St Mirren FC is taken over through a “unique” fan-ownership structure with charity

ST MIRREN have completed a five year operation 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 in what it called “a historic day”.

The move to fan ownership of the Paisley club which is in the Scottish Premiership comes in conjunction with the Paisley-based social care charity and leading social enterprise Kibble, who last year bought a 27 percent stake to become part-owners of the club.

SMISA say 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”.

SMISA say the 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.

They say it has allowed SMISA to complete the transition to fan ownership in five years rather than the original 10-year plan set out in 2016.

It says 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 the association 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 SMISA say that although the club is now owned by its fans, the day-to-day operations will continue to be run by chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick and the St Mirren staff.

Scott Wardrop 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.

HeraldScotland:

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.”

In November, last year the club said that St Mirren’s home was being renamed The SMISA Stadium in a show of recognition for the club’s fans as they start the final countdown to becoming its majority owners.

After that, the fans group were to take its shareholding in the club to 51% by buying the club chairman Gordon Scott’s remaining shares.

The club said the purchase had been due to complete by the end of 2021, but had been agreed this would happen sooner than planned.

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.”

HeraldScotland:

As of February, 2020, Kibble were classed as one of two that had “significant control” of the club according to Companies House with more than 25% but not more than 50% of the shares.

Kibble, which specialises in the care of young people who have experienced trauma, in 2019 agreed to take over a vital service for vulnerable young people which has been threatened with closure.

Kibble chief executive and St Mirren vice-chairman Jim Gillespie added: “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.”

The club board agreed the stadium-naming gesture to thank SMISA’s 1,150-plus members – whose monthly membership fees have been saved towards the share purchase since 2016.

The #BuyTheBuds deal had initially been expected to take ten years to complete but the club said last month that it was expecpted to be delivered because of the partnership.

That partnership was overwhelmingly approved by SMISA’s members during a vote in February.

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!”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992