Friday 23rd June
As Saints prepare to embark on a European adventure, Saints Chairman Steve Brown is relishing the early start to the new season and says these are great times to be a Saints supporter.
Steve said: “It’s been a short close season but it’s fantastic that we are going to be getting underway for the new season with European football at McDiarmid Park. These matches always provide a very unique atmosphere at the stadium with the mix of summer weather, unfamiliar opponents and a healthy crowd making for a great occasion.
“I’m delighted that Lithuania seems to be proving a reasonably accessible location for the fans to get to and it looks like we’ll be taking a decent support across to Vilnius. Hopefully local people will turn out for the home tie at McDiarmid Park too – these are great times for football in Perth.”
Saints will be backed by a good number of supporters in Vilnius with many making their own way to the Lithuanian capital via various routes while others will join the team and officials on a club charter.
Brown continued: “Once again it has proved very difficult to source a chartered aircraft and crew in Europe at this time of the year and although we have managed to secure a 95 seater, weight restrictions means we are not allowed to fill 15 of those seats which is very frustrating. Over 100 fans expressed a desire to join us on the charter and sadly we have only been able to take a small proportion of that number by way of a ballot. Hopefully those who we have been unable to accommodate will still be able to make their own way to the game.
Turning his attention to team matters, the Chairman continued: “We’re delighted to have been successful in our pursuit of Stefan Scougall. He will bring a spark to the team and I’m working hard with Tommy to secure other targets. Our ambition remains undiminished.”
Responding to personal criticism of him from departed defender Tom Scobbie who has signed for Dundee United after failing to agree a new deal in Perth, the Saints Chairman was philosophical.
“As much as anything I was disappointed by the timing of the comments. On a day when the thoughts of all Saints fans were on the excitement of the European draw there was the distraction of a story from a player who claims to have Saints’ best interests at heart.
“As much as I accept that he was part of a successful squad, he only started 18 out of 46 competitive games last season and over the course of his five seasons with us he was in the starting line-up in less than half of the games. With this in mind we tried to structure a deal which, although it did reduce his basic wage, offered a higher reward for him starting matches so that if he played he wouldn’t be worse off. We were only offering him a one year deal after consulting and agreeing with Tommy.
“It’s not new though. Anyone who knows this club and how it is run knows that we will always endeavour to balance the expenditure with the limited income we have and so to sign a quality player like Stefan Scougall – who we have pushed the boat out for – it stands to reason you have to try and balance the financial scales. That’s what I saw us attempting to do with someone who was a squad player and in my opinion that was a sensible way to address it.
“It’s worth noting that among the numerous contract renewals we secured in the early spring, there are other players who have restructured their deals in order to remain at the Club and I’m delighted with their outlook and understanding.
“However, as with all players who leave St Johnstone, I thank Thomas for his contribution and wish him well for the future.”
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