As I start to get to grips with my new role as Chairman I am very aware of the speculation and debate, on social media and elsewhere, regarding the capacity permitted at the stadium currently.
I’m sure you agree that the safety of our supporters, staff and players are of paramount importance.
Our safety team has spent a considerable amount of time trying to maximise the capacity whilst remaining compliant with current COVID-19 rules. They have spoken to other clubs to examine their processes, ground layout and systems as well as working closely with Renfrewshire Council regarding the delivery of matches at the SMiSA Stadium.
However, as a result of our seating layout we have to leave two seats free between supporters. We also can only use every second row (7 out of 14).
Additionally, with upgrade work at the St Mirren Training Ground taking place, the Main Stand is a Red Zone area as this is in use every day by the players as their training base. There is currently no way of segregating part of the Main Stand to allow supporters to sit there for matches.
I understand why comparisons are drawn with other clubs. However, these comparisons are not like for like. Tony and the team are working to improve longstanding infrastructure issues within the stadium. These are being dealt with as fast as possible and I am hopeful that they will be resolved imminently.
Unfortunately this means our plan must remain the same until 9 August. I anticipate fresh guidance coming out soon that will apply after 9 August. I don’t know what that will look like but I hope to see a lifting of restrictions for fans which will enable us to welcome back our supporters en masse. Meantime our capacity will remain at 1039 for the first home league match of the season. I’m really sorry that this is the case and can only ask that you bear with us meantime.
To ensure we use every one of those 1039 seats I ask that anyone that has entered or is planning to enter the ballot for the Hearts game on 7 August only does so if they plan to attend.
Disappointingly I have learnt of instances of staff being abused by fans in recent days. St Mirren FC has a zero tolerance stance on abuse of any form. The staff team have been working tirelessly to resolve issues with tickets and to manage ballots in extremely difficult circumstances. The past year has been hard for all football fans, but it has also been hard for the staff and I would ask for your understanding and support as we complete the systems changes that will make us more professional and efficient in future.
I would also personally like to thank the staff who have been working hard behind the scenes to manage significant change within the club. This includes the team responsible for upgrading the stadium and those who have implemented the new ticketing system in a very short period of time. That process was planned to be conducted over a number of months but had to be condensed into 2 weeks when we learnt of the impending failure of the previous supplier. Despite this your support has been magnificent again and we have around 2800 season tickets sold to date. Thank You! The early Bird offer remains available until 9 August.
Finally I want to assure you that everyone at the Club shares your desire to have you all back at the stadium as soon as possible.