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Walsall Football Club Supporters Working Party meeting - Monday 4th May 2020

22 May 2020

Walsall Football Club Supporters Working Party Meeting. Held via a Zoom conference call on Monday 4th May 2020, 3pm.

Walsall Football Club Supporters Working Party Meeting. Held via a Zoom conference call on Monday 4th May 2020, 3pm.

Present:

Stefan Gamble (SG) and Daniel Mole (DM) – Walsall Football Club

Chris Saunders (CS) – Walsall Supporters for Change

Ray Dale (RD) – Walsall Football Club Supporters Trust

Apologies:

Independent Saddlers Supporters Association & Walsall Football Club Disabled Supporters Association (Both organisations have stated the will not attend Working Party Meetings due to issues they have with another Supporter Group)

Minutes: Sam Hadwen (SH)

 

  1. Opening

 

SG and DM began by thanking everyone for attending the meeting.

 

Club Update:

In what is a difficult period for everybody in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, DM began the meeting by giving an overview of what is happening in regards to the running of the football club.

The executive board of directors (SG, DM and Leigh Pomlett) meet twice a day virtually at 10am and 2pm and have done since the beginning of the lockdown period.

The stadium has been closed for a number of weeks now with majority of staff being put onto the furlough scheme set up by the Government. Skeleton staff is still in place from an operational side of things with SG, DM, SH and the other members of the communications team all continuing to work remotely.

DM highlighted his praise to the office staff and playing/coaching staff for their understanding during this difficult period. Reiterated that the club is in good hands and will get through this time of uncertainty.

As things stand, the football club are unsure as to when it is safe for football to return and if/when the 19/20 season will be concluded, however there is a strong will for it to do so. DM however was quick to highlight that the health and wellbeing of supporters is the main priority during this pandemic.

SG added that all eventualities had been discussed but no final decision has been made as of yet. Reiterated that they will continue to take guidance from the EFL and other governing bodies.

SG also detailed that the football club has adapted and is being run as you would expect whilst taking advantage of the opportunities offered through the Government, rates exemption benefit and the furlough scheme which DM highlighted earlier alongside all other grants to keep the club in good stead.

Effects of the Coronavirus outbreak has hit the football club financially with the Conference and Events and Sunday Market having to close leading to no income; SG stated that this could go on for a number of months but like DM reiterated that everything is being done to ensure that we are in the best position possible for when normality resumes. SG also mentioned that we are in better shape at this moment in comparison to others but is aware that we are not immune from the issues presented by Covid-19.

DM also touched base on how the club have exercised the option to bring forward the pitch renovation at the stadium so that is ready to go when football returns, whether that be for the conclusion of this season or the beginning of next.

Update from Walsall Supporter for Change:

Due to the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak, no update was available.

CS however was quick to show his appreciation and understanding of the challenge that the club finds itself in and stated that they would support the club in any possible way. SG thanked CS for this and stated that during these times we are being as creative and innovative as we can to bring income into the club in different areas with our traditional models having to be put on hold. SG touched upon the M6 advertising signs and stated that income is still be generated through this but at a much lower rate with businesses being forced to push their advertisements back until further notice. The club have however reached out to sponsors and commercial partners and put special deals forward to them whereby they are able to combine their brand with a message of thanks to the NHS and key workers and the take-up on this thus far has been outstanding.

CS praised this and stated that the messages of thanks when driving past have been greatly received.

DM also touched upon the Club Shop sale as another way in which the club is bringing in revenue, whilst also giving 10% of this month’s savings to the NHS which has also been greatly received.

CS praised the content which has been going out on our social media channels and praised everybody involved in this from the media team to the players and coaching staff.

DM thanked CS for the recognition and stated that the media team will continue in this fashion.

Praise was also received for the regular updates from LP via social media, with CS and RD stating that they have been of much use.

SG also highlighted his praise to the team and for their cooperation but also to the fantastic response to the Early Bird campaign which saw us surpass last season’s figures. SG thanked supporters for their support during these uncertain times and is hopeful that the return of football will bring a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

Update from Walsall Football Club Supporters Trust:

RD began by showing his understanding to SG and DM and asked about if anything would be put in place for over 70’s should football be watched by a limited number of fans who follow the social distancing measures. DM highlighted that the club would continue to follow the Government guidelines.

DM mentioned that the Behind Closed Doors model wouldn’t be as ideal/beneficial in comparison to teams in the Premier League but stated that it could be looked at providing we had all the health and safety measures in place. DM stated that some staff would have to be unfurloughed should this be the case from a matchday operations point of view.

SG followed this up by saying that should the decision be to play games behind closed doors, the technology is there for us to stream the matches to supporters.

RD pointed out that the 50/50 draw had reached over £600 and would be continue to be pushed until the draw date, which has since taken place.

DM showed his appreciation to the efforts made in this and assured RD and the Supporters Trust that we would continue to assist in pushing this over our media channels, similar to that of the Club Shop sales to gain some revenue into the football club.

RD also highlighted that there was a 23% increase in interest compared to last year in regards to the Player of the Season Awards with over 1,200 votes being casted.

RD raised the question regarding the 20/21 kits and seeing whether this could be potentially released earlier. DM stated that the kits have been approved and signed off and have been in production since the start of the calendar year with all sponsors also agreed. DM mentioned that we are on course to receive these and have these available during the summer period ready for the next campaign.

SG followed this up by stating that the club understands the situation that supporters find themselves in with regards to wages and income and indicated that the timing of releasing the kits is key and at a time where supporters who want to purchase can do so.

DM and SG requested that the Supporters Trust make an effort to reconcile their differences with ISSA and the DSA ,so that all supporters groups attend the working parties in future.

 

The meeting closed at 15:30.

Next meeting to be held on Zoom on 1 June 2020 at 15:00.


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