Motherwell have moved a major step closer to fan ownership after Les Hutchison agreed to sell his majority stake to the Well Society in the coming weeks.

Hutchison and Well Society board members have been in negotiations over several months to speed up the process of transferring ownership.

A club statement read: "A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed by majority shareholder Mr Les Hutchison and the Well Society in which Mr Hutchison agrees to sell his 76 per cent shareholding to fan group, the 'Well Society for £1.

"This MoU allows the advanced negotiations to continue to a mutually agreed conclusion over the coming weeks.

"In addition, Mr Hutchison has agreed to provide the club and Society with working capital over the next few months and deferred loan repayments to ensure the Society has every chance to succeed.

"The deal concludes a five-year effort from the Society to own Motherwell FC, a role they will take on as soon as all legal agreements are signed."

Hutchison took over John Boyle's shareholding in January last year after teaming up with the Well Society to prevent the club being sold to an Argentinian consortium or falling into administration.

The retired Lanarkshire-born engineer gave the club an initial £650,0000 interest-free loan to plug an emergency cash flow gap.

But, with relegation looming, he loaned a further £380,000 to invest in the squad and other departments before Motherwell survived with a play-off win over Rangers.

Around half of that sum was repaid but the club had another financial shortfall this winter despite cutting the squad in January.

The Well Society has put more than £500,000 into the club and is now set to assume control nearly four years earlier than envisaged in its initial deal with Hutchison.

The Barbados-based businessman said: "I am extremely pleased at the great progress we have made both on and off the park. The new systems and processes now in place together with an excellent management team has ensured a successful turnaround at the club.

"I would like to personally thank Mark McGhee and Alan Burrows for their huge contribution to the improvements at Fir Park.

"I would also like to thank everyone at Fir Park who adopted the many changes I introduced to create a solid foundation to build on and who worked tirelessly to advance the business plan during what was and is a transitional period.

"With the fans, via the Well Society, nearly in full control, the onus will very much be on them and the wider community to stand by their club in the weeks, months and years ahead

"As well as thanking everyone who has joined and is contributing to the Well Society, I would also like to wish the extremely dedicated individuals who will now drive the club forward all the very best in their endeavours. I'll be supporting from afar."

The interim chairman of the fans' group, Douglas Dickie, added: "This marks the start of an exciting and important period for the club and the Well Society is indeed indebted to our members whose significant financial contribution has directly assisted Motherwell FC in achieving the improvements as highlighted.

"There is still a substantial amount of work yet to be done and I would ask the existing members and the fans continue and join in the support in order that we can achieve our initial goal in sustaining a community and fan-owned Motherwell FC."