Please read the following meeting minutes from the Coventry City Football Club Supporters' Consultative Group Meeting...
The meeting minutes from the Supporters' Consultative Group meeting on Thursday, March 5th are now available.
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Coventry City Football Club
Supporters’ Consultative Group Meeting
Thursday 5 March 2015, 6.15 p.m.
Alan Berry Building, Coventry University, Coventry
M I N U T E S
Steve Brown (SBR), Jan Mokrzycki (JM), Chris McGrath (CM), Pat Raybould (PR), Tynan Scope (TS), Ray Stephens (RS), Jonathan Strange, Vice Chairman (JS), Peter Ward, Chairman (PW), Robert Tidmarsh (RT), Kieran Crowley (KC), Pat Abel (PA), Steve Barnett (SBA), Sandra Garlick (SG), Kevin Monks (KM), Darren Davies (DD), Tim Fisher (TF), part - Tony Mowbray (TM)
Adam Dent, Jim Brown, Mark Sorbie, Dale Hayward, Ian Davidson, David Busst, Michael Garlick, Mark Hornby
PW welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked TF for inviting Tony Mowbray to attend soon after his appointment
Members of SCG introduced themselves to TM, and TM gave his first impressions having come from Ryton after his first day with the players. TM acknowledged the frustration of supporters, recognising that CCFC should not be languishing in the lower reaches of the third tier of English football. He outlined his excitement at the opportunity to deliver a winning football team, and build on the platform created by his predecessor to achieve success. He asked supporters for their support and patience, stating that the changes he envisaged would be incremental, not wholesale overnight. TM informed SCG that the decision to take on the job on a short term contract until the end of the season was of mutual benefit, the key challenge being the avoidance of relegation. He advised it will be wholly appropriate to discuss longer term arrangements when the current season has closed and the Club’s destiny for next season is known.
TM was present for approx. half an hour before leaving the meeting to continue with its business.
Minutes of Last meeting
Circulated earlier by email, the meeting accepted as a true and fair record.
Correspondence from Lionel Bird had been circulated, with his request that his involvement and the history regarding the formation of the SCG put in the public domain. Mr Bird’s comments were noted, and it was agreed that no further action was required.
Stadium seating and atmosphere - JS reiterated details of his October meeting with Barry Butterworth, chairman of the Safety Advisory Group. It is important to understand that the SAG merely issues the safety certificate. Mr Butterworth designates discussion of relevant issues to representatives of the appropriate emergency and security services. He could direct suggestions about the configuration of seating to such representatives. JS repeated the need for the SCG to formulate a plan with CCFC and Wasps/ACL to present to Mr Butterworth. TS said that Chris O'Neill is the Stadium Safety Officer. It was decided that the seating issue be put on the agenda of the next meeting.
Terms of Reference
In connection with the correspondence from Lionel Bird, PW advised that the SCG’s Terms of Reference had been drafted and adopted in 2012 with the full cooperation and input of SBT, and other members of the SCG. The TOR had not been imposed by CCFC as purported by Lionel Bird; the increased visibility and accountability of the SCG had called for a more structured approach which the TOR provided.
SBR asked if new members could be issued with a copy of the TOR, and posted to CCFC website, and for an updated contact list to be issued. PW to action. Other than this, it was agreed no further action required.
JS asked if it would be possible to give the SCG more prominence on the official website. TF suggested that the SCG might wish to consider its own website, to show a greater level of independence from the football club.
Some practical issues were discussed regarding website design, hosting and ongoing updates; SBR advised that Nick Harper should be contacted. TS suggested he be invited to a meeting for this topic to be further considered and as a potential valuable input for the SCG.
Matters for discussion
PW presented the Issues Log which had been drafted in two parts
Questions from supporters had been categorised and logged. TF advised that the many questions which had been put forward to him and/or Steve Waggott had led to the Five Point Plan which had been publicly announced early January.
TF advised that the Board had attempted to answer fans’ concerns as openly as possible, although some issues inherently remain confidential. TF stated his intent for an open, honest and transparent approach to supporters, citing as an example the public posting of the Club’s accounts earlier in the day, which he proposed to discuss more fully later in the meeting. Action PW to “tidy up” the issues log, showing as now closed.
2) Matchday and Stadium
PW advised that some 40 issues had been logged and for the most part answered by Mark Hornby within the last 24hrs, but he had not yet had time to update the tracker. Action – PW to update and circulate asap.
Other issues to be added to the tracker were raised as follows:
• The scoreboard was becoming difficult to read. It seemed to be blue. KC confirmed that he has spoken to those responsible and it had been resolved
• PR asked if the Old Sammy Snacks kiosk by the JSB area, which is now an alcohol kiosk, would ever be open for football matches. She was concerned because of its proximity to the JSB area. TS confirmed it will never open.
• SG asked who was responsible to seat cleaning. TS said that for the first Wasps game there was a massive stadium clean, but he wasn't aware of anything since. TS will raise with ACL
• JM asked about the poor pitch markings. KC said that some match referees and Football League had also complained about them
• SBA raised the lack of kiosks around block 36. TS had raised this with ACL because of the very long queue and people were missing the start of the second half
• PA advised there were no stewards on blocks 19/20. TS will log this
• SB asked about the club shop table, which was inadequate. He required if we could not being a mobile unit which could be set up for each match. TS agreed it was inadequate but unfortunately it was impossible to transport one to each game and there was no storage areas in the Ricoh that we could use.
• JM asked it season tickets for next season had been discussed yet.TS confirmed that there would be a meeting next week where pricing/structure/payment options would be discussed. He wasn't yet aware whether Wasps/ACL would let the club use the electronic system or whether paper tickets would be required
• JM asked about player recruitment policy. TF confirmed that after the loan period has closed, changes could still be made
• TS hoping to have betting facilities open for the last few games
TF provided overview of accounts
• Accounts had been published on Club website earlier in the day ahead of publication on Companies House
• More important is the explanation of the accounts which has accompanied the accounts publication as this is indicative of the club’s commitment for transparency and communication with supporters
• TF explained the absorption of the assets and business of both CCFC Ltd and CCFC holdings Ltd into Otium Entertainment Group Ltd and the subsequent swap of debt for equity
• Equity in Otium of £64m
• Trading position, within SBSL (a true representation of the club’s accounts as opposed to Otium), loss of £6.8m at Sixfields (versus loss of £6.9m previous year at Ricoh)
• Sisu committed to club but have had no need to fund CCFC this season, key point is that any future funding into Otium will be in the form of equity not debt
• Re-structuring has given a stable financial platform on which to build, but incredibly important to grow revenue streams
• Unlike our competitors we have minimal match day income beyond ticketing and no non-match day revenue. This is critical to address
• TF reiterated no interest, dividends, nor management fees, taken out of the Club by owner-investor
• TF offered more detailed discussion by teleconference next week so that absent parties could be included (PW to arrange)
TF presented Football League benchmarking study for League 1 clubs (January 2015) and talked the group through the report. There was some general discussion regarding comparison with other League 1 clubs – CCFC player costs are top quartile, match day and stadium revenue are the lowest in the division etc.
Reiterating that Sisu had taken no funds out of the Club, TF asked JM why he had written, representing Sky Blue Trust, in a recent column in the Coventry Telegraph that Sisu were taking £1million per year in interest charges out of the club, stating that this was obviously incorrect and misleading. TF expressed his disappointment that SBT chose to mislead supporters with obviously incorrect information. JM said he wasn’t aware or couldn’t remember making such a statement to the Coventry Telegraph, going on to say that in any event, he would have voiced his own personal opinion, and not that of the Sky Blue Trust. He continued to advise that he was no longer a Board member of the Sky Blue Trust, although continuing as a Member, and therefore does not speak on behalf of the SBT. PW challenged JM to explain how he could continue to be on the SCG when his personal view was that the owners should “go” – JM explained that he felt the position was not untenable as he supported the team and his dislike and desire for a change of ownership was not relevant unless support for SISU was a prerequisite for attendance of the group.
TF asked SBR to explain why the Sky Blue Trust, reacting to the departure of Steven Pressley, thought it necessary to air the view that “it’s time for Sisu to go”. SBR answered by saying this is the view of most fans. PW, on behalf of the group, challenged this view stating that this was a flawed assumption on SBR’s part. SBR stated that the “Sisu Out” view was not the official position of the Sky Blue Trust but that a vote of members had indicated that the members wanted a change of ownership and he was not aware that “SISU out” message had been posted on the SBT website.
SBR advised the group that he is not personally responsible for comments on the SBT website and these comments represent the collective view of the Trust Board. He said as Chairman of a group with 3,000 members, it is sometimes difficult to reach a singular representative view.
TF asked that, in the future, when posting statements on the website that the SBT clearly differentiate between a Trust’s board member’s personal view and the Trust’s official stated position – because readers could become easily confused. SBR agreed.
TF expressed his concern and frustration that the SBT had not picked up the phone directly to TF to discuss the SBT’s concerns regarding whether potential site discussions had taken place between CCFC, CBRE and Rugby Council. SBR stated that the SBT statements around FOI were not intended to discredit TF but were simply intended to present the responses the SBT had received to the FOIs. TF was concerned that the Trust’s continued use of Freedom of Information enquiries indicated that they did not understand the use of an FOI versus the privacy of commercial-in-confidence discussions. TF had been very open at a recent Stadium Advisory Group meeting, and provided clear insights regarding potential stadium site work – including dialogue with Rugby Borough Council.
TF then read a statement from CBRE, the property consultants, which highlighted that discussions had taken place with Rugby Borough Council on potential stadium sites and their deliverability.
SBR promised TF they would pursue the matter with Rugby Borough Council to clarify up the matter.
Next Board Meeting
This will take place in March and two representatives of the SCG will be invited to attend. Discussion points to be agreed after the conference call
Any Other Business
• KM asked about the objection of the Football Clubs objection to Premier League B teams playing in the lower leagues. TF advised this was unlikely to go any further
• KM - The Irish and Welsh supporters club would be holding their player of the season presentations at the Crewe Alexander game
• SBA asked about the future of the Academy. There had been an article in the Coventry Telegraph that the indoor pitch was in need of repair at the Alan Higgs Centre and bosses are understood to be looking at alternative uses for the space after it emerged the bill to replace the playing surface would be about £80,000. TS said the club will provide an update in the coming weeks.
• KC suggested that the SCG could participate at the next fans forum, and this was agreed
• ID (via PW) advised the group that the London Supporters Club were holding a question and answers session with Steve Waggott on Friday 13 March
Date of next meeting
Wednesday 22 April