General SMiSA News
We are conscious it has been a number of weeks since the last update to members on SMiSA’s joint offer with former St Mirren director Gordon Scott for the majority shareholding in the club.
We outlined what this would involve when we first made all members aware during the summer (http://www.smisa.net/news-archive/182-latest-on-smisa-gordon-scott-bid)
The SMiSA committee entered into this process because we believe no future owner would take better care of our club than you, the fans, and because Gordon’s involvement has opened up a route through which that could happen in a viable and sustainable way.
In the past couple of months the SMiSA committee and Gordon have had constructive ongoing dialogue with the consortium about how a deal might work, but to date no agreement has been reached.
When we started this process we knew it would not be easy for a small team of volunteers to pull off a deal of this size, and that has proven to be true.
A lot of work has and continues to go on behind the scenes to make sure our proposed model is robust and viable and to make sure we are getting appropriate professional help.
So far, we have been able to do so without having to dip into trust funds, however we wanted to notify members we now require to spend £2,000 on financial advice.
This money will allow an independent expert with top-level football boardroom experience to carry out a specific piece of work for us, and is coming via Supporters Direct, the football fan umbrella body of which the trust is a member.
This is money we feel will be well spent to help us get the best information possible about how a fan-run St Mirren might work – but given it is a significant sum we felt it was appropriate to make all members aware.
In the meantime, we appreciate your patience throughout what has been a complex process. We will continue to work away behind the scenes and will update the members as soon as there is any news to report.
The SMiSA Committee
You will already be aware the Trust committee has been working with former St. Mirren director Gordon Scott in recent months on a joint offer for the majority shareholding in the club held by the consortium (http://www.smisa.net/news-archive/180-smisa-statement-fan-ownership-gordon-scott). Below is an update on progress with that.
The model we are working towards would - if a deal is agreed - see Gordon become chairman and majority shareholder, while SMiSA would substantially increase its shareholding and receive a place on the board.
The Trust would then continue to fundraise over the long term to buy out Gordon's shares, meaning the fans would ultimately have majority ownership of SMFC at some point down the line.
While the current board deserve enormous credit for all they have done for the club over the past two decades, they have made it clear they want to move on and they will, at some point, sell up.
We believe our model is the best possible option for the club and for Paisley and see it as the only viable way to keep St. Mirren in the hands of the people who will care for it best...you.
The news is that SMiSA representatives and Gordon recently met with members of the consortium for some initial discussions around our offer.
Nothing has been agreed, and we would stress more work will be needed before there could ever be an agreement.
But the discussion was positive and all parties are committed to working together to look at routes through which agreement could be found.
Of course any deal would only be agreed in principle - nothing can or will be signed without first being approved by a vote of all SMiSA members.
In the meantime the SMiSA committee will continue to work behind the scenes to refine our model. As you can imagine a share purchase of this size is a massive undertaking.
In the past few months we have been very busy as we work through the financial, fundraising and legal aspects of the deal and there remains a lot of work to be done on our side.
We have also met with colleagues at the ‘Foundation of Hearts’, who have successfully pulled off a scheme similar to our own, and would like to thank them for their advice, which has been a massive help to us.
In terms of further announcements, we want to make sure we are as open as possible but hope you would appreciate the negotiations bring a need for confidentiality, meaning there are aspects we simply cannot go into for now.
With such a complex deal, negotiations were never going to be straightforward or be over with quickly.
However we will continue to keep members up to date as soon as there is something we are able to report.
The SMiSA Committee
During the close season the current SMiSA committee of 11 members have been involved in the continued promotion and attainment of the Trust principles and aims, and although we hope to have even more additions and achievements to report on later this month, you will see below that despite the close season and holiday period that as a Trust Board we have strived to maintain our efforts.
The Trust is continuing to grow in every sense of the word thanks to every member’s involvement and support which ultimately benefits St.Mirren, the fans and the community now, and for the future.
Over 200 members – from 65 members 6 of whom made up the committee, in January 2014, there has been a sustained and steady increase and just last week the membership passed the 200 mark, 11 of whom are actively recognised as the committee, or to use the legal term ‘board members’. This increase has allowed the initiatives below to be addressed with, so far, positive outcomes.
SMiSA Panda Club – has been rebranded for a second season at a cost of £2500 which ensures the concept remains open to young potential saints fans of the future allowing them to attend fully supervised coaching and match attendance for only £2 (zero cost if they are season ticket holders)
YD Academy Sponsorship – The Trust is recognised as the youth academy’s main sponsor and during the month of July a total of £1400 + £400 + £79 in sponsorship has been used to purchase vital equipment for the academy. (new balls, training software etc) which you will see photos of on the website promoting the sponsorship.
Player kit sponsorship – Last season the Trust sponsored two player kits (details in any match program), specifically James Marwood home kit and Mark Ridgers away kit. At the end of the season the relevant players shirts are passed to the sponsors and names of Trust members are drawn randomly. The Trust members who won these two tops were Alan Jones and Ian Smart who have both been contacted and collection of the shirts arranged. This season however it is only intended to sponsor one player kit at a cost of £350 and this will be arranged shortly with the clubs commercial department and again at the end of the season there will be a draw made within the membership.
St.Mirren General Manager – Regular monthly meetings have been taking place for some time now and have become a matter of routine engagement and are always attended by Brian Caldwell, at least one representative of the Youth Academy and two of the Trust committee. Although you will have read above about some of the items undertaken in support of the clubs youth academy it is also of benefit to SMiSA in that any projects or initiatives the Trust is undertaking will ensure we are supported and assistance is provided where required such as events, share purchase, facilities, promotion of the Trust etc etc and more importantly that dialogue is maintained between both parties.
As a member of SMiSA if you have any points you would like to be taken up with the general manager, or indeed anyone at the club, please do not hesitate to contact us and your point will be submitted for discussion at the the following meeting.
Fan ownership – As you will be aware, the trust board has been working with former St Mirren director Gordon Scott to investigate the feasibility of a joint offer for the majority shareholding in the club held by the consortium, and we made all members aware of this by email on 1 July
We were delighted by the feedback we had to the announcement, which was overwhelmingly positive, and that has encouraged us to keep pushing forward.
To recap, the model we are working on would see meaningful fan representation over the short and medium term, and majority fan ownership over the long term.
The idea is that Gordon will put up the majority of the cash for an offer to the consortium while the trust fundraise the rest.
If the offer was accepted, Gordon would become club chairman and SMiSA would receive a place on the board, but would continue to fundraise to buy Gordon’s shares at some point in the future.
We are doing this because we believe no one will take better care of our club than you, the fans. We also believe this model offers us the most viable and sustainable way of making that happen.
But as we made clear at the time, we are still at the early stages of a very long process.
There remains plenty work to be done before we could make a formal offer to the consortium, or be in a position run the sort of fundraising campaign required.
We are conscious this is the first communication on the subject since the initial statement, however we have been busy behind the scenes in the past month.
As we are sure you would understand, such a complex undertaking takes a lot of time and effort to do properly, and we are keen to ensure everything is carried out in a professional manner.
Among other things, we have been researching fundraising models, budget projections and legal considerations.
We are excited by the possibilities of what we are working on, but are determined to make sure our model is viable and robust before putting anything on the table.
We would ask that you bear with
us in the meantime as we will update members further once we have something more concrete to share.
And we would reiterate that any potential deal would require to be voted on by the SMiSA membership before it could be agreed.
Private Share Purchase – Before the potential for the Trust to consider pursuing the consortiums 51% shareholding it was public knowledge that the Trust was intending to buy St.Mirren shares from other shareholders and several offers were taken up. In light of the Fan Ownership initiative general purchase of privately owned shares will cease until further notice (pending the outcome of the 51%). The last of the pending purchases was completed recently and no further offers will be initiated.
At this point therefore the Trust shareholding in St.Mirren FC is as follows:
Original shares purchased from club = 3877 shares
Private shares purchased since Nov 2014 = 2465 shares at a total cost of £12,325
Total shareholding = 6342
This equates to 3.3% shareholding in St.Mirren
Acknowledgement – the Trust board would like to thank you for your continued involvement with SMiSA and we would hope that you help promote the Trust at every opportunity and encourage others to get involved and help ensure collectively we all continue to MAKE A DIFFERENCE to the club and the community.
Any feedback, questions or comments are always appreciated therefore please do not hesitate to get in touch at any time either by replying to this email address or on facebook.com/1877SocietyLtd or twitter.com/1877SocietyLtd
John White on behalf of SMiSA
Over the past few weeks we have been working with former St Mirren director Gordon Scott on plans to make a joint offer for the shares held by the selling consortium.
As part of our research into that we conducted a survey of fans, which had about 600 responses, and we would like to thank everybody who took the time to fill it out.
All in, 96% of fans backed the idea of fan ownership, and 94% backed the principle of a fan on the board, while 60% said they would be willing to make a financial contribution towards a scheme that would bring about either or both.
Those results have encouraged us to go public on plans which – if realised – could ensure St Mirren stays in the hands of the people who care about it most...you.
Members of the consortium have already indicated to the trust that they are happy to listen to what we put forward.
We would stress things are at an early stage and there is a lot of work to be done before we would be in a position to make a formal offer to them.
However we have the basis of a plan which - should an offer be accepted - would bring about meaningful fan representation over the short and medium term, and a transfer to majority fan ownership over the long term.
The model we are looking into is as follows:
- Gordon will put up most of the money, and SMiSA will fundraise the rest. The fundraising campaign will only start if we agree a deal in principle with the consortium;
- if a deal is done, Gordon would become the majority shareholder and chairman of the club;
- SMiSA would substantially increase its shareholding, and receive a place on the board, to be elected by the fans;
- Both parties would have an agreement that would see SMiSA continue to fundraise over several years to raise the cash to buy Gordon’s majority shareholding at some point in the future
The financial details are still to be decided but we envisage a £10-per-month membership scheme being the primary source of long-term ongoing funding, while other short-term income streams would be needed to fund the trust’s contribution to the initial share purchase.
The trust has a five-figure sum of money in the bank as it stands, however we would only commit this towards an offer for the shares if a majority of members were happy for us to do so.
We see the benefits of the proposed model as being as follows:
- the current board deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the job they have done over the years, but they have made it clear they would like to move on. This would allow them to do so while keeping the club in the hands of St Mirren supporters;
- it would see control of St Mirren transfer to Gordon, a lifelong Saints fan with the business background and boardroom experience to take the club forward, while the fans would have a direct representative with influence over its day-to-day running;
- the previous attempt at fan ownership suffered because it had to find all the money at once; this would be different as Gordon’s presence means an ‘Ann Budge model’ where we would have years to raise the funds to buy him out and put a viable fan ownership structure in place;
We are very keen to hear the thoughts of members and the wider support on these plans, and invite your feedback.
Although we believe SMiSA is best placed to be the vehicle through which this process should happen, ultimately it belongs to everybody who cares about St Mirren.
We have already begun the process of engaging with fan groups because we know what we are proposing will only work if the wider support is willing to back it.
As it stands, the SMiSA committee is a small group and we would welcome the input of any fans who feel they have the expertise and skills to help us take it forward.
As we say, things are at a very early stage and there are a lot of hurdles which would need to be cleared before any of this could become reality.
It won’t happen overnight, but we will do our best to keep members and the wider support updated whenever there are developments to be shared.
However, we are excited by the possibilities of what this could mean for our club and hope you are too.
The SMiSA committee
When I received the message that I won the raffle it was completely unexpected and couldn't wait to take part in Saint for a Day. Being a season ticket holder since a young age it's always been a dream to play on the St.Mirren pitch.
It was a great experience to on Sunday go into the dressing room and get ready for the game. Then to finally walk out the tunnel was probably the highlight of the day. The game was very tight through out the whole game and even into penalties there was nothing between the teams. I'm just glad that I was able to slot away my penalty. Was great to meet some of the players who turned up at the day and able to talk away to the manager Gary Teale.
All in all the whole day was something I'll remember my whole life and least I can always say I've played on the pitch and scored a penalty.