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Coventry City Supporters' Consultative Group Meeting Minutes - 27.08.14

17 September 2014

Read the minutes from the June meeting of the Supporters' Consultative Group

Coventry City Football Club

Supporters’ Consultative Group Meeting

Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 6.15 p.m.

Alan Berry Building, Coventry University, Coventry

MINUTES

Present

Pat Abel – PA
Steve Barnett – SBA
Steve Brown – SBR
Nick Connoll (CCFC) – NC
Lee Corden (Advent Communications) – LC
Ian Davidson – ID
Darren Davies – DD
Tim Fisher (CCFC) – TF
Chris McGrath – CM
Kevin Monks – KM
Pat Raybould – PR
Mark Sorbie – MS
Ray Stephens – RS
Jonathan Strange, Chairman – JS
Rav Takhar – RT
Peter Ward – PW 

Apologies

Jim Brown
Dale Hayward
Kevin Heffernan
Jan Mokrzycki
Tynan Scope (CCFC)

*Please note this document is a summary of comments and discussion and is not a verbatim record.

The meeting was opened by the chairman who advised that while there was hope to be able to devote time to any other business, the primary focus would be on urgent matters regarding the club’s return to the Ricoh Arena.

Matters Arising, and Ideas, Suggestions and Feedback were to be compacted into one agenda item to allow meeting to devote sufficient time to all matters regarding the Ricoh Arena.

Jonathan Strange: “At this frantically busy time the football club will need all the help it can get. Pat Abel has already volunteered her assistance and any other offers from other members of the group may be gratefully accepted. Firstly I would like to express warmest thanks to Coventry University for their hospitality this evening and our contact Dwayne Webb. Special thanks must also go to John Clarke for making this possible.”

SBR: Offered to contact Sky Blue Trust membership. He said it had access to over 3,000 members with a wide and varied range of experiences who can be contacted at very short notice. RS also offered to help.

MATTERS ARISING

MS: No current further contact with TS

PR: Continuing to discuss logistics of with Mark Hornby in relation to fans in the South Stand accessing the Family Zone which, as understood, is not currently a possibility. Brick wall in Block 14 could prove obstacle. TF confirms this remains an open question.

ID: Spoke to TS with regards to potential solution regarding priority ticket purchasing for Sky Blues International and London Supporters Group members. Solution may be possible so consider agenda item closed and updates to be brought to next appropriate meeting.

JS: Stadium Forum scheduled for Wed, Sept 3rd at 6.30pm. This forum remains crucial wherever the Sky Blues call home for discussing relevant issues. Looking for volunteer from SCG to attend that meeting as SCG meeting progresses.

JS: Emails from supporters Steve Bell and Mark Bray I have passed on to TF who confirms he has received them. Apologies to Ryan Armstrong that we cannot discuss submitted ideas at this meeting due to time constraints.

RETURN TO THE RICOH ARENA

Main concerns

1 – Potential closure of North Stand.
2 – Problems with ticket applications, and discussing issues that can be addressed in short term.
3 – Role of SCG as siphon for supporter concerns and queries

TF: To point 1, rationale to increase atmosphere and reconfiguration of seating based on that. Closure of stand part of negotiations with ACL. Not to say it was demanded, just raised as a point to discuss with view to opening when attendances demand. This is a special situation where we are trying to implement new configuration in shortest of time and we will make mistakes but we will correct them. We need a framework for communication to club so supporters can raise issues they have.

TF: To point 2, for supporters who want to sit with friends, we will accommodate as much as we can. Frustrating in short term but determined to make sure people end up happy with their seats. Please exercise the level of patience you have shown so far.

JS: How can you improve ability to respond quickly?

TF: Not about just throwing more physical resource at ticketing. Shop working on internal systems to continually improve purchase process. If you call and get answer message please leave a message and member of the team will return call. Grateful for offer of volunteers and will speak to Karen Bennett to see if and how we can take up this kind offer.

SBA: Tickets going on sale on Friday for Gillingham game is my primary concern.

TF: We are constantly looking at ways to improve the situation whether that be with IT, extra hands. We are constantly looking at that.

JS: Concerns that supporters who previously bought season tickets on monthly scheme may lose their regular seats if scheme is not re-introduced.

ID: Season tickets not available for South Stand. 2012/13 season ticket holders should have been able to purchase that day. ID had been one of three who had purchased season tickets in the South Stand the day before as Sixfields season ticket holders. Several CCLSC members unable to buy anywhere in the South Stand, let alone in the area they had chosen to sit as a group.

TF: Part of the issue was that the Safety Advisory Group had raised questions about home and away fans being in the same stand. TF would be meeting SAG first thing on Thursday morning. Hopeful this could be resolved, but in the meantime had ceased selling season tickets for the South Stand.

TF: Club cannot currently get consumer credit licence. However, we are looking at match batches. Pricing will be between season ticket and match ticket and buying batch will secure your seat for those games. By breaking down season ticket into batches, it may make it easier for supporters and we think it’s workable.

ID: Will you do previous package deal where you could attend non-consecutive games?

TF: This will be in addition to previous package deal.

JS: Will Private Seat Licence holders be able to have same seat on return to Ricoh Arena?

TF: This was addressed on website this morning. We will show ultimate flexibility, it would be wrong to do otherwise. There would also be no transfer fee if PSL holders wanted to move because of the reconfiguration of the North Stand.

JS: Will you be closing off top seats?

TF: Minded to do that to bring supporters closer to the pitch. We would like to encourage people to move to certain seats but at the moment we need to sell as many season tickets as we can.

ID: Rather than close stands or backs of stands could we not close the corners?

TF: View with ACL is banners at the top and bringing people closer to the pitch would be preferable but we will consider all suggestions and we want supporters to give us reason to open the North Stand. We know we will have to do this for Gillingham for example. We are also subject to advice from the Safety Advisory Group in terms of when the North Stand needs to be open.

PW: Is closure of North Stand cost driven initiative?

TF: Absolutely. A combination of cost and the ‘bettering’ of matchday atmosphere.

PW: This has been high on the agenda of SCG for some time. Attempts to shallow the bowl to compact fans but preferably with both ends open. My experience of football, behind the goal is where most atmosphere is generated.

JS: In what way has manager Steven Pressley been an influence on this or what have been his thoughts on this in terms of helping the team?

TF: Firstly we are motivated to increase intensity of atmosphere to spur players on and Mr Pressley is fully behind that. Secondly Mr Pressley kept up to speed every step, we have had input from him and no decision is taken in isolation from football management or ACL.

PW: How much influence does club have on impact of matchday experience? It’s important we understand the level of club influence on matchday logistics.

TF: First, Chris Robinson (ACL Chairman) is somebody we can do business with and who understands football. He understands our need to generate as much revenue as possible to put on the pitch. He states his commitment to fans getting fantastic matchday experience. Commercial deal for club is good. Mr Robinson and ACL want us to be a platinum client and get value out of this. Secondly we need to look at pricing because average F&B spend is less than £2 per person on matchday and also encourage fans to use the concourse. The commercial deal gives us incentive to drive business to the concourse. We feel we’re in a position to take all ideas and suggestions from supporters and take them to ACL to look at interim solutions. This is an opportunity for fans to say how they want to improve matchday experience.

PW: How many cash turnstiles will be available on the day?

TF: We cannot confirm so far because tickets are still being sold.

SBA: Suggestion to revisit previous SCG minutes to help highlight/remind ourselves of previously experienced issues.

TF: I think we owe it to Mr Robinson to distil issues down and perhaps invite him to an SCG meeting.

PA: Could we consider contacting the London Olympic Ambassadors in terms of drafting matchday help?

TF: We will investigate this.

PW: What will the pricing policy be for car parking?

TF: I imagine it will be £10.

PS: One supporter asks to review pricing policy and level of availability for disabled car parking.

MK: Is there anything we can do to prevent crossovers between home and away fans outside the stadium as people try to get in?

SBA: It would be good to see some steps made towards print-at-home tickets if it is feasible. Also creating specific queues for different groups of ticket enquiries in the shop to speed up processes.

LC: I believe transfer of season ticket could not be done on line. Had to be done in person because there was no physical transaction taking place.

JS: I suggest for coming weeks for big selling games it’s important to re-energise Tickets for School and encourage youngsters to come back to the Ricoh.

PA: Started that but feedback from schools to hold back until later in September.

JS: Feedback also to improve lighting around the Ricoh for midweek games.

JS: Going back to Ricoh is also opportunity raise challenge of getting to the Ricoh. Could you speak to bus companies with aim of resolving this?

PW: In the immediate instance, it’s all about Gillingham and communication is key but at next SCG we should do flip chart to revisit all suggestions and create strategic plan to help the club.

DD: Suggestion of special and enlarged programme for Gillingham game

JS: We will now move on to how we or the club can use the SCG to raise matters and get them resolved. With the collaboration of NC we have put details of the group on the official website but could we look at ways to raise the SCG profile.

NC: The SCG section has been cross published across the more popular areas of the site as an add-on to increase exposure and encourage engagement.

JS: We need a page in the matchday programme with a big prominence. This is a big opportunity for us to perform and be a siphon or a mouthpiece. Encourage people to contact the SCG to forward to the relevant individuals at the club.

JS: Moving on…

TF: I have been meeting with various supporters clubs to try and get the preferred vision of the club going forward. We are one club going forward, that is the mantra, so we need to fine tune a structure to deliver that.

TF: Over the next few weeks I aim to meet with as many supporters as possible while Steve Waggott is working on the logistics of putting games on so it’s a case really of supporter groups thinking about how they can contribute to matchday experience and development of the club going forward.

PR: If you are talking to groups of supporters then we need to make sure that the Junior Sky Blues are on that list.

TF: Regarding the situation with ball boys, there has been a footballing decision to use the Academy for sourcing ball boys. We are in talks with the Sky Blue Trust and the families of children who were in line for this role in order to come up with a solution to offer them something comparable.

TF: When at Sixfields we knew there was a risk of losing a generation of children and we need to invert that now and recapture the imagination of children to support the club.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

ID: I’d like to thank NC and TF for facilitating the presentation of Joe Murphy’s Player of the Year award to Steven Pressley at the Stevenage friendly.

RS: Pass on thanks to Steve Waggott for his effort in getting us back to the Ricoh.

PW: Also from me thanks to TF for getting us back to the Ricoh. Finally from me, is Judicial Review appeal litigation dropped as part of the return?

TF: The appeal was always going to go ahead regardless of the outcome of the Judicial Review and the appeal was not an issue.

PW: Any update with new stadium?

TF: We have had meetings this week and I am currently focused on the land deal. It has been made clear the Ricoh Arena is not for sale which we fully respect and ACL understand we need to seek our own revenues. Outside of matchdays we have 340+ days where we generate no revenues and this hamstrings us as a club so we need those year-round revenues.

SBA: Post-Gillingham could there be an open day to try and re-integrate the team and the supporters? Try and get that engagement again.

RT: For TF to consider during the meeting of supporter groups to make sure other groups such as the JSB’s or ethnic minority groups are included as part of discussions and meetings. Certainly Sikh community with local temples surrounding the area around the Ricoh.

PA: Could we look at a potential presence for Freshers Week at Warwick and Coventry University. That is coming up so could we potential look at that?

RS: Could TF ask Steven Pressley if he could address the Diamond Club on Dec 11th?

Meeting finishes with sign off and thanks from chairman.

Next Meeting Date

Wednesday, 24 September, 6.30 p.m.
Venue: Alan Berry Building, Coventry University

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