The minutes from the Fans' Forum held at the Proact Stadium on Saturday, February 28.
Present at the meeting:
Chris Turner, Nick Johnson, Kevin Fitzgerald, John Croot, Sarah Frisby, Roy Frisby, Maurice Whyman, Andy Boden, Darryl Carpenter, Lesley Brentnall, Jon Morris and Gary Bown.
Apologies received from:
Nigel Goodlad and Marcia Bigg.
The meeting opened with Nick explaining that the notes from the last meeting had been given to an employee to type up and the employee subsequently left the club at short notice, taking the notes with them.
In response to a suggestion from Marcia, relayed via email, that people are still trying to leave the car park early on matchdays, it was agreed that the problem has largely been eradicated due to improved stewarding. Marcia also asked for fans who leave their seats early ahead of half-time/full-time to be reminded of the need to head for the nearest exit rather than block other fans’ views.
Kevin confirmed that new software had been installed the operate the giant video screen. He described the revenue already generated by advertising on the screen as “phenomenal”. Kevin added that the screen will have the capacity to show a live feed and replays.
Chris mentioned the possibility of beam backs from certain away games in the future. Nick explained that Football League Interactive’s installation of a fibre network makes this possible at a low cost.
Chris revealed that a planning application for the installation of a similar video screen in the car park, adjoining Sheffield Road, had been turned down by Chesterfield Borough Council. The council are not keen on signage around the town. Kevin added that this would have provided the club with a major income stream.
In response to a query from Jon about the club’s financial position, Chris said that the club should be in the black this year. He explained that the business does well, but that the problem is servicing the debt. The debt has been reduced to some extent following the sale of Eoin Doyle.
When asked about Dave Allen’s view on the state of the club, Chris said that the chairman was fully supportive of everything being done, adding that he enjoys his involvement with the club and retains his ambition to take the club forward.
In response to a query about the Proact Stadium website from Darryl, who pointed out it had not been updated recently, Nick explained that the website is due to be relaunched soon.
Regarding the club’s aim for the rest of the season, Chris said that it would be regarded as an “exceptional season” if a play-off challenge was made. He added that plans were already in place to bring players in for next season.
Chris stated that financial controls are now in place in all departments. This is something which has not happened in the past. Each department is now highlighted in monthly management accounts statements and all departments are scrutinised for profit and loss. Over a three-year period, there have been changes to staff. Throughout the club, there staff levels are correct to enable the business to function professionally.
Following a discussion regarding priorities over the purchasing of tickets for big games, it was agreed that there was no way of satisfying everyone.
John revealed that around 800 extra fans would be attending the Fleetwood match in the Spencers Solicitors Community Stand as a result of a schools’ ticketing initiative organised by the Community Trust. A previous similar offer resulted in 200 youngsters attending their first-ever football match.
Talking about the need to promote tickets sales and offers, Kevin said that there were only around 8,500 people on the club’s database when he arrived at the club. He pointed out that people now have to provide their details when they purchase tickets.
In response to the claim from Jon that the wristbands issued to those using the corporate facilities at the stadium on matchdays were “generally hated”, Chris said that something had to be put in place. Stewards had been instructed to check the wristbands. Chris added that the policy would be reviewed.
Following a complaint from Lesley about the stewarding in the Karen Child Stand, Chris said he would speak to stadium manager Colin Nellist about the matter. He pointed out that the council would not allow the club to use the security staff employed previously.
In response to a query from Lesley regarding season ticket sales, Chris said that an announcement would be made before the end of March.
When discussing the progress made by the club at youth level, Chris praised the work which has seen the youth team go from the bottom of the table last season to the top this season, following eight straight wins. He pointed out that youth team coach Mark has an excellent record of developing players. He is also delighted with the development centre, headed by Liam Sutcliffe, who will be taking a group of youngsters to Paris Saint Germain. “We are ambitious and we look to the future,” added Chris.
When asked about the club’s pre-season plans, Chris confirmed that there will be a match at Matlock Town. Other possibilities are also being explored, including a potential mini-tournament at Sligo Rovers.
Darryl asked about the club’s plans to mark the 150th anniversary next year. Kevin and Nick confirmed that initial meetings have taken place and plans will be firmed up soon.
The next meeting will be held on Saturday, April 25 at 10am.