From The Archives: FFTF Crossbar Challenge

000_0051At half time of the last home game of the 2003/2004 season 10 Killie fans donned their boots and took to the Rugby Park pitch to promote the recently introduced Fifty for the Future scheme by having a go at the “crossbar challenge” which was made famous on Sky Sports “Soccer AM” TV show. If you aren’t familiar with it, each person has to strike a dead ball from the centre spot (or edge of the centre circle in this case) and hit the crossbar. Quite simple really…..but also really hard.

Though not a fund raiser it was used to embed the idea of FFTF firmly in everyone’s mind. Judging by the success over the course of that scheme, I would say it worked.

000_0050000_0049000_0047000_0048000_0046000_0044000_0045Oh and no one managed to hit the bar, not unlike the TV version most weeks.000_0043

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New Year, New Board Member

67642_433575716712950_578679963_nWe recently reported that we would be adding new faces to the Trust Board and today we are delighted to announce that Killie’s own Tommy Adams has been co-opted on as a director. Tommy is a local legend and well known in the community not only for the sterling work he has done for the football club but as the most popular Killie fan south of Symington as a result of plying his trade as “the people’s DJ” in pubs and clubs throughout Ayrshire and beyond.

Since departing the club’s commercial department in 2014, Tommy has started up his own promotional company which sets up advertising opportunities for businesses with football clubs and he has already secured clients from Junior level all the way up to SPFL. In less than a month he managed to sell all the advertising space on club calendars for six clients which helps illustrate how important Tommy is going to be to us.

It goes without saying that we see this as a bit of a coup and we hope that Tommy can help persuade disenfranchised local business people back to supporting the football club through the Killie Trust. Tommy, like us, shares the belief that Kilmarnock FC should be a hub for the community and in turn that the community will reciprocate by engaging once again with the club…at least that is how it should work! We hope that everyone will join us in welcoming Tommy back into the fold and spare him a minute when he comes calling…

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’.

From The Archives: To Somerset…..on foot

On 24th of July 2004 an intrepid band of Trust members set off from Rugby Park and walked the 16miles to a football ground south of Symington which in some circles is also known as Somerset Park, Ayr.

They weren’t doing this for no reason however, for one they were heading down to see the Westsound Trophy match between Killie and Ayr but also they were being sponsored to do so to help raise funds to sponsor Kilmarnock’s under 17 squad and also to aid local schools by helping purchase sports equipment.

They faced some fairly inclement weather with some early damping down giving way to a stiff breeze to dry them out on the approach to KA8.  Unfortunately, this was followed by a drenching towards the end of the journey, indeed a bit like the pattern of the game itself. Here they are before they set off however.

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From The Archives: Fan Lines Up with His Heroes

squad_07-08In this series we delve into the history of the Trust turn back time and look back on some of the things we have done or been involved with since we started back in ’03. Today we go back to 2007 when auctioned off some one of a kind items at our end of season Sportsmans Dinner. One of those prizes we organised with the club was to have the first fan (not including Monty, Hooky, Davie Sneddon etc…) to get into the team photo for the next season.

neil_lairdNeil Laird bid the most on the night and took his place on the front bench between manager Jim Jefferies and captain (now assistant manager) Gary Locke and rather bizarrely, in front of 5 (five) goalkeepers! On the day the club’s Anne Clark really went out of her way to make Neil and his guests feel at home and I am sure at the time he was the envy of all his mates.

There were other similar auction winners from that night who feature on here in the coming weeks and months.

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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Trust Statement 19/4/2014

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Following the announcement made by Kilmarnock FC before the Celtic match on Friday night, The Killie Trust would like to issue the following statement:

Kilmarnock Supporters’ Society Ltd (The Killie Trust) would like to welcome Billy Bowie, Jim Mann, David Moran and Russel Smith to the board of Kilmarnock Football Club. These appointments along with much needed investment will see the club become “debt free” and have a more stable boardroom structure. We hope this change signals the start of a new era for Scotland’s oldest professional club and is a sign of things to come, the link between a football club and its supporters is vital to its survival and a club’s relationship with its community must be nurtured. To that end the Killie Trust would urge fans to return to Rugby Park in numbers to support the team at this crucial time.

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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.”

COG Working Party Update – 18th February 2014

COGlogoThe spokesman for the Community Ownership Group Working Party Gary Torbett and Killie Trust Chairman Barry Richmond met with MSP Willie Coffey and Council Leader Douglas Reid at the East Ayrshire Council’s London Road offices yesterday. The meeting was to discuss the ongoing situation at Kilmarnock Football Club and to relate first hand to the politicians what the COG Working Party are all about, where they are at the moment and what they hope to achieve going forward. Talks proved constructive and it is hoped that with their help, and that of Supporters’ Direct, that a dialogue can be opened with KFC Chairman Michael Johnston in regards the best way forward for the club.

Response to Michael Johnston’s Recent Statement

In response to comments made by KFC Chairman Michael Johnston in todays Daily Record Gary Torbett had this to say on behalf of The Killie (Community) Working Party:

“Further to the announcement by The Killie (Community) Working Party [on the 11th of February 2014] of its intention to offer to purchase the shareholding of Michael Johnston, Chairman of Kilmarnock Football Club, in the event that the club were to become debt free, we are extremely disappointed that Mr Johnston has so swiftly and publicly dismissed our intentions.

“It is disappointing that this proposal has been dismissed so early into the process without any constructive dialogue with Mr Johnston. Mr Johnston has offered our group the opportunity to buy a seat on the board should it purchase circa 10% of the unallocated shares in the football club. It would not be appropriate for this particular group to purchase a tranche of shares at this time to obtain a seat on the board of Kilmarnock FC, given our stated purpose.

“The group would welcome, indeed we would urge for, the opportunity to meet with the football club to establish a mutually agreeable route to genuine community ownership, which has the club’s long term future in mind.

“Our doors remain firmly open to Mr Johnston.”

Supporters Direct Scotland has also reiterated its willingness to work with both parties.