General SMiSA News

November update - including chance to choose next season's strips

*We recently emailed our members with an update* 

Your chance to choose next season’s kit….

As you know, season 2021/22 will be the first in which St Mirren will be owned by its fans…and we are pleased to announce the team will be taking to the field in strips chosen by the fans too.

To help mark the transition to fan ownership, the club board have asked SMISA members to choose next season’s home and away strips from a series of options created by their kit partners Joma. We were delighted to accept that offer and thank our two club directors David Riley and John Needham for helping make it happen.

Joma have presented four options for each of the home and away strips – and you can run the rule over them elsewhere on the SMISA website here.

Then, once you’ve made a note of your favourites, you can vote for them through Very Connect. 

Voting will run until Sunday 6 December, and the home/away options with the most votes at that point will be the ones Joma will put into production. The club and Joma wish to keep the winning options under wraps to allow a reveal nearer the point the kits go on sale – so the outcome of the vote won’t be announced until then.

We hope SMISA members picking the strips will become an annual event. There may also be opportunities in future for fans to submit design ideas (which there wasn’t time for this year, due to production timelines).

The SMISA Stadium

As most of you will know by now, St Mirren Park has been renamed The SMISA Stadium for the remainder of the season. The release of this news quickly spread far and wide and details of the arrangement were reported on by a vast number of media organisations both in Scotland and beyond.

We are naturally very appreciative of this gesture which shows how much your contribution is valued by the club.

It also helped mark the start of the countdown to majority fan ownership, which we can now confirm is on track to happen slightly sooner than planned – in summer 2021.

The other benefit is the additional exposure it will bring SMISA between now and then. When Jeff Stelling announces to the nation on Sky Sports that “there’s been a goal at The SMISA Stadium” then we want football fans all across the country to be sufficiently interested to google the name and learn more about SMISA and fan ownership in general.

That can only help as we look to enhance our reputation heading into a pivotal year.

We hope that additional interest will lead to an increase in membership numbers as more St Mirren fans sign up as we get closer to completing our takeover, five years ahead of the initial date of 2026 set in 2016.

We would encourage as many fans as possible to sign up as the more members we have, the stronger we become.

Simply put, the more funds that are in the pot once the buy out of Gordon Scott’s shares has been concluded, the more money there will be to improve the team on the park. And that is something every St Mirren supporter wants to see.

SMISA Business 

We are pleased to report that, despite the financial uncertainty caused by the effects of the global pandemic, our member numbers have remained fairly robust, with 1165 still signed up. We remain grateful as always for your contribution.

The SMISA board continues to meet via Zoom every fortnight and speak regularly via other channels on a daily basis. We have recently welcomed two new contributors to the group, Colin Bright (otherwise known as Paisley Panda), who has been co-opted on to the board, and Kenny Lang who is currently involved on a more informal basis.

Colin has replaced Lawrence McCabe who has stepped down from the board. We thank Lawrence for everything he achieved during his time with us and look forward to hopefully working with him again in future on specific projects.

As we get ever closer to becoming majority owners of the club, SMISA also remains in regular dialogue with our partners, Kibble, and will also have representatives on the new joint working sub-committees that are being established by the club for some areas of the business. This will allow SMISA to gain more insight into how things work and to act as a conduit for passing information and views to and from the club board.

As you know we recently carried out a comprehensive survey of SMISA’s members which captured your views on a range of issues and we will use the very useful feedback we received to help us shape SMISA’s future role and operations, including in areas such as membership fees, events and benefits.

We will also be stepping up our communications to members between now and next summer – both in terms of widening awareness of how fan ownership will work and by bringing you more regular updates on SMISA business, such as this one.

St Mirren Park to be renamed The SMISA Stadium

St Mirren’s home is being renamed The SMISA Stadium in a show of recognition of the fans as we start the final countdown to becoming majority owners of the club in the summer.

To thank the members for your continued commitment, the club board has decided to gift the naming rights to the stadium to SMISA for the rest of season 2020/21.

The gesture is designed to mark what will be the last season before the club becomes majority fan owned – as we can also today confirm we are on track to complete the share purchase in the summer.

Our legal agreement with chairman Gordon Scott currently says this will happen by the end of 2021. But thanks the commitment of our members – past and present - we will have the share purchase money and a sizeable cash reserve sooner than hoped. And Gordon has confirmed he is happy to complete the share purchase on a date to be decided in the close-season.

The club board has agreed the stadium-naming gesture to thank SMISA’s 1,150-plus members – whose monthly membership fees have been saved towards the share purchase since 2016 – for making that possible.

And it will mean that tonight’s match against Dundee United will be the first to take place in the newly-christened SMISA Stadium.

SMISA chair George Adam MSP said: “Our aim has always been the same – to see St Mirren stay forever at the heart of the Paisley community and in the hands of those who will care for it most. What better way to mark the ownership of the club moving into the hands of the fans than to put their name above the door?

“When we started off on the journey towards fan ownership five years ago we never expected to be in this position so soon – but the incredible commitment of our members made this possible. We are thrilled the club board have chosen to recognise SMISA members in this way.”

Gordon Scott added: “I always wanted to know I was handing over the ownership of the club to the fans when the time was right, and with the set-up we now have in place we believe that time will be in the summer.

“I and the rest of the board are delighted to be able to recognise the commitment of SMISA’s members over the past five years for making all of this possible.

“Sadly our fans can’t be in the stadium at the moment but we hope having SMISA’s name on the ground for the rest of the season shows how much we value them as the lifeblood and future of the club.”

The #BuyTheBuds deal had initially been expected to take ten years to complete but will be delivered in just five thanks to SMISA and St Mirren’s partnership with leading social enterprise and social care charity Kibble.

That partnership was overwhelmingly approved by SMISA’s members during a vote in February and is believed to be unique in Europe by making a charity the part-owners of a top-flight football club.

Kibble provide support services and commercial expertise to the club, while working with the club to creating job and training opportunities for the young people in their care.

Their purchase of some of Gordon’s shares reduced the sum SMISA needed to raise and means SMISA now expect by the summer to have banked the share purchase money plus a substantial cash reserve, which will help offer financial security to the club in future.

Kibble chief executive and St Mirren director Jim Gillespie added: “With Kibble having been in Paisley for the best part of 200 years, our involvement with St Mirren helps bring together two of the town’s oldest institutions.  

“But with SMISA taking on the majority shareholding, St Mirren’s future will be a fan-owned one. Kibble are delighted to be supporting that and helping keep this club at heart of the community."

“SMISA’s members are the ones who made this happen and the stadium renaming is a great gesture to recognise them for their fantastic achievement.”

John Needham appointed as SMISA's new St Mirren director

We recently wrote to our members to inform them that, following a thorough recruitment process, we had identified John Needham as the best candidate to replace David Nicol as SMISA’s second-appointed director on the St Mirren club board.

Members were then given the chance to endorse or reject that proposal and an overwhelming majority of those who voted (95%) have agreed to support our choice of preferred candidate:

 YES (including three by postal vote): 434. NO: 24

 We are delighted, therefore, that John’s position on the board has been ratified by the members. As a committee we strongly believe John, alongside fellow director David Riley, will continue to ensure SMISA’s voice is represented on all club issues and will also make a notable contribution in helping to take St Mirren forward.

 John said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been selected to represent the SMISA members on the St Mirren Football Club Board.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that I regard this as an honour and, as a fan for the past 54 years, I never imagined that I’d be given such an exciting opportunity until now.

“Thanks for your support. I will do my utmost to ensure that your voice, as fans, is heard and that we continue to move forward as a club.”

John’s appointment means David Nicol will now, voluntarily, step down from the club board. Dave has served SMISA and the club as a director since 2016 and was an integral figure in the success of the Buy the Buds takeover campaign that sent St Mirren on their way to becoming a fan-owned club.

We would like to place on record our gratitude to Dave for everything he has done for us and the club over the past six years. He will continue to be a SMISA member and his experiences as both a SMISA and St Mirren board member are something we will no doubt call upon again in the future. 

July and October £2 Spend result

Earlier this month we asked our members to consider a proposal to use the £2 spend ballots for July and October in one go.

This was to create a pot we expect to be in the region of £14,800 that would provide general financial support to the St Mirren youth academy to allow them to continue operating at full strength and to also purchase some vital training equipment.

You have chosen to support this overwhelmingly, with more than 98% (618) of the 629 members who voted giving the proposal their backing.

Our next £2 ballot will now take place in January 2021. Any members wishing to forward projects for consideration can do so by email at [email protected]

July and October £2 Spend

This month we are proposing something a bit different for members to consider by suggesting using both this spend and the October spend in one go.

The project we are putting to the vote is to provide general financial support to the St Mirren youth academy.

The effects of Covid-19 have impacted football in many ways with nearly every club forced into making cost savings to try to offset the loss of revenue.

Some clubs have chosen to reduce or mothball their academies but we at SMISA believe a strong, thriving youth academy is vital to St Mirren’s present and future.

In a previous survey of SMISA members, you also indicated that supporting youth development ought to be the priority for the £2 spend sums.

With the club working towards attaining elite status within the Scottish FA’s Project Brave structure, this fund would enable the academy to continue operating at full strength and to also purchase some much-needed training equipment.

To that end we are proposing using the £7400 in the July pot now, and then in October the sum available (likely to be similar), to help head of youth Allan McManus and his team at Ralston.

Committing two pots in one go will give the academy team a bit more certainty over budgets and the ability to plan ahead during a time of financial uncertainty.

Should the project not receive majority backing the sums will remain in the pot for possible use at a future date.

Voting via Very Connect at   https://tinyurl.com/yd6j8qow   will be open until July 17.

If you have any questions about this or anything else please get in touch via [email protected].

Members invited to put themselves forward for club director role

Earlier this year members voted in favour of a proposal that will now see majority fan ownership of the club delivered by the end of 2021. Under the terms of that, SMISA is entitled to appoint a second director to the club board during the three-way interim ownership period.

David Nicol, a member of the club board since 2016, agreed to continue in post as the second representative until the SMISA committee was able to source, interview and nominate his replacement.

We have now started that process and, to that end, would like to extend an invite to anyone in the membership who may be interested in representing SMISA on the club board to get in touch.

One of the terms of the deal agreed by members earlier this year was for the procedure for choosing club directors to be amended from that of previous years to reflect the growing significance of the position as we move towards majority ownership.

We have developed a formal recruitment process involving an application form and interview for shortlisted candidates to establish the best person for the job based on their skills and experience.

Once the committee has settled on their preferred candidate, members will then be given the opportunity to either accept or reject them.

Any member contacting us to express an interest in the role will be sent an information pack with more details about what the position will entail as well as an application form.

At least one of the SMISA-appointed directors on the club board - David Riley is the other – will also be available for an informal video chat to answer any other questions members may have.

Anyone interested in this opportunity should contact [email protected] by Friday July 10.  

 

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.