“It’s so important for the prosperity of the sport that Scottish football clubs are able to secure their long-term future…”
A Scottish law firm has played a crucial role in facilitating the latest fan-led takeover at one of the country’s most historic football clubs.
The deal, which will ultimately see the sale of St Mirren Football Club to a majority fan-based ownership, was made possible by award-winning legal firm Gilson Gray, which has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The firm has developed a proven track record in representing emerging trend of fan ‘owners’, with a member of its growing team of legal experts helping facilitate a similar successful takeover bid at Hearts of Midlothian, while in a previous role.
Derek Hamill, partner and head of corporate at Gilson Gray, led the legal representation, which included carrying out due diligence and brokering the final agreement.
Hamill said: “It is so important for the prosperity of the sport that Scottish football clubs are able to secure their long-term future.
“We are delighted to have played a part in this takeover deal, putting passionate fans at the very heart of this proud club.
“Unlike the top clubs south of the border, billionaire owners and multi-million pound broadcast deals have less influence in Scotland. Fan takeovers such as this follow an increasingly popular continental trend – as a means to ensure a club can operate responsibly and in the best interests of its supporter base.”
The initial deal sees local property developer Gordon Scott securing a 50.1 per cent stake in St Mirren, with the St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMISA) owning 28 per cent.
The SMISA, which is comprised of more than 1,300 Saints supporters, is backing the scheme and their monthly subscriptions will be used to buy out Scott over the next 10 years.
Following a similar model to the Foundation of Hearts and owner Anne Budge at Tynecastle, Scott put forward the bulk of the cash to purchase the previous consortium’s 68 per cent stake in the Buddies.
SMISA convenor George Adam MSP said: “The prospect of St Mirren being owned by the fans was something SMISA was determined to work towards. The best people to look after a football club are the people that care most about it – the fans.
“This may sound quite an easy process, switching ownership, but in reality it is a complex process and I am grateful for all the help that Gilson Gray provided in making St Mirren a club owned by the fans.”
Gilson Gray, which in 2014 made history as Scotland’s largest ever full-service legal launch, has continued its trailblazing approach – with its ethos justified by significant increases in profit and by winning numerous awards including New Scottish Company of the Year and Law Firm of the Year.
Bucking industry trends of cutbacks and mergers, the firm, now comprising more than 70 staff and 18 partners, is signalling its intent to expand further in the coming year and is firmly on the acquisition trail.