A New Year Message From The Chairman

560356_10151114652829899_1483803466_nI would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their messages of encouragement and support following my appointment as Chair of the Kilmarnock Supporters Society Limited (the Killie Trust to you and I). I am extremely proud to follow in the footsteps of Stevie Lockhart, Colin Hargreaves and Barry Richmond, all of whom have done a tremendous job for us over the past eleven years, and I shall endeavour to follow suit.

As we welcome in a new year I thought it apt to reassure our members that the Trust will continue to pursue community ownership for Kilmarnock Football Club, with the first stage towards that being meaningful and democratic fan representation on the club’s board. As was reported at our recent AGM, we are in dialogue with the Club in regards this matter and have offered to source significant and continued investment in an effort to kick start proceedings.

It was great to see Hibernian Chairman Rod Petrie echo the thoughts of so many others in the higher echelons of Scottish football by admitting the landscape of Scottish football is changing and that clubs will have to embrace community ownership and that Hibs would strive to be “a progressive, forward thinking and modern” club by now pursuing this avenue themselves. Many more will surely embrace said ethos soon if Scottish clubs are to survive and flourish, and we should be taking a lead on this.

In the coming year our focus will be to increase our membership significantly, and also persuade more local businesses to support our vision. Marie Macklin CBE of the Klin Group showed her support of the Trust and our aims by donating to us a significant number of her own shares in Kilmarnock FC which saw the Trust become the club’s second largest shareholder at the time; of course we do not expect such generosity from everyone, but it was still fantastic to see her being recognised in the New Year’s honours list for her services to local economic regeneration and entrepreneurship, well done Marie!

A few of our long serving board members stood down at our recent AGM and we are extremely grateful for their valued contribution over the years. While there are more than enough to ensure continuity, we have approached a few replacements already to keep the numbers up and work load manageable, the announcements will follow shortly and I am sure that our members will not be disappointed.  2015 will be a big year for the Killie Trust and rest assured that the Board are all fully committed to our club and community and will continue to press for what is best for both. Here’s to us all having a Happy New Year!

Jim Thomson

Trust Chairman

Chairman Stands Down at Recent Trust AGM

Last Wednesday at our AGM, Barry Richmond stood down from his role as Trust chairman after 7 years in the seat. In his final chairman’s report Barry highlighted the work the Trust had done in the past year and the key moments. We had two Comedy nights, one of which raised money for the Laurie and Ellie fund and saw us take our stand up showcase to Kilmarnock Rugby Club for the first time before returning to the Sports Bar for our second fundraiser in November. We also had a representative in the Commonwealth Baton Relay which made its way through East Ayrshire on the 21st of June. Also highlighted was the latest on the Trusts attempt to see fan representation on the club board. Although Barry has stepped down as chairman he is staying on the board and will help with a real membership drive in 2015, he had this to say about his time at the helm and the future…

Outgoing Chairman Barry Richmond (right) with Sandy Armour and former club captain Garry Hay at last years 10 year anniversary ball

Outgoing Chairman Barry Richmond (right) with Sandy Armour and former club captain Garry Hay at last years 10 year anniversary charity ball

“Thanks to everyone who attended the Trust AGM last night and especially to my fellow Trust Board directors who have made my job so much easier down the years. It was an honour to serve as chairman for such a length of time and carry on the good work of those who went before me…but change has to happen if progress is to be made and I sincerely hope that our next chairperson will benefit from all that was achieved during my spell in office. It goes without saying that I remain committed to the ideals of the trust and will continue to serve on the board until such times as I am no longer needed…and my focus this year will be on increasing membership to record levels so you have been warned!”

Also standing down but leaving their positions on the Trust board are Nigel Fitzsimmons who served as Secretary, Elaine Millar who was heavily involved in the RBS Community grant win amongst other things, Davie Davidson who was integral to all things membership in his time on board and Sandy Armour who was in charge of the epic success that was Fifty for the Future before it was wound up 2 years ago. We thank them for all their hard work over the years.

Its not all departures however; John Speirs, Jim Thomson, Paul Markac and Gary Torbett have decided to stand again and were all re-elected. A decision on who will take over as chairman will be taken in the new year.

Cheque Handed over at Stand Up (If You Love Killie) 7

StandUpWebAd7Last month saw our 7th Stand Up night go off without a hitch at The Rugby Club in Kilmarnock, and we handed over the cheque to the Laurie and Ellie fund. But more on that later.

A full house enjoyed some great acts off the Scottish comedy scene. Compere Graham Mackie kept things going all night and enriched everyones lives with his first encounter with an exfoliating glove. John Gavin set us off with a great set including his hatred of foxes, lucky for him it wasn’t squirrels. John Speirs then enlightened the crowd with his story about the time he never met Hollywood actor Vince Vaughn before Jojo Sutherland closed the second section with tales from her life on the east coast. Des Clarke then took the roof off Bellsdale with a brilliant headline set where he talked about absolutely everything, including the time he actually met Hollywood actor James MacAvoy.

clarke jgavin jojo mackie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A brilliant night which actually started on a high when Ellie, Laurie and their mum visited to pick up the cheque for £1412 from The Killie Trust. The evening in the Kilmarnocks Rugby Club raised £1000 for the appeal. The further £412 was raised at Rugby Park, when before the match versus Hearts members of the Trust board were out rattling buckets and got a great response from the fans in attendance. A huge thanks from the Trust to all those in attendance on the night as well as those who did their bit at the Hearts game. Also a huge thanks again to John Gall at Brownings for the half time fayre.Ellie&Laurie

Hope to see you all at the next one.

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.

COG Update – 4th March 2014

COGlogoSince the Killie (Community) Working Party lodged its Letter of Intent with Michael Johnston, Chairman of Kilmarnock FC, we at The Killie Trust have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the proposition is given due consideration by the club and is understood by the wider community. It is encouraging that all parties we speak to directly both understand the concept and agree that the working party are right to actively seek meaningful community involvement in the club and that community ownership should be the desired position on Mr Johnston’s exit from the club.

Whilst communication with the club has been disappointing to date, we have engaged with the local MP, MSP and council leader, all of whom have agreed to encourage Kilmarnock FC to meet either the working party or Killie Trust, as representatives of that group. An excerpt of a recent e-mail to the politicians follows. This helps to explain the views of the working party which resulted in the Letter of Intent being issued and why the Killie Trust is committed to taking this forward.

Many thanks for your help over the last few weeks with the Killie (Community) Working Party and also taking the time to learn a bit more about the Killie Trust. I am aware that you were all going to suggest to Michael Johnston that he meet with the working party to enable us to explain our Letter of Intent more fully. Despite this, and his comments in last week’s Standard that Michael would welcome a meeting, there has been no communication from the club. Indeed, Billy Bowie had indicated he would be in touch w/c 17th to arrange a meeting with me, and despite chasing this up, I have had no further communication from him either. I also note that there has been no formal response to the Letter of Intent.

You will appreciate that  it is extremely difficult to try to build any meaningful working relationship with an organisation who cannot communicate effectively. You will  recall that we mentioned the Trust has had an unsigned NDA sitting with the club for the best part of a year after Michael requested this. Sadly, the club do not appear to want to engage with either the working party or the Trust. As you know, the Trust is the second largest shareholder in the club and is a properly constituted community driven organisation with circa 400 members.The working party the Trust is represented on is keen to move down the road of meaningful community involvement with the goal of ultimate community ownership.The club has mentioned publicly its desire for community involvement yet does not even want to discuss this vision with these bodies, both of whom could certainly offer constructive guidance and support.

My only conclusion is that the Community Involvement Board the club is planning is their preferred vehicle for community involvement. I imagine that this is in the hope of satisfying the club’s bankers in negotiations during a review of their debt. I assume this board will not be endorsed by the Scottish Government as it does not, as far as I  understand, meet the co-operative values of one person/one vote. I believe this is why  Paul Goodwin of Supporters Direct cannot back the idea as it stands. I am intrigued as to how any lender will afford debt forgiveness to a window dressing style of community involvement in a private limited company with one major (80%+) shareholder. However, I genuinely hope a suitable deal can be done to ensure the survival of the club.The bank’s stakeholders and many SMEs in Scotland may have their own opinion on that though.

As you know, the purpose of the Letter of Intent was to seek a route to ensure that, on Michael’s exit from the club, the fans and community are given the opportunity to own the majority stake in the club. It was neither a formal bid for the club nor a suggestion that the club be passed to the fans for no financial consideration. We would be dismayed if the club ended up in the hands on an individual or group who had no real understanding of the importance of the organisation to the community and who might, as we have seen elsewhere, use the club for their own purposes thus creating a greater divide than we see presently. I suppose the greater fear is that Kilmarnock FC then slips into an insolvency event as that type of owner has no passion or true vision for the club and community.”

Stand Up (If You Love Killie) 7

StandUpWebAd7We are back! 25th April is the date for your diaries and we are in a new venue for this one, The Kilmarnock Rugby Club out on the Queens Drive. So its new surroundings but no change for the rest, the price remains the same and the standard too as we are bringing more top drawer comedy to Killie town.

For this one we have the brilliant Des Clarke (@des_clarke), who as well as being one of Scotlands top comics is also the host of Capital FM’s breakfast show, the supremely talented Jojo Sutherland ( @jojosutherland) who has pretty much played every British comedy club you could care to mention plus ones abroad too. Also we have 2009s Scottish Comedian of the Year, the awesome John Gavin (@johngavincomedy) and Graham Mackie ( @graham19590) who not only will be the funniest guy you have ever seen that looks like Santa but will inexplicably be able to name one of your old teachers from the school. Completing the line up and back to complete a hat trick of outings at our comedy nights is local act John Speirs ( @johnspeirsii), all in all a terrific evenings worth of entertainment in store.

As already mentioned, ticket price remains £15 for all those top acts and can be purchased by calling 07429615232 or by following links on our website, blog, facebook, twitter etc to our eventbrite site for the event. The night is in conjuction with the Rugby Club to help raise some funds for them and the Killie Trust will be donating our funds raised to the Laurie Finlayson Appeal, more details of which can be found here: http://www.justgiving.com/Ellie-Laurie?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Ellie-Laurie&utm_campaign=pfp-tweet-mobile.

So there it is, avoid the scrum and get your tickets quick, with such a great line up these nights sell out fast! See you all there, April 25th.

Link to online ticket sales here:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/killie-trust-comedy-night-7-tickets-10742630497

COG Working Party Press Release – 11th February 2014

KILMARNOCK FC SUPPORTERS GROUP MAKE OFFER TO PURCHASE THEIR CLUB

The Killie (Community) Working Party, established with support from  Supporters Direct Scotland, has announced its intention to make an offer  to purchase Kilmarnock FC’s Chairman’s entire shareholding.

garybioGary  Torbett, on behalf of The Killie (Community) Working Party, said: “We  would like to acknowledge the work being undertaken by the Chairman of  Kilmarnock Football Club to make the club debt free and would positively  encourage him to make every effort to come to an agreement with the  club bankers and other significant lenders to reduce the debt to zero.   The Killie (Community) Working Party would like to make an offer to  purchase the Chairman’s entire shareholding if this can be achieved.”

“This  offer would be contingent on a fair valuation of the company and the  completion of a satisfactory due diligence process.  This purchase would  be undertaken by a new Community Interest Company (CIC) with a  democratically elected board.”

Scottish-FansPaul Goodwin, Head of Supporters  Direct Scotland said, “I met with Michael Johnston, on behalf of The  Killie (Community) Working Party, on Friday [7th February] and conveyed  the outline of the supporters’ offer.  I reiterated SDS’ willingness to  assist in progressing this offer to a satisfactory conclusion for both  parties.”

Gary Torbett added: “We see this move as a genuine step forward as we prepare to get our club back.

Unfortunately  there remains concern amongst supporters with the long term position of  the club and we firmly believe that fan and community ownership is  where that lies rather than relying on a single majority shareholder who  won’t be around for ever.  The only constants at any club are the fans  and the community it is based in.”

“We will shortly launch our formal efforts to raise the money to take  the club into community ownership and we hope that the business  community – both private and public – as well as community groups and  supporters will get behind us.”

Kilmarnock fans have a history of successful fundraising and  community involvement. Over £100,000 has been directly raised for the  Club’s youth development programme and a number of initiatives driven by  The Killie Trust have seen financial awards to a many community based  projects in recent years.

The Killie (Community) Working Party is made up, in no particular order, of:

  • The Killie Trust
  • The Kilmarnock FC Supporters Association
  • Minority shareholders in Kilmarnock FC
  • The Business Club
  • Young Kilmarnock

Issued on behalf of The Killie (Community) Working Party by Supporters Direct Scotland.

For further information please contact Paul Goodwin on 07702 252519 or Gary Torbett  on 07905 478179

AGM Q&A – Myth Busters

During our tenth AGM on Monday last (9th December) it was put to the Trust Board that there is a lot of misinformation doing the rounds and it would be a good idea to put to bed some of the myths that appear to be causing division within our support; something we could well do without at this time. We caught up with the Trust chairman after the meeting and asked him directly about some of the more contentious subjects that Killie fans have been discussing of late.

What exactly is happening with the Community Ownership Group? 

COGlogoThrough 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.

 

Have you got anything to ask the Trust Chairman or the Trust Board? We believe in transparency and honesty and are keen to dispel any dodgy rumours doing the rounds. Send your questions directly to thechairman@killietrust.org if you would like a personal reply or indeed just post them on our Twitter or Facebook pages and we will do our best to make sure that you get an answer.

Its Good To Talk

Last week during discussions with the KFCSA committee, we suggested that it would be a good idea to invite Paul Goodwin (Head of Supporters’ Direct Scotland) along to their open meeting on our behalf due to his experience in dealing with clubs with problems like ours and his expertise in governance and community ownership; along with our own board member Andy Millar who obviously has a better handle on things from our perspective. Mr Goodwin graciously agreed to give his time, despite the fact it wasn’t primarily a Trust meeting, as part of his remit with SDS is to help out wherever possible when clubs are deemed to be in trouble.

Mr Goodwin has subsequently received a request from Michael Johnston, Chairman of Kilmarnock FC, to meet with himself and new director William Bowie on the proviso that the talks would take place prior to the KFCSA open meeting on Thursday. The invitation was extended to a couple of representatives from both the Trust and the KFCSA, but unfortunately it has been arranged at too short notice for that to happen in the time frame requested. We have offered to meet with the club directors at the earliest possible convenience for all parties and hope that a reply to our legal representatives and the verification of our recent share acquisition is on the agenda.

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We’ll Support You Evermore

This post has been reblogged from Craig Andersons SPLstats blog. You may have caught him on twitter using the @splstats handle, if you havent but do have a twitter account i encourage you to start following him, you wont regret it. It goes without saying that this represents the views of the author and not of the Trust of which he has no connection except perhaps as a paid up member but we feel it is a well written piece on the nature of the current state of the club and the support.

SPLstats

Supporting a football club is an inherently irrational decision which is more about emotional attachment than solid logic.  Many of us follow our sides across the country week after week, regardless of how the team is performing on the pitch.  Against all logic, we make long journeys to watch run-of-the-mill league games, even if form suggests a victory is unlikely.  Supporters of most clubs will endure far more bad days than they will good ones, but it’s the great ones that make it worth it.

For most, that support is unconditional – they’ll support the team regardless of what happens on or off the pitch.  But many clubs take advantage of this blind loyalty, taking their supporters for granted when making decisions and hoping that people will keep coming back regardless of how they are treated.  Clubs do occasionally listen to their supporters – the Rangers newco vote in the…

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