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Supporters Council Meeting Minutes

A Stoke City Supporters Council meeting in progress

Image by: Phil Greig

PUBLISHED

05:00 17th April 2014

Minutes of the meeting held on Saturday 29th March 2014

Supporters Council: Angela Smith (Chair), Malcolm Clarke (Vice Chair), Alan Clarke, Bryan Shaw, Julia Milton, Julia Zuk, Regina Colclough, Richard Lowe, Richard Bestwick, Rob Doe, David Harper, John Slaney, Mark Mills, Wayne Harrison, Runar Kvernen.

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

Apologies: Marie Mansell, Tracy Van De Laarschot.

Approval of minutes: Alan Clarke (approved) Richard Lowe (seconded).

Matters arising from minutes: – no matters arising.

The Chair welcomed everybody and thanked for attending.

1. Communication from Club

A number of Council members said that they had received comments about the removal of the 4 month direct debit for Season Cards and were concerned that the Club had not consulted them.

TS responded:

- The 4 month direct debit scheme is no longer permissible under FCA regulations. However not withstanding this, in all honesty, we would probably have removed it, to enable the full focus to be on the 12 month.

- Season Card pricing in principle was discussed at the last meeting in January. These meetings were never designed or planned to cover all of the detail. We discussed in principle the idea of introducing a 12 monthly direct debit scheme. The Council had urged us to find a solution to this.

- The Season Card announcement and campaign has been almost unanimously well received including some extremely positive reporting by The Sentinel. The only negative as been a thread on the Oatcake on the removal of the 4 month direct debit scheme. TS urged the SC to be cautious in reading these threads & not to assume they are widely held views. In this case the vast majority of the thread was a conversation with between 2 people – 1 of whom was concerned about his credit worthiness and not strictly the removal of the 4 monthly payment scheme, the other who posts actively on any and all subjects. The danger and the potential real problem here is that over 1,000 people viewed the thread and could potentially be affected by the negativity of it and thereby damaging the huge effort and cost of the positive PR from the campaign itself.

- In general terms the Supporters Council need to consider how involved – both in terms of time, commitment and regularity they wish to be in their communication function with the Club. Ultimately, the Club must make the decision – but do the Supporters Council want to be informed of details every step of the way – or deal in principle, policies and overview.

RB complimented the efficiency of the live Q&A session on the web. 

2. Fan of the Year

AH stated that he was still receiving nominations for Fan of the Year.

AS agreed that a working party had been organised to help the Club select the Fan of the Year and she would liaise accordingly.

3. Ticketing

MC said that an agreement was reached for overseas supporter's away travel, which took consideration of travel arrangements and accommodation but this could only be conducted through the Official Supporters Branches.  

The issue of standing and sitting at away games seemed to work at recent fixtures.

The issue of preferential treatment regarding away tickets has been addressed and only official couriers will receive preferential treatment.

A discussion on memberships took place. Both Platinum and Platinum Plus memberships will be discontinued at the end of this season. The Silver membership would remain but would be rebranded.

Priority and the principles of priority were discussed and it was agreed that there would be three priority groups for the purchasing of tickets and the Club would come back with a proposal on how the priority system would work.

The three categories are:  

- Season Card holders and non-Season Card holding Potters Foundation members
- Silver Membership
- General Sale 

MC said there were still problems re: memberships. Richard Bestwick had received several emails saying that members could now purchase more than 1 ticket without providing all their details.

AE was introduced by TS and it was clearly stated that his remit was to make it as easy as possible for people to purchase tickets.

MC asked the Club to organise a proactive seat management exchange. TS confirmed that a planned seat movement plan was already in place.

MM & DH suggested a number of different options to incentivise supporters to move seats or even pay up front. TS replied we put everything in we can to keep prices as low as they can.

4. Atmosphere / Flag and availability to place & fix flags at back of stands

It was agreed that the Football Club will purchase a new 12th man flag and undertake the management of the flag alongside a group of supporters. Several people agreed that the flag added to the matchday experience and was vital to increasing the atmosphere. AH & AE will look at producing a new flag.

A discussion also took place regarding the potential of fixing being made available to supporters to bring more flags to the stadium. AE will look at if this can be achieved.

RC asked where Pottermiss was on matchday as people in the Family Area were asking. AH/SB to look into Pottermiss being more visible.


AS had received an email from a supporter in Nottingham, re: the quality of Stoke City Player and its poor quality.

JZ said that the commentary was always late tuning in, there is no one to get in contact with and its not available on a tablet.

It was acknowledged that Player needs updating but as we are stuck in the Football League Interactive deal until 2017 we will need to make the best out of the situation.

JZ was asked to pass her details to Fraser Nicholson at the Club and for him to have a look at the concerns.

6. Catering (external)

A discussion on when the catering kiosks open and close took place. TS/AH/SB/AE to clarify.

RB asked how can we make better use of the outside caterers. TS replied it's difficult due to the catering contract but we can look into it.

The possibility of a fan zone was discussed and TS replied this is something that we are looking into.

7. Sub-groups feedback

- Communication

JM & AS informed the Council that both Facebook & Twitter accounts were going well and followers were increasing, it's not a banter page purely another means to another way to contact the council with any concerns – people are using it.

- Ticketing and membership

Previously discussed in item 3

- Disability

No major issues from MM. The only concern was the sale of shirts online can't take up offer if disabled, advised that JWV will follow this up.

- Community

DH stated that the 150 Group had now morphed into the Community Trust working party and he was amazed of the amount of work that the Trust undertakes. They now intend to engage as a group and support the Trust wherever possible. Individuals will use their relevant expertise to support the department. AH welcomed all contributions from the Council members. 

- Customer experience

JM highlighted a number of issues that relate to the customer experience in the hospitality suites. ABM Catering are looking to address some of the concerns raised: ID badges, card machine performance & range, identification of roles. AE will liaise with JM to help resolve these issues.

JM also gave examples of images & items that would enhance the customer experience at the Stadium. AE will look into this further. This discussion was also extended to a number of other council member's experiences at away grounds.

A further discussion took place on the improvements of away travel and lowering the costs were important to the fans. TS said lots of clubs used their money to make ground improvements where we used ours to offer free away travel to the benefit of our own supporters. JS asked if it would continue, TS said he couldn't answer that at this moment in time, it has been extremely successful and uplifting on attendance even due to fixture results. It is something that we will be looking at it, and we will have to make a decision on whether to continue with it or to do something else, however once a scheme runs for two year it then becomes expected.

Anthony Emmerson was introduced as Support Growth & Services Manager. He has been encouraged by what currently exists at the Club but is looking forward to working with supporters and the wider fan base and having a positive impact on the both the experience and supporter growth.

8. Election/Re-Election

DH said that the elections were coming up and we need to start the process to get the message out and start recruiting now. It was agreed that the Council would meet and come back to the Club with a time scale of the recruitment process.

AC asked what is happening with those that don't attend meetings such as the young supporters, should they be resigned. AH suggested maybe a younger forum group maybe where they may feel more relaxed with people of their own age.

9. Any other business

Issues around the V12 contract AC said that he had received 4 emails from V12 regarding his Season Card, 1 email asking him to renew, a text message saying that there's still time to renew and a phone call from Asmir Begovic. I have renewed my Season Card but had no confirmation from the Club to say thank you for renewal. TS said that V12 contact SCFC 24-48 hours after ticket renewal, you should then receive confirmation form SCFC.

JS wished to express his thanks to AH & SB for the recent player appearances at K&BSCSC. It was a brilliant night with Erik Pieters and Peter Odemwingie really showing the Club up in a great light.

TS will come back to the Supporters Council once pre–season arrangements are confirmed.

JM asked if anything could be done with queues at the vendors during half time, sometimes it is like a death trap with people pushing in, can we make them more orderly and perhaps segmented. AH said we are aware of the problems but without a rebuild or an extension of the stadium it's something that we need to continue to try and find some alternative solutions.

Naming rights of the Stadium was also mentioned and TS stated that at this moment he was unable to comment on the issue.

MC asked if TS had any information on the filming of Neil Baldwin but TS said the producer had not contacted him.

Date of Next meeting Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday 26th April 2014.

AS thanks everyone for coming.

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