Meeting held in the 1888 Lounge at the Banks’s Stadium, Monday 4th March 2019, 15:00
Stefan Gamble (SG) and Daniel Mole (DM) – Walsall Football Club
Alan Miles (AM) and Trevor Reece (TR) – Walsall Football Supporters Trust
Ian Buckingham (IB) and Stefanie Tomes (ST) – Walsall FC Disabled Supporters Association
Walsall Football Supporters Club (The Saddlers Club)
Nick Adshead (NA)
We apologise for an inaccuracy in the initial minutes published. This has now been corrected.
1. Points still to action from last meeting
DM advised that the Club has looked at the ticketing structure following feedback from the Fans Focus Meeting. SG advised he would talk further on this in the Club Update.
DM explained that following on from last month a department head will also attend each meeting. This time Vicki Chambers (Conference & Events Operations Manager) was the member of staff chosen but has no questions were put forward for her to answer the decision was made for her not to attend.
Next meeting Laura Greenhouse, the Club’s Ticket Office Manager and Disabled Liaison Offer will attend. DM asked members to provided supporter questions for Laura by Thursday, 28th March so she can prepare answers accordingly.
2. Update from Walsall Football Supporters Club (The Saddlers Club)
In the absence of any representative of the Saddlers Club, no update was available.
3. Update from Walsall Supporters Trust
TR confirmed that Steve Davies is in the process of contacting Former Players to attend the Former Players Day on 6th April at the Oxford United game. DM asked if Steve can confirm numbers by 25th March in order determine whether to locate the Former Players in the Bonser Suite or Stadium Suite.
TR asked if the idea raised by a supporter had been looked at. SG stated that neither he or DM had received any proposal from this supporter so were unaware one would be coming forward. SG asked if Steve Davies can contact the him accordingly it details of the “plan” so it can be considered.
TR asked if the Club were aware of the two events coming up in the area which involve former players of the Club, one at Rushall Olympic Football Club featuring Allan Clarke and one in Aldridge. SG stated the Club had not been made aware of any upcoming events featuring former players and asked if the Club can be made aware of these events moving forward via the Working Party meeting to avoid any potential clashes with events the Club are organising.
TR asked if prices for Mascot packages had been looked at. SG responded saying that the new Commercial Brochure for the Club is being finalised this week and this includes mascot packages. This would include affordable packages for all supporters.
TR also asked if the Club are planning on doing another Memorial Service. DM and SG both agreed that this will be done again and will be held on an Annual Basis.
4. Disabled Supporters Association
IB gave an update on the DSA membership - 65 registered members and 59 members on the Facebook page.
IB advised the DSA are still making enquiries with supporters regarding Sensory Equipment for the Family Fan Zone area to ensure the correct equipment is being looked at for those supporters that would use it. DM asked if there was dialogue with the Rainbow Group.
IB confirmed that the DSA will assist any disabled person or group and that if anything is brought to us, we would help where possible. IB also referred to the last email that I had received from Richard Sainsbury within which the stated that they wished to be dissociated from me. Given this situation, Dan then suggested that Laura could act as a liaison between the DSA and Rainbow Group where required
IB advised that one of the new members who has joined the DSA is deaf and also works at another local Club. IB has said the DSA will be speaking to him to see what Clubs do for supporters who are deaf as well as those who are visually impaired.
IB advised that Tony Richards had resigned as Vice-Chairman of the DSA and that Dave Beckett has replaced him until the AGM.
IB confirmed the AGM will take place towards the end of April / early May.
IB raised concerns from the disabled supporters regarding the pitch covers being kept in the hatched yellow areas of the St Francis Stand at the recent games against Bradford City and AFC Wimbledon. The issue was raised to Laura Greenhouse. DM and SG asked for Laura to follow this action up with the Ground staff.
IB confirmed that the Level Playing Field week of action is taking place. A t-shirt and scarf have been donated for Swifty to wear at the Portsmouth game.
IB confirmed the wheelchair they have purchased is being picked up soon and will speak to Laura Greenhouse to arrange to drop off at the Stadium for it to be stored here.
IB advised he was aware of a letter that is being sent out to disabled supporters regarding car parking charges. SG confirmed he had reviewed the letter and asked for it to be sent to the DSA for them to review. SG also confirmed that a full report into Disabled Parking Facilities will be provided at the next meeting.
IB advised that two of the DSA Committee Members are members of the ISSA (Independent Saddlers Supporters Association). The DSA currently has a close working relationship and that any disabled supporter that wants to join the ISSA the DSA will pay the first-year subscriptions. The ISSA are also looking at providing accessible coaches to away games for disabled supporters. DM asked if the DSA planned to pay for the first year of other supporter groups and questioned whether or not it represented a conflict of interest. IB said the DSA would discuss the matter at the next Committee Meeting.
IB also advised that ST’s partner is doing a sponsored walk on 4th May walking from the Banks’s Stadium to Shrewsbury Town. IB will also be suggesting to the West Midlands Working Party of DSA members at their next meeting to do a sponsored walk between Wolves, West Brom and Walsall during the close-season.
5. Club Update
SG advised that the £5 offer was well received by supporters for the Bradford City game with 1,100 people purchasing tickets through the offer.
SG noted that results and performances have improved in the last two games but there is still work to do in the remaining eleven matches to ensure the Club retains its First Division Status.
SG noted that Martin O’Connor has been brought into the Managers Backroom Staff.
SG advised The Early Bird campaign “We Are Walsall” started Friday last week (1st March). A process had been undertaken to review prices for both Season Tickets and Matchday Tickets. This process involved a comprehensive price review comparison of both local clubs and clubs playing in League One. The Club have introduced a Young Person ticket for the coming season. SG also confirmed that Matchday prices will be released in due course.
SG explained that the £2 increase on matchday will remain as this was important for any number of logistical reasons including but not limited to reduction of matchday queues, kiosk stock control, crowd control planning, Policing and Medical Provision. SG stated that Supporters could purchase tickets months in advance, including over the phone or online, and collect their tickets on a Matchday without having to pay the £2 supplement.
SG noted that the Club have also decided to remove the Cat A and Cat B fixtures from next season 2019/2020, but reserve the right to alter this in the future.
DM advised that work to the exterior of the stadium is now finished, work on the interior is almost complete and that work to the kiosks is ongoing.
TR asked a question regarding the recent article in the Express and Star newspaper re: the potential sale of the Club. SG answered stating that the Chairman is not actively looking to sell, but if someone came in with the finances to pursue a transaction of this nature and had the best interests of the football club at heart the Chairman would be more than willing to sit down and speak to them. SG confirmed that the Chairman is not an anxious seller but a willing seller.
6. Trust and Club Joint Activities
There were none. Going forward this section will include general functions and events.
7. Other Business
DM raised the matter of ISSA and their wish to join the Working Party Group. They have now joined the FSF and are a recognised body.
DM and SG asked members if there were any concerns that there was a conflict of interest in that the DSA and ISSA have common Committee Members. IB stated that he did not feel there were any conflicts. SG suggested that he felt that there were potential conflicts. However, he further stated that he would expect any member to act professionally and responsibly and it would be down to the individuals concerned to declare whether or not they felt conflicted and if so, they should take whatever action necessary to alleviate the conflict.
A proposal for the ISSA to join the Working party was put forward.
The Club confirmed they are happy to grant ISSA membership.
IB advised that the DSA have no objections to ISSA joining the Working Party.
TR advised that the Supporters Trust have not held a meeting since the last Working Party Meeting and would like to have a meeting to consider before making a decision. SG asked if TR can speak to the Committee as soon as possible.
The Supporters Trust have since advised that they have no objections with the ISSA joining the Working Party.
IB and TR both agreed that all bodies need to work together on a common ground for the benefit of all parties.
DM then updated the Working Party on the meeting held between the Club and ‘Walsall Supporters for Change’ (WSFC). WFSC have also been advised that if they wish to join the Working Party Group they would need to be affiliated to an appropriate body, be democratically elected and would have to go through the same process as ISSA to gain a seat on the Supporters Working Party.
AM asked whether it was the Club or Saddlers Club that used to charge supporters to park on the Saddlers Club and Railway Station Car Park. SG confirmed it was the Saddlers Club who charged supporters and kept the money in respect of their Car Park and it was Network Rail who owned and benefitted from the Railway Car Park. The Club are currently looking into he possibility of the car park spaces by the Saddlers Club being used again from next season and will advise further when a decision has been made.
DM asked if TR and the Supporters Trust can confirm a total membership number at the next meeting.
DATE FOR NEXT MEETING MONDAY 1st APRIL 2019 AT 15:00.
The meeting closed at 16.18.