Communication the key, says Bairns director Kenny Jamieson

Falkirk FC director Kenny Jamieson says the way the club communicates with its supporter base has to be better and the board of directors is ensuring semi-regular and vague updates are a thing of the past.

By Ben Kearney
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 12:58 am

Speaking to the Herald, he admitted as a supporter himself previously, before joining the board in December, he felt there was a clear ‘distance’ between the club’s hierarchy and the fans.

Having been appointed through the Patrons Group as a supporters’ representative, he said of his time so far in the boardroom: “It was certainly a baptism of fire, having the job of changing the club’s manager so soon into our tenure as a new board and it was only in the first week.

“In parallel with that, the season itself wasn’t easy and, to be honest, I wouldn’t say I have enjoyed it too much. We have all put in so many hours as volunteers but we think it will be worth it in the long run.

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Kenny Jamieson was appointed to Falkirk’s board of directors back in December last year as a Patrons Group representative (Picture: Michael Gillen)

“We’ve kept the finances on an even keel and stabilised some of the day-to-day issues that needed sorting out.

“The future really is our focus, though, and we conducted four business reviews across football, commercial and financial, fans and community and infrastructure and operations.

“That really allowed us to get under the skin of what is going wrong at this football club because, at the moment, the truth is that, as a business, frankly, it isn’t well run at all.

“Therefore, the football club isn’t run properly and there is so much scope for improvement off the park and on.

“Our chief executive officer, Jamie Swinney, mentioned on our club podcast that he felt Stenhousemuir was better run than Falkirk and I think that is pretty damning, with due respect to them. That is a poor reflection on us.

“It doesn’t matter how good your on the park stuff is, it won’t go well if the off-the-park stuff is way off.

“From our own backgrounds as a board, we have a pretty good idea of what a well-run business looks like but we needed to learn on the job about how a well-run football club operates.

“We’ve taken a lot of advice from different people in the game and that has been helpful.

“Our previous head coach, Martin Rennie, was a great source of knowledge and perspective of what a good football club looks like from his travels across the world.

“We grilled Kenny Miller to an inch of his life too about the good practice he has witnessed over his career too and we were lucky to have spoken to Rangers’ Ross Wilson about the ins and outs of how that football operates and how they do things like recruitment, data and coaching methodology.

“The business plan for this season is stretching to our limits but it is still sensible. It will allow John McGlynn and Paul Smith to run with the same playing budget we had last campaign, despite the failings of last year.”

Jamieson’s expertise is in marketing and communications, with his previous working portfolio including a gig at the Scottish FA as commercial director and a role as head of sponsorship at Tennent’s, among other roles.

Looking at the club’s communication, he said work was well under way to take them where they need to go to be successful. He added the move to fan ownership is one that will help bridge the gap between supporters and the board of directors.

“My background is in marketing and my mantra is very much pro-communication, as you would imagine,” he said. "You look at clubs like Motherwell and they are run extremely well and the fans have a real affinity with the board members. That is greatly helped by the way the club is run and that the supporters have a real say on what happens.

“It really is essential and it hasn’t always been great coming out from the club, so we are working on changing that and we have started the official podcast, which will see board members give updates and, of course, we have our supporters update events too.

“Not having that line of communication in place before has led to a lot of mistrust between the supporters and the board and, if you let that exist, it breeds a toxic atmosphere.

“We’re now moving towards a democratic governance of the club which means the board aren’t appointed by a small group of major shareholders but, instead, we are allowing others to step up and we are increasing the level of fan ownership.

“It is an opportunity to get it right and we need to galvanise everything and communication is key to that. We want to talk to supporters more and we have started to do that.

“We are a community-based club so you will draw your supporter base from a wide range of backgrounds and the Falkirk district has around 165,000 people in it roughly, so it shows you the potential of the club going forward.

“The catchment area is massive and the scope for growing the base of supporters and commercial partners is just enormous. Before now, the club lacked some fundamental things that have halted that progress.

“There are over 10,000 registered limited companies in those postcodes and we didn’t even have a database of who they were and contacts for them. That’s 10,000 potential sponsors to whom we could have asked the question.

“Our core fan base also put so much money into the football club and we are grateful for that. We need to take a broader perspective on what the football club actually means to people. We are rebuilding a whole football club and we need to ensure we are open about how we are doing that.”