COMMUNITY ownership represents the best hope for the future of Tranmere Rovers, a meeting of supporters was told last night.
More than 100 fans packed into the Belmont Suite at up Prenton Park to hear the Tranmere Rovers Supporters Trust outline their plans to mount a takeover bid for the Wirral club.
The Trust have set themselves a target of raising £300,000 by October 7 to move forward in negotiations with chairman Peter Johnson to buy a controlling stake in the club.
Trust chairman Ben Harrison told the meeting: “In the absence of finding another Peter Johnson willing to safeguard the club, we don’t believe there is a better setup for the future than Tranmere coming into community ownership.”
Harrison and vice chairman Mark Bartley reported that Trust officials have held talks with Wirral businessman Johnson this week which they described as “positive and still ongoing.”
Harrison added: “It is our understanding that the club has £5.2 million of debts to Peter Johnson and £1.8million to the Allied Irish Bank.”
A club project to sell the training ground at Ingleborough Road for housing, linked to the development of a new training facility at Woodchurch, was vital to reducing the debt to Johnson and to the Trust hopes of realising their takeover ambitions, Harrison admitted.
Rovers submitted a planning application for the twin proposals to Wirral Council this week and the Trust believe they have the potential to reduce the club’s debt to Johnson by 50%.
“We believe the situation with Ingleborough could go through by early November and we want to be ready for that,” Harrison added. “That’s why we have set a deadline of October 7 to raise the £300,000 from supporters.”
The Trust is seeking to raise the cash through donations of £300 from individual supporters for a “gold option” that would give them 20 shares in the club and other benefits. A corporate option for small businesses costs £500 with additional benefits.
A number of supporters made donations last night. One of the first was from Wendy Bowden, the daughter of former Tranmere chairman Bob Trueman. Trueman was Tranmere chairman during the Second World War years.