Motherwell chairman Jim McMahon denied their fundraising video was akin to “begging for money” as he stressed the club was not in financial difficulty.
A video that appealed directly to Hollywood celebrities and finished with a young fan saying “Taylor Swift, gie’s some dosh” has been viewed more than two million times on social media and already led to enquires about investing.
However, it sparked embarrassment among many fans and led to concerns about the finances of a club which lost £1million in the 2021-22 campaign and was expected to announce similar financial figures for last season.
McMahon stressed the fan-owned club had cumulatively broken even since the Well Society assumed majority ownership in 2016 and explained they were looking for either more members, sponsorship or new investment to “de-risk the business”.
The 74-year-old was unaware of any criticism of the advertising agency-produced video and said: “We are not desperate for money. We are financially stable and we have enough money to see us through this season, next and maybe a bit of the next.
“So I don’t see it as begging for money and I am not embarrassed by it.
“I don’t think it’s a desperate cry for money because it isn’t. If it comes across that way, I can only say to fans, ‘that’s not what it was meant to be’.
“It was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek take on some of the trends that are happening in football just now and an attempt to encourage folk into the shop.
“We had more Well Society members sign up in the first couple of hours of the video than the last two or three months. And we have already had about 10 declarations of interest – can we find out more about the ability to invest?
“It’s part of our strategy to use our other contacts, mainly into the (United) States and other parts of the world, to say: ‘Here’s what we are. Here’s what defines what we are as a club, are you interested?’”
Many fans will wonder why the club needs to seek investment after receiving a record £3.25million fee for David Turnbull in 2020 and taking up an interest-free £3m Covid-19 recovery loan from the Scottish Government.
The club’s wage costs increased by 60 per cent in five years up until the summer of 2022 and Motherwell outspent the likes of St Mirren, Kilmarnock and Ross County by £1-2million on wages during that latter season.
The Well Society has already committed more than £1m into the club, mostly through a loan that is unlikely to be repaid, and fans continue to contribute to a reserve fund.
McMahon, who plans to step down at the end of the season, admitted there was a “reasonably big gap” between costs and income if they do not perform well through player sales, cup runs or league position.
“Five, six years ago we didn’t have big injections of money from Americans or other people,” said McMahon as he denied the fan-ownership model was failing.
“James Anderson at Hearts is putting £5million a year in. You have Dave Cormack at Aberdeen. You have the Hibs money.
“There’s money coming in that is making it more difficult for us to compete on the pitch with these clubs. I think we react to it by trying to see if we can accrue money from other sources.
“We are not in financial difficulty, we are not trying to sell the club, we are trying to give it the best chance for the future. We should be examining the model continually to see if it’s still fit for purpose.
“I would tick the box of working jointly with someone whose values align with the Well Society. I guess the board would go out to the members with the proposition.”