A while ago, a supporter known as Devon Fan sent in a list of thirty six ideas for consideration by the Achieve by Unity Fans Partnership (ABUFP). The partnership was a group of people elected to represent supporters in discussions with the club over wide ranging agenda items such as the matchday experience and ticket prices.
With the recent change to the Supporter Liaison Group, chaired by Sara Bradley, it was felt that the new group could focus intently on those 36 ideas and take them one-by-one in an attempt to sort them out. The recent meeting of the Supporters Liaison Group have now gone through two-thirds of the list and will shortly meet again to finalise the remaining issues that need further attention.
The group discussed each and every issue in order; where an idea is not shown, this issue / idea will be taken forward to the next meeting.
1. Decorate the programme huts to make it feel like there is an event.
At the recent match against Leeds United, each programme hut was decorated with two green and white flags and the immediate improvement of the huts were commented on by many supporters. Therefore from next season, this will be repeated at each game.
2. Lay out the club shop like a supermarket so that a customer might have a chance to browse. At the moment this is difficult in the crowded conditions of a match day.
The official club store was extended in size a few years back and was extensively improved to its present modern look. At present, there is simply not enough room in the store to lay it out in aisles as suggested. If the store ever increases in size then it may be something we would consider.
3. Advertising forthcoming fixtures on a paraded board at half time.
From next season, the Jolly Green Giant will walk around the outside of the pitch at the half time interval. He will be carrying a large board advertising the next two home fixtures, the official club website address and the ticket office phone number so that supporters can be kept in touch with the forthcoming matches.
4. Make the half time talk into a ten minute radio show with features and articles about the Yeovil Town community.
With regards to the PA announcements at half time, there is already the Golden Gamble draw, the Private Members draws, other presentations and the football scores from around the country. In addition, if there is any half-time entertainment such as penalty shootouts or guest singers, these place demands on the PA system thus restricting the time for anything like a radio show.
5. Having more outlets for ticket sales on the day – a fifteen minute wait to buy a £19 ticket is not going to encourage the casual punter to return.
This is difficult to implement without increasing the amount of windows in the ticket office wall or increasing the number of staff available on match days. It also brings up the question if selling tickets elsewhere of the IT issue, i.e. the extra outlets would have to be linked in with the ticket office to prevent duplication of seat purchases. All three “solutions” would require additional funding.
6. Why not introduce a cash only turnstile for those wishing to stand? This would reduce the queue at the ticket office and make the day a little less frustrating for some of the paying customers.
Although the Football League does not explicitly forbid cash-only turnstiles, they do however frown on it and the large majority of football clubs run the system as we do. There may also be the issue of turnstile operators having to be in charge of large sums of money which has the potential to cause a security problem for him/her.
7. With all the empty capacity, how about more ‘Kids for a Quid’ promotions or going to various schools and handing out free tickets for kids if accompanied by a paying adult?
The football club already hand out dozens and dozens of free tickets to local schools attached to the “Adopt a Player” scheme, an initiative run by the Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust where a player is adopted by a school. There is also the health of the “Junior Glovers” to consider. This area of the club is blossoming very well with a healthy increase each year on year – part of the benefit being cheap season tickets to JG members.
8. Give one person the job, maybe a paid fan or an employee, to collect a good idea from each away ground visited. For example, you can buy a bus ticket from Barnstaple which takes you to Exeter City’s game which is 50 odd miles away. By the end of the season we have 30 more ideas which have been proven to work.
Pat Custard, who most fans know, has been doing something along these lines all season with regards to focusing particularly on what other grounds stock in their refreshment outlets. However from next season, both Pat and website administrator Martin McConachie will be charged with collating ideas from other grounds as we visit them. Other supporters who spot something will have the ability to contact the club too should they wish to.
9. Have a Customer Relations Officer openly available at each home game.
This is already in place. Supporter Liaison Officer Sara Bradley is in reception at every home game and is available for supporters to discuss issues with. This system will be made more public from next season.
10. Hand ‘next match’ posters out at home games so that any supporters who want to can display them at home, in work or in the local shop / pub / post office.
This is currently done by Pat Custard and posters are also available directly from the club offices but in addition, from next season a downloadable poster will be available on the club’s official website.
11. A regular YTFC roadshow and/or mobile ticket office.
With reference to the mobile roadshow, such events are rarely without cost and as such, would be unlikely to be worthy of such funding.
12. Organised transport to home games from, for example, Bridgwater, Wincanton, Shepton, Taunton etc.
Public transport in the area is poor with regards to getting people successfully from those towns to Huish Park. In addition, the club have previously tried to implement a bus service from the town centre to the club which was deemed to not be a success.
13. Reserve games revert to night time kick offs.
After the abolition of the reserve team as we know it, this question isn’t quite as relevant as maybe it once was. However, in the case of the Somerset Premier Cup, all matches would be evening fixtures anyway as our opponents are generally part-time players who can only play on weekday evenings.
14. How about incorporating the Golden Gamble (is that what it’s called) into the programme – it would encourage more people to buy the programme.
The Golden Gamble provides a good level of funding to the club on matchdays and is immensely popular with our supporters. If you include it in the programme price, you would certainly lose a great percentage of the revenue that the GG brings in. If you add it to the programme price, the programme would then be £4 and fewer people would buy it.
15. Try to improve the relationship between stewards and fans as things have seemed a tad strained at times during the last few seasons. If this involves a better level of training or better communication between the two, then let’s consider both parties views.
This question was posed shortly after the issues that arose during the Leeds United match last season. Since that day, the ongoing training received by the stewards has continued and there have been very few reported incidents lately. The club take seriously its responsibility towards creating and maintaining a safe and friendly atmosphere for both its fans and those of our opponents and are continually striving to keep it that way.
16. Can the club advertise on the official site when is the last date for buying away tickets?
Yes. From next season, every new article that contains the ticket details for the forthcoming away fixtures will also mention the final day that supporters can purchase tickets from the ticket office. If the match is “Pay on the Day”, this will be stated within the article.
17. How about advertising forthcoming fixtures in the Somerset County Gazette and other regional newspapers. Got to be worth the expense to attract casual local football fans. I often inform some of the dads of my lads’ football team of home matches and they sometimes attend with their boys and enjoy it. Even created a few new fans in Wellington.
Advertising in newspapers, even with the recent downturn in advertising revenues, is still an expensive form of trying to attract potential new supporters. The club are going to take a slightly different route to this albeit with achieving the same aim. From next season, each story that appears on the club website (match previews, signings, and injury news and match reports) will be emailed instantly to a category of media set up through the official club website. This should, and probably would, encourage the local media to publish the copy in their respective publications as it is written for them. This then spreads the name of Yeovil Town around the region for no cost at all.
18. Advertise forthcoming matches on TV & Radio
Television advertising is extremely expensive, even at a local or regional level, so is not likely to be adopted. Yeovil Town are already covered via the media of Radio Bristol, Radio Somerset and Midwest Radio but advertising on radio hasn’t been proven to be a cost effective way of attracting new fans.
19. Yeovil Town is Somerset’s only league club. Let’s look to widen the fan base. The ground is easily reached and we should be doing everything to promote the club in outlying towns from Honiton to Taunton to Dorchester to Salisbury.
This issue was partially covered in number 17 above. From next season, including pre-season friendlies, there will be a regular press briefing emailed out to the likes of the County Gazette, the Dorset Echo and the Chard & Ilminster News so that those sections of the media can cover Yeovil more adequately than at present at no cost to them or ourselves. The Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust is very prevalent in the Bridport area in particular due to the tie-up with Colfox School – this has given Yeovil a presence in Bridport town too. Other such tie-ups are planned for the coming year.
20. Select the man of the match by text message. Make sure that this is a well advertised event. Customers could be asked to nominate their man of the match by text and some prize could be organised for a winning lucky text.
This idea was tried a while back and could not be considered a success. It had been advertised on the club website, in the programme and on the PA system but still failed to attract many supporters to it. With these schemes, there is a cost to the person sending the SMS that in some cases is prohibitive and therefore unattractive to that person.
21. Have an official membership scheme. Basically the way I’ve seen it work is you pay a small price for the season and for that you get a card which does a number of things, e.g. at top clubs, gives you priority on tickets, 10% on club merchandise, gets you to reserve games for free/highly discounted. You also get a goody bag which might include some cheap club merchandise like a mug or pens or something and finally you get a quarterly magazine.
Cheltenham Town launched one on 10th December. I’m told it took less than three months from initial inception to going live. It might not be what YTFC want in details (it is free for starters so there is no reason not to join) but they had 1200 supporters signed up in the first week.
This is an issue that has been considered by the club on more than one occasion in the past few seasons. In the last study as to its value, it was felt that it would be preferable to go with the existing “Green & White Supporters Club” system whereby many of the above benefits are already available to its members.
22. Find a way of regularly asking fans for suggestions?
During the summer, a form will be placed on to the club’s official website for supporters to fill in and email to the club. This form will also be available to print off and send in to the Supporter Liaison Officer, Sara Bradley. The form will also contain the phone number so that supporters can contact the club representative by that means too.
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