Minutes from the recent fans' forum meeting at the Proact Stadium ahead of the match with Oldham Athletic.
14 November 2015
Present at the meeting:
Chris Turner, Nick Johnson, Kevin Fitzgerald, John Croot, Roy Frisby, Maurice Whyman, Andy Boden, Darryl Carpenter, Jon Morris, Ian Browes, Nigel Goodlad, Sarah Frisby and Ronnie McGirr.
Apologies received from:
Gary Bown & Lesley Brentnall.
Ronnie McGirr was introduced as a new fans’ representative at the forum.
The first part of the meeting was streamed live over the internet and fans were encouraged to email any questions they wanted answering.
‘Wingerworth Spireite’ asked via email if there were any plans to repeat the £30 hospitality package offered for the FA Cup tie against Walsall. Kevin explained that it was a one-off package designed to encourage people to experience hospitality in the Spires Restaurant for the first time and hailed it as a “great success”. He added that there has been an average of around 150 people in Spires Restaurant for every match – more covers than ever before.
In response to John’s query via email regarding the latest on Sam Morsy’s contract situation, Chris said that Sam is well within his rights to wait until the end of the season before making a decision on his future. “We’ve offered him good deals and he wants to explore his options,” he added. “We have only received one offer for Sam, which was from MK Dons in August and we turned that down. There may be some interest in Sam in January, but we want him to stay.”
Andrew Frost asked, via email, for clarification on the club’s policy re e-cigarettes. Chris said that he would speak to stadium manager Colin Nellist at the following management meeting. Colin advised those present at the meeting that there is currently no restriction on the use of e-cigarettes inside the stadium.
Andy asked if there were plans to stage another beer festival at the stadium. Kevin said that the matter was still on the agenda.
In response to a question from Jon about money generated from transfer deals, Chris said: “I would like to think that we’ll be in the black again following this season’s trading.” He added that more is being spent on wages this season.
Nigel asked about the lights that were currently out on the Proact sign. Kevin advised that the bulbs will be replaced shortly.
Darryl enquired about plans for the 150th anniversary celebrations. Kevin said: “We want to start making moves on that before Christmas.”
When the subject of likely opposition to mark the anniversary was brought up, Chris said that efforts were being made to line-up a game against European opposition. “We’re looking at Italian clubs because there is an Italian contingent in the town,” he said.
Jon asked, on Gary’s behalf, whether there were plans to change the table arrangements in the 1866 Lounge. Kevin said: “There is a mix of standing and tables and we think it’s worked quite well. I think it’s a good mix and I’m pleased with the set up.”
Nigel praised the hospitality in Spires Restaurant, describing it as “absolutely superb”. He added: “It was the first time I’ve done hospitality and I would definitely come back.”
Andy asked about plans for the long-term future of Lee Novak and Chris Herd. Chris pointed out that Birmingham City have the right to recall Novak in January from his season-long loan. He added that Dean Saunders has intimated that he wants to keep Herd, whose deal will be up soon.
When Darryl asked about Richard Wood’s future, Chris said that he is playing for a deal here. “He wants to leave Rotherham and come here,” he added.
On behalf of Gary, Jon expressed the opinion that the cost of transferring from one lounge to another was too high at £28. Kevin made the point that he thinks the package is keenly priced. When the figure of £20 was suggested, Chris said: “I can’t see it going down to that level.”
When Roy asked about the link-up with the Chamber of Commerce, Kevin replied that it was working quite well. “For the Southend match, the Chamber invited companies who’ve not been to the stadium before,” he added.
Darryl queried how the feeling was in the boardroom regarding progress. Chris pointed out that it had been very difficult for the manager, adding that Dean has handled the situation extremely well. “I think we’re going along nicely and we could easily be in the top six now,” he commented. “The players are extremely happy with the work they’re doing on the training ground. We’re making progress, slowly but surely.”
Sarah praised the “great” matchday programme, saying that she sees a lot of people reading it in the stadium. Chris stressed the need so sell more and Kevin revealed there were plans in place to offer a reduced price programme for a forthcoming fixture.
In response to Nigel’s question about plans for a retro Union Jack shirt to mark the 150th anniversary, Kevin said that a request for permission had been lodged with the Football League. “There has been nothing forthcoming so far,” he added.
Nigel asked whether there was any likelihood of staging concerts at the stadium again. Chris said: “In the future I’m sure we’ll go down that route again, as long as there is no risk to the club and we receive a guaranteed income.”
Roy queried whether any progress had been made with regard to planning permission for a large video screen in the car park. Kevin said that a number of appeals have been rejected by the council, adding that the case will now be heard independently.
The date of the next meeting is January 23 (11am).