STEWART MACGREGOR, the Partick Thistle supporter and football agent who brought together the five members of the PTFC Trust, insists that he has had no involvement with the organisation in over two months as he clarified his position in the move to fan ownership.

The Trust received Three Black Cats’ (3BC) 55 per cent stake in the Glasgow club on Tuesday – bringing its total share to 74 per cent – but the announcement was met with outcry from Jags supporters, who have not been meaningfully consulted by the Trustees at any stage.

The five current Trustees – Richard Beastall, Ali Campbell, Neil Drain, Fergus Maclennan and Randle Wilson – replaced their predecessors last month after being hand-picked by Macgregor, and the Trust was announced as 3BC’s preferred recipient last month after over two and a half years of negotiations with The Jags Foundation (TJF), a grassroots fans’ body with over 850 members, broke down.

Macgregor’s role in the whole process has been a matter of great interest to supporters. The owner of multiple businesses related to football and a recruitment specialist by trade, he insists he made the decision to pull together a group capable of taking over the Trust – which requires sweeping reform if it is to resemble anyone’s definition of fan ownership – after watching talks between 3BC and TJF sour.

One of Macgregor’s companies, a football agency called Ark Sport, has four players on the books at Thistle, prompting some supporters to air concerns over a potential conflict of interest. The Trust’s poor communication and engagement, meanwhile, has raised questions from fans on Macgregor’s role in the process and how an alternative fan ownership proposal came about.

“It came about on the morning of the play-off game away to Inverness [on the ninth of May],” he explained. “I wasn’t going to the game but I had a meeting with Richard Beastall. That meeting wasn’t about having another group involved or anything like that – it was actually born at that meeting.

“The meeting happened and there was a discussion during that meeting that said, ‘I wonder if there is another option, I wonder if there’s another vehicle, I wonder if there is something we can do to help secure the long-standing stability and sustainability of the football club’. That’s where it started.

“It probably started – and I have communicated this with The Jags Foundation – my perception of what I was seeing and hearing was that TJF weren’t going to be successful in delivering the shares to the fans. Part of my business is that we help consortiums acquire football clubs. We offer a service which effectively is aimed at reducing the chances of their deal falling down near the end.

“We are engaged with a consortium just now. I have tried to say to everybody, Ark Sport were not involved but when you are in football and you have a football business… nobody is attributing the business of the Trustees to any conversations. But because I have Ark Sport and because I have football players at the club, it’s ‘Ark Sport, Ark Sport, Ark Sport’.

“Ark Sport were not involved in this transaction in any way, shape or form. This was Partick Thistle fan Stewart Macgregor. It was Stewart Macgregor who was reading and hearing communications suggesting that the share transfer wasn’t going to happen. That’s it. That’s where it born.

“That’s it and that’s the truth. That’s a fact. There isn’t anyone else that was involved at that stage, it was simply me and then Richard. That’s how it came about.”

Macgregor says that the Trust was identified as a suitable vehicle within weeks of that discussion.

“It would have been towards the end of May,” he recalled. “We had a meeting and at that stage we looked at all the different options that might fly, and we tried to identify all the different shareholdings of were the shares currently sat because, obviously, you need to know that.

“When we noticed our findings, it was suggested that the Trust might be an option because it already has shares, it already has beneficiaries and from what we knew, and what we could see, it had been pretty inactive for a couple of years.

“Effectively what could have happened, and what we could have done, was go and set up another Trust. Now, that takes time and would cost money but we still could have done it. Getting your articles [of association], getting your deeds and everything sorted, it takes time.”

Precisely who was involved at the early stages of the negotiations has been a contentious subject for Thistle supporters. Macgregor says that there was himself, the group of six fans that would go on to become the Trustees – one of them, Euan Couperwhite, quietly stepped down once the Trust were announced as the preferred recipient after his Twitter account was found to have been interacting with pornography – and one other individual, who was previously a Trustee.

“When we were having those discussions, it wasn’t as a Trust, it was as Partick Thistle fans that wanted to do something with really good business acumen,” Macgregor said.

“The chap that you’re referring to [Euan Couperwhite] with regards to the social media, he was already existing and was already there in situ. So that wasn’t an appointment that had anything to do with the new Trustees. There was another supporter Trustee who was involved at the early stages and he no longer is but he certainly was. I actually don’t know his surname and I only met him once.

“I made a telephone call to the Trust to ask whether they would consider being the vehicle that would allow this to happen. I wasn’t involved in any meetings like has been suggested and I haven’t been involved in anything for a considerable time now. I’ve said that my business wasn’t involved but I’ve never said I wasn’t involved.

“The details of the Trust side of things, I’m not privy too. I can’t answer. The reality of the situation is that these guys weren’t Trustees when I was involved. I have not had a Zoom call with the new Trustees and anyone from the club. I have never had that.

“It was: I have created a group of businessmen and Thistle fans, and we were wondering whether or not the Trust would be open to having a conversation to see whether there is any opportunity for it to progress. It’s that simple.”

Macgregor feels that his influence in proceedings has been overstated by some fans.

He said: “I have been on Zoom calls with the old Trustees. This was at the start. This was an introduction from me to them to the group.

“I attended one meeting [on the fourth of July] with some of the current Trustees – they weren’t obviously then – and the current owners of the shares.

“Our proposal was not the Trust’s proposal, it was ‘is this something that would be of interest?’. I suppose it’s like anything – if there’s going to be an acquisition then there has to be some dialogue. I attended one of those meetings where that’s what was discussed. I played very, very little part in that meeting but I was still there. That’s the truth.”

Macgregor is adamant that this was the last time he was formally involved with the PTFC Trust. Since the new Trustees replaced the old guard, he says he has had no involvement.

“None whatsoever,” he said. “I don’t have anything to hide in terms of my involvement. Where I have become slightly frustrated is when people have tried to involve other aspects of my life in it and that’s just not on. This happened as a fan.

“My background is that I have two football businesses and I have got a professional services recruitment firm. I am a head hunter, it’s what I do for a living. So I have the skills. People say, ‘who gave you the authority to do it?’. I did it myself because that’s how things sometimes move.

“Now whether that happened or didn’t happen, I thought that I at least had the skill-set to bring a group together. What happens from then on isn’t up to me. But do I think I have the skills, the experience, the network and the contacts to potentially pull some people together? Yeah, I do. So I did. It’s not anymore complicated than that and I’m qualified to do that because I do that for a living. People can disagree with that but I can only be truthful about what the facts are.”

Eyebrows were raised over the weekend when the PTFC Trust’s Facebook account posted a message that could only have been written by Macgregor – an incident that undermines his claim that he has not been involved in any capacity for weeks – but he insists this was nothing more than an honest mistake.

“As part of my desire for good communications, I had agreed to help the Trust – back in July or something like that – and I was added to the group as an admin,” he explained. “I requested that admin privilege was taken away and it wasn’t. What I was posting, it was as Stuart Macgregor. It was on my phone, it was my Facebook account.

“It then posted from [the Trust’s account]. I couldn’t be any more frustrated that that was the case. To put it into context, for two months I had admin permissions – I’m not a social media guy, that’s just not me – but I did offer one afternoon because I wanted to dialogue with the fans and the guys were happy for me to do so.

“That was probably five or six weeks ago. But that’s it. I’ve had nothing else to do with it and I haven’t posted since. That post was from my personal account. When I was posting I was acting as Stuart Macgregor.

“It’s just a permission. I know what you are saying but I haven’t been involved and I haven’t done anything. There haven’t been any responses from me. The permission should have been withdrawn and it wasn’t. I don’t know how you access permissions, I don’t know where it tells you what permissions you do and don’t have.

“I did it one afternoon in early August when [news of 3BC’s decision] broke. But apart from that, no [I have not used the Trust’s social media accounts]. I did have permissions but I don’t have them anymore. It has been actioned. It was only ever Facebook, it was not any of the other social media accounts. Trust me, you don’t want me involved in your social media accounts because it’s not my biggest strength.”

Ark Sport currently have four players contracted to Partick Thistle – Darren Brownlie, Anton Dowds, Harry Milne and David Mitchell – but Macgregor is adamant there is no conflict of interest.

He said: “I only had one client at Thistle when this all started [Brownlie]. There was also another one that was happening that was widely reported [Milne] so I knew that he was going in. The other two [Mitchell and Dowds], I didn’t at that stage. So there wasn’t any conflict.

“In order to be a conflict I would have had to be engaging as Ark Sport. There is no conflict in pulling a group together. What the football club decide to do, and the owners of the shares decide to do thereafter – apart from me wanting it to be a huge success, it’s of no consequence. I’m not there. I don’t know where it’s at, I don’t know what’s going on and I haven’t for several weeks. It was never about that.

“There is no conflict of interest in creating a group and putting a group forward – look, the group put themselves forward. They didn’t use Stewart Macgregor to put them forward. The group went about their business once I helped pull them together but what happened thereafter – all I want is for it to be successful, which is the same as anyone that calls themselves a fan of the football club.”

Macgregor says that the fans’ angry reaction to 3BC’s decision to transfer the shares to the PTFC Trust didn’t exactly catch him off-guard.

“I understand it,” he said. “I fully understand it. I had been in the fortunate position that I had more information than they did. I wasn’t in charge of the comms, I wasn’t in charge of anything.

“I think what often happens is when frustration like that is born it’s because of a lack of knowledge in terms of the communications. That is why I have offered to speak to anyone who has questions. This is not about me pulling a group together, it was about the long-term future of the football club – and Colin Weir’s wishes. I get it, I 100 per cent understand. I think people are concerned about their football club. I understand a lot of the questions that are being asked.”

Many supporters are upset with the Trust’s clandestine approach to the share transfer but Macgregor doesn’t harbor any regrets about his actions.

He said: “I wasn’t influencing what happened at that stage [when the Trust were announced as 3BC’s preferred recipient]. What I’ve always been keen on – from the moment it was announced I was trying to engage with fans to give some information. I think communication is absolutely key. I wasn’t responsible though, so I can’t regret something I wasn’t involved in. I’ve been pretty irrelevant for a long time.”

Macgregor was certainly relevant back in May when he recruited the Trustees – and chose to operate in a secretive manner – but he does not regret it.

“No, not overly,” he said. “I’m not suggesting that because I think that way that they don’t deserve to know. It wasn’t about that. It was very simple – I was going to see if I could pull a group together. What they did after that was completely up to them.

“I don’t involve anyone else’s opinion when I am recruiting or head hunting staff for any of my other clients. Some of those clients are shareholder-led and in the public domain. It’s just not how it would work. What would I do? Take to Facebook and say, ‘hey guys, I’m trying to put a consortium together to maybe do this, is that cool?’. Should I have put a notice in the Evening Times? I don’t think so – largely because I haven’t been involved in the influencing of what the Trust do. It’s like a piggy-in-the-middle. People go, ‘this guy knows’ but I actually don’t.

“There has been a lot of it. But that’s fine – again, it comes from a lack of knowledge. I was willing, at any stage, to tell people what my involvement was.

“If I was to have a regret – and it’s not one because it is what it is – I probably would have personally came out earlier to tell people what my involvement was but I just didn’t think it would look good if I did it. What I mean by that is ‘who does this guy think he is?’. I don’t have an ego, I honestly couldn’t be more down to earth. In this instance I am just a fan. Sometimes people will say things and you’ll respond to them, sometimes you won’t.”

Some of Macgregor’s responses have been more aggressive than others. A Twitter post from one supporter that Macgregor deemed to be inaccurate resulted in an angry serious of text messages that have been seen by Herald and Times Sport, and the threat of legal action against a fellow fan was made.

“I haven’t done it [brought legal action against a Thistle fan], no,” he said. “But I was considering it. Libel and defamation is based on a material loss. I have gained nothing – and I mean nothing – out of this. I don’t regret doing it but I’ve gained nothing out of it apart from several headaches and abuse online. It is the love of the football club that spurred it on and allowed me to endure it.

“The threat of legal action wasn’t in response to any abuse – that’s just something that’s happened since. The chap that showed you the messages used to be a friend. We used to go to Scotland games together, we used to share the odd pint together.

“My understanding of it is that he misinterpreted something that someone from the Trust said and then went onto social media to tell people what the situation was. I then corrected him and said ‘don’t bring Ark Sport into it or we will [sue], absolutely we will’ – because Ark Sport were not involved. If you’ve got an issue and you want to say ‘Stuart Macgregor did this’ then that’s fine but you can’t bring my business into it just because I have a business in football.

“That’s what’s happened here. It has got absolutely nothing to do with Ark Sport. If Ark Sport were engaged professionally a substantial five-figure sum would be charged. That wouldn’t be negotiable. I love the club but a business transaction is a business transaction.”

He added: “Was I ever going to sue him? Absolutely not. Of course I wasn’t. But I was just absolutely incensed. We weren’t best mates but we had a decent enough relationship that I would have hoped he would have picked up the phone rather than taking to social media.”

The fan ownership situation at Firhill has been messy and Macgregor hopes that the fanbase will be united before long.

“One thing that I want to see is greater communication between everybody,” he added. “Thistle are potentially at the start of something really special this season. I think we all want what’s best for the club on the pitch. I don’t like the division – that was already there, to be honest. It already existed before I spoke to anyone about forming groups. But I think it has got a little out of hand.

“I just want everyone to pull in the same direction. You are never going to have 100 per cent of people fully engaged. There is such a good balance to the team on the pitch and it could be such a successful season on the pitch. I think we all want that more than anything.

“A lot of the things that have been angled at me have been inaccurate but I can deal with that. People can say ‘Stuart Macgregor was partly responsible for pulling that group together’ and that’s 100 per cent true. That’s just the way it is and if people don’t like that, fine. But my integrity has been questioned and all I have ever been is honest.

“I’m more than happy to engage with anyone that has questions about their football club if they think I can answer them. It’s that simple. I’ve tried to create something that would give everyone what they want, and that’s fan ownership. In terms of the model and what it looks like, I’m not involved. In terms of what it looks like going forward, I’m not involved.

“I don’t know what’s coming, I don’t know when it’s coming. I don’t know what their communications strategy is, I don’t know what their engagement strategy is – all I have is confidence that it will all come good. If I am wrong in that then I won’t be the only one.”