Fans call meeting after “unsettling time” at Morecambe FC

Morecambe fans during a win over Blackpool at the Globe Arena in August. Photo by Matt Rushton.
Morecambe fans during a win over Blackpool at the Globe Arena in August. Photo by Matt Rushton.
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Worried Morecambe football fans will hold a crunch meeting this week looking to set up a supporters trust.

Shrimps supporters will meet at Morecambe Cricket Club on Thursday hoping to go down the same route as others who have formed trusts at crisis-hit football clubs.

Morecambe fans believe a trust would help them “engage” more closely with new owner of Morecambe FC, Diego Lemos.

Supporters trusts have been formed at other football clubs such as Blackpool and Luton Town, while supporters trusts set up at Portsmouth, Wycombe Wanderers, AFC Wimbledon and Exeter City actually gained a controlling interest in the clubs themselves.

Paul Carter, chairman of the official Fans’ Club of Morecambe, said: “We don’t want to take over the club, we just want to legitimise the Fans’ Club and give it a better voice.

“There has been a bit of concern amongst fans about what’s been going on.”

The move comes after what the Fans’ Club of Morecambe (FCOM) described as “an unsettling time”.

Last month Morecambe FC players and staff were paid more than a week late due to what the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) called “cashflow problems” at the Globe Arena.

Mr Lemos said this was a one-off and The Visitor understands the players were paid November’s wages on schedule this week.

But concerns remain among staff and supporters about the future of the club, which was sold by long-time chairman Peter McGuigan to Mr Lemos, an ex-football agent from Brazil, in September.

“Over the last two months following the sale of the club, the committee has reached out to the board as a whole to raise the concerns of supporters during this unsettling time - although this has proved largely unsuccessful,” said a spokesman for Fans’ Club Morecambe.

“We encourage as many Morecambe supporters, whether members of Fans’ Club or otherwise, to attend the meeting.”

Home attendances remain low this season after Morecambe had the lowest average attendance in the football league in 2015/16.

The latest set of annual club accounts (2014/15) posted an £830,000 loss.

The club was top of League Two in August but then lost seven home league games in a row prior to Saturday’s encouraging 2-1 win over League Two leaders Plymouth Argyle.

The Fans’ Club committee has been in talks with Supporters Direct, an independent body set up in 2000 to help football fans gain influence in the running and ownership of their club.

A representative of Supporters Direct will be at the meeting to answer questions.

The supporters club hopes to hold a vote on whether it should become a trust.

Michael Gibson, a longtime Shrimps fan, said: “The establishment of a Supporters Trust is absolutely the right step to take for supporters of Morecambe FC.

“FCOM have done a brilliant job of getting fans together to raise money for the club but now is the time to formalise an organisation that gives a strong legally binding voice for the club. “This is not an us against them moment. Morecambe FC has always been a really strongly community-oriented club and the fans just want to help the club that they give so much of their own time and money to support.

“Over the last couple of years rumours have been rife about the club and no more so than recently. A Supporters Club gives us the means to help and support the club in good times and bad. I’m sure everyone involved with Morecambe FC will welcome the establishment of the Supporters Trust.”

The meeting will be held at the cricket club on Woodhill Lane this Thursday (December 1) from 7pm.