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[Archived] News Article -> Rovers Supporters Launch Trust To Buy Club

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Plans to bring Blackburn Rovers into community ownership were officially launched yesterday on Wednesday, 22 February, with the establishment of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust. The aim of the Trust is to take on the ownership of the Rovers for the long-term benefit of the club and its supporters and community.

The Trust is the brainchild of Wayne Wild, director of Darwen-based WEC Limited, a commercial partner and sponsor of Blackburn Rovers since 2008, and finance expert Daniel Grabko. Wild has enlisted the support of prominent fans to help bring the plan to fruition and provide expert support where needed. Local MPs Jack Straw, Jake Berry and Graham Jones have confirmed their backing for the formation of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust as have Kate Hollern, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, and Sir Bill Taylor. Legal representation is being provided by top North West law firm Farleys Solicitors, while detailed discussions with the Trust's preferred accounting partner are at an advanced stage, with the confirmation of appointment imminent.

The Trust has established an online presence through the launch of its website at www.brsit.co.uk and social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. A number of fan groups have also given their official backing to the Trust including BRFC Action Group and the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Trust.

Prominent Rovers fan Wayne Wild accounted for the reasoning behind the initiative: "At some point, and maybe soon, we believe Blackburn Rovers will be put up for sale. We believe the best ownership model for Blackburn Rovers is to be entirely owned by the supporters through a trust. We are seeking to engage with the current owners to advise them of our plans and we ask that they consider our proposals seriously as a credible and respectful way to pass on ownership of the club. At this stage we are asking Blackburn Rovers supporters if they would be willing to buy a share in their club. The more fans who pledge to buy a share, the stronger and more credible our bid will be."

The Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust has set up a working party consisting of individuals with backgrounds in relevant business sectors. These individuals are all Blackburn Rovers supporters who are giving their time and expertise for free. The working party also needs people with specialised skills, particularly in corporate governance, sports finance and related fields, IT and marketing.

Once the working party has been finalised, a full list of names and relevant information will be published on the BRSIT website in the interest of clarity and openness. The working party will exist solely to achieve the aim of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust to take on the ownership of the club.

Mr Wild outlined his vision of the ownership scheme: "We will raise funds to buy the club by issuing a sufficient number of shares to meet a realistic valuation at the time of purchase. We believe Blackburn Rovers will be best run by as many shareholders as possible having an equal say in the ownership of the club. We are not ruling out any alternative fundraising options and would welcome dialogue with any interested funders, large or small. However, the aim of the Trust is to establish a truly democratic ownership model which can be independently monitored and held to account by the people who really matter — Blackburn Rovers supporters."

At this stage, no funds are actually required from prospective shareholders and neither is any offer of financial support in any way legally binding. Mr Wild was keen to stress this point and added: "We are not asking for money now, but if fans are willing to make a pledge, we ask that they follow it through if and when we are ready to proceed. We understand supporters want to know how much investment will be required to purchase the club. It is clear that any fair and realistic valuation will be based on the position of the club within the league structure at the time of purchase together with a true assessment of the club's assets and liabilities. It is not, therefore, possible at this stage to put an exact figure on the amount of capital we will need to raise to be successful. However, as we have said, the more supporters who pledge to buy shares, the stronger our position will be when negotiating the purchase of the club."

The working party of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust is looking at a broad range of investment options to make it as affordable as it can so that as many Blackburn Rovers fans as possible can have the chance to invest in the club.

Fans who are interested in the Trust's proposals and in making a pledge of financial support should visit the BRSIT website for further information.

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