SMiSA News

#BuyTheBuds reaches major milestone

This month saw SMISA pass a major milestone in the #BuyTheBuds campaign – and one achieved in a way we never thought possible when we set off on the fan ownership journey.

When ourselves and Gordon Scott agreed the deal to buy the majority shareholding in St Mirren from the selling consortium in June 2016, SMISA had two years to pay our £380,000 part of that purchase. 

At the time we thought the only way we could manage this was by taking out a loan – to be paid back using member income. But with our membership numbers going much higher than the 1,000 we based our initial cash projections on, that picture started to change. 

This month we made the final payment to the former directors – and are proud to say this has been done in full, entirely through member income, without a penny of borrowing.

This was only possible because of the continued commitment of you, the members – your support has put us further ahead than we thought we’d be at this stage.

Member numbers peaked at 1,374 in summer 2016 then dropped below 1,300 after the first year (we budgeted for a 10% drop-off in year one on the advice of other fan groups we consulted with). 

But with a current membership of 1,264 we are at the same level as at the start of 2018 – and numbers have risen since the spring, with a few of you joining or re-joining in the past two months. 

With the former directors now paid off in full, the next stage is for us to save up the £615,000 needed to buy Gordon’s majority shareholding, which we have until 2026 to do. Of course for the end goal of majority fan ownership to be achieved, we need you to stay with us until then.

As pleased as we are with how things are going, the committee are working on a number of initiatives aimed at attracting more new members. 

While we build up the share purchase pot, we will continue to invest in and grow the club through the £2 pot, an original idea of ours described by Supporters Direct as ‘brilliant’ and ‘one of a kind’.

The more members we have, the greater SMISA’s ability to do that. We’ve achieved a lot over the past two years. Below is a list of what your membership made possible:

- 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];

- part-funded the wheelchair platform in the main stand, giving St Mirren some of the best disabled facilities in Scotland;

- boosted the first-team budget in the dark days of January 2017 and helped fuel the incredible resurgence that sent us on our way to the Premier League;

- funded a community season ticket scheme which last season saw us bring hundreds of members of local community groups into the club and which will run again this year (see below);

- contributed to the club’s league-winning season by funding extra hours for the club’s sports scientist and match-day quality balls 

- supported the next generation of players by committing £50,000 to fund a one-third share of the new astrograss surface at Ralston, and sponsored the youth academy for the next two years;

- PLUS we helped the new St Mirren Ladies team set up, and sponsored their strips, part-funded pre-match entertainment to bring more young fans to games, sponsored a local youth football team, ran a series of fan events, funded and distributed two editions of The Saint newspaper, and helped set up a volunteer squad who have cleaned the stadium and helped with repairs at Ralston. 

We are proud of those achievements and hope you are too – we want to do more of the above in future. If you know other fans you haven’t yet joined, they can do so now via our website.

 

St Mirren Ladies thanks SMISA members for kit help

 

The newest additions to the St Mirren family have thanked SMISA members for kitting them out.

St Mirren Ladies FC are halfway through their first season, having played their first games at the start of the year.

And – thanks to £2,055 made available through the January vote for SMISA’s £2 pot – they have been kitted out in Joma-branded kits (the same as the men’s team) with a SMISA logo.

The funding also paid for other teamwear, training equipment, coaches kit, and the team’s registration fees for the season.

SMISA members vote every three months on where to spend the £2 portions of their monthly membership, with the £10s going into a pot which will be saved up to buy Gordon Scott’s majority shareholding and take the club into majority fan ownership.

The £2 pot is aimed at allowing our members to invest in and grow the club and its links with the community while we save up, and we felt this project was a great example of how we can do that.

The team took time out from a recent training session to show off the strips. – and were joined by SMISA’s Janette Swanson and Kenny Docherty, for the photos, taken by St Mirren photographer Allan Picken 

Head coach Kate Cooper said: "The financial support provided by SMiSA has been instrumental in developing the women's team by providing the players and staff with quality kit, and making them feel part of the St Mirren football family.

“It was important for the women's team to be identified and wearing the St Mirren brand as we train in the heart of the community of Paisley at Seedhill Sports Centre.

“It's important the people of Paisley see us in the community, know we are there and that the players are positive role models in terms of promoting the club, the St Mirren football family and also encouraging more girls in to football and sport in general. 

“Therefore the support from SMiSA has been invaluable in helping the women's team become not only visible in the community but enabling them to establish themselves within the Paisley community.”

The ladies currently sit sixth in the second division west. This is the first year of playing as a team. Some of the ladies are just starting off, having had no previous coaching. The age ranges between 16-51.

The women’s season runs from March to October with a four-week summer break in July to allow the girls a holiday as most are either attending further education/university or working full time. They train four times a week, which includes Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Seedhill and two gym sessions.

Our thanks go to Allan Picken for his help with photography.

SMISA special recognition award - Roddy McMillan

SMISA recently handed out a special recognition award to a man who will have made hundreds of young fans' dreams come true over the past 34 years.

If in that time you have been a match mascot at the current ground or at Love Street you will know Roddy McMillan and the fantastic job he does at every home game - from welcoming the child and their family into the club and making sure they have a wonderful day they will never forget.

At one point in the 90s he also looked after the ball boys at the same time as the mascots. He also assisted the club on the commercial side for a couple of years.

He sat on Campbell Money’s testimonial committee and was also in the group that put on shows in the town hall to raise cash for St Mirren and bought the club their first computers way back in late 80s .

The SMISA Special Recognition Award has only been out on four occasions previously - to groundsman Tommy Docherty, former head of youth David Longwell, ex-player Hugh Murray and former announcer Phil Clark. 

Roddy should have in fact won this a long time ago and for that we humbly apologise. He is pictured at half-time during the recent Falkirk game alongside SMISA’s Jim Cumming, who presented the award.

 

SMISA 2018 annual report

 SMISA ANNUAL REPORT 2018

The past few weeks have been a wonderful celebration of everything that makes St Mirren special…hopefully you have all recovered!

From the threat of a first-ever relegation to Scotland’s third tier just over to retaking our place at the top table, St Mirren have gone from the brink of the lowest point in our history to one of the best in the space of 12 incredible months. 

Be in no doubt you and the extra investment made in our club via your SMISA membership played a role in that. So as a memorable season draws to a close it is a good time to take stock of where we as an organisation sit. 

We held our Annual General Meeting shortly before the Livingston game, where we presented on our activity of the past year. We thank all members who joined us. This is our annual report which recaps on and gives extra context to key points covered at the AGM. Detailed AGM minutes are also available on our website here.

Ultimately, everything SMISA has achieved has been down to you, our members – the more of you we have the stronger we are, both now and in St Mirren’s fan-owned future. So if any of your fellow fans haven’t yet signed up to #BuyTheBuds, let them know they can via our website now. 

Committee update

The AGM saw existing committee members George Adam and Jim Cumming re-elected, and Graeme MacPherson, Kev Park and Janette Swanson elected for the first time. They join Kenny Docherty, David Nicol, Colin Orr and Alan Quinn on the nine-person committee.

Graeme, Kev and Janette have all helped out over the past year and each brings new energy and skillsets. We are confident the committee has a good mix of professional expertise and attitudes to allow us to keep moving SMISA forward. You can see who we all are on our website. 

Director’s update

David Nicol has been SMISA’s man on the St Mirren board for most of the past two years, and at the AGM gave an overview of what that entails, which he summarises here:

“Being elected to the St Mirren board on behalf of SMISA has been a massive honour and responsibility – as well as a bit of roller-coaster ride over the past two years! Ultimately St Mirren is a multi-million-pound business with massive profile. The SMISA director is one-fifth of the board running it and expected to be able to contribute to all areas of its work.

“But I also have specific responsibility to ensure the views of SMISA and our membership are represented at board level, and that the club is run in a way that protects SMISA's interests. I am the conduit between the St Mirren board and the SMISA board - representing the views of the St Mirren board to SMISA and vice versa. Everybody won’t always agree on everything but all involved recognise we are a partnership and are committed to work together for the greater good.

“There’s been many ways in which fan representation in the boardroom has made a difference to how St Mirren have done things. A good example would be the decision to introduce a singing section in W7 – when this was first discussed the club were unsure but I made the case to run a trial. Thanks to the efforts of those involved, the singing section went on to be a great success.

“At the AGM I also gave an insight into the club's finances, which are healthy, and for the first time in a few years the club is not reliant on directors' loans to cover cashflow gaps. This year’s wage budget was slightly higher than planned, but that was offset by the higher-than-budgeted league position.

“I also passed on the thanks of the rest of the board for the contribution SMISA members are making – and the same goes for Jack Ross, who has thanked you for – in his words – ‘your continued and loyal support, which is greatly valued and appreciated’.”

£2 spends

At the AGM we covered SMISA’s £2 members pot, an original idea of ours – described by the former head of Supporters Direct in Scotland as ‘brilliant’ and ‘the first of its kind’. We are proud SMISA is blazing a trail and attracting attention from Scotland’s wider fan movement, and hope you are too.

We recently formalised a policy for the process and timescales for project selection and ballots. We identified five criteria and while not every project will meet them all, projects should aim to benefit the club, fans and community, and fit club and member priorities. The club is an asset we are committed to buy and the £2 pot is intended to help us add value to it while we save up to do that.

Member priorities are led by the survey hundreds of you filled out last year, where you ranked various areas for investment by importance. The youth academy was by some distance your top priority, but ‘stadium facilities/matchday experience’, and ‘investment to help the first team’ also scored highly. Most projects to date have received 75%-90% support, which suggests members are – on the whole – happy with where their money is going 

You gave the lowest priority to ‘community spend outwith the club’ but ‘projects to bring the club and community closer together’ was near the top, and that has been reflected in projects including:
- part-funding the wheelchair platform in the main stand. The disabled facilities at the Paisley 2021 Stadium are described as among the best in the country;
- the community season ticket scheme – an original idea bringing a range of local groups into the club which has given hundreds of people who may not have had, or been able to afford, a day out to see championship-winning football;
- funding for pre-match family entertainment in partnership with our two Supporter Liaison Officers, the Fans Council, and Paisley Panda, to help bring the next generation of fans into the club;
- new strips and equipment to welcome the St Mirren Ladies team into the St Mirren family.

We also aimed to correct a few misconceptions around projects where funds have gone directly to the club – such as SMISA buying match-day quality balls for the first team to train with. To explain, the club sets a core budget each year – but at any given time has a long list of added-value nice-to-haves.

This season the club budgeted for footballs through the Joma kit contract but Jack wanted the team to train with the same – far-more expensive – balls they use on a matchday, which were not covered. So SMISA – in funding one of the nice-to-haves – covered something that otherwise may not have happened. 

The same applies to the extra hours for the sports scientist and video analyst – also approved by our members. In a league where six or seven of the teams have very similar wage budgets, the marginal gains SMISA funded undoubtedly contributed towards this season’s success. 

We shouldn’t forget SMISA members topped up the club’s wage budget (roughly equivalent to one player) for the last third of the 2016/17 season. This isn’t something we plan to make a habit of, but if ever a short-term fix was needed it was then. Instead of being on our way to the Premier League, we could very easily be in League One. Be in no doubt St Mirren’s revival was in part kickstarted and then sustained by you…and be proud of that.

Ralston funding

The proposal to put £50k towards the relaying of the pitch at Ralston generated a bit of discussion, although this passed with approval of almost 90%. At the AGM we reiterated the reasons for putting the proposal to you – ie the youth academy is your number one priority for investment, and that many members have suggested their £2 money be used for a big project. 

The initial email outlining the proposal was a long one and – due to their complexity – we simplified the finances behind it. At the AGM, we explained this in more detail and will do so again here.

Our £50k for Ralston will – assuming the work is going ahead as planned – be made available over the summer. That will include £15k of discretionary spend (comprising £5k from the April spend, £5k from the July spend, and £5k of pre-#BuyTheBuds money).

The other £35k will come from the £50k rolling credit facility we are contractually required to make available for the club. The background to that was explained at last year’s AGM, but to recap, this is a financial safety net allowing us – as one of only two major shareholders in the club – to loan the club money in the event of cashflow difficulties, as the old board often did. Our ability to do so was one of the biggest concerns people had in 2016 when we first launched #BuyTheBuds. The money remains SMISA’s and the club is required to repay anything should it borrow from it. 

As this facility has not been needed to date and the club will not need it in 2018, it was agreed £35k of this money could be used temporarily to fund the rest of our Ralston contribution. It was agreed we should restore the full credit facility by the end of the year (as if any cashflow problems ever happen, they will be in the spring). To be clear, we are not loaning the club money for Ralston, we are spending, then replacing, some of our own funds. 

The £35k used will be reinstated from the £10 bit of your monthly subscription between September and December this year. That money will then be replaced by the £2s (ie £5k from each of the following seven quarterly spends). So by January 2019 the credit facility will be back to £50k, and by April 2020, the share purchase pot will have been restocked using the £2s.

So to summarise – we are using our credit facility money to fund the bulk of our contribution to Ralston, then share purchase money to restore the credit facility, then £2 money to restore the share purchase money.

Some members have questioned the principle of money intended for the share purchase being used at all. We can assure you those comments have been taken on board for the future – but we reiterate two things: 1) SMISA’s entire £50k contribution to this project will over time come entirely from the £2 pot, 2) all money set aside for the share purchase will still ultimately be used for that purpose. We would also add that all transactions will be clearly recorded and monitored in the accounts to ensure transparency. 

On that basis, we don’t believe this contravenes the principles of #BuyThe Buds and we wouldn’t have asked you to vote on anything we thought did. The individuals on the SMISA committee have put a huge amount of our own time and energy into making majority fan ownership of St Mirren possible and will not do anything we think risks detracting from that. Ultimately, #BuyTheBuds was intended to allow SMISA to take St Mirren forward as members decide. This proposal does that, and with the support of an overwhelming majority.

Finance and membership

The formal accounts for the year to 30th November 2017 had been made available to members prior to the meeting. The most significant change was the reduction of the amount due to the outgoing directors from £272k to £127k at financial year end. It was also highlighted the money we loaned the club in December 2016 to fix the undersoil heating had now been fully repaid.

SMISA is now on target to completely paid off what we owe to the former directors by July this year. That means we will have paid them the full £385,000 owed for their shares, entirely through member subscriptions – when we started out we didn’t think it would be possible to do this without external borrowing. 

Of course that only happened because of the ongoing support of you, the members. While total member numbers fell from the initial peak of 1375 in the summer of 2016, they have held steady at around 1260 for the past six months. These numbers are well above our initial target of 1,000 members, putting the whole project ahead of where we thought it would be.

SMISA’s finance team – having successfully converted the financial records onto a web-based accounting system with direct bank feeds to reduce the workload involved – are now turning their attention to streamlining the work required to maintain our membership records. The plan is to replace all of these with an integrated web-based platform which will reduce the workload, provide greater security of data, and allow member access to their data. 

In addition, there is a bit of work to be done to ensure compliance with the new Data Protection rules (GDPR) which come into effect later this month. Members will be receiving information about this very soon.

Objectives 

At the AGM, Kenny Docherty gave an overview on the objectives for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. We set ourselves annual objectives to make sure we focus our attention on the key issues. The objectives are set after a review of what we’ve done well and where we want to do better. We had a few for 2017/18 – below we list them and show how we did.

1. Public target of increasing the SMISA membership to buy the buds to 1,400 by April 2018 – At the 2017 AGM we had 1287 members – we now have 1,257. We deliberately set an ambitious target because we wanted to aim high. However our numbers are healthy and remain well in excess of what we needed at the start to make the project work. 

2. Events manager to be identified and made responsible for coordinating all SMISA events – We were committed to run two events a year for plus and premium members but while these were well received, attendance was low. We consulted with premium and plus members on some alternative benefits, which you can see here. These are available to any members who upgrade – as a number of you already have. Kenny Docherty, having agreed to be events manager, will manage those benefits. 

3. Drive to ensure the trust board better reflects the diversity of the St Mirren support. Have at least two women attend SMISA meetings during 2017/18 and encourage at least two women stand for election at the 2018 AGM – A year ago we had an all-male board and felt we needed a gender balance which better represented the support. Jeanette Swanson has now been elected to the board and Louise Swanson has made a big contribution to SMISA’s work by taking on a lot of our admin duties.

4. SMISA to have a regular meeting place to meet fans at least once every three months – we picked times pre-match and let members know we were available, using popular venues including The Bull Inn, The Bankhouse and The Court Bar. We received some excellent feedback, mostly positive, on what we're doing. We will continue to do this. 

5. Encourage SMFC directors to attend SMISA meetings once every six months starting September 2017 and continuing indefinitely – Our whole commitee had one meeting with the entire board and another with Gordon Scott, which have helped SMISA-club relations.

We have agreed the following objectives for 2018/19: 

1. Develop a plan outlining the principle of how the transition to majority fan ownership will work, and how SMISA and St Mirren will operate once we are majority owners of the club. To be presented to the members by March 2019 – We appreciate people have questions over how majority fan ownership will work. In the past two years we’ve learned a huge amount which will help us plan that. While it remains years away, we will publish a more detailed outline of how we see it working.

2. Have a strategy to increase the membership to 1,300 by March 2019. Strategy to be written and agreed by July 2018 – the higher our member numbers, the stronger we are. Last year we set a target but didn’t have a proper strategy to meet it. This year, we will develop a better plan aimed at persuading more people to join SMISA. 

3. Membership database to integrate with finance systems. To be implemented by April 2019 – we have a number of back-end systems but they aren’t all joined up. Procuring a more professional set-up will streamline our workload and make it easier for members to keep their details up to date.

4. Increase our meetings with the SMFC board to every three months – to make sure SMISA and SMFC have a good understanding of each other’s positions and continue to work well together. 

To sign off, we thank all the members who have given us useful feedback – positive or otherwise throughout the year. We will always attempt to answer any questions you may have via [email protected]. 

We appreciate it can be hard to keep everyone happy but also know the vast majority understand the SMISA committee are volunteers, balancing the often-substantial demands of this against busy personal and professional lives and hope the detail in this report conveys the level of thought, professionalism and commitment which goes into the running of SMISA.

We do this because we love our club and are proud to have built something which is not just taking it forward but which will make it possible for it to stay in the hands of the people of Paisley forever. We hope you share our pride in what your membership has achieved so far.

See you in the Premier League 

The SMISA committee

 

SMISA 2018 AGM minutes

St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMiSA)

Minutes of Annual General Meeting Saturday 14th April 2018

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

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

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

-  Presented the agenda for the meeting.

-  Handed over to Dave Nicol.

Dave Nicol, SMFC Board Director & SMiSA Committee Member

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

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

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

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

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

Colin Orr, SMISA Committee Member (Communications)

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

-  Provided some highlights and examples of the £2 spend

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

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

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

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

Alan Quinn, SMISA Committee Member (Finance)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-  Graeme McPherson – election sought - unanimous acceptance

-  Kevin Park – election sought - unanimous acceptance

-  Janette Swanson – election sought - unanimous acceptance

Kenny Docherty, SMiSA Committee Member (Events & Objectives)

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

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

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

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

Response;

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response; DN – Yes !

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

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

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

 

April £2 spend ballot results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April £2 spend ballot details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community season ticket scheme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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