General SMiSA News

St Mirren home strip 2022/23

In November we gave SMISA members the chance to vote for the home kit for the forthcoming season 2022/23.

Manufacturers Joma presented three options, all of which incorporated the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern, the iconic fashion design which took our town's name around the world.

In total 566 members voted and it was strip number two that was the clear winner, polling 346 votes. Design number one received 112 votes and design number three 103. 

The team will wear the new strip for the first time this evening in their first pre-season friendly away to Crusaders.

And the kit has now been officially launched, with legends Tony Fitzpatrick, Steven Thompson and Hugh Murray joining players from the men's, women's and youth teams to model the chosen design.

SMISA would like to thank Joma and Provan Sports for giving our members this opportunity and also our members for taking the time to vote.

We are already in discussions about carrying out a similar exercise next season and also looking at the possibility of inviting members to design their own kits at a future date too. 

The new home kit can be pre-ordered now via www.stmirrendirect.co.uk and members can find out more about the kit launch and see more photos at the club website www.stmirren.com.

 

 

Annual Report and AGM update

The following annual report is a summary based on the AGM of the 1877 Society Ltd (SMISA) which took place on Thursday April 21 at the SMISA Stadium.

The AGM saw us look back over the past year and ahead to the next one, while members also heard from St Mirren’s Head of Youth, Allan McManus, and St Mirren Charitable Foundation’s chief executive, Gayle Brannigan, about how SMISA funding has helped them. A Q&A session then followed the presentations.

Results of AGM voting

The slide below shows the results of the formal business, as voted on by members in the run-up to this year’s meeting:

 

 Finance and membership update

Key points relating to finance and membership include:

  • SMISA completed the buy-out of Gordon Scott’s shares to take majority ownership which led to the creation of a new funding structure that was approved by members in August 2021. 
  • The £2 Spend ballot was discontinued and replaced with a model that now sees 50% of revenue banked to create a cash reserve, 30% going to support the youth academy, 10% going to the charitable foundation and 10% going to a club pot for particular projects.
  • Currently the cash reserve fund stands at £197,049 while the club pot is at £23,048.
  • We introduced a new £5 membership tier that now has 48 members.
  • Despite the financial effects of the pandemic and other rising living costs, total membership numbers rose over the past year from 1181 to 1226.
  • The vast majority of SMISA members are aged over 40 and there will be a push towards attracting younger members throughout the year ahead.

Highlights of the year

  • The undoubted highlight of the past 12 months was delivering fan ownership last July, five years ahead of the original scheduled date and for half the original cost.
  • Member certificates to mark the milestone can now be downloaded from Very Connect. The two signatories on it are George Adam, SMISA chair, and Jim Cumming, the longest-serving SMISA committee member.
  • We also donated funds to help the SLOs and the Paisley Panda provide goodies for kids pre match and also partially funded the cost of a new panda suit.
  • We hosted another successful ‘Meet the Manager’ night on Zoom that allowed members from all over the world to join the call.
  • We introduced new benefits packages for all categories of members including places for members at club dinners and at corporate hospitality.
  • For the second successive year members were able to vote for next season’s home shirt and work is already in progress for this to continue next year.
  • We appointed Alex White as a SMISA representative on the St Mirren club board, replacing David Riley. Alex is a former chief operating officer of ScotRail with many years’ experience working at senior board level and a lifelong supporter who was brought up next to the current stadium. 
  • We thank David for his hard work and commitment during his time on the board and express a similar degree of appreciation and gratitude to Colin Orr who has stepped down from the SMISA committee after seven years.

Annual objectives

Our objectives for 2021/22, and how we performed against them, were as follows:

  • Complete the shares buyout from Gordon Scott by July 27, 2021 (this was completed on time).
  • Work closely with our partners Kibble and demonstrate to our members how our partnership has brought benefits to the club and the wider community (some progress has been made but there is more work to be done).
  • SMISA to be more inclusive and available to more supporters (new £5 membership tier created).

 The objectives we have set for 2022/23 are:

  • Improve SMISA engagement with members and wider fanbase to include creating a dedicated fan engagement role on the SMISA Board, and by holding regular meetings with members, other fan groups and the club SLOs. This will be an ongoing objective.
  • Conduct a review of SMISA board functions (essential and desirable), formalise board member designated roles, and identify and address any gaps. Target Completion: May 2022.
  • Work with the SMFC board representatives to agree a set of key club operational matters that will be reported to the SMISA board on a regular basis. Target Completion: July 2022.

Fan Engagement

To help support our first objective for next year, SMISA director Kenny Lang will take on the role of Fan Engagement Officer to help build and strengthen relationships with the club, the SLOs and other key stakeholders in a bid to improve supporter relations and to ensure any matters that arise are dealt with in an efficient and timely fashion.

Fan-related projects that are ongoing or are in the pipeline include:

  1. Improving the atmosphere at home matches.
  2. Releasing St Mirren-themed songs by fan Al Mitchell to raise funds for the charitable foundation.
  3. A competition to allow fans to design future strips.
  4. Attending fan engagement meetings with the club, SLOs, police, supporters buses, stewards etc.
  5. Finding ways to gain more younger members of SMISA.
  6. A potential renaming of some of the stands at the SMISA Stadium to reflect the club’s history.
  7. Another member survey to ensure SMISA continues to be guided by what the members want.

Youth Academy

Allan McManus spoke about the growth of the academy and how SMISA’s ongoing support, through the £2 ballot initially and now through the new funding model, has been key to that, allowing the club to reach SFA elite status.

When Allan joined the academy six years ago there were only two members of full-time staff and now there are seven full-time staff, 30 part-time staff and 160 players in total from the pre-academy right up.

We were the first football club to appoint a well-being and protection officer who works across the academy and first team, with SMISA funding helping to pay for part of their salary.

The academy has also benefited from an additional games programme that has allowed young players to travel to play teams from Leeds United, Preston, Shrewsbury, Sunderland and Newcastle, experiences that help with their development and drive standards.

Allan believes the first-team management team will give young players plenty of opportunity and expects several of them to be a big part of the first-team squad next year.

Allan also reiterated that it’s an open-door policy at Ralston and members are always welcome to get in touch with any questions about the academy and how it operates.

St Mirren Charitable Foundation

Gayle Brannigan spoke about the work undertaken by the charitable foundation that is now into its fourth year after being resurrected from its dormant state in late 2018. Gayle pointed out that the bulk of their income comes from grant funding and applications which are classed as restricted funds.

SMISA’s support, though, is classed as unrestricted and the 10 percent now going direct to the foundation from SMISA has been invaluable to help the foundation grow and allow Gayle to recruit additional staff.

She explained all about the many different projects being run by the foundation that tackle different areas including physical wellbeing, poverty, employability, mental health and children’s events, with a view to expanding on that in the years ahead.

St Mirren Club Directors’ Update

Alex White spoke on behalf of the SMISA club directors, initially thanking the members for endorsing his candidacy to join the St Mirren board at the end of last year. Alex underlined that there is no division on the board and everyone is fully aligned in trying to drive the club forward.

There has been a move to strengthen links between different sections of the club including the academy and the first team. Stephen Robinson is well on in his planning for next year and the club will support him in that process.

Alex admits there are financial challenges, some off the back of the pandemic, that the club is trying to manage as well as they can.

The board directors have all been tasked with dealing with certain areas and Alex’s responsibility lies in corporate contracts and how to push for better deals or to drive extra revenue. He expects the new COO, Keith Lasley, will bring a lot of fresh energy to the club when he starts next month.

Q&A

A number of members asked about the situation with the Old Firm fans being given the Tony Fitzpatrick Stand and what the club’s stance on it will be going forward. John Needham replied that he is as unhappy about that scenario as any supporter and is currently chairing a working group who have been examining alternative ways to recoup that revenue if the decision is taken to only give Celtic and Rangers one stand in future seasons.

The working group is expected to deliver their recommendations in the coming days. John admits the club may need to take a financial hit in the short term but appreciates it has become a “toxic” matter in the eyes of many supporters and so it is about arriving at the best possible solution to a difficult problem.

Another member asked about the SMISA snap VAR poll and if the club has budgeted for its introduction midway through next season. Alan Quinn explained there had been a problem with the initial email but that the result had been sent out earlier in the day at the second time of asking. Of the 211 members who voted, 143 were for VAR and 68 against.

Alex White said St Mirren went back to challenge the original proposal from the SPFL which led to a different deal being put on the table with a sliding scale on costs. The club reluctantly supported that and now they will need to factor the cost of VAR implementation into next year’s budget.

Allan McManus was asked what the next thing would be for the academy in an ideal world. Allan said ideally it would be to have a team in the Lowland League but that needs a substantial amount of money. St Mirren has taken its time and grown gradually as there’s not a bottomless pit of money. Allan feels our academy is in the top four or five in the country.

There was also a question about whether SMISA-appointed club directors should stand for re-election every two or three years rather than staying on the board indefinitely. There was a feeling that it would give St Mirren problems under the club’s Articles of Association, while SMISA’s club director appointment policy is also not currently set up to deal with this matter. But it was acknowledged that directors being put up for re-election is commonplace in other companies so it is perhaps something that could be looked at for further down the line, although the process would need to be carefully managed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGM reminder and VAR poll

Annual General Meeting

Don't forget that if you wish to attend our AGM on Thursday 21st April you need to register for it by logging in here to your account on VeryConnect and going to the Events page to make a booking.

In addition to the standard AGM business, Allan McManus and Gayle Brannigan will also be there to talk about how SMiSA funding is helping the Academy and the Foundation.

Voting on the AGM business will be open until Tuesday 19th April. To place your votes you need to use the link in the email you received direct from ElectionRunner. A reminder email was issued by them yesterday.

You can see more detail about each item when you access the ballot form. Copies of all relevant documents are attached to it.

VAR

All 42 Scottish Professional Football League clubs are currently being consulted about the implementation of VAR, and will vote on the proposal on Tuesday, 19 April. If approved, VAR will be used in Scottish domestic games for the first time after December's World Cup finals.

Scottish Premiership clubs will bear the cost of Video Assistant Referee technology on a sliding scale depending on their finishing positions. 

SMiSA, and the club board, are keen to hear ahead of this vote whether our members are for or against VAR being introduced. You can give us your view by voting for or against it in this quick ballot here. The ballot will be open until midnight on Sunday 17th April. 

Please note that although the result of this vote will be shared with the club board, it is for informational purposes only, and will not be binding. The board will need to consider costs and logistics as well as fans' views before making their final decision.

 

SMISA Special General Meeting March 2022

SMISA Special General Meeting

March 1, 2022

SMISA Stadium

In attendance: John Needham (JN) (St Mirren chairman), Jim Gillespie (JG) (St Mirren vice-chairman), Gordon Scott (GS), Alex White (AW), Mark McMillan (MM) (all St Mirren directors), George Adam (SMISA chairman), Colin Orr (CO), Kenny Docherty, Kenny Lang, Jim Cumming, Janette Swanson, Dougie McMahon, Graeme Macpherson, Alan Quinn (all SMISA directors)

 A Special General Meeting was called by a section of the membership to discuss the following three topics:

1: The engagement process between the SMISA Board and the membership

2: The current St. Mirren / Kibble relationship

3: The current financial forecast for St. Mirren FC

 

A summary of the key discussion points and proposed actions from each section are listed below.

1: The engagement process between the SMISA Board and the membership

The point was raised that there had been no members meeting held in January prior to the St Mirren AGM to canvas members’ input. This fell short of the prior agreement to hold quarterly meetings with members, although the SMISA board felt it would have overlapped with the club AGM to have held a members meeting at that point. Members were also invited to submit issues/questions ahead of the club AGM and all were passed to the club board to be answered on the night. 

 Action: SMISA will now hold quarterly meetings with members each year, with one being the SMISA AGM. Members will be asked to email suggested agenda items in advance. Members from both the St Mirren and SMISA boards will attend to try to address those topics in an open and transparent manner.

A member raised a point about the way that SMISA appoints directors to the St Mirren board, believing that it ought to return to an open nomination process. Other members felt that the SMISA board should present their shortlist of suitable candidates and ask members to vote for their preferred candidate from that shortlist.

CO explained that the process was put in place to ensure we delivered the best candidate who would not only adequately represent the members but who could also make a telling contribution to the running of a multi-million pound business. He also explained that the way directors are appointed to the board was backed overwhelmingly by the members as part of a wider vote in February 2020. For our last two appointments, SMISA has orchestrated a thorough, professional recruitment process which has helped us attract a very high calibre of director to the club.

In a reply to the way and how often SMISA communicates with the membership, CO pointed out that many of SMISA’s actions are based on the results of the extensive survey of members carried out in 2020.

Action: SMISA to consider issuing a new survey to gauge member opinion on different issues.

2: The current St. Mirren / Kibble relationship

JN said all the different parties coming together has been like an arranged marriage at times but revealed things had settled down a lot over the last few months at board level, with effective discussions and planning taking place about how best to take the club forward.

JG agreed there had been difficulties as all parties adjusted to a new way of working together but there had also been a lot of success achieved over the past two years since Kibble’s involvement.

Action: JN to issue a regular chairman’s statement to keep fans appraised of what is happening at the club. But he warned it would be unrealistic for supporters to expect a running commentary on what is happening in the background at the club, especially on any commercially or legally sensitive matters. Better to announce decisions to the fans once things are finalised.

JN announced that each board member would be assuming responsibility for a particular operational matter, with all working closely with the incoming chief operational officer (COO).

JG would be responsible for the football side, in particular improving the link between the academy and first team and ensuring the club receives more substantial financial return from the sale of academy graduates.

MM will look at income generation over the short to medium term and other corporate agreements.

AW will deal with procurement and contracts to ensure the club is not overpaying for anything.

GS will take charge of infrastructure, both at the SMISA Stadium and at Ralston, staying on top of any maintenance issues. He will work alongside the new facilities manager.

Alan Wardrop, who was on holiday and couldn’t make the meeting, will look at high-level sponsorship and income opportunities, including stadium naming rights and shirt sponsorship.

JN will work in tandem with the COO across all areas, with a particular focus on communication and fan engagement. There is an understanding that the club needs to become more supporter-focused in all that it does.

JG explained again why Kibble got involved with St Mirren, mainly the opportunity to provide the young people in their care with the chance to gain experience of hospitality and leisure roles to set them up for going into the marketplace. Seven or eight of them are currently gaining experience working at the club but the intention was never to replace existing staff but to support them.

Said Kibble only had the same veto as the SMISA directors, and that he has never – and never would – support the installation of an artificial pitch.

MM conceded that Kibble needed to do more to tell people of their involvement at St Mirren and what they have delivered so far. Also stressed the need for people not to take social media gossip as fact.

JN said a subset of the board would interview for and appoint the COO who will replace Tony but who will be more operational rather than strategic. Looking for someone business-minded and entrepreneurial, ideally with a background in sport.

MM explained Lynsey McLean (general manager) was only listed on the job advert as a point of contact to help with the recruitment process.

3: The current financial forecast for St. Mirren FC

Question was asked why the club didn’t have a finance director. JN replied that, to the best of his knowledge, there has never been one on the board. Added that the club have an accountant who provides all the information as required, supported by David Biggart from Kibble.

JG confirmed that the club had a £400,000 cash loss in the last financial year, and not £700,000 as had been claimed by a member at the club AGM.

JN underlined that anyone with questions on finance had been asked to submit them in advance of the club AGM. The BoD had answers to those questions. Unfortunately the auditors Azets couldn’t attend the meeting, something that was only communicated at short notice. JN also reiterated that any additional questions on the club’s finances would be taken to Azets after the meeting. The club remains open to any questions shareholders may have on their finances.

JN confirmed there are financial checks in place with the CEO which will also continue with COO. Currently CEO can spend only up to a certain limit without having to consult the board. JN and GS have current responsibility for overheads and will sit down with COO to discuss their limits and authority.

GS says JN will work with the COO and will be at the club one day a week to ensure everything is running smoothly including on finances.

JN confirmed Jim Goodwin had to adhere to a budget and the same applies to Stephen Robinson. In May 2020 the directors decided on an increased playing budget and Jim Goodwin delivered the club’s most successful season on the park for three decades but not off the park as no fans could attend the two semi-finals. Decision was taken in May 2021 to continue that playing budget. The only adjustment was that they encouraged Jim Goodwin and Tony Fitzpatrick to do their business in the summer so they got the benefit of the investment throughout the whole season rather than keeping money back for January. There are budgets in place for every single line but had to spend money on Covid recovery and an upgrade of facilities at Ralston. Plus there had been an agreement to sell Jamie McGrath to Hibs for a good fee but that fell through. Believe as a club we should budget for transfer fees and set targets how to generate money from playing squad and academy.  

JN added that they are trying to take prudent steps to expand the club and move into the top six but they are not taking undue risks with the financial future of the club.

Last year our net loss was £50,000, one of the lowest in the league. Will probably make a larger loss this year but we are using the rainy day reserves to cover for it, Covid being the reason for the rainy day. Took steps to move on players in January who were being paid well but on the bench. Aim for 22/23 financial year to break even again. Been spending £20,000 a month for Covid testing, hard to absorb that within normal budget. But club are well on top of the things they can control and manage and confident things will improve moving forward.

 

St Mirren AGM 2022 - report

Below are some notes summarizing the discussion at the St Mirren FC annual general meeting, held on Thursday 27 January, via Zoom call.

Directors present: John Needham, chair (JN), Gordon Scott (GS), Alex White (ACW), Alan Wardrop (AW), Tony Fitzpatrick (TF), Mark MacMillan (MM), Jim Gillespie (JG)

Meeting Opened - Formal Business.

JN opened the meeting explaining the format. He said they would cover questions relating to the audited accounts first, then go through the other questions and end with 30 minutes for open questions.

Q1 Loss of £49K but profit of £449K. JN explained that the confusion was due to the way the Scottish Government loan had been included. The actual cash loss was £45K, depreciation £263K (£303K) but an investment gain of £33K had reduced figure to £275K. Grant conversion £1.7M present day discounted by 20 years value £729K

Agreed not very transparent but presented as required to meet accounting regulations.

Q2 Note 4 - £920K grants- again related back to £729K plus £170K in furlough payments plus £22K in miscellaneous grants.

Q3 Note 18 other loans, what are repayments? A: £7,300 pm

Q4 Regarding where ex gratia and signing-on fees were in accounts. These sums are included in players remuneration and it is not practice to list separately due to confidential nature.

JN asked if there were any further questions or clarification required. None

JN announced David Riley and Chris Stewart (CS) had stepped down from their positions on the board and thanked them both on behalf of the board for their commitment and hard work over the past few years. Their effort was much appreciated. JN was delighted to announce CS had agreed to remain as company secretary.

Question over why the auditors were not present at the meeting. JN said they couldn’t make it but had helped answer the questions provided and would do again if further questions required clarification. They had sent apologies.

Comment that auditors had been present at every AGM. JN pointed out this wasn’t the case as they had not been at the previous year’s AGM.

JN asked for a resolution the chairman’s report and accounts be accepted and asked if there were any objections. The resolution was passed without any objections.

Major Announcement.

JN made an announcement that TF is to retire at end March where he would be age 66. He thanked him for his time with the club.

TF said it had been a pleasure and that he had always acted in St Mirren’s best interest. He thanked the fans and wished the club all the best for the future. He also thanked the previous board and GS for the opportunity to be CEO. On reaching the age of 66, it was now time to step aside and retire. There were numerous notes of support and good wishes from most people at the meeting.

Jim Goodwin (JG) was asked to answer some footballing questions.

Q1 Team top heavy on playing side. JG disagreed, saying the squad was of comparable size to other clubs outwith the old firm. 25/26 players with six young players at various clubs, a couple  of whom should feature next season.

COVID had made it difficult to gauge what size of squad to have, as many players can be affected at one time as was shown a few months ago.

Q2 This year’s player budget – Don’t usually divulge but felt it was fair. Managers will always want bigger budgets but JG was realistic reflecting on the size of the club. The board have been supportive and budget has increased year on year.

Q3 What is the cost of the Youth Academy? JG unsure of the exact figures but the club deserved a lot of credit for the investment. He is extremely proud of the youth academy and the pathway it provides for youngsters to find their way into the team. JN said roughly £550k per annum was invested in the youth academy – great investment in youth.

Q4 Is there a replacement for Junior Mendes? Yes someone has been approached and is going to accept the position. The person is currently working their notice at another Premiership club. The timing was recognised as not great but it was also felt Junior got a good offer and since he had moved home to Edinburgh logistically it made sense too. Programs under JM will continue. Still great medical team at the club.

Submitted Questions.

AGM - how it was conducted

Why does SMiSA have only one representative? Why is CEO also a member of the board? Why no rotation of directors for election last year or this?

Q1. There is only one SMiSA rep at the meeting. This rep has 51% of any vote that takes place. Having more than one rep could split the vote. Has been discussed with CS. How would it operate if a selection of members disagreed?

JN suggested looking at holding a SMiSA members meeting around the same time as the club AGM to provide an opportunity to ask directors questions.

Q2 JN explained not unusual for CEO to be a board member, it was the case when he worked in RBS. The arrangement was in place previous to JN being appointed. Will look at again.

Q3 Rotation/election of directors stopped with fan ownership, as directors now appointed by one of SMiSA or Kibble.

Staffing

Q1 – Level of staff turnover. Q2 Ali De Foy role and replacement. Q3 Are all proper HR procedures followed when dealing with staff leaving? Q4 – Job roles for directors. Q5 What is TF role in transfers?

TF was given the opportunity to answer.

Q1 Can’t disclose individual cases. High turnover – like other organisations. Normal if there is change in the organisation.

Q2 TF didn’t answer the Ali Defoy question.

Q3 Yes all correct procedures were followed. Updating policies at the moment.

Q4 The structure of the board is that all directors are non-executive directors so do not have individual responsibilities. Business decisions left to CEO.

Q5 TF has a great deal of experience and uses the contacts he has with agents.

Suppliers and Contracts

Q1 is there a procurement policy? Yes, signed off. Three quotes obtained, due diligence carried out. Contracts up to a certain level are agreed with CEO, above that come to board for approval after discussion.

Partnership with Kibble

These questions were passed to MM to answer. MM started by thanking Tony Fitzpatrick for his service and hard work over a long number of years.

Q1 Were Kibble aware of negative comments circulating

Q2 Report of a letter sent to Club, directors and SMiSA

Q3 How many people currently working at club are Kibble staff

Q4 Who undertakes performance reviews of Kibble staff

Q5 What is Kibbles contribution to date

Q6 What is the benefit to Kibble so far.

Q7 Why don’t Kibble hold a meeting with supporters.

Q1 Not answered

Q2 Kibble exercised their right to ensure procedures were followed – matters dealt with satisfactorily, and we can now move on.

Q3 One member of staff is remunerated by Kibble and seconded to the Club

Q4 TF is responsible for this

Q5/6 Beginning of any partnership takes time, COVID tested best of organisations. Kibble are here to support, not interested in control. Tangible benefits – helped achieve fan ownership in half time for half cost. He sees them as St Mirren directors not 'Kibble and SMiSA directors'.

Q7 Not answered.

Supporter Issues

These were addressed by TF. He thinks communication has not been a problem. Loads of channels to get information from club website to social media

The safety issue that resulted in the reduction of fans being allowed in will not be disclosed Regular check threw up issue.

Was the Red zone being used for hospitality? Hospitality were in the amber zone.

Club are considering options for OF fans having both ends.

Board - Strategic Goals.

Top six has to be aim / Increase community engagement / Youth Development. KPIs in annual report

COVID interrupted income streams - refocusing now. The only director to get remuneration is the CEO. The reason for the increase in the remuneration was due to the CEO taking on additional responsibilities and activities after GS stepped back.

Training Ground

Q over how the works at Ralston are progressing? TF took these questions.

Kibble helping with refurbishment of Academy. Required separate build to accommodate more spacious facilities with kitchen, changing rooms. Fencing and lights also required work. Building Warrant now in place. Completion expected end of March. TF invited those on the call to go and see the work.

A member asked if the work had been tendered for. MM said club did not tender as Kibble were providing for free.

Random questions through Chat

Question on consideration of individual shareholders. JN conscious of the issue. Around 1,000 people hold shares and he thanked them all for their contributions.

How many Kibble kids are employed – none

Question saying Kibble weren’t clear who employs the general manager. Confirmed this employee is paid by Kibble but answerable to TF.

Electronic advertising - Considering at the moment. Hope to achieve

Jamie McGrath likely to be sold by Monday? There is interest, but no offers have met valuation. Players were signed in the summer with McGrath departure anticipated. Club is talking to those whose contracts are up in the summer.

Why was the ticketing system replaced? JN explained it was replaced as fans were complaining about the old system. We ended up being the only club using that system and and the company running the old system couldn’t invest in the required improvements. There is no fee due to be paid to the previous company.

Question over wage ratio - claimed it was 75% where 60% is usual. JN said he would get the answers to this and report back.

TF answered a question about the partnership we have with Birkenhead of New Zealand. This was something the club hoped to further develop and were talking with the New Zealand and Australian tourist boards.

JG is looking to move a couple of players on to other clubs with a view to bring in other players. We are back in contention for a top six finish and we have a reasonably good but very tough cup draw. The budget needs to be balanced.

Is there a replacement for Tony? No replacement for Tony as yet, discussions on his retirement have only recently been concluded.

Question over the six-month management accounts. JN stated they were running at a loss but we hope to claw back in the second half of the year.

There are ideas on how to increase our income but they need significant development investment. However various options are under consideration.

Is Campbell Kennedy still running the commercial side of the business. JN yes.

Have JN tweets damaged the relationship with other clubs? JN repeated his regret at making the comments he made in jest. There is no evidence of any damage in relationships with other clubs, other than perhaps Rangers.

Would it be possible to have an AGM for members of the 1877 club? AW responded saying that there was no constitution for the 1877 and no need for an AGM however he was happy to answer any questions from members who contact him. He was keen to point out the 1877 club had brought in 18k per annum during the pandemic and both he and everyone at the club were very appreciative of the members sticking with it during these difficult times.

Is cash in the bank a cause for concern? JN said the cash in the bank is not a concern and we hope to have a good cup run.

The club invested 250k in the stock market. How are these funds doing and what are the management fees? AW said there are no management fees, the stock is doing well and is currently worth 285k.

Can we improve and lengthen St Mirren TV? JN said any investment in St Mirren TV needs to yield a return. Now that fans are returning to the stadium there is less demand. Overseas fans commented that St Mirren TV was terrific for them.

Are there other players other than McGrath being sought after? JG said other players are being looked at but will only move on at the right price.

When will Connor McCarthy be fit again? JG said he should be ready in 7-10 days, and resumed training today. However he will have a fight to get back in the team.

JN gave a commitment to do everything possible to have the auditors present at the next meeting.

No other questions, JN thanked everyone responsible for their efforts in setting up the meeting JN ended the meeting at 9:30pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allan McManus: Thank you to SMISA members

SMISA members currently make a huge contribution to the future of our club - since the summer 30% of our surplus income has been made available to the club’s Youth Academy. We are proud to be helping develop the next generations of Saints talent, and are keen to make sure our members know the positive impact your money is making. So club Academy Director Allan McManus has written the article below where he explains where that money has been used to date:


Hello and a happy new year to all our SMISA members from everyone connected from the academy.

From a personal point of view I cannot thank everyone enough for the continued support that our academy receives on an ongoing basis from everyone connected with SMISA. Although the financial support we receive is nothing short of incredible, I also have to acknowledge the level of interest and moral support and positive feedback that myself and staff receive on a daily basis.

It is clear everyone is right behind our academy and love to see some of our best young prospects taking to the pitch wearing that first team jersey. The academy has grown significantly over the last five years. When I joined the club we had only two full time members of staff. As it currently stands, we have eight full-time members of staff and approx. another 30 part-time staff members.

The growth is there for everyone to see. I am not shy in saying we have some of the most educated and talented members of staff in the country working within their current field in the academy. That means we have a better opportunity in creating the best learning environment possible to allow our young players to develop and flourish.

Recent strides have been made to take the club to the highest tier of academy football and we are the first club to introduce a full-time Head of Club Wellbeing and Development with Michelle Evans coming on board. This is a huge statement in our progression and growth at the football club.

The club have been very vocal in wanting our academy to be competing as one of the best in the country. A great challenge for everyone connected within the academy and it's a challenge myself and all the staff believe we can achieve.

However, we cannot achieve this on our own. This requires a lot of hard work, joined up thinking and collaboration from everyone connected with our football club to make sure we are all aligned with the same vision to take the academy to the next level. Without that collaborative effort then it will be very difficult to achieve.

I want to make sure everyone connected with SMISA knows you are all welcome to come along to the academy to see what we do. We are an open book and want everyone to understand the workings behind the scenes, that we have to work towards strict criteria set by the SFA.

We believe many of our members will have ideas that we haven't thought about that may help us continue to grow. The vast majority of supporters only see the end product of one of our young players making his debut, however we firmly believe it is very beneficial everyone understands the process behind the scenes that gets these young players into the first team.

To run a program of this magnitude costs a lot of money and we are very fortunate the club invest substantially long term to keep growing and improving and hopefully this means we have more young players breaking into the first team, the national squads and potentially being sold further down the line to huge clubs.

The substantial ongoing amount SMISA members have provided the academy recently allows us to invest in the players themselves. It allows us to give them better experiences for their development and better equipment to use for training.

Some of the investment so far has been used for the following:

- two buses hired to take four teams down to play Shrewsbury town at Lilleshall training centre;

- one bus hired to take two teams down to play against Newcastle and Sheffield Utd in a mini tournament in Newcastle;

- 20 brand new footballs for each squad within the academy (eight) for the new season;

- portable pop-up goals to allow us to develop futsal games at indoor facility at Renfrew High;

- new dugouts for the training facility at Ralston (the SMISA logo will be prominent on them);

- state-of-the-art lighting system which develops the players ability to scan and retain information in training;

Moving into the new season, we are looking at some of the following to give our players some great experiences of playing against some of the best (covid depending). We would envisage a third of our funding to be utilised on trips like the ones below, which the players get so much from:

- several squads traveling to play Leeds Utd at their training ground;

- several squads traveling to play Man City at their training ground;

- two squads traveling to a tournament in Montpellier to play against some of the best in Europe;

As the academy continues to expand, we will continue to look for new ways to allow us to grow. We are open to new ideas, there will be members who can help or provide ideas from their own skill set and life experience.

Some of our blue-sky thinking ideas would include the following and we welcome any advice/support.

- access to new/additional training facilities (asset transfer, collaboration)

- new portacabins at Ralston training ground to provide more space.

- venues for annual academy player of the year dinner (sponsorship etc).

As you can see from the above, we want to take the academy to a whole new level and we want everyone connected with SMISA and the club to feel they are playing a big part in doing so. Once again I would like to say a huge thank you for all your continued support and I look forward to speaking with as many of you as possible in the near future.

Allan McManus

Directors' Q&A

Our four SMISA-appointed St Mirren directors, John Needham, Gordon Scott, Alan Wardrop and Alex White, provide an update to members on what’s been happening at the club since the summer and give some insight into what lies ahead.

 

Q: Can you update the members please on the main things that the St Mirren board have been focusing on since the start of the season?

A: It’s certainly been a busy and challenging time. There has been much to do for Tony and his team in terms of the August transfer window, returning to matches attended by fans, trying to complete the changes commenced in the summer and coping with the remaining impacts of the pandemic.

The financial impacts have been a major area of focus too because many of these things have increased costs (e.g. stewarding, policing, ending furlough support etc.) whilst income has been adversely affected for the likes of corporate hospitality. We started the season with very limited attendances but since then confidence to attend matches has been gradually increasing albeit not yet to pre-pandemic levels.

Q: How deeply have the Covid pandemic and the accompanying restrictions impacted on how the club operates, both on a matchday and day to day?

A: The effects of the pandemic to the club as a business is huge. It has reduced income greatly and it prevents our supporters from enjoying the football day out they love. Focusing on the income we have lost out on hospitality revenue and match day ticket sales but more than that we don’t want our valued supporters to get out of the habit of watching their team.

The direction government policy and people’s attitudes are going will to lead to a “just got to get on with it” mentality as businesses need to operate as near normal as possible and people need to get the opportunity to enjoy doing the things they love. The stadium is a strange place without our fans.

Q: Alex, you were appointed to the board of directors at the end of last year to replace David Riley. How special a moment was that for you and how has your first month or so been in that role?

A: It was a real honour to have been selected as one of the SMISA appointed Board representatives, replacing David who I know has done a really good job, and I would like to extend my thanks to David for this.

The past month has gone quickly as I’ve tried to achieve a clear understanding of the challenges that our club has. This process has been eased by the support that I have had from all the Board representatives, and I am extremely grateful to them for this.

Covid aside, clearly, we have challenges that we need to get on top of, with financial pressures high on the agenda and a massive desire to drive the team up the league. While there are challenges, I think that we should recognise that there are a lot of positive areas across the club that we are looking to develop further and, having the fans ownership model that we have in place, we are well placed to deliver on these. The next few months will be tricky, but I think that we will emerge stronger from these challenges.

Q: We’re coming towards the end of the January transfer window – what can the members expect before the window closes?

A: There is no doubt we are currently operating a squad which is too big. The size of the squad limits young players’ opportunities and we are paying for some players to train only as they are not even listed as subs on a matchday so it needs trimmed. If we can move some players on then we have the added benefit of cutting costs. However, the manager has identified a lack of pace on the wings and this is an area we are looking at if the right player became available and at the right price. It was good to see Alex Greive arrive and make his debut in the win at Tannadice recently.

Q: Members are often frustrated about a perceived lack of clear communication from the club. Is that something shared by the directors? And how can it be improved?

A: This is a very challenging area to strike the right balance of communication versus fan expectations. It’s particularly so in a world where social media is everywhere and to try and respond to every rumour or post (sometimes containing inaccurate or partially accurate information) would be an endless and fruitless task.

It is also the case that for the Club to issue a statement we need to be sure it is totally clear, accurate and authorised. Against that backdrop it needs to be borne in mind that we have a very small staff team and we believe that James Hunter does an excellent job overall.

That said there have certainly been cases where we could have improved communications as a Club in terms of content and/or timing and we have discussed this as a Board. We are always looking to learn lessons and improve the way we run the Club and communications is part of that.

SMISA December member update

Member update includes the results of our two most recent votes and our statement on recent club boardroom issues.

Club director and entertainment vote update

In our November update we introduced Alex White, our preferred candidate for the vacancy to be one of the four SMISA representatives on the club board, and asked members to vote on whether to approve his appointment.

The results of that vote were as follows: YES: 410 (94%) / NO:19 (4%). There were 7 abstentions

This means Alex will join the club board and the man he is replacing – David Riley – will step aside. We again thank David for his excellent service to SMISA and St Mirren, and he leaves with our best wishes for the future. We are also pleased to welcome Alex into the fold.

In the same email we also asked you to vote on whether to use £3,000 from the ‘club pot’ to help fund pre-match entertainment for young fans before home games, run by Paisley Panda Colin Bright and the club’s two volunteer supporter liaison officers John White and John Allison.

The results of that vote were as follows: YES: 401 (92%) / NO: 28 (6%). There were 7 abstentions

We are sure members will join us in recognising Colin and the two Johns for the tireless work they do to help improve the matchday experience for their fellow fans, and hope our members with young family members will take advantage of the extra entertainment on offer.

Club boardoom update

Our members will no doubt be aware of the discussion surrounding historic tweets made by another of our representatives, club chair John Needham. A few people have asked our position on this issue and now the SFA proceedings against him have concluded regarding the one tweet which was issued whilst he was a Director of the Club, we will publicly share it.

We do not condone John’s tweets and they were an error of judgement on his part. It was right John apologise, which he has done, publicly and privately. However we have had the benefit of working with John over the past 18 months. We do not believe those tweets reflect the measured character we have got to know.

Since becoming club chair shortly after we became majority shareholders in the summer, John has been an effective and hands-on presence around the club. He had been working with staff to help improve club operations after some of the issues that arose over the summer, and had fronted two SMISA member meetings to take questions and report back.

We do not believe his tweet in May should outweigh the good work he has done and is doing. He remains an asset to SMISA and St Mirren and we believe it’s in the club’s best interest he continue. On that basis, he retains the full and unanimous support of the SMISA Board and our board reps.

At the same time, we are aware of recent online discussion around our relationship with Kibble. In any partnership, differences of opinion and approach can arise. The best place for any issues to be managed is in the boardroom and between the shareholders.

We would stress for us to play that out in public would not be in the best interests of St Mirren. On that basis we ask for understanding and realism from members over what SMISA can publicly say.

We will continue to regularly update members on SMISA business, and will push the club to make sure updates about club operations are communicated as openly and promptly as they can be.

What we can say is that the SMISA Board are a group of lifelong St Mirren fans who do what we do because we love the club, and who will act in its best interests at all times. The same is true of our four representatives on the club board (John, Gordon Scott, Alan Wardrop and now Alex White), and we have full faith in them to do that on your behalf.

Aberdeen away game

We were saddened to hear of the issues some of our fans experienced at Pittodrie on Saturday where problems with fan safety and stewarding were reported. We are assisting the club’s SLOs to gather any feedback to help the club investigate. If you were there and have an account to share, please email [email protected]

For anything else, we can as always be contacted via [email protected]