A look back at the recent meeting of the fans’ group
DATE OF MEETING: Thursday, March 31.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: 24 members were present, with apologies from joint-Vice Chair and nine other Assembly members.
ITEMS ON AGENDA:
* Introduction to three new members
* Suggestions and Actions
* Update on The Hawthorns facelift
* Update on Albion Archive
* Junior 'Assembly' update
* Equality and Diversity
* Any Other Business
* Date of next meeting
1. New members Lisa Walton, Sarah Atkinson and Elizabeth Hayward were introduced to the Assembly.
2. Suggestions and Actions
The following points were raised:
* Recognising the Everiss family in the form of the naming of a suite.
This is acknowledged by the Club. The Everiss name will be prominent in any future renaming of Hawthorns' rooms or suites.
* Renaming of West/East Stands.
There are no plans to do so under the current regime.
* Expansion of fan base.
The Indian and Chinese markets remain a priority on the international stage while locally, the Club was drawing up plans to welcome the growing Polish and Eastern European population. Assembly suggestions included reaching out to the student population of Birmingham and Coventry. The club has already strong links with the University of Wolverhampton. Ticket promotions with Sandwell College will continue.
Opening a club shop in Birmingham was also mentioned.
* Relocation of the Throstle.
Under Premier League requirements to expand facilities for disabled supporters, there are plans to introduce additional disabled bays (for 2017/18). One option could impact on the Woodman Corner and the future siting of the Throstle. The Club will welcome suggestions from the Assembly if the Throstle is moved.
* Stadium improvements - any plans to increase capacity.
There are no plans to increase the capacity.
* Club shop range being extended for female fans.
This is a football-wide problem - one which impacts on many clubs of similar size. Adidas don't produce ladies' replica shirts and although Umbro offered this during their most recent five-year sponsorship deal with the Club, fewer than 1000 were sold. The club are constantly reviewing and upgrading merchandise and female Assembly members have been invited to join range plan meetings. Four volunteered to do so.
* More merchandise available for overseas and issue of prohibitive shipping costs.
The Club already make a loss on international packaging. The two carriers - DHL and DPD - are the cheapest available. It was acknowledged that Albion could do more during pre-season tours, particularly if they visit the United States again and expand into the Indian and Chinese markets.
* Tickets: Clarity on the £30 price cap on away tickets.
This will be a maximum price - home and away fans need not be charged identical prices in the future. It was predicted that there will be games where home fans will pay more than away fans and vice versa. How the ruling will impact on away fans remains to be seen although it is hoped it will encourage clubs to continue reciprocal ticket offers. The £1 booking fee - added by the software supplier - will also remain for fans who book online or via phone. It was also disclosed by an Assembly member that only three times had travelling Albion fans been charged under £30 this season so far.
* Why weren't loyalty points used for Reading? Why were people allowed two tickets each? What will happen for Bournemouth?
Time constraints made it unviable to implement the Loyalty Points system. It was noted that tickets for the Reading game (Feb 20) did not go on sale to home season ticket holders until Feb 15; the tickets did not arrive at The Hawthorns until Feb 16. Again, there wasn't enough time before the game to process the sales and distribute tickets on a one-ticket-per-fan basis. Reading were not in a position to offer a 'collection' service. However, Loyalty Points and one-ticket-per-person WILL be used for the Bournemouth match.
* Not enough done to advertise tickets across club's media platform.
The Assembly were told that ALL ticket details were posted on social media and the website, with frequent updates. One common complaint from the club was supporters still requesting dates of ticket sales rather than clicking on links posted on social media, which always include such information.
* Smethwick End gates causing problems when closed 15 minutes before kick-off.
This practice is monitored pre-match and gates can be shut at any time if necessary.
* Tannoy, too loud - especially fan cam.
The general feedback so far is that the tannoy has been improved. It was also recorded that 'mystery shopper' - a blind supporter - was sat in the Birmingham Road End for the Crystal Palace fixture and was satisfied with the tannoy.
* Bins overflowing with rubbish.
Any bins outside of the club's premises are the domain of the local authority. Observations are passed on a regular basis.
* Why aren't all half-time scores shown on the big screens?
Owing to time constraints, prioritising Premier League scores and local results will continue.
* Why have the club stopped showing the game on the concourses?
Media company Sports Revolution supply these pictures and should be doing so. This complaint will be passed on.
* Why so few replays on big screens? And why are replays interrupted by adverts?
Two reasons: 1. Certain match action (penalty shouts, off-ball incidents) can't be shown; 2. Pre-scheduled rotation of adverts mean they often clash with replays.
* Crushes to get to toilets in the Halfords.
The club are unaware of any issues, however they will monitor this. An Assembly member suggested the introduction of a barrier to ensure fans queuing for refreshments are not impeding supporters queuing for toilets. This would be passed on.
* Lower toilets for children.
A very valid query - one which will be assessed and any developments reported back.
3. UPDATE ON THE HAWTHORNS
A campaign the Assembly has pursued since its inception. Costings have now been gathered and major artwork is now planned for the interior and exterior of The Hawthorns in time for next season.
Members were shown artist impressions of how this artwork might look to general approval. One idea was for 300 Club members to be among the players chosen for the branding.
4. ALBION ARCHIVE
Members were given an update on the Archive, which has been backed by the Assembly throughout. The Archive will include a virtual museum (composed of film and photos), a comprehensive statistical database, featuring every game, every player - including any relevant video, audio, pictorial and matchday programme content. Supporter contributions will also be important. Budgets for the Archive are now in the process of being finalised.
5. JUNIOR 'ASSEMBLY'
We have launched the search for 14-18 year-olds. It is proposed one of the Junior 'Assembly' members is represented on the senior Assembly.
6. EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
Assembly members were brought up to date about the Club’s hopes to improve its Equality and Diversity grading. The input of Assembly members was requested and it was agreed that a “sub-committee” would be established, under the direction of Albion Foundation director Rob Lake, to lead this.
7. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
* The Assembly discussed the impact of the Fanzone as its first season reached a close and there was general agreement that the initiative had been a success. But there was one suggestion recommending more seating.
8. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
May 26, 7pm for 7.30pm start.