MINUTES from the Albion Assembly January meeting on Thursday, January 11, 2018.
In attendance: Martin Goodman (MG), Martin Swain (MS), Mark Miles (MM), Rob Lake (RL), Drew Williams (DW), Dave Bowler (DB), James Mackay (JM).
Apologies from: John Yeomans, Suki Gill, Dev Pal, Sarah Atkinson, Alan Cleverley, Iain Bate.
Liverpool FA Cup tie ticket allocation
For the FA Cup tie at Anfield on Saturday, January 27 (ko 7.45pm), MG indicated he intended to subsidise coach travel on the Saturday evening and had already engaged in initial discussion with Dave Holloway of Baggies Travel to facilitate this. He explained it was a tough fixture for which to gauge numbers in terms of ticket allocation. He outlined to the Assembly the issue of paying for any unsold tickets that had been requested from the opposition club and asked for their opinion as to how many tickets to request. MG informed the Assembly of allocation brackets of 900, 1800, 3000, 6000 and 8500. With subsidised travel, there were varying opinions from Assembly members as to what allocation would be required with many suggesting 1500 and 2000 was probably the right area. MG said that the Club would make a final decision after the Brighton game but would factor in their comments.
PA system complaints
The Club acknowledged that this had been a growing problem during the season and had figured in the agenda item requests from all Assembly members. It had led to particular disappointment, members reported, because they had struggled to hear Dave Challanor's tribute to Richard Eades at the Arsenal game. But members in the East Stand indicated that this was not the case and the problem lay with music, which was too loud. Fans in the West Stand, however, said they could not hear music at all, but Birmingham Road said it was fine. MM confirmed that a new mixing desk - believed to be the cause of the issues - had been ordered and would be in place for the fixture against Brighton.
Can we recreate The Great Escape atmosphere?
The Assembly believed the Club tapped into the wants of the fans for the 2004/05 season and should do so again. This was seen 'in flashes' for the game against Arsenal and could be a good way to galvanise support going forward. MG indicated that ticket deals could be introduced to fill the stadium from the Southampton games onwards, providing season-ticket holders would be happy with discounts. MG said that the Club faces issues of 'no shows' each week. The Fanzone received a positive response but it was said that the atmosphere dropped on entry to the stadium. MG confirmed that clappers would be on the seats for the game against Brighton. "They are not to everyone's liking but we have to try different things," he said. The Assembly gave a mixed response but were grateful that efforts were being made to create noise inside The Hawthorns. MS confirmed that a 'flag day' was being considered. However, it was stated by the Assembly that the best atmospheres are created organically. They believed that despite an improvement in pre-match videos and playlists this season, the onus largely falls on the fans themselves to drive atmosphere and noise.
Assembly members had asked whether "The Liquidator" might be used as a 'walk-out' song but MS stated that the Club had indeed tried this for the opening games of last season but to no great effect. The Assembly asked whether it could be played earlier as a means of building atmosphere. MS said this would be considered alongside a wider playlist to encourage noise.
Traffic flow on M5 roundabout.
The Assembly understood that this issue was not the Club's responsibility but asked whether there was anything that could be done to improve safety. MM stated that it was traffic signal issues causing congestion on the roundabout. He reported that the works on the M5 are on schedule and will be hopefully be lifted by October 2018. The Club works closely with Highways England but could not affect change. Members also raised the idea of improving train services before and after games and MM confirmed that a meeting with Travel West Midlands had already been arranged again to discuss this issue.
Explanation of FFP and its impact on spending.
MG explained that short-term cost control allows an increase in player wages - including player agency fees - by £7m year on year. This starts at a base of £67m. This can be increased based on a club's commercial revenue; non-TV earnings. The sanctions for breaking this range from fines to points deduction. In terms of profit sustainability, a club is allowed to lose a maximum of £105m over a three-year period.
Update: MG offered to seek out any published material which might provide further clarification and recommends an article from the FFP official website.
Update on season ticket meeting with Assembly club group.
MG stated at November's meeting that talks would begin in January and that the Club had already held initial discussions. MG confirmed he would catch up with the subcommittee in the 'next seven days'.
Is anything done to welcome/promote visits of Armed Forces personnel and veterans?
The Assembly asked what the Club does to this end. RL confirmed that The Albion Foundation have a partnership with Help for Heroes who receive complimentary tickets to home fixtures. There is an amputee team, with a local army barracks providing team-building days for affected personnel. The Foundation also contributes to the 'Tickets for Troops' scheme. The Assembly suggested that this be publicised on social media to raise awareness.
What is the progress of Yuning Zhang in Germany?
MG confirmed that Zhang was still at Werder Bremen and has been progressing well despite not appearing in the First Team. He explained that Bremen are in a very similar position to Albion and were wary of blooding any youngsters in such a competitive and crucial campaign. He remained unavailable for the Premier League as he could not obtain a work permit.
West Stand half-time congestion issues.
The Assembly renewed complaints about congestion in the West Stand at half time. MM said that there were stewards in place at every game to ensure maximum comfort and safety for supporters. But he promised that the matchday team would look into the issue.
Update on James and Chris' testimonial.
James and Chris are consulting with an independent company to organise a testimonial. The Club is happy to assist where possible. MS confirmed that a potential testimonial will form part of the 2018 calendar and the 'Years of the Throstle' schedule. But the onus for deciding on the nature of the testimonial remained with the players who were still undecided as to which option to take. A game immediately after the end of this season had initially been suggested but it now seemed more likely that a fixture would be dedicated to them as part of a pre-season build up for 2018-19.
Update on 1968 reunion dinner.
MS confirmed that an update would be put on the Club's official channels in the coming days but that a 1968 reunion dinner will be the keystone in the plan for a coming year of celebration.
What is the owner's long-term vision for the Club?
MG stated that the vision the ownership have for the Club has not changed since their initial purchase. Their primary focus is to retain Premier League status - something which has driven the events of the past three months. The Club is using China as a means of generating income domestically and drive the business overseas.
Any other business.
The Assembly gave an update on the Baggies Abroad Travel Service and informed members on how to get involved. The Club had issued a press release in the week prior to the January meeting and would continue to publicise the group going forward.
The Assembly wished to put on record their thanks to DB for the continued quality of 'Albion News' and the 'Years of The Throstle' book which was released over the Christmas period.
RL gauged reaction of Assembly members to 'men's health' checks in the Fanzone following the tragic and untimely passing of Richard Eades. He also suggested the annual 'colour run' being run in Richard's name. Both initiatives were met with approval from members.
RL also raised awareness of the 'Albion Memories' group.
Thursday, March 15, 2018.