The notes of subjects discussed at the recent supporters groups meeting
The football club and supporters groups now meet on a regular basis to allow feedback from the fans at to discuss the issues affecting them and a chance to feedback directly with the club.
The latest meeting recently took place and below are the items discussed.
Supporters Group meeting - Wednesday 11th July 2012
1.- Feedback from the club on pre-season issues (Club)
The Club related the new prices for the season ahead with broadly speaking a £2 increase in adult prices and a £1 increase in child prices. The Club would be releasing a statement the next day. A review was carried out on last season’s prices for League 1 clubs and consideration was given to their location and time in the League. The increase in admission prices means we remain on the mid to lower end of the scale on prices. On deciding the pricing thought also had to be given to the fact League payments to the clubs have reduced (League 1 payments compared to the same last year), funding for the COE through the new EPPP means the club have a greatly increased financial commitment along with the increased requirements for match day provision. The ticket price increase helps to contribute towards some of these areas, not to fully cover. We have also to fund an increasing player budget for League One.
A new ticketing system has been developed and is now “live”. It allows for on line selection of seats and payment for tickets as well as on line shopping through access to the club shop and other opportunities.
A new website is about to be launched which will be more user friendly and offer easier access to information about the club.
A new deal has been secured to provide 24 TV screens around the concourses and a new colour , LED scoreboard will be in place for the start of the season. Both allow for better viewing and the ability to put up sponsors messages etc.
The Club position with regard to Tom Bradshaw and Aberystwyth Town was explained. In both this case and that of Chris Humphrey the Club felt it was in a strong position to refute the compensation claim from Aber and to get compensation from Motherwell. In spite of the FA and the Football League accepting and giving their support to the strength of the STFC case in both situations, the FIFA ruling body had their own rules and gave judgements against us. The cost through lost revenue and legal battles to the Club has exceeded £140,000. The Club will be pursuing Swindon Town for a sizeable compensation amount for the signing of James Collins.
The Meole Brace Park and Ride car park – the Council are undertaking a feasibility study at present as to its potential use for parking on match days. There are many influences on this judgement including the volume of use by non-match car parking at times of the year when the Town is busy ( e.g. Christmas) and also the impact on other car park providers in the area. As more information becomes available the Forum will be informed.
The Council have acknowledged that they have responsibility for the path at the rear of the West Stand. In the interests of helping the Council the Club asked supporter groups if they felt volunteers would make themselves available as a working party to help clear then weeds and as the Council are making available some surface materials, to fill in the puddle holes. General feeling was that this could well be supported by the fans Ian Bebbington to be asked to co-ordinate this. This could lead to a positive news story for the supporter groups and the Club.
The Open day is Sunday 5th August from 10 am to 2 pm. Supporter groups will have space for displays etc and were asked if they can think of any activities that might be attractive to the fans on the day. The Club asked if anyone knew of face painters, jugglers, magicians, clowns etc. who might give their time on the day. The players will attend a training session on the pitch followed by a signing session. Fans will be able to circulate the stadium on a self led tour using a map rather than having to wait for a tour.
2.- Branding of the club going forward (Club)
The Club said that how and why the present badge was introduced has been well documented and we have it and will continue with it until a re-branding takes place. The issue was not with the petition itself but with its timing at a moment when the good feelings about promotion were running high – it felt like a negative to the Club. The Club has apologised for the terminology used in its statement about the petition at that time.
The representative from the petition organisers produced some interesting data from an on line survey concerning views about the badge and the use of the loggerheads symbol in particular. He presented the views of those who wish to see the return of the loggerheads in some format.
Moving forward the Club wishes to make the point that it is interested in the views of the supporters and through vehicles like the Supporter Groups Forum it was actively engaging in better communication, both ways, between the Club and its supporters. The latest home kit was an example of the Club interacting with the supporters in asking for kit design suggestions and a public vote resulting in the present popular shirt.
The Chairman and Board will wish to engage with the supporter base again in the future branding of the Club, for example through its next badge. This could be through suggested designs by supporters and voting again. The timing of any change is not imminent, but nor is it a long term promise. There are various contractual obligations the Club has with suppliers that have to be part of the decision process on when to change. However, a gradual implementation of a change of badge is probable. The Club would wish to see the round badge design retained as part of the copyrighted brand. The content of the centre to be open to design suggestions. One or two designs that had been submitted were looked at by the Forum as examples of what supporters can provide.
3.- Half time entertainment (pre/match also) (Super Blues, B and A)
Comments were made about the lack of half time entertainment and the fact that it is difficult to see what is going on at present in the corner of the family and south stands. Could it be rotated around the ground at different matches? Interviews with past players are too short. Could things happen on the pitch as they do at other clubs e.g. football matches? The issue here is the managers view on watering of the pitch at half time to ensure a slick passing surface and the desire to maintain a good playing surface for the whole season. The Club will speak to the manager about use of the pitch. The club asked the supporters groups to put out the word that people who are face painters, clowns, jugglers, magicians etc. would be welcome to contact Martin James with a view to entertaining families and adults before the match starts and at half time. Perhaps local bands, dance groups could be featured.
4.- West and South Stand Buffet congestion at half time (B and A)
There were expressions of concern about crowding around the buffets especially on busy match days. Many points were raised and will be taken forward for analysis and discussion with Jenny’s also. Markings at the buffets to encourage manageable queues, mobile units for sale of drinks or food at points around the stands, encouraging stewards to ask people to move away from the buffet areas once served, move the tv’s away from the buffet area, more shelving away from the buffet areas.
5.- Reserved stickers on season ticket holders seats (Super Blues)
This has been done. Yellow stickers beneath the seat are in place to identify a season ticket holders seat
6.- Ticket deals – what room is there for manoeuvre? ( B and A)
The subject of ticket deals arises each season and a response given that it is not as easy as offering a deal, there are League rules, timeframes etc etc, coupled with the fact the Club have set their prices at a rate throughout the season to be able to ensure sustainability and a match day experience both the fans and the club expect. Ideas were mentioned including offers such as a discount voucher if a batch of matches were brought for the club shop, this will be reviewed for practicality. The new ticketing system allows for the logging of loyalty points, supporter details and regular attendance etc that may be useful in future discussions about potential discounts or merchandise offers.
7.- Details of the length of players contract – impact on shirt labelling with favourite players (B and A)
Players contracts are subject to confidentiality rules set between the Club and the player. Permission from the player would need to be sought for release of information. In the lead up to the new season the release of information about contract terms for one player could influence negotiations with the next players being interviewed. The length of contracts is often agreed to be released much later in the season.
8.- The Club Shop – how can it be freshened up? (OSC)
Comments about the size of the shop and the quality, variety and availability of the stock were mentioned. The Club responded by saying that plans were in place to upgrade the infrastructure of the shop but we are stuck with the size of the room. Also changes to the range of stock was being finalised. There are issues of minimum order sizes which affect what is purchased. The new on-line shopping experience through the ticketing software would improve the club shopping experience.
The idea was raised of having stalls set up around the ground selling items such as scarves, hats , flags etc. This will be looked at.
9.- Pre-match jingle (Super Blues)
Raised as the possibility of having a pre-match jingle for the team to run out to as at the likes of Chelsea. General view of the meeting was not to adopt this. There are a great many views for and against any type of music before the match and also around goal celebrations. It is very difficult to get a consensus of opinion on what would be acceptable.