SMiSA News

Disabled platform - a thank you

SMISA members have been thanked for their crucial role in helping to build St Mirren's new disabled platform by the group who will be using it.

The Ayr game last week saw a debut for the new disabled platform in the main stand of the Paisley 2021 Stadium - part-funded by SMISA through our £2 discretionary pot, where our members help decide which projects they want their money to go on.

Previously disabled fans had to sit at the front of the stand, where they didn't have full protection from the elements - but now they have one of the best views in the stadium.

When we surveyed our members earlier this year, improving disabled facilities at the stadium came out as one of the top priorities.

Gordon Scott and the new SMFC board were already well down the line with plans for the platform - and SMISA's contribution helped get the project over the line.

And we were contacted during the week by John Clark, chair of the St Mirren Disabled Supporters Association, who had this message for our members:

John said "The disabled set-up at St Mirren is now among the best in Scotland and that speaks well not only of Smisa members, but of the wider fanbase.

"As co-secretary of the Scottish Disabled Supporters Association I will will seek to share the good practices and example set at St Mirren.

"This represents phase 1 of the development of the stadium as we seek to further improve the accessibility of our stadium.

"We are now UEFA compliant unlike the majority of rich English premier league clubs. When we shared the story with Cafe, the UEFA disabled organisation, they are keen to share it Europe wide as an excellent exemplar of good practice.

"We want to thank SMISA's members for using the first three months of their £2 pot to help fund the platform - it is very much appreciated."

The pictures shows SMFC chairman Gordon Scott and SMISA's fan rep director David Nicol with young fan Kyle Gunn, along with members of the SMDSA as the platform was opened at the weekend.

November Member Update

Dear SMISA member

Welcome to the latest SMISA member update, this one for the month of November. The committee have been as busy as ever and there’s a round-up of the latest below.

Director election

As you know, one of the most significant things we are working on is the election of the SMISA director to the St Mirren board.

The deadline has now passed for members to submit their applications to be a candidate. Each candidate must be nominated by at least ten members to get on the ballot and we are currently verifying the nominations we received.

The plan is for voting to start on Monday 7 November and run for two weeks. We will email you with details of how you can vote via secure online ballot once everything has been finalised.

All candidate statements will be posted on the SMISA website along with the job description, which lists in detail the responsibilities of the role.

It also lays out the skills and experience we feel someone will need in order to be effective as a fan representative and as the key link between the trust and the club.

The choice of SMISA representative on the board is obviously of crucial importance for the future operation of both the club and the trust, and we would encourage you to read all of that information fully before you cast your vote.

Latest membership numbers

The membership numbers at end October are 1,340, a very slight drop on September but a figure that continues to give us a healthy monthly income and keeps us on track to achieve the long-term goal of fan ownership of St Mirren.

In the last month we lost a few members and gained a few – it will be important we continue to pick up new members to offset any drop-outs.

We are working on some schemes which we think will help do that – but would also appeal to all members to keep spreading the word to any fellow fans who haven’t yet signed up to #BuyTheBuds about the benefits of membership and what we are trying to achieve.

People can sign up online and read five reasons to join SMISA on our website.

Disabled platform update

As you are already aware, SMISA plan to spend the contents of the members pot (containing the £2 proportion of your monthly membership) every three months.

We agreed for the first three months’ worth to part-fund the building of a project which featured prominently in our survey of member spending priorities – the disabled platform at the back of the main stand.

Work is already well under way and the platform is expected to open in the next couple of weeks, meaning disabled fans will be protected from the worst of the weather by the time the winter fixtures kick in.

The aim of the members pot is for your money to be spent on projects which make a visible difference to the club and community, and for you to decide where that money goes.

We are not aware of any fan group in Scotland doing anything else like this on such a regular basis, and are excited by what St Mirren fans will be able to achieve through this fund in the future.

Millennium champions event

When we launched the #BuyTheBuds campaign back in April one of the benefits offered to the Plus (£25 per month) members was an invite to an exclusive SMISA-run event every six months.

The first one will take place on Friday 2 December when we host An Evening with the Millennium Champions in the hospitality suite at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.

The night will look back on one of the most memorable seasons in St Mirren’s history – the 1999/2000 title win, in the company of Tom Hendrie and members of the squad, helped by some video highlights from key games.

Our Plus and Premium members have already been emailed with details of how to claim their free place for the night, but all remaining tickets will go on sale to all members from Monday 14 November at a cost of £10 (all money raised will go to youth development).

It is shaping up to be a great night and we would encourage you to make sure you don’t miss out.

Stadium clean-up

Over the past few weeks a hardy group of volunteers from within SMISA’s membership have been down at the Paisley 2021 Stadium cleaning up the Family Stand.

While the fronts of the seats are cleaned by the club each year, the backs are not, and our guys have blasted them with power-washers, as well as cleaning the stairs, banisters and the backs of the advertising boards.

Anybody sitting in that stand for the Dumbarton game on Saturday will be able to able to see the difference – there are some pictures on our Facebook page.

Our thanks go to volunteer squad members Bert Downie, Ian Mclaren, Ken Docherty, Gordon Black and SMISA committee member Jim Crawford for all their hard work.

The guys are keen to expand their numbers and if anybody has a few hours to spare and would like to join them, your help will be hugely appreciated.

The guys are now tackling the West Stand. If you would like more information about getting involved, email [email protected]

Youth academy dinner

The annual St Mirren youth academy dinner takes place on Friday 25 November at the stadium. Full details for the event are on the club website.

This year’s speakers include broadcasters Alan Rough and Peter Martin and as always, funds raised will go to support the club’s youth development.

As in previous years, SMISA has agreed to take a table for ten at the event and will meet half of the £500 cost of this from existing funds.

That means if any members want to come along, they will be able to buy a seat for £25, rather than the usual £50.

If you would like a seat, please contact [email protected] and we will put your name down on the list.

Next few games

The defeat at Morton on Tuesday was a particularly depressing one for us all – a poor performance by the team, and one they will know themselves they need to improve on.

Looking at the fixture list for November and December the team is heading for a season-defining run, with home games looming against the teams directly above us in the league.

Sometimes bad results breed bad results and the players are clearly lacking in confidence at the moment – so now more than ever they need your support to break that cycle.

We would encourage all fans to get down to the Paisley 2021 Stadium for the next couple of games and give Jack Ross and the team the backing they need to help turn the season around.

As always, if anybody has any questions or issues they want to raise, please do so via [email protected]

The SMISA committee

An evening with the Millennium Champions

It was one the most dramatic and memorable seasons in St Mirren’s history – now SMISA members will be able to relive every highlight with the men who made it happen.

Our first exclusive #BuyTheBuds members event will be An Evening With The Millennium Champions, in the corporate hospitality suite at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on Friday 2 December, from 7:30pm.

Access to the evening will work as detailed when the #BuyTheBuds campaign launched in the summer, details of which are still on our sign-up webpage.

That means it will initially only be for our Plus (£25-per-month) and Premium members – but any unclaimed places will be made available to other members.

The night will be hosted by broadcaster and Saints fan Colin Kelly, and will see manager Tom Hendrie and members of the squad reminisce about the season, helped by video highlights of key games.

SMISA members will also be able to put their own questions to the team for what we are sure will be a really lively evening.

A pay bar will be available throughout the event but given the licensing restrictions, we are afraid it is available to over-18s only

All Plus members will have until Sunday 13 November to guarantee their free place and have been emailed with details of how to do so.

Those places are only available to those who had a Plus membership as of Thursday 27 October and should not be transferred

On Monday 14 November we will make any remaining tickets available to our other members at a cost of £10 each. All money raised will be donated to St Mirren’s youth development.

This makes sure everybody who is paying a higher membership fee has the option to attend the exclusive event due to them under the terms of their membership , while giving other members the chance to take any unclaimed seats.

We don’t plan to open up the sale to non-members, but reserve the right to do so should we still have spaces close to the time.

As always, if you have any questions, please send them to us at [email protected]. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there on the night for what should be a great evening.

SMISA director election – nominations open

As you know, one of the key parts of the #BuyTheBuds campaign was that SMISA members elect one of their own to serve as a fan representative on the club board.

When Gordon Scott took over as chairman in the summer he appointed SMISA committee member David Nicol to serve on the board as a temporary SMISA representative while we put in place an election procedure.

But the plan was always to have an election before the end of the year in order for the successful candidate to be elected to the St Mirren board at the club AGM (which will likely be in December).

So we are now inviting nominations from within the membership to run for election.

This role will be vital as the voice of the fans within the boardroom but also as the link between the club and the trust.

Full information – including a job description and election rules – are available for download now via the SMISA website

Any candidates will be invited to attend SMISA’s weekly committee meetings for the duration of their candidacy, so they can familiarise themselves with the operation of the trust.

The timetable is as follows

Monday 10 October – nomination period opens

Friday 28 October – nomination period closes

Monday 7 November – voting opens

Sunday 20 November – voting closes

Of course if there are questions not covered by the webpage, you can as always ask them via email here

Kind regards

George Adam MSP

SMISA convenor and election returning officer

October Member Update

Welcome to Jack

The club this week confirmed the appointment of Jack Ross as the new manager and the SMISA committee would like to welcome Jack to the Paisley 2021 Stadium.

SMISA's man on the club board David Nicol was obviously involved in the recruitment process and we know Jack really impressed the board with his vision for the club and that they see him as a good fit for their long-term plans.

It was also encouraging to see him talking up the benefits of fan ownership in his interview on the official website today - for those who missed it, there's a good insight into his approach here.

It goes without saying supporting St Mirren hasn't been easy over the past few years and maybe the atmosphere hasn't always helped matters on the pitch.

But we now have a new manager, a new board and a new opportunity to move forward as a club. We hope all members and fans will give their full support to Jack and the team, and hopefully better days lie ahead.

Latest member numbers

Current membership numbers as of the start of October are 1344. That is slightly down on last month but we always expected that over time numbers would tail off and we budgeted on that basis.

Of the handful of cancellations, the feedback we have from those who wrote to us is that their reasons were purely down to finance.

We have been given no indication anybody has left because they are unhappy with the job we are doing or because of results on the park.

As always we would stress the work to take the club into majority fan ownership is a long-term project which will take years to save up for, and that means we need a long-term commitment from as many members to stay the course as possible.

First £2 pot spend

One of the key ways we will be keeping everybody engaged is by spending the £2 proportion of your monthly membership, which we plan to do every three months.

We wrote to you last week with the results of the survey we ran on your priorities and the feedback from that will be used to inform future spending decisions.

As we explained in that update, the bulk of the £8,500 raised through the first three months of #BuyTheBuds money will be used to make up the shortfall (estimated at £6,000-7,000) on the club’s planned disabled platform at the back of the main stand.

But we asked the members to vote on where the remainder of the money should go – either into youth development or to be left in the pot for future investment.

Voting closed earlier in the week and the results were as follows:

Option 1 (Spend on Youth Academy)
43% 325

Option 2 (Carry funds over)
57% 430

Director election

As you know, one of the key points of the #BuyTheBuds campaign is that you the members can elect one of your own to represent you on the club board.

SMISA committee member David Nicol has been doing this role for the past couple of months but it was always our plan to hold an election to be concluded before the club AGM at the end of the year.

We have now produced a set of election rules, along with a timetable detailing how the process will unfold over the next couple of months.

The first stage of that will be a nomination period where any interested members will be able to put themselves forward to go on to the ballot.

The full set of election rules, including details of how to nominate yourself, will be sent out later this week, along with a job description outlining the expected duties of a SMISA rep on the club board.

Volunteer call to action

Something both the SMISA committee and Gordon Scott are keen to investigate is how to harness the membership’s collective power to volunteer on projects which will help the club and community.

The club have approached us with a couple of projects which they need some extra pairs of hands on and have asked if SMISA members are willing to provide them.

The first project involves the possibility of the club installing an electronic advertising billboard on land at the north end of the stadium, which could be a very lucrative income stream.

However the companies who operate these boards will only install one if they know there will be a certain amount of traffic at that location each day.

So to find out if this idea is feasible, the club is looking for a number of volunteers to work in shifts to help electronically count the vehicles at that spot over the course of one day (note - this is likely to be a weekday).

If you were able to spare an hour or two and would like to register an interest in this or any future volunteering opportunities, please send an email to [email protected] and we will be in touch with more detail when we have it.

If there was sufficient interest, this could be the start of a SMISA volunteer pool of people who use their collective skills to work on various club and community projects as and when required.

This could be ideal for members who are perhaps retired and willing to give up some time to, or those who are looking for something to add to their CV.

SMiSA Members Discretionary Spend Ballot

Dear members

As you know we wrote to a few weeks back with a link to an online survey asking where you would like to see SMISA invest the £2 proportion of your monthly membership fee.

The plan is to spend the pot every three months and what you told us in the survey will help inform future decisions over how we do that.

The survey is now closed but more than 550 of you took the time to fill it out – and your feedback was hugely helpful.

There were a couple of questions – the first one asked you to rank a number of areas by importance and the second to submit any ideas you had for specific projects.

We’ve now been through the results and you can see the full answers to the first question through this link

As you can see, the youth academy was your top priority, but there was also broad support for investment in club facilities of different kinds.

On the whole, members are happy to see money spent on St Mirren-related community projects although other areas were given higher priority.

Investment in the first-team squad was the one area which split opinion – 31% of you didn’t feel it was a suitable use of the money but almost 70% did, with 44% calling it important or very important.

Clearly we won’t be able to keep everybody happy on that point, but we could in future suggest first-team investment alongside other options and ask members to vote – that way the membership as a whole decide if the money goes there or not.

The second question saw some interesting feedback and some really good ideas and we have already had an initial chat with Gordon about how some of them might work in future.

We grouped the answers to those questions together to pick out key themes and three came out as the most mentioned.

As you might expect, youth development and the first team budget were two, and the other which repeatedly came up was investment in disabled facilities.

Leaving the money in the pot to allow bigger investment in the future was another suggestion some of you made and that may be an option we offer at various points.

But for now we have the question of what to do with the first three months of money – there is £8,500 available from the July, August and September income.

As part of the process we asked the club where they wanted investment – and their number one priority is for us to make a contribution towards the disabled platform they plan to build at the back of the main stand.

Currently, wheelchair-bound fans are housed at the front of the stands, and there is a lack of shelter during bad weather – a long-standing issue the new board have committed to fix.

This work would also allow the stadium to regain UEFA Gold Licence status – an honour it lost when the criteria for a raised disabled platform was added.

The club has the necessary permissions in place and has managed to secure some of the funding for this project but not all.

The total project cost is yet to be finalised but they reckon the shortfall will be around £6,000-7,000 and have asked if SMISA can meet that.

All things considered it seems the obvious place for this first tranche of #BuyTheBuds money to go – we want member money to go into visible projects which will make a difference to fans and this strikes us as a perfect example.

There will be points in the future where we will offer members a choice of projects and ask you to pick between them – but in this case we felt that wasn’t needed when there was only one thing the club asked us to fund and lots of our members are telling us they want that very project.

So we are proposing to make the full £8,500 available to the club to cover as much as they need to complete the platform – however we would like the members to decide what should happen with however much of that is left over.

There are two choices we would invite you to vote on –

1) Make £8,500 available for the disabled platform and put any leftover sum into the St Mirren youth academy budget

2) Make £8,500 available for the disabled platform and keep any leftover sum in the SMISA £2 pot for spending at a future date.

You will be able to cast your vote via secure online ballot and you will receive a separate email with a link allowing you to do so. If you have any issues accessing the ballot or didn't receive it please contact us.

Voting will close at midnight on Sunday 2 October and we will email members with the results.

We and the club will be working behind the scenes to cost some other projects for possible inclusion in future spending rounds – the next one will likely be in January.

As always, if you have any questions you can contact us via [email protected]

Kyle Gunn interviews SMISA director David Nicol

Saints fan and budding journalist Kyle Gunn recently caught up with David Nicol, SMISA’s representatives on the St Mirren board, and wrote this article for us. Thanks to Kyle for taking the time to do so...

I began the interview by asking David how it feels to be on the board of directors as the SMiSA representative. He told me: “I'm very proud to be the first fans board representative. It's still quite surreal to be in the boardroom. 

“I have been a Saints fan since I was a boy, but sadly was never good enough to make it as a player, so this is definitely the next best thing!”

So what ideas does David have club going forward? “I think the most crucial thing we have to do is ensure stability while we transition from the old board to the new board. 

“I believe we can do a lot more to take advantage of our location and proximity to the airport, and this is something we are actively pursuing.

“Given the recent issues, I would also like to see the club review the kit supply options when the current contract expires. It's important to balance the commercial aspects of the deal with the service and quality that the fans get.” 

David couldn't comment any further on the strip situation, apart from to say “the board is aware that this is not a good experience for the fans and will be picking up with JD”

David then went on to explain what his role on the board will be. He said: ”More generally my role is to be the link between the fans and the board, so if fans have ideas for revenue generation I can bring these to the board for consideration. 

“Not every idea will be taken forward, but Gordon and the board are ready to try new approaches and are open to new ideas.”

In terms of what David hopes he can bring to the the role “Short term, I will establish the relationship between SMiSA and the board, and develop the role of the supporters board rep. 

“I need to work out exactly how the club and SMiSA will interact and manage any areas of disagreement/crossover. We want SMiSA and the club working hand in hand and working towards common goals.

“We will need to outline the process for electing the fans director and agree this with the club. We also have to finalise the process for how the discretionary funds will be spent. 

“As the first supporters board rep I also want to write the 'job description' for my successors. The club expects (and needs!) the supporters elected director to actively contribute to the club’s operations and strategic goals, over the next few months I will outline what the expectations are to give potential future representatives an idea of what will be expected of them.

As a time scale for the above goals David said “Ideally I would like to have the above in place over the next three to four months.”

David ended the interview with this message for the Saints fans “I think the most important thing is for the fans to get behind the new owners. The old board did a great job, but by their admission, the club needed a change.

“We have given fans a real voice in the new ownership structure. It will take a bit of time to get things right, but the guys on the board are working hard to make things better.”

Thank you to David for his honesty throughout the interview.

August Membership Update

Welcome to the latest update from the trust committee.

It’s now been around six weeks since our joint bid for the club with Gordon Scott went through and we’ve continued to be busy behind the scenes.

It’s been a massive transition for us, with our member numbers going from 200 to nearly 1,400 and our annual income from four figures to six, but we feel we now have the back-end admin and financial processes we need in place to deal with that increase in workload.

Our member numbers have held pretty steady throughout August and as of the end of the month were sitting at 1,370.

Along the way we have lost a few and gained a few and we expect that is how it will be – we know from our discussions with friends at the Foundation of Hearts that numbers will vary.

Obviously it is important we maintain our numbers as the years go on and we aim to do that by showing members the benefit their money is having on St Mirren and the local community.

The £2 per month members pot

With that in mind, we will soon be in a position to start investing your cash in the club.

As we told you last month, the plan is to spend the £2 ringfenced from each member’s monthly subscription on a quarterly basis.

The September subscriptions will be the third tranche of #BuyTheBuds money, meaning we will have in the region of £8,000 to invest in the club as the members choose at some point soon.

The plan is for the SMISA committee to speak to the club about their priorities for investment, to survey members over their priorities and ideas, and compile all of that into several costed spending options through which members will vote via secure online ballot.

We are still finalising the details of the exact procedure through which we will do this, but will be in touch with members soon regarding the next steps.

SMISA director and club matters

As you know, SMISA committee member David Nicol is now on the board of the club. Dave’s feedback from the first of the board meetings is that they have been really positive and that Gordon Scott in particular has lots of ideas he wants to implement at the club.

On club matters, it is important to again stress that SMISA is not directly responsible for club business – the club board control club operations, as has always been the case.

But the benefit to having a SMISA rep on the board is that we have a man in the room who can raise issues which matter to our members.

If there is something you wish Dave to raise for possible consideration at a club board meeting then let us know via [email protected]

We would also remind you that Dave’s appointment is only temporary for the time being – we plan to hold an election before the end of the year where members will choose who will do the job over the longer-term.

Open meeting – 5 September

To give members a chance to speak directly with the SMISA committee and to raise any issues they wish to discuss, we will be having a drop-in session during one of our regular meetings.

We will be in the back room at Saporito Coffee in Gauze Street, Paisley, on Monday 5 September between 7 and 8pm.

If there is anything you want to talk to us about, please pop by.

Events and benefits update

We ran our first public event since #BuyTheBuds became reality when more than 100 fans joined us for a fan party in the library cafe at the University of the West of Scotland after the Morton game.

Gordon Scott, Alex Rae and Tony Fitzpatrick joined us and addressed the crowd, as did SMISA chair George Adam and director Dave Nicol.

We want to thank everybody for coming along, as well as UWS for hosting and Billy Gray for being DJ on the night.

We have also started to roll out the benefits due to those who signed up the #BuyTheBuds through the £2,500 premium package – with some of those members joining the squad during the official team photo last week.

Some of the £25 per month members have also been picked to enjoy directors guest lounge access at the Paisley 2021 Stadium for home games.

Paul Wycherley was the man chosen from the hat for the Hibs game and we'll announce the winner for the the Queen of the South game on Saturday 10th shortly.

We are also working on plans for the first of the exclusive £25 per month members events, and hope to have more free events for all members at some point too.

In the meantime, you can contact us via [email protected] if there are any queries.

The SMISA Committee

 

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