A prospectus to shift well known Collingwood gay pub the Peel from private business to a publicly listed company will be released in the new financial year.

Peel owner Tom McFeely said he wants to float the venue to allow gay and lesbian community members to become shareholders.

“The idea behind it is so that the community can effectively own and control what happens in the community,” McFeely told the Star Observer.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of transition in the gay scene. Owners come and go, venues open and shut and I think in order to get a bit more stability and a bit more certainty for the future, we should take them out of the hands of individual owners and their whims, and put them into the community itself.”

McFeely said shareholders will be able to invest a minimum of $1000 and a board would be established to run the company. McFeely said the prospectus will recommend he become CEO as a minority shareholder.

“A board will be set up the same way as in any public company and an office of shareholders will have a say of what goes on and share profits as well,” he said.

“The one difference, however, is most public companies … their main mantra is to maximise every single dollar and get the most profits, while I see … one of the things about the [public company] is the moral and ethical aspects of a community.”

The move comes as popular gay nightclub The Market closes its doors and rumours some southside gay venues are struggling to attract numbers.

McFeely said he hopes enough money will be raised to allow the float go ahead, and once established, to reinvest in other or new gay and lesbian venues.

“There are tidy profits to be made out there, and I think more will be generated by people feeling a sense of ownership. It prevents venues going to God on the whim of an owner.

“It’s their right to sell it, I suppose, but we are a community. We need a safe haven.”

While the move would effectively reduce McFeely’s personal business profits, he said he believes the move is a “moral” one to ensure the long-term future of gay and lesbian venues.

“I would rather be a minority shareholder in a larger public company that at least has got some drive and ambition and plans for the future,” he said.

“I’m not in a position where I could go out and buy half a dozen venues myself. I’m not in that financial position, but I do believe in the continuity and future of the scene.

“I think this is an opportunity for me and like-minded people to try and do something about it.”

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