Killie Trust

April 2021

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Once again it has been a busy period for the Club with both Scottish Cup and SPFL matches. It has been good to see wins in our cup ties to make it to the quarter finals, and followed by the league win on Wednesday night.

It continues to be frustrating that fans can’t be in the ground for these matches, particularly as there is always something special about Cup ties! The Cup match against St Mirren will take place on Monday 26 April at 7:45pm and will be shown live on the BBC.

This month’s report is in a slightly different format as I thought it would be useful to recap on the key points from the presentations at the recent Club AGM and provide some further information on some of the issues in response to points raised by fans.
 
Attendance at the Annual General Meeting
Of the 191 shareholders who registered to attend, 162 joined the proceedings on the night.  

12 shareholders submitted questions in advance, with the Directors, Company Secretary, Head of Football Operations and Manager covering the various topics in their presentations.

A few shareholders used the “chat function” during the meeting to ask additional questions.  At the end of the meeting an invitation was extended to shareholders to submit any further question to the Club Secretary.  One shareholder took this up and has had a response. 

A number of presentations were made during the meeting and I have summarised key points from each.

 

Finance

Company Secretary Graeme Bryson gave a comprehensive presentation on Club accounts and finances. The aim was to be as open as possible with shareholders, to enable a better understanding of the costs involved in running the club. Key points to note were:

•    Profit at year end 20 May 2020 was £61,483 (£125,096 in 2019)
•    Turnover reduced slightly from £6.64m to £6.20m
•    Both overall payroll and first team payroll reduced slightly while agents costs had risen.
•    First team player payroll was £1.5m compared to £1.6m (which included 3rd place bonus)
•    The Club was 6th highest in terms of average first team salary
•    Total income (excluding transfer fees) had reduced by £1.6m, with significant reduction in gate receipts and SPFL fees.
•    Transfer fee of £1.2m noted for year compared to £23k in previous year
•    2,689 season tickets were sold compared to 4,248 in the previous year
•    Impact of the pandemic anticipated to have a potential cost to Club in region of £3m 
•    Business Interruption Insurance claim still in progress 
•    Directors had committed funds of £400k
•    The Killie Trust had raised in excess of £150k in past 12 months 
•    Share offer to Season Ticket holders had raised £50k
•    Fans not seeking refunds on season tickets had allowed some income to be classed as a donation, allowing some VAT to be reclaimed 
•    Decision taken to utilise the Scottish Government Loan Fund to help cashflow

 

Commercial Review
Phyllis McLeish spoke about the success of retail operations being back in house, with a record turnover of £500k, and a record deal with kit supplier and shirts sponsors. Areas of income had included:

•    Killie Ltd range had sold over 8,000 units, being best bespoke range to date
•    150th Anniversary book has sold over 1,100 copies
•    650 retro shirts sold to date 
•    Over 500 commemorative Blue Bricks have been sold
•    PPV revenue was over £100k
 
Proposal for season passes for 2021
The proposal for Season passes had been developed with input from the Focus Group, which consisted of 15 fans, representatives from Killie Trust, KFCSA, KFCDSA plus SLO, myself and Phyllis McLeish, along with Club staff. Account was taken of feedback submitted via the Killie Trust member survey, which received over 130 responses, and emails sent directly to myself and club staff. The information fed in by the Trust also picked up on suggestions made in 28 posts on the killiefc.com fans’ forum.

Our 2020/21 offering was made in good faith when we hoped supporters would be back inside Rugby Park before the end of 2020. Sadly, as we know, this didn’t materialise due to the nature of the Coronavirus pandemic and the length of time fans have been away from the stadium has been much longer than anticipated.

We always aim to be honest and transparent with supporters and the financial impact of offering a full refund to all supporters would cost in the region of £700k. Put simply, this would have a massive impact on the Club finances and player budget, and we have therefore worked with supporters to provide the best solution that the club can afford for those renewing for 2021/22. 

Our offering for 2021/22, formed after positive work through our fans’ focus group, and taking account of feedback from the Killie Trust, will include a loyalty discount price and a special souvenir retro shirt including supporters’ names as well as a range of other exclusive benefits. We sincerely thank all fans for their incredible support and understanding during what has been one of the most challenging years in our club’s history. 

We also understand that the pandemic will have drastically altered the lives of some supporters and should you wish to contact us about this please do so using [email protected] and Katrina Watson will assist.

Update 

Some supporters subsequently asked about sizing of shirts and if family tickets are included. Sizes will range from child age 5 to adult 4XL. Family tickets will be included.

In response to issues raised post AGM, we have explained that the Club hopes to return to having a free child ticket in future. However, at present this would be problematic, given the broadcasting rules compliant with pay-per-view and ticketing obligations. In light of feedback, we are examining how best we can redefine our young fan pathway, to make it more accessible and manageable for our fans under-18. 

Some fans have asked up why the 0% interest free option would only be for existing ST holders. This was a special deal negotiated as part of the loyalty reward package, and there is an option for new Season Ticket holders to chooses a nine-month plan with interest payable. The Club recognises that there are other low cost finance options available, including from Credit Unions, and we cannot provide advice on what is the best option for any individual.

 

 

Stadium and Infrastructure
Billy Bowie gave information on the proposed stadium developments. Work has been curtailed due to the pandemic, but the Memorial Garden construction is now due to start in June. Architects have prepared plans for it to be located along the wall between the large gate adjacent to the 1869 Suite and the Trust History Board and ticket office. 

Work on the disabled access platform, funded by the Trust, is also due to start in June. Billy also outlined plans to locate additional office/meeting space at back of Moffat Stand. This is primarily for use by Community Department and Academy, and is being funded by Billy. The images above and below are early concepts, rather than definitive, final versions.

As Trust members will be aware, we have also discussed the possibility of creating a Sensory Room, and Billy referred to having this located close to the family area of Moffat Stand, to give a space to children who need some space away from the match. This is something we will be looking to develop further.
Phyllis McLeish outlined plans for the “Killie Hub” which will see the Killie Club space converted to host a new shop and visitor centre with museum. There will be a small coffee area for weekday use, and on match days the Hub will be used for a hospitality offering which is set at an affordable price.

It was explained that despite every effort being made to have the bar used, it simply hadn’t brought in enough revenue to be sustainable, even taking account of matchday income when fans had been able to be in the stadium.  The current shop building would be removed and that area used for parking, given that some parking spaces require to be relocated to accommodate the memorial garden.

This project will be funded by Phyllis.

 

Football Operations
Head of Football Operations James Fowler spoke about the past year and challenges on and off the pitch. He acknowledged that results had not been what we had hoped, which had led to the decision to change manager. In response to questions which had been submitted, he spoke about Alex Dyer having been a big part of the Steve Clarke era, hence him being given opportunity to take on the manager role, and how in this league there are fine margins between success and failure. Alex had been given every opportunity to turn things around, but ultimately the balance had to be struck between giving the opportunity for the Manager to succeed and the best interests of the Club. When the decision was taken to make the change, it was important to get the best person into the post.

He explained the positive impact that Tommy Wright has made throughout the club already, and that he is working closely with him, including sharing an office. He also highlighted Assistant Manager Paul Stephenson’s experience in player development roles as an asset to the Club.

Also, in response to questions submitted, James explained the collaboration between his role and Manager in relation to recruitment, how he and Manager agree on player profiles but ultimately it is the Manager who decides on who to bring in. He outlined how his role has allowed the club to put proper mechanisms in place across all football departments, creating strong loan pathways for youngsters, supporting first team management, and bringing the women’s team in house. James reminded the meeting that he has done a number of interviews and Q&A sessions on Killie TV, the ‘We are Killie’ Podcast and the Killie Trust’ On Board In Person’, which are all available online.

An update was given on the Academy, and the consultation process with staff to look at ways of streamlining, as had happened in other departments. The Killie Trust was thanked for becoming the official Academy Partner.

On Strategy, the key focus is to maintain Premiership status. Discussions are underway with a number of clubs regarding partnerships to help develop our best young players and bridge the gap from under-18s to first team, while players would continue to be loaned to clubs in the Scottish Championship and below.

The Manager would ideally like a dedicated site for training, and this is being explored, as it is felt to be beneficial for the under-18s to be side by side with first team, allowing learning and development both on and off the pitch. Having a dedicated facility would also enhance the “one club” mentality across First Team, Academy, women’s first team and community.

 

Manager's vision for Killie
Tommy Wright spoke of the warm welcome he had received from everyone on joining the Club.  He was pleased to be working alongside James, as this was helpful in allowing him to focus on first team football while James dealt with other operational matters that he would have had to take on himself at other clubs. He outlined his vision for Killie, with priority to retain our position in league, and acknowledged that there is a squad rebuilding job to do.

He would be keen for Killie to attract the best of young Scottish players, and also to see our own young players developed. He had already given young Stephen Warnock an outing in the Cup tie at Stenhousemuir and wants to see closer working between first team and under-18 players. He emphasised his commitment to KFC, and that he wanted to be in Scotland and in this role. He thanked the Board for quickly responding to his wish to sign Kyle Lafferty and felt that he would work well with the Directors. Club in the community was an important factor for him and he was keen to help build links into the community, and increase the supporter base, which was refreshing to hear.

He also wants to give supporters an exciting football experience, see us being a top six club and do well in cup competitions. 

From feedback after the event, it was clear that those attending the AGM had found Tommy’s input inspirational, and fans also appreciate his willing participation in media interviews and Killie TV.
 
Fan and community engagement
This was my part of the agenda and I started by thanking the fans for their continued support throughout the season. I felt it appropriate to remember the impact that Covid has had on many people connected with Killie, and acknowledge that many supporters have lost loved ones during the pandemic, whether due to Covid or other reasons. While there were too many people to name individually, I did mention club legend David Sneddon, as many fans were not able to pay tribute in the way they would have liked due to restrictions.

I updated the meeting on Killie Trust activity:

•    Now 3rd largest shareholder in KFC
•    Official Partner of KFC Youth Academy
•    Membership up by 25%
•    All Club Directors, Head of Football Operations and Club Secretary all members of Trust (Company Secretary has now also joined), showing the value of close working between Trust and Club 
•    Supporters' Groups established in schools
•    Regular slot in match programme
•    Monthly Director’s report shared across Club platforms as well as Trust 
•    Trust in Killie has raised £324k for member led projects benefitting KFC, including video equipment, camera, Teqball for KCST, sanitising equipment, disabled platform
•    Over £140k given to club since lockdown commenced, to help with cash flow
•    Now over 500 subscribers to ‘Trust In Killie’, generating £8k per month to the Club

In addition to this, supporters have been involved in many community initiatives, with support from the Club and KCST:

•    KFCSA /EACHA Bring a Gift 
•    Killie Trust Foodbank Collections 
•    Killie Trust / KFCSA Crowdfunder for SPFL fine
•    Killie Trust ‘Killie Kit’ day
•    Boots for Africa coordinated by Susan Russell 
•    KCST Mission Christmas delivered food hampers to 220 families and 55 care homes 
•    KCST Weigh to go programme resumed
•    Hexagol being taken out to local schools by KCST staff

The Club will also be donating a 10% share of profits from Killie face masks to Charity Partners Crosshouse Children’s Fund, at the end of the season.

I also spoke about the theme of open communication which was running through all presentations at the AGM, where we are trying to give information wherever possible. As I have said in previous reports and at previous events, it isn’t always possible to provide minute detail on matters which involve contractual or personnel issues, which I know can be frustrating for supporters. However, as a Club, we are trying to get the message across that Club staff are happy to engage directly with supporters who have questions they can help with. This includes shop, ticketing, media etc. Allen Kyle (Supporter Liaison Officer) is also available to pick up on issues and his meticulous records show that he has dealt with over 500 issues during his four years in post. 

Allen can be contacted by email: [email protected]kilmarnockfc.co.uk

On the Communications theme, I also updated on work of media team:

•    Former players now being used on Killie TV (suggestion made by fans) 
•    Increased video content 
•    Each social media channel (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) having a specific plan rather than just the same content on each
•    Improved visibility of women’s first team coverage

As with other Club staff, the media team are happy to engage with fans and can often answer questions! They are regularly monitoring Twitter and their handles are @mcclymontscott and @NeilHobson23.

The key theme here is that we have all been working to improve the culture at the club and make changes based on what supporters are asking for, when we can. All staff very much appreciate the loyalty and commitment shown by fans. 

As some members of staff are still on flexible furlough, responses may not be instant but will be dealt with as soon as possible.

I would like personally to thank the fans who have given their time to be on the Focus Group, which has been a very useful addition to the engagement process, and we will continue with this into the season ahead. I also explained that all suggestions made by fans are looked at, but there can sometimes be commercial reasons why things are not viable or sustainable financially, even though on the surface they may seem attractive. 

Looking ahead, objectives include:

•    Strengthening relationships with fans through open communication
•    Enhance our place at heart of community 
•    Improve matchday experience for all
•    Financially support Club’s objectives for football success
•    Explore new and existing revenue generation. 

 

Academy monthly update
As the Trust is the Official Academy Partner, Paul McDonald, Academy Director, has provided an update for Trust members:  

The Academy is now back in almost full capacity with training three nights per week and the fixtures for all of the age groups due to start week commencing  Monday 26th April.

The school programme at Kilmarnock Academy restarted on Monday 19th April and staff report that  everyone was delighted to be back on the pitch.

The ‘Emerging Talent Programme’ for players at nine years and younger has now been launched with a lot of time and effort spent to ensure that the environment is first class.

Our under-18s have played two league fixtures so far, losing 2-1 away to Rangers by a penalty, in what was the first game in around five months. This was followed by a home win against Hamilton Accies, 3-2. Paul reported that this was an excellent all round performance, particularly from 15-year-olds Charlie McArthur and Bobby Wales.

Another highlight was seeing Steven Warnock making his ‘normal circumstances’ first team debut, coming on as a sub in our Scottish Cup win over Stenhousemuir.

Paul paid tribute to the Manager and Paul Stephenson, who have provided a pathway and opportunities for a number of Academy players to train with the first team lately; this has been extremely refreshing from an Academy perspective. Paul stated that the challenge is to ensure our Academy players are capable and ready to step up.

 

Contacts
I hope that you have found this report useful in providing information and, as always, please do get in touch if you would like to follow up on any of the points. 

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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