Marketing the MJ way

Buy a brick at Rugby Park

It is with a growing sense of disbelief that many supporters of Kilmarnock Football Club look back at the events of September 2013. The Chairman of the Club appears to be developing a new business model for football that requires no fans at all.

At the start of the month the Club informed the Trust that no one would be attending the charity ball to celebrate the Trust’s tenth anniversary. The reason given was they faced a moral dilemma as the ball was not being held at the club’s hotel. The Trust had planned to hold the ball there but were told the chosen date was booked.

A matter of days later the Chairman wrote to the Kilmarnock Supporters’ Association to inform them that the club would no longer provide any member of staff for question and answer sessions at Association meetings, until the democratically elected chairman of the organisation was removed from office.

These Q & A sessions have always been a great way for players and coaching staff to engage and communicate with the supporters. This format permits an open and honest dialogue without any agenda or loaded questions. It allows questions to be answered fully without them being distilled down to a sound bite or a headline. They are heaven sent for a new manager who is trying to mould a team, as he can get across his hopes and fears for the season to a receptive audience. Unfortunately Alan Johnston has now been denied this opportunity by the Chairman.

Just as fans recovered from these localised PR disasters, news broke of the Chairman’s offer to drop ticket prices by 20% for Celtic season ticket holders for the game at Rugby Park. This one day only offer was available until the ticket office closed at Celtic Park on the Tuesday before their Cup game. No equivalent offer was announced for Killie fans for more than 24 hours and any Celtic fan that had purchased their ticket before or after Tuesday had no recourse for a rebate.

Mr Johnston has chosen to hide behind rules, a tactic he has used many times before. Rules that were written with no expectation by their authors that a club would ever try to deliberately disadvantage its own supporters. Imagine how long a shop would last if it only ever offered discounts to people that live outside its town. There has been no explanation why the two offers were not announced together. In order to calm the situation the Chairman took to the local paper in order to inform the support that they had over reacted.

Crowds at Rugby Park have been in decline for a number of years and the current chairman seems incapable of reversing this trend, in fact his actions at times seem to be hell bent on chasing away as many home supporters as possible. Many Killie supporters this season have made the incredibly difficult decision to not attend home games as they refuse to prop up the current regime. They have been driven to this by a number of decisions that have alienated fans over the years. This decision in particular seems almost perverse at a time when the Club should be working hard to build stronger bonds between themselves and the supporters.

The Killie Trust believes that the only way to save our Club is to urgently take it into true community ownership. This ownership would draw upon the skills and resources available within the support to develop a club that puts its supporters and its community at the very heart of everything it does. There are a huge number of community owned clubs that are doing amazing things. They have achieved this by fully engaging with their supporters and have incredible levels of participation at all level of the club. There is no room any more for people that believe there is money to be made from exploiting football fans.

As a great Scottish manger once said “without fans football is nothing” apparently Michael Johnston knows better.

Champions League Tickets Raffle

UEFA-Champions-LeagueFor the recent 10 year Anniversary Charity Ball (keep your eyes peeled for our report on this site soon) we had some great prizes donated for our raffle and auction. Some weren’t auctioned on the night and this is just such a prize. We have a pair of tickets for each of the three Champions League matches at Celtic Park this season. For ten pounds you can buy a ticket to the raffle for this package and all proceeds will be going to the charities we were raising money for at the ball. Info as it appears on the eventbrite site where you can buy your raffle tickets is below and here is a link to get you there.

Event Details

The Killie Trust are hosting a charity raffle for 1 package, involving 2 tickets for all Celtic Champions League Home games.  

Each raffle ticket costs ₤10. Each ticket bought will be entered into the raffle and the winner will be drawn on Friday 27th September.  The lucky winner will then be notified by email.

The Killie Trust were kindly donated these tickets by Hope Construction and QTS to raise money for our chosen charity, Reverse Rett (  The daughter of one of our former players (Mark Reilly) suffers from this condition and we are assisting him in raising funds to find a cure for Rett Syndrome.

The 3 home games are: –

1st October – Celtic v Barcelona
22nd October – Celtic v Ajax
26th November – Celtic v AC Milan

Good luck!

Have questions about The Killie Trust – 2 x Tickets for all Celtic Champions League Home Games? Contact The Killie Trust


Share Transfer to Killie Trust


Last night the Klin Group reinforced their belief in community ownership for Kilmarnock FC by transferring 45677 shares to Kilmarnock Supporters’ Society Limited (The Killie Trust).

The Trust now has 90727 shares in the club making it the second largest shareholder in Kilmarnock FC until the number of shares acquired by Billy Bowie in the Club is clarified by the Club Chairman at the Club AGM, or  before.

Update 10/02/2014: The latest annual return for Kilmarnock Football Club dated 31/12/2013 shows that Kilmarnock Supporters’ Society Limited is still the second largest shareholder in the club. We will have further analysis of the annual return soon. KFC Share register Dec 2013

The events at Dunfermline FC and Hearts have shown that the only way to ensure the future of our football club is through genuine community ownership based on democratic and co-operative principles. This type of ownership will deliver a sustainable football club that is at the very heart of the community. It will achieve this because it is owned on an equal basis by those that care most about it – the supporters.

This very generous transfer of shares is a tremendous boost to the Killie Trust’s Community Ownership Group (COG). There will be more news about this initiative in the coming weeks.

A Decade of Trust

How did it come to this?                       Trust10a

The Killie Trust was initated, as many were, after a group of fans attended the launch of Supporters Direct Scotland at Tynecastle in 2002. The Killie Trust was started a year later in 2003. Kilmarnock were in a period of relative success and everything appeared on the surface to be going in the right direction. The club had gained promotion to the Premier League in 1993 under Tommy Burns. The redevelopment of Rugby Park was completed in 1994 making it an all seated stadium with a capacity of just over 18,000. The club won the Scottish Cup in 1997 and was then involved in European competitions in four of the next five years. In order to diversify income streams the club board decided to build a four star hotel on the site of the training pitch at Rugby Park. Most fans could see the logic of this decision when there was a successful hotelier on the club board. The Park Hotel opened in June 2002.  So things appeared to be going well, but fans were already aware of being marginalised and were concerned by the amount of borrowing required to build the hotel.

A change of leadership at the club in 1997 had seen the charismatic Bobby Fleeting leave the club. With him went the sense that fans would be listened to and in its place came a view from the board that fans should be seen and not heard. New income streams and the rise and rise of TV money appeared to fool a lot of clubs into believing that the need to engage with their supporters was no longer important. Kilmarnock was as guilty of this as any other club in Scotland.

In 2005, Jamie Moffat resigned as chairman and sold the club and his 86% shareholding in it to solicitor Michael Johnston for one pound. Part of this deal was that there would be no more money to bolster the club from the Moffat family. Changes to company law in the UK have made it legal to allow the board of Kilmarnock Football Club to dwindle to just one member.

Where are we now?                           COGlogo

Over recent years the chairman of Kilmarnock Football Club and sole board member Michael Johnston has made a number of deeply unpopular decisions, which appeared to have been taken with little or no regard for supporters’ views or wishes.  With no sign of new investment or ownership on the horizon the Trust launched the Community Ownership Group (COG) in June 2012. The principle behind COG is to develop ownership of the club as a partnership between the supporters and the local business community, putting the club at the very heart of the community in every way possible. The long term goal is 51% ownership by the supporters and 49% owned by a range of local businesses.

The sacking of Kenny Sheils, the popular but controversial manager, who had delivered the League Cup for the first time in the club’s history and broke a 57 year spell without a win at Celtic Park was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many.

Kenny had publicly stated that he had a vision for youth development at the club and a five year plan to make that vision a reality. In contrast the chairman stated at the club AGM in January 2013 that he “did not have a business plan as the environment was too dynamic”. Most football supporters understand the importance of youth develop to their clubs and the loss of someone with a long term strategic view was very hard to take.

However it is unlikely that this event alone could have caused the reaction it has with the majority of supporters. It is the cumulative effect of the chairman’s poor decisions over the years that has generated it. As a result a grassroots campaign sprang up to oust the chairman. Supporters’ protests have taken many forms: some have not purchased season tickets and will not attend any home games; some have cancelled gym membership; others will not spend a penny at KFC, the Park Hotel or the club shop until the club is in new ownership (#notapennymore). These are drastic and painful decisions that are being taken by life-long Killie supporters. The protest has been symbolised by Blue and Yellow scarfs and T-shirts with a variety of polite slogans asking Mr Johnston to move on.

Short and long term objectives

The Killie Trust, The KFCSA and supporters’ short term aims are to persuade Mr Johnston to do what is best for the club before it is too late. Offers have been made but they have been rejected for reasons that are not entirely clear. In the longer term the Trust aims to initiate and develop a process that will take the club into a genuinely democratic form of community ownership. This model will ultimately lead to a stronger more sustainable club that considers the community in everything it does.  Without the community the club is nothing.

Where do we go from here               Buy a brick at Rugby Park

The Trust has had representatives at a number of events in recent weeks: the Supporters’ Summit 2013 held at St Georges Park; the Scottish Fans’ Summit on Club Ownership and the Supporters Direct Scotland Cup at East End Park. At all of these events we discovered that you will never get all the supporters to agree (football is all about opinions after all). You can only hope to work with the active supporters that are able to put their shoulder to the wheel to help save their club. However when the crisis strikes the vast majority of fans will give what they can to help save their club and that is what makes the difference. Despite what they have been told, fans hold all the power at any football club.

The Killie Trust’s greatest hope is that Kilmarnock Football Club can avoid the same fate as Dunfermline and Hearts and transition to a new ownership model that will bring community ownership without the need for administration, as this is a messy, expensive and uncertain business.

What’s going on?

It is expected that Killie supporters will make their feelings felt about the chairman peacefully but loudly at away games across the country, and protest outside (and inside) Rugby Park. Hopefully the Killie support will become a sea of Blue and Yellow at every game this season.

The other big event coming up on the 7th of September is the Killie Trust Charity Ball to celebrate the first decade of the Killie Trust. We have been working on this event for some time. It was decided many months ago that the profits from this event should be split between the Rett UK and the Ayrshire Hospice. Later in the year we will no doubt hold another of our very successful comedy nights.

A Decade of Trust

The last ten years have been quietly dramatic for the Killie Trust. We started as a way of working with the club to promote the views of supporters. Over the years we developed a number of community based projects to help promote the Club and Trust.  Now the Trust finds itself standing side by side with the other supporters’ organisations working to bring a change to Rugby Park and start the journey into Community ownership. The only constant at any football club are the supporters.

You can donate to the Community Ownership Group here

You can keep up to date with our journey with the Killie Trust on Facebook, Twitter and our Blog site.

Update. Local businessman Billy Bowie joined the board of Kilmarnock football club in August 2013. The details of this

First publish by Scottish Fans in August 2013.