Below are the minutes from the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) meeting for EFL teams that MOMS attended recently in London.
As well as discussing the usual issues of away ticket prices, governance and stewarding, we gave our first impressions on the EFL looking to stream all mid-week games next season and the recent Shrewsbury Town crowdfunder for England’s first safe standing section (see below for link).
In terms of ‘Structured Dialogue’ namely supporter and club communication that has been advised to clubs from government level, MOMS will be writing a report for the FSF on the positive experiences of the Aston Villa Fan Consultation Group that was set up just over a year ago.
The club have also provided their viewpoint on the progress of the group to MOMS.
It is hoped that this Villa example will be something of a blueprint for other clubs to follow and an example of good practice that the government can use hence forth in trying to improve communication between clubs and their fans.
FSF Championship, L1 & L2 Fans’ Group Meeting
Monday, 18th September, 6.00pm – The Wesley Hotel, London, NW1 2EZ
|• Alan Bloore – Barnsley Supporters’ Trust
• Amanda Jacks– Football Supporters’ Federation
• Ashley Brown – Supporters Direct
• Billy Grant – Beesotted Brentford
• Ben Swidonbank – Shrimps Trust (Morecambe FC)
|• Brian Mertens – Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust
• CJ Joiner – Sky Blues Trust (Coventry City)
• Cliff Horrocks – Blues Trust (Birmingham City)
• Dan Crawford – Fulham Supporters’ Trust
• David Michael – My Old Man Said / AVFC Fan Consultation Group
• David Tomlinson – FSF National Council member
• Deborah Dilworth – Supporters Direct
• Dougie Pullen – Notts County Official Supporters Association
• Jeremy Gardner – QPR 1st
• Kristine Green – Mariners Trust
• Madeleine Richardson – Sandbach Travelling Alex
• Malcolm Cole – Colchester United Supporters’ Association
• Margaret Decker – Blues Trust (Birmingham City)
• Mark Ogborne – FSF Southern Division Chairman
• Matthew Breach – AFC Wimbledon / Dons Trust
• Michael Brunskill – Football Supporters’ Federation
• Mike Heaps – Colchester United Supporters’ Association
• Neil Le Milliere – Exeter City Supporters’ Trust
• Neil Springate – Fulham Supporters’ Trust / FSF Secretary & National Council
• Phil Walton – Hull City Supporters’ Trust
• Richard Wiseman – Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust
• Rick Duniec – Leeds United Supporters’ Trust
• Robbie Whitteker – Blackpool Supporters’ Trust
- Minutes from last EFL Structured Dialogue
- Concessions (Hull City)
- Structured Dialogue survey
- Live streaming (midweek)
- Away ticketing / Twenty’s Plenty
- EFL Skybet Away Fans Support
- Safe standing (Shrewsbury Town)
The meeting opened with Michael Brunskill of the Football Supporters’ Federation making introductions and explaining the aim of the meeting is to inform the EFL meetings, something that all around the table were comfortable with.
- Minutes from last EFL Structured Dialogue Meeting
RD raised the issue over overseas owners and whether or not they worked within the parameters of English Law. He felt that fans need to be aware of difficulties.
NLM stated that Exeter City Trust have had to go through the Fit and Proper Persons test and the Directors were charged £200 per person to take the Directors Test. MBru & ABr offered to assist in clarifying whether or not the large was legitimate since they were unaware of it.
MBru invited those with specialist knowledge and interest in this to contact him.
There was criticism of the EFL Rules and an FSF National Council sub-group were working on wording of a joint paper with SD counterparts. However, it should be noted the paper isn’t deemed to be an absolutely solution, rather one designed to generate discussion around ownership and governance.
It was noted that there was good media coverage of the recent Fans Not Numbers campaign run by SKINS in conjunction with Supporters Direct. The turnout at their meetings varied around the country which the one held in Blackpool thought to be the most successful.
Further discussions will be held with DCMS. The plan is not to ask for legislation rather that the Government kick starts the discussion around independent governance.
- Concessions at Hull City FC
MBru invited PW from the Trust to appraise the meeting about the recent ruling around how HCAFC structured their ticket prices. PW said that despite the ruling the club owners will not work with anybody outside of the club, regardless of who they may be. HCAFC will offer concessionary pricing if they get promoted as this is a PL rule but no such rule exists in EFL. The Trust are dealing with this and are using political options including speaking to DCMS. PW would like away fans to be more vocal on the lack of concessions at the club.
The discussion led to a wider talk around concessions with ABlo stating that he is doing work on the subject. Concessions can be over complicated and he felt it was best for clubs to simplify this. The meeting was invited to assist ABlo in this work and send him details of what was offered at their own clubs.
DC raised the specific issues of disabled concessions and there was some debate on whether or not they had to be offered to disabled supporters by law. A legal challenge relating to this is pending. It was noted that clubs make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ to disabled fans by dint of their having a carer who is not obliged to buy a ticket.
- Structured Dialogue
[Explanatory note: The Government’s Expert Working Group on Fan Engagement and Supporter Ownership committed clubs to meeting fan groups bi-annually. Clubs should follow certain guidelines and the FSF and our affiliated fan groups want to see these guidelines followed. Find out more by downloading the full report: bit.ly/EWG-DCMS]
MBru ran through the background giving stats from recent research as to effectiveness of this at the clubs. There has been a meeting with Tracy Crouch at DCMS at which structured dialogue has featured. ABr believes that Crouch is enthusiastic about this and wishes to highlight information to the EFL and EPL.
DM stated that Aston Villa go above and beyond the call of duty in terms of dialogue with supporters and have an effective consultation group who get to meet all key personnel at the club. Meetings are open and frank. However, they don’t have a fan on their board.
It was agreed that good practice such as this needs to be in the public domain and what Villa do will be shared with clubs including SLOs.
JG stated he found the survey good. They struggle with QPR sharing their long term strategy and feel this may well be simply because they don’t have one.
- Live streaming
Views were sought in the EFL live streaming midweek games (Note that the FSF’s policy is a 3pm Saturday blackout).
The meeting held mixed views with those against it tempered with an understanding of why the EFL were doing it. Some were supportive of it while others abstained until further info was available. It was agreed that wider opinion would be canvassed.
- Away Ticketing/20s Plenty
ITFC continue to offer reciprocal deals on away ticket prices with others following suit. QPR, Derby and Leeds refuse to take part in the initiative.
MBru stated that from experience it isn’t always easy to find one campaign that works across the board, recognising that some clubs relied heavily on away gate receipts.
Notwithstanding this, where fans didn’t think reciprocal deals would harm their clubs, they should consider active campaigning.
The next TV deals should, ideally, mirror the Away Fans Fund initiative that the EPL clubs took part in. Fans thought Sky should be approached to become more involved.
Virgin Media are supportive of Twenty’s Plenty and considering ways to expand into EFL.
MBru advised the meeting that SkyBet had money to invest in the away fan experience and encouraged them to contact their clubs and engage in the process if possible.
KG and AJ ran through various issues around stewarding that have arisen this season. There are concerns around how fans are being searched and that the quality of some of the stewards at a lot of clubs left a lot to be desired. Many are night club bouncers or door men and the view is that their skills are not transferable to football. DT sympathised with the points made and CJ stated that their safety officer was a good one.
AJ made the case that she is only as good as the information she receives and for change to occur, supporter accounts are vital to the process. Fans themselves need to get over unfounded fears of the consequences of complaining and the ‘expect and accept’ mindset in terms of their treatment. Supporter organisations have their part to play in ensuring there is decent feedback – both positive and negative.
Discussion around the possibility of safety officers attending FSF group meetings. The group also discussed various case studies and issues relating to information sharing between clubs and other agencies. AJ explained that she would appreciate emails on this subject and she was happy to process complaints where appropriate.
- Safe standing (Shrewsbury Town)
MBru outlined the background to the Shrewsbury Town safe standing crowdfunder and encouraged fan groups to get involved as the positive ramifications could extend beyond one club. Once one club has a rail seat area more are likely to follow.
MO referenced 3/4G Pitches in the National League. Where does the EFL stand on allowing 3/4G Pitches into EFL Leagues? Action – Mbru to contact EFL.