Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Rage or Apathy? Let's change Kilmarnock FC together

It was just another day in KillieFC headquarters and we were talking about how to publicise the Killie Trust AGM and KFCSA meeting this weekend and how vital it is that fans attend. To be brutally honest, I came up with nothing but Michael P suggested that I just lay it out there, warts and all, and explain why I think it's so important that every Killie fan who can make it, does make it on Saturday.

It's as simple as this, if you are free on Saturday at 12:30pm, and I mean free as in you are not washing your hair, clipping your toenails, or creeping around Rugby Park supping pie grease from the empty ovens, you must get along to the Crown Inn on High Glencairn Street (just along from Varani's Forum).

Now that you know the where and the when, we'll come to the why.

A False Dawn

Your football club, despite what they tell you, is in trouble and deteriorating fast. The number of Directors and staff we have lost in recent years is unbelievable and had it not been for fans protesting a couple of years ago, there would have been no Billy Bowie coming in on a white charger (or tanker?) to bail us out.

Of course, as we all know, it was the bank that took the real hit and our former chairman did pretty well out of the wheeling and dealing. Ironically that seems to have kept him here.

It was a false dawn and was made complete with the introduction of new Directors Jim Mann, John Kiltie, Russel Smith and David Moran, three of whom have now gone. Some of the fans bought into the idea of a new "debt free" club but the truth was that Kilmarnock FC continued to haemorrhage money, despite now having no credit facilities, and fans and sponsors continued to disappear.

And so it continues.

The only difference now is that even the most ardent Michael Johnston supporters (including Billy Bowie) are now realising that his continued presence is toxic to the club and that if we continue to be no more than a pension pot for certain individuals then our future can be viewed as precarious at best.

Where We Are Now

Media reports have both Billy Bowie and John Kiltie making moves to remove the mess from our shoe but so far they have failed to either buy him out or force him out and it looks like he is adamant that he is staying until 2019 when the 'embarrassment' clause with the bank expires and he can enjoy yet another pay day at the expense of our club.

That shouldn't prevent the bank from being embarrassed all the same, they were just glad to be free of us and didn't care about the repercussions it may have on the club and community. The CEB that they insisted we have is a complete and utter sham, the new "Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust" (you know you're on shaky ground when your first Google result is your Companies House entry) is an entity which no-one really knows much about and seems to be no more than a means to an end to ensure that the man who presided over the biggest downturn in attendances in the country is able to keep calling the shots at the club.

Not for a minute do I blame the entirety of our current predicament on Michael Johnston - of course not - Scottish football is a complete basket case and is blighted by the clueless wonders running the show. But we can't even begin to tackle those issues until we get our house in order and that starts with change at the top, which is where we, the supporters, have to step in.

So far we have failed to do anything other than attract someone in to bail Johnston out and he is quite rightly not going to keep signing blank cheques, so January could be a lot grimmer than it usually is for Killie.

It's time to open our eyes and stop expecting someone else to come in and save us. Football clubs the world over are being 'rescued' by their own fans and if we hadn't been hoodwinked into believing that everything was fine and dandy then our own Supporters Trust could have had us on the road to recovery a long time ago.

Despite leading the way for years and giving advice other Trusts, we find ourselves floundering while the likes of Hearts and Motherwell (who signed up their 2,000th member this week) are becoming sustainable entities which the fans have a say in running.

If we had 2,000 Trust members we wouldn't be having any of these problems now: that's a fact.

What Can We Do About It? 

You can join the Trust, then you can get yourself along to the meeting on Saturday and find out what your fellow fans think and have your say in how we try and sort out this mess. Football without fans is indeed nothing and following the AGM and the amendment to the KFCSA's constitution we should have a frank and open discussion on what we can do in real terms to force change, and we can force it - if that's what we really want.

Do we want to force change? Are you willing to spend an hour or two on a blank Saturday afternoon to save the club for future generations, or are you happy to procrastinate on forums and social media but draw the line at actually doing anything to help?

I am starting to have my doubts about our once proud support and wonder if the hotheads and bampots have now been replaced by fans who talk a good game but are content to sit idly by while the club we profess to support is dismantled right in front of us. Bungalow sold, car park sold, hotel sold; the Sports Bar, hospitality and club shop all hived off... when exactly are we going to pluck up the courage to say enough is enough and cast off the puppet strings?

We have talk of boycotts and walk outs and we've already been through the red card display process. We are scared to mention the thousands of fans who have walked away and refuse to put a penny more into the club because the acronym NAPM has been deemed taboo despite it being the only thing that ever realistically effected change.

How can we ever get serious about taking action if all we are willing to do is bump our gums about it and refuse to commit to anything unless a Fleeting type leader miraculously appears out of the ether? The 'investors' have made it clear they will support the club if Johnston goes, what have we got to lose that we don't face losing every year as we stumble from season to season just scraping by at best?

Engage The Rage

If you've made it this far then clearly you must at least agree with some of what I'm saying and don't want to leave our fate in the hands of someone who clearly doesn't care about Kilmarnock Football Club or our fans.

The time has come to cast aside the apathy and self-pity and embrace the rage again. One read through the so-called 'naughty list' (which was so long they stopped adding to it two years ago) should be enough to remind you of what we've had to endure and none of Johnston's double-speak should assuage our anger at being reduced to a laughing stock for our peers for putting up with his actions for so long.

I fully appreciate that there will be fans who are working on Saturday and those who may have made other arrangements as they had no plans to go to Aberdeen. That doesn't take away from the importance of this meeting and what a unified front could mean in terms of not only saving our Club from death by a thousand cuts, but in terms of actually turning things around and making things even better than they were when we just accepted everything that happened and crossed our fingers that it would turn out okay.

Killie is a state of mind and no one has the right to take that from us - but that's what happening. If we don't make the conscientious decision to stand and fight our corner then we can have no excuses when Ayrshire's finest becomes the next big club to fall.

Make the time to be there on Saturday, let's not go down without a fight and let's not allow one man's greed be the final nail in the coffin of Scotland's oldest professional football club.

We are Killie, this is the truth.

Barry Richmond

Don't forget to sign up for the Killie Trust.

No comments:

Post a Comment