St Mirren will next year become Scotland’s latest fan-owned club after supporters overwhelmingly backed plans to do so via a unique partnership with a Renfrewshire charity.

It was announced today that 91.6% members of the St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMISA) who voted were in favour of a deal which will see the fan group take their stake in the club to 51% by the end of 2021.

As part of the deal, Paisley-based charity Kibble will immediately buy a further 27.5% from current owner Gordon Scott, who will continue as club chairman.

The link-up between SMISA, Kibble and St Mirren is believed to be unique, with the Buddies becoming the first UK league club to be part-owned by and run in partnership with a major charity.

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Kibble, which operates across Scotland and provides specialist services to support young people, has been based in Paisley since 1840.

It will provide support services and commercial expertise to help St Mirren grow as a business, while creating training and employment opportunities for the young people in its care.

SMISA had already agreed a deal to buy Mr Scott’s shares and deliver majority fan ownership of the club by 2026, with monthly members fees being saved up for the deal.

But with Kibble buying the other shares, fan ownership can now be delivered sooner.

SMISA’s near-1,200 members have been voting on the deal over the past fortnight, with members quizzing representatives of SMISA, Kibble and St Mirren at a public meeting earlier this month, where club chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick and manager Jim Goodwin spoke in favour of the deal.

Paisley MSP George Adam, who is also SMISA chairman, said: “This is a historic and proud day not just for our club but for everyone in Paisley.

“We started the journey towards fan ownership four years ago because we knew there could be no better people to safeguard St Mirren forever than the ones who will care for it most – the fans.

“This deal agreed today not only delivers that ahead of schedule but it strengthens it – our partners Kibble will help the club grow, as a business and as a force for good in the Paisley community.

“The overwhelming nature of the vote shows the extent to which SMISA’s members have bought into what this partnership will create and we are excited by the possibilities for St Mirren.”

Kibble chief executive Jim Gillespie added: “With Kibble’s roots in Paisley stretching back almost 200 years, this deal brings together two of Paisley’s oldest organisations.

“We are thrilled SMISA’s members have given us such a show of support and we plan to repay that by working together with SMISA, Gordon and the rest of the St Mirren board and staff to see where our expertise can help the club move forward.

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“Crucially, this partnership will help change the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in Scotland by allowing us to step up our young workforce development programme to provide training and job opportunities based around the club’s facilities and operations.”

Mr Scott said: “When I took over as chairman four years ago, it was always with the aim of passing the shares to the fans when the time was right.

“That day will arrive much sooner than we initially planned but I believe this is the right model, with the right partner, to build on the good work the current board has already done and take St Mirren to the next level on and off the park.

“The new expertise Kibble will bring will allow us to find new ways to bring income into the club and I and others on the board can’t wait to get started on working with them to do that.”

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