SMiSA held its AGM for 2015 last weekend after a year of progress for the trust.
A healthy turnout of around 50 members gathered in the hospitality suite at St Mirren Park to hear about the ups and downs of the past 12 months, and to consider how the turst can continue to support the club in future.
Secretary John White chaired the meeting and opened with a vote where the trust’s accounts for 2014 were approved and John Blair was retained as independent auditor.
The meeting then considered progress against targets set at the start of 2014 in terms of membership and share ownership.
Membership was given as 175, falling short of what John admitted was a very ambitious target of 350, but still representing a big increase on the Jan 2014 total of 65.
The trust now owns 6,042 shares in the club (around 3% of the total), having made a number of purchases from individual shareholders in the past year and thus exceeding the target of 6,000.
Next up was a look at some of the negative outcomes and areas for improvement in the past 12 months.
Top of the list was a shares bid proposal – the trust had in early 2014 produced a paper looking into a buyout of the consortium’s 52% shareholding.
The committee at the time met with various people to gauge support and said Stewart Gilmour was very much open to discussion.
But it was felt that individuals with the willingness and capability to provide the levels of finance required weren’t there.
The committee also felt the project would have been a full-time job for several people and the resource just wasn’t there to make it happen.
John explained his reason for going public on this now was he was aware the club’s ownership remains a hot topic and he wanted the membership to be aware a trust-led buyout had been looked into, but wasn’t feasible at this stage.
Other negatives covered included the loss of a couple of long-serving members from the committee in Alastair Colqhoun and Dave Tennant, and the limited number of trust events.
But in terms of positive outcomes, there were a few points to be covered. Top of the list was the SMiSA Panda Club which the trust had subsidised for the season to the tune of £2,500.
That had allowed the club to cut the price for the Panda club – which provides football coaching and match entry to young fans aged five to 12 – from £5 to £2.
Committee member Tony Dorris explained the Panda club was now averaging around 60 kids a game compared to 40 before, and was bringing in kids in who hadn’t been St Mirren fans before.
John also touched on the loan of £50,000 from the trust for the Airdome behind the away stand, which had allowed the club to increase its community activity and the status of its youth academy.
Other positive developments included an increased number of committee members, and regular meetings between members of the trust committee and Brian Caldwell at the club.
John then invited a wider discussion on what the trust’s objectives should be for the next year.
It was suggested that the drive to increase the membership further could be aided by asking the club to include an option to the join the trust on season ticket renewal forms.
This led to a wider discussion about the general direction of the club under the current board, during which some strong views were expressed. It was felt the club was being allowed to drift towards relegation and some members suggested the board appeared to be doing little about it.
Fan ownership was mentioned again, allowing new committee member and local MSP George Adam to update the meeting on the Community Empowerment Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament, which contains an amendment whereby supporters’ trusts get first option to buy their club should they go up for sale.
Election of committee
John explained that some of the present committee were due for re-election and that some of the new members who had been co-opted on in recent months required to be formally elected.
The following were voted in – Jim Cumming, Tony Dorris, Jim Crawford, Colin Orr, Barry Mitchell and Peter Black.
John White, Willie Bell, David Nicol and George Adam were also co-opted, giving a ten-man membership to the new committee.
John closed the AGM by thanking everyone for attending and saying: “Everybody should be proud of what we have achieved as in 2014 as we have come a long way. We were off track for a few years but now we are very much back on track.”