HAS a club ever had the spectre of relegation hanging over them for so long and yet still emerged at the end of the season with optimism not only intact but renewed? St Mirren may well be sailing into uncharted territory with this one.

It is a campaign Gordon Scott certainly won’t forget in a hurry. Ushered in as chairman last summer after fronting a joint takeover bid with the supporters trust, Scott has experienced a maiden season in charge like no other. It involved sacking a manager after just six league games, appointing a promising but largely untested replacement, and then allowing the new man to effectively build a squad from scratch midway through the season.

All three decisions were bold but ultimately vindicated. Jack Ross took a bit of time to find his feet after replacing Alex Rae as manager at the start of October but it was a 3-0 home loss to Queen of the South three months on that proved the watershed moment. Struggling at the foot of the Championship and looking destined for the drop, Ross calmly but assuredly made clear that there would be need to be wholesale changes were St Mirren to survive.

He got his way. Ten players left, and 10 arrived during a blur of January transfer window activity. The changes all worked. Defeats turned to draws and then to victories. By the end of the season, St Mirren had not only got themselves off the foot of the table but avoided the relegation play-off place, too. It was quite a transformation.

They are not finished there, however. Such has been their form in recent months, that already there are noises from within the St Mirren camp that perhaps they ought to be putting in a challenge at the other end of the table next season. Scott did not discourage such a notion.

“You can see from how we played in the second half of this season what our ambitions have to be next year,” he told Herald Sport. “With a couple of tweaks and additions we will hopefully only get stronger. We’ve been one of the form teams in the division over the last few months and that tells you what we would hope to achieve next year.

“Jack wants to keep the squad together as much as possible. I know the way he likes to work and the players he’s got just now he’s happy with. He doesn’t want to go through another window like January again. So we’ll be making every effort we can to keep those players who are going out of contract or who were on loan. Jack has spoken to them and they want to stay so we’ll have discussions over the next week or so and see where it takes us.”

Scott is a successful businessman with ties to the construction and real estate industries but a lifelong St Mirren fan, too. Perhaps unusually for a club chairman, he believes watching an entertaining team is just as important as a winning one.

“I’ve already spoken to people about next season and it’s amazing the amount of folk who say they want us to win the league and they don’t care how we achieve that,” he added. “Personally, I want to enjoy my football. Of course I want us to do well and be competitive but watching entertaining football is a really big thing for me and Jack has certainly brought that back over the last few months.

“The fans are enjoying it and coming back in their numbers. Everyone talks about league reconstruction, cutting prices or other changes but the only way to get people in the door is to play entertaining football. And if you can do that people will get behind you.”

Off the field, however, work continues apace. Years of neglect around the club have meant a season of “firefighting” for Scott and his staff but they are gradually restoring order.

“The foundations of the club were weak when we took over,” he admitted. “In terms of maintenance, nothing had been done for the last seven years. When I walked in the door I didn’t expect to have to change the manager so quickly or a load of other things. But doing all these things should make us stronger going forward.”

There is a connection between the club and its fans now that transcends results on a Saturday. Better communication and a feeling of unity have been key to that, too, something that wasn’t always the case under the previous regime.

“It’s been about creating a football club again with everyone in it together, rather than the club and the fans being two separate bodies,” added Scott. “Even in the early days when things weren’t going well everybody I met told me, “We know what you are trying to do so stick with it”. And that was very heartening as there had been times when I was almost scared to go out in Paisley for a beer as you were wondering what the reaction might be.

“But people realised the club had been on a downwards spiral for a few years so turning that around wasn’t going to happen overnight. We’ve changed a lot in a season and, perhaps most importantly, I like to think we’ve done it in conjunction with the supporters. The bond between them, the manager and the players has never been better.”