The meeting was attended by Shahid Azeem (SA), Andy Muckett (AM) and Brian Bloomfield (BB) from the Football Club with Ian Goodwright (IG), John Orme (JO), Ian Barnett (IB) and Tommy Anderson (TA) of the Trust Board and Janet Guess (JG) (Secretary). Apologies were received from Football Club Directors Russ Howell, Tony Knight, John Leppard and John Denning. The following is a summary of the meeting:
1.Introduction of new Directors
IG welcomed AM and BB as Directors of the Football Club and they gave a brief outline of their roles on the Board explaining that these would develop as time moved on. AM and his company were providing accountancy services to the Football Club and ensuring that up to date figures were available. BB felt that he brought a great deal of experience to the Football Club from his business background and long term involvement with the Club. Both were proud to have been invited to join the Board and felt that improvements in communication, both internal and external, were key to the future of the Club.
2.Outstanding Actions from Last Meeting
i.Club Website : The Board acknowledged that this was still not ideal although improvements had been made. Work on this was continuing, as well as an e-commerce facility.
ii.Turnstiles : The Board agreed that there should be one turnstile that could be used by families so that they could all enter the ground together. This would also apply to entrance for the Community Stand, and the Board agreed that signage for these should be improved.
iii.Matchday Publicity : The Board would continue to provide posters monthly for fixtures next season and would be grateful to any supporters who could arrange for these to be displayed. These posters would be emailed to supporters but hard copies would also be available for collection from the Club offices or from the Trust gazebo on matchdays. The Club were continually looking for more avenues for publicising the Club.
The Board had that day issued a press statement giving an update of the past season, the difficulties encountered, the financial position and plans for the coming season. They had committed to continuing to communicate with fans.
SA paid tribute to the staff and volunteers who had been key in getting the costs down and ensuring the sustainability of the Club.
The Board explained that they had looked closely at ticket prices and concluded that these needed to remain at the same level to enable the Club to operate on a day-to-day basis, although the cost of season tickets had been reduced. They did not feel that now was the time to look at flexible ticketing options but would continue to consider these and match day offers as the season progressed. They were very keen to encourage younger supporters to be able to come to matches and were looking at various initiatives.
Link with the Army
The Board were continuing to build links with the Army, especially in commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War. They had signed the Armed Services Covenant and plans were well advanced for some matches and events to be linked to the commemoration.
Link with Surrey University
SA discussed his association with Barry Hitchcock MBE, retired Sports Director at University of Surrey and an external Trustee of the Student Union. It is recognised there is potential for Students to attend our matches in significant numbers, providing transportation can be arranged. SA will report further in due course.
IB suggested presence by ATFC at the University’s Freshers Fayre being in October.
Plans were underway to open a Community Shop in the Wellington Centre in the town centre as a community hub for the Club and area, where tickets and merchandise would be available as well as acting as hub for all community activities. The Club were hoping that this could be run and manned by volunteers.
IG stated that the Trust AGM would take place on 25 June and explained that he would be standing down from the role of Chairman although remaining as a Director. A new Chair would be elected after the AGM. JO would be resigning from the Board but would continue to be involved with the Community Stand.
The Escrow account was now closed and approximately £15,000 transferred to the Forever Shots Fund. This would shortly be open for all to donate money to the account, which was ring-fenced for use in the unfortunate event of the Club going out of business and had been established at the behest of Trust members.
It was noted that the Trust had purchased a nominal Shareholding in the Football Club.
BB was a member of the Trust and suggested that all Directors should join the Trust, although they would not be able to serve on the Board due to the constitution of the Trust.
This was discussed and the Club and Trust will continue to work together to ensure that the issues raised are addressed where feasible. The number of contributors that had volunteered to help the Club was welcomed and IB agreed to do more work on this to identify the best way forward.
One issue discussed was catering and it was agreed that both Clark’s Catering and Russell (mobile catering units) should be invited to a future meeting to discuss whether new menu options could be introduced.
The Trust were working with Clark’s Caterers regarding the provision of a bar area at the top of the ground on the site of the old derelict toilet block. Provided the costs were not prohibitive, it was hoped that much of the work and supply of materials would be on a voluntary and donated basis. Once further investigations had been carried out, Trust members would be asked for their support of the facility which, it was hoped, would be for their benefit, as it would give them a pre and post match drinking facility which has been desperately needed since the demise of the Black Bull. It would also generate additional funds for the Football Club through the contract with Clark’s Caterers.
The Trust were still looking to provide a Perspex side to the South Stand to improve the comfort of supporters but the cost was so far prohibitive.
JO stated that this had been a tremendous success with over 1500 tickets given out to local clubs and groups. Great feedback had been received and a montage of photos and testimonials was being prepared to aid publicity for the facility. The Trust said they would like to manage the Stand next season as a project and this gained some support from the Football Club Board. The Trust had set up a dedicated email address for the Community Stand firstname.lastname@example.org to facilitate communication.
8.Any Other Business
The Club badge was being refreshed but would still include the Phoenix. This would feature on the new playing strip and proposed new merchandise.
The Trust and the FITC would be having stands at the Show on 28 June and all supporters were encouraged to attend this fantastic local event.
Step By Step Sleep-out
This would be taking place over the night of 20/21 June and SA, JO, IG and TA were taking part. All supporters were welcome to register and participate or sponsor those doing so.
There was some discussion about opening the EBB Lounge for the England matches although the interest expressed so far via Shotsweb had been muted. A decision would be made nearer the time. The Trust would be running a prediction competition, details would be issued shortly.
The Trust had previously received member approval for a new mascot costume to be manufactured, but had postponed the project pending post administration developments at the Football Club. It was agreed that the project would now proceed.
The meeting closed at 11.00 pm.