ST MIRREN is a club paralysed by inertia.
Needing to be purposeful and take command of their destiny, they instead find themselves drifting helplessly towards a grim and potentially wounding fate.
Without a belated show of leadership, the Paisley club could soon find themselves without a manager, shorn of most of their senior players, and relegated to the second tier of Scottish football for the first time in eight years. A season in the SPFL Championship alongside Rangers, Hearts et al would bring fleeting financial rewards but getting back out again would prove no easy task.
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Uncertainty hangs over St Mirren at every level. The club has been up for sale for four-and-a-half years now but a buyer willing and able to meet the asking price - around £1.5m for a 52% majority shareholding - is yet to be found. There are some among the selling consortium who have been involved with St Miren at directorial level for more than 16 years. It has been a tumultuous ride, with the club's very existence in danger at one stage, but they have come through it unscathed. They enjoyed an element of good fortune when Tesco bought their old Love Street ground and paid for the construction of a new stadium half a mile away, thus clearing the club's £2m debt in one fell swoop. Interestingly, the land that Tesco wanted so badly - and that required Renfrewshire Council to overturn the recommendations of their own planning department - still lies empty to this day.
Debt-free, with a new stadium and training ground, and a team in the then Scottish Premier League, St Mirren seemed an attractive proposition. Serious offers, however, have been thin on the ground. A fans-led bid had several attempts to gather momentum but couldn't generate sufficient interest, their case hampered, ironically, by the fact the club had been run on such prudent grounds. Many supporters looked at the job being done by the current board and saw no real reason to change it. There were a couple of offers from those with the club at heart. Former director Gordon Scott, omitted from the selling consortium, had a bid turned down, while Billy Davies, a former player and Paisley resident, also made enquiries. That has left only speculators and opportunists. Buying a Scottish football club in the current climate could scarcely be considered an investment vehicle but there have been sniffs of interest from a number of groups, mostly based overseas, their intentions unknown.
Of late there has been sustained interest from a Swiss group, and another led by Jim Methven, the former Cowdenbeath chairman. Chairman Stewart Gilmour has been coy about either of these deals materialising but it seems the prospect of an imminent sale has influenced the actions of the selling consortium. After all, if you think you're about to hand over the keys to your house you are probably less inclined to start ripping out the bathroom suite and sticking in a new one.
This sense of waiting for change has had major implications for the manager. St Mirren have endured another fraught season spent largely trying to stave off relegation. That has led to intense speculation at various points that Danny Lennon was on the brink of being sacked - an issue that has even split the board on occasion. He has remained in situ perhaps as a reward for delivering the club's first trophy in 26 years, or maybe because the directors felt a takeover was just around the corner and thought it better to let the new owners decide for themselves who they wanted as manager.
Lennon has survived a wretched campaign but uncertainty still stalks him. His four-year contract signed after he was prised from Cowdenbeath in 2010 will shortly come to an end and there has been no sign of an extension. In this age of rolling contracts, it is difficult to recall too many managers simply having their deals run out in Bosman fashion but that is what awaits Lennon. Publically he has insisted it is not affecting his thinking as he tries to navigate St Mirren away from possible relegation danger but it would only be natural if his future was preying on his mind. A manager not sacked, not resigning, and not even "mutually consented" - simply manager one day, not the next - would surely be a new one for Scottish top-flight football.
It is not only Lennon who waits to discover his fate. The majority of the senior players, including captain Jim Goodwin, Marian Kello, David van Zanten, Paul McGowan, Kenny McLean and Gary Teale, are also out of contract in the summer and wait to hear whether they will be kept on. There has been plenty of upheaval on the playing side of things in recent years - very few of Lennon's recent signings have worked out - but whoever is manager next season could be facing a summer spent building an entire squad around a sprinkling of promising young players who have been sensibly locked up for the long term.
The message of late has been the same from the boardroom, dug-out and dressing room: off-field uncertainty is not influencing on-field performances. A run of eight defeats in nine matches, however, tells a different story.