Killie Trust

Club Director Monthly Update - May/ June 2021

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10/06/2021

 

Dear Killie Trust member,

Given the position the Club is now in, this is undoubtedly the most difficult report I have had to write since joining the Board. Like all fans, I was absolutely gutted that we lost out in the playoff matches, and relegation became the reality we had all dreaded. It was particularly disappointing that we lost those matches with such poor performances, especially as we had a number of fans back in the stadium for the home leg.

Without wishing to go over old ground, I do want to reiterate the apology that the Board made immediately after the match. We felt that we had to take our responsibilities seriously and convey the message to fans that we aim to make changes which will hopefully see our time in the Championship be as brief as possible. We also felt it important to give assurances that there was a plan in place to rebuild the squad, and that the Manager was ready to lead this on the football side.

Given the amount of direct communication with fans, and media involvement, in the immediate aftermath, as well as the need for the Board to be working closely with the Manager and Head of Football Operations on implementing the rebuilding strategy, I decided to hold off completing this report until that was done, and initial player departures and signings were completed.

 

Football Department
As supporters will now be aware, a significant number of players were released immediately, and we wish them well with whatever comes next. A number of players were offered contracts and those who did not wish to accept have also left. Some discussions are still ongoing at the time of writing, and we have also seen new players signed quickly.

I am sure that supporters will understand that Tommy and James have a plan in place, with the Board giving financial backing, and wish to do as much of the rebuild as they can at an early stage, given the start of new season is only a matter of weeks away.

We were disappointed to see quotes attributed to Kyle Lafferty in a newspaper, implying that the Club had not acted properly with regard to himself. As Trust members and other supporters have heard me say before (sometimes to their immense frustration!), the Club does not conduct its business or negotiations in public or provide a minute-by-minute running commentary on these matters. Often that means having to ignore rumours and speculation without responding. 

However, on this occasion we did feel it was important to quickly set the record straight, and outline our position. It is disappointing that his time with the Club has ended on a somewhat sour note, but we wish him well and we must move on to ensure that the squad is rebuilt with players who want to play for us with the passion and commitment that fans expect and deserve.

Plans are under way for a preseason training camp in Northern Ireland at end of June, to allow the new players time to work and get to know each other ahead of the first Cup games in early July.

 

Season Tickets

I’m delighted to report that there has been an amazing response to Season Tickets going on sale, with a record 1700 being sold in the first week.

This season’s offering was revised in light of feedback from fans through the focus group, and saw the introduction of a new under-18 category, to take account of young people still being at school, a much cheaper under-16 ticket and free under-5 ticket.

The intention is to try to create a pathway which will get children along to matches when restrictions lift, giving them an early connection with their club and hopefully creating lifelong supporters!

In recognition of the fact that fans who bought season passes last year had not received the matches promised, those fans were offered a loyalty discount, in addition to the special edition retro shirt which is being created. I appreciate that some fans who have held season tickets for many years but did not buy last year for whatever reason have been unhappy with this, but it was essentially designed to offer something those fans who did buy. We also appreciate that some fans may have circumstances which mean they need to have a refund and arrangements have been made for that where needed.

Any queries regarding ticketing can be addressed to [email protected].

As well as the fantastic response to season ticket sales, many fans have asked how else they can contribute to the Club. Some have offered to donate the “discount” received either directly to the Club, or Killie Trust, while others have offered to purchase season tickets to go to supporters who can’t afford them. The Killie Hippo Fanzine has received a number of offers of family tickets, and in response to a suggestion from Trust members, there is a facility for fans to donate what they can afford specifically for this, with the Trust continuing to work with the local Social Work Department to identify families who can benefit.

If anyone wishes to contribute via the Trust, please email [email protected]

Once restrictions are lifted the Club will continue to provide free tickets to community groups and organisations so please make any suggestions and we can keep these on file ready to go!  

Please feel free to email me [email protected] or Paul di Giacomo at KCST [email protected].

COVID-19 and fans in stadium
With Covid levels being reduced, a number of fans have been asking about anticipated numbers being allowed back into stadium and when this may happen.

At time of writing, we do not have a decision from the relevant authority on how many will be allowed in. Obviously we want to maximise the numbers to ensure season ticket holders will be able to access, but we cannot give any concrete information at this point.

We appreciate the co-operation from the fans who were in attendance in adhering to entry and exit arrangements. The authorities appeared to be happy with the safety arrangements for the home playoff leg and we are hopeful that this will stand the club in good stead.

 

Commercial
As announced at AGM, work has now commenced on converting the “Killie Club” to accommodate the shop and a museum / exhibition area, which will double up as a lower cost hospitality offering on match days. The work on this development is being funded by Club Director Phyllis McLeish. The new shop will open in July, with new strips and leisurewear ranges due to be on offer. The existing shop building will be removed. 

Hospitality offerings will be dependent on Covid restrictions, but we are hopeful that we will shortly be able to see the 1869 Suite back in operation for small events.

I joined Club Ambassador Ray Montgomerie and Supporter Liaison Officer Allen Kyle to hand out the signed shirts to those who had sponsored them last year. Once again, we were limited in what we could do given restrictions, but were able to get sponsors into the ground for socially distanced photographs. You can read more here.

Ray is currently working on securing advertisers for next season, so if anyone wishes to advertise on boards at the stadium, or to sponsor a player’s home or away shirt, please get in touch with him directly [email protected].

These sources of income are vital to the Club and the commitment from advertisers and sponsors is much appreciated. I will again be sponsoring the Nil by Mouth advertising board in the Chadwick Stand. 
 

 

Stadium Developments
Work has also begun on the memorial garden which will be situated along the wall which runs from the 1869 Suite towards the Ticket Office. The plan is to have an area of turf from the old grass pitch available for those who wish to scatter ashes, and for fans to be able to buy memorial plaques to remember loved ones. We do not have the full details of how this will work as yet, but if anyone is interested please contact Gregg McEwan, Head of Commercial and Marketing [email protected] and he can keep you updated. I have already received a number of queries and these have been collated and passed on to Gregg.

Planning permission has been granted by the local council for office space at the top of the Moffat Stand. This will be created by removing 10 rows of seating at the rear of the stand and installing prefabricated buildings. This will affect 32 people who have had season tickets in that area and they will be relocated.

I appreciate that there has been some confusion over the purpose of these offices, so its maybe helpful if I clarify that these are offices for staff and not for letting out. The office premises at Portland Road were a short-term solution, and have not been used since the pandemic began, as staff have been working from home or within temporary areas within the stadium. The development will allow for space for Academy and Community staff, bringing everyone into the stadium campus. Discussions are ongoing regarding letting out of the old fitness centre building. 

Preparation is also under way for installation of the viewing platform for disabled supporters in the Moffat Stand. Seats are being removed to create space for the ramp, which has been fabricated off site, and the shelter to be installed.  

Work on the office space is being funded by Club Director Billy Bowie and the Disabled platform and viewing area by the Killie Trust.

We are also exploring options for siting the Sensory Room within this area as well as alternative locations in the stadium.
Ray Montgomerie and Provost, Jim Todd, at the site of the memorial garden.
Photo credit: Douglas Reid, Twitter.

 

Media
The media team has been focused on the aftermath of the playoffs, players leaving, new signings and of course the season ticket campaign, Heart of our Homeland, which was designed as recognition that fans are at the heart of our club and how much we have missed having them in the stadium. 

As well as the interview with Club Directors post-playoffs, there have been interviews with the Manager and the Head of Football Operations. I did interviews with BBC, STV, Sky Sports and Westsound, and Phyllis McLeish has done an interview with the Kilmarnock Standard. 

Over the next few preseason weeks, the media team will be working on content to help fans get to know the new squad members, not forgetting the final matches of the season for Women’s Team. They will also be working on content from the preseason training camp to keep fans updated.

 

Youth Academy
Academy Director Paul McDonald has provided this report for the Killie Trust, as official Academy Partners: 

“We have now reached the conclusion of the 20-21 season for the u18s and it has been an extremely positive and exciting time for our young players. The u18s missed out narrowly from qualifying for the European Youth League, taking the competition to the last day of the season before finally succumbing to Celtic at home. Our boys thoroughly proved they are a match for their counterparts in the top academies in Scotland. 

It has also been extremely encouraging for all of our young academy players that the pathway has been somewhat re-established with another two academy players Ross Smith (u18) and Jon Craig (u17) joining the first team squad for the final playoff game of the season. Hopefully a sign of things to come. 

Jon Craig and Steven Warnock joined up with the National u19 squad at beginning of June, joining our former academy player Liam Smith (Manchester City) in the 20-man squad. 

We are waiting to announce our new academy fulltime players who will be joining us this summer. 

On a negative note, we have to wish those players who did not receive new contracts the very best of luck in the future and thank them for their time with us. They have been an absolute pleasure to coach and fingers crossed they will bounce back. Hopefully they all leave with many happy memories, such as the Scottish Youth Cup Semi Final win.  

Our u17s remain unbeaten in the CAS Cup competition beating our Ayrshire rivals Ayr 4-0 in May. We have a number of players from this group also in the reckoning of the next u17 National Squad, which will be announced shortly.

Finally, a thank you to the parents of our players for being so respectful to all of the difficult guidelines set out due to Covid which denied them the opportunity to watch their sons play for us.”
 
The Club will be shortly be restarting the review of the Academy set up with a view to ensuring that we get the best outcomes for talented young players. I have had some queries regarding the set up for the girls’ / women’s Academy, particularly in relation to the opportunity for girls for the School of Football at the McIlvanney Campus. This is something which I will pick up and report back on in due course. 

 

Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust
The community team has been busy out and about going into schools in East and North Ayrshire and this will continue throughout June.  These visits include using the Hexagol, and also the schools programme, with Mini Kickers and Walking Football also on the agenda. 

We have had discussions on how Club and KCST can work to extend community work into North Ayrshire, and also with Club, Trust, KCST, East Ayrshire Council and the Cruyff Foundation on possible community projects.

 

Child Protection and Welfare
As part of work undertaken for Club Licensing Audit, and in response to the SFA Report on Historic Abuse in Football, the Club has identified a number of areas where we could make changes to provide increased safety for young people, and also do more to ensure that the needs and views of young people are sought and listened to. I have joined the SFA Working Group on Child Wellbeing and Protection and will be involved in regular discussions on best practice and developing policy.

I am in the process of bringing together a small advisory group to support the work of our Child Wellbeing and Protection Officer Charlie Adams, and to develop closer links with the Killie Trust and supporters’ groups. The demands will not be onerous but could involve meetings (mostly online) helping review and refresh policy and procedures, and generally contributing to good practice.  

If any Trust member has a background relevant to child protection and wellbeing and is interested in assisting with this group, please contact me [email protected].

 

Thank you to Killie Trust members
I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the Trust members who have been in touch restating their commitment to the Trust and the Club. It is often the case that times of crisis or difficulty can bring people together for a common cause and, after the initial shock and anger of relegation, the response from Trust members and fans generally has been constructive and supportive. New members joining, additional subscriptions to ‘Trust in Killie’, and offers of practical help have all been very welcome.  

Trust Chair Jim Thomson will be putting out further calls for specific roles, but meantime if you have skills to offer, please get in touch [email protected].

 

Contacts
Just a reminder that I can be contacted in following ways:

Email : [email protected]
Twitter: @cathyjamieson
Instagram: cathyjamiesonkillie
Facebook: cathy jamieson 

Club staff, the Supporter Liaison Officer, the Child Wellbeing and Protection Officer and Kilmarnock Football Club Disabled Supporters Association (KFCDSA) can be contacted directly with details available on club website here.

Best wishes

Cathy

 

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