Why is community ownership better

The Killie Trust initiated the Community Ownership Group (COG) in May 2012. The purpose of this initiative is to make Kilmarnock Football Club community owned as soon as possible. 

The Vision for Kilmarnock Football Club

The Killie Trust’s vision for Kilmarnock Football Club is for it to be a well-run club which puts the fans and community at the heart of everything it does.  Fans will own at least 50%+1 of the club with the remaining shareholders understanding and supporting the principles of community ownership.

How do supporters have more control when it is a community owned club?

The members also elect the board of the Killie Trust. If the members disagree with how the Trust is being run then members get an opportunity every year to elect new people onto the board. These elections are carried out on the democratic principles of one person one vote regardless of how much time or money they put into the Trust. This ensures that no individual can hold undue influence over the Trust.

The members of the Trust also decide who should represent them on the club board. This will be decided using the same principles as the Trust Board elections. Those standing for election to the club board would need to meet certain criteria before being eligible to stand. Therefore one of the main strengths of community ownership is that everyone eligible gets one vote.

Community ownership is not about the day to day running of the Club, it is about democratically deciding who should make the strategic decisions about how our club is run. This process ensures that those who take on this role are held accountable for their actions and provide acceptable explanations for those decisions. This is good governance.

Community ownership is not about picking the team on a Saturday, it is not about deciding which player to buy or what is on the menu at hospitality. These are all decisions for employed staff to take. Community ownership is about deciding who should represent your views about how Kilmarnock Football Club engages with its supporters  and the wider community. It is also about deciding the future direction of the Club and ensuring that decisions taken are right for the club as a whole and not individuals within it.

Only genuine community ownership will give the supporters the opportunity to put an asset lock on Rugby Park. This means that our ground cannot be sold without the knowledge or permission of the fans. It also ensures that a reasonable market value is obtained if the fans agree that moving to new ground is in the best interests of the club and it’s supporters.

So how does the current form of ownership at Killie compare to community ownership.

Here are the key differences.

 Category Community Ownership of Kilmarnock FC Current ownership of Kilmarnock FC
Legal Status Co-operative Community Benefit Society

Limited by Shares

Legal Objectives To provide community benefit written into constitution – The trust is committed to supporting local sport in the area.The trust is a not for profit organisation, all profits are reinvested into the club and the community.

Legally constituted to provide value for shareholders.

(Given the current size of the debt this an unlikely occurrence so the model is inappropriate)

Financial Sustainability Financial prudence is written into their constitution, with transparency and  accountability assured by democratic model. There is no such provision in this model of ownership.
Financial Risk Management Unlikely to build up debts from private lenders as these cannot be converted into shares. Sustainable growth The Club has built up debt, including soft loans and floating charges over assets. This is common in this type of ownership model as it can be difficult to access other types of finance.Risky strategy
Voluntary Support Club would be owned by the fans and community therefore evidence from similar clubs is they have a large pool of willing volunteers. Privately owned businesses may reduce the pool of volunteers as the ethos and benefits of volunteering may not be understood.
Network of support Member of Supporters Direct alongside 34 other supporters’ trusts who provide from mutual support/benefits.The Co-operative sector offer extended advice and support.Competition on the pitch – co-operation off the pitch. All other clubs are viewed as competitors.
Grants Non profit distributing Co-operative. Eligible for larger range of grants   including from the co-operative sector. As a privately owned Company KFC will find it very hard to meet eligibility criteria.
Board structure Democratic model with large pool of candidates, all positions will be either elected   from trust membership (open to all) or co-opted for particular skills. For a long time there was only one Board member. In August 2013 Billy Bowie joined the Board.There is the risk of private motivation outweighing community needs and a short-term   perspective.
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