The Well Society aims to be an open, transparent, and accessible fan-ownership group, allowing members the chance to have any questions they may have answered honestly and thoroughly.
We will answer all questions directly and, if deemed relevant, will also include them here so that all members and non-members can garner as much information as possible.
What is the Well Society?
The Well Society is Motherwell Football Club’s fan ownership group, set up in 2012 with the vision of community ownership of the club. This vision was realised in 2016 when the Society purchased a controlling shareholding in the club.
Why was it set up?
Former Chairman John Boyle decided to donate his circa-70% shareholding to the club in order that it could then be handed over to the fans. The Well Society was set up as a vehicle for realising that dream of community ownership – a dream which is now reality!
It’s quite apparent that a number of people don’t actually know how the Society works and so will never invest. What plans are in place to clear this up?
Of course, with fan ownership being so new in the UK this is ultimately a learning curve and it will take time for everyone to get their head around the concept and how it works. We believe that with more dialogue and transparency with fans this will improve.
We are aware that there must be a far higher level of transparency with members so that they are aware of what’s going on and the role of the Well Society in the running of the club. With that in mind, we have also began issuing a report from all of our monthly meetings to help keep members in the loop as to what exactly is going on. These reports can be found here.
In terms of how the Society works in general, we have recognised that there has been a lack of basic, clear information in the past and have sought to rectify this. You can now check out our How It Works page.
Membership & the Society Board
How can I join the Well Society?
You can join today through GoCardless or Paypal, pledges start at £5 per month. Alternatively, we can set up standing orders or accept payments by cash, cheque or card.
What’s in it for me?
By becoming a member you are, above all, playing your part in building a sustainable and positive future for Motherwell FC, as well as ensuring that the club does end up in the wrong hands. You will also be able to vote in Well Society board elections, set the agenda for board meetings, have questions answers and ideas considered, and be asked for your opinion on key club and Society decisions. We are also always considering new ideas to make the Well Society even more engaging and participatory going forward.
Additionally, there are benefits available for those who wish to claim them, details which can be found on our Benefits page. The more you pledge the more benefits to which you will be entitled. We are continually looking at the benefits structure, adding or replacing various ones periodically, and we will keep you posted on any future updates.
I already buy a season ticket and merchandise, is this not enough?
Of course the club greatly appreciates every penny that you invest and it is vital to the club that you continue to support through tickets, merchandise, catering and so on. The only way the Well Society can be successful, however, is if you invest specifically to us. We need as many fans as possible to pledge what they can.
Who is on the Board and who has a say in this?
Society members are able to vote on who they want to be represented on the board. At the present moment the Well Society has an elected board. Any members who are at the “Steel” level or above can be put forward for nomination. Every single adult member is given a vote.
If I joined before the introduction of the revised membership structure will any future payments be added to my existing total?
Yes, every penny you have put in to the Well Society in the past has been accounted for and any additional payments you make will be added to this.
For example, if you paid £300 membership fee two years ago, a renewal of £50 last year, and have now signed up to £10 per month starting this month, your running total will have increased by the relevant amounts.
The Society has many members living outwith Lanarkshire and we’d like better communication and engagement. Some rarely get to visit Fir Park and others like me can only really attend on match-days. What plans are there to engage exiled fans better?
We intend to hold monthly surgeries at Fir Park where members can drop in and ask any questions to our Board members. We are also putting together several events both at Fir Park and at external venues to not only encourage more members to sign up but also to keep existing members engaged with us. We are also introducing social media Q&As so that any members who aren’t living locally can still engage with us.
However, we recognise that there are still those outwith the vicinity of the club who we need to be better at engaging with and this is something we are currently looking into.
How are the Well Society reconnecting with dormant members?
We are aiming to communicate and engage a lot more with Well Society members, from regular events to contact via email, telephone, post and meetings. We believe that all of this, along with new improved software systems, will help us engage with all members and target dormant members, encouraging them to continue to support the Well Society.
How does the Well Society raise money?
The Well Society raises finances through membership pledges and donations. When the Well Society was originally established, memberships started at £300 for adults and £25 for kids with an annual renewal fee due. However, as the Society and the prospect of fan-ownership has evolved, this model has changed to focus far more on monthly pledges.
While its target is to persuade members to pledge a minimum of £10 per month, the Society is still very grateful for any member wishing to pledge £5 a month or to continue paying renewals or simply making one-off donations when it suits. Every penny counts!
Other than pledges, the Society also fundraisers through the hosting of events and other activities.
What has the Well Society’s money been used for so far?
One of the Society’s key aims is to provide financial protection for the club, helping it from time-to-time with short- or medium-term loans, or investment in times of need. This then allows the club to, for example, plug cash-flow gaps if necessary or help it repay loans.
These funds are provided to the club with the understanding that, should the club receive a financial windfall in the future, negotiations can be sought in order to discuss the repayment of this capital. This has already happened in previous years, such as in 2014 when £230,000 was provided to the club in a time of need. The subsequent 2nd place finish in the SPL allowed the club to then pay this money back.
However, in general, the Society views the necessary transfer of capital to the club as an investment rather than a loan, allowing the club to then invest any further profit into the team itself, rather than repaying the Society.
Aside from this, the Society uses its finances to repay the loan provided to it by previous owner Les Hutchison, and cover the costs associated with the running of the Well Society, as well ensuring money is available for hosting events and other administration costs.
Is the money being pledged to the Society still ring fenced and only being given to the club when required as a loan, before then being repaid? I am an original member who has stopped pledging and will require assurance on this before re-pledging.
The first point to make is that the initial sum passed to the Club by the Society was £150,000, which was invested in a direct shareholding in the Club. This was required at that time as the initial rules of the Society did not allow loans to be granted by the Society, the expectation being that all sums given to the Club would be for the purchase of shares. The Society rules were, however, amended thereafter to allow the Society to provide loans, as this was deemed to be a more appropriate way for the funds to be passed to the Club.
Shares in the Club cannot be protected against adverse events whereas loans can be and, indeed, have been by way of security against the assets of the Club. It is, however, reasonable to say that there is no real expectation for the loans to be repaid. For more information on why, please see this statement.
If the Club finds itself with surplus funds available, the sensible avenues for such funds would be re-investment in the Club by way of such aspects as stadium and ground improvements, further commitments to the Academy, which is completely the future of our Club, better quality players etc.
All funds generated by the Society from whatever source they come are initially held by the Society to be transferred to the Club as and when required in the form of loans which technically are repayable. It should be stated, however, that funds to repay loans will only become available from exceptional additional income sources such as Cup finals / wins and substantial transfer fees.
Can we have a breakdown of where the money is going?
The money which is given by the Well Society to the Club is an investment, as owners, into the running and the improvement of the Club. As it stands, the Club currently invest approximately £2m into the playing and football department, which include players, scouting, coaching, young players, management, and medical team. The Club also currently invests approximately £130,000 into the Youth Academy. Over and above the footballing aspect of the Club, there are significant costs committed to the stadium upkeep (£110,000), Pitch Improvements (£123,000), Stewarding, Policing, Ambulance etc (£200,000), and training facilities and travel (£115,000). The list is not exhaustive, however it does indicate the level of expenditure required.
Exactly what income will be doubled by the Les Hutchison “Double Your Money” initiative?
Any money raised by the Well Society in 2017 – whether it’s from pledges (new and existing members), donations or proceeds from fundraising events – will be included.
Are there plans for a share issue where fans can buy shares in the Club ?
It was made known at the time of the transfer of ownership that the Society would consider selling some of their shareholding, however still retaining ownership. Each application would require to be looked at in terms of level of investment prior to agreement.
When will members be balloted on key decisions?
Through fan ownership it is important we strike a balance between engaging with members and being able to run the club efficiently with a functional and swift decision-making process.
Essentially, the way in which members have a say in the club is by voting for the directors – this means you have a direct say in who you wish to represent your views on the board. Our members are regularly given the opportunity to do this. As a member you are also eligible to put yourself forward for any board vacancies.
We will, of course, look to consult members either through ballots or simply through dialogue and consultation in the future. If, for example, there was ever an option to rename the stadium we believe it would be important to put that to the members.
Based on the club statement that the Well Society were consulted over Mark McGhee’s sacking, I would be interested to know how many of the Board were asked for their input prior to the club’s announcement, unless it’s just window dressing?
Douglas Dickie and Tom Feely, joint Chairs of the Well Society, sit as Directors on the Motherwell Football Club Board (Executive Board).
Over the course of the weekend of 25-26th February Douglas Dickie and Tom Feely consulted with all Members of the Supervisory Board. Those who sit on the Supervisory Board are all Well Society Members and the Supervisory Board is, in the main, made up of the Well Society Board Members with the addition of Sandy Kilpatrick and Hugh Logan – all as per the Governance Structure previously intimated.
All views and opinions from the Supervisory Board were taken by Douglas Dickie and Tom Feely to the main Club Board Meeting on the evening of the 27th February, where the decision was made.
We trust this clarifies the line of communication and consultation which was undertaken in the decision-making process.
What steps are being taken to improve the administration side of the Society?
We are close to updating our system so that the process runs a lot more smoothly and things look a lot more professional. We are also working hard to improve all aspects of the Society, in particular administration and communication.
Could crowdfunding be used for safe standing in the East Stand?
Safe standing is something that the Club has looked at in the past, however due to the work that would need to be undertaken – in the East Stand in particular – to facilitate safe standing it was deemed unfeasible at the time. It is something we may look at in the future, however it is not a current priority. In terms of crowdfunding, we would be reluctant to ask supporters for additional crowdfunding support as we are very wary that they already contribute considerably to the Club through season tickets, pledges, merchandise, hospitality etc.
Would the Society look at introducing an autism friendly area in the stadium?
The Board all agree this is a fantastic idea and we will work with the Community Trust and the relevant individuals at the Club to find out what it would take to introduce this.
Have the Society considered broadcasting service to show matches to members outwith the UK?
Highlights as well as radio commentary are available to fans all over the world, however we will certainly speak to the Media Team and find out what the possibility/costs would be of streaming matches for fans based abroad.