The Achieve By Unity Fans Partnership Meeting No. 5
Wednesday 9th July 2008, Alec Stock Lounge, 5.45pm
Martyn Starnes - Chief Executive
John Fry Ė Chairman
Jean Cotton Ė Football/Company Secretary
Dave Linney Ė Commercial Manager
James Hillier Ė Stadium Manager
Clive Robinson- Hospitality Manager
Sue Parsons Ė Ticket Office Manager
Sara Bradley - Supporter Liaison Officer
Rich Rendell Ė G&WSC & Partnership Chairman
Fiona Grant Ė G&WSC
Sharon Swain- DSA
Martin McConachie Ė Supporters Representative
Pete Brooks Ė Supporter Representative
Nigel Inggs Ė Supporter Representative
Cyril Pomeroy - Supporter Representative
Dave Lilly - Supporter Representative
Adrian Hopper - Media Manager
Kim Vickers Ė Supporters Rep
Rod Hallett Ė VP Chairman
Stephen Waldron Ė Supporter Representative
Tony Streetin Ė G&WSC
1. Approval of minutes
All present agreed that the minutes from the previous meeting were a true and accurate record.
2. Action points from previous minutes
Action: Adrian to speak to Russell and Steve and get the players to acknowledge the supporters whatever the result.
Sara stated that Adrian had spoken to both Russell and Steve regarding this matter and that he was assured that this would happen.
Action: Adrian to speak to Tony Burton and get Yeovil True put on the play list.
Sara stated that this has been done by Adrian also.
Action: Club to look into a four game Season Ticket for the Armed Forces.
Martyn stated that this was something that hadnít yet been determined by the Club and that this would be carried forward- Ongoing
Action: Club to look into Concessionary prices
The Club have noted Cyrilís views and a complete review and consultation process will take place on prices during the course of next season. Cyril asked where most clubs draw the line (60 or 65), Martyn stated that Clubs varied. We want to look at this across the board as some clubs have even introduced young people prices for people staying in full time education to try and encourage youngsters to stay with the club and to make it economically viable for them.
3. Membership Scheme
Martyn stated that conversations had been held with the Green and Whites Supporters Club about the club running a Membership Scheme. There are some internal concerns about operating a membership that potentially overlaps the Green and Whites activities.
Nigel asked if the Club could provide a time scale to aim towards an answer as if the Club arenít careful, supporters could see the ABUFP not working. Martyn stated that he will endeavour to produce some practical proposals by the September meeting.
Action: Martyn to aim to provide the ABUFP meeting with an answer regarding the Membership Scheme.
4 Supporters Questions
It has been agreed by all present that no questions at future meetings will be answered if they are not submitted with a name. This is due to some abusive e-mails that have come into Sara at the Club.
Qu: What are the latest figures (say to the end of June) for the sale of season tickets?
2260. Martyn stated that this was a better figure than expected.
Qu: What were the comparable figures (to the end of June) last year?
At this time last year we were at 2,800 and that was on the back of the Play Offs. John Fry added that how much income we bring in establishes budgets, particularly playersí budgets. John believes it has been a significant effort on part of the club that we have sold 2,260 season tickets and thanked the staff and supporters who have held the figures up
Qu: Comparing the sales figures for the last few seasons, what is the club's projection for likely sales of season tickets by the time the season starts in August?
Martyn stated that the projection for likely sales of Season Tickets come the start of the Season is 2,500. Martin McConachie mentioned that signings can affect sales and that with a couple more great additions to the squad it will hopefully push up sales.
Martyn Starnes stated that a telephone campaign will be taking place, whereby supporters who have not renewed their season tickets will be contacted to find out the reasons why. This will be valuable information for the club.
Qu: What factors has the club taken into account in setting the reduced playing budget? Is the reduction directly related to the sales / projection of sales of tickets, or are other factors relevant? If so, what other factors?
John Fry asked who had stated that there had been a reduction in the budget. It was stated that it was the Press who had instigated the story. John Fry informed the group that with the Chief Executive and Financial Directorís permission he would print the figures to show at a future meeting how the club has been run over the past 15 years. The club is run over a 2 year cycle and budgets reflect that. You place being successful on whether you reach the playoffs, get the players in that you require, get into a Cup run or attracting more customers.
Last season the deal was done with Cohen and Davis with a year left on their contracts. To delay their transfer beyond this point would have seriously compromised the fee received as they would not have been worth anything by Christmas. They wanted to move and you canít change their mind as itís down to the player. John Fry stated that the transfer money made a significant contribution to last years playing budget. Because we donít have the transfer money this season expenditure has to be adjusted accordingly. Cyril asked how the sponsorship for the 2008/09 season was going. Dave stated that there had been an increase in some and not in others however the club is slightly ahead of sponsors than this time last year but it is an ongoing process.
Qu: If it transpires that ST sales are down, and this is a significant factor in the reduction of the playing budget:
a) What early analysis has the club done to assess why sales are down?
b) What future analysis does the club intend to assess why sales are down?
Leaving aside factors outside the club's control - e.g. credit crunchesand the like - what strategies is the club considering addressing this fall for:
a) The coming season, with policies to supplement the immediate shortfall by making match day ticketing more attractive, or other plans to maintain gates; and
(b) for next season, to improve and build up ST sales.
John Fry believes we have the best arrangements for meeting, delivering and assessing issues. He would like to invite a selection of supporters who have criticised the Club or have a valued opinion to a consultation day along with the executive to discuss these matters because they are extensive. These questions need detailed answers and he proposed a team from the Club together with some supporters meet in order to reach some conclusions.
Obviously we will have supporters who live further away so we would want to meet at a time that would be convenient for them. John stated he would put out a personal invitation to supporters to come to a meeting with us and sit down as these are the supporters who feel that they have an answer to the questions. These supporters should not be alienated but should come in to give their point of view. He further added that he had always worked with the G&WSC and The VPís and they may have some issues as well. John stated that he felt that Sara should be part of the Executive Committee on a fortnightly or monthly basis because as the Supporter Liaison Officer she gets a lot of contact from the customers/fans.
Action: A selection of supporters to be invited to the club by John Fry to talk about the questions listed above, and to discuss other matters along with the ABUFP and the Executive Committee at a time convenient to the supporters.
Qu: Has the club examined the range of schemes and initiatives from the likes of Bradford City, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Port Vale, Swindon Town to see if any, or parts of any adapted, could be beneficial to Yeovil Town's circumstances? If not, does the club intend to do so?
Martyn stated that the Club has certainly looked with interest at these schemes. However the Club do have concerns over whether these would work for Yeovil Town. He always suggests that the staff look at other clubs to see what they do to get the best ideas and see if they would work. However, what works at one club may not work here so you have to start with the idea and then make an assessment. We donít know whether Bradford City have been successful in maintaining or increasing their revenues with the scheme they have done. We couldnít have done what they did anyway as our ground isnít big enough. You have to look at the conurbations with Bradford, Huddersfield and even Port Vale, by asking yourself realistically how many people could we attract at lower prices and what would that do to our overall revenues. At the end of the day we canít afford to take risks with this club. We know that we can get a certain amount in at a certain price; we would love to make it more affordable, but at the same time our supporters want to see their club compete so we have to make sure that our revenue is maintained. Swindon have got a scheme running and they have to sell 6,000 tickets and they have only sold 4,000 so far. Swindon has a population of 200.000 people and we have a population of 45,000 so is it reasonable to assume that we would sell 4, 000 season tickets if they canít get above that figure.
Qu: The setting of the pricing and offers in relation to season tickets is a Boardroom decision. Recently M&S issued a profit warning on the back of acirca 5% drop in sales. Internal analysis attributed much of the decline in sales to the Food Division, and the director of that division resigned. At what hypothetical level of decline in season ticket sales would those responsible for the setting of pricing and offers consider it a potential resigning matter?
Martyn suggested it was completely inappropriate to compare a football club with a business like Marks and Spencerís as the dynamics are completely different. The Board and the Executive Committee make the decisions collectively for what they believe to be in the best interests of the football club. All decisions are made in good faith and based on information at the time. In terms of season ticket sales it is extremely difficult to predict the take up at any given price level.
Qu: Would it be possible for the club to publish their accounts earlier?
The Club donít publish the accounts until the auditors have cleared them, they have been seen by the shareholders and linked in with AGM which are company requirements and the club works within these guidelines. Therefore we cannot release in writing information on the accounts.
Qu: Why does Mr Starnes go on holiday at a ridiculous time of the year given his position?
There is no ideal time for a holiday to be taken and the week Mr Starnes took was no better or worse than any other week. He was in contact by phone and email so there was nothing ridiculous about him being away at that time. As a management team holidays are discussed and planned to make sure there is cover for each other.
Qu: Is the completion of an upgrade to a 14,000 stadium required regardless of what division weíre in? Why has it all gone so quiet on the stadium expansion front?
Qu: We were told that the plans were going to the council in early May, itís now early July and no progress has been made or publicised?
Qu: Is the completion of an upgrade to a 14,000 stadium required regardless of what division weíre in?
Qu: Why has it all gone so quiet on the stadium expansion front? We were told that the plans were going to the council in early May, itís now early July and no progress has been made or publicised?
John Fry stated that the stadium capacity was put in the public domain to create discussion and feedback from the fans. From a view of a planning consultation and what do we need on this site and at what stage do you consult with the fans. We are pretty close to making decisions but they are confidential negotiations that have taken almost 2 years, costing upwards of £100,000 of personal and not club money to arrive at the current position. The complications have been the covenants and at some stage one has to disclose why it has taken so long dealing with the covenants and who will be getting the benefits from these covenants and whether the covenants are going to be the restriction on our expansion at Huish Park. Yeovil Town Football Club is the centre of interest as far as the Sports Zone, the covenants, the planning issue on the site and the development of other sites within the boundaries of Yeovil and South Somerset District Council. John said that he just wants to do is what is in the best interests of the football club. We are not moving from this site as the council want us to stay on this site and develop. Options of moving elsewhere have been looked at but the figures donít stack up. We have got a meeting next week which is the final consultation and in principal what we have proposed has been accepted. With regard to what we are doing with the Stadium we are not moving but developing and the capacity could be anything from 10,000 upwards depending upon the issues to do with traffic, the environment etc.
We have an overall objective with the development of the site as well as the Stadium and that is to generate enough money to pay for the Stadium Development, to have some money in the bank to develop the squad and to have money from either the rents or leases to run at least a League One club or Championship Club. Itís absolutely vital that the covenant holders play ball with us and that is the reason why we havenít released information. Next week the plans that have drawn up will be rubberstamped by a more technical committee, there are also discussions regarding the leasehold piece of land. John couldnít yet release more details because of confidentiality but stated we are working with a big company and it is vital that they are not exposed because they want to put agreements into place and signed before it is released to the public and that is to do with pitches etc. If we get the approval next week the next step will be for certain individuals to come in and speak to John in order to deal with the other matters that could get in theway. We have a plan that we can do in phases and we are concentrating on the away end to bring it up to 12,000 in order to sustain Championship football and if we give ourselves a target of 2012 we wonít be far off.
Qu: If a supporter or group of supporters want to make another attempt at boosting the atmosphere at Huish Park, what steps do they have to make to ensure they keep within the club's regulations and what consultation with the club is needed? I.e. if there were concerted, determined efforts to host a Flag Day or other theme ideas what would the club want from us...if anything? Hopefully we can just get on with it without the confrontations with stewards etc. last season when the club had been consulted beforehand.
If any supporters want to hold a flag day or another themed event, just speak to Sara and she will liaise with the appropriate people to see if it is possible.
Qu: Also - what can the club do to improve the atmosphere? Better pre-match, half-time entertainment, improved steward training etc. I know efforts were made last season but for example, the play list is frankly vulgar.
We have discussed this in depth at the Executive Committee meetings and because we are more involved with the local Community Adrian will be speaking to schools in order to organise some half time entertainment. We will also be looking into getting some singers etc to improve the atmosphere at half time. In regards to the play list or the theme that the team run out to if you have any suggestions then let us know and we will pass them on to the powers that be.
Qu: One small thing I remember from when I was on 'the committee' was that they were going to run a trial scheme where if you had 2 (or maybe 3) people in a car arriving at HP on match day you would park for free.
The trial was going to be at the PSF's. As expected no more has been heard about this...
James stated that that the Executive Committee had discussed this and while it was acknowledged that we would like to do something we have to be careful as since that time we have released the ticket prices so we have to trade something off against the budget. Itís another one of those balancing acts where we have had lots of discussions and we need to keep these revenues there especially when you consider that we have frozen the ticket prices. John added that the amount taken from the car parks each season is £30,000. However if supporters have any other Ideas the club could look at they would be more than welcomed.
Qu: Did the club only get around 300K from playoff final?
The expenses of the match were £660,000. 50% of the profit went to the Football League with 25% going to both Yeovil and Blackpool. Martyn stated that Wembley charged the Football League 28% of the revenue.
The strategy seemingly being put in place only quite recently was to source young players as a policy to provide good players to bring on fans of the future, presumably also potentially possibly to attain transfer fees from to assist the club to grow.
Qu: Now it seems that that policy has been changed suddenly - our need for a small squad implies that even inexperienced signings are now needed to be 'first-team ready'. Not wishing to be intrusive over the board's long-term plans, but that appears a significant turnabout.
Would it be fair to ask that the stadium development, which we understand is planned to generate income, might be a reason why resources may be being channelled away from the manager's purse? Or another reason that a 'hole' in our pocket now appears?
I understand that it may not be as I am speculating, and would welcome the board's general comments.
This Club has to do things slowly as we are a small club and we have to be cautious. There is a Centre of Excellence which is underway however it is drastically short of resources. We have people in place and we are considering further people. The Centre of Excellence is expected to produce elite players in Somerset. It has had a good year and the second year is now up and running.
Qu: Who owns the club and what has happened to the large amount of money generated by the sale of key players and the Wembley appearance at the end of last season. A huge amount of revenue was generated and it seems to have disappeared?
Supporter Representative Dave Lilly felt that it was none of the Supporters business as to who owned the Club. It was stated that the money generated from the Wembley appearance and the sale of key players went back into the playing budget.
Firstly, Dave Lilly does not speak for the majority of supporters that I know, it IS the supporters business who owns the club.
In the interest of openness and honesty and respect to the supporters how is that only 1 year after ' the Wembley appearance and the sale of key players' the 'playing budget' has been drastically reduced. It doesn't add up, was the 'money generated' actually used in the restructuring of the club in December and have any subsequent owner(s) or representatives of owner(s) received any payments (e.g. loan repayments or dividends)?
John Fry informed the group that if we hadnít had gone to Wembley we would have had a half a million loss in the accounts. That money made up for the loss on money spent on loan players etc and the running of the business. Some people are horrified to learn that we took it to the wire but we always do as we hope for a good cup run and some luck.
The club is owned by Huish Park Stadium Partnership Ltd, itís a totally transparent company and 51% of shares are held by John Fry and 49% by Norman Haywood. Norman is a real football person and he is extremely supportive of the club.
John stated that no dividends have been paid by the Club. His average salary since he joined the Club is only £13,000 and he has never claimed any expenses. People put up personal money whether itís for players, youth players or the stadium development. There has been no payoff with the money we have generated and all of our accounts are above board. Itís a shareholders company and we issue accounts, the shareholders list is available from Companies House and it answers the question. The partnership was set up to form a restructuring in order to move money in from the point of view of planning as the money will come from a personal source and not the football club.
Qu: Who is in charge of running the club day to day now is it still John Fry or has this side of the club all been transferred to Martyn Starnes?
Martyn Starnes and the Executive Office. Anyone writing letters to the Club should put it for the attention of the Executive Office
Qu: Do the club have any plans to relocate the Next Fixture trailer that's currently in the Multi Storey Car Park? Whilst it's recognised that the club have done well to purchase and to use said trailer, its location only gives a limited audience. The car park shuts in the evenings so it cannot be viewed, and only people using the car park are able to view it which means no visibility to 'passing' traffic.
James stated that he felt that the trailer was a good thing and that the club needed to look after it. The Quedam had kindly allowed us to use the car park and we go down there during each match and put the next match up so itís up to date. If there is another location we can look at thatís fine but there are no plans at the moment simply because itís a good position as itís locked at night so it canít be stolen. We have parked the trailer in a couple of fields in the past but we had complaints from the council. We have tried other places put the Quedam is a really good place as they donít charge us to park it there. However If any supporter has got an idea as to where we can put it please get in touch with James Hillier and he will look into it
5) Leeds Match Ė (25/04/08 and 23/08/08)
The Leeds match back in April was a huge learning curve for the Club and there are lots of things to take forward into the next match coming up. We have written to the police with our proposal and we are waiting for them to get back to us and agree it so we can start selling the tickets. There are procedures that will be put in place to identify the Leeds supporters which are expected to reduce the probability of encroachment into the home areas.
There was a shortcoming in the communications between the Police and our Stewards which has now been overcome so there will be police assistance at those filter cordons that will prevent Leeds supporters coming through. A lot has been done to improve what was in place last season. We will also be looking at the matches against Hereford and Leicester so hopefully we will get the ok from the police and then we can sell the tickets. We are also looking at providing Leeds with another area of the ground where we havenít sold season tickets in order to increase the allocation to them but until the police get back to us and rubberstamp our proposals we donít know at the present time what is likely to be agreed.
60th Anniversary (Sunderland)
The Club approached Sunderland back in January and Martyn Starnes wrote to Niall Quinn pointing out the historic value of the match and asked him for a pre season friendly. The Club received a letter back from his PA to say that this would be looked at. We then sent another letter to follow it up in May and we have had no response. Dave Lilly asked if the Club wanted him to speak to him as he would be seeing him at an event soon. Martyn Starnes said that he would appreciate it if this could be done.
Martin McConachie asked if it would be possible to look at a veteran team rather than the first team. Martyn Starnes stated that this could be possible and that the club would not leave it there and would look at what we could do to mark the occasion.
Dave Lilly stated that the Club still had issues with PR and recommended that the Club do the following to gain some further interest from the press.
ē Day in the life of a Player
ē Player or Manager Blog in the Western Gazette
ē Pre season Staff vs. Press game
Martyn stated that he had held discussions with the press when they came along to Darren Wayís Press Conference. The TV situation was not very encouraging because there will be no West Country soccer programme next season. He stated that thereís a new person in charge at ITV who has already suggested that they will only be featuring Bristol City and Plymouth next season. A representative from ITV did say that although they donít editorially exclude us we are at a disadvantage geographically because they are based in Bristol and if they want to fill an article its easier to go down the road and film at one of the Bristol Clubs. To come to us itís a two and a half hour round trip. We therefore have to fight for coverage. The Western Gazette have indicated to the club that they will be giving us an extra two pages so there will be more communication coming from the club in forms of articles and promotional information
James stated that the Club were holding a cleaning day within the Stadium on Sunday 3rd of August. Any supporter interested in coming along to help needs to get in contact with either James Hillier or Sara Bradley. Lunch and Refreshments will be provided
Manchester United Legends Evening
The Evening will be taking place at in the Alex Stock Lounge at Huish Park on Thursday 16th. October with a 7.30 start.
A three course meal of Soup, Roast Beef and Apple Crumble will be included in the price and the bar will be open.
Tickets are priced at £45 per ticket and available from Huish Park Ticket Office
Sara stated that she had produced a nomination and voting procedure for the ABUFP next season, but due to the fact that people had to leave the meeting she would e-mail them to all representatives in order to gain some feedback from them.
Meeting closed: 20.35p.m.
Next Meeting: TBC
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