General SMiSA News

SMISA 2018 AGM minutes

St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMiSA)

Minutes of Annual General Meeting Saturday 14th April 2018

Held in University of West of Scotland Library 12:30 pm.

George Adam, SMiSA Chairman, welcomed members and opened the meeting

-  Provided a brief overview of a very positive year to date and reiterated the need for continued drive by all members and appealed that there is always room for anyone wishing to get involved further in support of the committee and the organisation.

-  Presented the agenda for the meeting.

-  Handed over to Dave Nicol.

Dave Nicol, SMFC Board Director & SMiSA Committee Member

-  Gave an overview of his duties and responsibilities as the SMiSA representative on the club board.

-  Gave a positive outlook on where having a fan representative on the board has resulted in improved co-ordination between the club and the fans and thus improving the relationship as a single entity.

-  Informed of how SMiSA contributions via the £2 quarterly spend had made a significant difference to the team on the park and to the club as a whole.

-  The club board and the manager have on many occasions acknowledged the ‘huge impact’ the members have had on the overall success of the club since Buy the Buds project was launched.

-  DN read out a message he had received earlier that day from Jack Ross thanking all SMiSA members for their continued financial support of the club.

Colin Orr, SMISA Committee Member (Communications)

-  Explained the background to the £2 spend concept and it having been praised by Supporters Direct Scotland as an excellent and unique initiative.

-  Provided some highlights and examples of the £2 spend

-  Explained that this funding allowed things to happen at the club that otherwise wouldn’t have. eg. Sports Scientist, Increased Player budget and others.

-  Informed of recently implemented policy for £2 spends laying out the criteria and timescales

-  Provided overview of survey undertaken which was the basis for the above ‘spend criteria’ eg Youth Academy was indicated as the highest priority by people who responded.

-  Explained the principle of how the recent Ralston Astroturf project came about and that having been approached by SMFC the committee devised and submitted the best workable option to the membership for them to decide.

Alan Quinn, SMISA Committee Member (Finance)

-  Provided a financial plan of how the Ralston Astroturf project would work in relation to movement of funds over the next financial year and advised that full accounting details are controlled, kept, and monitored on a constant basis.

-  Presented graph on membership numbers since the start of Buy The Buds was launched, and although there has been a gradual downturn (as expected) numbers were still healthy and above target and in fact had improved slightly recently (1 new member, 4 upgrades, 2 enquiries about joining)

-  Advised of administration of membership being laborious with much of it being based on spreadsheets. It is the finance teams’ objective for this year to get all membership details and communication means onto a single database system ensuring accuracy and efficiency.

- GDPR compliance is required by all UK companies that hold anyone’s personal information. This is currently in hand by the finance team and members will receive notice of their rights relating to the matter. SMiSA already complies to these new regulations but are legally required to formalise.

-  Provided a general overview of finance since the year end accounts Nov 2017 and that all finance was healthy and in line with forecasts and in particular highlighted that the final payment to the outgoing directors would be made in July this year, - a major milestone achieved without the need for external funding thanks to the higher than planned member contributions. £385k in total.

-  Explained the £4031 debtor being in relation to the final repayment of the Under Soil Heating loan, which had been paid the day after the year end.

-  Requested that all members ensure SMiSA is kept up to date information eg changed email addresses etc to ensure communication flow.

-  Accounts Issued Previously; Questions were invited from members on the formal accounts to year end Nov 2017 – No questions raised.

-  Provided a general overview of finance since the year end accounts Nov 2017 and that all finance was healthy and in line with forecasts.

-  Explained that "Unaudited Accounts" doesn't mean we just pick some nice numbers out of the air. The accounts are still subject to a detailed examination by an independent accountant, although this stops short of a full audit.

AQ introduced the formal voting (by show of hands) required for this AGM

-  For acceptance of accounts to year end Nov 2017 – unanimous acceptance

-  To continue with ‘unaudited accounts’ principle for next year – unanimous acceptance

-  Re-appointment of JB Andrew, Chartered Accountants as reviewers - unanimous acceptance

AQ then explained the election of committee members to the Board of SMiSA, in that applications had been invited from all members and that the number of people applying to join was the same number as spaces available, therefore there had been no need for a full postal election. There was however a need for members at the AGM to approve those who were standing.

-  George Adam – re-election sought as per 3 year rotation rule – unanimous acceptance

-  Jim Cumming –  re-election sought as per 3 year rotation rule – unanimous acceptance

-  Graeme McPherson – election sought - unanimous acceptance

-  Kevin Park – election sought - unanimous acceptance

-  Janette Swanson – election sought - unanimous acceptance

Kenny Docherty, SMiSA Committee Member (Events & Objectives)

-  Provided overview of how objectives were decided upon and reviewed last year’s objectives, outcomes and actions undertaken to improve performance of the committee overall.

-  Informed of and explained the reasoning behind the objectives for 2018.

George Adam, SMiSA Chairman invited questions from attendees for response from relevant committee member.

Question; personally voted against Ralston Astroturf project as he felt SMiSA (Committee) were not applying to original processes stated

Response;

CO: explained BuyTheBuds was always designed to allow members to invest in the club as we go. We didn’t feel this went against principle of deal and wouldn’t have put it to members if we did. The SMISA committee have put in huge amount of our own time at expense of other things in our lives to make fan ownership possible…we won’t do anything that could risk that

AQ; all the funding for the project will ultimately be coming from the £2 spend and although the question was raised relating to the rights and wrongs of what members were asked to vote on, we have confidence that the accounts are healthy enough to support the method of financing put to members. AQ advised he would not have agreed to the proposal otherwise.

KD: This was an example of the club coming to SMiSA with a large significant project, something that some members have been looking for, and it was only right that the SMiSA committee take consideration of this and try and find the best possible solution and means to finance and to let the membership decide.

Response from original questioner – comfortable with responses given but we should take greater care in the future when embarking on any project or direction when a different intention had been previously stated.

GA; Asked if there were any more questions relating to this specific subject – none were raised.

Question; membership numbers, can we do more now ie with increased interest in the team ?

Response:

KD advised that this was the very reason for one particular objective being included in next years plans and that up till now we have reacted to situations or ideas to increase membership on the day, however once a strategy was in place it would be hoped that there would be more focus on increasing membership in an organised manner.

John White, member, responded that in the context of large crowds expected for the remaining home games and the lack of a mass ‘sign-up’ plan for that period, was down to the current workload of the committee and also that in the past, despite appeals for members to assist, eg hand out flyers etc. it tended to be only the same four or five committee members who responded by getting involved.

Further response from another member was that this was the same comment the individual had made at last year’s AGM in that that every SMiSA member is responsible for increasing the membership and everyone should be promoting SMiSA and encouraging other friends and relatives to sign up.

Question; was there concern that the lower than normal recent voting and low activity response from members was due to some form of apathy becoming prevalent ?

Response; It was generally felt that with the vote going out over the Easter weekend accounted for a slightly lower than normal vote. The intention is that part of the ‘increase membership strategy’ will encourage more engagement from members to requests for assistance. Overall membership numbers are still meeting initial expectations but the more members who sign up the more successful SMiSA and SMFC can be.

Question; has SMiSA got any link with the SMFC Community Trust, as in the individuals experience one particular clubs community trust was massive and engages every aspect of the local community through schools, clubs etc and focuses everyone in the area on the football club.

Response; DN advised that unfortunately the clubs community trust had lain somewhat dormant for a couple of years and required regenerating. It was advised the SMFC director Alan Wardrop had taken on the task of regenerating the community trust and it was SMiSAs intention to be involved with that project where possible.

Response from original questioner – would it be considered for SMiSA to have a representative on the community trust once implemented

Response; DN – Yes !

Question; with the discretionary £2 funding several projects directly related to the club, would the SMFC themselves budget for some of these things in future eg balls, sports scientist etc.

Response; DN agreed with this point and explained that any items that the club had requested funding for were unforeseen. eg in the case of new balls this was down to the SPFL changing the ball provider to the league and it made sense for the first team to use the same type even for training.

GA being no further questions, thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.

 

April £2 spend ballot results

Voting closed on Friday night for the April £2 spend ballot and we can announce the results as follows.

1. Proposal to make £50,000 available to part-fund the replacement of the Ralston astroturf:
YES - 579 votes (88%) / NO - 81 votes (12%)

2. Proposal to run community season ticket scheme for another year (£3,000)
YES - 605 votes (92%) / NO - 55 votes (8%)

We thank all members who cast their vote. We appreciate the way the Ralston proposal is being funded has generated a bit of debate among some members.

We put forward the project for you to decide on because we saw it as a way for member £2 money to be used to support what you told us was your number one priority for investment - the club's youth academy.

Ultimately, it is the £2 pot which will pay for this investment - and we can reassure members that all money borrowed in the short term from the share purchase fund will be repaid and protected to be used for the share purchase.

For those of you coming along to our AGM (today before the Livingston game in the library at UWS from 12.30pm) we will give a fuller explanation of how the finances will work, and will be happy to answer any questions members may have. A full report on the AGM content will be shared with all members following the meeting.

We hope to see as many as possible of you there on what may - we hope - turn out to be a momentous day in the history of our club.

Vote for SMISA's Player of the Year 2017/18

Season 2017/18 has been a memorable one for all St Mirren fans - and this year we are giving our members the chance to vote for who should be SMISA's Player of the Year.

You can cast your vote via this link - we have included all players still at the club who have started more than five games this season. You can pick three players and the winner will be the one with most votes.

We will make the award at a date to be confirmed.

April £2 spend ballot details

We can reveal the details of the April ballot for the quarterly £2 spend – and this quarter we are doing something slightly different.

While we normally ask you to vote on a number of projects adding up to roughly £8,000, this month we are asking for approval to commit money from this and future £2 spends towards a major infrastructure project.

The astrograss pitch at the club’s training ground at Ralston is nearing the end of its life. While the club have spent money to patch it up, it will need replaced before it becomes unusable.

The club have quotations for the cost at £150,000. They can access external funding to cover around one-third, and can fund one-third themselves. We are proposing to offer – subject to members approval – for SMISA to contribute the other £50,000

The committee have debated the principle and financial practicalities of this at length in recent weeks and have come up with a plan which would allow us to do this.

The proposal – which we would like you to vote on – can be summarised as follows:
- SMISA would – this summer – make £50,000 of existing funds from our share purchase pot (ie the £10 portion of your monthly membership) available to the club.
- we would then ‘reinstate’ that £50,000 by committing £5,000 from each of the next nine quarterly spends – plus £5,000 available now of leftover funds which pre-date the #BuyTheBuds campaign.

So our share of the pitch upgrade at Ralston would – over time – be paid for entirely from £2 and discretionary money – but we would use funds which would otherwise be sitting in the bank to let it happen sooner.

If approved, the next nine £2 quarterly ballots (from this month until April 2020), would be worth around £3,000 per quarter (if membership numbers stay level), rather than the usual £8,000.

This way we would be keeping something back to potentially support other projects and engage you as members – as opposed to committing the whole pot to one project for 18 months.

If not approved, the £5,000 from the April spend will stay in the pot for future use, and future quarterly spends would have the normal amount available for other projects.

As part of our negotiations with the club, we agreed that SMISA’s £50,000 would not be treated as a donation, but as a deal for SMISA to become the main sponsor of the youth academy, with a package of benefits for the trust and its members over the next two seasons. These would be:
- to rename Ralston to the St Mirren/SMISA youth academy;
- SMISA to be the chest sponsor on one of the academy team’s shirts;
- an under-20 player's shirt each season to be drawn among our members;
- a group of our members to be drawn to be given a one-off behind-scenes tour of the facility once the work is done;

We considered the following as reasons to put this proposal to you:
- we have twice carried out surveys of our members asking your spending priorities and on both occasions the youth academy was your top priority by a distance;
- some of our members have suggested we save up for a large project rather than funding small ones each time – this is the large project at the top of the club’s wishlist;
- the first team don’t currently train on the astrograss pitch, as Jack doesn’t believe it is good enough quality - this would give them a surface they could use;
- the pitch is used extensively by many, mainly-local, young people each week. This investment provides a degree of community benefit by improving their facilities;
- money invested in club infrastructure is money invested in an asset we as a trust are committed to buy. When SMISA becomes majority owner of the club, the new pitch will still be in use;
- as detailed above, we have negotiated a sponsorship deal which will promote SMISA and bring some small benefits back to our members;

We appreciate some members may ask whether the club would be in a position to fund the entire project by itself, or whether we could loan the club the money (and be repaid).

The short answer is for the club to find £50,000 from elsewhere - now or over time - would reduce the core budget available for the first team and the club's day-to-day operation.

Ultimately SMISA's £2 pot was created with the intention of helping move our club forward and for that reason – and the others listed above – we are putting this to you.

Members will receive a separate email with a link to the secure online ballot where we will ask you to vote for or against the proposal detailed above.

Community season ticket scheme

There will be one other vote on that ballot as part of the April £2 spend – for what we would do with the £3,000 which would be left should the Ralston proposal be approved.

A year ago, you voted in favour of a community season ticket scheme – where we bought a number of seats in the main stand, and - working with Ferguslie Park-based group Engage Renfrewshire – made them available to a different charity or youth group each home game.

Groups to benefit include: Shelter Scotland, Good Community Relations Project Renfrewshire, Crisis Counselling – Erskine, Star Project, Turning Point Renfrewshire, Cairn Housing Association, Active Communities, Women's Aid – Renfrewshire, Who Cares Scotland Advocacy and RAMH (Recovery Across Mental Health).

We are conscious the stadium sits within an area named the most deprived in Scotland – this scheme has given a free day out at the football for a diverse range of people and local groups who have been disadvantaged in various ways and who may not otherwise have had the chance, while also bringing new fans into the club.

We would like to run the scheme again this year and have agreed with the club our £3,000 would get us 24 seats (a mixture of adults and children) – which – if approved – would give even more residents of Renfrewshire the opportunity to get along to watch the (we hope) champions in action.

As always, if there are any questions, we will be happy to take them via [email protected].

SMISA AGM 2018 notice

The SMISA AGM will be on Saturday 14 April at 12.30pm in the library at the University of the West of Scotland (entrance via Storie Street, opposite the new student flats).

We hope for as high a turnout as possible as we discuss what has been a good year for the trust – and the team on the park.

As in previous years, we have chosen a town centre venue on the day of a home game (v Livingston) to make it as easy as possible for people to be there.

The following business will be dealt with on the day:

- a look back at the highlights of the past year

- A vote on whether to accept the annual accounts

- Votes to approve the appointment of an independent financial examiner and to disapply the requirement for an audit for the next year

- Election of new members to the trust committee

- a look back at how we performed against the objectives discussed at last year’s AGM, and forward to new objectives for 2018/19

Members will also have the chance to ask any questions of the SMISA board on the day.

If there is anything members would like clarified in advance please email [email protected]

If any member is unable to attend the meeting, they can nominate a proxy vote to another person. To register for a proxy please email [email protected] no later than Thursday 12 April, stating your name and the person you wish to attend and vote on your behalf.

SMISA committee elections

Members had until Sunday 18 March to put themselves forward for election to the SMISA committee. As only five people applied for the five places, there will be no formal election.

Instead, an affirmative ballot will be held at the AGM where members will be asked to approve the election of the five.

They include two current committee members applying for re-election – George Adam and Jim Cumming – plus three who have been helping the committee over the past year and are standing for election for the first time – Graeme MacPherson, Kevin Park and Janette Swanson.

You can see the profiles of the five candidates here. If elected, they will join the four committee members not up for re-election this year – Kenny Docherty, David Nicol, Colin Orr and Alan Quinn.

 

Download The Saint winter 2017 edition

SMISA recently pulled together the Winter 2017 issue of The Saint newspaper - and many of you will already have seen a copy.

The 16-page paper was produced in partnership with Saints fan and SMISA member Jack Paterson of Saltire Graphics, and is packed with articles promoting SMISA and the club.

We wanted to make sure members and fans further afield had the chance to see it for themselves, so have uploaded a copy to this website.

You can download a copy here.

Enjoy!

January £2 pot vote results

We can now reveal the results of the January ballot to decide where the latest contributions to SMISA’s £2 members pot will be spent – and can confirm all three projects were voted through comfortably.

Vote 1 – proposal to continue funding wage of St Mirren sports scientist and extra hours for club analyst until end of season (£3,200):
Yes – 769 votes (95%) / NO – 42 votes (5%)

Vote 2 – proposal to support new St Mirren Women’s Section by funding new SMISA-sponsored strips, plus other costs (£2,055):
YES – 650 votes (80%) / NO – 161 votes (20%)

Vote 3 – proposal to fund pre-match entertainment in and around Family Stand to help attract more young fans to games (£1,750):
YES – 580 votes (72%) / NO – 231 votes (28%)

Thank you to the 811 of you who voted. As always, any feedback can be sent to [email protected]

Some other snippets of SMISA news….

Next meet-the-committee date: One of SMISA’s objectives for 2017/18 was to create regular meeting places for members to meet the committee.

Some of our committee will be in the Court Bar in St James St before the QotS game on Saturday 3 February between 1 and 2.30pm, so if anybody wants to pop in to give us feedback or raise any issues, we look forward to seeing you.

Women’s team fundraising: Although SMISA is now making a contribution towards the club’s new women’s team, they still have fundraising to do to meet their start-up costs ahead of the season starting in March.

They now have a JustGiving page, so if any of our members wanted to contribute to that, you can do so via the link here.

January £2 spend options

It’s now time for the latest quarterly spend from the members pot – formed from the £2 portion of your monthly memberships. This is of course separate from the £10 portion of your memberships, which is currently being used to fund the share purchase

The committee has considered a number of ideas and costed and put forward a handful of projects we feel are a good use of the money and in line with our objectives – but as always the members will decide if they happen.

As in previous months, we are asking members to vote yes or no to three options, to be decided by simple majority. Should an option be rejected, the money will stay in the pot.

The £2s add up to just over £8,000 per quarter. The three projects suggested here total just over £7,000, meaning a minimum of £1,000 will be left over in this vote for future use.

Vote 1) – club sports scientist and analyst (£3,200)

Members will remember voting in July to fund a sports scientist to work with St Mirren’s first-team and academy squads, plus extra hours for the club’s analyst to work with data from a GPS tracking system measuring player performance in training.

This was not something the club had budgeted for at the start of the season but SMISA put it to our members after we were approached by Jack Ross, who felt this additional investment would hugely benefit him and the players.

Results to date would back that up and suggest SMISA’s investment has really helped boost the team.

In the summer we agreed to pay £5,200 to fund the £200 per week cost (£150pw for the sports scientist and £50pw for the analyst) for 26 weeks from August until the end of January.

We would now like to give members the option to keep funding this post until the end of the season – another 13 weeks would cover us from February until late May, covering the potential play-off dates.

Vote 2) – St Mirren Women’s section (£2,055)

Members will also be aware St Mirren have now launched a women’s section, who will take to the field for the 2018 SWFL Division 2 West season in the next couple of months.

SMISA helped bring the individuals together with St Mirren and are keen to play a role in helping grow this new section of the club and with it, the St Mirren family.

However the ladies have a large fundraising burden to meet their significant start-up costs, and we believe SMISA can help with some of that. We are asking members to vote on £2,055 funding for the team, broken down as follows:

- a set of away kits and other teamwear (£1,200). These will be the same Joma strips as the men’s team but will carry a SMISA logo as shirt sponsors, helping promote the trust;

- our investment would also cover the team’s registration fees for the season (£455), training equipment (£300), and coach’s tracksuit and training kit (£100).

The ladies are looking for other sources of funds and anybody who could help can contact them via Twitter on @stmirrenwfc.

Vote 3) – funding for pre-match family entertainment (£1,750)

St Mirren’s two Supporter Liasion Officers – SMISA’s John White and Fans Council member John Allison – have been working with Paisley Panda himself on a new initiative aimed at adding to the matchday experience for young fans.

They would like to bring children’s performers and other live entertainment into the Family Stand and stadium grounds from 2pm on matchdays and encourage families to get there early to enjoy the atmosphere and make a day of it. We believe having more young fans at games can only be good for the club in the short and long term.

This would include the following – two children’s entertainers per game (ie puppet  show, magic show, face painting, balloon modelling or a clown), live musicians, and 500 cardboard clappers per game (similar to the ones Leicester City use) to be handed out to let the kids create some noise.

The two Johns have costed this and proposed SMISA fund the above for five home league games between now and the end of the season. We are asking members to approve a spend of £1,750 to cover the costs.

SMISA members are being asked to vote via secure online ballot. Voting will run until Sunday 21 January. As always, we welcome any ideas and feedback on [email protected]