Walsall Football Club Supporters Working Party Meeting
Held in the 1888 Lounge at the Banks’s Stadium, Monday 3rd February 2020 15:00
Present: Stefan Gamble (SG), Daniel Mole (DM) and Leigh Pomlett (LP) – Walsall Football Club
Graham Whittaker (GW) – Walsall Football Club Supporter Liaison Officer
Ray Dale (RD) - Walsall Football Club Supporters Trust
Ian Buckingham (IB) - Walsall Football Club Disabled Supporters Association
Dave Beckett (DB) – Independent Saddlers Supporters Association
Rob Harvey (RH) - Walsall Supporters for Change
Apologies: Walsall Football Supporters Club (The Saddlers Club)
Minutes: Nick Adshead (NA)
DM starting the meeting by thanking everyone for attending.
- Matters arising from last meeting
DM advised that the 40-year reunion will be pushed from a Marketing point of view after the Mick Kearns event on 21st February has taken place.
SG advised that a key for the back-car park will be in place from next season.
SG referred to the Pop-Up Bars that are in the Stadium Suite that are now in place and asked for feedback. DB answered to say that waiting times have reduced and there are no queues. DB did mention that at the end of the game, supporters in the Stadium Suite are using plastic glasses yet stewards have glass glasses from another suite. SG and DM agreed that this was not right and will speak to Head of Conference and Events.
DM and SG confirmed that the new Head of Commercial has been appointed. Will start on 14th April as currently serving notice period.
DM asked for feedback from the Fans Form from those present. RH thought it was good and went well. RD asked about an item raised that evening regarding buses for supporters. DM said he has explored the idea but waiting for feedback. All agreed it has to be cost effective to be done. DB offered the use of the ISSA mini-buses to help transport fans to and from the Stadium. It was agreed that ISSA and WFST to work together to look at the idea and report back.
- Update from Walsall Football Supporters Club (The Saddlers Club)
In the absence of any representative of the Saddlers Club, no update was available.
A motion was raised by SG to remove The Saddlers Club from the Agenda. IB seconded. All agreed.
- Update from Walsall Supporters Trust
RD asked whether the idea of allowing lorries to park on the Club Car Park of an evening had been explored. LP answered to say that it was but it would be unlikely the necessary local authority approval would be forthcoming and therefore the FDA’s guidance is to not follow it through.
RD asked whether the Chairman would consider ideas/suggestions to raise money towards the purchase of the freehold. LP said he would not be against it and that alongside SG they are working on the project at the moment. LP said he would be happy to listen to ideas. SG asked that they are emailed to outline any proposal to raise funds.
RD asked whether the End of Season Dinner is taking place this season. DM responded to say it was and that the date will be announced in due course.
RD referred to Player of the Season ballot to be at the last three home matches (Swindon, Plymouth and Colchester). DM asked if it could be the Oldham, Swindon and Plymouth matches instead to allow time for trophies to be purchased in time.
RD asked if Steve Davies can see the Young Player of the Year Trophy to assess its condition. Steve to liaise with NA regarding this.
- Update from Walsall FC Disabled Supporters Association
IB updated the membership figures for the DSA which stands at 84 full members with 82 followers on both twitter and Facebook.
IB raised the issue of parking at the Crewe Alexandra fixture and people parking in the incorrect spaces. DM asked IB to liaise with Laura Greenhouse (LG), Disability Supporter Liaison Officer who can brief Jim O’Grady (JOG), Safety Officer.
IB advised that the stewarding is improving, although asked if there is a replacement contact for supporters in place of Dave Gollins. DM said he would speak to Jim O’Grady to confirm.
IB raised a number of issues in relation to LPF Week of Action campaign.
IB advised that the DSA have now purchased 250 of “Sunflower Lanyards” to help people with hidden disabilities. IB will liaise with Laura Greenhouse on the distribution of the lanyards. IB advised that at a meeting with LG in December that she was asked to explore the training of WFC Steward/Officers and that the DSA would assist in that training. DM asked IB to liaise with LG and JOG to produce a document to help educate the staff and stewards.
IB advised that the DSA are going to introduce a Membership/Access card in the near future and showed an example of what it will look like.
IB confirmed that LG had raised the issue of the provision of a Sensory Room in November with the DSA and that she had identified a room for its possible location. In December LG advised the DSA that the matter would be deferred until the close season for further consideration but agreed that it could be raised in the LPF Week of Action as a plan for the future. DM said that “The View” is sold on a match by match basis and has a commercial value so would be reluctant to use this room. SG said he would speak to LG regarding this.
IB confirmed that a DSA Survey was about to go Live on which disabled supporters and their carers/families opinions as to what the DSA could do to assist them will be sought
IB asked for the Club to help locate the 5 ponchos that were given to the Club. DM said he would speak to JOG to locate them and pass back to the DSA.
IB advised that the DSA now has a mobile phone which will be used on match days.
IB asked about the Supporter Groups working together for the End of Season Awards. It was agreed that all groups would liaise with GW and report back. RD responded to say that he would speak to Steve Davies to let him know.
IB asked if through the Community Programme contacts can be obtained to help with possible kit donations at the end of the season.
IB advised the DSA’s AGM will be at the end of April with all Committee positions up for re-election.
- Update from Independent Saddlers Supporters Association (ISSA)
DB advised that £1,000 donation was presented to the Club last Tuesday and thanked the Club for the organisation in making the presentations at half time. SG responded to thank ISSA on behalf of the Club for the donation.
DB advised that there will be a fun day at the end of May at the Railway Club which will involve a football match between ISSA and the Railway Club’s team. The beneficiaries of the money raised on the day will be the football club.
ISSA have sponsored Little Aces. DB advised that ISSA would also like to sponsor either one of the Community Teams or Academy Teams. DM advised DB to contact the Community direct for there teams and NA for the Academy.
DB asked if a “Kit and Boot Buddy Bin” could be located at the Club to help under privileged children in the local area. DM agreed to this and asked DB to provide the Club with the Bin and it will be located in the Fan Zone.
DB advised that Former Players Brian Caswell, Kenny Mower, Stan Jones, Mark Rees and Mick Evans were at the Railway Club before the game on Saturday and came to the Stadium.
DB advised that a former player is upset with how he is being treated by a member of the WFST Board regarding tickets for the Former Players Day. DM advised that the Former Players Day is for all Former Players and all organisations can work together with GW to ensure all players who want to attend do so.
DB advised the cubicles in the toilets in the Middle/Upper Tier of the Homeserve Stand were not accessible for some supporters due to supporters smoking in there. SG re-iterated that the Banks’s Stadium is a no smoking venue. DM said he would speak to BT and JOG regarding this matter.
DB advised that the formal proposal for a member of ISSA to sit on the Club’s Board will be sent to SG and LP for consideration now he has proof of funds from his members. LP confirmed he his happy to talk to him once the proposal is ready although he didn’t see fan representation on the Board happening due to commercially sensitive discussions that are held at Board Level. DB understood the reply and thanked LP for his honesty.
DB then asked if LP would be prepared to sell ISSA shares in the Club. LP advised that he would not be prepared to sell any of his shares as this would dilute his ownership and potentially take it below 75%. DB thanked LP for his honesty.
DB asked LP regarding a comment on his tenure only lasting five years. LP answered to explain that his plan is to return the Football Club to League One and to make them competitive in League One and has given a timescale of five years to do this. LP explained that it would however take a lot of external investment to get them back to the Championship and if it’s in the best interests of the Club to step aside he will.
DB then asked regarding the Freehold whether it was a gentleman’s agreement or contractual agreement. LP answered to say that it’s not a gentleman’s agreement and it is a contractual agreement but is not prepared to share the commercially sensitive information.
DB advised that ISSA have purchased 3 shirts and printed them with 25 and Sinnott to send to the family in addition to the one the Club have sent.
ISSA now have a website and the DSA will have their own page on the website.
- Update from Walsall Supporters for Change (WSFC)
RH advised that the queues have reduced in the Stadium Suite with the introduction of the pop-up bar. DM advised that another pop-up is going to be introduced for the Northampton game with the introduction of a pop-up shop as well.
RH asked whether the Club are going to go “cashless” in the Stadium. SG advised that by the end of the current season all bars and kiosks will have card payment facilities.
RH referred to a fan who was standing in the hatched areas having a go at one of the stewards on Saturday. DM asked RH to email JOG regarding the incident so that CCTV can be checked.
RH advised that he is looking into an event similar to the Mick Kearns evening for Tom Bradley as it is felt that this kind of event would work better instead of a match. RH will put plan together and email to the Club.
RH asked how Safe Standing would be funded. DM said that the Club are currently finalising the “Early Bird” Season Ticket Offer and once this is done contact will be made with the supporters in the lower tier to advise options available to support the Club on this. The Club do not have funds available at the time to do this.
- Club Update
SG advised the transfer window is now closed and the Club are pleased with the business done. Extending Wes McDonald’s contract, signing Jack Nolan on a permanent deal from Reading and the loan signing of Nathan Sheron. The Club’s plan is to improve the squad during each transfer window.
SG referred to items previously discussed including the Fans Form held on 16th January, the new Head of Commercial starting on 14th April.
DM advised that the Bescot Bar Project has started today and we are looking at a 16-week build. The Club will update on progress as it happens.
DM advised the Players Tunnel and Changing Area is also being re-developed.
- Any Other Business
RD referred to recent matches where supporters have started to stand in the main stand just outside the entrance to the Savoy Lounge. DM advised that he will ask JOG to look into it.
DATE FOR NEXT MEETING MONDAY 2nd MARCH 2020 AT 15:00.
The meeting closed at 16.30.