What exactly is happening with the Community Ownership Group?
Through the various mediums we’ve been putting stuff out about COG all year and I’m pretty sure most Killie fans are aware of it at least. The situation regards ownership of the club appears to be a state of constant fluctuation at the moment so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where we are with COG other than to say that regardless of who is in charge at Rugby Park, the Trust will continue to push for community ownership in the long term.
There has been a lot of publicity on the back of the open meeting held by the Supporters’ Association at the Grand Hall…the upshot of which was the formation of a working party of various groups who also want to deliver community ownership to the club. Obviously the Trust has been heavily involved with that and we have four board members nominated to represent our interests at the table. As seems to be the case these days we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to be party to the talks and can’t discuss anything in real detail, but as ever we still aim to get as much information out there to our members as possible and see it as one of our duties to encourage the working party to engage with the fans and keep them up to speed with anything that is going on.
To be fair there is not much to report at the moment other than what has appeared in the media already. We asked the Kilmarnock Futures Consortium, who are part of the working party, to give us something for the purposes of the AGM which may make their position clearer and were sent the following statement: “Kilmarnock Futures Consortium is committed to immediate supporter representation on the new Board and believes that community shareholding would have significant benefits to the Club, the supporters and to the wider East Ayrshire community. The Consortium will work with Supporters Direct to build options and plans for greater community ownership over an agreed period”.
That’s where we are at the moment. It has been widely reported that while the club are negotiating with the KF Consortium that they are still working behind the scenes on a plan to get debt reduction from the bank in a similar manner to other Scottish clubs whom have recently almost went to the wall. The one major difference it would seem is that Mr Johnston is only willing to implement some form of “community involvement”, as he calls it, on his own terms and his refusal to engage with the two largest democratically elected supporter’s organisations will make it very difficult for him to make any headway with the bank. We push on with COG regardless and maintain that while debt reduction is a good thing, that the only beneficiary of a deal with the bank should be Kilmarnock Football Club, not any individual.
Is it true that the Killie Trust are in league with the Klin Group and want to sell Rugby Park for housing and move to the new HALO Arena?
In a word, no. The Klin Group had a viable plan to turn things around at the club and introduce community ownership to it over a sustained period of time as their legacy to the people of Kilmarnock. The Trust bought into that and supported it at the time because it was the best viable option on the table to ensure the club not only survived but flourished and it ticked a lot of boxes as far as we were concerned on the community front.
Our primary concern is the club’s future and we are willing to talk to anyone who is looking to restore Kilmarnock FC’s place at the heart of the community where it should be and make it a sustainable entity that we can all continue to be proud of. That is why we are currently in discussions with the Kilmarnock Futures Consortium, their plans also merit consideration and should the current regime come up with a plan that does not involve individuals financially benefiting at the expense of the club then we would certainly look into that too.
Moving the club to the HALO Arena from Rugby Park has never been a topic of discussion at Trust Board Meetings, the Klin Group have previously stated that was not their intention either. We view it for what it is, an impressive plan for a state-of the-art multi-use stadium which our whole community can benefit from. In our case we thought that it would be perfect for bringing team training back to our own area and put a stop to paying for facilities in Glasgow to keep the squad in shape.
Are the Trust behind the “Not a Penny More” movement?
Again, no. At no stage have we ever encouraged fans not to go to Rugby Park or to stop putting money into the club. I never have and never will do that personally and I would have to seriously consider my position with the Trust if at some point that was the road the members chose to take. The sad fact is that attendances in Scottish football have been declining for years now, and we are one of the most affected. The slightly elevated downturn in figures this season can most likely be attributed to the reaction of fans to events on and off the park towards the tail end of last season and into this.
I find it incredulous that anyone would try and lay the blame for falling attendances at our door. People have minds of their own and make decision for themselves based on their own circumstances and what they believe. We are not in the business of telling people what to do, our business is to ensure that the fans get proper representation when it comes to the running of the club and that whoever is in charge is held accountable for their actions. There are many reasons why fans have stopped going, too many to mention, sadly it does not look as if the decline in numbers will stop until there have been some sort of regime change at the club that will make fans feel as if they belong again and its still their club.
Is your plan to force the club into administration to get rid of Michael Johnston?
I’ve honestly never heard anything quite so ridiculous, but it is another popular myth doing the rounds, and one which the chairman himself has recently suggested. It is simply not true and has never crossed our minds, despite being advised by some parties that a “newco” club would be a much easier solution to our problems. We want to avoid the club going into administration at all costs. We have learned a lot from the mistakes of other clubs and other Trusts and we would never want to put our proud history at risk by flirting with financial skulduggery to achieve our aims.
If we were in favour of an administration event why would we be accumulating shares in the club which would ultimately prove worthless? We doubled our holding this season, albeit courtesy of a generous benefactor, and are constantly on the lookout for more; in fact if anyone out there feels that their shares would be of more use as part of a collective run in a democratic fashion then please feel free to get in touch. Setting up shell corporations and selling or transferring assets while hiding behind a myriad of non-disclosure agreements is not the way we want to operate; we have and always will be open and transparent and if we really thought that administration was an option then we would come right out and say it.
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