St Mirren have not threatened to be more than a mid-table side during the 2015/16 season, but the upturn of fortunes since the arrival of new manager Alex Rae at the end of last year has given fans cause for optimism ahead of a new campaign. The Buddies have won nine of the 18 games in the Championship since Rae took charge, while talented young midfielder Stevie Mallan has showcased the form that earned him a call up to the Scottish national side, with 14 goals in all competitions.
In another boost to the club, the situation off the pitch also appears to be improving as supporters moved a step closer to taking a majority ownership via a subscription scheme. Lifelong Saints fan Gordon Scott and the St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMISA) have had a joint offer accepted in principle, which will see ex-director Scott paying a bulk sum of around £1 million. Around 1,000 fans will then need to pay £12 a month via the loan scheme. The Buddies have been up for sale for seven years, so a conclusion to the long-running saga will surely aid a bid for promotion next season.
Mallan has been the star performer this year, and he has been ably supported by the likes of Jamie Langfield, Rocco Quinn and Andy Webster, who could all form the spine of a potentially successful team in 2016/17. However, there will be need to be further additions to the squad in order to strengthen it as the Championship is likely to be hotly contested and more competitive during the next 12 months. The Saints are likely to look for a proven goal scorer to take the pressure off Mallan and replace Lawrence Shankland, who is set to return to Aberdeen when his loan spell ends.
St Mirren will also have to fill the void left by Steven Thompson. The 37-year-old captain and forward revealed in early April that he would finally be hanging up his boots after an illustrious playing career, which included a League Cup final victory with the Buddies back in 2013. Alex Rae has revealed that plans to recruit players are now taking shape after the team’s safety was secured, adding that it was important to “bring in the right types” in order to take the club forward. The former Wolves and Sunderland midfielder also hinted that certain deals for players at the club could be agreed during the next month, ahead of the summer recruiting campaign.
St Mirren fans are cautiously optimistic about their team’s chances for 2016/17, but their chances to sustain a promotion push will largely be down to Rae’s ability to successfully oversee a major overhaul of the current playing squad on a tight budget while retaining the club’s brightest prospects and influential performers. However, Leicester City’s fairytale run to Premier League glory this season should give hope to all clubs in England and Scotland that success may never be too far away.