HAULAGE firm boss Richard Atkinson insists the £2million fee it will take to snap up a controlling stake in St Mirren is “fair” – despite failing to come up with the cash needed to complete a fan-backed takeover of the Paisley club.
The Irvine-based businessman suffered a setback in his takeover attempt earlier this week when he admitted the deal had stalled.
Atkinson managed to secure £1.3million worth of backing from government funding agencies but has now had to return to the drawing board after failing to get the go-ahead from the final funding body he had approached.
He now plans to meet with fans later this month to draw up a Plan B but insists the size of the price-tag that Saints chairman Stewart Gilmour and the rest of his consortium have slapped on their 52 per cent stake in the club is not the problem.
Some supporters have questioned how Gilmour and his colleagues can justify charging £2million for control of the club.
However, Atkinson told Express Sports: “St Mirren is a massive club, with brand new facilities, and the guys who are selling it are getting a return for their blood, sweat and tears, as well as the effort and risk, that they have put in over the years.
“We think the price is reasonable. If we didn’t, we would not have got this far.
“The stadium alone cost £12million to build, so the price is fair.
“I would stress that that price is not the issue with the problems we have been having. None of the funders had any problem with the £2million price- tag.”
Atkinson insists he still has full faith in “fan and community-backed ownership” of St Mirren but admits he will have to meet with fans to discuss changes to the community interest company model being used to push the deal forward.
He claims a fan-backed takeover can still be a success at St Mirren.
Atkinson added: “A few other clubs, such as Dundee, Stirling Albion and Stenhousemuir, have all gone down this road but the difference with what we’re trying to do is that we’re not buying a club in trouble.
“A lot of owners see going to the fans as the last resort when their club is failing but we want St Mirren fans to get in on it while the going is good – rather than when it is bad.”
In the meantime, Gilmour has told fans that “nothing has changed in the day-to-day running of the club.
He said: “The current board of directors are still working as hard as ever to ensure the prudent and smooth running of St Mirren.
“The situation with regards to the change of ownership of the majority shareholding has not changed either. The selling consortium is still fully committed to ensuring the continued succession of responsible management at the club.
“The consortium are well aware that the club could possibly benefit from new energy and ideas and will endeavour to select the best option for the future of St Mirren as it is placed before them.”