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FAN Meeting Minutes - September 2017

Latest details from the supporter meeting at Ashton Gate on September 18th.

Attendance

FAN Jeremy Palmer (JP, Chair), Mike Adams (MA, Secretary), Les Bowen (LB), John Carnell (JCl), Jon Darch (JD), Marie Day (MD), John Greenwood (JG), Rob Palmer (RP), Alan Payne (AP), Keith Perry (KP), Phil Sweet, Rob Wood (RW)

Club Adam Baker (AB), Vicky Barlow (VB), Mark Kelly (MK), Matthew Joy (MJ), Jon Lansdown (JL), Rachel Lemar (RL),

Guests John Cosh, Derek Lidbury, Dave Walker (DW)

Apologies Miles Hendy (MH), Mark Ashton (MA)

1.  FAN elections, new nominations
The meeting gave a vote of thanks to Andrew Billingham, no longer with Bristol Sport, for his integral part in the formation of FAN. A card had been received from him, which was passed round. The chair would also be sending a personal message of thanks. ABm’s responsibilities were being shared out; JL as Chair of BS had taken on many of them.
The recent Q&A night attracted 78 supporters and it was suggested a live Twitter feed would have helped. FAN was mentioned as an avenue for supporters to contact the Club and we gained two contacts as a result.
There was the suggestion of organising a Saturday meeting, as originally planned. AB must leave by 12.30pm although MK could remain until 1.30pm. Saturday, December 2nd at 12noon was decided – MK will look for a venue.
There would be an open invitation to supporters so we need to evidence the value of FAN. The “Bring a friend for a tenner” scheme, all-inclusive ticket prices and position of singing section in the stadium were mentioned; MA [action] would look through the minutes. A social media campaign will be launched.
An early agenda item for future meetings will be “achievements since the last meeting.” [action MA].

2. Junior FAN
A questionnaire in the off-season had generated a handful of replies. A meeting will be arranged [action VB and MD].

3. Ashton Gate Experience – fans’ questions
MK had answered many questions on OTIB and had circulated a paper for the meeting, which was updated as a result of the discussion (qv). This paper would be given wide distribution to avoid repetition of the same questions:

a) Fanzone Toilets
When such toilets were provided previously, they were abused and also became more of a hygiene issue. Toilets are available in the Sports Bar and the concourse and stewards are briefed to allow supporters to use them.

b) Tannoy system
£20k has been invested over the summer to upgrade as necessary. We had a number of employees sit within the areas on a Saturday game and will do the same at other games to record. We are trying to establish if it is the PA system itself (signed off as 100% working) or the clarity of the speakers.
Discussion - it was noted that recorded interviews were not as clear as the live microphone. In the event of an incident and you cannot hear clearly, fans are asked to look at text on the screens.
[action – MK to update next meeting or earlier]

c) Entry point signage showing seat numbers as well as block numbers
Feedback on this has been very minimal with only three queries raised. Any further signage may confuse. There is always a steward present.
Discussion: RW said that external notices are needed to distinguish the lifts to A1 and A2. LB said that handles on seats at ends of rows are needed to help the infirm get up the steps. [action – MK]

d) Further Q&As with management team
More Q&As are planned; dates to be confirmed. Steve Lansdown plans to hold an away day Q&A with the Supporters Club & Trust as have become regular events.
Discussion: Date TBC.

e) Can part of the stadium be named after Terry Cooper?
This is a difficult one. What should we name after him? What about Louis Carey, Billy Wedlock ... and all? There is also the issue of Rugby matches at the stadium when we start naming stands/locations in the stadium.
Discussion: box numbers were one idea discussed [action- all to consider for next meeting].

f) Season card scanning for discount
This remains a long-term aim and is a project for IT but a timescale cannot be fixed.
Discussion: discounting is nevertheless working at around £10k per game.

g) Seating in concourse
The concourse can never return to having conventional seating (which was only ever available in the Dolman Exhibition Hall – not a ‘concourse’ as such; it was never in the East End or Williams Stand). This is due to the design of the stadium in relation to our fire strategy ie no extra loading or movable objects. All the concourses have been designed to be the first point of evacuation from the stand so need to be “sterile”.
Discussion: flip-up seats were again proposed as a solution [action MK].

h) Pint speed at half-time
Mobile units are used. This is something we are very detailed on. The average service time for Derby on 16/9/2017 was 44 seconds, compared to an average of 70 seconds last season.

i) Lighting within the stands left on during the game
This issue was raised in a safety inspection last year and was added to our safety certificate stipulation. It is connected with the rake in the stands and the amount of late arrivals.
Discussion: a different situation may emerge if rails to assist movement have been installed. Everyone agreed that the lights distracted from the match experience.

j) Free kids shirts were difficult to get hold of compared to last season
A lot of this is down to when the shirts become available. In the previous season we had shirts available throughout the summer months, while this season the shirt came out at the end of July. In addition it formed part of a larger process to get proof of age for age groups, ensuring no one was cheating the system. In an ideal world we would like to tie the scheme into the purchase of season cards but it would come down to when the kit is available.
Discussion: it was wondered that BSL in marketing their own brand, could not produce the shirts in good time.

k) Why can't you buy a ticket at the ground?
The club sells tickets online and by phone only via Supporter Services. The ticket office opens on a matchday when thousands of fans come to Ashton Gate, but simply put we don’t see the financial need to step backwards and staff a ticket office throughout the week for the numbers it would attract – it would be a waste of resources. We are instead focusing on future projects, such as tickets on your phone and train station-style ticket dispensers.
Discussion: it is hoped that in the near future fans will be able to purchase tickets and enter the stadium via their mobile phone.

l) Hand dryers - why are they cold?
We are working with the suppliers on this [action MK]. Paper towels have been added in the meantime.

m) Museum/buy a brick/memorial garden
Bricks scheme – a replacement scheme is being prepared for launch this autumn. We will ensure we honour those who purchased previously and the Club are going through the data to ensure we are ready for launch.
Museum – the area originally assigned has been handed to SC&T to fulfil that need. The Club still hopes to have a museum in future but are reassessing options.
Memorial garden – there are no plans. We are aware some people raised it during the consultation period but there were never any firm plans. We will keep an open mind.

n) Cardiff fixture and SAG minutes not being made public
The Club has made a statement on the Cardiff game. With regards to SAG meeting minutes, that is a question for the SAG not FAN.
Discussion: JD said that the Sports Grounds Safety Authority has advised SAGs to have a supporter representative. DW [action] said he would raise the matter at the next meeting on October 5th – also the possibility of publishing minutes.
A beamback was suggested as a way of reducing the number of travelling supporters. AB said that would be a matter for Cardiff City FC, who would have to approach BCFC and the EFL.

o) Poor stock in the shop
If anyone has anything they want to raise about the Store, it is best to email Marie.longhurst@bristol-sport.co.uk directly. There may be a valid reason why we aren't stocking something, but if there’s something missing we want to know about it.

p) Would it be possible to ensure that matters relating to the City Foundation draws are communicated more effectively, membership cards are sent out to members each year and more effort is made to engage with members?
There is a lack of transparency and general information regarding the City Foundation Prize draws and the benefits of being in the scheme. Long-term members have not been updated on revised benefits such as free Forever Bristol Memberships etc. Some people who have been members for a significant time are unsure even if their names / numbers are still being entered into the draw even though the money is still being taken
Discussion: JG said that winners were posted on the Club’s website. He requested it be minuted that the City Foundation have no access to the BCFC database and changes are not forwarded.
This large and detailed question has been passed on to Billy Bond [action], who is the administrator for City Foundation. To get in touch with Billy please email billy.bond@bcfc.co.uk.
 
q) Supporter Liaison Officer
The officer who was scheduled to report on this matter was unable to attend so the matter was placed near the head of the next agenda but an announcement will probably be issued in the meanwhile.

4. Things the Club are doing well and what it can improve
a) Parking at Ashton Gate for users of CATS
AB answered that parking cannot be available for every away game because of events at Ashton Gate. The availability or non-availability would be publicised for every away game. One suggestion was for two CATS ticket templates to be available [action RL]. Coach stewards already make the situation clear.
b) Sponsorship of Players
The Senior Reds had been asked to pay £2,000 + VAT per player, which was double the previous season. Also the benefits were not as good or had to be paid for separately. AB answered that the scheme was aimed at larger business sponsors and that although fewer players had been sponsored this year, the total income had increased. AB promised that the Club will look into other sponsorship opportunities for the smaller potential sponsors then MK [action] agreed to deal with this question.

5. Date of next meeting
Saturday, December 2nd starting at 12noon.