Fog Lifts to Reveal £1500 Barrier Broken

wpid-img_20140521_224439.jpgYou may remember our article a few years back about Killie fan and big Trust supporter Stevie Miller (aka Fog) when he bannered up his hot snack emporium with our logos and Twitter handle. Since then he has moved pitch from his long term home out the Queens Drive in Kilmarnock to Annandale Industrial Estate (between Crosshouse Hospital and the Cotton Mill/Premier Inn) but the change of environment hasn’t halted the donations to the Trust rolling in from his trusty Trust tin!

A ring of THAT bell means that one of his loyal customers has dug deep in their pockets and popped their change or more into his collection tin in aid of our community ownership drive for Kilmarnock FC.

The bell has been rung out plenty just recently as Fog has cemented his place at the top of the “leader board” with a whopping £1500 raised in total over the years. With no sign of stopping we should add.

Money raised is to help with the long term goal to make the club 50% + 1 owned by the supporters. Some of the money raised is utilised too for various community schemes which we the Trust initiate.

wpid-img_20140518_123405.jpgChairman, Barry Richmond stated “Stevie has been a long term supporter of our aims and is a Killie fan through and through. I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only him, but all the other local businesses that have our collection tins in their premises and to their many, many customers who donate willingly.”

Collection tins can be found in the following locations….Rainbow Ink, Grange Filling Station, Varani’s Forum Cafè, McLelland Stores, Portmann Hotel, Ralph’s Newsagents, The Chip Bank, Howard Arms, Burns Inn, Kay Park Tavern, Brass and Granite, Bakery Bites, Yum Yums, The Garage, Shah’s Curry House and Fauld’s the Butchers.

If any other business would like to contribute to allow collection tins on their premises please contact the Trust by email on community@killietrust.org or via mobile on 07748252455.

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.

COG moves up a gear with the launch of The Killie Trust Business Network Meetings

The Killie Trust held the first of many Business Network Meetings(BNM) on the 7th of February 2013 at the Coffee Press in Bank Street, Kilmarnock. These meetings are part of the the Trust’s Community Ownership Group initiative, their aim is to build closer relationships between local businesses and the Trust. These relationships will be vital for the long term sustainability of Kilmarnock Football Club and the local community.

The Coffee Press in Bank street, Kilmarnock

The Coffee Press in Bank street, Kilmarnock

We invited a wide variety of local businesses to this meeting and after everyone had settled down with some tea or coffee and a bite to eat the evening got started.  Nigel Fitzsimmons from the Trust Board outlined the format for the evening and gave a brief presentation followed by a question and answer session. Nigel’s talk covered the history of the Trust, it’s objectives and recent activities. These activities include the Community Ownership Group or COG as it is known.  There is an ever growing list of football clubs in community ownership across Europe, the UK and Scotland. Some of these include Dundee in the SPL, Swansea City in the EPL and most of the Bundesliga clubs; Germany provides some of the best examples of sound financial management, fan involvement and community ownership.

Nigel then moved on to explain the Trust’s Community Partnership initiative.

This initiative aims to promote local businesses which have similar aims and objectives to the trust and which have worked in partnership with us on a project or event.

Finally we had a question and answer session with a wide ranging discussion about the Trust movement, COG and the partnership initiative.

This was a very positive meeting and it was great to speak to so many people who have similar objectives and have the good of Kilmarnock the football club, the town and the community at heart.  Everyone understands that COG  will not be a quick fix but we must start somewhere.  This meeting confirmed to the Trust that we have to build a greater understanding of our aims across all parts of the community. We agreed to give everyone regular updates on progress.

There will be many more of these meetings. We are also more than happy to speak to any local group as well.  If you are interested in attending a BNM meeting or you would like us to give a talk about the Killie Trust and COG,  please email the thechairman@killietrust.org.

Remember to look out for #COG and #killietrustbnm on twitter.

http://www.thecoffeepress.co.uk/Default.asp

Killie Trust Masterchef

On Monday 17th September, the first Killie Trust Masterchef took place. The fiercely contended cook off took place at the wonderful Cook School Scotland in Kilmarnock and contestants had travelled from as far as Glasgow to take part in this prestigious culinary competition. One contestant, Andy Millar, talks us through it.

“Under the guidance of Joe Queen the executive chef and Michael George our tutor and mentor for the evening, our challenge was to prepare breast of chicken stuffed with haggis with fondant potato and creamed cabbage.

Firstly, Michael took us through how to prepare and cook the potato fondant which included an explanation of the importance of your choice of potato variety. Much to the shock of our wannabe chefs all tatties are not created equally.

Next it was back to our beautifully appointed kitchen stations to try and emulate what Michael had just made look so easy. After much huffing and puffing and some assistance from the ever helpful Joe and Michael we all managed to get our potatoes into the oven.

Now we moved on to the main event; the preparation, stuffing and wrapping of our chicken. Once again Michael patiently showed us all how to cut the chicken breast without damaging ourselves or ruining the meat. He explained to us the importance of starting with good quality ingredients and how to cook chicken properly without over-cooking.

Back to the kitchens to get our chicken stuffed, rolled and wrapped and in the oven and our potatoes out. We were now on the home straight but possibly the greatest challenge of all, making cabbage tasty. We were given a few more tricks of the trade and off we went.

With our cabbage well on the way to being ready to eat we had one last trip to the front of the class so that Michael could show us how to present our dishes in the most appetising way ready for the judges to adjudicate our work. We were judged not only on the presentation of the dish but how we had worked during the course of the evening.

Joe and Rory McKeown (Kilmarnock FC’s left back, who had given up his free time to help judge the event) toured the kitchens to inspect our efforts and then at long last we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Rory joined us, having had his meal cooked by Michael not one of us you’ll be glad to know.

Clearly we must have all been well trained as silence fell upon the dining room as we all tucked into the meals we had prepared. Joe did point out that we may have been the slowest cooks he had ever seen. He also regaled us with behind-the-scenes stories of the real MasterChef.

Joe and Rory added up the scores until finally after much deliberation they were ready to announce that Lesley Thomson was the Killie Trust Masterchef . Well done Lesley and thanks to everyone who took part and to everyone at Cook School Scotland for making us feel so welcome and a wonderful evening. A special thanks must also go to our very dedicated dishwasher.”

We will see you all again on the 13th of November when we go back for a second helping. This time there is no need for an apron as our Italian night is strictly Demo and Dine…and a wine or two to keep you going while the award winning chefs prepare an Italian feast for your delight and delectation. Rory McEwan was our surprise judge at the MasterChef competition…and we hope that he’s bringing along one of his team mates, who is an expert on Italian cuisine.

For details on how to book you can go to our event post on our facebook page or simply have a look at the promo poster for it below!

For more information on The Cook School Scotland please visit their website here or follow them on twitter here.

See you all in November.

Killie Trust MasterChef

Are you a MasterChef or a Muppet?

There is only a few places remaining for this event which is only just over a week away.

Test your culinary skills against the rest in the Killie Trust’s MasterChef competition which is being run in association with the Cook School (Scotland). For only £35 a head you get to watch the experts at work and then try your own hand at the dish, with a special Killie guest judging who gets the title on the night.

Anyone interested can call 07525 152035 or email gerry.stanley@hotmail.co.uk for further details or to book your place…and watch out for details of our upcoming Italian night in the Cook School as well.

Fog Supports COG

Local business man Stevie ‘Fog’ Miller caters on a daily basis for the great and the good of Kilmarnock from his hot snacks trailer which normally resides at the grounds of Kilmarnock Rugby Club. He also goes out of his way to support The Killie Trust in a plethora of different  ways and this week celebrated an epic landmark.

As well as sponsoring Trust events like our stand up comedy nights, Fog encourages his customers, Killie fans or not, to drop their small change in his Trust donation tin and this week’s contributions have taken the Killie Chilli (patent pending) vendor over the £1,200 mark!

A terrific total I think everyone can agree and we at the Trust would like to thank him for all his sterling fund raising efforts. More than that, Trust Board have decided to present Fog with our Community Partner award in recognition of of all the big man does. It says a lot about him that instead of just adorning his premises with our award sticker he chose to call on Rainbow Ink to get a massive decal to give the Trust’s @KillieTrust Twitter account some free advertising, we could do with a few more like him. He supported our Fifty for the Future initiative and is right behind our COG (Community Ownership Group) Fund as well…and we are more than happy to support him and and any other local business who backs the Trust.

Fogs Snack Bar, the Killie Trust salutes you.