General SMiSA News

SMISA 2020 AGM voting results

With it not being possible to hold our SMISA Annual General Meeting in person for the time being due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, we decided to conduct our AGM by electronic means this year instead.

We invited all members to cast a vote (yes or no) on each of the following matters. In total we received 460 votes, with members giving their positive backing to each item.

The details are included below:

#

Motion

Yes

%age

No

%age

1

Approval of Annual Accounts

457

99.3

3

0.7

2

Disapply need for full financial audit

394

85.6

66

14.4

3

Appoint Independent Examiner

457

99.3

3

0.7

4

Accept amendments to Constitution

452

98.3

8

1.7

5

Re-elect George Adam

442

96.1

18

3.9

6

Re-elect Kenny Docherty

452

98.3

8

1.7

7

Re-elect Alan Quinn

452

98.3

8

1.7

 

Thank you to all members who took the time to vote.

We also invited any members who would have liked to have raised a question at the AGM to do so by email and we thank those who did. Responses can be accessed HERE

We will look into the possibility of holding an actual Q&A member meeting at some point in the future once government restrictions are lifted.

Finally, we realise these are very challenging times for many people and so we would like to thank the SMISA membership for your ongoing support.

None of us know yet what will happen with Scottish football going forward but be assured we will endeavour to keep you updated with developments whenever we can.

Many thanks,

The SMISA Committee

SMISA review of year 2019/20

Members will be aware that due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, we have been unable to hold SMISA's Annual General Meeting in its normal format this year, and are conducting our AGM business virtually instead. The following review of the year is a written summary of what we would have presented at the meeting, in three sections – 2019/20 Highlights, Finance and Membership, and Annual Objectives:

2019/20 HIGHLIGHTS

For much of the past year our focus was on the proposals to deliver majority fan ownership of St Mirren earlier than planned by working in partnership with Kibble.

That deal was the best part of a year in the making, with our first meeting with Kibble in April of last year. At that stage we agreed to enter into discussions and a SMISA sub-committee was formed to work with the club and Kibble to develop an idea of what any deal might look like.

By summer we had firmed up the principles of that into something we felt would work and our workload peaked over the winter as we finalised the details of the legal agreement and how to communicate the proposals to members. We put those plans to you because we believe they offer the best possible future for our club and we are delighted almost 92% of members backed them during that vote in February.

While lockdown has obviously made a big impact on club operations over the past month, we hope to be able to keep working with the club and Kibble to help deliver on the benefits of the new ownership structure over the coming year.

The focus on the Kibble deal did inevitably divert our focus from other areas. However there were a number of other key achievements, including:

- our members made several great projects possible through the £2 pot – including a tactics screen and drone for the first team and academy, funding for Paisley Panda’s pre-match children’s entertainment, support for the St Mirren Charitable Foundation’s Festive Friends Christmas meal, new strips for St Mirren Women’s team, funding some of the club’s youth teams to travel to a tournament in England, and another year of SMISA’s popular community season ticket scheme.

- we ran a well-attended and well-received meet-the-manager night which saw Jim Goodwin and Lee Sharp take questions from fans;

- our member benefit scheme continued, with groups of SMISA members winning draws to enjoy pre-match hospitality, sit in the directors' guest lounge, and attend other club events;

- we also worked with a local artists to unveil six murals celebrating previous trophy wins which have proved to be popular additions to the stadium interior;

FINANCE AND MEMBERSHIP

The image below shows some of our key numbers for the year.


The top line shows how our share-purchase pot has grown over the past year. The Kibble deal means we now only need £331k to acquire the majority stake in the club at end 2021. We plan to also have a sizeable cash reserve (ideally, around £100,000) at that time, which we are on track to have.

But there is a new ‘known unknown’ in that we can’t predict the impact of the financial hardship caused by Covd-19 on membership numbers. We will obviously monitor that closely over the coming months and update our projections accordingly.

In terms of membership numbers, you can see the rate of leavers and joiners for the past 18 months above. While the overall trend is downwards, we have always budgeted for this, and the level of drop-off is well within our projections.

Members will recall in 2018 we used money from the share-purchase pot to fund our £50,000 contribution to the new astrograss surface at the club’s training ground at Ralston, to be paid back at £5,000 per quarter from the £2 pot. The last payment will be in April, meaning the £2 pot will be back in excess of £7,000 per quarter from July onwards.

The last line shows the legal expenses incurred while negotiating the legal agreement underpinning the Kibble deal. It was essential we had proper legal advice on this. As our financial year end is November 2019, this expense will feature in next year’s accounts rather than the ones considered as part of the AGM, but we wanted to make members aware of this additional expense.

The other major update around membership is the VeryConnect membership portal is now up and running. This means all our member data, emails, events and ballots are now in one place, and using the one database. This has seen a huge reduction in the admin workload of the committee and means our behind-the-scenes operations have been significantly professionalised.

The vote on the Kibble deal saw a big increase in registrations on the platform but there still remains around 200 members who haven’t yet done so, despite the many reminders we have issued. Those members are unable to vote in ballots or book places at events. If you are one of them and need help to register, please email us at [email protected]

ANNUAL OBJECTIVES

Each year at the AGM we report on how we have performed against our objectives for the previous year and on what objectives we have set for the year ahead. Our 2019 objectives and results were:

1. Review process for electing a SMISA member to the SMFC board – this one has been overtaken by events in that the terms of the Kibble deal have changed SMISA’s position to one where we will no longer elect a single representative but the committee will directly appoint the majority of the club board. One of our objectives for next year is to put in place a process for this.

2. Membership strategy including junior membership scheme – work has taken place on this, with plans developed for a junior membership scheme, however this was put on hold while we focused on the Kibble deal. We will look again at this in 2020.

3. Complete installation of the new online membership platform – as detailed above, we rolled out VeryConnect to members in September.

4. Develop a SMISA community strategy – this objective was refocused to concentrate on one project – helping the club reduce its carbon footprint and increase recycling. A sub-group of SMISA committee members researched and produced a detailed report for the club board with costed solutions including installing separate waste and recycling bins around the stadium. When implemented we believe St Mirren will be the first club in Scotland to do this.

Our objectives for the upcoming year are as follows:

1. Formalise the process for recruiting SMISA representatives to the SMFC board, and appoint our next representative by summer 2020 – SMISA’s future role will be to appoint people with the skills and expertise to take the club forward. To do that we need to create a job description, person spec and interview process, and consider how to attract candidates of suitable quality.

2. Continue to develop membership strategy - ongoing effort is needed to attract new members and retain existing ones. As part of that we will revisit the plans for a junior membership scheme to hopefully bring though the next generation of SMISA members.

3. Help the club to further reduce its carbon footprint – we will continue working with the club to bring in the new stadium recycling scheme, and identify other areas for improvement around minimising waste and improving energy efficiency.

4. Produce a revised structure of membership fees and benefits, to be ready when SMISA secures majority stake in the club – the Kibble deal has brough forward fan ownership by several years and means key questions about our future operation need considered sooner than expected. Key among them is what our membership fees should be, how that income will be spent, and what benefits will be available to members in return. We will review our options around all these points.

SMISA 2020 AGM

While we appreciate football may not be at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment, we are required to update you on plans for SMISA’s Annual General Meeting. As you know, our planned AGM on 28 March was cancelled.

As it will clearly not be possible to hold an actual meeting for some time due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, and since there are formal business matters which require member approval in the meantime, we have decided to conduct our AGM by electronic means this year instead.

Supporters Direct Scotland have confirmed that this is in accordance with our rules. Many other organisations whose AGM is due are using the same solution. That means we are inviting members to vote remotely via a VeryConnect ballot on all the formal AGM business.

We have also written a review of the year covering the topics we would have presented on at the AGM, namely: our 2019/20 highlights; an update on our finances and membership numbers; how we performed against last year’s objectives, and a look forward to the ones we have set for this year;

We invite all members who would have liked to ask any questions of us at the AGM to do so by email via [email protected] We will respond to the sender by email but will also publish the questions and answers in due course for all members to see.

We will look into the possibility of holding an actual Q&A member meeting at some point in the future once the government restrictions are lifted.

Formal business

We invite all members to cast a vote (yes or no) on each of the following matters:

1) to accept the Annual Accounts for the financial year ending November 2019. A copy of the accounts has been emailed to members.

2) to disapply the need for a full audit of next year's accounts by instead appointing an Independent Examiner. (as an organisation with total revenue of less than £250,000, we are not obliged by law to have our accounts subject to a full audit, just a review by a suitable Independent Examiner. But members must give their approval each year for this to happen.)

3) Three of the current committee are required to step down and stand for re-election. As no other members have put themselves forward for election, we are required to hold an affirmative ballot, where members are asked to either accept or reject each of the three candidates – George Adam, Kenny Docherty and Alan Quinn. You can read candidate statements from the three on our website.

4) this year we have also proposed a number of changes to SMISA’s constitution, to better reflect our situation as we move closer to majority fan ownership. A copy of the constitution with the proposed updates marked in red, and a brief explanation of the rationale behind them can be read here.

The voting is open now and will close on Friday 15th May. Members can vote now via VeryConnect. The link was emailed to you on Friday 1 May, and a reminder issued on Friday 8 May. If you have any questions about any of the items listed above you would like to ask before you vote, please email us via [email protected]

April £2 spend result

This month we had £2500 available in the pot and gave members two options to vote on.

The first was to provide financial support to the St Mirren Charitable Foundation who continue to work diligently to help the vulnerable in our community during this difficult time. The second option was to keep the money for possible use at a later date.

Around 68% of those who voted (477 out of 699 votes cast) chose to support Gayle Brannigan and her dedicated team of workers at the Foundation at this time.

Members can also still make individual contributions to the Foundation should they wish to via JustGiving.

Our next quarterly ballot will take place in July when the pot will be restored to around £7000. Any members wishing to forward projects for consideration can do so by email at [email protected]

SMISA April update and £2 spend ballot

A lot has changed in the world since our previous update and we hope you are all staying healthy and coping the best you can in difficult circumstances. Although there is sadly no football on the pitch to occupy us for the time being, the SMISA committee is still working away as normal behind the scenes.

Social distancing may mean we can no longer meet in person but we have remained in touch through email, group chat and even held our first-ever committee video call!

We are also still in regular dialogue with the St Mirren board via our two SMISA club directors, David Nicol and David Riley, who have provided an update for members below. 

We will endeavour to keep you as informed the best we can as events progress, either through emails like this one or on our website and social media channels.
April £2 spend ballot

This month we have £2500 available in the pot and two options for members to vote on. The first option is to provide financial support to the St Mirren Charitable Foundation who continue to carry out sterling work in our community.

The money would help chief executive Gayle Brannigan and her team continue to deliver essential community outreach initiatives and services during this time.
These include providing online support to groups through You Tube and Zoom educational seminars and workouts, and also daily support via What’s App groups and one-to-one phone calls.

The Foundation is also working with partner organisations within Renfrewshire to redistribute essential food and hygiene products to vulnerable individuals and families who are most in need.

The second option is to keep the money for possible use at a later date. The club is thankfully on relatively solid financial footing at the moment but there is obviously great uncertainty ahead for everyone.

As we move towards our stated aim of becoming majority owners of St Mirren by the end of 2021, members can vote to hold over this quarter’s money for a time when there may be greater need for it. Voting will close on April 21.

In the meantime, members can also make individual contributions to the Foundation now should they wish to through their JustGiving page.

This month we also made the final instalment of our contribution to the cost of the new artificial pitch at the Ralston training ground. This means the July £2 Spend will be restored to around £7000.

Club directors’ update (from David Riley and David Nicol)

The club’s number one priority will always be the safety and well-being of our staff and players. We are well-positioned to weather the crisis due to sensible sustainable management by this board and the previous board.

Obviously we don't know how long this crisis will continue for but the board is continuing to talk almost every day to ensure the club is reacting appropriately to what is a very fluid situation.

We want to pay particular tribute to the work of the Charitable Foundation and Street Stuff for continuing to support the community during this difficult period. We also want to pay tribute to our media man James Hunter for producing some wonderful content for all of us missing our football fix. As always we will do our best to keep the members – and the support as a whole – updated via news on www.stmirren.com.

Virtual AGM

Having had to unfortunately cancel our proposed AGM on March 28 due to the growing Covid-19 threat, we are now working towards hosting an online process that would give members the chance to vote on matters as they would at a traditional AGM.

Details will follow on how that will work in the coming weeks. In the meantime if you have any questions about this or anything else please get in touch via [email protected]

February update on 2nd club director and AGM

We emailed an update to our members earlier today:

Kibble deal/Second SMISA club director

Thanks once again to all those members who voted on the recent proposal that will now see fan ownership happen by the end of 2021 in conjunction with Kibble.

We strongly believe this is the best way for the club to move forward and were heartened that so many of you (around 92% of those who voted) agreed with us.

As per the terms of the vote, the new shareholders’ agreement with Gordon Scott and Kibble has now been signed, meaning Kibble have purchased their stake from Gordon and the terms outlined as part of the transition phase now apply. 

SMISA, as the largest shareholder, will now be represented by a second director on the club board during the three-way interim period that will run until the end of next year at which point we will purchase the remainder of Gordon’s shareholding and become majority owners.

To ensure continuity, our second representative over the next few months will be David Nicol. David was the first SMISA-elected director when he joined the club board in 2016 and was then asked by Gordon to remain on the board once his two-year term came to an end in 2018 and he was succeeded as SMISA’s representative by David Riley.

The two Davids will continue to represent SMISA’s interests in club matters until the summer at which point David Nicol will stand down from the club board. The SMISA committee will begin the process of sourcing, interviewing and nominating his replacement before then to ensure a smooth transition between David and the new appointee.

AGM and committee election

We are due to hold our annual general meeting this spring and have provisionally scheduled this for Saturday 28 March at 12:30pm at the UWS library in Paisley town centre.

The AGM will look back on what has been achieved in the past year, as well as ahead to what we hope to achieve in 2020/21. A running order for the day, including our annual accounts, will be issued not less than 14 days before the meeting.

It also means the election of members to the SMISA committee. As it stands, three of the nine places will be open for election.

Six committee members previously elected will continue to serve for at least another year. These are Lawrence McCabe, Dougie McMahon, Graeme Macpherson, Janette Swanson, Jim Cumming and Colin Orr.

As the rules state one-third of SMISA’s elected committee members are required to step down each year, that means the members who have served the longest since last being elected – Kenny Docherty, Alan Quinn and George Adam – are required to stand for re-election.

Any other SMISA members who wish to put themselves forward for election can do so. Committee members are expected to attend fortnightly meetings (these are usually held on Monday evenings at the stadium) and be able to make a meaningful contribution, both in terms of their time and the quality of their input.

Anybody who would like to stand should email [email protected] and request an application form.

To stand, you will need to be nominated by two SMISA members and have been a member for at least 90 days prior to the date nominations are due to close - Monday 9 March.

You will also need to submit a 500-word statement explaining why you would like to be elected and a photograph, both of which will be used on the election webpage on the SMISA website.

Voting will run for two weeks from Thursday 12 March and will be concluded in time for the AGM.

The election will be administered by an election management group made up of committee members not up for election, who will verify all nominations.

As always, if there is anything you wish to speak to us about you can reach us on [email protected]

The SMISA committee

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.”