Meeting Report - April 2015

by Matthew Gamble @Everton

 

Meeting:

Fans’ Forum

Date:

Wednesday 6 May, 2015

6-8pm

Present:

Forum members – Nick Mernock (NM) Robert Eagleton (RE), Martin Malone (MM), Dorothy Carlin (DC), Ruth Eardley (REA), Steve Jones (SJ), Mike Rice (MR),  Kevin Smith (KS),Bill Carr (BC),Peter Dodd (PD),Gary Evans (GE), Lisa Vaughan (LV)

Club representatives – Richard Kenyon (RK) Christopher Clarke (CC) Jonny Cowan (JC) Paul Eddy (PE) Brian Doogan (BD) Mo Maghazachi (MM) Chris Clarke, EitC (CCL)

Kitbag – Mike Needham (MN)

Apologies:

Andrew Collier, Christine Prior, Paul Eddy, Jason Howard

Actions from previous meeting

ACTION: CP to circulate new meeting dates and add to the Fans’ Forum web page.

 

RESPONSE: Meeting dates were distributed via email and print-outs are available.

ACTION: RK to feedback how the Club rewards stewards for continued positive Fans’ Survey results.

RESPONSE: An end of season staff event is being organised which the stewards will be a part of.

ACTION: CP to invite representatives from Sodexo to the next meeting.

RESPONSE: Sodexo will attend the meeting in May.

ACTION: RK to find out why Crabbies Original is no longer available from kiosks.

RESPONSE: The product was not selling well so it was replaced with a raspberry-flavored alternative, which was the best seller at the 2014 Grand National. If supporters want the product in a particularly kiosk, a small amount of stock can be ordered if Sodexo are notified in advance.

ACTION: CP to meet with Club representatives to review this process and update MR.

RESPONSE: CP is in the process of setting up a meeting with the relevant areas of the Club and will invite MR once dates have been finalised.

ACTION: CP to update Forum members on communication plan for fan events at next meeting.

RESPONSE: The Club is planning to ask supporters to update their details with full list of FAQs over the summer. This will improve the communication of fan events and will ensure that those supporters who have raised issues through the Fans’ Forum about not receiving notification of events do so in the future.

ACTION: JC & CP to set up meeting with Partnerships department to discuss future involvement in Blues on Tour events.

RESPONSE: Meeting has taken place and proposal is currently being drafted, with discussions underway with Club partners. The Blues on Tour events have received positive feedback from supporters and the intention is to build on this and the feedback received for next season.

1

Kitbag

Kitbag representative Mike Needham (MN) attended the meeting to answer questions from the Fans’ Forum.

A new Click & Collect service has been introduced offering more convenient locations for fans ordering online.  The service allows fans to collect their parcels from any Hermes Click and Collect partner sites throughout the UK, whilst ensuring there is still the option to collect from Everton One and Everton Two. MN explained that use of the system is really simple as purchasers input their postcode and a series of local collection points are displayed. Once selected, the item(s) will be available to collect within 2-3 days. MN pointed out that there are around 5,000 partner collection points located throughout the country, offering significantly improved distribution options for supporters in the UK.

A new range of products will be available shortly, including an updated fashion range for the summer. 

Members of the Forum asked when the 2015/16 kit will be available. MN explained that Kitbag have been working to timescales that will ensure the kit is available at an earlier date than it has been in previous years.  All three kits will be available within a reasonable timescale. 

RK confirmed that an announcement is imminent on the dates of when the new home kit will be revealed and on-sale.

Kitbag following feedback from previous forum meetings, have reviewed and increased the amount of stock required for the kit launch period based on comments received as well as improving the delivery and distribution methods (Click and Collect). 

Members asked whether Kitbag had considered an international presence including shops or units in other countries. MN confirmed Kitbag are open to considering any opportunities both in the UK and overseas. With the growth of online sales and the ease that foreign fans have in purchasing online, it becomes an issue of balancing the costs of a physical store presence against any possible returns.  An example given was the USA - instead of taking out a store presence in major US cities and the costs associated, Kitbag has been working alongside US supporters’ groups to ensure they have direct access to merchandise and can disseminate information to current and potential fans.  Kitbag are also looking at a number of continental distribution hubs that would mean no import duty for foreign fans, saving them up to 20 per cent on certain items.

Currently the most successful markets for online sales are UK, USA, Australia and Ireland.  Overseas fans have easy access to merchandise online and Kitbag have recently changed the courier service for international sales which has helped streamline delivery times.    

The Forum members reiterated that based on the issues that arose last season and feedback from supporters they are expecting several positive changes and a continued improvement in timing and stock moving forward. The Forum is conscious that supporters see other clubs releasing their kit before the summer and expect this to be the target for our Club.

2

Guarantee Your Seat stickers

REA and LV explained the disgruntlement felt by fans at having Guarantee Your Seat stickers on their seats prior to the Manchester United fixture. 

RK explained that the Club received a high number of queries regarding Season Ticket deadlines, and there seemed to be misunderstandings on the new dates and new process, from supporter groups and via Club channels. The stickers were solely aimed at reminding fans that the Guarantee Your Seat deadline was approaching.  The change in deadlines with Guarantee Your Seat now coming before the Early Bird meant there was a requirement for more direct messaging to Season Ticket holders in a bid to prevent long-standing Season Ticket holders, who traditionally renewed in the week or two leading up to the Early Bird deadline, from losing their seat due to misunderstanding the information.

A couple of members explained they were aware of people who traditionally renewed on the eve of the Early Bird Deadline and admitted were not aware of the implications of not renewing by the Guarantee Your Seat Deadline.

JC explained that the deadlines were changed to offer a clearer opportunity for supporters to guarantee their seat and to take advantage of being able to transfer to better seats. The Guarantee Your Seat deadline was brought forward to facilitate extending the Early Bird so more fans could benefit from the lower prices for a longer period.  Any of the 1,000 or so fans wishing to change seats would now be able to that during the extended Early Bird window.

The group also raised issues around some negative comments that have been received in relation to those supporters who for certain circumstances could not afford to renew for this coming season.

RK also confirmed that Season Ticket sales are currently (and were at the time of the Manchester United fixture) ahead of last season’s total on a like-for-like basis.

NM thanked the Club for answering the questions and explaining the process as this has raised comment from a number of supporters. It was noted that all areas raised would be taken on board before repeating this exercise in the future.

 

3

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – EITC

CCL explained his role working within the Club’s charity, Everton in The Community, and how he heads up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion working group at the Club. 

The Club has undertaken a lot of work as part of the Kick It Out Charter and CCL wishes to gauge fan opinion on what is being carried out in the local area.

Fans suggested that more work could be done to educate supporters about equality using Club channels.

NM highlighted how racism is still a concern to fans, whilst GE commended the Club for the work it does in this field specifically the opportunities that fans have to report issues at Goodison Park. Members questioned whether the wider fanbase is fully aware of the process of reporting any equality issues either by text, email or in person to a steward.  CCL confirmed stewards are fully trained to deal with such matters and messages appear on the big screen reminding fans of the process.  REA stated that away stewards are beneficial to travelling fans and suggested they could be promoted further. 

Members suggested that Equality, Diversity & Inclusion could be highlighted with additional activity on matchdays next season.

ACTION: JC to feedback to memorable matchday team and develop this idea with the Fans’ Forum working group

NM thanked CCL for his presentation and clear engagement in this subject and requested for the group to be kept informed on any outcomes and progress.

 

4

New Stadium Update  

RK explained there has been progress made, working with partners to shape an initial vision. This stage of the process is vital and therefore takes time as the Club and partners work to get things right. The Club will be providing an update on the matters relating to the stadium soon.

5

The People’s Club Lounge  

Following discussions with fellow supporters, PD raised whether the Club has considered renaming the Peoples’ Club lounge.

The lounge names will be reviewed at the time of lounge refurbishment. When the Peoples’ Club is refurbished this topic will be discussed further. 

ACTION: Forum members to garner feedback from fellow fans on ‘The People’s Club’ phrase and provide feedback at next meeting

6

Everton Merchandise at Liverpool John Lennon Airport

With Kitbag present at the meeting, REA and SJ explained that many supporters ask whether the Club, alongside Kitbag, has considered a presence at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

MN informed the group that Kitbag is exploring opportunities at the airport. Kitbag are currently working alongside Liverpool City Council to ensure Everton merchandise is available at their tourist offices/outlets in and around the city and this could include an airport presence. 

RK informed the group that the Club had been in discussions with Liverpool John Lennon Airport last year to identify marketing and partnership initiatives and will pick this up again in the summer.

RK also informed the group that both Aer Lingus and British Airways are carrying short Everton films and messaging on their in-flight entertainment for transatlantic flights, to promote the Club to an international market.

SJ commended the Club for implementing a marketing campaign at the Grand National festival, with prominent marketing and advertising of the Chosen campaign.

NM thanked MN for answering the Fans’ Forum questions.

ACTION: RK/JC to update Forum on future conversations with Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

7

Stub Hub – Price Capping

NM suggested that this item is revisited at the end of the season due to the pressure on tonight’s agenda.

8

Atmosphere at Goodison Park

JC explained that the Club is working alongside various fan groups to investigate how other sporting teams address the issue of atmosphere at their stadia. In addition, the Fans’ Panel will be asked a series of questions around atmosphere at home matches, and a research project is being undertaken on atmosphere at football matches.

ACTION: JC to feedback outcomes from the research once completed.

9

Online ticket vouchers

REA has received questions from supporters regarding whether vouchers received as part of the Season Ticket purchase can be used online - as at the moment these vouchers can only be used in Everton One and Everton Two.

GE suggests that any vouchers distributed could be attributed to a customer number and it could be spent online that way. 

ACTION: RK will investigate and will report back to the Fans’ Forum.  

10

Memorials around Goodison Park

RK explained that a fan has requested a statue for Harry Catterick. Members agreed a tribute would be a fitting gesture and will discuss this at a future meeting.

NM stated that another statue near to Goodison would be welcomed as it provides a focal/meeting point for fans. It was pointed out that anything related to tributes/memorials needs to be transferable to any future new stadium.

ACTION: NM will respond to the supporter who requested a statue and keep them updated on how the idea progresses within the appropriate project group.

NM suggested that this was an issue that should be opened up to the wider Fans’ Panel to gage supporters’ views.

ACTION: Members of the Fans’ Forum to seek opinion from their supporter networks and bring feedback to next meeting.

11

West Ham United ticket prices

REA on behalf of the Fans’ Forum thanked the Club and players for helping to reduce ticket prices for the away fixture at West Ham United. 

The excessive ticket pricing was raised by forum members it was explained that West Ham have traditionally labelled the last home game of the season as a category A fixture and therefore ticket prices are charged accordingly. 

12

Project Update Group

NM updates on the various project groups:

Away Fan Initiative – Group assessed the away section facilities at Goodison Park and discussed their findings with other members. Toilet facilities, additional television screens and welcome signage could be improved for visiting supporters.  The group also need to discuss solutions for queuing at half time due to limited space in the concourse area. These comments have been fed back to the Club’s Head of Stadium Operations who will feedback to the project group directly.  The group will be meeting counterparts from Sunderland’s Fans’ Forum ahead of the fixture at Goodison Park to seek their feedback. The next stage is to canvas opinion from the Fans’ Panel.

Supporters’ Club group – Meeting has been arranged with Club representatives for June. Forum members felt they would like to discuss this sooner.

ACTION: RK to look at project group meeting dates

Matchday Experience group – A meeting has been set up with the Club representatives to review the season’s activities.

Branding group – JC will arrange a meeting before the end of the season.  JC explained how this group have an opportunity to use artwork and interactivity around the stadium with the aim of creating more photo opportunities around the ground which can be used on both a matchday and non-matchday.

Events group – This group has met already and identified a couple of events to reward renewing Season Ticket holders.  The first takes place in May.

Publications group – A meeting has already taken place and a follow-up meeting with Sport Media, the company that produces the programme, will be set up at the end of the season.

Away Ticket Allocation group – A meeting has taken place and a further one is planned with the Head of Ticketing.         

It was agreed that all project groups would now prioritise all ideas raised, producing work plans and delivery time lines.

AOB

1.1  Football Supporters Meeting

The Fans’ Forum has been invited to take part in the Football Supporters’ Meeting alongside Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Police and Liverpool Football Club supporters.  The meeting will take place on 13th June.

ACTION: NM will email members to see who wish to attend on behalf of the Fans’ Forum.

1.2  Bike Shelter at Goodison Park

REA asked if there could be some provision for a bike shelter at Goodison Park. 

CC confirmed there is a bike shelter at Goodison Park based by the Active Centre in the Park End.  The Club is part of the Cycle to Work Scheme and has a range of pool bikes for staff members.  The bike shelter can be used by fans on a matchday and non-matchday.  It was agreed that this should be promoted further, allowing those who wish to utilised the shelter to do so. 

 1.3 Personalising Your Seat

RK received contact from a company that has been working with other football clubs offering fans the opportunity to personalise their seat. RE suggests it could be canvassed across a wider selection of fans

ACTION: Members will canvas feedback from other supporters and feedback into the next meeting.

1.4 Thomas Cook

 

REA has had complaints from fans in relation to the service received from Club partner, Thomas Cook Sport, for away travel bookings in Europe this season. RK confirmed the Club is having ongoing conversations with the travel provider and are reviewing the activities of the 2014/15 season. 

1.5  Fan of The Year

NM confirmed there have been 51 entries to the Fan of the Year competition for the End of Season Awards and the quality of applicant was extremely high which will make the decision difficult.

ACTION: The Fans’ Forum were asked to review the submissions and pick their top five nominees, NM will compile the responses and announce the winner.

1.6  Outward focus of the Fans’ Forum

NM suggests the Fans’ Forum needs an online presence for other supporters to keep in touch with news and interact. Some members suggested using a Facebook page while others suggest a simple interactive microsite. 

ACTION: The Fans’ Forum will come up with a range of options and make a decision at the next meeting so it can be introduced during the summer.

1.7 Club ‘messaging’

JC confirms that the Club are looking at various marketing options in the stadium to communicate key messages.  For the World Supporters day that will be celebrated at the Tottenham Hotspur fixture, the Club will be investing in a number of flags that will span half of the pitch – and that can be used on more than one occasion. The Fans’ Forum approved of the designs and look forward to seeing them on matchday.

1.8 Date of Next Meeting

NM suggest that the date of the next meeting remains 28 May.

1.9 NM reported to the group that he had a productive meeting with the Chair of the Everton Shareholders Association, looking at future projects and NM attending a shareholders meeting.

1.10 RE stated the Forum had received a tweet from a supporter asking if the Club pay staff members the Living Wage. RK confirmed that all permanent full time staff members are paid the Living Wage and the Club encourage third parties they work with to do the same.