MINUTES from the Albion Assembly June meeting on Thursday, June 14, 2018.
In attendance: Martin Swain (Director of Comms), Mark Miles (Director of Operations), Rob Lake (Director of The Albion Foundation).
Club media staff: Drew Williams, Dave Bowler, James Mackay.
Apologies from: Dave Holloway, Ann Staniland, David Price, Dan Watts, Bryan Malsbury, Kev Candon, Iain Bate, Chris Jones, Suki Gill, Jayne Gazey-French, Shin Aujla, Heidi Zoeller, Steve Ghuman.
Albion Assembly membership reboot proposal
MS stated that now was a good opportunity to refresh the Assembly membership. He thought fresh voices, faces and input would be welcomed. He suggested opening up between 10 and 15 places and appealing to prospective new members. He wanted to ensure the Assembly was representative of all Albion fans.
The Assembly approved and confirmed a sub-committee would be created to help the club select and induct new members. A total number of 35 members was suggested. The Assembly also noted that now was also an appropriate time to reboot the constitution of the Assembly, as discussed in previous meetings.
Artist in Residence update
MS stated that he and DW had seen the final cut of ‘Artist in Residence’ - a Channel 4 documentary following portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg and West Bromwich Albion. He pointed to Assembly involvement after November’s meeting was filmed.
EFL, PL2 streaming update
MS fully explained WBA TV’s domestic and overseas streaming service - all of which will be confirmed via an official club communication in the coming weeks. With regard to streaming of Albion’s PL2 and U18 fixtures, he stated that it was something the media department would look into ahead of the new season.
Safe standing update
MM again confirmed that a proposal was submitted to government officials in October surrounding safe standing in The Hawthorns. This was declined. He stated that the Club had appealed the decision and was awaiting a response. The issue will be discussed in Parliament later this month.
EFL and WBA policy on away allocation
The Assembly asked whether the Premier League’s ‘sale only’ policy on tickets applied in the EFL. MM firstly stated that he believed the allocations chosen by the Club were appropriate last season. He added that, in the EFL, a 2,000 allocation is standard for away supporters. There is a ‘sale or return’ policy in the EFL, so there is no longer a financial risk for the Club. There are no thresholds for what the Club would take.
EFL and WBA policy on flags/banners in The Hawthorns
MS confirmed that Marketing Manager Megan McBurnie will be meeting with the atmosphere sub-committee in July to further discuss stadium atmosphere. MM stated that flags and banners were welcome in The Hawthorns providing they had a fire certificate. Anyone bringing in larger flags or banners should contact the Club first.
Individual matchday prices and EFL prices
The Assembly asked whether there was a price cap for away tickets for the upcoming Championship season. MM stated that the Premier League £30 price cap for tickets no longer applied. In the EFL, the away team can charge what they want, but they must charge a comparable rate to other parts of the ground. For example, if the host team charged £40 for a ticket the travelling team could not charge £5 for the same areas to home fans. The Assembly asked whether the admin fee for away season tickets was still necessary. MS confirmed he would raise this issue with the Club.
Price increase from U18 to U23 season tickets
The Assembly stated that the Club had done admirably with U18 season ticket pricing but that the step up from U18 to U23 is large. There is concern that fans leaving the U18 bracket will not come to games. MM stated that the tickets had been shifted from U17 to U18, meaning that a new year had been added to the U18 category. People in full-time education will now still be covered by the U18 prices when they weren’t before. MM believes that the jump from £99 at U18 to £199 at U23 in the Birmingham Road End and Smethwick End, considering an adult price is £329, is not unreasonable.
Why were there no free coaches last season?
MS reported that away travel was subsidised across the whole of last season as an alternative to offering free travel for one game. That initiative is to continue in the 2018/19 season. Loyalty points for coach travel will no longer be rewarded.
Clarification on the Club’s anti-discrimination policy
The Assembly asked for greater clarification on the club’s anti-discrimination policy. MM confirmed that all details were explained in the Independent Equality and Diversity sub-committee. The Assembly agreed this was satisfactory.
Potential for free delivery on club shop items
The Assembly asked why items ordered from the club shop incur a £4.99 delivery fee. DW quoted Head of Retail Paul Bradbury. He stated that all delivery services and providers were in the process of being evaluated and the delivery fee was something to be discussed going forward.
Disabled supporters’ car parking cost
The Assembly asked whether the Club thought the £160 per season cost of parking for disabled fans was too expensive. MM stated that £100 for the season on the Sandwell School car park, coupled with a £150 disabled season ticket for fan and carer, was not unreasonable. He noted that that cost of £100 is £60 cheaper than parking in the EPPP building.
The future of Albion News
DB responded to an EFL vote which made matchday programmes optional for Football League clubs. The Assembly believes Albion News is something the Club can be really proud of. DB confirmed there were no plans to stop production of a matchday programme.
Any other business
The Assembly asked what the policy was for taking photographs inside The Hawthorns? MM confirmed that ground regulations state you cannot take any videos or photographs inside The Hawthorns that are deemed to be ‘professional’. For example, if you take photos with a large camera with a retractable lens you are likely to be stopped by a steward. You are unlikely to be stopped taking photos on a phone.
The Assembly asked about whether the price of mascot packages would change for the upcoming EFL season? MS said he would relay this back to the Club and report back to the Assembly.
RL pointed the Assembly in the direction of a new ‘reminiscence’ group for fans to attend once they have finished the NHS-funded dementia course. This is run in conjunction with The Albion Foundation.
RL also mentioned an Albion Foundation project based in the Punjab. TAF is exploring a partnership where Foundation coaches will go out to the Punjab to give children increased opportunities in sport.
RL reminded the Assembly of the annual Blind Dave Colour Run which is to be run in memory of Cyrille Regis and Richard Eades on Saturday, July 14.