Minutes of the latest Supporters Council Meeting held on 23rd September 2017
John Smith, Mark Mills, Rob Doe, Nigel Hackney, Angela Smith (chair), David Harper, Linda Bennett, Richard Bestwick, Mike Tudor, Mark Barnett, John Slaney, Daniel Stevenson, Julia Zuk, Wayne Harrison, Adam Hindhaugh, Bryan Shaw, Sean Ruane, Brian Edwards
Stoke City Football Club
Adrian Hurst, Anthony Emmerson, Rob Killingworth, Tony Scholes
Norwegian Supporters Club branch, Swedish Supporters Club branch
Confirmation of Club’s strategy
It was confirmed by the Club that ‘pay on the day’ is no longer available for any of the stadium car parks. In total, almost 3300 car parking spaces are provided by the Club and neighbouring businesses.
With regards to Traffic Management policy, the meeting was told that prior to the game there was very little required. After the game, the priority was to allow supporters, on foot, to leave the area safely and car park barriers are closed for 10-15 minutes after the final whistle to enable this to happen. Priority is also given to both home and away supporters’ coaches as this enables large numbers of supporters to be cleared quickly. After car parks are opened for exit, Gordon Banks Drive remains closed to traffic until the Shuttle Bus service has finished and Priority Coaches have departed.
A specific point raised by Council members was that since the stadium car park spaces have become unallocated, there is a much more disorganised exit within the car parks. The Club responded that when spaces were allocated there was a regular issue with people parking in other people’s spaces, but that it is continuing to monitor all aspects of its Traffic Management process and is currently working with consultants to review current arrangements.
Action: SCFC to update on current review at next meeting
Park and Ride
Following the issue being raised at previous meetings, the Club confirmed that they are looking at additional parking away from the stadium with possible bus connections, to give supporters alternatives to the current offer.
Action: SCFC to update on progress prior to next meeting
Other parking issues
Following concerns raised by some supporters regarding serious safety issues, the Club are working with the police and City Council to hopefully get Highways England to take action to prevent the dangerous parking taking places on verges and central reservation in the Sideway area by the incinerator. HE have failed to engage with the Club, but the Club is to send video evidence from parking at today’s game to HE to push them into putting into place the necessary restrictions or barriers.
Action: SCFC to provide update if/when HE actions have progressed
Away team coaches – safety concerns
The Club said they would take up the issue with the police of concerns raised over the way police outriders clear supporters to bring through the away team coach at each game.
Action: SCFC to contact police to outline concerns
Shuttle Bus Service
The Club was asked for an update on the effect of two additional buses being provided on the shuttle bus service. It was observed that there were long queues after each of the first two games this season. The Club highlighted that there had been no increase in usage, and that as both previous league games had been 5.30 kick off times, it will be interesting to see how it works for a 3.00 kick off. Any further expansion of the service would be dependent on driver availability.
There was a discussion regarding the inconsistency of pre-match searches. It was clarified that the Club manage the security operation, with the day to day delivery led by Club officials but delivered primarily by contractors. There is limited availability of security staff and particularly female staff. Council representatives asked if the Club could look to how to get the best possible contracted supervisory staff as they hold the key to how professionally the service is provided at the turnstiles.
The Club responded to a request about any safety concerns with the reduced gap between home and away supporters by saying they are carefully following each game and are pleased with the current police and stewarding operation after the first three games.
The Council said that its members had received overwhelmingly positive feedback over the new disabled facilities. There has been a need to relocate a few supporters with large wheelchairs from the mid-level due to restricted lift space; all have been offered a higher level or pitch side place. The Club is continuing to speak to supporters in the disabled areas to see how any remaining issues can be improved, including where carers need seating alongside their companion.
A room in the main stand is being utilised to provide a facility for supporters with a range of needs, from autism to dementia. It will provide invited match ticket holders with a safe match day room and there is the opportunity for those with dementia, for example, to look at Club memorabilia and meet previous players etc. Mark Barnett, Council representative for disabled supporters, has been invited to view the room. It will be first used for the Southampton game.
In response to criticism from the Council regarding the late announcement of pre-season match details, Tony Scholes stated that the Club only announce the game when it is definitely confirmed. Stoke City would seek where ever possible, to arrange games further in advance to maximise the notice that they can give. However, the Club has to be certain the match is arranged, as on occasions, other Clubs announce before this is the case and this could lead to supporters making arrangements for a game which ultimately does not take place.
The Club agreed that a pre-season open training session will take place next year if there is no pre-season home match. Discussions re its format will initially be discussed at the next meeting.
Action: Council to add this to next meeting agenda and present ideas
Under league rules the U23 team has to play at a venue which has a minimum seating capacity, which means Clayton Wood cannot be used. The Club wishes to have a high quality playing surface to ensure the U23 squad is better integrated with the first team squad and its facilities, which rules out other local grounds. The Council has promised to get feedback from supporters as to the interest in having a coach to take supporters to games at St George’s Park and, if there is interest, to ask the Club to trial it. The Club were also asked if it is possible to start streaming home U23 games.
Action: Council to gauge support for a match day coach and contact club if support is there
Whilst feedback from parents is that the mascot experience is good value for money, the Council asked if staged pre-payments could be offered to make it affordable for all. The Club agreed to explore the opportunity. It was noted that there are options for children to be flag bearers for the cost of a discounted match day ticket.
Action: SCFC to consider payment options and to respond to Council prior to next meeting
The Council representatives enquired about how tickets were being made available for the new south-east stand, with reports of people not being aware of availability and/or few seating options being available. The Club said that for the first two league games, blocks of seats have been allocated to groups of young fans which has resulted in limited seats available on general sale but longer term plans will soon be announcedand acknowledge that availability for each match needs to be announced as early as possible, with improved information via the website to be available to fans soon.
Action: SCFC to announce SE Stand ticket availability plans
In response to the Council being asked about the difference between the price of tickets for home and away supporters in similar sections of the ground, the Club acknowledged that this was an inevitable result of the league £30 cap for away supporters but pointed out that for the 90% of supporters with season cards the average cost per game is just over £18.00.
You Tube videos/Club website
The Club explained that in future all Club video content will be available via the Stoke City Plus forum rather than You Tube. Stoke City + is free.
E Cal will soon be available via the website too.
Feedback from supporters is that the playing of Delilah prior to kick off has improved the atmosphere at the beginning of games.
Again, the Council has received positive feedback on the ground improvements, which have also helped with the atmosphere.
The Club agreed to further announce information regarding match day parking and travel, to remind people of the latest options.
Action: SCFC to provide website news article highlighting travel and parking options
Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting between the Council and Club will be at 11.00 a.m. on Saturday 2nd December (Swansea City game).