Chairman Responds

The Scottish Daily Mail has run with a story today with quotes from our Chairman about our Trust writing to Michael Johnston as part of a takeover bid. He responded to the article on the fans forum so we thought our members might be interested in what was behind the article.

bazbio“Community ownership is a long term process and plans have to be made, so this is just a small piece of the jigsaw so to speak. We have been having discussions with local business people about COG and reacting to the feedback…and the general consensus was that our previous meeting with the chairman, which came to no conclusion, should be followed up with an official letter to try and clarify the position regards the majority shareholding and what it would take to procure that.

It is really no biggie and nothing we have not done already, only in writing this time so there can be no dubiety about what has been said, it just looks like news because it is in the newspaper. I was surprised at the call, the journalist seemed to know a lot about it and it would appear that the call emanated from a conversation with a Killie fan in Serbia…but it is not like there was anything to hide or anything to shock anyone here, so there was no point in being secretive. Anyone who pays their money and joins the Trust can come to a board meeting and hear the exact same.

On a positive note, other feedback suggests that we really have to ramp up the publicity about the Trust and COG as despite everything we do there are still fans out there who do not know what its all about and some who just do not get what we have done and are trying to achieve. I dare say that if we had gone to the papers with something as trivial as this it would have been roundly ignored so maybe not issuing press releases about every single thing we do is the way to get them interested enough to give us some coverage!”

It does appear to be a bit of a non-story but if nothing else it highlights that there are positive steps being taken behind the scenes on the COG front and the media attention would suggest that at long last community ownership is on the agenda, and not before time. Hopefully the establishment and the Scottish public are finally waking up to the fact that the way our game is run is what is killing it and that any hope of survival for us all is to ensure that if we are not running our clubs ourselves for the benefit of the community then at the very least those who are should be better regulated and made accountable for their actions.

COGblogYou can follow the progress of our COG initiative here – https://thekillietrust.wordpress.com/

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Stand Up (If You Love Killie) 6: A Review

StandUpWebAd6Time to have a look back at the last (very succesful) Killie Trust Comedy at The Sports Bar at Rugby Park back at the end of February this year.

After five top nights, number six came up with the good with four belting sets from Teddy Ross, John Speirs, Gary Little and Scott Gibson all corralled superbly by returning compere Ray Bradshaw in front of the now iconic Newcastle United strip in the Player Sports Bar.

Teddy kicked us off with his well polished jokes and stories about his new wife and after the first break John Speirs regaled us with the story of how he scored the greatest goal in school football history in 1998 of all years. A story fifteen years in the making it would seem. He was followed by the irrepressible Gary Little and his side-splitting thoughts on the mindset of dog walkers and the what if of Osama Bin Laden being a Glaswegian. Scott Gibson sent the full house in attendance home happy with tales of what he sees in the parenting of his brother and the relative merits (failings) of his hometown Paisley.

The night was a big success and with a full house and a great raffle around £1600 was484942_10151777379804899_159470127_n raised for COG. We hope everyone who attended had a great night and that everyone who couldn’t make it are suitably annoyed and desperate to make the next one, they really are brilliant nights of comedy on our own doorstep. Thanks to Brownings also for the Killie Pies at the break and for the volunteers who took the time to sell the raffle tickets. News on the next comedy night and how tickets will be available will be posted here so why not subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any news. A button appears on the right hand side below blog tags which you can press and enter your email address.

News also appears on our Facebook and twitter feeds. Find us on Facebook by searching The Killie Trust and our twitter handle is @thekillietrust if you didn’t already know.

An album of photos of the event is available on our Facebook page here.

All comments are welcome.

The Growth of Democracy in Scottish Football

Scottish-FansHi everyone, the following blog was first published here on the 28th February on the www.Scottishfans.org website by Paul Goodwin from Supporters Direct Scotland. We have reblogged it here in case you missed it.

Strange things are happening in Scottish football and the fans are very much part of what can be described as a changing landscape.

In the summer the clubs and the football authorities were told not to treat supporters with contempt and suddenly integrity and consultation became key words in the world of football politics.

With the weight of public opinion behind them and their season ticket money in their pockets supporters managed to drive home the message that they needed to be listened to. It really was the start of something different never before seen in the Boardrooms of Scottish Clubs.

Fans Parliament & Roadshow Launch HM & PGWith five senior clubs in Scotland now “fan owned” and operating on the co-operative basis (one member/one vote), those who matter most – fans, supporters, loyal customers – will have a growing say in what will happen in Scottish Football in the future.

This change has been recognised at Hampden Park where both the SFA and the league bodies have really started to engage with fans in a far more meaningful way. In my work with Supporters Direct Scotland it has been encouraging that we really have started to make an impact with our Fans Parliament initiative that provides fans with a voice. If we’d had that voice a few years back then maybe the debate over the new League Reconstruction package might have been more fans’ focused. As it stands we hope that the growing importance of supporters is extended beyond the current debate. Most observers recognise that the fans may not get everything they want this time around – bigger leagues or the desire not to have to play each other 4 times a season – but there is much in there for the fans to take heart from such as having one league body, fairer financial distributions, more play-offs, a stronger pyramid structure and hopefully better governance too.

With the potential shift of power towards these super loyal customers it means that the existing dynamic of dependency on a wealthy owner /benefactor (if you have one of them) could be coming to an end.

This creates a unique opportunity in Scotland – with little chance of a profit and a market where very few want to buy a football club, it means that fans’ being more involved in owning and running of clubs is here to stay. More than that, it is the future. Who else has a fan’s lifelong commitment to their club and an interest in ensuring it is safeguarded for the long term? Fans are the lifeblood of football – not just socially and culturally but economically and there are now real chances to turn that commitment into meaningful involvement in the way clubs are governed.

Clubs such as Motherwell and St.Mirren are already seeing this as a positive step as a long term community strategy and fans of clubs such as Hearts, Dunfermline and Kilmarnock are all desperate to have a say in how these clubs can be run as sustainable community assets. The goalposts are moving fast.

Of course with potential power there comes responsibility and how many times have we heard in the past that the Board of a club should be held to account when they have not taken fans’ views into consideration. At the five community owned clubs in Scotland there is already democracy in action.  There’s no need to be standing outside shouting to sack the Board or to be throwing stones. Instead you just need to turn up at the AGM with your fellow members and vote off for change.

There is no doubt that there is a cultural change under way and that change isn’t going to happen overnight. Everyone involved in fan and community ownership is learning about how this new model will work best and how their own club adapts to the change.  Like everything else, change takes time to settle and, with every day that passes, new challenges will face everyone involved in a club, including those difficult moments that, ideally, no-one ever wants to see happen. 

Today, the Fans Representatives on the Board at Dundee FC, a club that is owned 52% by the community, are coming to terms with a managerial appointment that hasn’t been received well by its supporters.

There isn’t a Board of Directors at any club in the country that will have received universal backing for a new managerial appointment but what is different at Dundee, and those other clubs that have embraced the fan ownership model, is that rather than being on the outside venting their spleen they have the ability to change, through voting, those representing them in the boardroom.  This simply wouldn’t be an option with traditional ownership models and it is this level of transparency and accountability which provides the basis for the long term success of the model. If you still need convincing, then you need only look to Germany and the Bundesliga where they have embraced supporter ownership for the last 40 years backed up by robust regulation.  Not only has that led to unrivalled levels of financial sustainability but it has also been achieved whilst protecting the interest of fans and attracting the biggest crowds in European football – and they’re not doing too badly on the pitch either!

In Germany this structure has been part of the fabric of the game for generations, but here a transition will not be immediate and will not be easy.  However, whilst the ownership structure that fans now have may not be the perfect model , at least fans can no longer be ignored and, whether you like it or not, that has got to be good news for the game and for the green shoots of football democracy.

Paul Goodwin is Head of Supporters Direct Scotland

and author of Saving Scottish Football ( Tangent Books)