26/02/2009 : Achieve By Unity Fans Partnership : Achieve By Unity Fans Partnership Meeting Minutes No. 8
26 February 2009 : Achieve By Unity Fans Partnership Meeting Minutes No. 8
The Achieve By Unity Fans Partnership
Thursday 26th February, Boardroom, 5.45p.m
Meeting Minutes


Present
John Fry - Chairman
Martyn Starnes - Chief Executive
Jean Cotton – Club/Company Secretary
Dave Linney – Commercial Manager
Sara Bradley - Supporter Liaison Officer
Clive Robinson - Hospitality Manager
James Hiller - Stadium Manager
Terry Skiverton – Manager
Nathan Jones – Assistant Manager
Rich Rendell - GWSC Chairman/ABUFP Chairman
Fiona Grant - GWSC Rep
Ron Harding – Vice Presidents
Sharon Swain - DSA Rep
Cyril Pomeroy - Supporters Rep
Dave Lilly - Supporters Rep
Martin McConachie - Supporters Rep
Richard Culham – Supporters Rep
Kevin Farley – Supporters Rep
Len Brooker – Supporters Rep
Marilyn Taylor – Supporters Rep
David Burnett – Supporters Rep

Apologies
Sue Parsons
Adrian Hopper
Peter O’Riordan
Rod Hallett
Darran Jones

1. Approval of minutes

Len Brooker stated that the following Items had been missed in the previous minutes. All present agreed that these should be added to this evening’s minutes and that apart from the items missed the minutes represented a true and accurate record.

Missed Items from previous meeting (22/01/09)

1.1 John Fry agreed at the meeting that James should contact Brympton Parish Council about installing street lights on the public footpath from the Cowlin Stand to Western Avenue.

James Hillier has written to Brympton Parish Council regarding the lighting and general condition of the path.

1.2 When will the large tree in the centre of the Cowlin car park be trimmed and the Herris fencing taken back?
With regard to the tree in the car park, Tony Fry has been speaking to the council who have agreed that the tree can be removed. James has have asked for this to be put in writing and on receipt of this the tree surgeon will be given the go ahead.


2. Action points from previous minutes

2.1 Action: A selection of supporters to be invited to the club by John Fry to discuss matters along with the ABUFP and the Executive Committee at a time convenient to the supporters.

It was stated that this was ongoing

2.2 Action: Concessionary Rate – JRF stated that the Customer Services Charter be reviewed in respect of this.

Sara stated that the Customer Charter states that the Concessionary age is 65 for both men and women. The Charter is reviewed on a regular basis and amended when appropriate.

2.3 Action: Sharon Swain asked if a promotion regarding Soccer Sight could be carried out.

Sara stated that Soccer Sight is launching a new training programme on Saturday 21st March.
This involves blind or partially sighted children being trained on the Astro Turf by our Community coaches, meeting the players and then going into the ground to listen to the match via the soccer sight receivers.

She stated that this would be promoted prior to that event via the website and programme.

2.4 Action: Sara to arrange a Meet the Manager Night

Sara stated that the Club would be holding a meet the Manager night, but she wanted to wait until Terry and Nathan had settled into their new roles before finalising dates etc.

2.5 Action: Sara to speak to Terry Skiverton and Nathan Jones to finalise a date.


3. Ticket Prices for next Season

Martyn Starnes stated that the club had held a meeting with a smaller working group to discuss ticket prices.

Ideas had come in via that meeting and through supporters e-mailing the Club.

He said that the Club had spoken to other clubs who have implemented schemes based on discounts given after a certain amount of season tickets had been sold.

However the club were still researching this, prior to coming back with any firm proposals.

The Club will be working on this and will have something further to put forward shortly

The Club will reconvene the working group and will then send out the proposals to the ABUFP members.

Sara stated that she had received an e-mail from a supporter called Barry Wood who had put together a proposal in regards to prices for next Season.

Sara handed out the e-mail to all present and asked for their feedback.

The club would like to thank Barry Wood for taking the time to put together a well constructed proposal.

Action: Martyn Starnes to set up a further meeting with the Ticket Working Party.

Action: Draft Ticket Proposals to be sent to the ABUFP Committee for their feedback


4. Devon Fans 36 Suggestions

John Fry stated that Devon Fan and all the supporters who had submitted the suggestions should be commended for taking the time to put forward these constructive ideas.

It was suggested that Sara Bradley formed a smaller working group to discuss the suggestions and come back to the club with the solutions.

Rich Rendell suggested that Devon Fan could be involved in the meeting

Len Brooker stated that we needed to find a way to prioritise some of the suggestions.

All present agreed that this was the way forward.

Action: Sara Bradley to organise a meeting with the Representatives to discuss and take forward the 36 suggestions submitted by Devon Fan.


5. Supporters Questions

Why can't the club start making good use of the facilities they have to bring other lines of revenue in?( Bristol City and Bournemouth both do this with some big name acts playing there. Bristol is the nearest place doing this, nowhere else around Yeovil could do it but we could.)

It was stated that the Club do look at ways in which to maximise the revenue with the facilities that we have got here at Huish Park.

We have been offered opportunities to have concerts here and when you do the assessment you have got to be extremely careful that you do not leave yourself exposed.

Whilst Bristol City and Bournemouth have organised concerts, it is not certain that Bournemouth were successful in terms of the money that was made. We understand that Bristol City did not make a profit in the early years

You have to look at the catchment areas that those clubs have compared with Yeovil and together with the ease of access and travel.

Martyn Starnes added that when he was at Swindon, they had put on two concerts.

One was Elton John and the other was Bryan Adams. Swindon did make a little bit of money from it but it was all on the catering a hospitality side.

Elton John attracted an audience 14,000 and Bryan Adams only attracted an audience of 12,500.

Given where Swindon is located geographically and they could only attract those numbers it is debatable whether YTFC could attract an audience large enough to make such an event viable

YTFC is not a concert production or promotion company, but would quite happily host an event should an organisation be willing to promote it and take the risk.

Cyril Pomeroy asked if the Club could rent out the car park for a circus or something similar and that he had remembered that a company was interested in hiring the car park on a weekly basis.

James Hillier stated that a number of companies were interested and that he was waiting for them to get back to him to finalise details.


Is the club still actively looking for investment? What happened to the "Invest in Yeovil" initiative?

John Fry stated that the ‘The Invest in Yeovil’ initiative was still going, but that the Club couldn’t do anything until everything was resolved on the site.

He added “No one is going to invest in a football club unless there is security. When you look at Investments’ you have to have certainty and I am reviewing everything for the benefit of this football club”.

“We have appointed four Associate Directors in order to restructure the company and there will probably be more. These people are well respected at this football club and have done an enormous amount of work for the club.”

The four Associate Directors are Jean Cotton, Martyn Starnes, John Dover, and Bob Lelliott.


It looks like Crewe, Milton Keynes and Southend have altered prices after the reduction in VAT by the government. Are we going to follow suit and if not, why not?

The Club has no plans to follow suit. The cost of doing so is prohibitive in terms of administration and arranging coinage


It is sad that the Legends game did not get played on the exact 60th anniversary date but these things can't be helped. Now is a real chance for the club and its supporters to gain out of misfortune. Play it in May but on a Sunday afternoon as part of a big Family Fun Day. We could have all sorts of pre-match entertainment both on the main pitch, the training pitches and the Astroturf etc.i.e bouncy castles; fairground rides five aside and penalty competitions and music?

Sara stated that the Club were looking at holding a Family Day for the last game of the Season against Colchester.

However she thought that this was a good idea to incorporate the two together.

She added that she would need to speak to Adrian Hopper to see if this was possible as he would need to liaise with the legends from both sides.

Action: Sara Bradley to speak to Adrian Hopper about holding the Legends match the day after the last game of the Season and incorporate a Family Day.


Can the club have a Direction sign for the location of the lift to the Conference Centre?

James Hillier stated that the signs had been produced and that they would be put up before the Hereford match.

Can Jean explain how the new League 5 home player rule will work?

It is a League 4 home rule and what it actually means is on a match day, the team of 16 that Terry and Nathan select, a minimum of four of those players must have been registered domestically for at least three seasons prior to their 21st birthday.

The reason the Football League are doing this is to try and encourage locally trained players and have a positive lead into domestic football.

How does Yeovil’s first team squad stack up against the requirement?
It is fine apart from Josh Wagenaar, but we just have to look at what players we bring in, in the future.

How will Yeovil know that the visiting team meets the League Rules?
The Football League deals with that and they will obviously be notified by the Club if there are any problems there.

Why should any STH renew next season? And what is the club doing to entice lapsed STH's to re-activate?

The Season ticket holders that we have are dedicated core supporters of this Football Club.

We are working very hard behind the scenes to try and ensure that we give value to our Season Ticket holders and we are looking at that as part of our pricing structure and also looking at what else we can do.

We believe that next Season, a season ticket will represent excellent value for money for the entertainment that will be provided at this Football Club.

From minutes of last meeting:

Q4 the tent on Saturday was awful. It was cold, the seats and tables were sopping wet and the least the club could have done was put the heaters on so the place could dry off. Just how much longer do the supporters have to put up with third rate conditions in there? It still takes too long to be served, can't the club see that just an extra two or three staff would be worth it as more fans would drink in there

CR, Explained that the marquee requires a large amount of maintenance and unfortunately has suffered from some significant break downs following freezing temperatures and flooding. CP stated people were unhappy with the tent due to its poor quality and the fact that the Arrow was cheaper.

CP asked what CR and the Club intended to DO about the issues the questioner raised.

What is the Club going to do to retain and encourage fans back to the beers tent? I.e. Happy hour, a cheaper guest beer or a speed bar?

John stated that he would take personal responsibility for these questions and that he would be meeting with Clive first thing in the morning to discuss them.

He then stated that he would be prepared to hold a meeting with supporters who regularly use the Marquee as soon as possible in order to draw a line under the serious Issues raised.

Have the club considered reorganising the utilisation of the bars upstairs as both bars seem to be experiencing a lack of trade. At present the old supporters bar is used as a Restaurant prior to the game followed by a players’ lounge after and neither of the facilities seem to be that popular. At the same time, trade in the VP Lounge is minimal compared to previous seasons. Why not open the supporters bar and within the VP Bar combine the current pre match Carvery with a larger menu and after the game pull out folding partitions to create the required enclosed section for the private paid bar.

John stated that the Club are revisiting certain ideas and asked the Committee to give him until the next ABUFP meeting where a statement or report will be given as something needs to be done about the situation.

There are difficult issues and they have been on the Agenda for some time and there are an awful lot of priorities and costs involved.

We understand that there are problems and we will be looking at every angle prior to the start of next season.

Terry Skiverton added that what he has noticed that since we have been in the Football League, the players seem to have lost their connection with the fans, especially the fans in the Marquee.

He suggested that through the Green and Whites Supporters Club, we have a player of the month award and have a little presentation over in the Marquee. We can bring all the lads over there or just the player who has won the player of the month award. We don’t want supporters to feel left out. All present agreed that this was a good idea.

Action: Sara to speak to the G&WSC to discuss a player of the month award

Action: The Club to advertise the chance for supporters to come to the club to meet with John Fry regarding the issues in the Hospitality Marquee.


Does the Club have any proposals to improve the manner in which we handle press statements?

Martyn asked how the press statements need to be improved as we try to get as much information out on the official website as we can possibly release given the restrictions that we have. Press statements concerning Russell Slades departure were restricted on the advice of the Club’s lawyers.

The Club does not want to hold information back; There is a desire and willingness to communicate with the fans as we want information to be out there.

However, the Club can only release things when they happen, like the meeting last week, when it was not possible to tell the ABUFP about Terry and Nathan’s appointment as it hadn’t been finalised at that time.

The Club is always looking for ways to improve and if people have constructive criticisms, like a lot of issues that we discuss round here, we will look at it and try and improve.

Cyril asked if the club could promote matches more via local radio stations.

Martyn Starnes asked Sara to speak to Adrian to make sure that we are getting as much coverage as we possibly can.

John Fry said that we can and should improve things as that’s how we keep the interest of the fans.

Martin McConachie asked if we could do something about the adverts on the official site, as a lot of people have problems getting onto it because their servers think that it is a betting site.

Action: Sara to contact PTV about the adverts


What are the Club going to do about the pitch, are there plans to re seed it?

John stated that the Club do have a problem with the pitch and that the ground staffs are working hard on it.

He added that a Supporter who is a soil scientist at Cranfield University has offered his services free of charge and that he is coming down for the Carlisle match and is prepared to write a report on the pitch.

It is a sand based pitch and it has lasted 6 years. The problem with the pitch is due to the drainage as roots go towards water.

To solve the problem it will cost 50,000 which includes the labour and to put the fibre in. But it needs reseeding which will take until the end of July to establish.


The Reserve game played a Somerton this week has annoyed Season Ticket Holders as some of us renewed because we get to see the Reserve games free, we shouldn’t have to travel to Somerton?

Martyn stated that the Club were able to get Somerton at short notice and the chances are that we will be playing our remaining games there this season or at an alternative location.

He went onto inform the committee of the Clubs decision to withdraw from the Totesport Combination League as from next season.

There are various reasons for it, but the league is not currently fulfilling a useful purpose

Clubs are reducing the size of their squads and are predominantly using the games to look at trialists

The number of cancellations due to various reasons is considerable, which means re jigging resources, and ending up with a back log of matches towards the end of the season.

We have issues with the playing surface and if matches are played at Huish Park there is a significant cost involved

The League have recognised this season, that because of the weather, clubs are being allowed to hold their matches on their training pitches.

It is felt that the Club would be better served, by playing matches behind closed doors, on pitches that may be training pitches.

The main purposes of these matches is to look at trialists and playing players that have just come back from injury and players on the fringe of the side who need a run out.

A number of clubs have pulled out and the League is expecting another half a dozen to withdraw.

We understand that Season Ticket Holders will be disappointed as they attend matches for free but that will be part of our thinking for benefits next season.


Have the Club considered getting a reduced rate to get a sponsor for the away end; surely this is better than having nothing at all?

Dave Linney stated that Blackthorn sponsored our away end and that was simply because they wanted the home end which wasn’t available at that particular time.

They sponsored the away end with the option to take the home end when it became available.

We have got ongoing meetings with different sponsors and a sponsor on the away end is on the Agenda.

6. A.O.B.

6.1 Stadium Development


Len Brooker asked John about the meeting he went to on the 27th of January about the Stadium Development.

John stated that he was hoping to be able to say something soon. He explained that a partnership has been formed with the senior level at the council as the situation involves other organisations not just Yeovil Town Football Club.

We have had planning meetings and there are no problems with the planning.

There is an issue with the Sports Zone in Yeovil but there has been some excellent progress and we are waiting for the group to form as it is all part of the vision.

Any Stadium development will take place on this site and the criteria we have put forward has been questioned by the council and the surrounding district and we are preparing the ground for public consultation which is a long process.

However we are confident that the restrictions to do with this site will be dealt with by this group and we are hoping that the plans become public knowledge by Easter.

6.2 Yellow gates on the Away end

Len Brooker asked what the club was doing about putting in yellow gates on the away terrace.

James stated that he had spoken to Mark Baker about that and the hand rails on the terrace and he has got some prices for the two jobs which will need to be authorised.

6.3 Queues at the Ticket Office on match days

Len Brooker asked what the club doing about the queues at the ticket office on match days as he feels that they are horrendous.

Sara stated that she had spoken to Sue Parsons regarding this and that she had stated the following.

There are no queues until approximately 2.30p.m, but even then everyone is in the ground before kickoff.
It would cost a lot of money to install a further ticket outlet and 62% of our supporters now prefer to buy over the telephone/online/ or in person prior to the match.

The Ticket Office is also open until 6.00p.m the day before a match.

Len Brooker disagreed and said that when he arrives at the ground there is always a massive queue.

Sara stated that in her opinion that this wasn’t the case as she is in the office at that time.

Martyn stated that the majority of the Clubs in the country have the same problem where people have to queue when they arrive so close to kick off time.

6.4 Flooding behind the Away Terrace

Len Brooker stated that the pathway behind the away terrace is still flooding and asked what the club intended to do about it.

James Hillier stated that he had spoken to Tony Fry three times about it and that he is doing the best he can to resolve the problem. However he has asked Tony to keep an eye on it particularly on wet match days.

6.5 Supporters acknowledging fans after matches

Marilyn Taylor asked Terry and Nathan if at the end of matches the players could acknowledge the fans win, lose or draw.

Terry stated that this wouldn’t be a problem and that he would speak to the lads to make sure that this was done.

Martin McConachie added that the supporters were 100% behind the Club, Terry and Nathan and asked what the supporters could do for them.

Terry stated that he wants to bring back a connection with the supporters as little things like that go a long way, but to just keep doing what they are doing because the support is fantastic.

Nathan added that from his point of view it was a work in progress and that they are trying to get that family feel to the place back again and have more rapport with the supporters.

6.6 Supporters vs. Staff match

Dave Lilly asked if the club would be holding the Annual Staff vs. Supporters match.

Dave Linney stated that it is usually held the same day as the High Holborn Shield, but due to discussions about the Legends match being held on the same day it was on the back burner for the time being.

However it was hoped that something could be sorted out.

6.7 Family Club of the Year Award

Sara stated that the Club had been shortlisted for the Family Club of the year, which is a huge achievement.

She added that the Club were the only club to be shortlisted for the second year running.

All present passed on their best wishes to the clubs’ president Norman Burfield who has been unwell recently.

All present passed on their support to Terry and Nathan and wished them all the best for the rest of the season and beyond

Meeting Closed: 19.40p.m.
Next Meeting: TBC



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