SMiSA News

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]

SMISA November members update

We emailed our members with the following update, covering our preferred candidate to be the next SMISA representative on the club board, and updates on funding for pre-match entertainment, next season's strips, and how our funding is helping the club's youth academy and charity.

Approval of new SMFC board rep

We have run a recruitment process over the past two months to choose who will replace David Riley as one of SMISA’s four representatives on the St Mirren board. We thank everyone who took the time to apply.

We were delighted with the standard of applications, which bode well for the future of SMISA and the club, as they showed the vast depth of talent and experience out there among the members.

We were able to select a very high-calibre shortlist for interview and from there chose a preferred candidate, who – under our appointment rules – the members must now vote on whether to accept.

Our choice is Alex White, who has recently retired as the chief operating officer of Scotrail, after a long career in the rail industry which saw him climb the ranks to become a senior director, responsible for thousands of staff and budgets of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Alex is a lifelong St Mirren fan who grew up very close to where the SMISA Stadium now sits. We believe his vast experience, skillset and personality make him an excellent choice to represent SMISA members and, working with the rest of the board, to help drive St Mirren forward.

As part of his application, Alex submitted a personal statement outlining why he wants to be SMISA’s next representative on the board of the club, which you can read here.

If approved by a simple majority of members who vote, we will ask the St Mirren board to confirm Alex’s appointment, and he would join club chair John Needham, Gordon Scott and Alan Wardrop as SMISA reps on the club board.

We wish to again thank David Riley – who is stepping aside for personal and work reasons – for his huge contribution to SMISA over his three years on the club board, and for remaining in place while we recruit his successor.

Funding for pre-match entertainment

Members have previously helped part-fund the pre-match entertainment provided outside the SMISA Stadium on Saturday home games, run by three of our members – Colin Bright (aka Paisley Panda), and the club’s two volunteer Supporter Liaison Officers, John White and John Allison.

The entertainment aims to add to the match-day experience to encourage more families to come to games and has been busier than ever in the first few home games of this season.

The guys had been using leftover budget from previous years but have now asked if SMISA can help fund the scheme to continue until the end of the season. The club have also been approached.

The sum requested from us is £3,000, to cover the costs of entertainers such as balloon artists, face painters and magicians, as well as large-scale inflatables for the better weather. They will also produce St Mirren-themed activity packs to hand out (ie posters, puzzles and crayons) to help keep younger children occupied during games.

We can make this money available from our ‘club pot’ into which 10% of our surplus income goes, and which is intended for small projects which help the club or improve the fan experience.

Members have been asked to vote on both of these items via the link to our membership platform VeryConnect, in our email of 30 November 2021.

Members vote on 2022/23 home strip

Our thanks go to everyone who voted in the recent members poll to choose St Mirren’s home strips for next season. The vote has now closed and the option chosen by the members will now go into production, and will be revealed in the summer.

Production timelines required us to hold the vote at this time, but doing that while so far out from the next season brings a few variables, with the strip designs subject to change.

After the initial designs went out to the vote, the SPFL confirmed to the clubs red numbers would be allowed next season. This let Joma change the initial samples and – in line with member feedback – they have now incorporated stripes on the sleeves and on the back of the winning design.

This is the first season we have been working with Alan Provan from the club’s retailers Provan Sports and his professionalism will be an asset to SMiSA going forward. Looking to the future, we hope to be able to ask members to submit your own designs for at least one of the strips for season 2023/2024.

SMISA funding update

As you know, a large chunk of your monthly membership fee goes to support the future of the club and its place in the local community, with 30% of our surplus income set aside for the club’s youth academy, and 10% going to the SMFC Charitable Foundation.

That funding allowed the academy to take some of their young players on trips to play their counterparts at Newcastle and Shrewsbury, which will aid their development on and off the field.

Academy director Allan McManus asked us to pass on his thanks to members for making this possible – and the academy has tweeted some pics from their trip here.

At the same time, Gayle Brannigan and her team at the charity foundation have a busy schedule of activity in the run-up to Christmas. They are running their first-ever fundraising auction – which will run from 1-12 December and will see some unique club-related prizes go up for grabs….keep an eye on their social media channels (@smfc_chritablefoundation) for more.


SMISA members meeting 5 Oct - summary

SMISA members had their latest chance to put questions to their representatives on the club board at our recent members meeting, held on Tuesday 5 October. Below is a summary of the key points covered on the night.

The meeting was called to allow SMISA to present the results of the recent feedback form submitted to members to help the club learn lessons from some of the operational issues experienced this summer, and for the SMISA reps on the club board to explain what they had done in response.

St Mirren chair John Needham opened the meeting and introduced his fellow SMISA reps on the club board, Gordon Scott and Alan Wardrop. He gave apologies for Tony Fitzpatrick and David Riley – who had both been meant to be there but were unable, with Tony self-isolating awaiting a PCR test result, and David still recovering from having Covid a few weeks back.

Colin Orr (SMISA Board) gave a brief update on the results of the feedback form circulated among members in August. There were 102 responses and all of these were passed to the SMISA reps on the club board. The top issues raised were 1) club communications, 2) capacity restrictions, 3) season ticket renewals, 4) ballots for tickets.

John gave an update on how each of those issues had been dealt with by the club, as follows:

Club communications – this summer saw the club deal with some unprecedented circumstances. John admitted the timing and detail of some of the comms could have been better, albeit there were certain things the club couldn’t comment on at the time.

The board had a lengthy and frank chat and fan feedback was considered. Now, a comms plan is being devised to look at how the club will communicate more proactively on scheduled events and those that arise. John will issue regular chairman’s updates, as Gordon used to. The club will also use the BIG Partnership (PR agency) for big announcements and any potentially contentious issues.

Capacity restrictions – these have now been lifted and it has also been confirmed the main stand red zone will be taken away, removing the remaining restrictions. The club had a significant health and safety issue which arose during internal checks and that meant they took a bit of time to go from 1,039 back to 5,000. The issue is now fully resolved, thanks to a very significant team effort from club staff, Kibble, SMISA chair George Adam, and Renfrewshire Council.

Season tickets – Club board agreed to accelerate changes to ticket system but issues with data transfer from old system caused problems. John acknowledged this was a difficult transition which caused angst for fans and staff. Extra staff came in from Kibble to help when the club had a Covid case among own staff. He believes all complaints now resolved, apart from a small number of season ticket cards being reprinted, and some snagging issues which have been reported to the supplier.

Ballot process – This issue has passed now but all feedback from the time has been taken on board. Team did have to act quickly and didn’t have a process in place, but now have one that could be used if we ever had that situation again.

John then invited questions from the floor and a summary of some of the key points covered is below:

On how club operations are being managed:

John is now meeting with Tony once a week and will help support him with any issues. The club is in a transition phase but he feels as a new chair he is now getting a good handle on what’s happening day to day.

Alan conceded the club may have tried to change too much at one time this summer but there were reasons for each change. The old ticket system was inadequate. The stewarding contract was due to be renewed. Changing the club shop was a board decision as they felt it could generate more revenue.

On how boardroom decisions are made:

John explained no one around the boardroom table can make any decision for the whole board. Decisions are made as a group and they go with the majority. John as chair has casting vote and would take account of his position as a SMISA rep when casting it.

The board will always listen to supporter views and everyone involved will always do what is best for the club. John felt SMISA have put a good structure in place. If he had any concerns about it he wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t stake his personal and professional reputation on it.

On the role of Kibble:

Gordon explained the pandemic has made things difficult as Kibble’s ability to bring young people in to club has been limited. But as one example of partnership in action, their young people have painted large areas of the stadium, giving them real-life work experience. That would otherwise have been a big cost to the club.

He believes as we emerge from Covid more benefits will emerge. The structure is the right one for our football club and has massive potential. He also believes the Kibble reps would be happy to talk to fans in future about their role but as tonight was a SMISA meeting it wasn’t the right forum to do that.

On whether the 1877 Club could be used more:

Alan explained the 1877 Club has a capacity of 240 and there are 220 members. It isn’t an exclusive club - anyone can join. But there does have to be some loyalty to the people who are paying a membership fee – without them the club couldn’t have been built. That model saw the 1877 Club bring in £22,000 of membership income even when the club was closed.

On potential for new facilities at the stadium:

John explained to fill in a corner will cost £1.5m-plus and that’s a lot of money. Banks won’t lend to football clubs so we would need to look at creative ways to raise funding. We need to know it would be commercially successful – any new facilities couldn’t just be open on matchdays, as the stadium needs to be more of a destination and integrated into the community.

Gordon and Alan explained the club have looked at a lot of ideas to add new facilities to stadium but raising the finance and generating an adequate return is always the challenge. The board are not going to take a chance and spend £1.5m on something that may or may not work out.

On the change of operator for the club shop:

John explained the initial intention had been for Kibble to have a role in running the club shop but that wasn’t possible due to Covid. Club feels the deal we now have on club shop is very good one. The company we are using provide same service for Motherwell, St Johnstone and Dundee Utd and make more money for them than our shop did previously. He makes no apologies for change of plan as we have right outcome

On the ticket arrangements for Old Firm games:

John explained there are no plans to change previous arrangements for the next Rangers game but he feels the pain of fans who object to the Old Firm having two stands. The bottom line is the Old Firm having the family stand three times a year generates £120,000 and if we stop that we need to replace that income.

John isn’t confident we would sell that many tickets to our own fans, so he and the board are looking at ways to replace that income for next season – if we could, club would retain the Tony Fitzpatrick Stand for home fans. Ideas would need to be market tested among season ticket holders.

Gordon made the point we used to put away fans in West Stand but the club wanted to keep W7 singing section in place when we came back up to the Premiership.

The meeting closed with a thanks to everyone who attended for their input. We will look to hold more similar meetings in future

St Mirren volunteer squad - could you join them?

SMISA member Jim Crawford helps organise a team of volunteers who do great work to help keep the SMISA Stadium looking at its best. They are looking for new recruits. Could you join them? Read on as Jim explains more about how the group came about and what they do....

The title of 'St Mirren Volunteer Squad' may not mean much to many St Mirren supporters and the volunteers themselves do not lend it any credence but it is a way of defining what we are.

Over the years there have been many other voluntary groups set up to help the club in any way possible. The forerunner to the present day volunteers were a group called FOSMA, Friends of St Mirren Association who were originally local businessmen that assisted in the upkeep of the stadium by using their skills and workforce. This is a tradition that the present volunteers hope to maintain.

To date, our input has been limited to general cleaning. Prior to a new season starting, the club would organise a professional cleaning company to come in close season and clean all the seats and surrounding areas.

This was a major expense to the club and cut into the playing budget. The present day volunteers saw this as an unnecessary cost and agreed with the club that they would work in conjunction with Tommy the groundsman to take over the task of preparing our stadium to meet the criteria that would enhance the matchday experience.

As the season progressed we then volunteered to come in the week after each home match to help with the clean up of all the litter left behind. When a major storm forced damage onto the Dome behind the stadium it had to be deflated in order to be repaired.

Unfortunately, this took time and as a result debris and the weather conditions caused a heavy accumulation of water to lie on the surface and make it impossible to inflate again. The volunteers met up in appalling conditions and squeegeed the water aside and scrubbed the verdigris off the fabric to bring it back to its original condition.

Although we are blessed with a modern stadium some areas have needed attention in order to maintain its original appearance. One such area was the metal perimeter fence that surrounds the stadium. Over the years this had become in desperate need of a good clean and again the volunteers offered to come in and scrub the fence.

With most of the requirements met at the stadium the volunteers moved onto our excellent training facility at Ralston where it was recognised that the grilles covering the windows of the buildings prevented them from being cleaned.

With the removal of the wire grilles the volunteers set about bringing the glass up to an acceptable standard. Next, we were tasked with helping to brighten up the interior by painting the entrance and passageways of the changing room and reception area. This was a task that proved a challenge for most of us as apart from domestic painting we had limited ability to fulfil the job to a reasonable standard.

This is where we need to tap into the skills and crafts of our support. Now that we supporters are in control of our club it has become more important than ever that we can assist our club in any way that we can. Remember, what we do frees up the budget that could transform the team that we put out on the park.

Therefore, we would like to identify those members who feel they have a skill that would benefit in the running of the club I.e. joiners, electricians, plumbers, painters etc. It does not mean that there would be a requirement on a regular basis but if and when the occasion arose the club could tap into our volunteer squad.

There is a realisation that now more than ever we are a stand alone club, there is no sugar daddy out there, we must rely on the community to pull together and help OUR club in any way we can. If you feel you can contribute in any way to becoming a volunteer please contact me by email - [email protected]

We're looking for a new rep on the club board

Would you be interested in being a director of St Mirren? SMISA is now looking for the right person to be one of our representatives on the club board.

Currently, SMISA appoint four of the eight directors on the club board, with those positions currently filled by John Needham (club chair), David Riley, Gordon Scott and Alan Wardrop.

However David let us know a while ago that - due to changes in his personal and work circumstances - he planned to stand down from the club board at the end of the year. David has represented SMISA on the club board since 2018, having been our sole rep at that time.

He has played a key role for us and the club since then – having been one of the sub-group that helped negotiate the deal that delivered fan ownership five years ahead of schedule – and all on the SMISA board will miss the major contribution he has made.

David will stay in post until we have appointed his successor, who we hope to have in place for the club’s AGM, likely to be in December. This means we are now looking for expressions of interest in the role.

The successful candidate will be expected to act as the link between the club and SMISA boards, ensure member views are considered in club decisions, and have the skills and experience to make a positive contribution to the running of the football club.

New SMISA appointments to the club board are subject to the formal recruitment process we put in place last year, through which John Needham was appointed.

That will see the SMISA board invite applications, shortlist and interview those who best fit the job description, and select a preferred candidate, who the members will be asked to approve. Ideally they will already be a SMISA member, but we will consider all applications.

Anyone interested should contact [email protected] and we will send you an application pack. The closing date for applications is Thursday 28 October. If anyone wishes an informal chat about the role, we can arrange this with one of the SMISA or club board members.

Summary of members meeting with club chair

SMISA members recently had the chance to meet with club chair John Needham to put questions to him over issues affecting the club in the past few months.

The following is a summary of the meeting, which was held in the hospitality suite at the SMISA Stadium on Monday 6 September 2021.

George Adam (SMISA chair) opened the meeting, introducing John Needham (SMFC chair and one of SMISA’s representatives on the club board).

In John’s opening remarks, he covered the following:

- an apology for Gordon Scott, Alan Wardrop and Tony Fitzpatrick who were all abroad on business or holiday. He explained David Riley had been due to attend but had to pull out due to a positive Covid-19 test that day.

- he explained he wanted to look forward at how things can be improved at the club. He apologised for the recent problems with season tickets and other operational issues at the club. While he would try to explain the background as best as possible there would be issues that for legal and contractual issues he might not be able to comment on. He would also not talk about individuals as this would not be fair.

- he said he would explain the benefits of the Kibble partnership and dispel some of the things being spread on social media which are untrue. He said everyone’s focus was on making the partnership work and the club has got more out of the relationship with Kibble so far than Kibble has.

- some of the things he reads on social media are damaging to the club’s reputation and the morale of staff. He remains active on Twitter as he wants to hear supporter views but doesn’t want to get drawn into debate online. He is prepared to meet anyone face to face to discuss issues.

JN then opened the meeting for questions from the floor. A summary of the topics covered by the Q&A is below….

On club communications over the summer:

JN agreed this has not been as comprehensive and proactive as it could have been. It’s not reasonable to expect people to respond to everything on social media. But agrees we need a more structured approach to communication.

On the suggestion one company had been given all the contracts for stewarding, catering and building works at Ralston:

JN confirmed these have not been awarded to the same company. Three companies were shortlisted for the stewarding. They were all brought in and interviewed before a decision was made. The board didn’t award the other contracts, these were awarded by club management and reported to the board.

The company doing work at Ralston are Renderworks who are used by Kibble, who are project managing the work for free. The delays on completion are down to a nationwide shortage of timber, as anyone involved in the building trade will know.

JN also confirmed suggestions of a family connection between members of the club board and people behind companies awarded contracts are completely untrue.

On why the club changed the suppliers for the ticketing system and shop:

JN apologised for circumstances where it was said one of the employees in the ticket office had been poorly treated by the club, and that he would look into this.

He explained the old ticket season system was clunky, needed updated, and that St Mirren was the only club using it. The club had been told it would be easy to move data across to a new system but found the data was not compatible, which is why everyone had to re-register their details.

The club didn’t want to change the ticketing system over the summer but there was a risk the previous system – which also includes the stadium entry system – could have failed mid-season, which forced the club to act sooner than they wanted. The new system will allow for extra benefits to be offered to fans.

The club had initially planned to take the shop back in house but after further consideration, the deal eventually negotiated with the new shop suppliers is much better financially for the club than what was in place before.

On why stadium capacity was limited for games earlier in the season:

JN explained the club wanted more fans in but there were issues with the stadium which came to light over the summer that needed fixed before the club could go to the council and request more fans. These issues have now been resolved.

On why there were very few St Johnstone fans at the previous home game:

JN said the club decided it was best not to have the additional strain of away fans in for the first game with the new ticket system and new stewards. St Johnstone don’t bring a huge away support and we could charge for pay-per-view so there wasn’t a big commercial loss.

On the size of the main stand restricted ‘red zone’:

JN apologised for the size of the main stand red zone, which is to do with the access to the stadium for players and officials. The authorities will not allow the club to do away with the red zone but the club have done what they can to reduce the size of it.

On whether there was an option for SMISA to buy out Kibble:

Kenny Docherty of the SMISA board explained SMISA has the first option if Kibble ever wished to sell their shares but that our focus is on maintaining a strong working relationship with Kibble.

George Adam added it can be easy to blame a new partner when things go wrong. The partnership had just been formed when the pandemic started and that has made the last 18 months harder for everyone. He added without Kibble’s help the club would be in a much worse position.

On the suggestion the two Kibble board members have a veto over certain issues:

JN explained Kibble only have two members of the eight on the board, so do not have a veto on any boardroom issues.

KD explained the shareholder agreement between SMISA and Kibble lists the reserved shareholder matters which are major issues which require to be mutually agreed by both parties. This includes things such as a change of playing surface or changes to the colour of our strips. The board are not allowed to make such decisions without shareholder approval.

Kenny explained both shareholders can intervene on new board members chosen by the other if there is a good reason, such as a criminal record. The reason for the veto is to allow the shareholders to protect the interests of the football club.

(Note – a summary of the shareholder agreement was presented to and overwhelmingly approved by SMISA members in February 2020, when they were asked to vote on whether to deliver fan ownership in partnership with Kibble. That can be read here).

On the suggestion Kibble staff have replaced club ones:

JN explained there is only one member of Kibble staff permanently working at the club, which is the acting general manager, Lynsey MacLean, who JN believes is a very talented individual who will make a big difference going forward.

He explained he main thing Kibble want is for their young people to get training and work experience around the club. Having one of their employees here allows them to maintain their duty of care to them. They offered a general manger to help support Tony with the running of the club. The benefit for the club is an additional senior staff member free of charge.

He explained during the period earlier in the summer where the club was working on season ticket renewals, there was a Covid outbreak within the staff. Kibble provided the club with six staff overnight in order to help shore things up, which helped the club considerably.

On the role of the club board:

JN said the board don’t run the day-to-day operations of the club. Like all organisations, the chief executive is in charge day to day, and makes decisions on staff and contracts up to a certain level. The board’s job is to make sure Tony is supported to run the club effectively, to have a wider strategy for the bigger footballing and financial issues and to explore ways to bring in more income. JN is now meeting Tony every week.

On John’s vision for the club going forward:

JN would like the club to be more professional, for everyone to be proud of every aspect of it, and for greater use of the stadium and land around it. He wants the team to compete for fifth or sixth place and to manage some cup runs and hopefully silverware.

He wants to increase the club’s turnover by 10% year on year, and the ongoing contributions from SMISA members will contribute to that. He wants the club to be more influential in Scottish football as currently we don’t punch our weight. He sees Motherwell as further along the fan ownership journey and as a model to follow.

He cares hugely about the club and being chairman has made him feel more so. He is honoured to be in this position and is confident he will meet the challenges raised tonight in time. He will continue to represent the fans views and hopes to widen understanding of how the club is run.