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Coventry City's Supporters' Consultative Group Meeting - Wednesday, March 24th

29 March 2016

Please read the following meeting minutes from the latest Supporters Consultative Group meeting...

Coventry City Supporters’ Consultative Group Meeting
Wednesday 24 March 2016, 6.30pm
Butts Park Arena

M I N U T E S

Present: 

Pat Abel (PA), Chris Anderson (CA), Steve Brown (SBR), Kieran Crowley (KC), Darren Davies (DD), Michael Garlick (MG), Sandra Garlick (SG) Mark Hornby (MH), CJ Joiner (CJ), Pat Raybould (PR), Jonathan Strange, Chairman (JS), Robert Tidmarsh (RT), Jodie Turner (JT), Peter Ward (PW)

Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Steve Barnett (SBA), Jim Brown (JB), David Busst (DB), Declan Connolly (DC), Kevin Heffernan (KH), Colin Henderson (CH), Chris McGrath (CM), Jan Mokrzycki (JM), Tynan Scope (TS), Mark Sorbie (MS), Ray Stephens (RS),

Matters Arising

Circulated previously via email, the meeting accepted as a true and fair record.

A presentation from the Sky Blue Trust around transport arrangements was scheduled for this meeting but this will need to be deferred until the next one due to availability.

DB has dislocated and cracked a bone in his shoulder so his Sky Blues in the Community presentation will need to be deferred until the next meeting.

Kev Monks emailed JS to confirm that he will not be returning to the SCG, he also told DD personally that he wouldn’t be reconsidering his decision to leave. He said it was unlikely he would be able to attend many, if any, meetings, but stated he would be happy to support the SCG in any way he could, for example, articles on Cov Mad.  JS replied to thank him on behalf of the group and wished him well.

JS wrote a letter on behalf of the SCG to the Jimmy Hill Celebration committee to thank them for the event and congratulate them on its success.

Following a discussion at the last meeting around stewarding, DD and SBR met with Chris O’Neill, the club’s safety officer, on Saturday 27 February. This initial meeting was short and didn’t cover all the points that DD and SBR wanted to address which was a bit frustrating. However there will be a chance to meet again soon and regularly thereafter.  Chris did answer the question around why a balloon was confiscated (the club would be fined if it touched the playing surface – although he conceded the stewards could have gone about confiscating the balloon in a different way).  Chris explained they are gradually building a team of good quality stewards who work for the club, not just on a temporary basis.  He added that they are restricted by legislation and rules and common sense cannot always prevail – however, DD and SBR pointed out that these restrictions don’t always apply at away games. Nicky, the Stand Manager, was very useful and she will hopefully be involved in the next meeting.  PW proposed inviting 

Chris O’Neill, or a representative, to join the group. JS will contact Chris. CJ also suggested inviting a steward.  

Chairman's Report

JS has written to Mark Venus inviting him to the next meeting. CA said that Mark has spoken to him confirming his intention to attend a meeting.  It was agreed that the next meeting might be too soon so he be invited to one at the start of next season.

With regards to the pen pictures, JS has emailed the group members with amendments/additions – please could you let him know your thoughts.

JS emailed out the updated issues log today.  One added item was JB used the hotline during the Fleetwood game and sent a text – there was no response and on the Monday he received a reply which said the phone wasn’t switched on. MH said this was human error and shouldn’t happen again.

Youth Forum Report

RT thanked MH for his involvement in the youth forum. Despite MH and RT advertising the youth forum, only 5 expressed an interest and only 2 attended, due to transportation issues or illness. RT has found it difficult to engage with the youth between 15-25. The meeting went ahead regardless. One of the attendees was a Chinese student who is a student at Coventry University.  

Wasps are publicised heavily around campus and RT believes this is a market the club should be tapping into. KC said that tickets were given away and there was a CCFC presence around at Freshers’ Week and that they appreciate the importance of students. CA said the club struggle to compete with Wasps on advertising and have to be prudent on the way the club allocates its funds.  PW said the club needed to make better use of social media.  RT works at Coventry University and offered to try to sell tickets to students, similar to the Tickets for Schools scheme.  CA to liaise with Karen Bennett about this and feedback to RT. PA added that Warwick University have also expressed an interest in selling discounted tickets.

SBR offered to buy a block of tickets for RT to sell on to students etc

They also discussed the match-day experience from atmosphere to stewarding, from ticketing to car parking, and RT was encouraged to hear some very good feedback from the two attendees. RT said they are potentially looking to acquire feedback from Singers’ Corner with suggestions on how to improve the match-day experience, and also publicise the forum.  Initial suggestions included 14-16 playstation, live music or live DJ.

Although the meeting was positive, there is a concern around the lack of engagement of our young fans. PR attended the forum. She said that it had taken a while for the Family Zone to develop so it should be given more time.  It might be better, though, for the forum to take place via social media as this may be the best platform.

A reminder that they can be followed on Twitter - @youthcoventryfc, or on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Coventrycityfcyouth

A discussion ensued around how to engage youth fans and incentivise them to get involved in the youth forum. Suggestions included getting them to vote on man-of-the-match, a competition to create a CCFC meme or to write a match report, with a prize (i.e. tickets) being offered for the first entry submitted. It would bring in a competitive edge. SBR proposed getting someone older involved who can share stories about what it was like to support the club in the 80s, experiences of the Spion Kop etc.

MH and RT to discuss how to move this forward.

Car Parking

MH contacted Brian Kavanagh regarding the concerns around car parking raised by the SCG.  Below is the response from Brian, verbatim:

• January was really busy for CCFC & car parking, as you know it was the busiest games of the season by far.
• This is the first time I've heard of issues that the car park is run badly, do you know what they mean  how badly run Car Park A is?
• I have been pushing hard with ACL to get more staff, as we have highlighted issues with disabled parking (rugby games only) and many (CCFC games) cars trying to get in for free.
• I personally had to jump into my car and follow somebody round to carpark B, as they tried to run over a member of carpark staff and without paying – this is a regular occurrence!
• We had a guy that said he was on guest-list and refused to stop, we had to get the police involved and asked him to leave.
• Regarding Car Park C and cash payment, I know we have a dozen also regular members that have no Internet and cannot book online, we are aware of these people and allow them to pay cash on the day - we also monitor the carparks and 20 minutes before the start of the game, if there are plenty of spaces (no-shows) we will sell.
• Also there was a boxing event on and an exception (forever living), on one of the city games, which was pay on the day. Not too sure which game though.
• Regarding parking at end of lanes, we try and accommodate as many cars as possible and only when it's safe and convenient for everyone we will use the end of lines.
• It is important that we collect as much revenue as possible.
• We have to monitor the time for egress, and the traffic lights are managed by ourselves & Coventry City Council in the control room.
• The average egress for carpark C, is only 18 minutes, and looking at are records, longest this season for carpark C, to empty is 37 minutes for the Walsall game, This was due to problem traffic entering Arena Park (Tesco's).
• Recently we have been running all on-site carparks at 82% capacity, compare to 41% at the beginning of the season.
• I imagine a lot of customers have been used to half-filled carparks.

JS asked for any comments.

MG uses car park A and for a couple of games in December (he can’t remember which games) he experienced issues he hadn’t previously experienced when exiting – usually only one exit is open, but both barriers were open.  Due to poor traffic management, the exits were blocked as traffic had been allowed to flow on the A444 and it took 45 minutes to get out. There are issues when there are other events also going on (i.e. boxing). Also, when they are setting up for exhibitions and while they are unloading, pantechnicons block the exit and the cars have to go the long way round to exit This results in delays. MH to feed this issue back to Brian.

SBR said he had never experienced any issues with car park B.

Any Other Business 

Ticketing – CA

CA reported that the SCG would be consulted as soon as ticketing plans were formulated.

CA stated that ticketing has been an ongoing saga since he joined the club. Even though the vast majority of supporters have no problems purchasing tickets, there have been a significant number of complaints and the club is working hard to eradicate the problems. A more comprehensive solution has been explored to put us on a much better footing to fulfil orders and provide a ticketing platform that can rival the best in the country. More details on this to follow. 

A natural way to switch to a new system is to coincide with season-ticket sales – the database can be moved over when being updated. It is hoped this will be coming online with the sale of early bird season tickets.

With regards to season-tickets, prices haven’t yet been announced, partly down to our current league position. The plan is to sell early-bird season tickets for a period of time up until the end of the season (until after the play-offs, if that applies).  We hope to announce the prices in the next three weeks.

The club appreciates the value of the next generation of Sky Blues fans – it will ensure prices are structured in a way to make it affordable for families and young people. There will a more structured approach to pricing to ensure greater affordability. There is a plan to expand the age categories – under 13, instead of under 12; under 18 instead of under 16. There will still be a family zone, but there will be child ticket pricing across the stadium.

The club has retained its credit licence so it will be able to reintroduce the season-ticket instalment plan. They are looking at a ten month payment period but this is to be confirmed. This will be in all areas, including corporate. 

There will be structured pricing, not for different games (not in League One anyway but this may be reconsidered if we get into the Championship), but zonal across the stadium. 

Block 14 will be opened next season.

MG asked if the club would consider offering a two-year season ticket like Blackpool do. CA said this is probably not something they would pursue as they wouldn’t know in advance what league they would be in. It would be difficult to figure out financially.  Also, attendances are too inconsistent to estimate – better to go year by year.

PA brought up tickets for schools – JT recently sold 58 tickets for the Swindon game and PA is working with other schools too, but with limited success. PA feels that prices are not right and that the club could be involved more with this. CA has never been involved in Tickets for Schools but agreed to meet with PA with regards to this.

JS asked for any other questions before CA needed to leave.

SBR asked what the rules were around getting a game called off in regards to players being called up to international duty. KC answered that the club considered all the factors in requesting the Peterborough and Colchester games to be called off but with Peterborough having more players absent, the game live on Sky and the club didn’t want a congested fixture list in April so it wasn’t pursued any further. KC also added the club have actually won every game where our players have been on international duty.

Board Meeting 

JS invited suggestions for agenda items for the forthcoming board meeting.

The following questions and issues were raised:

• To clarify the situation around a new stadium following apparently contradictory comments by Joy Seppala and Chris Anderson. 
• To ask for clarification around the playing budget for next season 
• Discuss minimising disruption for fans at the Ricoh with regards to car parking, bars etc.
• Although the football club gets priority on when we play over Wasps, what else do we get priority on?  ACL/Wasps can put events on the same day as football matches and it would be desirable to know what the required notice period would be and if fans can be informed asap. The Southend game was moved to a Monday night due to an event at the Ricoh. KC added that CA has built up a good working relationship with Wasps.
• How many corporate areas are open now?  (3 generally – Jaguar, Legends and Lounge 1). There has been an issue this season with corporate customers being moved around, being kicked out early etc due to other events taking place at the stadium. This needs to be addressed.
• Ask about the outreach programme for disadvantaged children that David Busst raised at the last meeting for which he needs £1K a month. This has now been taken up further.
• Reintroducing half-time draws to generate income (this is on the issues log and on MH’s list).
• Discuss the Alan Higgs swimming pool development and how this could affect our academy (KC added that it is unlikely to affect the academy pitches).
• New kit for next year (KC confirmed that the new kit was decided some time ago – more news to follow).
• Family Zone (see below point by PR).

It has been a very long time since the SCG were last represented at a board meeting. The group agreed that SG should accompany JS and that a three-monthly pattern should be established as originally intended, gradually involving every member of the group. 

JS invited further points under AOB:

PA put forward the idea of the team coming out to a fanfare version of the Sky Blue Song.  MH added that there is a video on the big screen of Jimmy Hill singing the Sky Blue song of which they are looking to obtain a better quality video.

DD thought the NHS advert was very good at the last game.  

DD gave an update about coach access from Warwickshire. There is a Coach Leasing coach from Nuneaton to the Ricoh, via Bedworth, a coach from the Crow’s Nest (for CCFC and Wasps games), and a coach run by Southam Utd Bowls Club.  

DD said there are 130 fans from North Warwickshire signed up online, and 20 paid members.  

DD asked about ticket availability in Block 3 as tickets were unavailable to buy online since some trouble at the Port Vale game. MH confirmed they could only be purchased in person.

SG said there is a perception that the SCG is a secret club. She suggested that we have an open meeting where anyone can attend, and it was agreed by the group that this could be a good idea. 

PR said there are only a few Saturdays left in the Family Zone – it has been a real success this season. PR is looking for ideas for next season, JS asking whether further donations were needed. PR said that as the JSB party was so successful there is enough funding for the end of the season and the start of the next, but sponsorship would be fantastic. This will be brought up at the board meeting. MH added that the club really values, supports and appreciates all PR does. In recognition, her ticket has been upgraded for the end-of-season awards dinner. KC believes the Family Zone is one of the best things we do as a club.

SBR said that when we played Northampton in the FA Cup, the Sky Blue Trust got together to raise funds for them due to their precarious financial situation.  Their plight has now been resolved so they have donated £1000 to charities of the Trust’s choice - £500 each to Zoe’s Place and to Alzheimer’s Society (in memory of Jimmy Hill). Fund raising took place with many clubs. However, by far the most was raised in Coventry.

MH and JS wished DB all the best with his injury. His work for Sky Blues in the Community is fantastic and he has achieved more than ever this season.

KC informed the SCG that Tony Mowbray’s SBT fans forum appearance has been delayed until the summer as he wants to concentrate on football at this stage of the season.  He may be replaced with a former player.

JT asked for an addition to the issues log – at the Rochdale game, there was no toilet roll in at least 10 cubicles of the ladies’ toilets by block 19/20.

Date of next meeting: Wednesday 27 April at 6.30pm (date subject to change) at the Butts Park Arena


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