From St Mirren Park to St Mirren Park
The suggestion of Saints moving away from their spiritual home on Love Street began way back in the 1980's with suggestions about a possible move to Linwood as part of a national stadium development. This all fell through and Saints remained at Love Street for another 20 years or so.
At the beginning of the 21st Century Saints found themselves with increasing debts and no scope to redevelop Love Street to modern standards and again a move away from their home of over 100 years was being mentioned. It became obvious that in order to free the club from the debt and allow it to progress, the ground would have to be sold, or Saints were in very real danger of going bust.
In January 2003 the Saints chairman Stewart Gilmour held a meeting with supermarket chain Morrisons, with a view to selling the Love Street ground for a retail development. The search was also on for a suitable new site for a stadium which would be state of the art and fulfill all the needs of a top class football club and it's community.
As talks progressed with Morrisons, Saints had to lobby the local council to get the site at Love Street re-designated for retail use, which was by no means a foregone conclusion. Having identified the site at Greenhill Road, they also began detailed survey work to ensure it was suitable for purpose.
It was to take almost two years before any major progress was made in the process, when Saints application for Love Street to be re-designated was heard by the council. It was on the 24th May 2005 when hundreds of Saints fans waited patiently outside the council headquarters in Cotton Street, awaiting the result of the vote. There was no indication beforehand which way the vote would go and it was a long wait before the result was announced to the waiting crowds. Eventually, amid much cheering, a 9-5 vote in favour of Saints proposals was announced. Saints were saved!
The fans await the verdict...
Chairman Stewart Gilmour emerges with the good news
This decision was ratified by the Scottish Executive in August 2005 and then the way was clear for Saints to begin the negotiation for the sale of their existing stadium and the planning of their new home. Again there were many delays and it was not until April 2007 that the chairman made the announcement that the stadium had been sold, not to Morrisons, but to their rivals Tesco, in a deal that would see a new, fully SPL compliant stadium built at Greenhill Road.
St Mirren's debts would be cleared and they would move into the new ground, debt free and on a very secure financial footing. A shrewd piece of business by the board and one that has assured the future of the club for many years to come. Work began on the new stadium in December 2007 and was completed on schedule in time for the move at the end of January 2009.