From The Archives: Grand in your Hand (+ Diary)

379923_10150576691074899_754431406_nAs 2011 drew to a close we launched an initiative to both boost membership as well as send one lucky member home from the Dundee United match considerably richer than they turned up, £1000 richer to be exact. The draw was for all current trust members, either long term or newly signed up, their membership numbers put in a bucket and at halftime of said match our Chairman Barry Richmond braved the cold and stood in the centre circle with bucket in hand to draw the winning entry.

306673_10151478821009899_1930681168_nStephen Carolan had the winning number and had an extra £1000 that Christmas. Here he is getting his picture taken post match with his prize alongside Trust board members Davie Davidson and Nigel Fitzsimmons.

diary06Also as a bonus this Christmas, here is a nice little item. The Trust diary from 2006 which was on sale for £2 with proceeds going to the Trust.

I am sure it found its way onto a few Killie fans lists for santa list for Santa.

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From The Archives: Introducing…The Killie Trust

This week we go back, way back, to before the Trust launch night in order to have a look again at some nice snaps of the Trust pioneers who were out in force, leaflets in hand spreading the word of the new Killie Trust.

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The leaflet handed out highlighted the aims and objectives of the Trust and included a Trust membership form and was distributed at the first home game of the 2003 season against Partick Thistle. All this in the lead up to the official launch of the Killie Trust which was on Friday 22nd August in the Park Suite at Rugby Park.

We will cover that launch night in the coming weeks or months on here but in the meantime if you have any comments or memories from back then, pre launch or launch, please get in touch by leaving a comment here or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and we might include them in a future “From the Archives” article.

Be a Part of Something Special

Another cup hero and great servant to Killie, Mark ‘Mavis’ Reilly is a Trust member and gives us regular support. The idea of a Killie family may sound a bit twee to some but if you are part of it then you can appreciate what it is all about and Mark knows all too well that as one of us he will always be a part of something special.

Mark Reilly receives his Trust share certificate from Board member Davie Davidson.

Mavis receives his Trust share certificate from Board member Davie Davidson.

Notice of Annual General Meeting

Notice is hereby given the Annual General Meeting of the Kilmarnock Supporters’ Society Limited will be held in the Howard Centre, Portland Street, Kilmarnock on

Wednesday 26th November 2014 at 7.00pm prompt.

Agenda
1) Introduction.
2) Apologies
3) Last AGM minutes
4) Chairman’s report
5) Treasurer’s Report and Financial Statement.
6) Reappointment of W White & Co as Auditors to the Society.
7) Elections to the Board/announcement of results.
8) Trust objectives 2015.
9) Any Other Business.
10) Close

By order of the Board

Nigel Fitzsimmons
(Secretary)

Kilmarnock Supporters’ Society Ltd
Registered Office: Duncan McLean & Co, 81 John Finnie Street,Kilmarnock, KA1 1BG

Notes:

A member entitled to attend and vote at the Annual General Meeting is entitled to appoint a proxy to attend and vote in their place. Such a proxy need not be a member of the Society. The appointment of a proxy should be in writing to the Secretary, and in order to be valid, the form of proxy must be received by the secretary not less than 48 hours before the time fixed for the holding of the meeting or any adjourned meeting. Valid forms of proxy arriving at the PO Box address by close of business 2 days prior to the meeting will be deemed to satisfy the above criteria. Completed forms should be returned to the Secretary at PO Box 26103, Kilmarnock, KA1 1YN before 5pm on Monday 24th November 2014. No person other than the Chair of the meeting can act as proxy for more than 3 members.

Win a 2014-15 Kilmarnock FC Season Ticket!

The Killie Trust, in association with Kilmarnock FC and the Kilmarnock Standard, are giving away three 2014-15 season tickets for Rugby Park.

The lucky winners can choose which stand they want their ticket for and that includes the fantastically priced family ticket for the Moffat Stand. All you have to do is answer the following question…

What year was the Killie Trust founded?

Please send your answers to The Kilmarnock Supporters’ Society Ltd. PO Box 26103, Kilmarnock KA1 1YN, or email your entries to thechairman@killietrust.org.

The competition ends Sunday 6th July and three names will be selected at random from all the correct entries. All Trust members who answer correctly will have their entries submitted twice.

You can join the Trust at www.thekillietrust.wordpress.com.

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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.

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 investmehttps%3A%2F%2Fs2.wp.com%t.

First publish by Scottish Fans in August 2013.

The Wisdom of Crowds Part Three

Buy a brick at Rugby Park

Having attended the Supporters Summit 2013 at the English Football Associations new centre of excellence at St Georges Park, which was hosted by Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation. This event was attended by supporters from across all Europe. These supporters came from a wide range of clubs in a variety of situations. Some are simply trying to keep their club alive despite the best efforts of business minded people, others have lost that battle and have started their own phoenix club based on democratic community ownership principles. The Trusts from many of EPL clubs are working to keep their club grounded in their community with a local sense of identity and history.

The very next weekend we met up with an equally diverse group of Scottish football supporters at the Supporters Direct Scotland Club Ownership Summit at Stirling Albion. Here we met supporters who already own their football club or in a very good position to take control of the destiny of their club or believe that community ownership is the only sustainable future for their club.

So what have learned from meeting all these football supporters?

The position of our football club and the deteriorating relationship between He that “runs it” and its supporters is almost the default position for football clubs today. The single person ownership model is more prevalent than at any other time. A lot of football clubs are run with a cavalier disregard for the fundamentals of economics, business planning, marketing, social responsibility and sound financial planning. Sadly this includes our own club. Most of the clubs that make use of these basic business tools are clubs where fans have a strong voice or they are the outright owners.

Clubs that become community owned know that their most important asset is the supporters because without them there is nothing. A good relationship must be built and maintained with them to ensure sustainability off the pitch which ultimately helps to bring success on the pitch. At the Supporters Summit 2013 Tim Connelly the Vice President of Sales for the Green Bay Packers, the only community owned club in the NFL, said “if our customers are angry with us we have missed the point”. He also observed that Green Bay are in the subscription business “we want people to keep coming back and signing up for longer, to do that we have to give them something they want, they have to have a sense of community with the club”.

Back in Kilmarnock however, our Chairman seems unwilling to engage with the local community. Our attendances are dwindling, a 16% reduction in home attendances last season alone1. The average age of Killie supporters is rising so we are facing a demographic time bomb. We are a club that is in danger of literally dying out in the next 50 years unless we start trying to reverse this trend now. There is no vision or plan to reverse this trend coming from the boardroom. The local community is the biggest and most likely source of new supporters for us. As a football club our very existence depends on developing a long term and comprehensive strategy to bring in new supporters. This means Killie have to be at the very heart of the community.

The Trust has developed a number of projects that promote education, health and well-being in our community that also raise awareness of Kilmarnock Football Club. These projects have all been designed to be sustainable over a long period of time which is vital if the club is to start growing its support again. We realised from the start that we had to use the minimum amount of club resources as these are in very short supply. The K-Steps programme is just one of these projects. We have several others at an advanced stage of readiness, but they have been sitting on the shelf for over 18 months. The key element to going forward with these projects is the engagement of the club. The Trust has made several attempts to engage with Mr Johnston on the subjects of community development, the use of volunteers and community ownership. These were generally rebuffed and those that did move forward took so long to do so that the opportunity was lost or the conditions for club involvement were such that the board of the Killie Trust would have been at risk of breaking its own operating rules.

So where do we go from here? People say that community ownership cannot work at big clubs but the Champion’s League final this year laid that myth to rest once and for all. We, as a community, need to take the destiny of our football club into our own hands.  There are great examples of community ownership across the UK.

There is no quick, easy answer to the difficulties our club faces, but the current chairman has no plan to take our club forwards and is unwilling to accept any support other than cash. Our Football Club should be doing great things in our community right now. Things that would start to reverse the inevitable decline we are in right now. However, short-termism is the order of the day for the Chairman and one man board of Kilmarnock Football Club.

There is no white knight waiting in the wings and anyone that claims to be a white knight needs to answer some very serious questions about their plans.  People keep on asking “where is the alternative”. WE, the supporters of Kilmarnock Football Club, founded in 1869, are the alternative. Fans are always the bank of last resort. When everything has been run into the ground and every line of credit fails and the gates are about to be locked forever, the fans pull together. They find a way to put aside their differences and take that step into the unknown and take control of the football club they love.

It is happening right now at Dunfermline. Pars UNITED have been named the preferred bidder. The only other bidder decided to remain anonymous and this lack of transparency appears to have affected their chances.

It is happening right now at Hearts. The Foundation of Hearts has put in a very strong bid for the club and we will know soon if it has succeeded.

Are Hearts or Dunfermline fans any smarter than Killie fans? No. The only reason we will fail is because we fail ourselves.

What can we do?

Reference

1. Kilmarnock Standard 12.07.2013, page 103, John Livingston.

Transfer Window Sign Up Day

Joining the Killie Trust just got easier. 2013 is the year in which the Trust celebrate the tenth anniversary of our formation and it promises to be a year of epic proportions, and we want as many Killie fans as possible to be a part of that.

Signing up new members has never been an easy process so we’ve introduced a new “quickslip” application form so we can engage with as many fans as possible in a shorter period of time.

To kick things off we will have four volunteers with quickslips at the match on Saturday (19th January) stationed at the approaches to both ends of the ground. If you are in any doubt who they are we are sure that Hippo will point them out.

All you have to give them is your name and ONE of three other details (postcode, email or phone number) and we then follow it up at a time more convenient to you. It’s still only a tenner a year, and that’s £2 less than it was ten years ago!

The next ten years will see football in this country change more than you can imagine with community ownership featuring heavily for clubs like ours. Together the “Killie Family” can ensure that we are ahead of the game and the the club will survive to be a community hub for future generations.