Businessman supports Blackburn Rovers fan trust merger
Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust (BRSIT) and Blackburn Rovers Supporters Trust (BRST) have united to form Rovers Trust, bringing together the two supporter organisations whose goal is to own the Ewood Park club in whole or part.
Rovers Trust will be co-chaired by BRST founder Oliver Jones, a specialist music retailer, and Wayne Wild, one of the co-founders of BRSIT and chief executive of Darwen-based engineering group WEC.
Wayne said: “By uniting we can concentrate on our two main aims: making as many supporters as possible members of Rovers Trust and persuading as many supporters as possible to buy one or more shares in the Community Benefit Society. This gives us the ideal platform to persuade members, supporters and the business community to raise enough capital to buy the club.
“Shares cost £1,000 each and this money will be the acquisition capital used by Rovers Trust to gain ownership of Blackburn Rovers.
“The share price has been set at £1,000 per share to raise enough money to show the owners of the club how serious we are. This aspiration of ownership will only happen if we can find enough capital to get into a position to negotiate with the owners.
“It would then be the members who would elect the majority of the board, alongside other highly skilled and respected directors. The members would hold this board to account as the ultimate owners of the club.”
BRST and BRSIT spent the summer formulating their merger plans, setting up the new trust as a Community Benefit Society and making sure all the relevant legal and financial structures are in place.
A membership drive is being launched to give Rovers Trust credibility and authority. Annual membership of Rovers Trust has been set at £10 per annum.
The membership push will be followed by a share-raising plan modelled on the ‘pledge scheme’ first launched by BRSIT earlier this year, which, to date, has seen almost £3m pledged by supporters wanting to buy a £1,000 share in a new ownership model.
The challenge for Rovers Trust is to convert those pledges into real shares and also persuade more supporters to buy into the scheme. An initial target of £10m is being set to help ensure the club’s future is in the hands of fans and the community.
High profile supporters and local businesses have also announced they are backing the Rovers Trust. They include local MPs Jack Straw, Jake Berry and Graham Jones as well as regional MEP Brian Simpson, Kate Hollern, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council and Sir Bill Taylor and Lord Taylor of Blackburn.
Rovers Trust has the full approval of Supporters Direct, the official independent government body set up to advise football fans on taking a stake in their club.
Kevin Rye, spokesman for Supporters Direct, said: “It’s great to see two initiatives that were set-up with the ambition of seeing the fans and wider community at the centre of the ownership structure for Blackburn Rovers coming together as one. We hope the Rovers Trust is equipped to reach its aim and a provides a new path for all those who follow the club.”