Lifelong Buddie John Needham has vowed to use his experience as a fan and a financial heavyweight to take St Mirren to the next level.

The former RBS chief was given the backing of St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMISA) members in a recent vote and now joins David Riley in representing the fans in the boardroom, as well as helping to steer the club through the Covid-19 crisis.

Paisley-born Needham has been following Saints home and away for more than 50 years and believes he has become a director at one of the most crucial stages in the club’s history.

SMISA is on course to become majority owners of St Mirren next year when they buy out the remainder of chairman Gordon Scott’s shares to start a new era in partnership with local charity Kibble.

And Needham believes it is an exciting time to be getting involved as he helps the current board navigate their way through the difficulties posed by coronavirus towards the realisation of fan ownership in 2021.

In his first interview with the press, he told Express Sport: “I’ve been a St Mirren supporter all my life so the opportunity to join the board was a really exciting one.

“It was a real honour to be chosen for the post and to receive the backing of the SMISA members. I will endeavour to represent them, and the St Mirren support as a whole, the best I can in everything I do.

“We are obviously in the midst of an unprecedented situation with Covid-19 and so our immediate priority as a club is to ensure that we deal with that and get through it the best we can.

“Looking beyond that, however, I genuinely believe there is so much untapped potential at the club to grow St Mirren’s operations off the pitch so that we can ultimately invest more in the playing squad.

“Working alongside Kibble, Gordon, chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick and the rest of the board, I am confident that once things start to approach some kind of normality again, we will start to see what can be achieved as we look to explore new commercial opportunities, improve facilities for supporters and reach out more to the wider community in Renfrewshire and beyond.

“Throughout my 40-year career at RBS, I was able to develop a wide-ranging commercial skillset that I will look to put to good use on things like developing and executing strategic plans, setting and managing budgets, and ensuring the club remains on a steady financial footing.

“This has been a really tough year for everyone and football has been no exception. But once we get through this in the new year, the countdown to full fan ownership will begin in earnest.

“As one of the two SMISA representatives of the board, I’m really looking forward to playing my part.”

Needham, who is also a founder member of St Mirren’s 1877 Club, can easily recall the glory days as a supporter on the terraces as the Paisley side enjoyed European nights abroad and at Love Street.

He hopes that building solid foundations off the pitch will help to bring about a winning team on it that will see the club return to the higher end of the Premiership.

Needham added: “I remember the 1980s when Saints were regularly in Europe and competing at the top end of the table. We would all love to see those days come back again. I was lucky enough to travel to our first ever European away ties against Elfsborg and St Etienne and those are experiences you never forget.

“All of us at the club would like nothing more than to see the team pushing up the league and challenging for Europe again.

“To do that we need to do all we can to make the club stronger behind the scenes.

“We need to connect more with the fans using things like social media and live streaming to reach a wider audience.

“When fans are allowed back into matches, we want as many people as possible to want to come down to watch St Mirren.

“The stronger we are off the field, the more money we can channel towards the manager’s budget in future. And that is something we are all working towards.”