Killie Trust

Club Director Monthly Update - December 2020

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18/12/2020

Dear Killie Trust member,

Welcome to the December Director’s Update where once again I aim to let you know about some of the key developments in the Club and give some information on what is happening behind the scenes, while we can’t come together at matches in the stadium.

 
Update on Covid-19

The impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt by clubs across Scotland, and Kilmarnock is no different in feeling the impact of loss of revenue, while fans are unable to attend matches.  At this point in time we are heading towards a significant loss for the financial year, and have continued on the business side to prioritise doing as much as we can to bring money in. 

The Board is grateful to the Killie Trust for continued financial input which, along with personal commitments of finance from Billy Bowie and Phyllis McLeish, has ensured that we can continue to function.

We are also immensely grateful to the fans who bought season passes, made purchases in the Killie Shop and/or Killie Club, used Pay-per-View, became shareholders or added to their shares, and subscribed to the Killie Cares Fund, all of which has helped see us through difficult times.

The Scottish Government has indicated that there will be some funding for football made available, although for Premiership clubs this would be in form of loans. We have no further information on this but hope to hear the detail soon.

We were disappointed by the outcome of the SPFL tribunal regarding Covid-19 breaches. We were pleased that it was accepted that our stadium arrangements were acceptable. However, the Club ultimately accepted that by following, in good faith, the general Scottish Government guidelines regarding bus seating and matchday meal seating in hotels while travelling to away match, this was not as a whole in line with what SPFL specifically required. We have asked that the SPFL revise and update guidance to all clubs, as we believe others had been following the same procedures.

The Club was particularly disappointed at the sanctions imposed as we believe these were not proportionate, and we have submitted an appeal. We do not have a confirmed date for the Appeal hearing as yet.

We have regular monitoring and review of our Covid protocols, which involves the Club Secretary, Health and Safety Officer, Club Doctor, Club Safety Officer, Safety Officer and Stadium staff, with update advice issued to players and staff on a weekly basis.

 

Route Map for fans' return to football

Since my last report, we are not any nearer to seeing fans return to the stadium. Directors have participated in calls with the SPFL on discussions with Scottish Government to try to establish a route map for this, particularly given the limited return of fans in EPL.

Billy Bowie and I held a Zoom meeting with local elected representatives involving the main political parties and covering UK and Scottish Parliaments and East Ayrshire Council. As well as briefing them on the current position in relation to KFC, we sought their support to raise the issue and seek to find a way forward which would give a clearer indication of when and how fans may be able to return.

This is particularly important as we move into the new year, when we would normally be starting to plan for the following season and our season ticket campaign. As things stand, we would face significant financial issues if fans were not able to return at all this season.

All of the representatives fully understood the wider impact on the community as well as on the football club itself.

 

Fan Satisfaction Survey

Thank you to the 393 fans who took the time to complete the Club Fan Satisfaction Survey. This is the first time we have used an online survey and the feedback has been very useful.
 
In summary, this is what the survey results told us:
 
Killie TV
 
General feedback from fans was that  match commentary has improved with the addition of former players, with overwhelming demand to see this continue.

• Of the 274 people who replied to the question about the Killie TV support system: 32% Very Positive, 31% positive, 35% neutral, 1% negative, 1% very negative (1%  equates to 7 people)
• 92% of respondents said the PPV information was easy to find and follow.
 
Killie Shop
 

344 fans answered the question about visiting the shop in the past three months and they were asked about the new range in-store and online.

• 47% had a very positive experience, 34% positive, 17% neutral, 2% negative (equates to 5 people)
• There was a mix of suggestions on what people would like to see next (including more retro tops, which will be coming soon! )
 
Match Programme
 
• 60% of the 392 replies said they had not bought a programme in the past 12 months
• There was a mix of replies to why people do and don’t buy the programme, which we are analysing further
• 69% of the 375 replies would not be in favour of the programme being digital-only

 

Killie Club

• 264 fans replied with views on the refurbished Killie Club and the standard of the food with 40% very positive, 32% positive, 26% neutral
• Of the 380 replies, 49% said the addition of the coffee shop element would make them more like to visit the Killie Club, 32% perhaps, 19% no
 
A number of suggestions made in the survey will be explored  further, including the match programme, as we would like to ensure the content and style appeals across all of our supporters, including our junior fans. 

Commercial

Retail

As outlined in my introduction, the retail operations have been a crucial part of bringing revenue into the Club. During the level 4 lockdown, the shop was not able to open to customers, but continued to take online orders and operate a Click and Collect system. Sales have continued to be good, with a record-breaking sales in the Home & Away jerseys, supported by the great uptake on the Cyber Monday and Black Friday offers, which lead to almost 300 jerseys being sold in the 4-day weekend. You can visit the shop online here.

The Killie LTD clothing range, which was developed taking account of feedback from fans who wanted a modern, fresh take on apparel that wasn’t heavily club branded has sold over 500 units to date. The Ladies full zip hoody, which was introduced in the line early December has now sold over half of the stock levels. The commercial team have some great plans to enhance this line as we head into 2021.

The Blue Bricks have been selling extremely well, with almost 250 sold to date. These will start to appear on the wall this side of Christmas, so if you got in there fast, keep your eyes peeled for you brick appearing very soon.

The launch of our first book in over a decade with Kilmarnock FC: 150 Years in the Making has been a monumental success for us. The book has sold over 600 copies so far and we are on track to have most of our initial stock sold early in January 2021. Fans waiting to get their hands on it needn’t worry, as we’ll make sure there is enough stock as we head into the new year.

This year we missed our annual Calendar signing, which is always a great event that the Players love as it allows them to interact with our fans. Sadly, due to the global pandemic, we have had to abandon plans for this event. To ensure fans didn’t miss out, we made sure that every copy would come signed and produced the 2021 issue with pre-signed signatures. This will allow fans the chance to show off their favourite player’s signature as it’s pinned on their walls. These are available in the Killie Shop instore and online for £10.

 

Killie Club

With the Killie Club again having been impacted by the Covid restrictions, the decision was taken not to re-open when level 4 was reduced to level 3. This decision was taken based on previous experience of numbers using the facility and estimated takings. Going forward and depending on the future limitations as a result of Covid, we will review how best we can use the space – bearing in mind that it was originally developed to provide for a busy matchday, to accommodate evening events and to double up for players meals on training days.

Killie Cares Fund (formerly Killie Lotto)

850 people on average are now playing on the Killie Cares Fund online platform. The commercial team is looking at how best to promote this to our supporters in the new year. So keep your eyes peeled for some new incentives that are planned to be rolled out as we head into 2021.

Killie Heritage Brand

Another new partnership between the Killie Trust and the Club saw the launch of the Killie Heritage brand, where the Trust has become the latest officially-licensed partner. This has allowed the Trust to begin the sale of limited-edition prints, and have access to photographic archives, to develop more niche items than can be stocked in the shop.

 

Media and Communications
As well as working on the Fan Satisfaction Survey, the team worked with the commercial staff on our 12 Days of Christmas campaign. This was designed to thank various sponsors and partners and, as a result of their ongoing support, a number of prize draws were offered to supporters.

The We Are Killie Podcast with Manager Alex Dyer has been one of the most listened to in the series, and gave fans the chance to find out more about his background and interests as well as his football philosophy.

In addition to daily social media and website updates, the team has continued to experiment with different feature formats for our Killie TV coverage including Stuart Findlay’s Breakdown of a Game and marking Kirk Broadfoot’s 100 Killie appearances.
 
Additional input has given more publicity to the Women’s Team. The Head of Media has been working with City of Glasgow College to enable students to be involved in match reporting for Women’s Team, and ensure there is also cover for match photos.

The Head of Media has also been working with the Killie Trust in relation to the Killie Histories podcast, and how we can ensure that they can be continued and given as much exposure as possible.

 

Football Department
The last few fixtures have not been as successful as we would have hoped and the Manager has been working with the players to address this as we move into the busy Christmas fixture list. Discussions are also taking place ahead of the January transfer window. The Board has tried to protect the budget for playing side despite overall finances being tight.  The Football Department is working hard to ensure we are able to have the strongest possible squad available, however it is a reality that, like many other clubs, we do not have the ability to move outside of what has been budgeted.

The Youth Academy programme has continued in line with Covid restrictions, and we have utilised the Government’s flexible furlough scheme to support staff for whom their usual hours / duties are not available.

The schools programme takes a break over the Christmas period and will return in January. Staff will continue on furlough either in whole or in part until programmes resume.

Discussions have continued with the Scottish Football Association on the future shape of youth Academy football, as the requirements of Project Brave are proving challenging financially for many clubs. However, we have not yet received information on the detail of any changes, or the finances which will support youth academies going forward. As a Club, we have made clear that we are committed to having a Youth Academy which will provide best experience we can for young players, and which has positive links with KCST and young teams – boys and girls – going forward.

After a long association with KFC as a player and Head of Academy recruitment/coach Alan Mahood has left the club to pursue other opportunities and we wish him well for the future. 

The Women’s team fixtures have now ended for 2020 and will return in 2021.  Several new signings have been brought on board and the team hope to have improved results in the months ahead. It has been good to see more of our fans taking an interest in the women’s team and showing their support on social media. 

 

Community Engagement
Covid restrictions continue to make it difficult to be involved in as many community initiatives as we would like. However, the Club was pleased to support and facilitate the annual Bring a Gift event, organised by KFCSA. This resulted in some 651 gifts and £125 in vouchers being handed over to East Ayrshire Churches Homelessness Action to help provide Christmas cheer to local children and young people.

On the same day, the Killie Trust organised a collection for East Ayrshire Foodbank, which also had a fantastic response.  Seeing everyone work together for the benefit of others, and the generous response of fans in these difficult times, was both humbling and brought a real sense of pride in our Killie family!

Captain Conker came along to support the event, which was great given involvement of the Killie Trust, KFCSA and KCST in bringing him to the Club!

More good work is being undertaken by KCST who have organised for hampers to be distributed to people in need as part of their Mission Christmas campaign. Thanks to the numerous club partners who generously donated to these.  I look forward to the activity around this being released over the next few days.

Sadly, the Players can’t visit the Children’s Ward at Crosshouse Hospital this year with our Charity Partner Crosshouse Children’s Fund (CCF), but the commercial and community team have made sure that they still got some Killie goodies and held a Zoom call on Friday 18th December for some of the Children to speak to a selection of our players.
 

 

Last but not least…
As Christmas approaches, everyone at the Club would like to wish you all the best for the festive season and the year ahead. We very much hope that we will be able to be back together as the Killie family in the near future, but meantime please enjoy Christmas safely!
 
I can be contacted in the usual ways:

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Cathy Jamieson
Twitter: @cathyjamieson
Instagram: cathyjamiesonkillie

Best wishes

Cathy

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