Fans FAQ

Below are a series of commonly asked questions about the bid. Click on any question to show the response. We've tried to cover as much as we can think of but of course if there anything else not covered here you want to know please use our contact page to get in touch and we’ll be happy to come back to you.

As we move forward we will keep this page updated.

THE FINANCES

What will my money be spent on?

Your £12 per month as a basic member will see £10 set aside to fund the share purchase and £2 in a separate pot for the members to do what they like with.

So the £10 per month will pay back the money we are borrowing to fund stage one of the deal, while at the same time building up a reserve over ten years to save up the money to buy out Gordon.

And the £2 will give the trust an ongoing income to be spent on whatever the members decide. Over the years, SMISA has invested money in the club, through interest-free loans to help fund infrastructure (such as the Airdome behind the away stand) or through our sponsorship of the club’s youth academy. This would allow us to continue to help take the club forward, while creating opportunities and facilities for the wider Paisley community.

Our plan is to spend the contents of the £2 pot every three months. The point is we will be able to spend it wherever we as a trust feel we can make a positive impact on the club and the town.

How many members do we need to make this work?

We said from the start 1,000 members was the trigger for the deal to happen as that was the number we needed to make the deal not just viable but robust. The deal could maybe have been done with less, but we were only willing to do it if we felt St Mirren fans had shown sufficient appetite to back it, and we are pleased to say that happened.

Essentially, 1,000+ members means we have a substantial safety net built in. Although we hope it doesn’t happen, our cashflow forecasts were designed in a way where we could have a drop in member numbers and still meet our commitments. However we do need members to stay the course to make sure we can save up the money we need to achieve the long-term goal of majority fan ownership.

It's also important to stress there is no maximum number of members - the more we get the better. The more money we have coming in the quicker we can pay off what we owe and save up the money to buy out Gordon, the greater the pool of talent we have to draw on, and the more ability we have to invest in the club and community along the way.

How will SMISA pay back the money it owes?

Initially SMISA planned to get a loan for the £360k (£380k minus the £20k deposit covered by existing funds) needed to pay our part of the initial share purchase.

This remains the long-term plan, however getting a loan on terms we considered to be in the best interests of the trust was not straightforward within the timescales of the initial fundraising period. We have been in discussions with several social lenders who have expressed an interest in funding us but the process of applying for loans from these bodies will take time.

So we reached a deal with the selling consortium where they received a lump sum in summer 2016 and then staged payment of £5,000 per month for up to two years, at which point the remaining balance would be due.

In doing so, we are buying time to get a loan on terms which are best for the trust. Should we get a loan for the full amount, we would pay off the sellers in full and that would end the need for staged payment.

We believe the staged payment route is actually a better deal for us - rather than getting a loan from a high-street bank and and being hit with high sums in interest, we are for now paying the money we owe direct to the sellers, which saves SMISA cash.

GORDON SCOTT

Why should the fans pay for Gordon to run the club, and get his money back?

Gordon is a lifelong St Mirren fan who has been a success in business, is financially secure for life, and has now chosen to devote his time to this. He wants to make the club successful, get it into a healthy position and hand control to the fans to safeguard forever.

Crucially, Gordon is the only person who has brought the money needed to the table. SMISA couldn’t have done this on our own. He is taking a risk; if we don’t hit our long-term target he is left where the consortium are now.

And in a sense, this is costing him - he sold property that was making him a significant return to invest in something he will make no profit from. It is also worth pointing out our agreement to buy Gordon’s shares does not include the 8% he owned before summer 2016 – we are only bound to buy the 42% he bought as part of this deal.

What is Gordon’s vision for the club?

Like us he believes the most important thing is that St Mirren stays healthy and at the heart of the community. So he wants to run it on a break-even basis – the club’s income will fund its expenditure, and we won’t spend what we don’t have.

Gordon and the board will work with the local community and businesses to boost the club's commercial operation, create new income streams, and bring in new fans - if they successfully boost the turnover of the club they can spend extra money when it matters most, on the park.

Like us, he wants to see St Mirren financially secure, back in the top league and challenging for trophies. His aim is to achieve that, make sure the club is stable, then pass it into the hands of the fans.

FAN OWNERSHIP AND THE LONG TERM

Now Gordon is chairman, how will the club be run?

The day-to-day running of the club will be by the board, which will be chaired by Gordon. He will invite others on to the board who he feels are capable of helping him take the club forward.

The current make-up of the board is Gordon, club chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick, club secretary Chris Stewart, financial advisor and former St Mirren Fans' Council chair Alan Wardrop, and SMISA committee member David Nicol, whose professional background covers large commercial contracts.

David was asked to join the board by Gordon after having led on the financial and legal aspects of the deal from SMISA's side. His appointment is a temporary one, allowing SMISA time to put in place a proper election procedure through which members will be able to choose one of their own to represent them.

That means for the first time the fans will have a director elected by and accountable to them – someone who can represent the views of the fans in the decision-making heart of the club.

However, while SMISA director will be able to raise issues on behalf of the members, ultimately SMISA will not be able to control club decisions - the club will continue to run club affairs, as has always been the case.

Over the long-term, what might a fully fan-owned St Mirren look like?

Remember, the fans owning the club and the fans running the club are not necessarily the same thing. For example Barcelona is owned by the fans but they elect a president. A fan-owned St Mirren could see the members elect a board of people qualified to run the club, with the power to vote them out and replace them if they weren’t happy.

But the beauty of this model is we have years to work out the detailed structure and make a smooth transition to fan ownership, which Gordon will help us do. In that time we will have a fan on the board and can gain experience of what running the club is about – so that when the time comes we as a support will be ready.

Ultimately a fan-owned St Mirren will be whatever the fans want it to be.

How can the fans fund the club? What if it needs financial help?

Obviously the club’s income will fund its spending. For years St Mirren has been run on a break-even basis and under Gordon it will continue to be so. The club won’t depend on SMISA to pay the bills – any money we put in will be a bonus, to be spent as the members decide.

There has been the odd occasion in the past where the current board have made interest-free loans to help the club get through cashflow difficulties. This deal is structured in a way where Gordon and/or SMISA will be able to do the same if required.

MEMBERSHIP AND PAYMENT

Who are SMiSA?

SMiSA is the St. Mirren Independent Supporters Association. We have been in operation since 2002 and in that time have raised thousands of pounds for the club. Legally we are structured as a community benefits society. The trust is led by a committee, which is elected by the members at our AGM each year. Trust business is conducted on a one member, one vote basis and will continue to be as we go forward.

I was a member of SMISA before summer 2016, how do I sign up to #BuyTheBuds?

Prior to summer 2016, SMISA had around 200 members paying varying amounts, the vast majority of whom agreed to sign up for a #BuyTheBuds package of £12 per month or more.

If you are one of the few historic members still on an old package we would love you to consider upgrading to one of the new ones and making sure you can fully play your part in the future of the trust and the club. Please email [email protected] for more information on how to do so.
I know someone who wants to join but doesn’t use the internet, how can they sign up?

We can send out standing order forms which need to be filled in and returned to us. If you contact us with their details we can send this out to them.

Can I take out a membership for one of my children?

Yes we are happy to do this. We can set up multiple payments from your account, one for you and one for each child you wish to pay for. Please contact us and we can arrange to set this up for you. Be aware that under our constitution under-16s will not be able to vote on trust business, but once they turn 16 they will be eligible to vote.

I want to join but I’m not currently in the UK, what options are there for me?

We currently use GoCardless for payments in the Eurozone and Sweden and PayPal for everywhere else. Please see our international signup page for more details.

Do I become a shareholder of St Mirren if I’m a member of SMiSA?

Not as an individual you wouldn’t. As an individual, you would only be a shareholder if you currently own shares in St Mirren. But remember the trust now owns 29% of SMFC and our members can help decide what SMISA does with that shareholding. We can also send representatives to the club AGM to vote on SMISA’s behalf.

It is also worth pointing out those signing up to the premium package are due to receive 10 ordinary shares in the club, which would make you a shareholder in SMFC for life if you aren’t already.

What happens if I can’t afford to pay my membership anymore?

You’re free to cancel at any time. You can re-join at any point and in doing so you would resume your rights as a member of SMiSA.

I can’t afford £12 a month. Will you let me subscribe for less?

We wanted to set membership at a manageable monthly amount. As its stands you can help secure your club’s future for the cost of a pint a week. But this deal can only work if we get the financial backing of the support. We did have to set a minimum amount and are afraid we are unable to accept any new members for less than that.

I’ve not been receiving any emails from you.

We use a service called MailChimp to administer our emails. You may find this can very occasionally be identified as junkmail, so you should check your junk folder to check emails aren’t landing there. To avoid this in the future please add our email address as a contact to your address book. If you have changed email address and wish to update your details please get in touch with any changes.

Who are GoCardless?
GoCardless is our payment provider and your direct debit to SMiSA will appear as coming from GoCardless Ltd on your bank statement with SMiSA in the reference section.
I want to change my bank details you have for me, how can I do this?
The easiest and quickest way for you to do this is to contact GoCardless -our payment provider- directly, you can either give them a call on 020 7183 8674 or send them an email to [email protected]