At the SMiSA AGM in May 2023 a member raised an issue regarding a Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RGGF) application submitted to the Scottish Government in or around June 2022.
The application concerned a proposal to build a Wellbeing Centre in Ferguslie Park. We understand the amount of the grant sought was £2.65m and that the application was described as the ”St Mirren Wellbeing and Regeneration Masterplan.”
The application referred to the Kibble Organisation, the St Mirren Charitable Foundation (“the Foundation”) and Renfrewshire Council, as all leading it.
Another member at the end of the debate at the AGM suggested the need for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this application and members present indicated overwhelmingly in favour of this proposal via a show of hands.
The SMiSA board has since reached out to those involved in the application process receiving varying degrees of cooperation; namely The Foundation, Renfrewshire Council and Kibble representative Mr. Jim Gillespie, (Chief Executive, and Director/Trustee of The Kibble Organisation and director of SMFC) .
We also reached out to Mr. John Needham, Chairman of The St Mirren Football Club Limited and Mr. Alan Wardrop (the SMiSA member referred to above).
Many of you will be aware that, regrettably, a court case has commenced at the instance of Mr Gillespie and Mr MacMillan against Mr Wardrop and we must remain mindful of the importance of those proceedings which impact on the information that can be shared. We have received very little from SMFC board members in contrast to the extensive information received from Mr Wardrop.
Members should be aware that the court action seeks two orders directed towards SMiSA, although SMiSA has not formally been called in the proceedings.
We are once again having to receive legal advice to protect SMiSA and its members.
There were in fact two applications prepared in connection with the proposed Wellbeing Centre, one in June 2021 and the other in June 2022, referred to above. Only the June 2022 application was actually submitted to the Scottish Government for the funding package. The Foundation’s name was referred to in both applications.
The Foundation insists it was not aware that any application had been submitted.
In May 2021 the Foundation’s CEO was contacted by a Kibble representative about an application for funding but she was subsequently assured that if there were any developments in connection with any such application that she would be kept updated by Kibble. No such update was ever provided to the Foundation. We are advised that the SMFC Charitable foundation subsequently became aware of the June 2022 application but only after it had been contacted by another football club trust in September 2022 to congratulate it on getting through the Stage 1 process and progressing to Stage 2.
Had it not been for this contact they would have been unaware of the application having been submitted using their name.
It is important to recognise there are presently differences of opinion with regards the application submitted in June 2022 between The Kibble organisation and Renfrewshire Council as to who submitted the land development plans as part of the application process. We understand that Kibble have stated that the Council made an error with the land drawings however this was firmly disputed by the Council in emails obtained by SMISA and indeed a senior official stated that the Council: “refutes entirely the suggestion there was an error on our part. It may be of interest to you to note that I have written to Kibble querying their public comments in this regard and requesting that they desist from such further comment”
You will recall the SMFC board issued a statement on 5th May 2023 in which it revealed that neither the Club nor the Foundation “had been engaged prior to the submission” of the application, suggesting that the reason for this was because the application was in “the very early stages of the process”.
At this stage, we are drawing this matter to your attention and look forward to the forthcoming quarterly members’ meeting in the SMiSA Stadium Hospitality Suite on Tuesday 29 August 2023 at 7.00pm.