Last week I stepped down as Chairman of Ayr United F.C. Then, we as a board unanimously voted to appoint David Smith as the new Chairman.
My father got involved here in the late eighties and it has been in my blood ever since my first game at Somerset soon after. It has been a great pleasure to be involved at the football club over the last many years as a director and an even greater honor to be Chairman of this wonderful club.
When I became Chairman and majority shareholder, I realized what an enormous responsibility it was to become a custodian for a club that means so much to the local community. We aren’t just a football club playing for the enjoyment of spectators, we are the provider of so much more and I firmly believe that Ayr United are one of the top clubs in Scotland in bringing a benefit to the community and surrounding areas. A lot of that is done through the Football Academy who are the main community outreach wing of the club.
I’ve touched on most of this before so I won’t bang on about all of it again but I just find that there are so many important people, too many to name individually who make the running of this club possible. At every level there are people who make this club what it is. All the volunteers, the employees and the decision makers as well as the footballers and management team who go between giving us great joy and abject misery on a regular basis. These are the parts that make up our club.
There are a few people in particular who have made my life easier while running the club and those people will remain in place to do the same going forward. The only person we are losing is Lewis Grant who is resigning as a director of the club. Lewis has been at the club for over fifteen years as a director and over eighty as a supporter. Lewis has always worked hard in the background and will be missed, but he decided that this was a good time to step down and go into a well-deserved retirement. I will miss working with Lewis and his presence and commitment will be missed by all. We would not be where we are today without the dedication and financial contribution from Lewis over the last fifteen years.
I have long said that I didn’t think the club could be run properly by me when I am living so far away but that I wouldn’t pass the club on to someone who I didn’t believe had the club’s best interests at heart. You would be amazed at how hard it is to find someone who didn’t have other priorities. I’ve had many opportunities to “get out” but none that I have felt comfortable with until now.
Since before David joined the board, we have been working towards a transition that would enable him to takeover as majority shareholder and Chairman. Originally the transition was going to take course over a few years but with all of the chaos etc. in the world, we decided to push that forward. I have agreed to step down as Chairman and will soon resign as a director as well. I have transferred 51% of the total shareholding to David and also forgiven the majority of my debt. I have also handed over the house on the side of the parking lot that we will soon replace with the Somerset Hub. In exchange for this, David has committed to fund and build the Somerset Hub, remodel the area below the main stand that includes the kitchen, board room, players tea room and hospitality areas (already done), revamp the North Terracing (toilets, pie stalls, offices, gym, parking and potential covering) within the next three years and then within five years, further improvements to the main stand. He has also put in funds to pay off a portion of my debt and will allow me use of all of the facilities when I bring my youth football teams over from America.
All of this gives the club the opportunity to get out from under the weight of a nagging debt ratio and provides a pathway forward to improved facilities without slashing the playing budget.
I believe that David is the person best suited to take our club over going forward and that he will be an excellent custodian for the club. I look forward to being able to travel to Scotland and attend games in person when all of this Covid lockdown is behind us and most of all, I am looking forward to Lynne’s chicken and haggis pie.