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Coventry City FC Supporters' Consultative Group Meeting Minutes - 22.05.14

29 May 2014

The minutes for the Supporters Consultative Group Meeting on Thursday, May 22nd are now available...

Coventry City Football Club
Supporters’ Consultative Group Meeting
Thursday 22 May 2014, 6.30 p.m.
The Squirrel Pub, Coventry



Pat Abel - PA
Steve Brown - SBR
Nick Connoll (CCFC) - NC
Lee Corden (Advent Communications) - LC
Darren Davies - DD
Tim Fisher (CCFC) - TF
Chris McGrath - CM
Jan Mokrzycki - JM 
Tynan Scope (CCFC) -TS
Jonathan Strange - Chairman - JS

Apologies for Absence:

Steve Barnett                                     
Jim Brown
Ian Davidson
Kev Monks
Pat Raybould
Mark Sorbie                                            
Ray Stephens  
Peter Ward

The meeting opened with a welcome from the chairman. He apologised for an omission on the agenda: as agreed at the last meeting, there should be a specific item in the middle of each agenda for Feedback, Ideas and Suggestions. On tonight’s agenda, this would be inserted after Matters Arising.  

Publicty of Minutes:

There must be an absolute commitment by each of us that nothing said or discussed at this or any future meeting can be published until after the official release time of the minutes. Whatever our interpretation hitherto, we must insist for everybody's sake that this is strictly observed.

Matters Arising from the last meeting:

• Sky Blue Player

NC is happy to provide this but the hospital must make contact with the club. As soon as they do he can get things moving. KH advised at the last meeting that the management structure had changed at the hospital recently. 

• SCG Website Material

JS circulated final drafts of the individual biographies of members and also the brief introduction to the SCG ready for publishing on the football club’s website. The contact address is now online: . The address had to incorporate ccfcscg rather than scg for reasons of availability. NC said that all the material would be on the website by the end of the following week. NC and JS agreed that there should be publicity about the SCG prior to the 2014/15 season.

• The Family Zone 

JS - The SCG had decided to sponsor the Family Zone for the last home match of the season and we had agreed to a voluntary contribution of £5 per head. 
JS commented about the success of the SCG’s sponsorship. He also commented on the public and media reaction to the Family Excellence Award to the football club. 

JS read from the e-mail he had received that morning from Pat Raybould who runs the Family Zone: 

…I would be very grateful if you could pass on the Family Zone volunteers’ thanks for the support for the last game of the season. We were able to give out 100 goody bags to the young fans – containing sweets, lollipop, craft activity, balloon, notepad and either a CCFC money box or phone sock. The raffle we held raised £153 towards our kitty for next season so we will be able to carry on funding the free activities for some time. Thanks also must go to CCFC (Tynan and Mark) for their support too. 
I hope the furore over the Family Excellence Award has died down – suffice to say I wasn’t sure whether to be upset or angry. 
It may not be known that at the same [occasion] when the award was made, Mark Hornby, Coventry City’s marketing executive also collected a Magic Moment Award… 
The award was given for service at the first ‘mystery shopper’ visit. At half-time when Sky Blue Sam kicks footballs into the crowd, the son of the mystery family caught a ball but thought he had to give it back and did so. He got upset when he realised he could have kept it. The family contacted the club and Mark made sure that the lad got a ball and other CCFC goodies. 
Pat also said that she thought ‘any award should be celebrated’. TS added that he thought the reaction of the media was simply bizarre. The award is not about the experience in the Family Zone. It is not about the club, its owners or the history of the club. It is purely about the match-day experience starting from visiting the website, to buying the tickets, and finally attending a game and all that entails. The mystery shopper is provided by an independent group and not the FL. There seemed to be some confusion amongst supporters about this. TS said that if any members of the SCG were in any uncertainty about the facts, they should have contacted the club for clarification before publishing incorrect statements. Sadly this did not happen. NC said that this should, for everyone’s sake, apply to all issues.

SBR said that the Trust made the statement because they felt PR was getting a lot of stick about it and wanted to defend her. TS reiterated that anyone should get in touch with him direct rather than allowing confusions to arise.
JS said: ‘Although the Coventry Telegraph chooses not to highlight the award on its own merits, I trust every member of the SCG applauds Pat Raybould and her volunteers and also Tynan Scope, Mark Hornby and other employees at the football club, all of whom have striven so hard in such difficult circumstances.’ 
‘We cannot have it both ways. It is no good nurturing a view of the owners as some kind of alien blight and then decrying an award to the football club when the club gets things right. The Football League’s award was to the club itself; it was not directly to those who pay the wages and whose decisions we may not like.’ 

• Demographics of the Group

JS reminded everyone of the discussion at the last meeting about the need to introduce a more comprehensive demographic spectrum of individuals to the group. JS had been in touch with a prospective younger member who would be qualified to speak on behalf of ethnic communities. This person had been unable to attend tonight but would be coming to the June meeting. JS asked the group to put forward some other names of supporters who might be interested and JS will contact an individual whose name was recommended at the meeting. 

• PSL Seat Licence

TS confirmed that discount is automatically deducted when purchases are made online.

• North Stand

This was raised at the last meeting by DD after season ticket holders had been told this stand would not be open next season. TS confirmed that after discussion with the club this decision has now been reversed. This was a triumph for the SCG.

• Voicemail on club phone - ongoing

• TS has been in touch with Mark Sorbie and will be having a meeting with him about disabled supporters’ needs

• Irish fans’ tickets. TS confirmed this was being looked into to ensure all fans were being treated fairly.

• Stadium Forum Committee

JM attended the last meeting. The main focus was the history of the club. There were many ideas put forward including a museum showing the long history of the club. JB and Lionel Bird both have a lot of memorabilia that could be put on show that is in very good condition. It was suggested that the museum could be the size of the one at PNE down to one with a couple of rooms. Another idea was to have an education centre. Another idea put forward was to have a bi-weekly exhibition to represent the away side. NC confirmed that the minutes of the most recent meeting are on the club’s website. 
The next meeting, the date of which has yet to be announced, will be in June.

• Audio Experience

NC advised of an audio experience being held at Warwick Arts Centre. It is based round the Cup Final, and Steve Ogrizovic has helped. The experience lasts 30 minutes, and you will need to book.

Feedback, Ideas and Suggestions:

• SBR spoke about the planned march. He said the idea was for it to be more like a carnival to keep people’s interest in the club. There would be no protests or speeches. Politics would be kept out of it, the main idea is to unite the fans. They were going to ask the club if they could invite Sky Blue Sam to join them.TF didn't think that would be a problem. They have 'Lady Godiva' who will also attend. They also hoped to borrow the Sky Blue bus, although it needed an MOT. 
• JM asked about the PSL seats still at the Ricoh. TS confirmed that a letter was sent out to the holders of PSL’s last season, and nothing had changed as far as the club are concerned.
• PA spoke about tickets for schools. Along with TS and Karen Bennett, CCFC ticketing and retail manager, she had had a meeting with the Head Teacher of the biggest primary school in the city to put together ideas for engaging with schools and school-children. They are hopeful of co-ordinating this. 

CCFC Update:

TF confirmed that the judge had declined the application for more extensive public disclosure of documents - namely Council meeting minutes from 15 January 2013 - relating to the Council’s decision to act as bankers to ACL and take over ACL’s mortgage debt. To formally state in a court room that categorically and without any doubt meeting minutes were not taken of such an important decision - a decision to transfer lending risk from a bank to a council - is extraordinary. 
TF was asked about the business rates story which had appeared in the Coventry Telegraph. TF gave the background that back in 2012 they had reviewed all club business contracts, all invoices, and that they had found several issues and anomalies including council rates overcharging. TF said that Coventry City Council had finally refunded the £400k in business rates which the club had been overcharged over its last three years at the Ricoh. Initially the club was told it could only claim back for the last three years of council rates overcharging. However, after advice, the club has now applied for the refund for the overcharged balance due from the Council since the club moved to the Ricoh in 2005 and is vigorously pursuing monies owed to the club. TF said that in total the club has been overcharged rates by approximately £1m since 2005. Added to the £1.8m in overcharging across other ‘services’ at the Ricoh, then ACL had overcharged the Club to an amount of around £3m since 2005. TF is determined to recover from ACL and the Council all monies owed to the football club. 
TF reminded everyone that the function of the JR is effectively to provide an enquiry to establish points of principle and that TF had been careful not to come out and play a ‘blame game’ but wait for the independent enquiry to present the truth. All aspects of the enquiry will become public record. Either side can appeal the decision. There will be witness statements but no witnesses will be cross examined. In itself, the judge’s decision will alter nothing. The JR changes nothing in relation to the Ricoh Arena situation. TF reiterated that a return to the Ricoh would be unlikely whatever the outcome of the JR given the situation with ACL’s intricate corporate set-up. The JR documentation will be open to public scrutiny giving everyone the chance to make up their own minds. Thousands of documents obtained in disclosure would be read into court and therefore would be in the public domain for all to read on the conclusion of the JR.

Any Other Business:

JS read out an e-mail from JB about the CCFPA Golf day that is to take place on Thursday 5 June. Anyone interested in taking part should contact Jim directly. A few remaining places are available for teams of three (£240) or individuals (£80). Price includes a bacon butty on arrival at 11.30, a round of golf with a former CCFC player and three-course dinner with wine. There will be lots of former players attending including Tommy Hutchison, Willie Carr and Ian Wallace. There will be good prizes, a raffle and an auction of memorabilia. For non-golfers, there is a dinner price of £30. All profits go to the cash-strapped CCFPA.
• TF stated that everything should be done to support the CCFPA and that he would duly speak with Jim Brown to see where help from the club could be offered.
• SBR said that the march would need approximately 30 stewards for the day. TF offered to facilitate some of the stewards.
• NC confirmed details of the new kit would be released in the next few weeks. 

Date of next meeting:  

Thursday 26 June 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at The Squirrel Pub.

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