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FAN Meeting Minutes - May 2017

Latest details from the supporter meeting at Ashton Gate on May 11th.


FAN: Jeremy Palmer (JP, Chair), Mike Adams (MA, Secretary), John Carnell (JCl), Marie Day (MD), John Greenwood (JG), Miles Hendy (MH), Rob Palmer (RP), Alan Payne (AP), Keith Perry (KP), Phil Sweet, Rob Wood (RW). 

The Club: Adam Baker (ABr), Andrew Billingham (ABm). 

Guests: Mark Ashton (MAn), Lee Johnson (LJ), Ben Mitchell (BM), Dave Walker (DW). 

Apologies: Jon Darch (JD).  

1. Apologies, minutes and matters arising

Stewarding: Under minute 6(b) 16/2/2017, Mark Kelly was not present to report on the stewarding situation. [action – JP to follow up with MK]  

2.  FAN officer elections and new nominations

There being no other nominations, Jeremy Palmer (Chair), Miles Hendy (Vice-chair) and Mike Adams (Secretary) were re-elected. There were no nominations for vacancies, which will be advertised again in advance of our next meeting – see item 8. Terry Bond and Mike Rix were not standing for another term; the meeting thanked them for their service and wished them well for the future.  

3.  Guests - Lee Johnson and Mark Ashton

Lee Johnson responded to questions for just short of an hour with added comments by Mark Ashton. The main themes which had arisen this season were covered as well as aspects of the way forward for our club. Many difficulties experienced this season were explained as having genuine causes, which had been coped with and the right blend on the pitch was attained for the final run-in. The general feeling, including LJ and MAn, was that much could and should have been communicated better to supporters. The club representatives confirmed that they were committed to holding an Open Day prior to next season as an important opportunity to meet the players and management staff. LJ wants to produce a team to attack at pace. Current recruits are tested to run 0-20 metres in 2.8 seconds and this test will be stiffened in future. LJ said an organised visit to watch the players in training would be welcome. Lessons learnt this season will set the management team in good stead for next season. It is important that the club sticks to its core principles in order to attain a sustainable state bearing in mind the club sits 16th or 17th in Championship spending power. In infrastructure terms, LJ believes the club is in a fantastic place. 

4.  Junior FAN – possibility of setting up (MD, VB)

In an attempt to attract younger fans, a special meeting will be held one hour before our next FAN meeting. The club will make use of its database and of activities already organised on match days for young fans in publicising the meeting. [action – club reps, JP re: Forever Bristol City juniors] 

5.  Website working group

A mock-up of the new website was made available for all to see. It will come into operation on July 1st. There will be new pay per view schemes. The TV gantry is being lowered to give a better picture and also bring the LED advertising boards into view. 

6.  Matchday experience 

a) away fans seated amongst home supporters

At the final match of the season, some disruption was caused after Birmingham scored their goal. Just short of 50 tickets sold to suspected away supporters had been refunded before the match. There had been about 40% away fans in the Heineken Lounge pre-match. ABm said that an ‘away fans village’ was being considered. Away tickets will be sold in order from front to back. 

b) area for disabled away supporters

RW asked if there were any plans to raise the current away disabled areas. If not, A7 is unavailable for home disabled supporters so could that raised area be used for away disabled supporters? The club agreed to investigate what can be done. [action ABr to MK]

7. Items from OTIB

Three questions had arisen and been submitted to the club. Written replies had been received: 

a) Memorial garden/buy a brick schemes

Ans: We’re finalising a scheme for those who bought a brick before. Previous ideas haven’t been easy as the new stadium doesn’t have bricks and some proposals along the brook met resistance from the Environment Agency over access for maintenance. We’re now looking at an area near the Fan Village. We’ll also offer new bricks for sale if we have space but can’t promise that yet.

b) Finances behind our replica shirts eg manufacturing costs and selling prices

BSL produce our kit cutting out the middle man eg Adidas. In comparison:

  • PNE, produced by Nike, adult shirts were £45 or £30 in their sale
  • Barnsley produced by Puma, junior shirt is £38 or £20 in their sale
  • QPR produced by Dryworld, adult shirt was £46.99 or £10 in their sale

Could we set our prices a little lower?

Ans: We made the decision right at the beginning that Bristol City’s kit would be the best fabrics, attention to detail, individual design & innovation that would compete with the master brands and as such pricing was important to ensure the tone of voice & positioning is premium, not budget. We have sold more products year on year and have more U12s wearing club colours; this is an intrinsic part of the strategy long term. By ensuring the products are the best for the fans clearly this comes at a price. However, by operating an ‘own brand’ solution we are direct with the major factories around the world and therefore drive significantly more profit for the club.

c) ‘£20 is plenty’ if implemented in the Atyeo could see it fuller than ever next season

Ans: We moved forward last season with average attendances growing from 15,200 to 19,200 adopting a pricing strategy that is flexible to market demands (such as fixture dates, opponents, current form, etc). It’s important to the business that we continue to grow the overall supporter base but also revenues and we must maintain balance & flexibility. It’s worth noting the maximum away fans will pay at Ashton Gate is £30 or £25 depending on grade of fixture and for certain promotional games like Birmingham where it was £15 for an adult, £10 U22, £5 U19 & £1 U12 we would mirror this for the away team. All of this is crucial to our overall strategy.

In the discussion, MA questioned whether our replica shirt prices could be lower instead of ‘more profit’. The club’s response was that all profits from BSL and AGL operations are ploughed back into Bristol City Holdings and thence to the Football Club, adding directly to their funds to spend on players. The shirt contract was thus a win-win situation for club and supporters.

8. Date of next meeting

The meeting will be on the second home Saturday of next season; the fixture list is published on June 21st. It was agreed that a double-box would be a more suitable meeting place than the Heineken Lounge. A camera could be operated to provide live online coverage. The club will make use of its database in publicising the meeting.