Keith Lasley has urged Motherwell supporters to secure the club’s future before a crisis kicks in.
The 36-year-old is a fully paid up member of the Well Society, the fans’ group which aspires to gain a controlling shareholding at Fir Park by 2020.
With a stated target of 2,000 pledging supporters, the group currently have 1,200 adult and 400 junior members, with majority shareholder Les Hutchison recently stating that initial enthusiasm had “waned”.
Barbados-based philanthropist Hutchison has also made it clear that he will not fund Motherwell indefinitely, warning that the dream of building a fan-owned club could be doomed to failure if the Well Society do not gather momentum
Lasley admits that it is a challenge to galvanise supporters without the spur of a looming crisis – but has underlined the urgency of the situation.
“Sometimes I think it takes a crisis to get the fans on board,” said the experienced midfielder. “Maybe when they see that we have an owner on board they think it’s not as urgent. But it is urgent.
“I think that is the message, it’s certainly the message from the owner. Yes, we’re lucky to have him, with the finance and the support he’s given the club in the short term. But that’s what he sees it as – the short term. He’s hoping to just facilitate it in the short term, with that long-term goal of fan ownership.
“It’s genuinely an urgent cause – and something that needs to be done sooner rather than later. I think fans are getting the message that it’s important to do this quickly.
“We want this to put the club on a sound footing for years to come and the fans are the people with the club’s interests at heart.”
However, with Motherwell currently toiling in 11th place in the Premiership, Lasley has emphasised the need to retain their top-flight status if their lofty off-the-field plans are to succeed.
“Any football club can have all the ideas in the world off the park – but it all comes down to three o’clock on a Saturday,” continued Lasley. “We want this to be a fan-owned club – in the top flight. That’s where we come in as players, doing what we can on the park. If things are going positively on the park, that helps drum up support off the park, in terms of crowds, sponsorship, investment and the like.
“We will try to do that. We’re not in a good position now but are looking to improve.”
Lasley was speaking as Motherwell prepare to welcome Hearts to Fir Park on Saturday in the Scottish Premiership, with both clubs celebrating – and promoting – their respective fan ownership schemes.
Foundation of Hearts currently boast 8,000 paying members and have already provided £2.4 million of working capital and remain on course to take control of the club by 2019.
Hearts will wear a unique third kit this weekend, emblazoned with the names of their pledgers, while information desks regarding the Well Society and FoH will be in place. And FoH chairman Brian
Cormack revealed they have held discussions with several Scottish clubs – including Hibs. “We do speak to the Well Society people and other clubs, as well,” he said. “We’ve spoken to Rangers First, to St Mirren fans, Raith Rovers. Anybody that asks questions, we’re willing to help. We’ve met all of these groups to explain what we’re doing, sharing ideas. We have recently talked to HSL (Hibernian Supporters Limited) at Hibs, because we met at a recent Supporters’ Direct meeting at Hampden.
“They haven’t been back in touch yet – but I’d be more than willing to talk to them.”