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FAN Meeting Minutes - May 2016

Latest details from the supporter meeting at Ashton Gate on May 23rd.

Attendance

FAN: Jeremy Palmer (JP, Chair), Mike Adams (MA, Secretary), Terry Bond (TB), Les Bowen (LB), John Carnell (JC), Matt Coombs (MC), Jon Darch (JD), Marie Day (MD), John Greenwood (JG), Miles Hendy (MH), Rob Palmer (RP), Alan Payne (AP), Rob Wood (RW). 

The Club: Adam Baker (ABr), Andrew Billingham (ABm), Matthew Joy (MJ), Mark Kelly (MK), Luke Palmer (LP). 

Guests: Dave Walker (DW, A&S Police). 

Apologies: Rob Jones (RJ), Kay McGinty (KM), Mike McGrath (MM), Keith Perry (KP), Mike Rix (MR), Phil Sweet (PS). 

1.  Supporter Liaison Officer

ABm introduced proposals for discussion from Bristol Sport to appoint two current members of Supporter Services to fill the role – Kay McGinty and Rachel Lemar. ABm and ABr emphasised the current role of Matchday Ambassadors at home matches and of Jerry Tocknell at away matches, acting on behalf of fans at the time and reporting back to BSL subsequently. JD, MH and MA argued for a fan, rather than a current BSL employee, to be appointed an SLO who would be able to take part in selected meetings to put forward a collective view from the supporters’ perspective. JD argued that no BSL staff member acting as SLO could resign on principal in the event of a disagreement, but a supporter could. ABr argued that with 50 games a season and meetings week in, week out, a part-time SLO from the fanbase, even being paid a modest sum, would struggle to cope with the ever-increasing demands. Despite the clear difference in vision, all wanted the role to succeed and agreed a number of individuals were necessary, and a working party should be set up. 

ACTION    It was decided to set up a working party to formulate a job specification linking with Matchday Ambassadors.  Adam Baker, Kay McGinty, Rachel Lemar for BSL and Jon Darch and Marie Day for FAN were agreed. 

ACTION    ABr to liaise with JP to arrange a suitable date. 

2.  Season ticket sales experience

Members fed back their own reaction and those of other fans. The officers had already criticised the extra booking and service fees especially because they had not been mentioned when FAN had discussed the matters. There was common consensus from FAN to the club that it would be better to include any fees within the price. JC and MA had made enquiries about the number of steps and number of rows available for sale respectively in the West Stand, both without success.  MA described the spontaneous reaction of fans to the West Stand prices when a leaflet became available at the ticket office unannounced. LB explained the difficulties for non-computer-literate members; as a result KM [ACTION] will attend a Senior Reds meeting at an opportune time to assist. ABm thanked FAN for their feedback and revealed record early bird season card sales of 13,000+, with season cards now back on sale and still proving popular. The aim is to achieve circa 15,000 season card sales for 2016/17. 

The cause of Ambulant Disabled supporters (ADS) was examined. ABr said the stadium plans are AD Compliant. 

ACTION    MK and JC agreed to see how the stadium works and what reasonable adjustments could be made to make life easier and give level access. One suggestion was to allow access into the main seating areas through the wheelchair areas so supporters could sit in the front rows with little or no steps. This would require removing a section of the wall that currently cuts off the wheelchair section. 

3.  Stewarding - blocking of exits in latter part of games

MM experienced the blocking of an exit near the end of a game (Dolman Stand). MK said stewards are instructed not to allow any loitering. The thoroughness varies from steward to steward, with some FAN members stating that stewards in their area were excellent at moving on supporters who hang around vomitries at the end of games. MA [ACTION] will find out the exit number in question and feedback to MK. There were other problems, notably with blocks of seats which will be taken up with Toptix Ltd. KM [ACTION] 

4.  Club kit 2016/17

Members fed back their own reaction and that of other fans. RW and MA were concerned about the monocolour badge; ABm reassured the meeting that it was a design feature – similar to the 2015/16 away shirt – and the club crest had not been “redesigned”. MD enquired why home shirts for 2015/16 were not being discounted at the end of the campaign. LP revealed the home shirt had sold out in the majority of sizes, with limited stock left. Year-on-year sales had increased again in 2015/16, and LP thanked FAN for their input in the consultation process. 

5.  Club kit 2017/18 - ideas for home, away and training wear

ABm asked members to bring ideas to the next meeting; the fanbase as a whole would take part at some stage. ACTION LP to drive feedback and supporter questionnaire. 

6.  Ticket office and ticket sales next season

From next season, supporters who have a membership card (Season Card or Forever Bristol Member Card) will be able to purchase tickets from the Club Shop. There will also be a 12-window office sited at the Winterstoke Road entrance for ticket collection and matchday sales. A club aspiration is to have outlets in shopping malls such as Cabot Circus and Cribbs Causeway. The club has identified 45,000 non-season card holders who bought tickets last season. In future everyone buying a ticket but not already on the club’s database will be issued with their personal card, which will be used for subsequent purchases (including in the Club Shop, as mentioned above). 

7.  Growth strategies in the community - how can FAN support?

Ideas put forward by FAN members included: 

a) the first match of the season could be a special price of £10 per supporter to fill the stadium (each Season Card holder (SCH) has the ability to bring one friend to one match for £10). 

b) reintroduce ‘quid a kid’. JP said this was how he became a Bristol City supporter. 

c) a bus or coach could pick up from chosen schools; each match could feature a ‘School of the Match.’ Could become a PR opportunity too. 

d) around November 11th, for the Poppy Day match, entry for service and ex-service personnel could be free. 

e) The club could look to other areas of the city, outside South Bristol. Pop-up shops in the months leading up to Christmas were discussed (although must be profitable). 

f) an idea for a Junior FAN was discussed, though there would be many difficulties and informal activities would perhaps work best. 

During the discussion it emerged that for games attracting a large support, home or away or both, that they could be accommodated in the West Stand Upper. This situation was likely if we draw a Premier League club in the FA Cup, when the away club has to be allocated 15% of the ground capacity. It would allow Atyeo Stand season card holders to remain in their seats in all games, including cup. A decision to open the West Stand Upper, if demand dictates, would normally be made at least several days in advance to allow for costing of stewarding and opening of refreshment stands. 

8.  Matchday experience - what was good, what can be improved and how?

Members were quizzed about their personal experience. 

- It is now much easier to get served with drinks at half-time.  

- Food on the concourses is greatly improved. ABm pointed out that a visiting reporter from a food journal sampled one of our pies and gave it 10/10.  

- The ‘Market Street’ idea will be trialled with one pop-up stall in the coming season. To comply with health and safety regulations, the stall will be built projecting outside the building so that it does not project too far into the concourse.  It will probably sell chips. 

- Concourse seating is still a desirable feature for supporters. Action MK 

Next meeting

Just pre-season was decided – Tuesday, August 2nd at 7pm. The expectation is to finish around 9pm. 

Items 7 and 8 from this meeting will be items 1 and 2 on the next agenda.