Tranmere Supporters Trust reaches £100,000 milestoneTHE supporters trust with ambitions to take Tranmere Rovers FC into community ownership said their fundraising campaign has gone past the £100,000 milestone.
The Tranmere Rovers Supporters Trust insist they are on schedule after setting out to generate £300,000 to enable them to move onto the next stage of negotiations with the club’s chairman and controlling shareholder Peter Johnson.
Trust chairman Ben Harrison said: “The £100,000 barrier was broken this week in cash and pledges.
“We have more than a fortnight to go to the deadline of October 14, which we have set ourselves for raising the money.”
The trust began talks during the summer with Birkenhead-born businessman Johnson, 71, who wants to relinquish his 60% stake in the Wirral club.
In August, the trust launched a scheme inviting fans to buy shares in the venture with a guarantee the money will be returned if they fail to secure control at Prenton Park.
Mr Harrison and the trust board acknowledge the success of the venture is likely depend upon Tranmere’s £5m debt to Mr Johnson being significantly reduced by the Sale
of the Ingleborough Road training ground for housing development.
The club’s proposals to build 90 homes on the six-acre site are to be discussed by Wirral council’s planning committee on October 25.
The project is linked to the redevelopment of Woodchurch Leisure Centre, which would become Rovers’ new training headquarters.
But the Sale
of Ingleborough Road faces opposition from campaigners who insist the site – formerly the Birkenhead Institute playing fields – is a memorial in honour of the pupils of the school who died during the First World War and should be left as open space.
The trust, which boasts 2,500 members, sent a formal letter to the council this week outlining their support for the Ingleborough Road development, arguing the community as a whole would benefit from new sporting facilities at Woodchurch.
If the application is turned down, Mr Johnson may find it more difficult than ever to find a buyer.
The £5m debt to the founder of the Park Group of companies, together with the club’s £1.8m overdraft with the Allied Irish Bank, would put a takeover beyond the reach of supporters.
But should the application for Ingleborough be approved, Tranmere stand to take £5m from the Sale
of the land.
Mr Harrison acknowledged should the Ingleborough project to be given the green light and the club’s debt reduced significantly, then other potential bidders could emerge.
Mr Harrison said: “It is important to emphasise that people who invest will get their money back if this does not come off.
“But we all hope it does and we, the supporters, can take ownership of the future of our club.” THE WIRRAL NEWS