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Supporters Council Meeting Minutes

A Stoke City Supporters Council meeting in progress

Image by: Phil Greig

PUBLISHED

09:10 20th January 2014

Minutes of the meeting held on Sunday 12th January 2014

Attendees -

Stoke City Football Club: Adrian Hurst, Andy Billingham, Tony Scholes, Ravi Sharma, Rob Killingworth, Steve Royals. 

Stoke City Supporters Council: Angela Smith, Alan Clarke, Bryan Shaw, David, Harper, John Slaney, Julia Milton, Julia Zuk, Malcolm Clarke, Mark Mills, Marie Mansell, Regina Colclough, Richard Bestwick, Richard Lowe, Rob Doe, Tracey Van De Laarschot, Wayne Harrison,

1 Apologies - Steve Buxton, Runar Kvernen

2 Approval of minutes - Alan Clarke - approved David Harper – second

3 Matters arising from minutes – no matters arising

4 Chair actions

Angela Smith stated that Supporters Council now had 1060 followers on the Twitter Account and that they were actively re-tweeting SCFC Tweets and were receiving some good feedback from them. Andy Billingham agreed that the club would actively promote the @scfcsc account.

AS also confirmed that the vast majority of emails received since the last council meeting were with reference to the car park, change of games, and one of the biggest complaints was that the minutes were not published onto the SCFC website fast enough. Andy Billingham said that he would like to get them approved quickly and get them produced and uploaded in a quicker period of time.

AS, has also received emails, with reference to the dates of the SCFC "pre-season", tour as some supporters would like to schedule their holidays around the fixtures.

AS had also been in contact with Barry Town and they too are celebrating a special anniversary. The significance of SCFC and their club is that we were the first football team that they ever played them and they thought that it would be a good time to continue the links.  Possibly in the way of an academy match.

5 Reports from Sub-Groups

Ticketing & Memberships

Malcolm Clarke - Main item of discussion was ticketing priority on purchases. Purchasing frequency would be favoured. Non ticket and club shop not too be included in figures. Supporters Council have received the stats for tickets on Platinum Plus ticket purchases however they had no chance to look at figures as yet. MC to devise a questionnaire for supporters to discuss what system they would like.

MC felt that it was becoming very difficult for new supporters to break into the ticketing priority levels and the group will continue to discuss this matter further with the Club.

Mr Tony Scholes confirms that 500 tickets can be kept back for general sale.

MC claims that whilst standing at away games, it has been noted that a particular set of the same supporters appear to have access to certain seats. He confirms that SCFC Ticket Office staff have accepted that this does happen. TS said that there should be fair access for all fans and that he would investigate this. MC confirms that supporters who are likely to stand need to be sat at the back. He calls for SCFC Ticket Office to work with supporters to accommodate this.

MC also suggests that visiting fans should be given free reign of standing as disregarding this could lead to public disorder.
 
Tony Scholes confirms that he believes that the Club can and should encourage sitters at the front and standing to the back.

MC states that there is a big issue with the current card system and a lot of confusion as to what the system requires. A guide as to what happens in certain situations would help. He also is discussing if we need to log details? And are we losing sales because of it. It could lead to the creation of fictitious people to get tickets.

AB - A lot is being done by the system provider and they are helping to sort the problems on purchasing. It has been noted that iPads are not compatible and over 50% of people who tried to do so, do not have ‘flash’ to be able to. The provider is actively working with The Ticket Office to make the process simple.

Richard Lowe to Mr Tony Scholes says that it is really important to try to maximise attendance to a maximum crowd but feels that ticketing issues are hindering this. Supporters are finding it difficult to buy a ticket from outside of the local area. TS would like to see a significant improvement shared the sentiments and expressed that he would take all of the comments on board. 

MC asks when Football League Interactive (FLi) is in contract until - 2017 as per AB.

Community

David Harper confirms that the “150 Years Group” now changed to the“Community Trust Group”.

Adrian Hurst was very pleased to have this new group on board and he will arrange a suitable time to introduce this side of the business to its members.

Communications

AS already spoken – as above see section 4.

Customer Experience Group

Julia Milton reported back that the customer satisfaction group was having a positive effect and that most feedback was indeed extremely positive and encouraging.

Disabled supporters 

Marie Mansell held her meeting with Lindsey  to arrange a meeting with SCWIM.

Larger screens have also been suggested for when supporters stand up. However MM states that as a wheelchair user she does find the majority of fans very supportive. Adrian Hurst suggests an item with reference to Disabled Supporters to be entered into the match day program.  AS agrees that this has already been discussed.

6 Other items raised by Council

Pyrotechnic Issues

Ravi Sharma
Rob Killingworth
Steve Royals - Transport

Ravi thanked the Supporters Council for being very proactive in their approach to supporting pyrotechnic issues and highlighted that the only problem SCFC had needed to deal with was last year at Tottenham Hotspur.

Noted that Leicester City visiting supporters set a flare off however an 18 year old supporter was seen passing the flare to a 15 year old. CCTV enabled the offenders to be identified and after the match action was taken.

Ravi explained that various sentences can be passed dependent on where you live.

He reiterated the importance of CCTV plus the use of the pyrotechnic dog team as it helps as a deterrent factor.

Seven incidents were reported at games and all individuals, apart from two, have been identified. Ravi reinforced how the use of pyrotechnics pose huge health and safety risks and are hazardous to health. He also stated that Stoke City FC have to respond to the Football Association and give details of what procedures were put into place to prevent this kind of behaviour from happening. Banning orders, custodial sentences, cautions, and an eighteen month ban from the stadium is already in place at Britannia. If supporters are caught SCFC will take action and you will lose your ticket. Ravi explains how SCFC need to highlight the seriousness of using pyrotechnics to the supporters.

Richard Lowe expressed how celebrating a goal the Inter-Continental way appears to be becoming fashionable and this is being highlighted in the media.

Under 16 pat down for security was questioned and Ravi did confirm that SCFC are able to perform this as long as it is done in a reasonable manner. Ravi also confirmed that searches can be performed on camera if the stewards believe there is a risk involved.

Bryan Shaw asks if SCFC would screen the dangers in match day and Andy Billingham confirmed that this should not be a problem. Malcolm Clarke added that too many supporters just don't realize the potentially dangers and our message to supporters should state exactly what the risks are and to take note.

Education process, these are the risks and Adrian Hurst asks if we could screen a Case Study of the supporter who was prosecuted and run some features on what happens if you do this. It was also noted that the supporter in question who was banned, did say how sorry he was for his actions.

Standing in the exits

Rob Killingworth explained that it was still on the agenda to get some floor painting done. However changes within the team have delayed this slightly. RK said that a lot more pre planned activity was happening prior to matches. Extra stewards are in place, but supporters ignore steward requests to move on. There is a need to encourage fans to follow instructions. RK explained that from a recruitment campaign 40 stewards were employed, however only 25 of those remain in employment. RK explains that they are not short of stewards however there is a need to recruit more. He also states that there are lots of changes to be put into place but it takes time.

Julia Zuk stated how supporters push from behind creating a huge health and safety risk for people falling down the stairs. David Harper felt that a percentage of stewards were not performing their jobs correctly. RK then states that the steward’s brief is to make sure that supporters get to their seat safely and if supporters feel that this is not so then the management need to be informed so that action can be taken. DH also states that there is a big issue post match in block 30 when leaving the stadium.

RK states that stewards leave early to make sure that areas such as the car park, footbridge and paths are all secure; however other checks could be put into place. 
Malcolm Clarke suggests a brief leaflet could be given out to supporters highlighting the safety issues and risks. RK stated that he would support this as it is an education process. Angela Smith adds that the big screen has quite an impact and it was suggested that safety issues flash up 5-10 minutes before end of game if AB would permit.

Angela Smith then highlights the problem of exiting the stadium with cars. RK asked for the exact issues so that they could be addressed. Ravi explains that the traffic management company had to apply for an experiment traffic order. Also on match day parking for a number of coaches had to be taken into consideration. The Police no longer provide SCFC with traffic duties and when they did it was only for the away supporter’s traffic. Regina Colclough feels that the current system may have improved. Julia Zuk added that as the systems keep changing there is a need to publicise this and how the new systems work with the supporters. John Slaney praises that when Knypersley Supporters club applied for their permits and since using the car park the new system works most satisfactorily for them and commended the changes.

Steve Royals states that Stoke City Council do co-operate with SCFC on match day enforcing the movement of taxis, taking registration numbers of vehicles that cause obstruction. Departure priority is also given to the away coaches and then the home coaches. It was made clear that SCFC only look after the SCFC parking and not other car parks in the area.

Angela Smith addresses the North car park issues. SR states that when the match finishes pedestrians walk freely and the car parks remain closed until it is safe for vehicles to be released. Each car park has its own lane of traffic and they try to release the cars fairly. Ravi added that this can be amended where necessary and that the stewards are all in constant contact with each other. Steve Royals said that changes to West 1 car park were agreed so that both barriers were opened and it's working better. David Harper said that is a perception that there is no plan or order. Steve Royals and Ravi confirmed that the evacuation times are getting better now that the traffic can flow. However there are a couple of bottle necks at the A50 bridge and Trentham/Longton Road lights – these lights are controlled by the Highway. SCFC are in communication with highway and there are new match commanders in place working with the club. Steve Royals says that movement is progressing and on-going changes can be made on a match day as the communication is very good.

Julia Zuk asked for more information to be displayed on cars windscreens perhaps but SR said that this had been tried before and it was not successful.

Ravi expressed that evening games do prove difficult for parking as SCFC lose around 400 car parking spaces as the local business car parks are not available and that there were two accidents on the night of the Manchester United game.

Adrian Hurst states that activities on a match day are great and that Ravi and his team give a great insight, however there is now a need for a working action group to support this.

Other

Alan Clarke noted that certain members of the Supporters Council have not attended all Council meetings and it was the consensus of the Council that in any given year should be a member of the Supporters Council you should be present and attend 50% of scheduled meetings.  Those who did not conform to these terms would be written to and dismissed from the Council.

Angela Smith points out that Gareth Ekin had now resigned from the SC and that those who had not been in attendance would be written to.

MC states that any other Supporter who had applied for the position and been unsuccessful at that time should be given a chance to stand.

Adrian Hurst adds that now would be a good time to start the recruitment campaign. 

7 Delilah’s Bar
Covered in section 5 – Customer Experience Group.

8 Ticketing & Pricing

Tony Scholes states that Season Tickets need to be considered in the sub group as SCFC are now at the time of year. Thoughts and opinions will be listened to. The view on the current ticketing system needs addressing. TS confirms that there has been a reduction in Season Ticket holders and SCFC lost 3,000 Season Ticket holders. It was a theory that a certain percentage of this loss would pick and choose games, however this did not happen. TS asks "Is there a different way we could do this?"

TS adds that more lapsed Season Ticket holders attended the Crystal Palace game than the Manchester City game but points out the price difference.  He acknowledges that the prices are still extremely good value for money and prices have not increased since SCFC were in The Championship. The supporter base mostly agree and SCFC have to recognise that there is success in the “Early Bird” prices on Season Tickets with costs at £18.10 per game.

Angela Smith asks if the Club would be prepared to give out free cup games. TS explained that SCFC has to give away 60% of revenue to the other club and the Football Association/Football League.

Mark Mills enquires about Flexible Tickets – For shift workers and others who would like to select certain matches to fit lifestyle - to be discussed in Sub Group.

TS asks do supporters prefer the current system or perhaps a new idea where fans pay per month. Many in the room preferred the idea of a regular monthly payment, even if it was a little more expensive.

Julia Zuk adds that she does not want SCFC to remove the existing “Early Bird” offer and that she did not want the monthly payment plan being the only option available to buy a season ticket.

9 Swipe Cards and Points Scheme
To be discussed at next Council Meeting

10 Tannoy

Julia Zuk feels that the tannoy is now worse than what it has been and has received lots of complaints. Pre and half time match entertainment is missed as supporters cannot hear what is being said.

Adrian Hurst explains that independent people have been contacted, and a new system would cost between a quarter and half a million pounds. Simple alterations have been made. It was noted that SCFC do operate two systems and in an emergency Ravi Sharma has access to this.

Angela Smith to talk to Ravi on sub group regarding this matter. 

11  Aisles and Safety
Discussed in section 6.

12 Items raised by Club.

Date of next meeting Saturday 29th March 2014 – Hull Game 

Andy Billingham stated that the 24th March Season Tickets will go on sale and sub-groups to meet within the next two weeks to discuss.

AOB None arising

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