A look back at the most recent meeting of the fans’ group
DATE OF MEETING: Thursday, February 4
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: 23 members were present at Albion’s training ground, with apologies from joint-Vice Chair and six other Assembly members.
ITEMS ON AGENDA:
• Q&A WITH RICHARD GARLICK ON THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW (1)
• CLUB PROJECTS (2)
• ALBION ARCHIVE (3)
• NEW MEMBER ELECTIONS (4)
• ANY OTHER MATTERS (5)
• DATE OF NEXT MEETING (6)
1. The Albion Assembly got the opportunity to quiz Director of Football Administration Richard Garlick (RG) on all matters including the Club’s transfer window activity.
RG conducted a thorough Q&A just days after the window had closed and inevitably there was a strong focus on events surrounding Saido Berahino.
Insisting that this issue had been handled without any of the “drama” suggested by some media reports, RG confirmed there had been interest from several clubs but re-stated Albion’s view that January was a poor time for player trading and that Albion were “never going to sell to a rival”.
He did not accept Berahino’s value would be less this summer, and added: “His goals could be crucial in ensuring we finish as high up the table as we possibly can…I’m confident there is a win-win scenario for everybody.”
RG provided a detailed response to questions from the floor regarding the sales of Kemar Roofe and Adil Nabi, during which he stated the Academy format, and progressing young players to first-team level, remained the “biggest issue facing football in this country”.
2. Sales and Marketing Director Adrian Wright (AW) gave a detailed breakdown of the Club’s ambitions to engage an international audience, citing the venture in India aimed at opening additional income streams and growing the Club’s profile.
AW then led a lengthy discussion centred around filling The Hawthorns on matchdays and the overall supporter experience, including attracting younger fans.
Ticket prices and the quality of football were the two main points raised by members as deterring supporters from attending. The Fanzone was recognised as a success but AW acknowledged the need to help make the stadium appear more homely and welcoming. This was now being discussed at Board level, he confirmed.
It was also revealed that the Club were weighing up plans to replace the stadium’s big screens, significantly upgrade the training ground and re-design its digital operations - all of which would require significant investment.
3. Publications Editor Dave Bowler (DB) provided an update on the Albion Archive with a written presentation for Assembly members to consider before the next meeting.
He said the project was feasible in terms of resource but the difficulties ahead lay in the mechanics and start-up costs. Director of Communications Martin Swain (MS) said the idea had been registered at board level and the initiative will be advanced, with DB given time to develop the archive.
4. It was agreed that the Vice Chair would send out a short bio of the two proposed new members to The Assembly. Any objections could be raised before the next meeting.
5. Some members questioned the progress of the Assembly, acknowledging that while it was a positive step to be kept informed of developments, no significant changes had yet been achieved - something the wider fan base needed to see.
RG, MS and AW responded that while the Assembly was not tasked with running the Club, a two-way communication had been opened and the views raised given airtime at the highest level.
But it was agreed the Assembly would discuss at the next meeting the merits of “focus groups” being set-up from the membership to be given specific tasks.
It was also accepted that members would in future contact staff with action points at least a week before each meeting to give the Club opportunity to resolve problems.
a) Complaints about poor and ineffective policing at the M5 Junction 1 traffic island which further aggravated the journey to the stadium.
Club response: This will be raised again at the forthcoming Safety Advisory Group meeting (local authority, police, SGSA etc.). It is outside of our control but the Club can only raise awareness of these complaints.
b) Complaints about volume of the PA system.
Club response: In recent matches this has been down to user error and has been resolved.
c) Complaints on behalf of fans whose walk-way to the stadium at the Woodman Corner has been made unpleasant during wet weather by the formation of a huge puddle in the pedestrian areas.
Club response: We are aware of this and have already raised the issue with Sandwell Highways. They have been asked to clear the drains as the one in this area is either blocked or too slow to drain away. We hope for a swift solution.
d) Complaints about booking tickets on-line.
Club response: These cases are now very isolated and the biggest problems are caused by user error. Most recently, supporters tried to purchase Bristol City tickets without having enough points.
The other most common reasons for on-line booking problems are: Forgotten log-in details; logging-on to the wrong website; expired memberships and insufficient loyalty points for purchase.
6. The Club will present an up-date on all these issues at the next Assembly meeting, which will go ahead at The Hawthorns on Thursday, March 31 (7pm for 7.30pm start).