Coming out of the international break, it was good to return to winning ways, particularly after getting reduced to 10 men against Hearts and following the disappointment of the trip to Inverness and draw against St Johnstone. With other results going in our favour, it was a much needed 3 points as there are some difficult fixtures ahead in next couple of weeks. Once again the supporters played a huge part in getting behind the team on Saturday, and it was good to see the passion on the pitch deliver a hard fought win. It was also pleasing to see David Watson get his step up to a first team spot and take the opportunity to show what he can do.
The past few matches have seen some controversial VAR decisions, and both the manager and the Club have made frustrations known, as indeed have other clubs.
Strong performances in the Reserve League Cup saw Killie into the final, which will take place against Dunfermline at Rugby Park, on 2 May 2023 at 7:45pm. Ticket prices will be released in due course after consultation with Dunfermline and the SPFL has taken place.
The Women’s team did well to reach the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup as the only SWPL 2 team to reach that stage. Although unsuccessful, they put up a strong performance against SWPL 1 league toppers Glasgow City, and have continued to perform well in the league. They are currently sitting in 3rd spot in the table, 2 points behind second place Gartcairn. The team are building up a good following amongst Killie fans and they really appreciate the support.
As announced at the Club AGM, the under 18s will return to Club Academy Scotland Elite status next season after a season in the Performance Progressive league.
The AGM was held in the 1869 suite on 14 March 2023 and it was good to see shareholders in person after previous AGMs had been held online due to the pandemic.
The Agenda was split into various sections covering:
It was explained that the presentations from Directors would cover the questions sent in advance, but shareholders would also be able to ask questions.
The meeting commenced with Managing Director Phyllis McLeish and Company Secretary Graeme Bryson giving detailed information on the Club’s finances.
The reported loss for the financial year to 30 May 2022 was announced as just over £1.9million, which had been the anticipated outcome as the Club continued to deal with the challenges relating to the impact of the pandemic. It was acknowledged that this was a significant loss (although noting that other clubs had also posted significant losses) which had been impacted due to a number of decisions made by the Board to invest in the longer-term future of the club. This had included:
Phyllis McLeish presented information which demonstrated the positive impact of taking retail operations back in-house which has contributed to a record commercial turnover of £1.8m, and described the measures taken to improve the commercial position of the Club.
Season by season comparisons demonstrated that shirt sales and Season Tickets have increased to levels which have not been seen since late 1990’s.
Season ticket sales:
It was noted that the Killie LTD Range sold over 4,300 units, becoming our best-selling bespoke range to date, and Retro Shirts have sold over 1,800 units. Phyllis also confirmed that the ranges would include options for women.
Although Hummel UK entered administration in November 2022, our good relationships with Hummel Denmark (HQ) led to the creation of a consortium who helped support the build of a new Hummel UK, with the core staff remaining in place. We have extended our partnership with Hummel until 2026, along with Everton, Coventry City and Southampton who were involved in the discussions with us to help from the new UK operations, and the new deal is our best terms to date, and we can ensure the continued high quality of kits.
It was also explained that there had been a deliberate strategy to target new fans, and drive a change in supporter demographics, including younger fans, was proving successful, with 35% of current Season Ticket Holders now under the age of 21, which is vital in creating a future sustainable fanbase.
Proposed pricing for Season Tickets for 2023/24 were shared with the meeting, with an explanation of how the Board was trying to balance keeping prices at as reasonable a level as possible, while also dealing with the impact of rising costs for the Club. These will be released for renewal sales in April 2023.
With over 90% of users now accessing their tickets on mobile devices, it was confirmed that the contract with our ticketing provider TicketCo would be extended, with Gregg McEwan, General Manager and Katrina Watson, Ticketing Manager now on their global innovations team to help ensure the system continues to fulfil our needs.
Following the pandemic, take up of hospitality packages have seen an increased turnover of almost 40%.
Commercial partnership revenue also increased to record numbers this year, and as we approach the end of the current 3-year agreement period with the majority of major sponsors, all partnership opportunities are either in negotiation or already secured up until 2026.
Stadium and Infrastructure Review:
Majority shareholder Billy Bowie presented information on stadium and facilities enhancements and updated on the progress and future timetable for the Bowie Park Training Facility.
He advised that ‘phase one’ works of the Moffat Stand project are now complete, and when the next phase is completed, a matchday studio base for Killie TV and broadcasters of live televised matches, will be located freeing up the space taken up by the current TV platform in Frank Beattie Stand.
Also within the stadium, our home dressing room has been refitted and the Continental hospitality lounge created. Future works required include a new floodlight system to include energy efficiencies and will be scoped during the summer as well as investigating improvements of the heating and water systems around the home changing room area and continuing with general stadium and roof maintenance.
Following extensive consultation, ‘Phase one’ of the Bowie Park Training Facility is due to commence in Autumn 2023 with focus on ground works and the construction of the 250-seat spectator stand which will be situated between 2 full size pitches. Full changing room and toilet facilities situated within the stand will be utilised by the Academy and Women’s teams. Billy advised that a 5-year timeline was projected for the full project to be completed, but that details on each of the phases will be communicated as ground and building works progress.
I then gave the Killie Trust, Killie Community, and media review. This information will be familiar to Trust members as much of it has been covered in my updates, but not all shareholders would have been aware, and for completeness I am summarising here.
Reminding attendees that this is the Trust’s 20th Anniversary Year, I updated on the Strategic Review that the Trust had undertaken and the key priority areas for the future. As part of this would be a full review of the ‘Trust in Killie’ fundraising scheme. I also outlined how the Trust had repositioned a number of activities, particularly in relation to children and young people, towards supporting Killie Community rather than duplicating programmes.
The Trust is now coordinating matchday mascots, providing operational support for Women’s first team fixtures, and volunteer support for matchday fanzone, as well as purchasing equipment. Current fundraising event activities were focussed on securing funds in the region of £25k for the Youth Academy trip to the NI Super Cup.
I reported that Junior Trust membership was approaching 100, with work ongoing with other Clubs and Trusts regarding reciprocal ticket arrangements, and an away bus for families had been arranged for a number of matches. The Secondary Schools Supporters Groups were now being coordinated by Youth Ambassador Charlie Adams and involved in helping post-match stadium clean ups.
I took the opportunity to remind everyone that the Trust membership was open to all Killie fans, and that members would have the opportunity in due course to elect a new Trust Club Director when my term comes to an end.
I outlined the rationale for rebranding Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust as The Killie Community, building on the key aims of developing a safe space to improve wellbeing and career prospects, providing a sense of belonging, and ensuring that individuals of all ages have access to an active lifestyle regardless of background. I quickly ran through the range of programmes run by Killie Community and the uptake in year so far.
There was a brief update on the media strategy which has aimed to ‘futureproof’ the club by expanding communications across various social media platforms, aimed at directly engaging young people as active supporters, and taking account of feedback from fans on the type of content they want to see.
This has meant more short and sharp content that with an emphasis on features and moments that matter, as opposed only reporting on matches. Having said that, in response to requests from fans, now provides matchday info including team selections and scorelines, for Reserves, Women’s, and under 18’s matches.
5,400 additional followers were gained across our digital channels in the last quarter, and we saw a record level of views and engagement on social media (8 million Twitter impressions in January alone).
Also, in response to feedback it is planned to review and reposition Killie TV in the summer, with more ‘free to all’ content.
Managing Director Phyllis McLeish provided a brief update on the men’s, women’s, and academy set-ups, and introduced the Panel who would take questions:
Manager Derek McInnes, Head of Academy Paul di Giacomo and Women’s First Team and Development Manager Jim Chapman.
In response to a few questions from the floor, Derek McInnes discussed the challenges of bringing in players, describing some of the disappointments in not being able to secure players who had been on the radar, but confirmed that he had felt fully supported by the Board. He stressed the importance of having a forward-looking recruitment strategy, and the work that Russ Richardson was undertaking to identify players for the summer and the importance of this for the long-term benefit of the club. He reiterated that the aim at outset was to retain our place in the Premiership and have a good cup run. He felt that the players currently in place had the ability and motivation to secure our league place, although he did not underestimate the challenges ahead.
Speaking on the Women’s set up, Jim Chapman thanked those who had run the Girls Academy over the years, and spoke of the importance of bringing the Girls Academy into the club structure, being delighted that some Academy graduates had now featured in first team. He was also pleased with the progress made by the Women’s First Team and looked forward to the future.
Head of Youth Academy, Paul Di Giacomo, spoke about the work that had been undertaken to get the Youth Academy to Elite level, highlighting successful transitions of Bobby Wales and David Watson to becoming part of the first team squad. He was excited about the opportunity for the younger Academy age groups to participate in the Super Cup in the summer.
I hope you have found this update useful. Please get in touch if you have any questions or feedback.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @cathyjamieson Instagram: cathyjamiesonkillie Facebook: cathy jamieson
While I am happy to engage via social media, I’m sure members will understand that I am not monitoring that round the clock and may not be able to instantly reply and it’s not always possible to do a running commentary when events may be unfolding! An email to me is often a better way of dealing with more complex issues!
Club SLO, Allen Kyle, can also be contacted by email - [email protected]
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