January 2017 Member's Update
Welcome to our first update of 2017. The committee would like to wish a belated happy new year to all our members.
The start of the new year is a chance to look back on the last one. And while we (sadly) can’t control what happens on the park, 2016 was hugely significant for St Mirren off it.
It will forever be the year where Saints fans gave themselves the chance to take the club’s future into their own hands, when the #BuyTheBuds campaign succeeded in the summer.
SMISA started 2016 with less than 200 members, a 3% shareholding in the club and an annual income of a few thousands pounds.
By the end of it we had more than 1,300 members, a 29% stake in St Mirren, a seat on the board, income of more than £200k a year – and crucially, an exclusive option to buy the majority shareholding from Gordon Scott at a to-be-decided point within the next decade.
The process of getting there was a bit of a roller-coaster ride and a huge amount of work. You can read a detailed account of how that came together on our website.
But while majority fan ownership remains on track over the long term, the few months since the deal completed have been busy. The highlights include:
- creating a procedure to spend the £2 portions of your monthly membership, which helped fund the club’s new disabled platform, and given Jack Ross the chance to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window;
- organising the first-ever election of a director to the club board, with David Nicol chosen to serve as SMISA’s representative for the next two years;
- pulling together a squad of volunteers which has now cleaned up all four stands in the Paisley 2021 Stadium;
- loaning the club the money to fix the broken under-soil heating at the club, which should prevent any winter-related postponements;
- continuing to help support the local community through our sponsorship of the SMISA Panda Club, and a £500 Christmas donation to the local Foodbank;
- running the successful Evening with the Millennium Champions Night in December, looking back on the iconic 1999/2000 title-winning season;
- helped produce an issue of The Saint newspaper, which aims to promote St Mirren-related activity to the fanbase and wider community;
There was also a lot of work behind the scenes to put new processes in place to cope with the influx of new members and money.
Next year will see more of the same as we build on what has been achieved so far. There will be more member events, more opportunities to invest in club-related projects, and hopefully more opportunity to give our members a say in key issues relating to the running of St Mirren.
None of this has been easy – the SMISA committee is a small group of volunteers, most of whom have day jobs, and pulling off a million-pound share purchase and subsequent work in our spare time has been a mammoth effort.
We do it because we care about the club and are excited by the potential of what St Mirren fans can achieve by working together.
We are in the process of building something new here, and are proud to be doing things never done before at St Mirren.
But being in uncharted territory means we may not get everything right, which is why your continued understanding and support will be crucial over the months and years ahead.
The long-term goal of keeping St Mirren in the hands of the people who care about it most can only be achieved if we all stay with it, and we thank you for your support now and in the future.
£2 spend plans
As you know, just before Christmas our members voted to make the October to December income to the £2 pot available to the club to add to the player budget.
We are conscious this sparked a bit of discussion and that future £2 pot spends may do so again, so would like to clear up a few points and explain how we see things working in future.
Firstly, some questioned why we are spending £8,000 every quarter. Remember, #BuyTheBuds was based on the £2s going on club-related projects – so that spending was always budgeted for.
As it stands we are banking a five-figure sum each month for the eventual share purchase, which remains on track. And bear in mind investment in the club is investment in an asset we plan to buy.
However, we don’t have to spend the money each quarter. Leaving it in the pot is an option we can and will offer – as that opens the possibility of a one-off big spend at a future date.
In terms of ballot contents, we ran a member survey in September on your priorities for investment, the results of which are here. While we may do another survey in future, the results of this one will inform our decisions for the time being.
We felt – given the club’s precarious league position – spending on the playing budget would be the best use of the January money, but the survey results suggested this would split opinion.
So part of the reason there was only one option on the ballot is we knew a straight yes-or-no question would give a clear result on a potentially-divisive issue, where multiple options could have diluted the answer.
In the end, there was overwhelming support (88%) for investing the money in the playing budget.
We understand the argument made by some this maybe wasn’t ideal as a long-term use of trust funds– but if there was ever a time for short-term thinking, this was it.
The playing budget remains a possible option for future ballots – but you the members will again have the final say.
There is one other crucial point to consider when it comes to deciding what goes on the ballot – and that is the SMISA committee’s responsibility to make sure your money is well spent.
While SMISA’s money will only be spent as SMISA decides, it would be daft to spend money on St Mirren if it wasn't going on something the club actually needs and wants – thus the club’s investment priorities will remain a key factor in future ballots.
At the same time, we will only put forward projects which have been fully costed and thought through – otherwise we risk committing the trust to something that isn’t viable, or even wasting your money, which we certainly don’t intend to do.
In other words, we aren’t going to put half-baked ideas to a vote just for the sake of offering a choice. We will only ask you to vote on things we are confident will be useful.
And considering all of the above, if in future we feel there is one project which for whatever reason stands out above all others at that time, we will again put it forward as a straight yes-or-no question.
However the September survey saw a number of specific ideas which could be viable options but which due to workload pressures we haven’t yet managed to fully explore.
We are revisiting that list and hopefully will be able to present some of those ideas in the April and/or July ballots. Any further feedback or suggestions can be emailed to [email protected]
Lastly, it’s important to remember this is a new process and – like the director election – we’ve had to create our own path here. The way we spend the £2 pot will probably evolve over time and will be dictated by circumstances.
We don’t know of another trust in Scotland giving their members the chance to directly influence spending on the club in this way – we are proud of that and you should be too.
Hopefully this email makes clear the number of factors we have to consider as we continue to try to do what is right for all involved, as well as the level of thought which has gone into this.
We would ask members to trust the committee to balance all of the above and to be assured we will always make the decisions we feel are best for the organisation. As always, we are grateful for your support and understanding.
The SMISA Committee
November Member Update
Dear SMISA member
Welcome to the latest SMISA member update, this one for the month of November. The committee have been as busy as ever and there’s a round-up of the latest below.
As you know, one of the most significant things we are working on is the election of the SMISA director to the St Mirren board.
The deadline has now passed for members to submit their applications to be a candidate. Each candidate must be nominated by at least ten members to get on the ballot and we are currently verifying the nominations we received.
The plan is for voting to start on Monday 7 November and run for two weeks. We will email you with details of how you can vote via secure online ballot once everything has been finalised.
All candidate statements will be posted on the SMISA website along with the job description, which lists in detail the responsibilities of the role.
It also lays out the skills and experience we feel someone will need in order to be effective as a fan representative and as the key link between the trust and the club.
The choice of SMISA representative on the board is obviously of crucial importance for the future operation of both the club and the trust, and we would encourage you to read all of that information fully before you cast your vote.
Latest membership numbers
The membership numbers at end October are 1,340, a very slight drop on September but a figure that continues to give us a healthy monthly income and keeps us on track to achieve the long-term goal of fan ownership of St Mirren.
In the last month we lost a few members and gained a few – it will be important we continue to pick up new members to offset any drop-outs.
We are working on some schemes which we think will help do that – but would also appeal to all members to keep spreading the word to any fellow fans who haven’t yet signed up to #BuyTheBuds about the benefits of membership and what we are trying to achieve.
People can sign up online and read five reasons to join SMISA on our website.
Disabled platform update
As you are already aware, SMISA plan to spend the contents of the members pot (containing the £2 proportion of your monthly membership) every three months.
We agreed for the first three months’ worth to part-fund the building of a project which featured prominently in our survey of member spending priorities – the disabled platform at the back of the main stand.
Work is already well under way and the platform is expected to open in the next couple of weeks, meaning disabled fans will be protected from the worst of the weather by the time the winter fixtures kick in.
The aim of the members pot is for your money to be spent on projects which make a visible difference to the club and community, and for you to decide where that money goes.
We are not aware of any fan group in Scotland doing anything else like this on such a regular basis, and are excited by what St Mirren fans will be able to achieve through this fund in the future.
Millennium champions event
When we launched the #BuyTheBuds campaign back in April one of the benefits offered to the Plus (£25 per month) members was an invite to an exclusive SMISA-run event every six months.
The first one will take place on Friday 2 December when we host An Evening with the Millennium Champions in the hospitality suite at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.
The night will look back on one of the most memorable seasons in St Mirren’s history – the 1999/2000 title win, in the company of Tom Hendrie and members of the squad, helped by some video highlights from key games.
Our Plus and Premium members have already been emailed with details of how to claim their free place for the night, but all remaining tickets will go on sale to all members from Monday 14 November at a cost of £10 (all money raised will go to youth development).
It is shaping up to be a great night and we would encourage you to make sure you don’t miss out.
Over the past few weeks a hardy group of volunteers from within SMISA’s membership have been down at the Paisley 2021 Stadium cleaning up the Family Stand.
While the fronts of the seats are cleaned by the club each year, the backs are not, and our guys have blasted them with power-washers, as well as cleaning the stairs, banisters and the backs of the advertising boards.
Anybody sitting in that stand for the Dumbarton game on Saturday will be able to able to see the difference – there are some pictures on our Facebook page.
Our thanks go to volunteer squad members Bert Downie, Ian Mclaren, Ken Docherty, Gordon Black and SMISA committee member Jim Crawford for all their hard work.
The guys are keen to expand their numbers and if anybody has a few hours to spare and would like to join them, your help will be hugely appreciated.
The guys are now tackling the West Stand. If you would like more information about getting involved, email [email protected]
Youth academy dinner
The annual St Mirren youth academy dinner takes place on Friday 25 November at the stadium. Full details for the event are on the club website.
This year’s speakers include broadcasters Alan Rough and Peter Martin and as always, funds raised will go to support the club’s youth development.
As in previous years, SMISA has agreed to take a table for ten at the event and will meet half of the £500 cost of this from existing funds.
That means if any members want to come along, they will be able to buy a seat for £25, rather than the usual £50.
If you would like a seat, please contact [email protected] and we will put your name down on the list.
Next few games
The defeat at Morton on Tuesday was a particularly depressing one for us all – a poor performance by the team, and one they will know themselves they need to improve on.
Looking at the fixture list for November and December the team is heading for a season-defining run, with home games looming against the teams directly above us in the league.
Sometimes bad results breed bad results and the players are clearly lacking in confidence at the moment – so now more than ever they need your support to break that cycle.
We would encourage all fans to get down to the Paisley 2021 Stadium for the next couple of games and give Jack Ross and the team the backing they need to help turn the season around.
As always, if anybody has any questions or issues they want to raise, please do so via [email protected]
The SMISA committee
October Member Update
Welcome to Jack
The club this week confirmed the appointment of Jack Ross as the new manager and the SMISA committee would like to welcome Jack to the Paisley 2021 Stadium.
SMISA's man on the club board David Nicol was obviously involved in the recruitment process and we know Jack really impressed the board with his vision for the club and that they see him as a good fit for their long-term plans.
It was also encouraging to see him talking up the benefits of fan ownership in his interview on the official website today - for those who missed it, there's a good insight into his approach here.
It goes without saying supporting St Mirren hasn't been easy over the past few years and maybe the atmosphere hasn't always helped matters on the pitch.
But we now have a new manager, a new board and a new opportunity to move forward as a club. We hope all members and fans will give their full support to Jack and the team, and hopefully better days lie ahead.
Latest member numbers
Current membership numbers as of the start of October are 1344. That is slightly down on last month but we always expected that over time numbers would tail off and we budgeted on that basis.
Of the handful of cancellations, the feedback we have from those who wrote to us is that their reasons were purely down to finance.
We have been given no indication anybody has left because they are unhappy with the job we are doing or because of results on the park.
As always we would stress the work to take the club into majority fan ownership is a long-term project which will take years to save up for, and that means we need a long-term commitment from as many members to stay the course as possible.
First £2 pot spend
One of the key ways we will be keeping everybody engaged is by spending the £2 proportion of your monthly membership, which we plan to do every three months.
We wrote to you last week with the results of the survey we ran on your priorities and the feedback from that will be used to inform future spending decisions.
As we explained in that update, the bulk of the £8,500 raised through the first three months of #BuyTheBuds money will be used to make up the shortfall (estimated at £6,000-7,000) on the club’s planned disabled platform at the back of the main stand.
But we asked the members to vote on where the remainder of the money should go – either into youth development or to be left in the pot for future investment.
Voting closed earlier in the week and the results were as follows:
Option 1 (Spend on Youth Academy)
Option 2 (Carry funds over)
As you know, one of the key points of the #BuyTheBuds campaign is that you the members can elect one of your own to represent you on the club board.
SMISA committee member David Nicol has been doing this role for the past couple of months but it was always our plan to hold an election to be concluded before the club AGM at the end of the year.
We have now produced a set of election rules, along with a timetable detailing how the process will unfold over the next couple of months.
The first stage of that will be a nomination period where any interested members will be able to put themselves forward to go on to the ballot.
The full set of election rules, including details of how to nominate yourself, will be sent out later this week, along with a job description outlining the expected duties of a SMISA rep on the club board.
Volunteer call to action
Something both the SMISA committee and Gordon Scott are keen to investigate is how to harness the membership’s collective power to volunteer on projects which will help the club and community.
The club have approached us with a couple of projects which they need some extra pairs of hands on and have asked if SMISA members are willing to provide them.
The first project involves the possibility of the club installing an electronic advertising billboard on land at the north end of the stadium, which could be a very lucrative income stream.
However the companies who operate these boards will only install one if they know there will be a certain amount of traffic at that location each day.
So to find out if this idea is feasible, the club is looking for a number of volunteers to work in shifts to help electronically count the vehicles at that spot over the course of one day (note - this is likely to be a weekday).
If you were able to spare an hour or two and would like to register an interest in this or any future volunteering opportunities, please send an email to [email protected] and we will be in touch with more detail when we have it.
If there was sufficient interest, this could be the start of a SMISA volunteer pool of people who use their collective skills to work on various club and community projects as and when required.
This could be ideal for members who are perhaps retired and willing to give up some time to, or those who are looking for something to add to their CV.