Club News

Albion Assembly meeting minutes - September 2021


The meeting minutes from the latest Albion Assembly meeting can be found below.


Albion Assembly Meeting, The Hawthorns

Thursday, September 9, 2021 – 7pm

Club staff in attendance: Simon King (SK), Mark Miles (MM), Cindy Joyce (CJ), Ian Skidmore (IS).  

Apologies: SK listed

Resignation from Jayne Gazey-French.

Introduction to new Shareholders 4 Albion representative, Martin Grainger.


Chief Commercial Officer, Simon King, opened the meeting and introduced staff members in attendance; Operations Director, Mark Miles, Supporter Liaison Officer, Cindy Joyce and Head of Communications, Ian Skidmore. 


MM confirmed the club changed online ticketing systems in the summer and admitted this had not gone as smoothly as the club would have wanted. There had been issues around Single Sign On (SSO) which links together the multiple accounts fans had in the past, to a single account. The change was made in order to provide supporters with an enhanced online experience and to clear up previously held poor data. MM insisted there will be huge benefits to the new system in time but said there had been some short-term pain in order for there to be long-term gain. MM said many fans were now purchasing tickets online and this suggested the vast majority of issues had now been resolved. 

MM said that the issues at the Arsenal were due to supporters misunderstanding whether or not they were entitled to a complimentary ticket and the systems worked as expected. MM said that the turnstile access system is provided by industry leaders, Fortress. A small number of cards, around 3-4% of season-ticket holders, received faulty cards, which is normal for each issue (every 2 years). MM said that the club has identified that card readers were struggling to read QR codes from mobile phones. This has been diagnosed at the phones opening up the payment wallet and therefore removing the QR code from the screen. MM confirmed that an order had been placed with the turnstile company to hopefully resolve this issue. 

When asked about the issues season-ticket holder experienced renewing online MM said he believed this will have been fully resolved by next summer. MM accepted these issues should have been communicated to supporters.


MM confirmed the club had consulted data prior to changing the ticket office opening hours and said most purchases happened between 10am and 3pm, with very limited sales between 9am and 10am or after 3pm. 


MM explained that he understands that many private car parks had not re-opened since the return of fans. MM confirmed the only car parks belonging to / operated by the club are the East Stand, Birmingham Road Car Park, Sandwell Academy, EPPP building and Hawthorns House. All other car parks are privately owned. The club have advertised private car parks in order to provide supporters with this information but the cost of such car parks is out of the club’s control. All pay-on-the-day car parks in the vicinity of The Hawthorns are privately owned and operated. 


An agenda item had been proposed by a member regarding Birmingham Road closures. MM confirmed both the Club and Sandwell Council were unaware of such closures and stated this may have been hearsay based on a bridge inspection which is not expected to cause any issues as it will be done when there are no matches scheduled.  


MM confirmed the club have again raised issues regarding lights’ priority at the island with National Highways (previously Highways England). This remains out of the club’s control but it has been raised by the club on multiple occasions. 


MM confirmed there is currently a lane closure of the A41 and Halfords Lane from 90 minutes before kick-off until 40 minutes after the final whistle. From the game against Millwall on Saturday, September 11, the closure on Halfords Lane will be extended to the railway bridge to ensure the safety of pedestrians as they walk to and from the stadium. 

MM confirmed there will now be a full closure of the A41, on the stadium side of the road, from 10 minutes before the final whistle until it is safe to reopen, in order for fans to safely leave the stadium. The Assembly praised the club for its work in this area and the general feeling was that these changes will protect supporters leaving the vicinity of the stadium by foot. IS confirmed the information regarding the new Matchday Traffic Plan had been communicated by the club and would be publicised on social media in the lead up to the game. 

On the issues regarding public transport, MM confirmed the local transport networks had experienced staff shortages following the pandemic which has led to fewer trains and tram services. 

In reply to an agenda item on a lack of female stewards, MM confirmed there were two fewer female stewards than the club had two years ago – but insisted the club would like more female stewards. Steward number have dropped across football and MM said the club had done well to retain the vast majority of its stewards. 

A park and ride system was proposed in the meeting. MM said this had been considered previously but a lack of offsite parking and traffic around the stadium had been a stumbling block. MM suggested this might be something to consider in the future. 


SK confirmed the club are looking at the feasibility of placing new units adjacent to Greggs. SK said it is difficult to locate appropriate units at the standard required. SK said it must be financially viable in order for the club to proceed with a mini FanZone. 

Utilising the East Stand car park was proposed and MM said this was possible but it must be safe and practical for all, with the majority of the space required for parking, as well as access and egress to and from the stadium. 


SK confirmed the club had invested in new technology systems with new tills, cashless, digital menu boards and two new bottle bars in the East Stand concourse to provide quicker service. SK confirmed the club had put in place several measures to increase the speed of service and said kiosks were busier than ever. Unfortunately, SK confirmed it is difficult to deliver a perfect experience in an old stadium, but the club is aware it needs to continue to work to improve service levels. SK insisted the club would like do more to improve concourses but said we are restricted by small spaces and large numbers. 


MM said now there was no legal requirement to wear a mask it was difficult to enforce. The club have requested supporters wear masks but it remains a personal choice and impossible to enforce. 


SK explained the retail sector had changed immeasurably during the pandemic and most club retails sales were now online, which was a contributing factor in the closure of the club’s Merry Hill store. If the club had continued with the old opening hours SK said there would be days when the store lost money pre-COVID, so it was inevitable this would be the case post-COVID. The new opening hours are appropriate to demand. SK said opening hours would be extended in the lead-up to Christmas and during school holidays and the club will adapt where necessary for kit launches, etc, but this will not justify opening for full hours, seven days per week. SK said most clubs have reduced their opening hours. Those that haven’t are likely to be losing money on certain days. SK confirmed online retail sales have been much higher throughout the pandemic as habits have changed.


MM said the club do not ban supporters unless it is absolutely necessary and appropriate and the club works towards a resolution, if possible. There are a small number of banning orders currently in place. The assembly praised the club for its swift response to ban a supporter found guilty of racially abusing Romaine Sawyers. 


IS explained cap presentations were suspended while fans were absent during the pandemic. Presentations will begin again at the Millwall fixture. IS emphasised the need for caps to be presented appropriately with fans present, where possible. 


MM confirmed the club have a sustainability policies (under the banners of Environmental and Energy) in place which can be found on the club website.   


SK explained this had not been budgeted for in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. SK said he would explore the opportunity of financing the project in the future. 


DW asked if the club could publicise branch meeting dates and events on the club website and in the matchday programme. IS said this was possible. A member proposed a meeting of supporters’ club branches to discuss communications. The official supporters’ club main branch will organise a meeting of all branches to discuss. It was agreed communications should be collated by the main branch and sent to the club for publication. IS confirmed this could happen on a monthly basis. 


IS confirmed pre-season dates were not publicised in the usual way and apologised for any inconvenience to supporters. 


SK challenged assembly members to consider ways the AA could improve in the future. SK said this was a case of building on what has already been achieved and evolving the group. SK said this should be fan and member led. A general discussion followed and SK asked members to email in their suggestions of how they would like to structure the Albion Assembly going forward to maximise its impact on the club, ahead of the next meeting. SK said the roles of Chair and Vice-Chair also need to be filled at the next meeting. It was agreed by the AA that a member would sign-off on the minutes of this meeting. 



MM said it has been considered in the past and the club are open to the possibility of its introduction, but admitted there are no immediate plans for it to be implemented. 


MM confirmed the club recycle as much waste as possible.


SK said the membership price increase brought the club in line with prices charged at many other clubs. SK believes memberships offers good value and said the quality of video available through WBA TV+, and reward cash offered further value. 


MM confirmed the club had sold more than 17,000 season tickets and 2,000 memberships. 


MM confirmed the club makes the garden available to supporters and maintains the grounds. The club does not police the garden in terms of spacing. There is a supporters’ group that regularly meets to make the area as attractive as possible. 


Members said they felt disconnected from the club and felt there needs to be more communication from Chief Executive, Xu Ke, and the Chairman. SK and MM confirmed they would report that back in the next board meeting. 


A member asked if the club received compensation when a player is injured on international duty. IS confirmed he believed this was the case. 

Next meeting: Monday, November 29, 2021 – 7pm