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Fans' Assembly Minutes

Notes from January Meeting

3 February 2020

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MINUTES of Fans’ Assembly meeting.

Held at: 10.30am Saturday, January 17, 2020
Captains Lounge, PAFC

Attendees

Name

Representing

ANDREW PARKINSON (AP)

PAFC CEO

ZAC NEWTON (ZN)

PAFC CLUB SECRETARY

VIRGINIA PIKE (VP)

LONDON SUPPORTERS BRANCH AND ARGYLE FANS TRUST

JAN MacGREGOR (JM)

SENIOR GREENS

GRAHAM CLARK (GC)

CORNISH SUPPORTERS BRANCH

JOHN PENNEY (JP)

VICE PRESIDENTS

MARK EDWARDS (ME)

NORTHERN SUPPORTERS BRANCH

MICHAEL COOPER (MC)

LYNDHURST SUPPORTERS

MIKE GALE (MG)

GRANDSTAND SUPPORTERS

 

  1. Attendance and Apologies

Apologies were received from:

        Steve Helley (SH)                     PADSA

         Chris Corbett (CC)                  Argyle Pride

         Lee Jelf (LJ)                               Green Taverners

         Alan Oliver (AO)                      Regular Away Match Attendees

         Mark Smith (MS)                    Devonport Supporters

  1. To appoint a Fans’ Assembly Secretary

Jane Davy (JD) who had volunteered to take over the vacant role of Fans’ Assembly Secretary was welcomed to the meeting and her new position.

  1. Welcome by Andrew Parkinson (CEO & Director)

AP welcomed everyone to the new facility.

The minutes of the meetings will be published on the PAFC website.

The development of the Grandstand has been received very positively by fans. Whilst there are still some areas which the club will continue to work on, overall it has been a hugely successful project. The Hospitality provision and the added capacity within the stand will provide much needed future revenues for the Club. The middle of January sees us very much in the transfer window. [Manager] Ryan [Lowe] has given regular updates of progress and will continue to keep supporters aware of any developments. The club office staff who were located at Plumer House have now moved back to the Grandstand.  We continue to look at improving the match-day fans’ experience at Home Park with particular emphasis on the outside welcome and pre-match activity.

  1. To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 6th April 2019.

The minutes from the previous meeting, held on August 24, 2019, were duly approved.

  1. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising from the previous meeting.

  1. Questions submitted by email

ZN thanked everyone for submitting their questions in advance, and explained that because many of the questions were of a similar nature, they had been grouped together to form discussion points:

            6.1 Mayflower Grandstand

            6.1.1 Seating

Leg room was the major concern because the curvature of the seats can be abrasive to legs if people in front lean back. This was acknowledged and AP is sympathetic to the views expressed. The Grandstand has been redeveloped as opposed to rebuilt, so it would be impossible to expand leg depth without knocking the old stand down and completely rebuilding it. However, the club is having discussions with various manufacturers with regard to an alternative seating. It is unlikely that a solution will be found before the end of the season.

The seats have been signed off and the club meets all the safety requirements, however due to an external change in the process the new safety certificate might not be available for online viewing for some time.

                6.1.2 Upper concourse

The restricted space in the upper concourse of the Mayflower stand has been causing circulation issues at half time and the club are working on ways to alleviate any difficulties.

Comments were made that there were no signs in or out and the kiosks are very small. To support solutions and reduce queuing time, the club is moving towards cashless payments with the aim to have dedicated stewards in this area. Cashless payments had been at 20% across the stadium but this has risen to 50% and more terminals are being added but we have made slower progress with this than had been hoped.

Andrew was asked if Season-Tickets could be loaded with cash and the Club will be  looking into this by next season. Solutions and options will be sought for alternative ways of payment. Emergency evacuation and crowd modelling by computer has all been tested and approved by the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG).

The Swindon game met safety requirements and Inspections and Advisory meetings are ongoing. Catering has improved and worked well with the Swindon game.

            6.1.3 Tours of the facility

The Club will be hosting an open training day on February 20, which will incorporate tours. However, the diary is otherwise very full, and the club has yet to identify another date for tours, but this will happen in the future.

The club is also hosting Central League games and reserve games in the Club Argyle lounge. The Club acknowledged that they need to improve the promotion/advertising for these and other reserve team fixtures in order to give people as much notice. The Central League games are often at 2pm because of the rules laid down by the Central League, so the club has no flexibility around this.

It was pointed out that the advertising board outside the ground, that was previously used to advertise these fixtures is broken but, in the meantime, the Website and Social Media will be used to promote these matches.

6.2   Ticketing

6.2.1 Those Season Ticket holders who held Grandstand STs in the 17-18 season, and were therefore displaced by redevelopment works, and have moved back to the lower Mayflower Stand will get a refund due to the price difference between the Mayflower lower and Lyndhurst stands.

                6.2.2 Away Tickets

Concerns regarding the allocation of away tickets because non-Season Ticket holders were able to obtain tickets when they were limited, e.g. Exeter. ZN commented there are Season Ticket holders who allow others to manage tickets on their behalf for online sales. As they do not travel to away games, they also allow people to use their season ticket to book away tickets. This does lead to non-season ticket holders gaining access to tickets.

Although STs are non-transferable, if an adult Season Ticket holder is used to buy an adult ticket, there is no sensible way of policing this for Away matches. If they are buying concession tickets on adult ST or adults on concession ST, we then do not allow the booking.

The issue with tickets for Bolton away was because of their rules. A club will allocate tickets up to the volume required by regulations, on a sale or return basis, but are not bound to release more under the same T & C.  Similarly, we are unable to force an opposition club to allow pay on the day.

6.2.3 Ticket office away ground knowledge/information

The ticket office carries information relating to whether the stands are covered or uncovered, whether the seating is behind the goal or by the side of the pitch and to whether it is allocated seating or not on the information sheets that we produce for each away game. We always advise of any obstructions that we are made aware of by the away club. We do use the Away Ground Guide to try to get a picture of the away stand and its set up.

If a member of staff has been asked a question to which they don’t readily have the answer, then they should offer to find out and contact the supporter later.

6.2.4 Refunds for ST holders who are unable to make the rearranged Grimsby Town fixture (03 Mar 20) 

Regrettably the club are not in a position to offer refunds to ST holders who are unable to make the Grimsby Town fixture on the March 3, 2020.   The ST T&Cs are quite explicit about this: -

 The date and kick-off time of each match is subject to change. The Club shall have no liability to you if a match is re-arranged, save that you shall be entitled to use your Season Card to attend the re-arranged match  

It was suggested from that floor that it might be possible for individual supporters to take out insurance against postponement of fixtures.

ACTION:  ZN to investigate the feasibility of offering this service through the ticket office at the point of purchase of the ST.

6.3 Kiosks & Food and beverage

6.3.1 Issues re labelling of pasties.

There had been an issue at a recent match where the purchased pasty was not the same flavour as the one asked for or suggested by the writing on the outer packaging.  In this instance, the result was just inconvenience to the supporter but there is an obvious wider implication for people with food intolerances. 

AP agreed that there is work to do on this and it is important to get it right. A list of ingredients is available at each outlet and further training will take place in this area.

AP also confirmed that the club are looking at improving the experience for fans in the lower Mayflower and this will include consideration to covered areas in the 'fan zone' and covered drinking/eating areas, however this is unlikely to be a quick solution.

6.4 Miscellaneous

6.4.1 Away travel

The club have been given assurances that there will be little, if any, change to Away supporter travel service provision after February 15, and once Target Travel are no longer the Club's official transport provider.

The club are meeting Target Travel w/c 20 Jan 20 and it is likely that there will be more information available soon.

6.4.2 Macclesfield away

Following the postponement of the Macclesfield away fixture, supporters who were unable to reclaim their travel and other expenses were asked to contact the club. These have now been collated and the Club have made a representation to the EFL in an effort to get these costs reimbursed. At this stage the Club are unable to provide any assurance that these monies are recoverable, but more news is expected soon.

6.4.3 EFL rules for cut off times for confirmation that games will be cancelled

Following a suggestion for a new regulation to ensure that clubs postpone matches early enough to prevent unnecessary supporter journeys, ZN explained the current process for postponements and although very sympathetic, he went on to explain some of the difficulties with introducing a new rule to cover this. We are unique geographically and the EFL want to preserve the integrity of the game and fulfilment of fixtures is a major part of this. In a similar circumstance to Macclesfield clubs would argue that to call a postponement at 0900 on a Friday would be unfair because it would deprive them of 24 hours to rectify whatever the problem might be. In addition, we need to guard against over regulation, or creating regulations that would be to the benefit of a small number of clubs and not the whole collective of 71. Although unable to provide any further public comment, the EFL have charged Macclesfield with misconduct and the whole issue will be examined during that process.

6.4.4. Raised wheelchair viewing area

ZN confirmed that in addition to the wheelchair Season Ticket holders who have relocated to the Mayflower Grandstand lower tier there are a limited number of wheelchair spaces available to purchase on a match-by-match basis in this area. All enquiries to the ticket office.

6.4.5. Plans for a scoreboard now that the Grandstand has been finished

Jamie Yabsley is working with national suppliers to explore the business plan and financials around this. We're in a good place and are attempting to get something in place at some point for next season if possible. Jan mentioned that the scoreboard at Carlisle was perfect.

6.4.6     Plans for the corner area between the Mayflower and Devonport Stand

As part of the planning consent received from Plymouth City Council for the full redevelopment of the south side of Home Park Stadium, consented plans do exist for the redevelopment of both corners. That said, should the club actively consider developing these areas, we would review these plans to ensure that they meet our aspirations. In particular, we would want to make certain that things such as enabling the return of standing areas within the stadium – when legal – could be included in line with the wishes of fans. Short-term, there is a plan to make that area look much better.

This will be a longer-term project as there is not a need for additional seating at present and the business case for doing so would need to be satisfied.

6.4.7     Plans for the old car park at the rear of the stand

PAFC have no input into the use of the fenced off area as this is not the Club’s land. Our understanding is that it is still planned for the development of the ice rink use and we believe that the new completion date is January 2021. In line with the original planning consent there remains a lot of work to be completed to the external areas behind the Mayflower Grandstand. It is likely that this area will be a one-way system and it was also confirmed that the arrangements for the away team coach will remain as they currently are. In addition to the Fanzone (open to all home supporters) pre-match activities will continue outside the Devonport end.

The following questions/observations were not raised in advance and full answers will be provided at the next meeting if required 

6.4.8     Emergency Exit where the old tunnel was situated

ZN will discuss with the safety team, but his understanding is that supports should leave by the nearest exit and this Ambulance entrance was never intended to be a pedestrian egress route.

6.4.9      Problems with the tannoy in certain areas of the ground, particularly in Block 12 

Although there is widespread agreement that the tannoy system is much improved there were reports of localised differences in volume and quality. The club will continue to monitor and adjust as required.

6.4.10   10% off merchandise from the store for fans who had bought Macclesfield tickets poorly received. The feedback received by the club to this small gesture made at the time has been very positive, so it is unclear what the actual objection to this was. It was simply intended to be part of the bigger package and in addition to attempting to recover costs for abortive travel, the club are looking to see what we can do for the rearranged fixture.

6.4.11   Plans for the restaurant have full-time opening

AP said this would not be sustainable at this time and is unlikely to be cost effective. It will currently be used for planned events and the club will aim to publish an events calendar online.

6.4.12   Car Boot Sales – will these be repeated?

ZN replied that he wasn’t aware of any discussions to reinstate them.

6.4.13   Exeter Chiefs use of the stadium for European game

This is highly unlikely. In the short term, there have been preliminary discussions and it might be a possibility for the future. The requirements for rugby and football are very different and would require a long-term plan in order to adapt the stadium for this level of Rugby in such a short space of time. The club are actively looking at how Home Park can accommodate all sorts of events and activities for the future.

6.4.14   Hospitality without drinks packages

AP said that there is more to be learned about what works and what doesn't. It's too early to tell but this will be looked at.

6.4.15 Can hospitality packages be purchased but supporters still sit in other areas of the stadium?

AP said that this would be difficult especially at HT. Fans cannot get back easily, there would be problems with timings and half time, but the hospitality team would consider if this could be made to work.

6.4.16 Is it possible to purchase a Gold Package for a group of twelve as a one-off to sit in the Grandstand

AP will look at to see if there is a market for this and will discuss with the hospitality team.

Date of next meeting: April 4, 2020, 10:30 Captain's Lounge


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