First of all, a warm welcome to the 19 new Trust members who have joined the Trust since my last report…it’s great to have more and more people involved! The Trust has a lot coming up and there are an increasing number of ways of getting involved, to benefit our Club – I will talk more about some of these in this monthly update.
Kilmarnock FC Annual General Meeting
The AGM took place on Wednesday 26 February and it was pleasing to see so many shareholders turn out for the event. As well as dealing with the formalities necessary at the AGM, the Club Board wanted to use this as an opportunity to review the Club’s activities over the past year and provide information about various aspects of the running of the Club. Club Directors reported on their areas of responsibility and then opened the floor to questions. James Fowler gave a presentation on his work as Head of Football Operations and he and Manager Alex Dyer participated in a Q and A.
Graeme Bryson from accountancy firm Wm Duncan & Co. was introduced as the new Company Secretary. Going forward, Graeme will be responsible for the shareholders register. The Club is aware that some historical records of shareholders require updating and streamlining to avoid people either being missed from AGM invites or receiving duplicate letters. We are also aware that some share transfers may not yet have been recorded. Graeme will be working on a new database to ensure records are updated and accurately noted in future. Meantime, if any shareholders have queries or information they wish to update, they should contact Graeme at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with me and I will pass on the information.
The Trust match day volunteers trial has been successful, leading to agreement between Club and Trust on a volunteer policy and role descriptions. Working with the Club, the Killie Trust will be looking to recruit volunteers to help with:
Being point of contact in ticket office for complimentary ticket collection.
Meeting members of the press and giving them access passes.
Taking team lines to various locations in the stadium.
Providing assistance to KFCDSA to deliver half time refreshments to disabled fans.
Being a point of contact in Moffat Stand for young people attending matches without an adult.
There will also continue to be other opportunities to help with various projects as they arise. Having Trust volunteers help stuff envelopes for the AGM invites made short work of the task, and there was welcome assistance from volunteers in clearing up the stadium post-match in the recent hectic run of home fixtures.
It is great to see the huge progress that’s been made since this was first suggested and is evidence of the real partnership working now in place with Club and Trust. Further details will be sent to Trust members in near future, but meantime anyone interested should contact Trust Chair Jim Thomson at email@example.com
As I said in my last report, the Killie Trust now has a significant part-ownership of our Club, which brings responsibilities. A very good working relationship has been developed between Club and Trust, evidenced not least by monthly Trust Board meetings now taking place in the Club - and our upcoming Director training will strengthen this relationship. This event will cover, amongst other areas, the legal responsibilities of Directorship and the history of Supporters’ Trusts.
We are always looking for fresh ideas and skills on the Killie Trust Board, so if you are interested in joining and attending this event you can find out more on the Trust website.
February was a frustrating month on the first team football side, with the nerve-wracking cup match against Aberdeen a bit like our rollercoaster season as a whole. I know that players, management and backroom team were every bit as gutted as the fans were, but they had to pick themselves up quickly and get on with the next match.
Some fans have questioned whether Club would appeal the sending off in the Celtic match but, as Manager Alex Dyer confirmed in response to a question at the AGM, it is not possible to appeal a dismissal for two yellow cards.
A couple of free agent trialists did train at the Club, but this did not result in signings. The Head of Football Operations and Manager will continue to consider free agents but are also now focusing on contractual discussions with current players, and looking ahead to the type of players they want to bring in. At the AGM, James Fowler and Alex Dyer stressed that they want players who can bring something to the squad on the football side but will also fit with the ethos of the Club.
As Trust members will appreciate, a running commentary on contractual discussions isn’t possible but the Club will share information whenever contracts are agreed. Club Directors are in regular discussions with the Head of Football Operations on this and other football-related matters.
Congratulations to our under-18s who have secured a place in the Youth Cup Final. Although initially provisionally scheduled for the famous date of 24th April, it is now likely that the Final against Aberdeen will be held on Thursday 23rd April, with the venue to be confirmed. This is a fantastic achievement for the youth team and hopefully Killie fans will turn out in numbers to back them in the Final.
The Kilmarnock Women's FC season has now started and, with the first team now being fully under the Club umbrella, there has already been social media coverage of the squad. It is hoped to have more match reporting in future – this could be a good opportunity for media students and budding reporters!
After many months of discussion and work behind the scenes, we were delighted to announce that shirt sponsors for next season will be local company, Brownings the Bakers.
We have also concluded a deal for Hummel to be the kit manufacturer which will allow bespoke strips to be created. It will also allow the Club to have the retail rights for the shop brought back in-house, meaning that there is greater potential for a wider range of merchandise and a different look to the shop.
Further sponsorships are in final stages of discussion and will be announced in near future.
Last month I reported that work was continuing on the Club database and I’m pleased to report that it has been completed and launched. This will make ticketing simpler for fans for Old Firm and other busy matches. If you are not already on the database, or not sure, you may want to get in touch with Ticketing Manager Katrina Watson firstname.lastname@example.org so that you can get easy access to ticket purchases in future.
The 150th anniversary book is in the final stages of proofing and will be available for fans to purchase very soon. The book has been created using pictures from our new and extensive archive that the team have been working on building over the past year. Fans will see plenty of familiar faces, but there are some unearthed gems in here as well. A true collector’s piece for any Killie fan. There will be a limited run, so be sure to grab your copy.
Behind the scenes operational and regulatory requirements are not always the most exciting aspects of the football world to report back on - but they are vital to keep the ball in play! I have continued my involvement in refreshing of policies and procedures around governance, and working with our HR Advisor to ensure that we are adhering to best practice in employment. This has meant reviewing and updating all employee contracts and ensuring our service level agreements are fully updated and compliant with legislative changes coming into force in April 2020.
I also met with KFCDSA to update our Disabled Access policy. This will shortly be posted on the Club website, giving details of how the Club is working to improve facilities for disabled fans, as well as key match day contacts for both our own and visiting disabled supporters.
It has been a busy period for the Club Secretary Karen Costello in the lead up to the SFA Club Audit, ensuring all paperwork is up to date and the regulatory requirements are all in order.
At the previous ‘On Board…In Person’ event, I was asked if we could have an organisational structure chart on the club website so that fans could identify who key people are, and where responsibilities lie. I gave a commitment that we would look to have information available when the staff restructure was completed. Now that the changes have been made, I have had further discussions with the media team on how best we can make the information available. We are now looking at having a section on website which will give this information.
In the meantime, members might find it useful to know that Matthew McGuire - who had been assisting with the development of ticketing and the new Killie Cares Fund - is moving across from the Portland Road Office to the stadium to assist the Club Secretary with policy and regulatory matters, including assisting with administration for Kilmarnock Women's FC.
Katrina Watson will continue to be based in the ticket office, and be the first point of contact for all ticketing queries.
The media team have continued to work on increased communications via all social media platforms, with coverage on first team, reserves, academy, ladies, community, commercial and hospitality.
Additional camera equipment has been purchased to help make further improvements possible. With volunteers already involved in Killie TV and supporting on matchdays, Head of Media Scott McClymont has been exploring opportunities for partnerships with colleges which could provide valuable opportunities for media students to get experience on the job.
The ‘We Are Killie’ podcasts are continuing, with Scott McClymont and Neil Hobson working with Gavin Wallace on the production. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make this possible, often with logistical challenges to fit in recording time around players’ training schedules!
Following up on last month’s report, the mascot costume has now arrived and the wearer recruited. More information will follow soon on the launch. Thanks again to the Killie Trust and KFCSA for sharing the cost of the mascot outfit.
I attended the working group which was formed to plan for the Open Day which is scheduled for Sunday 26th July 2020. I will provide more detailed information in my next update.
I attended the Board meeting of KCST, where the past year was reviewed and forward plans agreed. A report was also provided at the Club AGM. Key points of interest are:
Plans to offer more opportunities for disadvantaged young people to attend sessions with KCST at Easter school holiday.
Opportunities to work with the Killie Trust to build on success of the ‘Weigh to Go' Programme by starting sessions for women.
Explore possibility of walking football for women.
Discussion took place on bringing the FC Kilmarnock girls teams under the umbrella of KCST and this is being progressed.
Funding is always on the agenda for KCST and a further meeting has been set up to discuss how we can grow the available funding pot to reach out more, both to young people and adults, including continued support for the Football Memories Group. Any offers of help to raise funds would be welcome, but fans can also help by donating to KCST and Killie Trust members who are doing the Kiltwalk. As well as benefitting from Gift Aid from the government, Sir Tom Hunter generously tops up 50% on fundraising up to £5,000 so this is a wonderful extra opportunity to support Trust and KCST work!
The Killie Cares Fund (previously Killie Lotto) has been formally launched after a transition period. After prize money and running costs have been deducted, all surplus will be used to support KCST, Kilmarnock FC Youth Academy and FC Kilmarnock Ladies. The Fund has an app – I have tried it and it is really easy to use!
The club continues to support local groups and organisations by providing complimentary tickets for the Moffat Stand. Community Manager Paul di Giacomo is the person to contact for this at PaulDiGiacomo@Kilmarnockfc.co.uk
Requests for match tickets for fundraising raffles can be directed to Christine Cuthbertson in the Commercial Department at Christine@kilmarnockfc.co.uk
Challenging Racism and Sectarianism
At Kilmarnock FC we pride ourselves on being a community club which is inclusive and open to all. We were therefore concerned at a report originating on social media alleging that a Killie fan had been involved in racist abuse directed at a Rangers FC player. As a Board of Directors, we took this matter extremely seriously and quickly made a public statement emphasizing that we do not tolerate this kind of behavior amongst our supporters, and anyone identified would be banned from attending our matches. Alex Dyer was asked about the issue in a pre-match press interview and he also made it plain that anyone holding racist attitudes should stay away from Rugby Park. We asked that anyone with information come forward so that it be investigated further. Through our Safety Officer, liaison was undertaken with the Police, and the matter was subsequently put into their hands.
It was good to see that the response from our fans was to condemn any form of discriminatory behavior and language and it acted as a wakeup call to us all to ensure that we practice what we preach at Kilmarnock FC and ensure that in our language, including songs, we are not crossing a line.
I know it is frustrating for fans who feel that others are not challenged enough for their actions and language but, first and foremost, we will put our own house in order.
It was extremely disappointing to see our club captain Gary Dicker being subjected to sectarian abuse on social media – the matter is now in the hands of the police. Having been involved in many anti-racism campaigns over the years, including Show Racism the Red Card, and working to support organisations like Nil by Mouth and Sense over Sectarianism, I know that it can be difficult to change attitudes and behavior. But I also know that change is possible where there is a willingness by individuals to bring people together and make change happen.
I gave an interview to a newspaper on this issue a few months ago. If you haven’t seen it, you can find the transcript here
Getting in touch
I am always happy to hear from Trust Members and supporters who have feedback and suggestions.
I can be contacted at email@example.com and you can follow me on social media below.