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].