Are we Dying in the Stands?

This post first appeared on http://www.killiefc.com forums on the Tuesday 6th January following the Celtic home match on the Monday night. It was posted by the forum user Punkit, otherwise known as Gary Torbett, who is a member of the Trust board.

It raised some interesting debate about the future of Killie and Scottish football in general so we have posted it here too for those who have missed it.

Buy a brick at Rugby ParkThe highest league crowd at RP this season has been, as we would expect, against Celtic. However, it was 5,329 – or under 30% of the stadium capacity, even allowing for seats their fans have previously ripped out to help us reduce our capacity.

Now, I’m not looking for a debate about the folly 20 years ago of building a stadium which was significantly larger than our average gates – even in 1964/65 when there were no distractions we only got about 10/12k. We have, from time to time, seen crowds over 15k, and sometimes not involving the Old Firm. We have to work with what we have got. Sadly, that is a stadium which could house about 40% of the population of the town and is therefore, somewhat unsurprisingly, never very full. But the percentage is interesting when we look at the two sports teams in the west who are, it seems, thriving.

Braehead Clan and Glasgow Warriors featured in the press on a few occasions pre Christmas as bucking the trend on increasing crowds while football is experiencing a fall in gates. Their crowds are, on the face of it small at averaging just under 4k and 6k respectively (give or take). However, when you consider that these teams have backsides on 95%+ of their seats every home game, it seems clear that they could both perhaps get bigger gates in bigger stadia and, perhaps more significantly, are doing something right that football isn’t. These are what we call minority sports remember.
Bear in mind that given the nature of the leagues these teams play in the vast majority of punters are home fans we can see that both have now got larger home supports than many SPL clubs, including our own. I believe less than 2k home fans were at RP last night.

So, is it price driven? To an extent yes, but I would suggest it is more a value for money issue. Clan’s match day tickets vary from £19 down to £15 with under 16s able to get in for £9. Warriors vary from £30 to £20 with all under 18 tickets £5 and there are over 60s and student concessions. You can also get £5 off adult tickets if you buy them online up to midnight before game day.

Perhaps not a huge difference from football overall. So why can these organisations be more successful at filling their grounds ?

I have never been to The Clan so it wouldn’t be fair to make comparisons, but my mate who is a die-hard Morton fan has had a season ticket for a few years now and enjoys it so much he goes to away games throughout the UK. He will always follow the ‘Ton but says he turns up, watches the game and goes home. There is no thrill to it all and his blind loyalty to attending Cappielow is what keeps that going for him. He loves football, supports the ‘Ton – end of. However, he ENJOYS fallowing The Clan and finds supporting them to be a pleasure rather than an obligation, dare I say a chore. He wonders how long the chore will survive.

I do, however, follow Warriors and can comment more on what they do- good and bad.

When rugby was amateur, and you harboured dreams to play for Scotland, you had to play for a suitably good club to pit your skills against top players. From there you could be selected for your district. So, if you were a good enough Killie player you would hope to get picked for Glasgow District. From there you would hope to get a Scotland B cap and then a full cap. Glasgow District are now the pro team we know as Glasgow Warriors which is why Ayrshire folk follow them. This is important because Glasgow played in front of fairly small crowds as an amateur team and this did not significantly change until about 5 years ago. So how have they moved from a small but loyal support to appeal to a whole new audience and effectively treble their crowds?

Matchday experience. This is in the main good. Bad points are that the prices could be a fiver less IMO and hospitality does not represent good value. That said, they are 95%+ full and hospitality is heaving. Market forces and all that. The majority of players in both teams are also full international caps so I suppose you are definitely watching a high standard of game at that price.

Contrary to belief, it is not just the availability of alcohol that makes the experience good. Cold lager in January is not always appealing ! However, the atmosphere in the compact stadium is excellent and people generally arrive a good hour before ko. Why?

Well, ok, beer. But also a varied choice of food; Junior tournaments (final played at HT on main pitch); coaches and a couple of non-selected players mingling and talking to supporters in the bar pre match and with man of the match post match; Head Coach and players mingling and talking to hospitality guests and business club members pre and post match (They stay until the guests leave !); Kids Zone for pre and post match activities and where players are obliged to sign autographs and get photos taken straight after the match for as many kids as are there.

All in all it’s an experience designed to satisfy adults and families alike with loads going on in the stadium before and after the game. It’s not about just turning up, watching the game and going home.

Community involvement. I think the fact that the Community section of their website extends to 6 pages of initiatives explains what they are doing right there. Have a look http://www.glasgowwarriors.org/community

Have Warriors outgrown Scotstoun? Not yet, but the recent derby in Edinburgh attracted just under 16k so maybe soon. I would suggest they have a winning formula there and would want to stay.

Of course, this is all helped by a successful team who challenge at the top of an international league and with a young, enthusiastic coach who appreciates what the support means to the club and vice versa. Gregor Townsend will tell you in no uncertain terms that he believes the players perform well not just because they are good and have a good coaching team, but because of the feeling of belonging they get being part of the whole set up in a forward thinking environment.

Now…Nicola (Sturgeon) knows all this. I wonder what the stumbling blocks are to getting these sort of initiatives in place are ? What are we waiting for ? Wil it be too late ?

We can no longer say ‘Aye, but that’s Football – it’s always been that way’.

Chairman Responds

The Scottish Daily Mail has run with a story today with quotes from our Chairman about our Trust writing to Michael Johnston as part of a takeover bid. He responded to the article on the fans forum so we thought our members might be interested in what was behind the article.

bazbio“Community ownership is a long term process and plans have to be made, so this is just a small piece of the jigsaw so to speak. We have been having discussions with local business people about COG and reacting to the feedback…and the general consensus was that our previous meeting with the chairman, which came to no conclusion, should be followed up with an official letter to try and clarify the position regards the majority shareholding and what it would take to procure that.

It is really no biggie and nothing we have not done already, only in writing this time so there can be no dubiety about what has been said, it just looks like news because it is in the newspaper. I was surprised at the call, the journalist seemed to know a lot about it and it would appear that the call emanated from a conversation with a Killie fan in Serbia…but it is not like there was anything to hide or anything to shock anyone here, so there was no point in being secretive. Anyone who pays their money and joins the Trust can come to a board meeting and hear the exact same.

On a positive note, other feedback suggests that we really have to ramp up the publicity about the Trust and COG as despite everything we do there are still fans out there who do not know what its all about and some who just do not get what we have done and are trying to achieve. I dare say that if we had gone to the papers with something as trivial as this it would have been roundly ignored so maybe not issuing press releases about every single thing we do is the way to get them interested enough to give us some coverage!”

It does appear to be a bit of a non-story but if nothing else it highlights that there are positive steps being taken behind the scenes on the COG front and the media attention would suggest that at long last community ownership is on the agenda, and not before time. Hopefully the establishment and the Scottish public are finally waking up to the fact that the way our game is run is what is killing it and that any hope of survival for us all is to ensure that if we are not running our clubs ourselves for the benefit of the community then at the very least those who are should be better regulated and made accountable for their actions.

COGblogYou can follow the progress of our COG initiative here – https://thekillietrust.wordpress.com/

Win Scotland Tickets & Help The Trust

A Killiefc.com forum member who goes by the username Jimmy Superscot has kindly donated two tickets to each of the upcoming Scotland international qualifiers at Hampden this coming week for the Trust to auction. All proceeds of the auctions will go directly to The Killie Trust COG Fund and we are extremely grateful of his generosity.

Heres the info for you if you are wishing to make a bid.

  • Both auctions are on the killiefc.com forum and you can get to the bidding by clicking either of these two links. Serbia and Macedonia.
  • Auctions end for Serbia match Wednesday 5th September at midnight and Macedonia at midnight on Friday 7th September.
  • Tickets will be sent special delivery in order for them to arrive on time for each match.
  • Tickets are both matches are for section B1 row UU.

Best of luck when bidding and thank you for your support.