Minutes of the latest Supporters Council Meeting held on 2nd December 2017
• Welcome, Introductions and Apologies
Angela Smith (chair), David Harper, Nigel Hackney, Linda Bennett, John Slaney, Mark Barnett, Nick Mansfield, Wayne Harrison, Julia Zuk, Daniel Stevenson, John Smith, Sean Ruane, Brian Edwards, Adam Hindhaugh, Mark Mills, Mike Tudor (all SCSC); Tony Scholes, Rob Killingworth, Anthony Emmerson, Adrian Hurst (all SCFC).
Richard Bestwick, Rob Doe
The meeting welcomed new council member Nick Mansfield who has been elected by Stoke City Supporters Club committee to take over from Bryan Shaw who has stood down due to ill health. All wish Bryan well and thank him for his commitment during his time with the council.
Chair informed the meeting that following discussion at the previous council meeting there will be a review of the constitution to ensure it remains appropriate and up to date. The club was requested in the interim to put the current constitution on the website. Action: SCSC to review constitution
(a) Website – following some concerns that it is difficult to find, the club agreed to review parking and access information on the website and update where required. There was a request that the information is also provided via social media and through places such as the matchday programme. Council members agreed to a request by the club to provide initial ideas prior to the next meeting. Action: SCSC to provide specific ideas to SCFC
(b) Dangerous parking – the club confirmed that there have been further discussions with Highways England regarding parking at Sideway, and that it needs HE to put into place parking restrictions to enable it to be enforced. A further meeting is planned for 22nd January. The council will write to the local MP, Jack Brereton, to put pressure on HE to implement the necessary measures Actions: SCSC to contact local MP; SCFC to report back on next meeting with HE
(c) Additional parking – it was agreed that if/when parking at Sideway is better controlled, there will be even more need to offer displaced supporters with alternative options. The club confirmed that they are talking to the City Council and other businesses to look at new parking opportunities. Screwfix are now offering 150 additional spaces Action: SCFC to report back on progress
Health and Safety
(a) Alcohol in Family Stand – following complaints received by the council, the club confirmed that the provision of alcohol being sold from a table at a recent game was a one-off, likely due to the unavailability of the betting kiosk which are usually used to cope with the demand at half time
(b) Standing in gangways – council members asked the club to ensure stewards are more proactive in keeping gangways clear and to put the message out on the stadium screens, PA system etc. Examples were given where it had led to dangerous situations and some other clubs’ stewards are very good at ensuring gangways and entrances are kept clear. The club said they are putting club staff with stewards to ensure things are running as they should, but agreed to reinforce the message at future stewards’ briefings
(c) Searches – following comments to the council it is clear that some searches close to kick off time are not as thorough as earlier before kick-off, and there was concern that again Liverpool supporters were able to bring pyrotechnics into the stadium. The club said that they are working with contractors to ensure there is consistency with searches and confirmed that Liverpool supporters were handed over to police after smoke bombs were released
Away Coaches – Alcohol
There are inconsistent policies regarding comfort breaks for away coaches. For some games there are rigorous checks when supporters return to the coaches at service areas, whereas at some there is no check. The club agreed to review. The situation will be monitored by council members.
There has been continuing praise for the new disabled areas. However, there have been a few complaints regarding accessing parking spaces and some difficulties experienced by one or two supporters with very specific needs. The club asked for any supporter with specific access needs to contact them as they can work one to one with them to find a solution. It was confirmed there are now significant disabled parking spaces available on the North car park.
Council members requested that the club provide cashless payment options at the stadium. The club agreed to provide a response at the next meeting.
General Issues & Feedback
(a) Museum/memorabilia idea – following the council raising the possibility of some kind of club museum/memorabilia at the stadium, the club asked the council to bring forward some more specific ideas to the next meeting e.g. permanent or occasional displays, inside stadium or outside. Action: Council members to progress ideas
(b) Use of stadium on non-matchdays – the club said there were no immediate plans to develop around the stadium; the lease constrains certain types of development
(c) Remembrance Day – the council thanked the club for the efforts made for the game before Remembrance Day. The club revealed that they have an agreement with the Armed Forces and do a lot of work with them, including being it is understood the only Premier League club to have Bronze and Silver Employers’ Recognition Award. The club have also been actively involved in Lidice celebration of city’s links
(d) Atmosphere – a player interview or other club footage on the big screen prior to the game was suggested to assist with improved atmosphere prior to kick off. The club to consider and report back at next meeting. There was also discussion about whether the club should show details on the screens when a minute’s applause is taking place. The club’s view is that whilst it is clearly an emotive issue, there are many requests for such tributes and the problem is how it could be decided which should be highlighted and which not, which is impossible to do. It was agreed however that in exceptional circumstances it can be considered
(e) City 7s – the club confirmed that they are continuing to expand their primary school City7s offer, with 215 schools currently engaged, of which 54 are in the city (out of 68 city schools). The £1m p.a. is seen as an investment in future local support
(f) Club wages – following a request to the council, the club confirmed that they have a Living Wage policy for all permanent club staff
(g) Long term business plan – The club were asked if they could consider in advance of the next meeting how much of the club’s long term business plan and objectives they could share with the Council.
(h) Premier League Prize Money distribution – the council were keen to hear the club’s position on recent media coverage of some clubs wanting a change to the current prize money distribution. The club confirmed it supported the current agreement, and that there needed to be a minimum 14:6 vote to change it, but it expected it to stay ‘on the agenda’ as some clubs would continue to press for changes. The club’s view is that it is the competitiveness of the whole 20 club division which is the main attractor rather than simply the ‘Big 6’
Tickets and Pricing
(1) Saturday evening games – the club was asked its views over further moves away from 3.00pm Saturday kick offs. The club feels that it is the price to pay for the increasing investment by TV companies although acknowledges it can be inconvenient particularly for away supporters. The council hopes that this provides another reason to retain free away coach travel
(2) Matchday Prices – the council suggested that having match categories is outdated and there should be a standard price for all league games, and that the maximum price could be restricted to £30 as per for away supporters. The club were asked to review this for next season Action: SCFC to start to review current policy and consider maximum price cap
(3) 18-24 Ticket Prices – following media coverage the club were asked to be pioneers and set reduced price for this age range. Council members explained that many younger supporters have limited income, often work weekends so season cards are not viable or are not earning and even £25 can be too expensive even if it is good value compared to other options. It was felt that it would be a pity for the club to do so much good work with school children and offer good discounted prices only to lose them when they reach age 18 Action: SCFC to consider request for discounted rates for 18-24 year olds
(4) New Corner: Plans for 2018/19 – the club confirmed that the sales strategy was working well this season, with only odd seats usually left. It clarified that there is open sale of seats in the stand, and they are not ‘give-aways’ as some people have suggested. The club was asked to provide current season sales information for next meeting
Date of next meeting
Saturday 20th January 2018 (Huddersfield Town game)