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The Good, the Bad and the Chairman – A guest blog from Killie Supporters Trust

Kilmarnock Supporters Society

Michael Johnston has stated that he cares about the 200 people employed at the Club and the Kilmarnock supporters that have chosen not to attend Rugby Park do not. He blames the reduction in attendances at Killie home games on factories that shut over 30 years ago.

Yet the population of Kilmarnock has grown in recent years, while crowds at Rugby Park have continued to decline. The greatest risk to all the hard working staff at Kilmarnock Football Club is the loss of customers and the resultant loss of income. There seems to be no plan or strategy to reverse this decline. The chairman’s attitude to fans for many years has been “give me your money and shut up”. Now some supporters have had the temerity to question the quality of his leadership and his ability to attract new customers.

The Chairman has recently brought a new director on to the board; stating that this has been his long term plan, a long term plan that no one had heard of until attendances reached their currently catastrophic levels.

It is curious that the Chairman can now bring new people on to the board when the club is in such a financially perilous state. For many years he said the company’s finances meant it would be too risky for others to join the board because of the strong possibility of an insolvency event.

He has also stated that he intends to get another 3 or 4 investors on to the board in the near future. If each of these investors match Mr Bowie’s contribution this will still leave the club with a debt of £7.75 million. If this is Mr Johnston’s plan to turn the club around, then he will need to find another 31 investors to put in similar amounts. This is assuming that the debt has not risen in the last year as it did in the previous year’s accounts.

We, the supporters of Kilmarnock Football Club, have to hope that these very generous individuals are not expecting a return on their investment in the short to medium term, if ever. We must also hope that this money is being used to reduce the debt and is not being used to maintain cash flow as happened at Heart’s in the dying days of the Romanov regime. The Board of Hearts FC undertook a share issue that emotionally blackmailed supporters into investing, knowing it would only pay the bills in the short term.

The “angry fans and their ringleaders” have been told that they do not care about the 200 jobs at Kilmarnock Football Club. The Trust sees a far bigger picture where the prosperity of the Club is vital to the town and the prosperity of the town is vital to the Club, a virtuous circle that supports both. Rather than be positive about the club’s home town Mr Johnston perpetuates a view of Kilmarnock as seen in “The Scheme”, a ghost town of high unemployment.

The Chairman blames everyone but himself for the problems faced by our Football Club. Yes he took on a very difficult situation and he has managed to reduce the debt which he is happy to take the credit for. This was only achieved by selling the clubs assets. Without strong gevernance can we be sure that every opportunity was taken to realise the maximum value of these assets? Some of the young players sold could have generated a far larger transfer fees if they had been given longer to develop in the Kilmarnock first team.

Sadly he has also presided over a massive decline in the number of people coming through the turnstiles. Unfortunately in this world you have to take the good with the bad, so he has to take credit for this as well.

If Mr Johnston had engaged with the supporters in an open and positive manner earlier in his reign, he would have been able to draw upon the skills of fans to develop long term strategies that would have helped build the business.

Being a football fan is about a sense of belonging, a sense of family. This is the most powerful marketing tool any football club can have, but it has to be nurtured.

Kilmarnock’s Chairman appears to know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

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