Meeting Report - May 2013
6 - 8pm
Tony Bott, Kathy Keig, Brian Scorgie, Martin Malone, Paul Gabbutt, Alan Rawlinson, Andrew Collier, Ruth Eardley,Phil O'Rourke, Dorothy Carlin, James Lyon, Robert Elstone, Mark Rowan, Dave Biggar, Jim Fantozzi, Christine Prior.
Club review of Club crest reaction
RE tells the Forum the Club stand by the decision to change the Crest as they feel this is the correct decision in moving the Club forward. RE outlined that although the Club has now accepted that the consultation process was too limited, the feedback received - both from outside groups and internally - did not enable them to measure the level of negativity that surrounded the launch of the change. RE believes that the new Crest achieves the aims of the redesign and there was a genuine belief that supporters would also like it. The Club feel the launch process was compromised due to both the leak on social media and its timing to align with the US pre-season tournament. The Forum members believed that the Club's decision not to launch the Crest for more than two weeks after the leak allowed those who felt negatively about it to build up a following amongst the fan base.
RE explained to the Forum the reasons why the Club decided to issue an apology to Supporters' on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. He accepted that the majority of supporters felt negatively towards the new design and that the Club could not ignore this strong opinion that mainly grew on social media platforms over the Bank Holiday weekend. Club officials monitored reaction and assessed the options surrounding the Crest, It was decided the Club needed to engage with more sections of the fan base to refine the crest the Club will adopt in the future. RE informed the group it was not viable to make the change for the 2013/14 season for commercial and practical reasons. Forum members expressed the view that they had all believed the consultation process had been far wider.
RE spoke in-depth to the Forum about discussions that took places with the Chairman and the statement that followed. The Club was keen to issue an apology for any upset caused, outline what the Club had set out to achieve and how the Club intend to ‘fix' the issue.
Some Forum members raised concerns that they had perceived parts of the statement portrayed them in a negative light. RE reassured them that this was not the intention. He stated that there was an unfair amount of pressure to place on the Forum, insisting that we asked for assistance on a Club project and then asked for the Forum to keep the matter confidential unlike other projects in the past. RE went on to say that the scale of the reaction will result in more extensive fan consultation. RE reiterated the fact the Forum is a group of representative fans who act as a sounding board for ideas and changes as to how we do things and this will remain the case going forward as it is hugely important to the Club's decision making processes.
The forum members have a role to challenge the club on issues that affect fans or on major change on the issues within the forum remit. The club representatives agreed and stated that fan opinion would always be a major factor in any decision.
The forum members requested that the club issue a statement to clearly inform supporters of the very limited input that the F/F chairman and the group had actually had into the crest design process. The chair and other members had suffered personal abuse via social media because of fan perception that their personal involvement had been much greater than it actually was. The club explained their view that another statement would not achieve the required aims and could again cause reaction in some areas. Club representatives did however agree that steps needed to be taken to restore damaged relationships between both the forum members and the club and the forum and the fans they are meant to represent.
Fans' Forum appraisal
Ahead of the Forum offering their own appraisal of the previous few days, the Club made it clear that this was a project instigated by the Club and not the Forum. The Forum and its members were asked for input and to participate with their views on designs presented to them. The group then discussed in some detail the consultation process and the presentation of the crest that was made to the Forum in the October meeting. The forum was unanimous in insisting that they didn't appreciate at the time of the presentation that their feedback would be implemented into the process. The members view was that they were presented with an almost complete version of the Crest. Officials from the Club stated clearly to the Forum that if in the presentation members would have objected strongly to aspects of the badge they would have made significant changes to the design. They are respected within the Club as a group of diverse supporters who the Club can call upon for advice on fan matters and constructive feedback that can then be used to benefit the day to day running of Everton.
The group talked about the new crest and their current feelings following on from first being presented with it in October 2012 and seeing it on merchandise in March 2013. The majority of the Forum consider the design of the Crest has become more likeable over time and the rationale given to them played a major part in their acceptance to the initial change. Some members felt the new crest may have been withdrawn too soon by the Club. RE asked the Forum members for feedback on where they would display the crest next season. Forum members agreed that having two crests in operation around the stadium would send out a mixed message to supporters. Six members voted for the new crest, three members voted for the old crest and two members voted for a montage of players such as Legends, Giants, First Team, etc.
The majority of the Forum members felt that issues surrounding the new crest had negatively affected the credibility of the Forum which has built up a close relationship with Club officials that has helped benefit the fan base over a number of years, including input into season ticket pricing and the Under 11's ticket category.
The Forum expressed a desire to become a more independent body, which received no objection from Club officials. The Forum will meet separately to discuss a strategy moving forward with any support needed from the Club. This will include managing a number of key fan-related projects alongside promoting the work of the Forum across external and, where applicable, Club channels.
JF will present the group with options of the moving of the Dixie Dean statue and the personalised ‘brick' scheme at the next meeting in June. It was restated to the Forum that all feedback will be duly noted and the process is open to debate with members playing a key part in the final outcome.
RE updated the group on a number of things that will be taking place in the Club over the close season. Budget will be spent on Stadium improvements including a Desso pitch, toilet facilities in the Lower Bullens stand, a new media facilities suite, and a new CCTV system.