Date: Saturday 15th September 2012
Venue: Britannia Stadium
Supporters Council Representatives:- Malcolm Clarke (Acting Chair), Angela Smith, Julia Milton, Ken Toft, Julia Zuk, Bryan Shaw, Richard Lowe, Richard Bestwick, Runar Kvernen, Mark Mills, Regina Colclough, Alan Clarke, David Harper, Robert Doe.
Representatives of the Club:- Tony Scholes - Chief Executive, Adrian Hurst - Head of Community, Steve Buxton - PR Consultant.
Welcome: Malcolm Clarke welcomed all newly elected representatives to the council.
1 - Election of chair and vice chair:- It was agreed to consider this at the end of the meeting.
2/3 - Ways of working/meeting schedule & Code of conduct:- A draft prepared by Richard Lowe was circulated. Richard stated that he had tried to incorporate both the 'way we work and behaviour code that was not patronising. The Supporters Council agreed that they needed to remember that they were there to represent the supporters; that the prime focus was to develop effective methods to communicate back to them; that this experience would be a learning one and they needed to experience what works and what does not. It was agreed that any conflicts of interest were to be declared so that the group are transparent. Tony Scholes said that the Code of Conduct was very good and supported the notion in the last two paragraphs that each meeting should determine what should be communicated externally at that stage since there may l be times when the Council wishes to explore a matter further. Malcolm Clarke added that there will be no attempt to keep our meeting discussions a secret. Tony Scholes also stated that the timing is very important when the club is communicating new initiatives to the supporters. It was confirmed that a minimum of three meetings will be held during the season with the option of holding a further meeting in the close season. . Steve Buxton added that consideration needs to be given to our overseas representatives when considering meetings and fixed dates need to be agreed. It was agreed that the next meet would take place four hours before the home match to Fulham on 24th November.
4 - Supporters Liaison Officer:- Adrian Hurst confirmed that he had spoken at length with Cathy Long from the Premier League, and she had expressed the view that UEFA were happy, that the Premier League, were fulfilling their roles without an additional Supporters Liaison Officer. Tony Scholes added that he was comfortable with that decision but there may be a potential gap at away fixtures, however, it was not Stoke City's intention to make an appointment of anybody else at this time. Malcolm Clarke noted that there may be some issues of incompatibility between UEFA guidelines and the PL guidance but suggested that the Council should leave this subject as an agenda item and look at it to again at a date in the future.
5 - Link with Lidice:- Angela Smith brought to the Councils attention that when the 2nd World War took place, a Czechoslovakian Village called Lidice was bombed and totally wiped out. Tony Scholes added that an MP from Stoke on Trent heard about their story at that time, and arranged for funds to be raised to help to support the rebuild of the town. Angela added that it is the 70th anniversary of this bombing and Stoke City Supporters have raised £500 towards the cost of a wreath which is now in the Roses for Ashes Memorial Garden in Lidice. Tony Scholes told the Council that Inspired Films had been in touch with the club and were interested in making a short film about this, as Stoke on Trent had strong links with Lidice. The Council agreed that it would be a good project to get involved in.
6 - Social Networking:- Angela Smith told the Council that she had set up a Stoke City Fans Council Twitter account, and the group could now be followed on @scfcsc. It was agreed by the Council that they needed to embrace the social media and that more than one individual should have access to these facilities. It was also discussed that the Supporters Council should have individual contactable addresses and that they should be readily available, with defined roles for supporters to contact them. The council set up a sub group to form strategies, comprising Julia Milton, Angela Smith, Mark Mills, Richard Bestwick and Steve Buxton. Meetings to take place urgently.
The council also discussed the Clubs own website www.stokecityfc.com as supporters are struggling to log in and view certain pages. Tony Scholes admitted that the Club are under much pressure on this and are working with the IT department to fix flaws as and when they arise. However, the root cause of the problem lies within the Football League as this is who the contract is placed with, and not only Stoke City are experiencing these issues. As the Club are not in direct control of the issue, the Council sympathised with the Club on this matter whilst a resolution for the persistent issues is found. .
7 - Club Lottery:- Darren Sutton (not in attendance) To be carried forward to next meeting.
8 - Club's 150th anniversary:- Richard Bestwick gave feedback from supporters which included friendly's matches versus Port Vale, Ajax (European links from the 70's); Notts County (as the oldest club) and how they had suggested that these matches be free of charge. Tony Scholes explained that the club had looked at Big Games and asked what would be worthy to celebrate our 150 years. He suggested that we already play at least 19 big home games each year it was difficult to identify a game that would catch the imagination of everyone, baring perhaps a very small number of clubs, e.g. Barcelona or Real Madrid, which would be cost prohibitive. He also explained that our working group at the club was arranging initiatives to celebrate the anniversary, but particularly wanted to focus on embracing and giving something back to the community.
Celebrations will take place through the year and throughout the community via Stoke City's own Community fund with grants available to celebrate who Stoke are and our roots. Runar Kvernen expressed his view that the overseas supporters would mix with the local fans and that this should be done in a visible way so that they felt a belonging to these events too. Tony Scholes said that he was keen to identify a league game and base celebrations around that. It was agreed that Richard Bestwick, Regina Colclough, David Harper, Julia Zuk and Alan Clarke would liaise with the clubs own committee to help with thoughts for this occasion.
9 - Access to pictures from the clubs websites for magazines & 14, Acceptance Agreement Forms:- Steve Buxton. Once any supporter branch has signed and returned the acceptance agreement form, then action images and brand guidelines will be forwarded onto those branches.
10 - Ticket Allocation:- Runar Kvernen explained how it is hard for overseas supporters to get into the ticketing system for semi-finals/finals and should Stoke City qualify for Europe again, and asks how could the club incorporate these fans. Tony Scholes asked the council for its views on relative priorities, for example, 'Where do you think Norwegian members should sit versus season ticket holders'? Solutions such as percentage against members and points systems were talked about and an international Silver membership scheme. Richard Lowe then added that non season ticket holders who live in the UK but live outside of Stoke on Trent are in the same position as overseas supporters.. Malcolm Clarke added that the abolition of any loyalty element in the ticket priorities of the new membership scheme had caused concern. Tony Scholes said that Platinum Plus guaranteed that 500 people would get a ticket but it had probably been only the semi-final, final and Valencia away where tickets had not been generally available. . Steve Buxton added that international established branches could possibly be looked at on an individual basis. Malcolm Clarke suggested a meeting with the Ticket Office Manager to discuss allocations in ticket advances. Sub group to be involved with this meeting will be Malcolm Clarke, Angela Smith and Bryan Shaw with a possible Skype call to include Runar Kvernen.
11 - Meet the players, manager & player evenings:- Bryan Shaw. Steve Buxton said that once protocol and procedure had been signed for by the official branches the social side would be looked into. He confirmed that there were no dates as yet but the club are keen to get into the community. Tony Scholes added that this aspect of socialising should not just include players and managers but it should be a time to meet the actual football club too. Last year proved difficult for this to become a reality due to mid week fixtures and European Travel. There is willingness however for the club to put something into place as difficulties have been encountered previously.
12 - Concourse Issues:- Julia Milton. Julia pointed out that there could be opportunities, particularly in the Seddon Stand, for further provision for extra facilities. She explained that half time in particular on the concourse may put the health and safety of people at risk due to the mass influx of people in such a short period of time, and that some bar areas had shutters closed. The use of the betting facility could also be used at half time to accommodate more people. Tony Scholes acknowledged this and stated that the new caterers may have plans to take their catering into the aisles on match days to sell provisions. Sub group to be made available to work with the new catering firm Julia Milton, Ken Toft, Angela Smith, and Alan Clarke.
13 - Contact with other supporters groups/disability issues:- Mark Willey. Subject deferred to next council meeting as Mark was not present.
15 - Discount in shops for supporters branches:- Adrian Hurst. A part of the current membership scheme now incorporates discounts for supporters and is consistent with what other clubs generally offer.
16 - Club membership scheme:- Malcolm Clarke. This agenda was covered in section 10.
17 - Supporters Council Election system:- Posts are still unfilled within the council. Adrian Hurst confirmed that the following vacancies were available in the following categories:
General Seats - 1 vacancy
Specialist Seat - Season Ticket Holder under 18 in the Family Area
Specialist Seat - Corporate Member
Specialist Seat - Season Ticket Holder under 18 non Family Area
18 - Chairman and Vice Chairman Positions:- Malcolm Clarke was appointed as Chairman permanently and Angela Smith as Vice Chairman.
Any other business
Regina Colclough made the Club aware that the hot taps in the ladies toilets are too hot and are often left on splashing scorching water out of the basin. Tony Scholes agreed to look into this.
Potters Foundation letters problems. It was drawn to the attention of the Club that Potters Foundation members are not receiving promised newsletters.