OUR two SMISA-appointed St Mirren directors, John Needham and David Riley, provide an update to members on what’s been happening at the club over the last few months and give some insight into what lies ahead.
Q: It’s been a few months since our last directors’ Q&A – can you update the members on the main things that have been keeping the St Mirren board busy during that period please?
A: It’s been a very busy period with setting budgets for the coming season, improvements to the facilities at Ralston, moving to a new ticketing system, changing how the club shop will operate and planning for the return of fans to the stadium. It’s been a big ask for the team behind the scenes and whilst there have been some challenges with the ticket system migration we feel confident that these changes will bring big benefits in the future.
Q: How do you reflect overall on the events of last season, both on and off the park? Do the board consider it a successful campaign?
A: Whilst COVID brought significant challenges I think the club coped well overall and the results that Jim and the team achieved on the park made for an exciting and rewarding season. To finish 7th and get to two Semi Finals represented our best performance for many years. It’s shown that a Top 6 finish is definitely a realistic goal - something many doubted. Off the park there was a lot to be pleased with too as we managed to cope with the loss of income from games without our fans. It forced us to develop our SMTV offering, improve our marketing and social media presence, and look to balance the books in other ways. That in turn has enabled us to continue to build depth in the playing squad. So, yes, we do consider that 2020/21 was a successful campaign on many fronts.
Q: How are things shaping up behind the scenes for next season? Is there cause for optimism once more?
A: We are certainly optimistic that with the latest additions to the squad and the experience gained from last season we can go one better and get into the Top 6. Another trip or two to Hampden would be most welcome too! However, achieving these goals will only come if we continue to work relentlessly on and off the park. Football is a fickle business and we can’t take anything for granted.
Q: What’s the latest guidance in terms of getting fans back into grounds?
A: We were restricted to 500 fans for the Dunfermline game but as Scotland moves forward with the plans to move to Level 0 that will increase soon to 2,000. Further progress after that should be possible as long as there is no major surge in cases and football clubs can demonstrate that we can operate in compliance with the rules on distancing etc. Our priority is to get all home fans back as soon as possible.
Q: The club has made a switch to a new ticketing system. Can you give the members a bit more background on that and what you hope to gain from this new partnership?
A: I think it’s no secret that the previous system wasn’t as user friendly as it could have been. As such we took on board the feedback from fans and searched for an alternative. The transition has been more difficult than we expected so there have been issues. However going forward we are confident that once everyone is successfully migrated we will have a system that meets the needs of our fans.
Q: Finally, we’re moving ever closer to the handover date when SMISA becomes majority shareholders of the club. What’s the feeling at board level ahead of the transition?
A: I believe it’s one of anticipation. SMISA members, along with Gordon Scott and Kibble, have achieved so much in a relatively short space of time and to have our club protected from any unwanted suitors for posterity is really a remarkable achievement. However, as a Board we see it as the end of one phase and the start of another. Once 51% of the Club’s shares have been purchased we will look to invest in areas of the operation that improve the engagement and experience of our fans. We have a list of potential projects and are working through the detail. As soon as we have firm plans we will share them with the members and the fanbase as a whole. It’s an exciting time to be a Buddie!