Summary of the SMISA members meeting held on July 21, 2022 at the SMISA Stadium
In attendance from the club: John Needham (JN), Jim Gillespie (JG), Keith Lasley (KL), Alex White (AW), and Mark Macmillan
In attendance from the SMISA committee: George Adam (GA), Alan Quinn (AQ), Kenny Docherty (KD), Janette Swanson, Dougie McMahon, Eddie Devine and Graeme Macpherson
The latest quarterly meeting – attended by 22 members – began with a welcome from host GA who pointed out that, while everything is still not perfect, vast improvements have been made at the club since the turmoil of last summer.
JN followed on a similar theme, revealing that season ticket sales to date (3339) had now exceeded last year’s total, before KL spoke about the positive start he has enjoyed in his role as chief operating officer.
Members’ Q&A section
The first question centred on increased ticket prices for the visit of Rangers and Celtic and whether this would also disadvantage the home support. JN said St Mirren supporters would be encouraged to take up the offer of a two-match package with the subsequent home game offered at a discount, thus averaging out the price.
JN also said the long-term hope was to create a positive matchday experience so that parents who might be unwilling to take their kids to Ibrox or Parkhead would instead bring them more regularly to St Mirren matches.
The next question was about whether the team would wear the black and white stripes more often at home than has happened in recent years. KL said that the team would wear the home strip at home at all times unless there was a very good reason not to.
There was a question about the situation with Dylan Reid and how the club can either hold on to academy talent for longer or maximise the club’s earning potential. JG answered that it was a difficult situation with many variances, pointed out that Dylan is in the last year of his contract and the club have engaged with the player’s mum and agent. Celtic came in with an offer that reflected the compensation on offer that included a 30 percent sell-on clause. Dylan was allowed to speak to Celtic but was always made aware that St Mirren wanted him to stay to continue his development here. The situation will now be reassessed in November and the hope is at that time Dylan could be persuaded to sign a contract extension. What will be key is ensuring that players like him and others in the academy can see a viable pathway to first-team football. JG also admitted that as a club St Mirren needs to do more to maximise the financial returns of any young player that does move on.
There was a point raised about a supporter who had been displaced from their season ticket seat during the Covid “red zone” period and unable to get it back and also about cars making unauthorised use of the club’s car park on a Sunday morning. KL said he will look into both.
A question was asked about whether Old Firm fans would be kept behind after those matches. KL will address operational matters with the stadium manager. But he reiterated that the three-stands programme was not about denying the Old Firm supporters, but about getting as many St Mirren fans into the stadium as possible for every match.
There was another question on whether the club would be pursuing Premier Sports for the fee due after they chose not to broadcast the Airdrie game live. KL confirmed that would be the case.
One member wanted to know what the situation was with one of the sponsors following media reports about the firm reneging on deals with a number of organisations including St Mirren. KL said he has held positive meetings with the company with a view to getting them to fulfil their contractual obligations.
There was a question about whether the Ralston training ground work was now complete. KL said there had been a series of upgrades and the pitches were looking fantastic. The building construction work is also almost complete and the players will then get full use of it.
One member wanted to know about the plans to introduce additional hospitality boxes and whether that would be additional revenue or taking away from current hospitality arrangements. JN confirmed it would be the former. He revealed there’s a capacity requirement as hospitality regularly sells out plus the club doesn’t have a private box offering. There has been a lot of interest in it so far. The cost will be paid back in just over a year after which point it will be generating profit.
There was then a lengthy discussion about the club’s finances and cashflow position. JN revealed the board get management accounts every month from the club accountant and examine them at board meetings and take action where needed. JG explained that there is an audit committee and a finance committee and the club now has the necessary financial and fiscal policies in place. He added that the club is in a better position today than this time last year but that, along with cutting their cloth, the club also has to scale the business to try to generate income. So alongside looking at what happened last year in terms of finances, the club is also continually looking at different ways to also grow the business. AQ added that a lot of recommendations have been made from the finance committee to the board on how to tighten up and improve procedures and that matters are being addressed.
There was a suggestion of providing quarterly or interim financial updates and the board members agreed this was something they may be able to do but would have to look into the best way to do that.
There was a follow-up question about SMISA’s representatives to the club board and their suitability. GA revealed that KD has drafted a paper on behalf of the SMISA board looking at all of that in detail that will now be considered by the club directors at their next board meeting. JN added he is a supporter of a rotation policy so directors don’t outstay their welcome. He felt it was good governance to bring in fresh names every so often.
A member asked about why the club has never looked into the viability of running car boot sales within the stadium car park. AW said the club was looking at ways of maximising the use of the facilities, including the possibility of an outdoor cinema, and would take this idea into account too.
The meeting was concluded with one member thanking the St Mirren and SMISA committee, and other club staff, for being willing to meet face-to-face with supporters on a regular basis to discuss these issues, something that doesn’t happen at too many other clubs.
The next meeting will be held on October 27.