Meeting Report - September 2015

 

Meeting:

 

Fans’ Forum meeting

The Brian Labone Lounge

Date:

 

Tuesday 1 September 2015, 6-8pm.

Present:

 

Nick Mernock (NM), Ruth Eardley (REA), Andrew Collier (AC), Dorothy Carlin (DC), Steve Jones (SJ), Lisa Vaughan (LV), Gary Evans (GE), Robert Eagleton (RE), Kevin Smith (KS), Jason Howard (JH), Bill Carr (BC).

 

Richard Kenyon (RK), Christine Prior (CP), Gill Derbyshire (GD), Paul Eddy (PE), Alan Bowen (AB).  

Apologies:

 

Robert Elstone, Mo Maghazachi, Christopher Clarke, Brian Doogan, Mike Rice, Martin Malone, Peter Dodd.

 

 

 

Welcome and Introduction

 

NM welcomed Head of Stadium Operations Alan Bowen to the meeting.

 

NM informed the group that he would be leaving the meeting at 7:20 and RE (Vice Chair) will lead the meeting in his absence.

 

1

Actions from previous meeting

 

ACTION: Members of the Forum who are interested in joining the communications sub-group to contact CP.

RESPONSE: This item is on the agenda to be discussed further.

 

ACTION: Forum members who are interested in attending a series of meetings with the Club to discuss supporter communication in the build-up to the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park to notify CP.

RESPONSE: NM and KS attended the meeting to represent the Fans’ Forum. The item is on the agenda for an update to be provided.

 

2

Stadium Improvements – AB

 

Alan Bowen updated the group on work that has been carried out around the stadium over the summer.

 

The group explained they have received several comments via the Fans’ Forum Twitter account regarding the stadium and facilities at Goodison Park.

 

AB confirmed that he is responsible for overseeing the facilities at Goodison Park, Finch Farm, Everton One and all the office space for Club staff. He explained that a combination of the large number of projects undertaken and the earlier start to the season than usual, meant that there were a number of challenges to overcome in getting the stadium ready for the first game. Supporters may see some ongoing work around the ground which is due to be completed in coming weeks.

 

Plans were in place for all the toilet facilities in the hospitality sections of the stadium to be refurbished, and to date, the Brian Labone, Alex Young and Joe Mercer lounge toilets are all complete. The People’s Club and Captains’ Table lounge toilets will be completed during the September international break. Furniture has also been replaced in some of the lounges, a new air conditioning system has been installed, and the Joe Mercer and Alex Young entrances have been upgraded.

 

A new telephone system has been introduced to improve communication into the Club. The Club also has a new telephone number so signage around the stadium has been updated to include the correct details.

 

Two seasons ago, the Club began to roll out a staged upgrade of the 38 toilet blocks throughout the concourses in the stadium. This has continued this summer with the toilets in the Upper Bullens and Paddock upgraded, whilst the Club has also changed the paper towels, soap dispensers and bins in toilets throughout the stadium.

 

AB informed the group the escalators in the Top Balcony are 45 years old and the Club are in the process of completely rewiring them and changing the control system. This will be complete before the home fixture against Liverpool in October.

 

Painting and steel work has been carried out on the roof in the Upper Gwladys Street and the floodlight gantry in the Upper Bullens stand. The roof trusses in the Park End have been painted and the banner has been replaced ahead of the new season.

 

Supporters will see ongoing work being carried out on the Main Stand roof cladding which will be complete before the home fixture against Liverpool.

 

The turnstile counting system and the exit gate system have both been upgraded. The gates operate via a magnetic lock and a computer system is used to release every lock via one click of a button. The Club were the first ground in the country to use this system in 1986/87 and the Club has now rewired the system.

 

AB stated the Club has one of the best CCTV systems available and further upgrades have been completed in the summer allowing the operations team to view every seat in the stadium. A full medical equipment upgrade has been completed and an ambulance buggy will now be in operation for the 2015/16 season.

 

A digital radio system is now in operation for stewards on a matchday. This will improve the communication and response time for any incidents that may occur on a matchday.

 

AB informed the group of the safety checks and regulations the facilities team have to complete, including floodlight regulations with the Premier League, emergency conditions testing and the requirements for the ground safety certificate.

 

Blue lighting has been installed on all four corners of the stadium. This will be used at evening fixtures and will improve the external appearance of Goodison Park.

 

Forum members asked AB is there are any plans to remove the wooden seats in the stadium. AB informed the group there are no plans to do so at the moment as some supporters prefer these seats and feel they add to the history of Goodison Park.

 

REA stated that supporters have contacted the Fans’ Forum Twitter account with feedback about certain areas of the Stadium needing to be improved, specifically the paneling between the Main Stand and Gwladys Street corner. AB explained that whilst the translucent sheet can appear to look dirty, this is not the case as it is actually UV sunlight damage. CP and AB have been in discussions previously regarding covering this with flags or other materials. However, AB explained to the group that the translucent sheeting was installed in 1981 in agreement with St Luke’s Church. The alter window in the church faces the Gwladys Street stand and if any materials covered the sheeting this would affect the natural sunlight going into the church. As part of the agreement, the Club has also installed two spotlights in the corner that are operated by the Church.

 

SJ asked AB to explain the meaning of ‘Operation Goodison Exercise’ when announced on a matchday. AB explained that Operation Goodison Exercise is the contingency plan for the stadium so when the announcement is made, the stewards, police and traffic management team move into their emergency positions. A number of different levels of security announcements and a series of different code words are used throughout the matchday operation.

 

The group thanked AB for attending the meeting and felt this topic would make an interesting article in a matchday programme.

 

ACTION: CP to arrange interview with Alan Bowen in upcoming matchday programme regarding stadium improvements.

 

AB referenced the continued work that is being carried out at Finch Farm training facility and informed the group of the masterplan that is in operation for future seasons to ensure the facility remains at category one status.

 

3

Constitution of the Fans’ Forum – NM

 

NM reminded the group of the current constitution of the Fans’ Forum and took the new members through the review process that took place prior to their appointment.

 

NM discussed the attributes that he felt the Forum needed to continue to progress and improve and to best represent fans. It was proposed that the group consider establishing a number of specified positions that address the areas raised and will future-proof the Forum to ensures it continues to consider the diverse views of the Everton fan base.

 

It was agreed that as part of the next recruitment for Forum membership specific roles in relation to disability and access, female supporters, and social media and communications will be established to strengthen the scope of the Forum.

 

4

 

Future Elections – NM

 

NM reminded the group that the recruitment process for the next round of membership to the Forum was due and a timetable needs to be drawn up. The group as asked for their feedback on the previous recruitment mechanisms and consideration was given to previous feedback received.

 

A key issue was the short format of the application form. It was agreed this point of application process would be expanded.

 

It was agreed that the rest of the process also needs to be revised and an open discussion to review the lessons learned from previous procedures.

 

It was agreed the application process would begin as soon as possible, and members would consider the options raised for the remainder of the process. This will be finalised at the next meeting.

 

5

 

Communications Group – CP

The communications project group was discussed at the previous meeting. CP asked for the members of the Forum to confirm who would like to take part so the first meeting can be set up.

 

REA, KS, SJ, GE and LV stated they would like to form the project group. CP stated the first meeting will be set up in the next two weeks and Club staff will be invited to support the project team.

 

The Forum stated the Forum webpage imagery needs to be updated. CP will investigate and take photographs at a future meeting to keep the page up to date.

 

6

 

Pre-Derby meeting – NM/KS

 

KS informed the Forum that he had attended a pre-derby communications meeting at the Club along with NM and RE.

 

The meeting was attended by representatives from both Everton and Liverpool supporters groups, Merseyside Police and the Stadium operations team from both clubs.

 

The meeting was called to discuss the information provided to supporters in the build-up to the fixture and the police shared details on the operation that will be in place on the day. The police want to work with both sets of supporters to create a friendly atmosphere both at the stadium and around the City.

 

KS & RE stated the police representatives were open and transparent and welcomed feedback from supporter groups. Both Everton and Liverpool fan representatives have been invited to attend the police briefing on the day of the game and to attend a further meeting with mayor Joe Anderson ahead of the fixture.

 

7

Branding and Signage – Ruth E

 

REA has received a positive response to the branding project the Fans’ Forum have been working on via Twitter. Supporters have asked if any of the images will be used on merchandise in the Club shop, such as T-shirts or postcards. The group believes they would be popular products and RK stated he will discuss this further with Kitbag.

 

Members of the Forum suggested the Club should include some branding in the away section that welcomes visiting supporters and also states the teams that have played at Goodison Park. This is in place at White Hart Lane and members provided positive feedback.

 

8

Banners – Southampton – Ruth E

REA enquired about supporters taking banners into Goodison Park and away fixtures. A supporter contacted the Forum and asked why Southampton would not let him display his flag inside St Mary’s Stadium.

CP informed the group that banners deemed to be offensive or displaying anything that may cause unrest between the supporters will not be permitted. The Club would also advise other clubs that this is the policy Everton adopt ahead of our supporters visiting their stadium.

9

Fans’ Panel – CP

CP presented the group with the results from the recent Fans’ Panel survey regarding Everton Ladies. In summary:

  • 56% of respondents showed an interested in womens’ football in general, however 72% had never attended an Everton Ladies game.
  • Interest and attendance for female fans falls in line with the total responses which would suggest female fans don’t favour women's football when compared with males. (This should be treated with caution though as the base size for females was only 25).
  • Over a third (36%) of respondents said they would consider attending an Everton Ladies’ match in future. Out of the remaining respondents 30% said “maybe” and 34% said “no”.
  • 70% of fans are aware that Season Ticket holders and ForEverton members can attend Ladies games for free. When asked how much they would expect to pay for an adult ticket for an Everton Ladies’ game all the responses averaged out to £7.73 with most respondents falling within the £5 and £14 bracket.
  • The main factors that fans agreed would make them more likely to attend an Everton Ladies’ match are the location of the games coupled with the standard of the football. The other key themes highlighted are poor atmosphere/entertainment at the games, time of kick-off and being more inclusive with Everton Football club.
  • The most popular format to consume news on the Ladies team was the club website. There was a feeling from certain fans that more of a spotlight should be placed on Everton Ladies.

10

Museum/Café at Goodison – Ruth E

The group have suggested the idea of a café or museum at Goodison Park on a non-matchday at a previous meeting. The group feel this would be a welcome addition and could form part of the stadium tour experience.

GD explained that in her new role as Head of Fan Based Services she will be looking at all the supporter touch points on a matchday and non-matchday. GD invited members of the group who have suggestions on how to develop this idea further to contact her and she will set up a meeting with the Forum members who want to be involved.

11

New Stadium – Ruth E

The group discussed a recent tweet by mayor Joe Anderson which stated he would give an update on the proposed new stadium at Walton Hall Park in October. RK stated the Club will look to issue a combined update with the council once they are in a position to do so.

AOB

 

1.1  Tottenham Hotspur away

LV stated that the coach drop-off point at White Hart Lane was too far from the away section for visiting supporters. With the game being an evening kick-off it was intimidating for some supporters and the steward presence wasn’t sufficient. CP stated she will pick this up with the travel stewards for future away fixtures.


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