interest when e.g. the SPFL board includes directors or the like from rival clubs?

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