The minutes from the Fans' Forum meeting before the Wigan Athletic match at the Proact Stadium
5 September 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 and Nigel Goodlad.
Apologies received from:
Gary Bown, Lesley Brentnall & Sarah Frisby.
The first part of the meeting was streamed live over the internet and fans were encouraged to email any questions they wanted answering.
In response to a suggestion emailed by David Watson that beer festivals should be put on again at the Proact, Kevin Fitzgerald said that this would be explored.
Kevin said that Matthew Pendleton's suggestion of a loyalty points scheme to give the most loyal fans priority for away tickets was also being explored.
Chris Siddon also asked via email whether changing the lounges had been a success and Kevin and Chris Turner agreed that it had. He said: "I was recently stopped by someone who was opposed to the changes at first and he shook me by the hand and congratulated me." Kevin added: "The lounges have been well received and we're really pleased with them."
As she was unable to attend the meeting, Lesley Brentnall emailed her comments about the new coach company being used for True Blue Travel, Wilfreda Beehive. "It wasn't a great start but since then they've been excellent," she said. "They have implemented a customer care checklist that I complete after each away game to ensure we are fully satisfied." Kevin acknowledged there were initial teething problems while adding that there will be no problems booking extra coaches in the future, if required. "We want to be flexible," he said.
On behalf of Gary Bown, Jon Morris asked if members of the Brampton Brewery 1866 Lounge can book tickets for friends. Kevin said that they can, subject to availability, at a cost of £42. "It is advisable to book well in advance due to demand," he added. Jon commented: "I think the new lounge is terrific."
Regarding the issue of wearing ties in the Club Vice-Presidents Suite, Chris admitted that it was a difficult problem to resolve as some are in favour of wearing them in there and others aren't.
Darryl Carpenter queried the lack of audio on the concourses. Nick Johnson pointed out that some fans complain if the announcements can be heard on the concourses, saying that they cannot have conversations. Nick confirmed that any necessary safety announcements would be put out on the concourses.
In response to a query regarding beam backs from away games, Chris said that Gillingham have asked for a reciprocal arrangement, allowing for both home and away games to be screened. Kevin revealed that attempts were made to screen the Carlisle match, but the plans were turned down.
Maurice Whyman asked whether any advertising could be done via the Chamber of Commerce, as other clubs do. Kevin said emails are going out to the Chamber database on a trial basis. He also pointed out that adverts before each home game now go out on Peak FM. Nick added that other work is being done behind the scenes to promote events etc, including contacting people from outside the immediate area.
In reply to Darryl's query about the Proact Stadium website, Kevin said that it is set for a re-launch, with the conference & banqueting team in control of it.
Nigel Goodlad praised the new Spire Writes matchday programme, describing it as "the best programme in the last 20 years". He added: "The features are far more in-depth than before."
Following praise for the job Dean Saunders has done so far, Chris expressed surprise at the initial negative reaction at his appointment in certain quarters. "It is now a chance for certain players to step up," he said. "There is not one player who's left that we felt we couldn't replace. The players are enjoying their football."
Darryl stated that some people had experienced problems gaining entry with their season ticket. Chris said that when a card gets rejected, it does register in the office.
When Maurice asked for an explanation of how the Player Progression Pathway (old Development Centre) operates, Chris explained that it is a separate company to the football club and is audited. "There are youngsters aged from 16 to 19, made up of an elite squad and two other groups," he said. "Another benefit of having the CFC Village across the road is that we have had players staying there, saving on hotel bills."
Roy Frisby asked if there were any plans to hold darts events at the Proact. Kevin said he had spoken to the company concerned and received the relevant figures, adding: "I am still thinking about it."
Regarding the council's decision to turn down the club's application to install a giant video screen in the car park, Kevin revealed that a different site had been selected and an appeal would be made. "We are confident of winning the appeal," he added.
The date of the next meeting is November 14 (11am).