SMiSA News

SMISA members give overwhelming backing to Kibble proposal

St Mirren will become fan owned by the end of next year after SMISA members overwhelmingly backed plans to do so via a unique partnership with Kibble.

We thank everyone who cast their vote over the past fortnight on our proposals. Voting closed at noon today and the results are as follows:

YES – 782 votes (91.6%) / NO – 72 votes (8.4%)

Turnout: 854 votes (71.9% of all members, includes nine postal votes)

The results have been verified by Alan Russell, Chief Executive of Supporters Direct Scotland, whom we thank for his assistance.

The proposals on which you voted were developed over many months of discussion between ourselves, Kibble and St Mirren.

We put them forward because of our belief they offer the best possible future for our club – by securing fan ownership in a way which could move St Mirren to the next level, on and off the park, while growing it as a force for good within the Paisley community.

We are proud of and excited by what this deal makes possible for our club, and are pleased it attracted such overwhelming support.

All involved will now look to complete the legal formalities and of the deal, which will allow Kibble to buy their stake in the club from Gordon and start working with the club board to bring their expertise to the club very soon.

SMISA chair and Paisley’s MSP George Adam said: “This is a historic and proud day not just for our club but for everyone in Paisley.

“We started the journey towards fan ownership four years ago because we knew there could be no better people to safeguard St Mirren forever than the ones who will care for it most…the fans.

“This deal agreed today not only delivers that ahead of schedule but it strengthens it – our partners Kibble will help the club grow, as a business and as a force for good in the Paisley community.

“The overwhelming nature of the vote shows the extent to which SMISA’S members have bought into what this partnership will create – and we are excited by the possibilities for St Mirren.”

Kibble chief executive Jim Gillespie said: “With Kibble’s roots in Paisley stretching back almost 200 years, this deal brings together two of Paisley’s oldest organisations.

“We are thrilled SMISA’s members have given us such a show of support and we plan to repay that by working together with SMISA, Gordon and the rest of the St Mirren’s board and staff to see where our expertise can help the club move forward.

“Crucially, this partnership will help change the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in Scotland – by allowing us to step up our young workforce development programme to provide training and job opportunities based around the club’s facilities and operations.”

St Mirren chairman Gordon Scott said: “When I took over as chairman four years it was always with the aim of passing the shares to the fans when the time was right.

“That day will arrive much sooner than we initially planned – but I believe this the right model, with the right partner, to build on the good work the current board has already done, and take St Mirren to the next level on and off the park.

“The new expertise Kibble will bring will allow us to find new ways to bring income into the club, and I and others on the board can’t wait to get started on working with them to do that.”

             

We thank you again for your ongoing support. As always, we can be reached via [email protected]

The SMISA committee

Prominent figures line up to back Kibble deal

SMISA members are being asked to vote on proposals that would see us form a unique partnership with Kibble, one of Scotland’s largest charities and social enterprises, to help take St Mirren to the next level.

We asked several prominent Saints figures for their thoughts on what this could mean for the club. We've also had backing from prominent figures within the governance of Scottish football.

Jim Goodwin, St Mirren manager and League Cup-winning captain

“Having spent an hour recently in the company of Jim Gillespie and Mark MacMillan from Kibble as they explained their plans to me, I can only see a win-win for everybody. It’s a big decision for the members to allow another organisation to come in and be a part of their club. But I can’t see anything but positives from this kind of partnership.

“As a club we want to go to the next level and to do that we need the support of Kibble. Commercially they can help us achieve that. And they are already an organisation that’s part of our town and our community. It’s a charity and a firm you can trust. For this to work, Kibble need to have a successful team on the park and that matches our ambition.      

“It means a lot to me that St Mirren is a proper community club and there’s nothing better than giving something back to kids. And that’s what Kibble is all about. This is a hugely positive move for everyone involved. I hope the members make the right choice and vote them in.”

Alan Russell, Chief Executive of Supporters Direct Scotland

"The St Mirren fans have been working hard for several years on their journey towards community ownership. In Kibble they have found a partner who shares their values, backs them as the ideal custodians for the football club, and have the resources and expertise to build on the solid foundations that community ownership will provide.

 “This partnership brings together two of the oldest social institutions in Paisley and will see the football club owned by the community and working  for the community's benefit.

"It is rare to find such a great fit between two organisations, and fans may wonder where the catch is! But the careful work that has gone on behind the scenes - with the support of Gordon Scott who has fully embraced community ownership as the best long-term model for the club - has given each party confidence that their values and priorities are fully aligned.

“While there are never any guarantees of success, we believe that St Mirren fans can look forward to a long and positive future in partnership with Kibble; and we are confident that the people of Paisley will be proud of the impact that their town's football club will have on the lives of their young people.

"As an organisation whose fundamental purpose is to promote supporter ownership, Supporters Direct Scotland endorses this partnership. Whilst it will lead to majority ownership by SMISA, rather than outright ownership, it will put the fans firmly in control of their club's future - and with a partner who fully supports their ambitions for the club."

Steven Thompson, former St Mirren centre forward and lifelong Buddie

“I have always had a great relationship with SMISA in any of my dealings with them and think they do a brilliant job representing St Mirren fans like myself.

“The new proposal to work in partnership with Kibble to take the club forward seems like an excellent idea. It would deliver fan ownership ahead of schedule in conjunction with a trusted corporate partner who can hopefully help take the club to the next level.”

Jeane Freeman MSP, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport

"Football clubs are precious parts of the communities they belong to. And it's clear that St Mirren belongs to the people of Paisley. It is great to see St Mirren becoming the latest Scottish top-league club to move towards majority fan ownership - a model that many other fan groups are keen to explore.
 
"St Mirren's model sees a unique partnership between the fans who will own the club and one of Scotland's biggest oldest social enterprises, Kibble.
"
That partnership's ambition is clearly to enable St Mirren to be much more than a club. Growing its role as a force for good with the Paisley community and looking to change the lives of some of Scotland's most vulnerable young people.
 
"I commend all involved for developing these innovative and forward-thinking proposals and hope SMISA's members will give their support to make them a reality."

Tony Fitzpatrick, St Mirren chief executive and former club captain and manager

“We know that fan ownership is definitely going to happen one day. But I think this is a great opportunity to get us there quicker with Kibble’s support. It’s a chance we cannot miss with the resources they can bring to the club. This is a match made in heaven.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for these two brilliant Paisley institutions with the same mission statements and the same values to work together. We see ourselves as a family, community club and these proposals would take us another step in that direction.

“It’s also a great chance to really empower and change the lives of those young people working with Kibble by allowing them to come into our football club and having hope in their lives.”

Gary Teale, former St Mirren player and manager, and Kibble business associate

“I have been working with Kibble at their largest social enterprise, The Experience, for the past year where we introduced the first fixed Hexagol location. I respect Kibble’s forward-thinking and professional approach but fundamentally that they balance this with the young people at the heart of the charity.

“As a past player and manager of St Mirren I believe this is a solid partnership which creates an exciting opportunity for a promising future for St Mirren and the fans.”

Jim Crawford, lifelong St Mirren fan and club volunteer

“Having digested all the relevant facts on the proposed marriage of SMISA and Kibble I believe this is an opportunity that can’t be missed. It ticks all the boxes to take St Mirren forward for generations to come.”

 

Letter to SMISA members from Kibble’s Jim Gillespie

Kibble's Jim Gillespie explains why he believes the partnership between SMISA, Kibble and St Mirren will be good for all involved....
 
Here at Kibble we are excited about our proposed partnership with SMISA to ensure St Mirren Football Club is owned by the fans and the opportunity to create an environment that can bring meaningful change, to the lives of young people in care at Kibble, to St Mirren Football Club and to the wider Paisley community.
 
This new partnership will allow us to grow the business of St Mirren and at the same time increase Kibble’s opportunities for employment, training and education as well as access to sport, health and wellbeing support.
 
Kibble will bring our commercial expertise to St Mirren, creating a dynamic partnership and complementing the existing set up by offering the support and expertise that a large charity has in areas such as HR, finance, marketing and communications. The strength in this partnership will help bring in new income to be reinvested in the team, which in turn will generate more non-footballing income to create a sustainable business model for the Club going forward.
 
This pioneering venture could also help address local deprivation and exclusion through youth employment, community engagement, initiatives and activities bringing significant benefits to the young people in Kibble and in the community.
 
We will strengthen Kibble’s young workforce development including employability programmes, volunteering support, traineeships and apprenticeships to provide wider opportunities between local schools and businesses.  It will offer young people from Kibble and the wider community support, tuition, training and confidence that they need to get a job.
 
If this proposal receives the support of the members of SMISA, this will be an incredibly exciting time for our charity as we combine the youth-centred, educational and commercial expertise of Kibble, with St. Mirren’s first-class sporting facilities and national profile to develop a dynamic partnership. At the centre of this will be a young workforce development model that will continue to thrive, with increased job prospects for our young people, and young people in the community aligned with the current job market.
 
At the heart of this proposal is the SMISA-Kibble partnership. This brings together two organisations with shared values, a not-for-profit ethos and the belief in the model of community ownership. We have worked hard with SMISA to create a deal that preserves those principles and we hope the SMISA members vote in favour to make a reality the exciting possibilities this creates for us all.
 
I look forward to hearing what SMISA members think
 
Jim Gillespie
Chief Executive
Kibble
 

SMISA - Ten Things We've Achieved So Far

Since our successful Buy The Buds campaign in 2016, SMISA has helped deliver numerous club and community projects as we continue along the path to fan-owned ownership of St Mirren.

As we enter what is shaping up to be a seismic decade for both SMISA and the club, here is a list of some of things we have been involved with over the past three-and-a-half years:

1. Supporter representation on the board

Since 2016 our members have been represented at the heart of the club via the introduction of a SMISA director. David Nicol was the first to take his seat on the board and he has since been succeeded by David Riley. Their presence ensures our members’ needs are always listened to.

2. Wheelchair viewing platform

The creation of a scheme where members get to vote every quarter on how to spend the additional £2 of their monthly fees was the first of its kind. Since then, our members have given their backing to some very worthwhile concepts. One of the earliest was the decision to part-fund a wheelchair platform in the main stand of the stadium, given St Mirren some of the best disabled facilities in the country.

3. Community season tickets

SMISA recognises the importance of building a bond with the local community, whether St Mirren supporters or not. Over the past few years we have bought a block of season tickets and then made them available to local groups to use free of charge, allowing hundreds of people to attend a match when they might not otherwise have been able to. As SMISA grows we want to continue to develop that relationship with the community.

4. Part-funded a new astrograss pitch at Ralston

Recognising the importance of helping the first-team as well as honouring our long-term commitment to supporting the youth academy, SMISA members agreed to make a £50,000 payment to help the club fund the installation of a new astrograss pitch at the training ground. In return, SMISA became title sponsors at Ralston and our members had the chance to take a tour of the facility and play in a friendly match to officially open the new pitch. SMISA also paid for the purchase of portable goals used on the pitch.

5. Stadium murals and pre-match entertainment

As well as supporting club and community projects, the £2 Spend has also been used to enhance the matchday experience for supporters. SMISA put forward the idea of having a local artist paint murals of some of the major trophy wins in the club’s history and members gave it their backing. Fans heading to a match can now see six of these paintings brightening up the walls of the stadium concourse. And SMISA members have also continued to support the pre-match entertainment ran by Paisley Panda, the Fans Council and the SLOs on matchdays for young fans.

6. Helping the relegation fight

Recognising the plight facing the team back in January 2017, SMISA members voted to boost the first-team playing budget to allow then manager Jack Ross to enhance his squad in the transfer market. What unfolded after that was an incredible 16 months that saw the team survive on the final day of the season and then win the Championship the following year. SMISA helped send them on their way!

7. Meet the Manager Q&As

The club has gone through more managers than they would have liked in recent years! But each time there was an appointment, SMISA helped arrange a night that allowed all supporters the chance to meet the new manager and put their questions to them. We are grateful to all of our recent managers and their assistants for agreeing to do this.

8.Meeting our financial commitments ourselves

As part of the deal to help Gordon Scott buy the club in 2016, SMISA agreed to pay its £380,000 share of the cost to the selling consortium within two years. Due to higher-than-expected member numbers we were able to meet that commitment without the need to take on any external borrowing. We continue to pride ourselves in our financial prudency, thanks mainly to our members’ ongoing support.

9.Backing the St Mirren women’s team and youth academy

SMISA played a big part in helping get the women’s team off the ground and then chose to sponsor their strips to also support them financially. We are keen backers of the women’s team and hope to see it flourish in the years ahead. Members also voted to fund the youth academy’s recent trips to play against English opposition, and contributed towards the cost of employing an additional sports scientist.

10. Volunteer squad

Many of our members do a lot of good work that often goes unnoticed or receives little credit. One of these is the volunteer squad who meet regularly to help clean the stadium and run repairs at the training ground. This we believe encapsulates the spirit of a community club, where everyone is willing to pitch in to contribute towards a brighter future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October £2 Spend Results

We emailed members earlier today with the results from the latest £2 Spend ballot. The two projects proposed - Pre-match family entertainment and Festive Friends - were both voted through by an overwhelming majority. Details below. 

Our next quarterly ballot will take place in January and any members wishing to forward projects for consideration can do so by email at [email protected]

 

Last month there was £2700 in the pot for the quarter and we asked you to consider the merits of two projects. Thanks to the 851 members who took the time to vote.

The first project that we proposed was for a continuation of the pre-match family entertainment that takes place outside the stadium on a matchday.

This has proved to be a very popular venture run by Colin Bright, AKA Paisley Panda, and jointly backed by SMISA, the club’s Supporters Liaison Officers (SLOs) and the Fans Council.

The entertainment has grown year on year since it first started with Bung a Baw back in 2016. The aim from the outset has been to encourage the kids of today to attend matches regularly and in turn become the paying adult fan of tomorrow. Feedback has been incredibly positive both from home and away fans.

The organisers want to continue to grow the project and requested £1500 to do so.

Members voted in huge favour of this project: 88% (747 members) gave your support, something that will make a huge difference to Colin and everyone else involved in organising it.  

The second project voted on involved the St Mirren Charitable Foundation and their Festive Friends Christmas dinner.

On Christmas Day last year the Foundation, in conjunction with the SPFL Trust and the Salvation Army, opened the stadium to provide a meal, company and entertainment for a number of local elderly people.

Members from SMISA and the St Mirren women’s football team also pitched in to help make it a day to remember for all involved.

Gayle Brannigan from the Foundation is hosting Festive Friends again this year and asked if SMISA members could contribute £1200 towards the costs involved. 

Again this was supported in massive numbers: 91% (771 members) voted to support the plan to give a Christmas meal to those most in need.

 

October £2 Spend Ballot

We recently wrote to our members with details of the latest £2 Spend options. Details are listed below. Members have until October 30 at 8pm to register their vote.

Members should also know we intend to use Very Connect for the next £2 Spend ballot in January next year. To be able to vote you will need to be registered on the system.

There is £2700 in the pot for this quarter. There are two projects up for consideration this month and members are being asked to vote yes or no to each one, meaning we could end up with both, one or neither.

Option 1 is for a continuation of the pre-match family entertainment that takes place outside the stadium on a matchday.

This has proved to be a very popular venture run by Colin Bright, AKA Paisley Panda, and jointly backed by SMISA, the club’s Supporters Liaison Officers (SLOs) and the Fans Council.

The entertainment has grown year on year since it first started with Bung a Baw back in 2016. Last season they took things to a new level providing entertainment at all Saturday home games with activities including inflatables, live music, face painting, balloon artist, flag displays and much more.

The aim from the outset has been to encourage the kids of today to attend matches regularly and in turn become the paying adult fan of tomorrow. Feedback has been incredibly positive both from home and away fans.

The organisers want to continue to grow and add to the activities they provide throughout the season but need funding to do so. The total cost for this request is £1500.

Option 2 involves the St Mirren Charitable Foundation and their Festive Friends Christmas dinner.

On Christmas Day last year the Foundation, in conjunction with the SPFL Trust and the Salvation Army, opened the stadium to provide a meal, company and entertainment for a number of local elderly people.

Members from SMISA and the St Mirren women’s football team also pitched in to help make it a day to remember for all involved.

Gayle Brannigan from the Foundation wants to host Festive Friends again this year and has asked if SMISA members could contribute £1200 towards the costs involved.

Should one or both projects not receive majority backing the sums will remain in the pot for possible use at a future date.

 

Very Connect - An Introduction

We are in the process of switching to a new database management system called Very Connect. Members will receive an email explaining the pertinent points but here we bring you fuller information on why we need a new system, and what it means for you.

The current set up and why it needs to be upgraded

Until now we have been operating with a number of different systems, none of which are interlinked.

  1. Excel spreadsheets for the core membership data
  2. Mailchimp for sending the regular update and ballot emails,
  3. Election Runner for the director elections and £2 Spend ballots
  4. Eventbrite for registrations for things like Manager Q&A nights
  5. and of course Gocardless where members initially set up their direct debits

Each of these apart from Eventbrite have separate member email address lists which need to be individually updated for all changes to member data and status, and then reconciled frequently to ensure consistency.

All this background administration is a considerable workload for the SMISA committee. Removing the need for much of this work would free up committee time to help move SMiSA forward in other ways.

Although we take regular backups of files, the data could still be vulnerable to things like hardware failure or file corruption on individual computers or other devices.

Also in these days of strict data privacy and GDPR regulations a stand-alone spreadsheet based system does not deliver the required standard of security for member data.

The use of Excel, Mailchimp and Eventbrite are free to SMISA at present, although that may not always be the case in future. Eventbrite incurs costs of c £100 per ballot.

What will replace the current set up?

A list of core requirements for any new system was drawn up, and considerable research and trials undertaken of available off-the-shelf solutions. We eventually decided to go with a Glasgow-based platform called VeryConnect, which provides a membership database platform which can be customised and comes with built-in integration to Mailchimp and Gocardless.

The system will deliver the following benefits for member administration:

  • one central database of member data
  • built-in email and balloting functions
  • no need to maintain separate mailing lists in Election Runner and Mailchimp
  • Internet cloud based so can be accessed by all authorised committee members without the need to copy or download and distribute information for specific purposes.
  • Secure service provider platform with frequent backups.
  • Fully compliant with GDPR laws
  • The link with GoCardless ensures member data is captured as part of the joining up process.

The new portal also allows members to register and log in, enabling them to check and update their own personal and contact details, avoiding the need to contact SMiSA by email to request changes.

There are many other standard features which could be made available in future, including blogs, interest groups event calendar and the chance to read SMISA documents stored in the system.  These will be introduced gradually as and when appropriate.

All of this will let us provide a much improved service to members.

Costs  

But as you’d expect, professional systems like this don’t come for free. There is a one-off set-up cost (£4,200), and like most software services these days, an ongoing monthly subscription (£300).

If we use the inbuilt polling function in place of Election Runner this will save about £400 per annum.

We believe the net cost represents good value for the degree of functionality and customisation Very Connect will offer us, compared to many of the other possible solutions we looked into, many of which cost a lot more but with limited customisation options.

Whilst we always strive not to spend funds on operating costs if we can avoid it, we can’t go on forever as an organisation with a six-figure annual income and more than a thousand members if that operation is being run from an Excel spreadsheet on someone’s personal PC.

Also, if we’re not able to streamline the workload involved here, we may have needed to employ a part-time administrator to look after this for us, which other trusts (such as The Well Society and Foundation of Hearts) already do. This system will set us up for the foreseeable future as regards membership records and all that they involve.

Next Steps

All of our membership data has now been uploaded from the spreadsheets into the new system and we are currently working with Very Connect on the final set-up of the live system and running our final checks and reconciliations of the data.

Not all functionality will be activated on initial roll out of the portal, as we want to ensure that the core membership functions are in good order first.

Members will soon be invited to log in and register. We will require everyone to do this to check their address and contact details, and update them if required. You will also be able to set your preferences for contacts from SMiSA and to add optional information to your Profile page.

Meet the Manager Night

New St Mirren management duo Jim Goodwin and Lee Sharp will discuss their plans with supporters at a special SMISA-run Meet the Manager night next week.

The Q&A event will take place on Thursday 15 August in the hospitality suite at the Simple Digital Arena and will also see Jim and Lee welcomed into SMISA as honorary members as we continue on the road towards majority fan ownership.

Jim is looking forward to what he hopes will be a regular meeting with the supporters and thanked SMISA for inducting him and his assistant as well as for their ongoing work.

He said: “It’s a fantastic honour for both Lee and me to be inducted as honorary members. What SMISA have done for the club is quite incredible and it’s a great organisation. They’re a group of people who are extremely passionate about the club and desperate for success. And hopefully Lee and I can deliver that for all them and all our supporters.

“I’m looking forward to speaking with the fans on the night. I’ve done similar things before as club captain and I’d love to have regular meetings with the supporters as I think it’s really important.

“That level of interaction always has to be there at any club. There can’t be any division between the club, from board level, through the manager, the staff, the players, the youth academy and the fans as well. We’re all in it together. So I look forward to meeting the supporters and answering their questions on the night.”

The event is free and open to all St Mirren fans but due to the capacity of the venue, places must be booked in advance via Eventbrite link below and will be first-come, first-served. One ticket per application.

Please note that due to the terms of the club's licence, the event is for over-18s only. Doors will open on the night from 6.30pm, and the event will start at 7pm.

You can book your place HERE

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