General SMiSA News

SMISA January update

Welcome to the first update of 2018 from SMISA and the committee would like to wish a happy new year to all our members. Here's an udate on a few things we've been working on.

Supporters Direct podcast

SMISA’s man on the St Mirren board David Nicol recently gave an in-depth interview to Supporters Direct Scotland – of which SMISA is a member – for their new Behind the Goals podcast.

Dave chatted with the head of SD Scotland Andrew Jenkin about the #BuyTheBuds campaign and what has happened over the 18 months since SMISA’s joint purchase of the club with Gordon Scott.

He also talked about how SMISA’s £2 pot has worked to date – with Andrew describing the scheme as ‘brilliant’ and the first of its kind he'd seen from a supporters trust. You can listen to the full thing here.

Community Season Tickets

In the summer, SMISA members agreed to fund the purchase of 24 season tickets in the main stand for the use of local community groups.

Women’s Aid, Men Shed Renfrewshire, Crisis Counselling and Good Community Project Renfrewshire are just a small number of the groups that have taken up the offer to tickets to get along and see our team during the first half of the season.

Not only is this scheme giving the opportunity to people who may not be able to afford a day out at the football, it is letting people who are new to the area see what supporting St Mirren is all about.

If you know a local community group who would be interested in the scheme, they can apply online here.

Club AGM update

SMISA was represented at the St Mirren AGM in December by Kenny Morrison and Louise Swanson.  

The evening itself went very well, each of the club’s directors were voted back into position, the accounts were approved and the amended Articles of Association were adopted.

There were various points of discussion around the room, with the volume of the PA system being highlighted as an issue for some and baby-changing facilities were raised as being not sufficient. It was agreed the club would look in to both of these.

Another major topic of discussion was parking provision adjacent to the ground, with Gordon Scott highlighting the club have to act under direction of the council.

Away from the off-field matters, Jack Ross covered his intention to loan some players out as we progress through January. Alongside this, Jack also stated he is looking to strengthen a few areas of the squad.

Saint newspaper

At the end of 2017, SMISA partnered up with Saints fan Jack Paterson and his firm Saltire Graphics to produce another edition of The Saint newspaper, which has 16 pages of Saints-related articles.

We’ve handed out printed copies at recent home games, and left bundles at many supermarkets and businesses around the area to help spread the word.

Volunteer squad update

Last year SMISA helped bring together a volunteer squad of members to help keep the Paisley 2021 Stadium look at its best and the group continues to do an amazing job in all weathers.

The group is led by SMISA’s Jim Crawford and recently completed a litter pick of the stadium ahead of the recent round of festive fixtures. Jim was joined by Ken Docherty, Gordon Black, Bert Downie and Ian MacLaren and we are sure members will join us in applauding the guys for their work.

If you could spare a few hours and would like to help, email [email protected]

 

SMISA and St Mirren Ladies update

 

Many fans will have spotted that St Mirren are launching a new women’s team for the 2018 season – SMISA is proud to be part of that and can provide an update on what our role may be.

 

SMiSA initially brought the club together with the individuals making up the women’s team and were involved in various discussions behind the scenes before the club’s official announcement last week.

 

The team will be managed by Kate Cooper, who has experience of playing and coached Glasgow City for a few years, and will start at the lowest tier within the Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) structure (SWFL Division 2 – West), with fixtures starting in late February/early March 2018. You can learn more about the Scottish women’s football structure on their website.

 

The women’s team still have some work to do to be ready for the start of their season and there are still some aspects of their operation to be agreed, for example where they will train and play. It is also currently planned for the players to pay monthly subs to cover rental and match day fees, a practice the team hope to move away from as they progress – hopefully up the leagues.

 

SMISA believe the new women’s team will benefit St Mirren and the wider community by promoting the club’s name and creating an obvious route through which to bring more people into the club structure. We will be working with the women’s team to help them in various ways, which will likely include giving members the option to provide support as part of the next or future £2 spend ballots.

 

In the short term, anyone interested in making donations or providing sponsorship, for example team or player sponsorship, can get in touch with SMISA committee member Kenny Morrison via [email protected]

 

The SMISA committee

 

October £2 spend vote results

We recently asked members to vote on where they would like to spend the £2 portion of your membership fees for the last quarter. We put five projects on the ballot and the results were as follows:

1. Equipment for St Mirren Youth Academy (£3,000)

YES: 724 (86%) / NO: 115 (14%)

2. quipment for St Mirren in the Community (£1,325)

YES: 652 (78%) / NO: 187 (22%)

3. Funding to subsidise youth coaching sessions run by Glenvale FC (£1,820)

YES: 444 (53%) / NO: 395 (47%)

4. Donation towards running costs of St Mirren FC amputee football team (£1,000)

YES: 656 (78%) / NO 183 (22%)

5. Matchday-quality footballs for St Mirren first team (£855)

YES: 613 (73%) / NO: 226 (27%)

All projects were approved by members and we thank the 839 of you who took the time to vote.

Some members will have noticed that the Glenvale BC project stimulated a bit of debate, with concerns raised this could be seen as in competition with the club's own community programme.

To explain how this came about, SMISA were approached by Glenvale weeks ago with a good presentation on their plans to provide coaching for youngsters who may not otherwise have been able to afford it.

As a community benefit society, SMISA felt this was in keeping with our purpose and agreed to put the project to members as part of the ballot. The club's concerns were put to us and taken on board, however it was decided we should let our members choose if they wanted to support the project or not.

We have talked it through with Gordon Scott and the club, and all parties have agreed to work together to minimise any impact on the club's community sessions. Part of Glenvale's proposal is to host sessions in the Airdome, meaning there will be rental income for the club.

SMISA is very supportive of the excellent work done by the club's own community team, who we are pleased our members also this month agreed to support through the purchase of new equipment.

SMISA remains proud of the investments our members have made and are making in support of the good work the board are doing to take St Mirren forward, and we will continue to work in partnership around all future £2 spends.

As always, if there are any questions for the committee, we can be reached on [email protected]

The SMISA committee

 

 

 

July £2 Results

As you know we ran a ballot over the past week to decide where the last three months worth of the £2 portions of your membership should be spent.

You can see the full descriptions for each option here. A total of 780 members cast their vote. Our thanks go to everyone who did so. We can now reveal the results below.

Tier One (£6,500 total)

- Extra hours for the club’s sports scientist and analyst (£5,200) – 432 votes (55%)

- Keep £6,500 in the pot for a future spend – 163 votes (21%)

- Balls for youth academy and Panda club sponsorship (£5,000) – 135 votes (17%)

- Put £6,500 towards share purchase – 50 votes (6%)

Tier Two (£1,500 total)

- Gym equipment for Ralston (£927) - 273 votes (35%)

- Donation to Johnstone Burgh crowdfunding appeal (£500) - 151 votes (19%)

- Training equipment for St Mirren in the Community (£1,350) – 135 votes (17%)

- Donation to St Mirren Warriors wheelchair basketball team (£500) – 104 votes (13%)

- Keep £1,500 in the pot for a future spend – 75 votes (10%)

- Put £1,500 towards the share purchase – 42 votes (5%)

The top project in each tier will be funded, meaning SMISA will now cover the cost of extra hours for the club’s sports scientist and analyst for the next six months (until the end of January), and buy 11 pieces of new gym and other equipment for the club’s training base at Ralston, for the use of the first team and academy.

We said any leftover cash would stay in the pot for future spends, so an extra £1,863 will roll over to the next vote, and be added to the £2 portions of the August to October subscriptions.

The SMISA committee welcome all ideas from members for club-related projects we could look into over the next few months for possible inclusion in the next ballot (which will be at the start of October). Please send yours to [email protected]

#BuyTheBuds members board

We are sure most of you will by now have spotted the massive black and white members board between the main and family stands, which – as promised during the #BuyTheBuds campaign last summer – contains the names of everyone who signed up by 1 July last year.

Some of the committee got our first chance to see it close up when we had our fortnightly meeting on Monday night, and below is a pic of us, and some posted on Twitter by members.

If you are down at the stadium this week or for the Falkirk game on Saturday, please post your pics, on here or on Twitter, and we will keep an eye out for them.

The board took longer than we hoped for to arrange and produce but it seems to be a popular addition so far and hopefully it was worth the wait.

The men to thank are Barry Mitchell of the SMISA committee, who diligently sorted through the names, and member Jack Paterson, who designed and produced the board via his company Saltire Print and Graphics.

Everything SMISA achieved during and since last summer – the new era of the supporters trust and club working closely together, new ways for members to choose how their money can benefit the club, the election of a fan rep to the club board, and the fact we are on the path to majority fan ownership – is only possible because of the backing of one group...YOU. And now you have your name on the wall to prove it!

Volunteer squad

Over the past two months, a squad of volunteers from the SMISA membership have been hard at work cleaning the stadium in preparation for the new season.

In that time they have cleaned the tops, backs and undersides of the seats in all stands, and swept the stairs in preparation for the painting of the hazard lines.

More recently, the group cleaned the two corner fences beside the family stand, before one was painted ahead of the installation of the SMISA members board.



This week the group are turning their attentions to the two corner fences at the away end of the ground, and putting reserved stickers on the backs of seats to welcome new season ticket holders.

The group are led by SMISA’s Jim Crawford, who had been an elected committee member until earlier this year, and still plays a very active role in the trust.

Jim’s regular colleagues include Gordon Black, Bert Downie, Ian McLaren, Margaret Tweedly, Tommy Stirling and SMISA committee members David Riley and Ken Docherty, while fellow committee members Kenny Morrison and Barry Mitchell have also chipped in.

Jim had this to say: “The volunteer team have put in many hours for the stadium to meet our expectations but each and every one of us has done it with pride and passion.

“This is our second home and we are proud to be in a position to use our time to make the St Mirren experience more pleasurable for our supporters. We welcome anyone else who feels they can contribute to the stadium upkeep.”

We are sure all our members would join us in giving a massive thanks to all involved for going above and beyond to create a better match-day experience for their fellow fans.

The volunteer squad usually meet on weekdays – if you could spare a few hours and want to help, get in touch via email to [email protected]

Chance for members to meet committee 

At our last AGM we committed to five objectives for the next year – one of which was to create a regular meeting place for members to speak to the committee.

Some of the SMISA board members will be in the Bull Inn in New Street on Saturday before the Falkirk game between 1 and 2.30pm (in one of the booths near the back).

If anyone who wants to pop in to meet us and give your feedback on how you think we're doing, we would be delighted to hear from you.

We will also be handing out leaflets and engaging with fellow fans. So if you have anything you would like to discuss with us, just pop in.

We will be available in other meeting places in future. If you can’t make it along on Saturday but want to get in touch, we can be contacted via [email protected]

Fingers crossed for the start of the new league season and let’s hope it’s one to remember.

The SMISA committee

July £2 Spend

Welcome to the latest update from the SMISA committee – we have a few things to update you on but the most important is it’s now time for a vote on the July quarterly spend.

As you know, your £12 monthly membership, £10 goes into a pot which will over the long term be used to buy Gordon Scott’s majority shareholding in St Mirren, while the £2s can be spent every three months on club-related projects as members decide.

In response to feedback from previous votes we are this time offering more choice – projects are split into two tiers, of higher and lower value. Members will be asked to pick one option from each tier, and the one with the most votes from each will happen.

Again, in response to feedback, each tier has two options not to spend – members can either keep the money in the £2 pot for future use, or save it and add to the shares pot.

We would point out the £2 pot is money we had always budgeted to spend, and the trust financial position remains healthy.

At the same time a key part of the #BuyTheBuds deal was to spend the £2s as we go – one of our objectives as a trust is to help the club be successful, and any money we put in is investment in an asset we are due to buy.

But it’s your money – you decide what it goes on, or not.

To briefly explain how projects on the ballot were selected, we see the role of the committee as a filter – the club and our members can suggest ideas, and for each ballot we will explore the logistics, decide what we think is a viable use of the money, and allow the members to pick from there.

We will only put forward those which have been thought-through and costed – so we won’t end up bound to spend money on something which doesn’t work. And, if the money is going into the club, there’s no point spending it on something they don’t need or want.

The projects in this round are a mix direct funding of club activity, and some community projects loosely related to the club, as we wanted to offer a variety.

It’s important to remember the SMISA £2 spend is an original idea of ours – we not aware of another trust doing this in the same way. So there is no template to follow. We are learning as we go, accept all feeedback, and the process will evolve over time.

We welcome all suggestions for the next ballot, which will be in October – please get in touch via [email protected] if you have an idea in mind.

To vote, pick one option from Tier One and one option from Tier Two below. The one in each tier with the most votes wins. Your link to vote in the secure ballot will follow in a separate email. Please remember to check your spam folder for this email. The ballot will run for one week.
 

Tier One (total value - £6,500)

NOTE - if the chosen project is one listed as being less than the sum above, any leftover will stay in the pot for the next vote.

1) Extra hours for the club’s sports scientist and analyst (£5,200)

Earlier in the summer, the club asked if SMISA could help fund the cost of a sports scientist to work with the first-team squad and under-20s, at a cost of £150 per week.

They also asked if we could fund additional hours for the club’s analyst, to work with data from a GPS tracking system the club uses to measure player performance in training, which the sports scientist will be using.

Jack Ross is of the view both would be of great benefit to him and the players.

We agreed to put it on the July ballot, but as the season had started by the time we were able to hold this vote, the club have already brought the sports scientist in.

This led to a bit of confusion at the club’s recent open day when Jack said SMISA had agreed to fund this position. To clarify, we only agreed to put it on the ballot - our members will choose whether it gets funded or not.

We are still putting forward the option for SMISA to meet the costs, which would in turn let the club free up extra budget for the manager. Otherwise, if the club want the arrangement to continue they will need to meet this cost themselves.

The suggested sum of £5,200 will pay for the sports scientist, and the extra hours for the analyst, until January (£200 per week for 26 weeks).

If all involved wanted the arrangement to continue, we would have the option of asking members to support it for the second half of the season in the January ballot.

2) Balls for youth academy and Panda club (£5,000 total - £2,500 for balls, £2,500 for Panda club)

The second option is a combined spend of £5,000 on two separate projects packaged together for the purposes of the vote.

Allan McManus from the club’s youth academy asked if we could fund the £2,500 purchase of a new set of 110 footballs for the club’s youth teams to use in training.

The other £2,500 would allow SMISA to continue to sponsor the Panda Club, where young fans go to the Airdome for an hour of football coaching before getting entry to a home game. The money would allow St Mirren’s Community Department to meet the cost of running the club as they see fit.

SMISA has in previous years spent money on both of the above, but given our spending now comes from the £2 pot, it is now subject to the ballot.

3) Keep £6,500 in pot for future spend

The sum above would roll over to the next vote, meaning we could afford a larger spend next time if we wanted.

4) Put £6,500 towards share purchase

The sum above would be banked towards the eventual share purchase.
 

Tier Two (total - £1,500)

NOTE - if the chosen project is one listed as being less than the sum above, any leftover will stay in the pot for the next vote.

1) Training equipment for St Mirren in the Community (£1,350)

We also had a request from Stevie Gallacher, who runs the club’s community programme, who needs new equipment for he and his coaches to run sessions for youngsters across Renfrewshire.

He gave us a list of items they could benefit from, which total £1,350. The list is as follows – 50 x size 3 balls, 100 x size 4 balls, 20 x 50-piece sets of round markers, 5 x 10-piece set of flat markers, and 4 x 10-piece sets of dome markers.

2) Donation to Johnstone Burgh crowdfunding appeal (£500)

Members may well have seen the crowdfunding appeal run over the summer by the committee of Johnstone Burgh FC, who are in need of money to ensure their short-term survival.

Given the historic links between St Mirren and Johnstone Burgh (with a few well-known Saints of yesteryear having started their careers at Keanie Park), we wanted to give our members the option of a one-off donation of funds to help Burgh meet their operating costs.

3) St Mirren Warriors wheelchair basketball team (£500)

We had a suggestion from a member to consider offering support to the St Mirren Warriors wheelchair basketball team.

It costs the Warriors around £10,000 a year to run the club and they are reliant on fundraising and grant applications, with members paying some of the costs from their own pockets.

Again, members have the option to make a one-off donation to support this club with their running costs.

4) Gym equipment for Ralston (£927)

This is a request from management to support the first-team by donating additional items not budgeted for - including new gym and other equipment at the training ground at Ralston, to help first-team and academy players with strength and conditioning work and match preparation.

The items are: Wall-mounted pull-up station (£70), Olympic bar holder (£50), weight tree (£50), stability ball and storage rack (£293), 2 x swiss balls (£30 each), 2 x tactics board (£102 each) and 2 x goal nets (£100 each).

5) Keep £1,500 in the £2 pot for future spend

6) Put £1,500 towards share purchase
 


Other SMISA News

Community season tickets

As members will remember, part of the April £2 spend saw us buy 24 season tickets to distribute to Renfrewshire community groups, as a way of SMiSA and St Mirren bringing the club closer to the everyone.

We now have four rows of six in the main stand for all home league fixtures during season 2017-18 and these seats are being offered free to community groups, third-sector organisations and local charities operating in Renfrewshire.

We have been working closely with Engage Renfrewshire to make contact with groups they already work with, but if any of our members know of or are involved with any local groups who would like to use the tickets please put them forward. 

Notifications of interest for the new season must be made online here. For more information, email [email protected]

#BuyTheBuds one-year anniversary

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the #BuyTheBuds campaign being concluded, meaning the future ownership of St Mirren will lie in the hands of the people who will care for it most – you.

It's been a busy year and we've pulled together a list of what SMISA has achieved in that time, which you can read here.

You can also view a video of our social media highlights which retells the story of how the Buds were bought here.

Member Update & Quiz Reminder

Welcome to the latest update from the trust committee.

St Mirren quiz reminder

Members are reminded tickets are now on sale for our next event – the St Mirren Quiz in the hospitality suite at the stadium on Friday 23 June from 7.30pm.

This will be a chance for all fans to test their Saints knowledge against fellow fans, as well as players and staff past and present.

We are working on having a team of club legends as well as a team of current staff and players – we are hoping Jack Ross will be able to join us on the night.

Tickets are now available on general sale for £5 via this link. All proceeds from the night will go to St Mirren’s youth development.

Plus (£25 per month) and Premium members are entitled to a free place for the event and if you haven’t yet claimed yours, you can still do so by emailing [email protected]

A pay bar will be available on the night and there will be Saints-related prizes to be given out. However the terms of the licence means the event is only open to over-18s.

The exact number of teams will be worked out on the night but you can either form a team with a group of friends, or smaller groups could be combined into bigger teams.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there for what should be a great night.

Member numbers

Our membership numbers remain stable, at 1,291 at the end of May. As always, we would stress that while trust finances remain healthy, we need your continued support to achieve the ultimate aim of a majority fan-owned club.

The more members we have, the stronger the trust is. We will be working on a few initiatives over the next few months to spread the word about the benefits of membership and to increase our numbers.

Youth team sponsorship

One of the projects our members voted to spend some of the £2 members pot from April on was for SMISA to sponsor a Renfrewshire-based youth team’s kits for the coming season.

We had a number of teams put themselves forward to go into the draw to receive the £700 sponsorship and the draw – conducted by Jack Ross this week – saw Renfrew BC 2005s come out of the hat. Jack is pictured with SMISA’s Kenny Morrison after the draw

The club will be able to spend the money on new kit which will carry a SMISA sponsor’s logo and we will look to involve them with St Mirren where possible.

We are working on the two other projects agreed as part of the April spend – the replacement of the hall of fame boards in the ground, and a community season ticket scheme – and will update on both soon.

The July spend is almost upon us and we have a number of possible projects we will be able to put before you, with that email to come out in a couple of weeks.

If anybody has an idea they would like us to look into for possible inclusion in this or a future ballot, please send it to [email protected]

Committee changes

The SMISA committee has had a slight reshuffle of roles and responsibilities. The main one is that John White has stepped aside as secretary – a post he has held for a number of years.

John has been involved with SMISA since its start in 2002 and his contribution in that time has been absolutely immeasurable. If not for John and a couple of others who carried the organisation for years, there would have been no SMISA through which #BuyTheBuds could have happened.

Having recently been appointed as one of two Supporter Liaison Officers by the club he has stepped aside from the role of SMISA secretary for workload reasons. However, John will still continue to attend SMISA committee meetings and play a key role in the trust.

The committee have appointed David Riley to replace John as secretary. David has been involved with the committee since last year and brings substantial organisational experience from his role as a senior manager in the airline industry. David can be contacted on [email protected]

The committee have also appointed Louise Swanson to serve as admin secretary and her help to take on some of the group’s workload is greatly appreciated by the others.

The rest of the committee are pleased to have David and Louise on board and look forward to working with both.

As always, if anybody has any questions, please get in touch via [email protected] and we will come back to you.

The SMISA committee

St Mirren Quiz And Youth Team Kits Update

As you know, SMISA is due to hold two events a year for our members, as part of the programme of benefits promised under the #BuyTheBuds campaign.

We can now confirm the next one will be a St Mirren Quiz, in the corporate hospitality suite at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on Friday 23 June, from 7.30pm.

Members will be able to test their St Mirren knowledge against fellow fans, with a number of St Mirren staff and ex-players also set to take part.

The exact number of teams will be worked out on the night but you can either form a team with a group of friends, or smaller groups could be combined into bigger teams.

A pay bar will be available on the night and there will be Saints-related prizes to be given out. However the terms of the licence means the event is only open to over-18s.

All Plus and Premium members are entitled to a free ticket for the evening and will be emailed separately with a link allowing them to do so. They can also buy a ticket for a friend for £5.

Plus and Premium members have a one-week exclusive period to do so - as of June 3, all remaining tickets will go on general sale to all fans for the same price (all money raised will be donated to St Mirren’s youth academy).

This way everybody paying a higher membership fee has the option to claim the place due to them, while giving other fans the chance to take any unclaimed places.

As always, if you have any questions, please send them to us at [email protected] We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there on the night for what should be a great evening.

Youth team sponsorship

As you know, under the April £2 spend vote, members agreed to sponsor a local youth football team for next season.

We are asking interested teams to put their names forward and we will draw the winner, who will be given £700 to buy a set of strips, which will carry the SMISA logo. We will look to involve the team with the club over the next season where possible.

The draw is open to Renfrewshire-based boys or girls clubs, at age levels up to and including under-16s. The funding is for the club’s first-team kit and SMISA will provide branding for the front of the shirts.

If the club has money left from the £700 budget to buy other teamwear they can do so, but these must also be SMISA branded.

We have already made contact with local leagues to ask them to spread the word, but would also like to ask our members to put names forward too.

If any of you are involved with a club who will be interested, please email their name and contact details to [email protected] by May 31.

We hope you have a good summer, and we will be in touch soon with more updates

The SMISA committee

SMISA AGM 2017 Report

As you know the SMISA AGM took place at the weekend. We would like to thank everybody who came along and made a contribution on the day.

This report is intended to cover the key points for those weren’t there. We apologise in advance for the length, however there are a number of issues we want to cover in detail.

1) Look back at past year

SMISA chair George Adam opened the meeting by looking back on a truly historic year for the trust.

Clearly, the success of the #BuyTheBuds campaign and the fact we are now part-owners of St Mirren and well on the way to majority ownership tops the list of achievements.

But other highlights include:

- creating a process to spend the £2 portions of your memberships, with the part-funding of the new disabled platform and a boost to the first-team budget which we hope helped fuel the incredible resurgence of recent months. We hope the fund can help the club and community in other ways in years ahead. As always, suggestions for future ballots can be sent to [email protected];

- the first-ever election to the St Mirren board of a fan representative. David Nicol continues to work hard as your voice in the boardroom and can be contacted on [email protected];

- the SMISA volunteer squad, led by Jim Crawford, who cleaned every stand at the Paisley 2021 Stadium; the Millennium Champions event, and the SMISA-funded edition of The Saint newspaper;

On the day, we showed a short video of social media highlights which we think quite nicely sums up the journey and you can view that here.

2) Resolutions

Four resolutions were passed at the AGM, with members given the chance to ask questions on each.

That saw the approval of the trust accounts for year-end November 2016, the appointment of an independent financial examiner meaning the requirement for an audit is disapplied for next year; and some changes to the SMISA constitution. You can see the updated version of that here.

There was also confirmation of the formal election of four members to the SMISA committee.

Two were already incumbent – Barry Mitchell, standing for re-election after playing a crucial role as the man looking after our membership admin and digital output, and Alan Quinn, who was co-opted during 2016/7 and whose work helping to manage our finances quickly made him integral.

Two members who have helped the committee in recent months have been elected for the first time – Kenny Morrison and Kenny Docherty. The rest of the committee welcome the Kennys on board and know both have plenty to offer.

The four above join existing committee members George Adam (chair), Jim Cumming, David Nicol, Colin Orr and John White (secretary). Peter Black has now stepped down from the committee and we thank him for all his work over the past couple of years.

3) Look forward – vision and objectives

In the past few weeks the committee has been through a process to look at our operations and identify what works well and what could improve.

From that we produced a vision statement summing up what we want to achieve, and some specific objectives to help us get there. The vision statement is as follows:

We will ensure St Mirren FC is majority owned by its supporters by 2026, by delivering the #BuyTheBuds supporters buyout. In the meantime, we will work closely with the club to be the representative voice of St Mirren fans and to play our role in helping create a successful St Mirren. In order to achieve this vision we will monitor our progress against agreed objectives.

The objectives are listed below, with the thinking behind them underneath. We will report back on progress next year.

1. Target of increasing the SMISA membership to 1,400 by April 2018.

Our membership remains well ahead of the public target of 1,000 set during the #BuyTheBuds campaign, and our finances are healthy. There has been a gradual drop-off from the peak of 1,374 in summer 2016, which we had always expected and had factored into our cashflow forecasts (that said, April did see an increase in members – we went from 1,289 to 1,291). Our target is to increase our numbers if we can and we will be working on ways to do that over the next year. All members can help us by spreading the word to fans who haven’t yet signed up.

2. Events manager to be identified and made responsible for co-ordinating all SMISA events, working closely with the club. To be in place by September 2017.

We are due to hold at least two events a year for members on the £25 per month package, and the first - the Millennium Champions event last December – was well received. While other areas of SMISA operations have appropriately-qualified people devoted to them, events organisation is a gap we need extra help to fill. Anybody with experience in this area interested in helping us run some Saints-related member events can get in touch via [email protected]

3. Drive to ensure trust board better reflects the diversity of the St Mirren support. Objective to have at least two women attend SMISA meetings during 2017-18 and encourage at least two women to stand for election to the SMISA board in 2018.

As you can see from the names above, the SMISA committee is entirely male and has been in recent years, which doesn’t reflect the gender balance in our membership or the fanbase. If any female members feel they have skills and experience which could help the committee, please get in touch.

4. SMISA to have a regular meeting place identified for fans to meet the committee at least once every three months. Target for at least 10 fans to attend and discuss issues. To be in place for September 2017. 

We are keen to be more available to meet fans face to face to discuss any issues they have, or want us to take forward on their behalf. We will put something in place at a suitable time and venue.

5. Encourage SMFC directors to attend SMISA meetings once every six months starting September 2017 and continuing indefinitely. As far as possible, encourage a different SMFC director to attend each meeting.

While having a SMISA man on the board gives the trust an important voice in club decision-making, we are keen to build closer links. This will be important in future years as the trust committee works with Gordon Scott and the St Mirren board on a gradual handover to majority fan ownership.

4) AGM questions

There were a number of questions raised from the floor at the AGM. While we can’t list every single point raised, we have picked out the most important ones below for fuller explanation.

£50k credit facility

One of the big questions people had for us in the initial stages of #BuyTheBuds was how the trust could support St Mirren if finances were tight.

As the deal meant only two major shareholders of the club (ourselves and Gordon), we didn’t want a situation where all the pressure was on him to stump up if there was an issue.

Over the years the previous directors occasionally loaned money to the club to cover temporary shortfalls – our plan was always to be able to do the same if needed.

Initially we talked about having £50k in the bank at the time of takeover (to be raised by selling 20 x £2,500 premium membership packages) which could be used to mitigate against club cashflow issues.

The financial picture became more complex as negotiations and fundraising developed – we massively exceeded our target on the premium memberships, but some of that money formed part of the initial instalment.

In the end a key part of our eventual agreement with Gordon was for SMISA to make £50k available to the club as a credit facility, which it could call on if needed.

It was asked at the AGM whether members should vote on this. We explained this isn’t possible because it is already written into the shareholders agreement and we are bound to provide it – refusal to do so would breach the agreement and could jeopardise the whole project.

We had authority to do this by a resolution passed at our special general meeting in March 2016. That night members overwhelmingly approved the outline of the #BuyTheBuds deal and gave us permission to negotiate the detail. The general principle of us lending to the club to cover cashflow issues was discussed at that time.

Ultimately the £50k is a financial safety net for St Mirren and something we signed up to as responsible part-owners. It remains SMISA’s money and will be repaid. If all goes well, St Mirren may never even need it.

We should also be clear there is nothing in our rules which prevents us loaning money to the club. Indeed, it was a financial consultant from Supporters Direct – the body which wrote our rules – who advised us to have a £50k fund available in the first place. We should also be clear we made sure we had extensive legal advice on everything we signed up to.

Undersoil heating loan

A question was also raised about the £15,000 loan made to the club in December to fund repairs to the undersoil heating at the stadium, and why this wasn’t put to a member vote.

The timing of the request made this tricky – we were asked in mid-December to provide the loan, as the club were worried they may lose income if the Hogmanay game against Morton was postponed, with weather forecasts suggesting that was a possibility.

At the time it was debated whether this should go to a vote but it was felt the pressing timescales left little time, and the committee agreed to make the loan.

In the end, issues with the club’s heating suppliers meant it took some time for the repairs to be made, although the club avoided any postponements. The loan is currently being repaid by the club in monthly instalments.

The circumstances here were far from ideal, however, we are learning as we go. We acted on the information we were given, and in good faith. Should there be any similar requests in future, our intention would be to put them to a member vote.

Accelerated payment clause

One other element of the deal briefly touched on at the AGM was around accelerated payments which could be triggered to the consortium over the next year.

Gordon paid his portion of the share purchase up front, and SMISA – having planned to get a loan to cover our share – had initially promised to do the same. When this didn’t go to plan, we had to negotiate a deal for monthly repayments to the consortium.

They agreed to this, but only if we and Gordon added a clause which said if the club came into any unbudgeted income, some of that money be used to get them what they are owed quicker.

So if St Mirren receive funds from the sale of an asset, the club will lend a portion of that money to SMISA to make the accelerated payment to the consortium, and SMISA will repay the club. This only applies up until the date we are due to make the final repayment in summer 2018.

There are three points members should be clear on here. One is that payments only apply up to the sum we still owe them at that time – they won’t get a penny more than they are due.

Second is the club will not lose out as a result – any money which comes out of the club to make the repayments will be repaid by SMISA in full as soon as we can.

Lastly, the power of the club board is in no way affected – they don’t have to sell anything unless they choose to.

A compromise was negotiated where this clause did not apply in January 2017 – so it wasn’t triggered by the transfers of Kyle McAllister or Jason Naismith. But it may kick in if a player is sold this summer.

Again, the clause was part of the share purchase agreement, which we had authority to conclude, and which was approved by our lawyers.

This was a clause we were reluctant to agree to. However, we were negotiating a million-pound share purchase and this was a highly complex situation in which none of the three parties (us, Gordon and the consortium) got everything they wanted – as with any deal, everybody made compromises.

As explained at the time, there was a reason the deal took a year to happen and this is because we negotiated hard over a long period to get the best deal we could for you, the fans.

To conclude, there are a few general points we would like to stress. Firstly, the committee are all volunteers, some of us balancing demanding day jobs and busy family lives.

Being on the committee of SMISA over the past two years has involved a punishing amount of work, and while none of us need to air our woes in public, it has taken a heavy toll on people’s personal and professional lives at times.

There is nothing for any of us to gain from this other than the satisfaction of knowing we have helped make history and are now helping take forward the club we love.

Ultimately SMISA’s money is your money and we have always aimed to keep members well informed – hopefully the length of this update shows that.

We need to balance our duty for openness with the considerable responsibility of being part-owners of a multi-million-pound business operating in a high-pressure commercial environment. That isn’t an easy thing to do.

All we ask is for the trust of members that we are factoring in all of the above and acting in the best interests of the organisation when making decisions in your name, as is our job to do.

We are proud of what has been achieved to date and feel the committee is in a good place, with the right professional expertise, to continue to take SMISA forward as we work towards majority fan ownership of St Mirren.

As always, we are happy to clarify any points by email on [email protected]

 

The SMISA committee