Over the last week or so St Mirren Lotto and Black and White magazine subscribers have received a letter outlining new plans for the Black and White magazine.
In its various guises the Black and White magazine has been around for the biggest part of the last two decades but in recent years costs to the Club and competition from other lotteries have combined to make the lotto and magazine less effective as a stream of income. So, St Mirren fan Jack Paterson – whose company, Saltire Graphics edit, produce and publish the Black and White magazine – got into talks with the Club on how to take it forward, to make it more cost effective, and to help it increase its fundraising capabilities for St Mirren Football Club.
A new way forward has been put in place and Jack reckons it is a win-win situation for all involved.
He said, “Up until now the Club incurred all the costs after the delivery of the magazine to the stadium but under the new system all the costs will be met outside of the Club but the magazine’s status as an official St Mirren Football Club magazine will remain the same.
“Nothing in the production chain will have changed, the only thing that will have changed is the way that the costs are tackled. I’ve read one or two suggestions online that this is all going to be run away from the Club, it won’t be, it will be exactly the same as it was before.
“The big difference this time around is that we will be building in a marketing budget. This will be generated by the efficiencies and savings that we make. That will enable us to help increase the membership with the profits from the members going to the Club. We’ve done our sums and the figures all add up.”
Under the new system the Club will continue to gain revenue and that will be streamed towards the Club’s Academy.
Jack explained, “The system will continue to make money for the Club and once things settle Saints will be even better off than in the past. All the stuff the Club had to spend money on like envelopes, labels, packing and postage will be met before the profit is passed on to the Club, in effect the Club will do nothing except collect the profits.
“The profit that goes back to the Club will be ring-fenced for the Academy and Youth Development Programme.”
The Black and White magazine is a unique publication within Scottish Football and Jack felt it important that the magazine was still St Mirren’s.
He said, “It has taken a few months to resolve it all due to things that have been happening elsewhere but we are now where we need to be. We also have a new team on board to expand the magazine, a magazine that is about all things St Mirren and is written by St Mirren fans. We are the only club in Scotland that has anything like this magazine.
“The way we have planned the magazine to evolve will ensure that its long term future is secure, so long as we retain most of our existing membership . We have a new committee that will actively grow that membership and be run under the auspices of the St Mirren Development Association. So nobody should be in any doubt that this is still an official Club magazine.”
In the 21st century there is the temptation to go down the totally electronic route and while Jack is keeping an eye on future media developments he feels for now the printed version is the right road to go.
He said, “There is no doubt that we live in the computer age and there is nothing wrong with online editions of publications. I think things like the Kindle and e-readers are great but what you have on them isn’t physical.
“We acknowledge this and no doubt it is something that we will look at in due course but in the short term at least part of the attraction of the magazine is that it is collectible and tactile; you can touch it and smell the ink. The real point about the magazine is that it is a paper magazine, which perhaps is maybe old fashioned but that gives it a value and a collectability factor. That is the main reason for sticking with that format for the moment, after all collecting data files just does not have the same ring to it.”
So now that Jack has the go ahead for the next generation of the Black and White magazine the wheels are now in motion to get the next edition out before the end of summer.
He said, “The magazine has been a constant for around 16 years and it has been on hand during relegations and promotions, it has seen managers and players come and go, witnessed crises at the Club and seen Boards and Directors change – while all these things have changed we are still here.
“What we have to do now is to take that forward. Why are we doing this? Well we’ve been doing it so long now that we would genuinely miss it anyway. It’s also very enjoyable although the return to bi-monthly will ramp up the workload. At work I tend to squeeze it in to the daily grind. I’ve written stuff in the Asda cafe, waiting outside railway stations and on holiday over the years but now it will return to a systematic schedule.
“We will not lose money on it but we certainly won’t get rich either. We cover the travel costs and the like, so if Gordian goes to Dundee or Ayr for an interview then that cost is not passed on to the Club. We also do it because we are all St Mirren supporters and for me that is more than just going along and cheering the team on every Saturday. It is a sense of place and a sense of purpose, Paisley against the world if you like. Saints are a big part of our lives and that is why the Black and White magazine has got value.
“We want the fans to engage with us and the Club so we are going back to a bi-monthly magazine which will be produced at no cost to the Club. We are basically asking present subscribers to do nothing which means they aren’t opting out. That will allow us to move on and progress this with the plan that we have put in place.
“Our first aim is to get the first magazine out sometime in August and then from there every eight weeks. After that readers should hear the latest edition of the Black and White magazine falling through their letterboxes like clockwork.”