No doubt we’d all agree that performances so far have been a significant improvement on last season and it is testament to our style of play that our two closest rivals at the top of the league have recently played so defensively at the Falkirk Stadium.
That said, the best footballing side doesn’t always win matches and the result against Dunfermline was a disappointment to everyone. The build up to the game, the huge match attendance and the buzz around the stadium on matchday were absolutely brilliant and, although the result went against us, served as a reminder of the massive potential of our club.
We’ll only fully realise that potential by getting back to the Premiership and, while this goal still feels a long way off, it does feel like we are at least now heading in the right direction. Your on-going support will continue to be essential on this journey, especially if we are to do it as a fan-owned club, and is very much appreciated. If we all continue to put our shoulder to the wheel, being back in the Premiership by 2026-27 is eminently achievable.
Hopefully most fans listened to the Falkirk Daft podcast, where we were able to expand upon the key messages we’ve been communicating since the start of the season. If you missed it, you can still watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcbwu-9CFXY
In particular, we talked about the financial challenges facing the club – this season we need to grow revenue by c. £600k and tightly control costs. Even then, we’ll still incur an operating loss of c. £400k which needs to be covered, ideally via investment.
We’re pleased to report that the business plan remains on track. To the end of October income is already at 85% of the whole of last season, meaning we are currently on plan to achieve the budgeted uplift. We’d like to thank all supporters, sponsors and other commercial partners, as well as Jamie, the club staff and volunteers in helping achieve this. Costs remain a challenge, particularly overheads, but we are satisfied that the appropriate controls are in place to manage this.
Being on track in November is, however, no guarantee that we’ll still be on track next May, and some income lines are currently underperforming. Over the last six weeks, three groups have been working on remedial initiatives in six commercial areas, developing plans to be enacted between now and the end of May to make sure we meet or exceed our income targets. We’d like to thank them for their work so far and look forward to seeing the impact of their outputs.
As you’ll know, in late September we made a call for £500k of investment to ensure that we can safely cover the projected operating loss, plus provide a buffer. This would also give us the option, subject to a number of other factors, of potentially replacing the pitch during the summer.
We’d like to thank every supporter who has since signed up to Falkirk Supporters’ Society, and also those members who increased their monthly subscriptions. FSS membership now stands at over 600, investing around £7000 every month into the club, and the organisation is now the 4th largest shareholder in our club. We’d like to congratulate them on achieving these great milestones.
We’d also like to thank current and new members of the Patrons’ Group for their recent investment pledges, which will see the group complete and exceed the purchase of the 750,000 shares ring-fenced for them just a year ago. We’re hugely grateful to everyone who has stepped forward, whether via the Patrons’ Group, FSS or independently, to offer investment support.
Overall, the investment offered did fall short of the targeted amount, so we are currently putting together the final elements of an additional funding package to fill the gap. This work will take until the end of December to complete, so we have postponed the AGM until early in the new year when we will be able to bring shareholders fully up to speed with both the current status, at that point, plus future options.
Going forward we’re hoping to issue AGM papers electronically to as many shareholders as possible, but need email addresses plus shareholder permission to do so. We’d ask any shareholder who is happy to receive annual accounts and other AGM documents via email, to contact Gordon Wright on email@example.com. Gordon is also happy to receive any enquiries or offers to support the club in any other way.
To ensure we both meet the business plan goals and cover the operating loss, a number of initiatives are planned or already underway.
Our Navy Blue Friday sale is currently on, offering selected retail items at up to 50% off, plus a number of sponsorships at a 25% discount. This includes player sponsorships which would make a great Christmas gift, allowing the sponsor to receive their chosen player’s signed strip at the end of season Gala Awards dinner. Match sponsorship for the Dundee game in the SPFL Trust Trophy on 8th December is also available at 25% off.
Since our last update we’d like to welcome Hannigan Hotels, Appeal Media and Seat Service to our portfolio of sponsors and thank them for their valued support. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to the Bairns Business Club for their generous donation of £15k, to help with some essential structural repairs in and around the stadium. It was also great to see so many BBC members pack out the Brockville Suite hospitality at the recent match against FC Edinburgh.
We recently sold 76 two-thirds season tickets and half season tickets will be available soon. We’re also offering a limited number of 10-year season tickets covering seasons 2023/24 to 2032/33. These tickets are priced at £5000 and come with a great benefits package, details of which will be released later this week. Any supporter who wishes to buy a 10-year season ticket or find out more should contact Jamie Swinney on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Commercial and Supporter Services teams are working incredibly hard, supported by a range of brilliant volunteers, and we’d like to thank every one of them for their efforts so far this season. Rebuilding revenues from such a low base last season is difficult, and it’s only down to the hard work of staff and volunteers, combined with a great response from supporters and sponsors, that we are on track to grow by the targeted £600k. On a side note, our Commercial Manager Graeme Stewart currently isn’t well so we’d like to wish him a speed recovery.
We’d also like to welcome a few more new faces to the club. Chris McGill recently moved over from the Falkirk Foundation to replace Bob Lochhead as the club Kit Manager. Matty Rowan has also joined the football backroom staff, replacing Liam Corr as Performance Analyst. Welcome too to Paddy Hainey, who has joined the ground staff and will combine these duties with supporting the club’s marketing and media outputs. Last but not least, we’d like to welcome John Wright to the board, joining Nigel as an elected representative of the Falkirk Supporters’ Society.
Finally, it would be remiss of us not to mention Gordon McFarlane, who sadly passed away recently. Big Gordy was unquestionably a club legend, having worked tirelessly for the club, in many different capacities, for decades. He was a great friend to many Falkirk fans and will be missed by everyone who knew him.
Fans will hopefully have received the new Bairns’ View newsletter, issued via email to ensure that those who don’t use social media are also kept fully up-to-date with club news. If you didn’t receive it, you can add your name to the mailing list by contacting email@example.com
Our new Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) Kevin Beattie and Disability Access Officer (DAO) Kenny McDonald recently met with supporters in the Brockville Bar, and both are already making a positive impact. As a result of fans’ feedback, we’re working with the Council on expanding the number of disabled parking bays at the stadium, and have also launched a new ‘Buddy to a Bairn’ initiative. This will enable Falkirk fans who need assistance to attend matches, to partner up with a volunteer to do so. Any supporter who would like to volunteer, or anyone who knows a fan who might benefit from the scheme, should contact Kenny McDonald on firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re very conscious that Christmas is a time of year which puts additional strains on the cash in all of our pockets. We therefore took the decision to reduce admission prices for the Queen of the South game, on 23rd December, to just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Under 12’s go free as usual, courtesy of our partners Yes Equipment Solutions. Tickets can also be bought and donated to help fans who may be stretched financially to attend the match. The recent attendance and atmosphere at the Dunfermline game was fantastic, so we’re hoping for another bumper crowd to help the players create a bit of Christmas ‘magic’ we can all enjoy. The club and Foundation will also be giving supporters the chance to donate food and warm clothing, to groups and individuals who may be struggling, at the upcoming games vs Airdrie and Dundee. Information on how to donate tickets and how to support the food drive will be released shortly.
Finally, we’d like to wish everyone travelling up to Wick at the weekend a safe and pleasant journey. Hopefully we’ll all be heading down the road at 5pm on Saturday, having enjoyed a good win and looking forward to a favourable draw in next round.
Kenny, Keith, Nigel, Gordon and John,
Falkirk FC Board.