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Supporters Council Meeting Minutes

A Stoke City Supporters Council meeting in progress

Image by: Phil Greig

PUBLISHED

14:45 30th April 2014

Minutes of the meeting held on Saturday 26th April 2014

Supporters Council: Angela Smith - Chair, Malcolm Clarke – Vice Chair, Julia Milton, David Harper, Rob Doe, Regina Colclough, Alan Clarke, Richard Lowe, John Slaney, Julia Zuk, Bryan Shaw, Wayne Harrison, Mark Mills

Club Attendees: Tony Scholes, Adrian Hurst, Anthony Emmerson, Steve Buxton

Apologies: Runar Kvernen

Approval of minute's last Council meet:

Angela Smith states that they were not an accurate reflection of what happened in the meeting. Julia Zuk stated at that meeting that the removal of the 4-month direct debit Season Ticket option was not mentioned when she had asked the question re: the new 12-month option. It was noted that an addition was required with reference to the online Oatcake comments. Malcolm Clarke stated that it was very important to get the minutes correct as the Supporters Council are now scrutinised for their contribution. The two additions to be made would include the 4-month option direct debit discussion and also the different ticketing systems that were discussed. Tony Scholes added that if substantial comments were omitted then they needed inserting.

Away Ticketing and Loyalty:

Angela Smith expressed the fans discontent re: the sale of the West Bromwich Albion tickets and that the Club needed to specify their strategy for next season on the ticketing sales. Wayne Harrison added that the way the sale of away tickets had not changed all season so he could not understand why there was discontent now. Tony Scholes explained that the selling methods and priorities for West Brom were the same as for every other away game this season. The Club had not got this wrong, albeit Tony did accept that the Club did get it wrong in so much as the Club did not tell supporters in the queue at the Ticket Office earlier that some of the people hoping to purchase a ticket would be unsuccessful.

Whilst the Club kept social media and the website updated, the unsuccessful supporters in the queue were told at 10.15am when they could have been informed at 9.00am that tickets would run out before they got to the window. He also added that vouchers should have been issued to those that were going to be successful in a purchase so that others could leave (albeit disappointedly). Malcolm Clarke added that what had been discussed for next year's purchasing rights should stop this kind of upset from reoccurring. Rob Doe expressed his concern that supporters in the queue were believed to be purchasing 30 tickets at a time. Mark Mills asked if the Club would consider an APP for smartphones where we could order tickets from a handheld mobile device – to be considered and discussed at sub ticketing group further.

Anthony Emmerson recapped that work for the 2014/2015 season is still currently under review and the best fit model will be decided shortly. An internal model had been put forward and the research into this was on-going.  An announcement will be made by the end of May 2014. The ticketing sub group to meet prior to its launch, to iron out, any potential problems that may arise, with Anthony Emmerson and Josh Whittaker. Tony Scholes reiterated that these details would be released by the end of May 2014 and that there was a need to work back from that date to ensure the deadline is met. Anthony Emmerson added that 2014/2015 year one sales were a priority model and that what SCFC encounter in that season would determine what would need to be changed for year two. Richard Lowe expressed his opinion that data of percentages of who purchased what from the SCFC database should be made available to help to give some strength to the Oatcake comments. David Harper asks for the clarity of the message to be better when issuing a ticketing statement.

Tony Scholes asked the SC if from the discussion at the last council meeting, were the groups for attendance of away games approved. David Harper stated that grouping was agreed but not the methodology for the prioritisation within the groups ie match attendance etc.

The three groups of priority were unanimously voted for by the SC as follows:
- Season Ticket holders & Corporate members
- Potters Foundation members & the new Silver (name to be officially confirmed) members
- General sale

Speed of Minutes:

Angela Smith stated that the speed of publishing the minutes was ruining the credibility of the SC. Tony Scholes confirms that the delay is due to time to go through them. TS then questions if he really needs to sign them off as they are SC minutes and he is happy for minutes to be published without him signing. However he would like to see them. He adds that if a Club representative has had visibility of them prior to being published then he is happy for them to be put onto the website.

Away Travel:

Angela Smith asks if SCFC have made a decision yet with regards to free of charge away travel for next season as yet. TS could not comment on that decision and clarifies that it is not a Premier League agreement to provide this facility for three years. TS confirms that the away travel had been very successful this year and it had had a significant impact on away support. Regina Colclough asks if at some point would it be possible to be able to book transport and tickets online at the same time instead of making a calls to the Club afterwards to get transport. Malcolm Clarke adds that there is a view that supporters from outside of the area that they are unable to take advantage of the free of charge travel and is no benefit to them.

The Flag:

Adrian Hurst confirms that SCFC will not be rushing this through for the end of season as the Club are involving supporter participation in the design via a competition. There are no boundaries on who designs the flag and this opportunity is open to all. Anthony Emmerson agrees that fan engagement is very important on this subject.

The PA system:

Steve Buxton confirms that it is still being tested at this moment and that over the summer improvements are to be made.  Julia Milton had concerns that from previous SC meetings it had been said that it was difficult to test accurately, as the ground needed to be full to capacity for testing so how would this be possible. 

Season Ticket purchase for Delilah's Bar:

Mark Mills asked about the membership for this facility as nothing as yet had been announced as yet for next season. Tony Scholes to look into and come back with an answer.

Ticket Sales (% of those who took 4 month option that have renewed):

Angela Smith states that other football clubs appear to be using the V12 option for supporters who can pay a £5 administration charge to take advantage of the 4 month interest free direct debt option.

Tony Scholes states that as of this year 2014 it would be illegal for SCFC to run this type of payment scheme as there are FSA regulations in place and the Club are not licensed to offer this facility, nor do they wish to be. As the Club were no longer able to offer this option, and to look after the supporters they looked at the V12 with a 12 month direct debit scheme instead. Other football clubs chose V12 to run a 4 month option, but SCFC chose a 12 month deal which runs at an APR or admin fee of 9.9%. After looking into other clubs 4 month schemes, it was found that their schemes were running as high as 174% APR and Tony Scholes felt that this was immoral. The bank, V12 raise their APR so that should supporters default on a payment a higher rate would cover the loss.

To get the APR down as low as possible, SCFC made an agreement to take the risk of the payment should a supporter default thus lowering the APR to 9.9%. Consequently the approval rate for the credit checks sat at a 95% pass rate which compares higher than other clubs as some are rated at a 60% pass rate. The 5% of supporters that were not approved, the Club tried to work with them to try and find a solution for and most cases have been helped. Of the people who applied for the 12 month option (of which there are over 5,000), only 107 supporters have not been able to find a solution which is less than ½%. Tony Scholes feels that this scheme does the very best for the supporters and compared to other football clubs SCFC come out favourably.

Tony Scholes also discusses the online Oatcake forum and he feels that this is a positive way that encourages fan engagement, as Stoke City is a big part of people's lives and it extends the enjoyment of supporting the Club. He admits that the Club do review it for fan engagement and he is kept up to date with comments. What he dislikes is the foul abusive language and the slanderous comments made plus guests of the forum are able to make such comments and hide behind names. SCFC are paid to do a job and have to accept criticism as a part of their positions, but when people make comments about fellow supporters who give up their own time to support the interests of the fan base in general he finds this very wrong and distasteful.  

Sub Groups feedback:

Communications: The chair@ email address continues to receive many emails and Angela Smith makes sure that all emails are answered and directed to the appropriate department. The Twitter account @scfcsc and The Stoke City Supporters Council Facebook page are well supported.

Ticket & Membership: Covered in earlier minutes.

Disability: Adrian Hurst - during the summer a review will take place for the ambulant and non-ambulant disabled supporter base.

Community: Regina Colclough has taken up a voluntary position 1 day a week in the Anita Harris store at the Intu Potteries Centre in Hanley. Next meeting for Community sub group is in May 14. David Harper suggested that to dilute some of the animosity that has recently been associated with the SC and to foster better supporter engagement that, supporters should be given the opportunity to meet with the Council face to face in the form of a periodic forums, the Club agreed to assisting with this. Julia Milton suggested that when the time arrives for supporters to nominate themselves to become a part of the Council that an opportunity is made at that time to meet the team to discuss their roles within the council. Angela Smith suggested thatnext season at least two members of the Coucil should be available prior to games in Delilah's to handle questions etc.

Customer Experience: Julia Milton states that the newly appointed Anthony Emmerson by the Club is a positive recent addition, meetings are to take place to discuss future plans for supporter growth and how to manage supporter’s expectations to reinforce a great match day experience.

Disability in grounds report and Stoke City position: The Club are always trying to improve the experience of all supporters and continue to do so.

Re-Elections timings and process: These are to take place in June 2014 further details to follow.

Stadium name change: Angela Smith asked Tony Scholes for an update but no further details to update as yet.

Pre season tour: The Club are about to announce the pre season tour. Mark Hughes has made reference to the tour this week.

AOB: SC asked if it would be possible for the younger games and the under 21 games to be live streamed possibly through YouTube. TS to investigate and report back.

Marvellous Film for the BBC – filming to take place very shortly and some supporter participation has been requested. This will take place prior to the home game v Fulham.

Angela Smith finally thanks the Club, staff and the Supporters Council for their contribution this season and brings the meeting to a close.

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