NEW OWNERSHIP POSES HOUSING THREAT TO FUTURE OF DUMBARTON FC

Sons in black and gold jerseys in their centenary year, 1972: Bobby Holmes (trainer), Colin McAdam, Laurie Williams, Kenny Jenkins, Jack Bolton, Johnny Graham and Tom McAdam. Front row: Peter Coleman, Charlie Gallagher, Roy McCormick, Kenny Wilson and Davie Wilson.

By Bill Heaney

The saga of the sale of Dumbarton Football Club to big money investors who have no tangible connections with either the Sons or the town itself could be completed over in the next fortnight.

And, if Sons’ supporters do not rally together and make their objections known to a special agm which is being arranged now,  this could spell the end of the line for Dumbarton FC, which has an occasionally glorious history going back to the foundation of Scottish football in the late 19th century.

There is reason to believe that the stadium at Dumbarton Rock, now the C&G Systems Stadium, will eventually be sold for housing, which is something the present board of directors have had their sights set on for years.

However, the club was most recently thwarted by West Dunbartonshire Council, who refused them planning permission for an alternative stadium on a site near to the old Dennystown Forge at Dalreoch railway station, officially known as Young’s Farm.

The football club appeared recently to be making life difficult for the council by digging in their heels over wayleave  to complete a new walkway past the football ground along the banks of the River Leven from the town centre to Dumbarton Castle.

If they are refused planning permission again for a new stadium at Young’s Farm, the prospective new owners could use this as a reason to close the Rock stadium gates for good.

There has never been any official appeal from the club against that planning decision.

If it is not overturned it could bring an end to senior football in what was once known along with Vale of Leven and Renton as “the cradle of Scottish football”.

Dumbarton FC ownership has moved through various hands over the years, often in acrimonious circumstances.

Burroughs Machines, the famous demolition contractor Sam B Allison, industrialist Robert A Robertson and Sir Hugh Fraser are just a few of them.

The old Boghead Park at Barloan was sold to housing developers and the club moved into the Rock stadium, facilitated by local businesses and public money.

Neil Rankine  and his advisers had designs on achieving an early move from the Rock  to Lomondgate, where it was their intention to build a stadium complete with offices which the West Dunbartonshire Council would agree to rent for a substantial sum over a fixed number of years. This fell through.

The spectre of the Rock stadium closing and being re-designated as part of the extensive housing development in Castle Road, Newtown, arises on the Sons’ official website this weekend when football clubs have shut down their social media connections in a protest against racism.

It states that Companies House records show that Cognitive Capital Ltd., which it describes as an Anglo-Norwegian company, has two active officers — Matthew Atkinson, an architect who is also the director of a company named More Homes DFC Ltd, and Henning Kristoffersen.

The nature of the company is described as ‘Ready-made interactive leisure and entertainment software development’.

The last visible owner of Dumbarton FC was the late Calum Hosie,  who was born in the East End of the town, played youth football locally and whose family had connections with the club going back many years. The late John Hosie was club secretary.

Calum, who served his apprenticeship as an engineer in Dewrance at Glasgow Road, was successful in the engineering business and eventually founded his own company, Brabco.

Dumbarton’s major shareholder at that time was Neil Rankine, a Falkirk-based school teacher and bookmaker and – after extensive wrangling and some bitter negotiations – he sold Dumbarton FC to Brabco, which is still the principal shareholder.

The statement on the Sons’ website today thanks Bradco for its “valued involvement” since 2008 and promised supporters they would be “fully informed of plans for the progress of the club”.

It was Brabco which had plans for a new £13.5m stadium development at Young’s Farm near Renton but had that rejected by councillors in 2018.

Dumbarton currently sit eighth in the League 1 table, two points above Clyde in the relegation play-off position with two games remaining.

Halcyon days at Fatal Boghead with players such as Irvine, McColl, Cornock, McMillan, Cairns, Brown, Gallacher, Heaney and Glover.

Meanwhile, Dumbarton Football Club’s supporters’ trust, which has raised many thousands of pounds for the club organising match programmes and running a club shop, has called for clarity from the prospective new owners, Cognitive Capital Ltd.

This is said to have led to calls from the Supporters’ Trust for clarity on the future position of the owners, who were not represented on the club board – and who have previously been unwilling to communicate with the trust

In a statement released on their website Dumbarton Football Club said: “Dumbarton FC can announce that a deal has been concluded today for Cognitive Capital Ltd to buy out Brabco’s majority shareholding in the club.”

A spokesperson for Dumbarton FC said: “We had been in discussions with Cognitive Capital Ltd for some time and we look forward to working with them as our majority shareholder.

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