Customer Charter Meeting Minutes
22nd March 2006, 17.30p.m.
John Fry - Chairman/Chief Executive -YTFC
Adrian Hopper - Press Officer
Sara Bradley - YTFC (Minutes)
Rod Hallett - Vice Presidents
Rich Rendell - GWSC
Ali King - GWSC
Fiona Grant - GWSC
Mark Kelly - Ex YTISA
Roger Brimble - Ex YTISA
Colin Turner - Ex YTISA
Hazel Ford - DSA
Sharon Swaine - DSA
Darren Taylor - (The Green Room)
Martyn Lucas - (The Green Room)
Darren Mallinson (YTFC Forum)
Apologies: Martin Baker - Ciderspace
Approval of minutes 28/02/06
The minutes from the last Customer Charter Meeting were handed out to all present, approved as a true and accurate record and signed by John Fry.
John started the meeting by apologising for the late notice given at the last meeting. He said that unfortunately these emergency meetings
needed to take place when decisions had to be made that directly affected the supporters and he needed the supporters input.
Ticket Prices 2006/07 Season
Adrian issued the following Season Ticket and Match Ticket prices for the 2006/07 season that had been proposed by officials at the Club.
(As per attached sheet) As shown match tickets would see an increase of an extra £2.00 per ticket if we remain in League 1 and £1.00 per ticket
if we are in League 2. The Club also proposed that existing Season ticket holders would receive a 5% discount if they renewed by the 31st of May 2006. John reiterated that these were just proposals set by the Club and that they would need to be approved by the Board, but he felt the need to discuss these ideas with the supporters and would appreciate any suggestions that they had to bring more revenue into the Club. Tony Ellborn suggested that YTFC should maybe implement an instalment plan for supporters who may not be able to pay the full amount for a Season Ticket in one go; John thanked him for his input and stated he would discuss this matter with his staff and the board. The Card Net scheme was also discussed but John felt that this wasn't the way to go due to problems other Clubs had had with the scheme. "The Card Net scheme" He said "Have caused a lot of problems , Clubs that have implemented the scheme have ended up with cash flow problems because the banks hold the money in the account until the end of the season".
Another idea that was raised would be to charge for certain sections of the ground like they do at AFC Bournemouth or even categorise games where sell out games ticket prices could be increased by £2.00 a ticket and non sell out matches where the Kid for Quid scheme could be implemented.
It was decided that all representatives present would discuss the above schemes or new ideas with their members and relay any suggestions back to the Club by e-mailing either Adrian or Sara by Friday the 24th of March. These ideas would then be discussed by John and the Board at the board meeting taking place on Monday.
Action: Representatives to e-mail the Club with suggestions regarding ticket prices/schemes by the 24th of March.
Action: John Fry to discuss Supporters views with the Board of Directors
Membership Scheme and Loyalty Card
Adrian stated that the Membership Scheme and Loyalty Card had been discussed at previous Customer Charter Meetings but had never gone any further. "As you know" he said "when it comes to the big matches like for instance the Liverpool game, Season Ticket holders get priority over tickets and after that we use the token scheme. What we want to do is reward the supporters who spend the money and come here on a regular basis with a bonus scheme". John Fry then went onto say that this scheme is not to put the supporters groups out of business but to integrate and expand the supporter's network. "We have to start thinking that the world is round and not flat and that we can travel anywhere to get customers and that is what we are trying to achieve by having a controlled database and to be able to reward people". Adrian then went onto say that one of the advantages of being a member of the scheme is availability of tickets; secondly from the Clubs point of view they will gain a fool proof database which in this day and age is very important as they will be able to access a lot of information about their customers. Part of the scheme would involve implementing a Loyalty card and Adrian has been talking to a company that provides them. Adrian said "This Company have arrangements with ASDA and Tesco, so for example if people apply for a card and they spend £100.00 in ASDA doing their weekly shopping, with companies like these on board it means a quick and easy way to gain points which you can then put towards buying Shirts, Tickets etc. We are working on this scheme and we would appreciate any comments or thoughts so we can take that on board before we come up with a firm proposal".
Darren Taylor asked if members of the scheme would have priority on tickets before Season Ticket Holders, Adrian stated that Season Ticket Holders would still get priority with members being next in line. Darren Taylor also mentioned that he felt it would benefit a lot of exiles that may not necessarily be able to attend all home games but attend the majority or all of the away games.
John suggested that maybe the supporters groups could form a working party to discuss these ideas and let the Club know how they feel it would affect their respective supporters group and what would be the best idea for the Club, as every membership needs to be tailored for the Club in question. He said" Our customers are very loyal to us and we are trying to help them with priorities and benefits and tell them more about us. We need to promote ourselves more as we are now a professional Club and its one area that we need to look at. It's a bigger picture than just football matches it's to do with the community and people getting benefits from Yeovil Town Football Club".
Adrian said that he would appreciate if all present could report back to their members and discuss the points raised and gather any feed back regarding the proposal.
Action: Supporters groups to discuss the Membership Scheme/ Loyalty Card with their members and report back at the next Customer Charter Meeting
Covenants on Site
John then went onto discuss the covenants on the site and to inform the supporters regarding the progress that had been made.
"There has been a lot of discussion regarding the covenants on this site, there was a meeting on
Monday night to do with "Yeovil Vision" which Yeovil Town Football Club is part of. There are plans for a Sports Village in Yeovil
and the Council and the Local Business Committee would like us to be a partner in that and also be a flagship business and building
in the Town. The Stadium is 15 years old and we have to develop the Stadium to suit our customer base, but the customer base here is
totally different to the customer base in say Walsall, and therefore the development of the Stadium is absolutely critical for us to get
the best use out of it and for it to be cost effective. A lot of ideas we have already had, and that we have gone ahead with, have already
become a white elephant.
Part of the difficulty is the covenant that was put on this site; there were a lot of restrictions which I am trying to negotiate with the parties involved to enable us to get the best out of the situation. We are making progress but it's slow and there are things to discuss that are a legal and best discussed behind closed doors, but we are hoping to lift the restrictions on selling alcohol on site but there are huge restrictions outside the perimeter of the stadium. Like the marquee for instance we are in a situation where it is in contravention of the covenants on this site. These matters have been dealt with, the people that own these covenants and originally owned the land including the council and we are putting further plans forward like the plans for the Development of the bar in the corner that have all been approved.
For those of you that were at the meeting with David Webb, David put forward an idea to move that concept to the main side of the building because it would be cheaper, simpler and more realistic from a marketing point of view. The problem is that we haven't built the other end of the stand so we need to move into a stage where we have a building that is not in contravention of the restrictions on site. The bigger issue is to do with buildings on the land its self and to be perfectly honest I am not too worried about these, these are just plans at the moment and that is why I am working with investors. All investors need security as it is not peanut money they are dealing with but big sums of money and where we were using the skills of Mr Webb not only from the football aspect but also his development skills, we need to sustain our progression from a League 1 Club to eventually a Championship Club. With this in mind we will need to increase the capacity of the Stadium to develop more income streams.
The last thing I want at the moment is a hostile approach to it because it can only be dealt with in a business like way. But I want you to understand that the planning issues we have is not necessarily about money its about being restricted to do what we want to do and until we get passed that particular point there is no progress. I am quite confident that we could achieve our objective of doing what we want but it is a tricky negotiating situation. There is no economic sense in locating this site elsewhere the money is not in on this site and never will be, we have a good Stadium, a Stadium that can be adapted and we have the plans that will support the Stadium".
Colin Turner then asked what the time scale would be on the Supporters bar as the Supporters had been waiting for 4 years for this to be put in place.
John answered Colin's question "The time scale if you like is that that Marquee has to come down in February 2007, so to have a bar we need to start progressing now, I have got all the licences, planning applications and the Football Foundation money to combine buildings if need be, but we have got to start the base line for the funding. If you look at the covenant it states that you are not allowed to have any bar on these premises of more that 1200 sq feet that's all we are allowed and it's a case of negotiating and saying that we would like a bar as big as we want and we would like it with no restrictions on it and we are working hard to achieve the time scale on it "
Colin Turner then asked if the Supporters Bar is not in place by 2007 where would the supporters who enjoyed a drink in the Marquee
before the game go.
John stated that, that is something that he would like to think about and get back to at the next meeting because he will have to discuss it with the Board
Ali King went onto say that when he looked at David Webb's plans for the Supporters Bar he had used concourses for the bar.
John Fry stated that that was a good point and that's what they were looking at at the moment, the bigger picture for the Stadium supersedes the previous proposal and the concourses are a simpler option and can be classified as food bars.
Internet Forums/ GWSC "Ask the Chairman"
Adrian started by saying that the issue regarding Internet Forums was discussed at great length at the last meeting but unfortunately the moderators were unable to attend. Both moderators from the Green Room and the YTFC Forum were in attendance tonight so it was felt that this matter could be discussed further.
John went onto say that he has nothing against freedom of speech because when it gets to that stage it comes under the category of dictatorship. John Said "I don't want a row and I would like to think that everyone involved at the Club and supporters of the Club are all on the same side. It's a case of living and dieing together and if we don't we end up having a divided Club. It is easy to divide the Club when you need support which is what we have got at this Football Club, but you still get a small minority of people who like to stir things up and it all stems from issues.
This particular issue was to do with David Webb's appointment and the ownership the Club, people may refer to me as a little dictator, but sometimes you have to be that way and take responsibility. It's the same with the management of a football team, you can't have joint management because people have to take responsibility, it also applies to people who put money into the club, they take a responsibility for it and believe you me there is some big money in Football Clubs that you don't see and there's no security for it at all. Talk is easy and cheap and when you put it into context what we have achieved at this Club and the amount of work that has gone into that achievement it's unbelievable, we don't want public recognition for it but we do want the loyalty and the support from our supporters.
You will always get the minority that have got ideas and want to create a revolution and play the politics game, but when you work for a Football Club especially if you are in the playing side or work along side the team the skill is keeping the team spirit, the loyalty and the belief that they can walk through brick walls. It doesn't matter about the quality of your staff, your manager or your players, they will achieve beyond the call of duty and achieve things a normal person wouldn't achieve, they are motivated and switched on by success by being involved at a winning Club. At some stage you always get the team you build to be winners, whether it is off the field or on the field and nothing upsets me more, when supporters are let down and you see the quality of the work you want is not up to scratch.
The success at the Club brought David Webb here and he couldn't believe the changes that had taken place when he stepped down 5 years ago, we have achieved unbelievable things at this Football Club and it is easy to tip the boat and start rattling the cage when people become impatient. The last few months have been very testing times for certain people and I have stated my point of view already.
I have always been a great believer of transparency in everything that I have done with this Football Club, I have had my differences with supporters in the past but we have all grown up with this Football Club. As a person my door is always open and that's the way I prefer to do it, meeting people face to face and looking them in the eye so they can judge me and hear what I have to say rather than getting a lack of information that gets put on internet forums or in newspapers sometimes without even being given the proper right to reply.
First of all I am not faceless and I feel that operating behind so called names is, I prefer to speak to supporters over the table , I don't find these comments helpful or constructive and when you get to a situation where comments are put up on the forums that are no longer constructive there becomes an issue. If you have an opinion or issue that you would like to discuss, come down and see me or write to me and I will give you the answers. If you want to continue to write with fictitious names, what I say to you is if you can't be transparent then why should I be?
I don't like to talk about things in private; I like to deal with things in public so I personally cannot understand where you are coming from its both childish and negative"
Adrian went onto ask both moderators of the forums what they thought about the situation.
Darren Taylor (moderator of the Green Room) started by saying
When we started up the Green Room just after Christmas, the Club contacted us and asked us to help and support the club and keep on friendly terms which both me and Martyn felt we did. Any comments on the forum that we felt were libellous were taken of the forum straight away and we felt that everything was ok. It wasn't until I picked up a certain paper and saw the back page headline with John stating that he was unhappy with the forums and wanted to close them down did I know that we had any issues as their had been no communication between the Club and myself.
John asked Darren what they wanted to achieve with these Forums as he feels that instead of spending time working on these forums they could come and help out at the club. He went onto say "When people start printing my personal letters that are private and confidential onto the internet that's when I draw a line especially when these internet sites do not account to me. I want to make comments to supporters that are constructive but you are looking for stories that are completely the opposite because that's the way it is presented on the internet. If you want to come to me with a constructive idea, I will speak to you as I want to be friendly. We need help at the Club we need Stewards, people to cut the grass etc so instead of posting these comments why be constructive and come up and help".
Both Darren Taylor and Darren Mallinson pointed out that they were just hosting the views of supporters and not personally giving their opinions. They also stated that unfortunately they are unable to control what people call themselves on the sites and have asked for people to use their real names.
Adrian also pointed out that the GWSC have put forward an idea called "Ask the Chairman/Club"
which they will host on their website.
Ali King from the G&WSC continued "The idea is for supporters to email questions to the G&WSC website and for the e-mails to be passed onto the relevant person at the Club to answer"
John welcomed the idea and stated that he felt that the lack of communication from this side of the fence was where the Club fell down and that this would to some extent help the situation regarding the forums
John started by expressing his view on Supporters Trusts he said
"The Club is run very efficiently and effectively and I believe in free enterprise, free business,
making things work, progressing and making people do the job that they are paid to do to gain success. The Supporters Trust idea is another Government scheme where they feel it will improve football, but in my opinion it has done the opposite. Bournemouth were the first Club to introduce the Supporters Trust and look where they are now, they have sold off every single item including the Stadium, we even had to take down a the cheque for the tickets we sold so they could balance the books . This is the second time that they have nearly gone into administration; this Club is not in that situation as we are financially healthy.
If you introduce the Supporters Trust then no investor would invest in the Club and you land up having all sorts of problems. I am a great believer in involving the supporters but I believe if a Club is successful what is the difficulty or the problem"
Colin Turner stated that only a small percentage of Supporters Groups fail and there are 98 Supporters Trusts in the UK which include the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea and they are not failing.
John stated that when he sees the need for a Supporters Trust he will let people know but in his opinion they are not the way to go, at the moment he feels that he has great support from all the Supporters Groups. He said "The membership Scheme we have proposed is more or less what I am looking for, for this Club"
People are very envious of how we run the Club and that is something to be proud of.
Glovers Magazine Sales Team
It was mentioned that the Club needed a reliable, consistent sales team to sell the Glovers magazine at the Ground on match days. Adrian asked if it was possible for the representatives present to advertise this on their respective websites. The Club are not looking for people to do it for nothing and would appreciate it if anyone is interested that they contact him at the Club.