SMiSA News

SMISA completes takeover of St Mirren - we're a fan owned club!

ST MIRREN have today completed their five-year journey to become a fan-owned club.

The St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMISA) have bought out the remaining shareholding of chairman Gordon Scott to become majority (51%) owners of the Buddies.

The deal helps to safeguard the future of the club – formed in 1877 – by placing it in the hands of its supporters, the people who care for it the most.

The move into fan ownership comes in conjunction with charity and social enterprise Kibble who last year bought a 27 percent stake to become part-owners of the club.

That model – where the club is owned by its fans and run in partnership with a charity – is believed to be unique in top-flight European football and has allowed SMISA to complete the transition to fan ownership in five years rather than the original 10-year plan set out in 2016.

And the dream of fan ownership has only been realised thanks to the financial backing from SMISA’s near-1200 strong membership over the past five years and the support and growth of SMISA in general from its formation almost 20 years ago.

Now that the shares have been purchased, the members’ contributions will instead go towards supporting different areas of the club including the youth academy and the charitable foundation.

SMISA will now have four representatives on the St Mirren board, with Scott and Alan Wardrop joining existing SMISA-appointed club directors John Needham and David Riley.

And, although the club is now owned by its fans, the day-to-day operations will continue to be run by CEO Tony Fitzpatrick and the St Mirren staff.

Scott, who made fan ownership possible by teaming up with SMISA to buy out the previous owners back in 2016, was pleased to see the deal come to fruition on a special day at the SMISA stadium.

He said: “I am immensely proud of the part I have played in delivering fan ownership.

“We had always said that we had ten years to deliver a sustainable model but when the opportunity arose to deliver this now in partnership with Kibble it was too good an opportunity to miss.

“We have taken giant strides over the last five seasons both on the pitch and off it and with the deal now complete I am convinced that this model will allow us to continue that progress."

SMISA chair George Adam added: “This is a really proud day not just for St Mirren fans but for the people of Paisley and beyond.

“To have our club now owned by the supporters means we will never have to worry again about it being run by people without St Mirren’s best interests at heart.

“It’s a real testimony to the fans who were presented with a vision back in 2015 and have now been able to make it a reality. I’ve never been prouder to be a Buddie.”

Kibble chief executive and St Mirren vice-chairman Jim Gillespie said: “This is a historic day for St Mirren’s fans.

“They are now in charge of the destiny of the club they love, and Kibble are delighted to be working with SMISA and to have played our part in making this possible.

“When we agreed to become shareholders and  partners last year, it was because we were excited about the chance to work hand-in-hand with SMISA to help take the club forward while improving the lives of young people in the Renfrewshire area.

“We believe we are starting to see the fruits of that relationship and look forward to contributing towards many more successful years at St Mirren.”

Supporters Direct Scotland chief executive Alan Russell added: “At SD Scotland we are delighted to see SMISA reach this milestone and are proud to have supported them on their journey towards fan ownership.

“They have shown what can be achieved by working in close partnership with other shareholders and other community organisations and have had one hand on the steering wheel as St Mirren FC have established themselves in the Premiership once again.

“Their experience as minority shareholders over the last few years will be invaluable as they take ownership of the club - and they join the family of fan-owned clubs who are a beacon to the whole supporters trust movement in Scotland and beyond. Congratulations!”

Anyone wishing to join SMISA can do so from as little as £5 a month at

July member update

There’s now just one week to go until we complete our purchase of the majority shareholding in the club, a historic moment allowing you to safeguard the future of your club.

But before we get there, we have a few items of news to update you on:

Future finance model voting results

We wrote to members at the end of June with details of our proposals for how future SMISA income will be spent, and invited members to vote on whether to approve this. Voting was as follows:

YES – 547 votes (97%) / NO – 17 votes (3%). Total votes – 564.

Thanks to everyone who voted. Full details of the model are in this link:

To summarise, your future membership fees will (after SMISA costs) be spent as follows:

- 50% will be banked and added to our cash reserve;

- 30% will be reserved for the club’s youth academy;

- 10% will go to a ‘club pot’, for club-related projects as voted on by members;

- 10% will go direct to the St Mirren Charitable Foundation.

This model means a strong SMISA will lead to a strong St Mirren – the more of us there are, the more we can do to help take our club forward and invest in its long-term future.

New membership fees and benefits package

Another key issue we looked at in recent months is what SMISA’s membership fees and benefits package should be once the shares are bought.

Put simply, fan ownership was only possible because of the incredible commitment of our near-1,200 membership.

So we want to thank you for your loyalty by offering the chance of some match-day experience and money-can’t-buy rewards aimed at bringing you closer to the club once you own it.

You can see the full table of benefits on our website here.

To summarise, all Standard (£12-per-month) members will get the following additional benefits:

- entered into a series of draws to win a day out at club matchday hospitality

- the chance to win a seat on a SMISA table at club events (such as the Player of the Year dinner)

- the chance to win a place on tours of the stadium, training ground, or to watch a training session

- priority access to other SMISA-run events (such as online manager and player Q&As)

All Plus (£25-per-month) and Premium members (who paid a one-off fee for ten years of membership at the start of the Buy The Buds campaign) get the following, in addition to the above:

- plus-member-only draws for match-day hospitality and club events (as we have much fewer Plus members than Standard, this means a much better chance of winning a seat);

- the chance to watch a game from the directors’ guest lounge;

- the chance to win a lunch with the team manager/captain/players;

- occasional piece of SMISA memorabilia;

As part of the new structure we have also added a new Entry (£5-per-month) membership category. This new tier carries no additional benefits but does include a vote on all SMISA issues.

We hope this new membership tier will make SMISA more inclusive and help us attract new members for whom cost may have been a barrier, or to encourage ex-members who left for financial reasons to return.

Directors' Q&A

The two SMISA-appointed St Mirren directors John Needham and David Riley provide an update on the latest from the club and look ahead to the imminent fan takeover in the latest edition of our directors' Q&A. You can read it here.

July £2 spend

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed there has been no quarterly £2 spend for July.

Given our extra workload this month as we prepare for the share purchase, we decided to roll this quarter’s spend over into the new club pot, which is, in effect, the successor to the £2 pot.

We are currently developing plans for a significant project which will allow the members to put their stamp on the SMISA Stadium in future, and hope to reveal these later in the year.

Directors' Update

OUR two SMISA-appointed St Mirren directors, John Needham and David Riley, provide an update to members on what’s been happening at the club over the last few months and give some insight into what lies ahead.


Q: It’s been a few months since our last directors’ Q&A – can you update the members on the main things that have been keeping the St Mirren board busy during that period please?


A: It’s been a very busy period with setting budgets for the coming season, improvements to the facilities at Ralston, moving to a new ticketing system, changing how the club shop will operate and planning for the return of fans to the stadium. It’s been a big ask for the team behind the scenes and whilst there have been some challenges with the ticket system migration we feel confident that these changes will bring big benefits in the future.


Q: How do you reflect overall on the events of last season, both on and off the park? Do the board consider it a successful campaign?


A: Whilst COVID brought significant challenges I think the club coped well overall and the results that Jim and the team achieved on the park made for an exciting and rewarding season. To finish 7th and get to two Semi Finals represented our best performance for many years. It’s shown that a Top 6 finish is definitely a realistic goal - something many doubted. Off the park there was a lot to be pleased with too as we managed to cope with the loss of income from games without our fans. It forced us to develop our SMTV offering, improve our marketing and social media presence, and look to balance the books in other ways. That in turn has enabled us to continue to build depth in the playing squad. So, yes, we do consider that 2020/21 was a successful campaign on many fronts.


Q: How are things shaping up behind the scenes for next season? Is there cause for optimism once more?


A: We are certainly optimistic that with the latest additions to the squad and the experience gained from last season we can go one better and get into the Top 6. Another trip or two to Hampden would be most welcome too! However, achieving these goals will only come if we continue to work relentlessly on and off the park. Football is a fickle business and we can’t take anything for granted.


Q: What’s the latest guidance in terms of getting fans back into grounds?


A: We were restricted to 500 fans for the Dunfermline game but as Scotland moves forward with the plans to move to Level 0 that will increase soon to 2,000. Further progress after that should be possible as long as there is no major surge in cases and football clubs can demonstrate that we can operate in compliance with the rules on distancing etc. Our priority is to get all home fans back as soon as possible.


Q: The club has made a switch to a new ticketing system. Can you give the members a bit more background on that and what you hope to gain from this new partnership?


A: I think it’s no secret that the previous system wasn’t as user friendly as it could have been. As such we took on board the feedback from fans and searched for an alternative. The transition has been more difficult than we expected so there have been issues. However going forward we are confident that once everyone is successfully migrated we will have a system that meets the needs of our fans.


Q: Finally, we’re moving ever closer to the handover date when SMISA becomes majority shareholders of the club. What’s the feeling at board level ahead of the transition?


A: I believe it’s one of anticipation. SMISA members, along with Gordon Scott and Kibble, have achieved so much in a relatively short space of time and to have our club protected from any unwanted suitors for posterity is really a remarkable achievement. However, as a Board we see it as the end of one phase and the start of another. Once 51% of the Club’s shares have been purchased we will look to invest in areas of the operation that improve the engagement and experience of our fans. We have a list of potential projects and are working through the detail. As soon as we have firm plans we will share them with the members and the fanbase as a whole. It’s an exciting time to be a Buddie! 

Future finance model

SMISA members are being asked to vote on proposals for how our income should be spent in future once we own the majority shareholding in the club.

It’s not long now until we complete the purchase of the majority shareholding in St Mirren meaning by the time next season kicks off, our club will be fan-owned.

Over the past five years, the bulk of SMISA’s income has been saved for that share purchase. So one of the key issues we’ve had to look at in recent months is how future income will be used once the shares are bought.

Our extensive member survey last summer asked whether members would be happy if your future member fees were to be invested in the club. 89% of you said you would, and only 2% were not (the rest were maybes).

So on that basis we have spent considerable time creating a proposed future finance model, outlined below, on which we are asking you to vote on whether to adopt.

Future finance model

The model we are proposing would see all income after SMISA operating costs split according to the following percentages:

- 50% would be saved in the bank. We believe the early years of fan ownership is a chance for us to be sensible and build up a cash reserve. We will have around £150,000 in the bank as of next month and plan to maintain this at or above £400,000 by 2024. This would give the club financial security but would also give SMISA the ability to make large-scale investments (either as donations or loans) in the club in future. Any spending from the cash reserve would be subject to a member vote.

- 30% would be reserved for the club’s youth academy. Every time we’ve asked members for your top priority for investment, the academy has topped the list by a distance. St Mirren fans are right to be proud of our academy – it is the lifeblood of the club. The proposed investment would be additional to the current academy budget and would help it grow its operations. Each year we would ask the academy to submit suggested uses for the money to the SMISA board for our approval.

- 10% would be for a ‘club pot’ to be spent as members decide. This would be the successor to the £2 pot, which has supported a wide range of projects over the past five years. We will invite suggestions from the club and our members for projects which help the club or improve the fan experience, and members will vote on whether to adopt them. We are proposing this be done as and when suitable projects are on the table, rather than via a fixed quarterly schedule.

- 10% would go direct to the SMFC Charitable Foundation. As a registered society under the Community Benefits Act, SMISA needs to demonstrate clear community benefit. As the club’s charitable foundation already do great work in this area, supporting them to build on that would be the best way to deliver on this. This 10% would be a direct donation, to be spent as the Foundation chooses, but they would like to hear suggestions from SMISA’s members over projects or local good causes they could support.

All of the above would be subject to an annual financial review, where the SMISA board will consider if each investment is delivering on our objectives, and if the percentages should be adjusted. Any change to the percentages would be subject to a member vote.

Why we are proposing this

We believe the model gives the club financial security, while investing in its long-term future and helping deliver success on and off the park. It also strikes a balance between giving members a say on where their money goes, while giving the club and its associated arms a degree of certainty over their financial planning.

We also believe it meets member feedback. Our member survey of summer 2020 also asked you to rank your preferences for where any investment in the club would go, and the results of that shaped our approach – the youth academy was your top priority and on the whole you wanted sustainable long-term investment.

Other fan groups – such as Foundation of Hearts and the Well Society – put money into their club’s operating budgets each year, but their members don’t decide where it goes. We think your money should be spent in line with your wishes and that this model not only delivers that, but will keep members engaged in the years ahead.

Clearly our income will go up or down depending on member numbers, so we’ve had to forecast the sums involved. To give a rough guide, should we maintain current income levels, we could have roughly £160,000 after costs, which would mean £80,000 for the cash reserve, £48,000 for the youth academy, and £16,000 for each of the club pot and charity foundation.

If the model was adopted, a strong SMISA will mean a strong St Mirren – the more members we have, the more we will be doing for the club. This underlines not just why we need existing members to stay with us, but why we want to attract new members too. We will be revealing a new membership fees and benefits structure in the coming weeks which we hope will make continued and new memberships even more attractive.

SMISA costs

Like all voluntary organisations, SMISA has operating costs, and while we are careful to ensure every penny of spend is necessary, ours currently run into five figures. We are proposing the SMISA board start with an initial annual budget of £24,000 with which to meet these costs.

£10k of this will be used to provide an improved member benefit offer (this will be mainly be spent on club hospitality and events, so will be going to the club). The rest would cover our other costs, which include professional fees, website and software costs and bank charges. A detailed breakdown of these is in our annual accounts and we are happy to take any questions from members on this.

Each year the SMISA board will have a formal budget planning meeting to review the previous year’s spend and set the upcoming year’s budget, and would vary this accordingly. Any unspent money would be kept in the bank for future expenses and we would only exceed the budget if necessary.

What happens next

We are asking members to vote on whether to accept the proposed future finance model. This would mean:

- the SMISA board would have authority to set and amend an annual budget to cover the organisation’s costs as described;

- all income after operating costs would be split according to the percentages outlined and spent as described above;

- any significant changes to the model in future would require a member vote;

Members can cast their vote via our membership platform VeryConnect now. Voting will run until Monday 12 July.

SMFC 21/22 strips - voting results

Thanks to all members who cast a vote last year to choose the club’s strips for season 2021/22. We had a brilliant reaction to the vote and the strip reveal with lots of lively debate, and this is something we want to run again in future years to keep members engaged.

The new strips can be seen on the club website here. And a reminder of the options from the vote is here (remember the club now has a new sponsor from when the initial designs were produced):

The full voting was as follows:

Home Kit: Option 1 - 32; Option 2 - 102; Option 3 - 49; Option 4 - 455

Away Kit: Option 1 - 140; Option 2 - 312; Option 3 - 74; Option 4 - 112

Total votes cast were 638.

SMISA club board representatives - update

We can now update SMISA members on our plans for who will represent them on the club board once the majority shareholding in the club has been bought.

It’s now only two months until SMISA completes its purchase of the majority shareholding in St Mirren, meaning we can forever keep our club in the hands of those who care for it most – you, the fans.

One of the key questions we need to resolve between now and then is who will represent SMISA on the club board from the summer.

Currently, SMISA has two reps on the eight-person SMFC board. As of the summer we will be entitled to four of the eight.

We this year defined SMISA’s future role (you can see it here), based on your feedback, and one of our key responsibilities is to help the club remain a well-run business. 

As we’ve said before, fan-owned does not mean fan-run – the club board will oversee the running of the club. SMISA’s job is to make sure the people doing that on our behalf are the people we judge best qualified for the job.

So with that in mind we have asked two of the current club board – Gordon Scott and Alan Wardrop – to become the additional two SMISA reps from the summer.

In doing so we considered a number of issues. We have always said continuity and stability would be key and that we won’t make change for the sake of change if things were going well at the point of takeover.

St Mirren has made a profit in each of the past four seasons, while improving its league position year-on-year.

With the additional skills and expertise available to the club through our partnership with Kibble, we believe the club has the right people and structure already in place to build on that in the new fan-owned era.

While SMISA members will in future have the right to approve or reject new SMISA appointments to a vacancy on the club board, those already on the board are not new appointments.

The SMISA committee interviewed both Gordon and Alan against the existing job description for a SMISA-appointed club director, to ensure all parties were comfortable with the extra responsibilities this would involve for them.

Both are successful businesspeople who have played key roles in St Mirren’s recent successes, as well as long-standing SMISA members and lifelong fans with the club’s best interests at heart.

We are confident both will continue to provide good leadership and oversight of the club on SMISA’s behalf, while also ensuring our members’ views are considered in club decisions.

What happens next

SMISA will complete the purchase of Gordon’s remaining shares on July 27. From then, we will own 51% of the club (Kibble will be the only other major shareholder, with 27.5%).

The shareholders agreement – which requires the club to refer certain issues to the major shareholders – will only apply to SMISA and Kibble (Gordon will no longer be party to this).

Gordon and Alan will join David Riley and John Needham as the four SMISA reps on the club board from the summer. The rest of the club board – Tony Fitzpatrick (chief executive), Chris Stewart (club secretary), plus Kibble representatives Jim Gillespie (club vice chair) and Mark Macmillan, will all continue in their current roles.

Who fills the role of club chair is for the board to decide, but they have agreed Gordon will remain as club chair for the time being to help aid the transition to the new era.

However the future set-up will be different from in recent years, when Gordon was also the club’s owner. While the chair remains a key role, no one individual will be in charge – the board as a collective will be responsible for club operations.

Our website has a guide to how fan ownership will work outlining the roles of the various parties.

It has been a long road to get to this point but the journey to fan ownership is nearly complete. We are excited for what the future holds for our club and hope you are too. We thank you again for everything you have done to make that possible.

SMISA review of the year 2020/21

The following annual report is a summary of the updates provided at the AGM of the 1877 Society Ltd (SMISA) which took place on Monday 26 April.

The AGM saw us look back over the past year and ahead to the next one, which will see us take over the majority ownership of the club in the summer. You can view a recording of the full meeting on our YouTube channel here.

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:

Highlights of the year

Despite a challenging year with the ongoing pandemic, we have had a successful year thanks to your continued support. Highlights include:

- reaching the amount required to purchase Gordon Scott’s remaining shares (£331k), meaning fan ownership can be delivered this summer;

- the ground was renamed The SMISA Stadium for the season which helped increase our profile in the run-up to fan ownership;

- John Needham was recruited to join David Riley as one of our two representatives on the club board, replacing David Nicol;

- we hosted two well attended Meet The Manager evenings via Zoom – with members from across the world joining in;

- for the first time members voted for next season’s home and away kits, with the result to be revealed at the new kit launch in the summer.

Also, thanks to your continued support the £2 spend made possible the following projects: 

- £14.8k to the club’s youth academy, to help support their ongoing work during the pandemic;

- £3.6k to St Mirren’s women’s team for new equipment and kits;

- £3.4k to SMTV to buy better equipment and a new camera to improve match-day coverage;

- £6k for much-needed maintenance and upgrades to the first-team training centre at Ralston, delivered in partnership with Kibble;

- £1.5k for a new Panda costume, for use on match days and for other club and community events.

Finance and membership

Key points relating to finance and membership include:

- SMISA’s cash is currently spread across a number of different bank accounts to help maximise the level of interest earned, each with deposits of no more than £85,000, the FSCS guarantee limit.

- we expect to have a cash reserve left of around £140,000 once the share purchase has been completed in July;

- member numbers (currently 1,181) gradually fell from a peak of more than 1,300 in 2016 but have been stable since 2019;

- we believe most who have left have done so for financial reasons. While we expected the pandemic may have a negative impact on member numbers, that hasn’t happened. Since last November, 12 have left and 28 joined;

- our Very Connect membership system allows members to set their age and location. Members are spread not just throughout Scotland and the UK, but from Europe, the USA, Asia and Australia too;

- however the vast majority of our members are aged over 40, and we are looking at how we can attract more younger members in future;

Annual objectives

Our objectives for 2020/21 – and how we performed against them, were as follows:

1) Formalise the process for recruiting SMISA representatives to the SMFC board, and appoint our next representative by summer 2020 (this was completed, with John Needham selected and appointed in August).

2) Continue to develop our membership strategy (this is still ongoing, having been disrupted by the pandemic).

3) Help the club to further reduce its carbon footprint (this was put on hold as the pandemic prevented fans from visiting the stadium, and will be looked at again once we return to normal).

4) Produce a revised structure of membership fees and benefits, to be ready when SMISA secures the majority stake in the club (this is being finalised and we will be introducing a new membership structure and benefits package very soon).

The objectives we have set for 2021/22 are:

1) Complete the shares buyout from Gordon Scott by July 27 2021.

2) Work closely with our partners Kibble and demonstrate to our members how the partnership has brought benefits to the club and the wider community.

3) We would like SMISA to be more inclusive and available to more supporters.

Future planning

We’ve already laid out the key points of how fan ownership will work elsewhere on the website. The single most important thing is that St Mirren continues to be a well-run business. So we would reiterate that fan-owned won’t mean fan-run.

The club’s day-to-day business will still be done by the professionals in the club’s management and staff, overseen by the club board, of which SMISA will appoint at least half. While we will demand the club board consider the views of our members and the wider fanbase, we will trust them to make business decisions they believe best for St Mirren.

SMISA role - We spent time over the past year firming up the definition of this. Based on the results of the members survey we did in summer 2020, we created a mission, vision and role for SMISA, which can be viewed here.

Beyond that a lot of work is being done around SMISA operations post-takeover:

Members fees – In future we’ll still need an income - we have running costs and we want to be able to invest in the club once we own it.

But being inclusive is now one of our values and we know cost has a been a barrier to people joining in the past. So we plan to introduce a new membership tier – at £5 per month, as well as the current £12 and £25 pm tiers.

Benefits – each membership tier need a different offer. As it stands the £25pm members get added benefits. We will extend that to give new benefits to the £12pm members, with some even better ones for the £25pm members. Any £5pm membership would be a basic one with no added benefits.

This new benefits package is still a work in progress but we hope to reveal details soon. We are also looking into creating a junior membership category.

Future finance – we previously asked our members if they were happy for SMISA money to continue being invested in the club once the shares are bought. 89% said they were and only 2% weren’t (the rest were maybes).

We estimate after the summer SMISA will have a six-figure annual sum after costs which could be used as members see fit. We are working on a set of proposals just now over how we think that money could be best used, and hope to put that to a member vote in the coming weeks.

£2 Spend April vote

We recently emailed members with details of the £2 spend ballot for April in which members were asked to vote on two projects. 

The first is to provide a financial contribution towards the cost of materials for the refurbishment of the first-team facilities at the club’s training ground at Ralston.

The second is to support the purchase of a professionally-designed Paisley Panda costume to be used for matchday, entertainment and charity appearances.

We are aware some members have endured intermittent technical problems when trying to cast their votes on their phones.

We have been in regular dialogue with our platform host to see if they could provide a temporary fix but unfortunately that isn’t going to be possible before the end of the voting period. 

Some members have told us they have been able to get around the issue by turning their phones onto landscape (horizontal) mode and hopefully that will work for many of you. 

We also know that those who have accessed the vote via an iPad, tablet, laptop or desktop PC have not encountered any problems, and so we would ask any members who are yet to cast their vote to use one of those devices if they have access to any of them. 

If that isn’t possible, we would ask members to email [email protected] with their preferences and we will record each email and combine it with the system votes to make sure every member’s opinion is counted. The voting will remain open until this Friday, April 23. 

Mercifully, the issue only appears to be affecting a small minority of mobile phone users and those who have already voted should be assured that their votes have been safely recorded.

We apologise for any inconvenience this issue may have caused some of you and remain confident it will be resolved ahead of the next member vote. 

Anyone with any ongoing difficulties or questions can contact us via the above email address at any time.