February 8, 2016 by Made In Brum
Thanks first of all to the fans that submitted ideas and questions for us to forward to the club on their behalf. We received over 80 questions which were ALL submitted to the club prior to the meeting.
Any fan that submitted a question has been answered directly by email prior to this publication.
Supporters Forum February 2016 1300 International Suite
Confirmed Attendees: David Boston (DB), Tom Rowell (TR), Colin Tattum (CT),
John Griffin (JG),
Margaret Decker (MD) blues trust,
Linda Goodman (LG) Birmingham Supp club,
Tony Routely (TYR) coach travel,
Bik Singh (BS) Blues4 all,
Chris Sinclair (CS),
David Edwards (DE),
David Smith (DS) BCFC official forum, Blues Views and Blues Collective affiliate admin
Dean Lomas (DL) Blues Collective Admin ,
Ray Hobrow (RH) Blues Collective admin,
Lynda Courts (LC) Reditch Blues,
Tina Hobrow (TH) Blues Collective admin.
Updates from previous meetings: DB
Lethargic ball boys: David advised that these boys were provided by the Community Trust. This information has been fed back to them and they have been advised of what the fan base are saying. BCFC management have gone to the council about the feasibility of using schools or local community groups however this is not currently possible due to employment legislation.
No update from council about parking – BCFC contacted them again mid Jan however the consultation is believed to be ongoing.
Pedestrian safety issue near Bordesley Circus – hoping by beginning of next season that traffic light system will be in place however this is reliant on fans crossing at the right time and location.
Supporter safety after home games – Steve Payne advised that the Coventry Road must be closed but Cattell Road can’t be – to be taken back to council.
Dave Hoult (security officer) to review current policy and look at banning all forms of E Cigs / Vapes in stadium on match days. This will be reviewed over close season.
Lack of Hand drying facilities around the ground – commercial and operations obtaining quotes to get better facilities over next couple of months.
Lack of seating in club class – can’t put anymore seating in the area but looking at foldable seats as an option (during close season).
Ticketing & Retail:
- Can BCFC influence the price of away tickets? We already have members who refuse to pay over £30 for an adult ticket and are therefore staying away when they would normally have gone to the game.
- The club has no influence over the price of away tickets; each club has to offer the equivalent seating around the grounds at the price they are normally charged at. There is no reason however, why the fans/supporters clubs cannot write to the away clubs direct if we feel we are being overcharged.
- Can the Ticket Office issue a tweet whenever away ticket selling details are announced?
- The club advised that this does happen already, and the club was asked to ensure that the announcements are put on all social media.
- What are the Club doing to attract local youngsters to come and support the club? What discounted tickets are offered?
- Ticket incentive scheme (4+ tickets) to encourage new fans is already in operation (however felt this was being abused and people using it that would already be coming to the matches anyway). From October local school children have been invited to open days where they have also given match day tours and each child has been offered x5 free tickets in the Family Stand.
- Facility to redeem loyalty points at the online shop would be excellent. It would be great after logging in to the online store, if I could see my points total & also have the option to redeem any points against the purchase of new merchandise. (Same goes for online ticket purchases, come to think of it).
- Tom Rowell (Head of Brand and Marketing) advised that this was a one way feed to the loyalty point’s portal which unfortunately doesn’t feed back into the club shop. However fans can log on to the portal in the shop and can view what you will earn online, but can’t claim points at this time.
- Free club shirt with every season ticket brought, get some club colours in the stands again, we don’t see shirts, scarf’s flags etc
Shirt sales are the biggest form of income for BCFC and so this wouldn’t be viable however they would review and consider the idea of scarf / free flag to wave days. This would however be heavily influenced on clubs budgets – will update at next meeting.
- Members with season tickets have seen that the club is advertising Beer and a Balti for Bolton when you buy your match ticket; they want to know how this works for them?
- Whilst the club had some negative feedback from season ticket holders, it was explained that the idea behind this was to try to entice floating supporters/wavering fans to come to the match on what will be a cold Tuesday night. It was agreed in the room that we would rather see the stadium full with offers like this, and upset a few, however if the negative feedback was overwhelming they wouldn’t do it again and will try something else. It is being monitored how many more people come and are taking advantage of this offer to determine its success vs. the people who are upset at the idea.
- Also the club is then saying that as well as the free food and drink with a ticket, it is happy hour from 6.30pm until 7.45pm, evening matches are always chaos so how are the catering outlets going to cope with the (hoped) influx of fans queuing.
- The club is monitoring where the demand/uptake for this offer is taking place and will be putting more staff in these areas in accordance with sales.
- What will happen if the club runs out of pies/hotdogs/burgers etc – will fans have to put up with what is left when they arrive?
- The caterers have assured the club that they will not run out of anything as the uptake is being closely monitored and it is envisaged that there is likely to be more waste, rather than running out.
- How are Vegetarians being catered for – it only says chicken Balti, and the pies/hotdogs and burgers are not suitable?
- Yes vegetarians are covered in this offer with a vegetarian soup, cheese & onion pasty.
Dave Boston advised that over the next 6 months he will be conducting a full review of the Clubs concourse catering. The half season survey shows that majority of people are clearly using surrounding pubs and are arriving often no more than 20 minutes before the match. So everything will be looked into, ways of being more efficient, quicker with both bars and the food. The Club have lost a number of casual or match day staff to Resorts World due to higher rates of pay; however the staffing levels has increased recently and the Club are proactively recruiting to fill any shortfalls.
- Why have they stopped selling soup in the concourse areas – the one that was £1, they did vegetable and chicken I think?
- This is still sold in the cookhouse, and they are looking to expand the cookhouse to all areas however it would need to be worked out due to space/resource etc
Get some decent big screens in the bars to watch blues highlights (with sound please) before the match and at HT. The 2 bars in the kop are soulless places, plain, drab, cold, and couldn’t be made worse
- Club investing in 60 new screens (this is more than is currently around the ground). These will be LED and in place for next season.
- Could the Club make some provision for paying by chip and pin at the food counters? As far as I’m aware it’s just cash only at the moment (Kop entrances 5 and 6).
- Club is looking at all options including token counters and the idea of taking payment with the contactless cards to speed things up.
- Concourse catering – the areas are cold and sterile; the menus look as though they haven’t changed from the 1970s/1980’s.
- BCFC are looking into updating but we need to be aware of the age of some parts of the stadium and understand the budgetary limitations that the Club are working within. They acknowledge that there has been no investment or re-design but are somewhat restricted.
- Why are there no burgers stalls in the ground anymore? The stalls outside the ground were doing a roaring trade again last week, is it because Blues don’t need the money?
- When the outside companies were on the BCFC footprint, Blues were getting a small amount of payback with the lease of the plot, but the burger van owners were making significant sales / profits. Therefore BCFC have invested in purchasing 2 vans that they own so that all revenue made on these is 100% BCFC revenue. Looking to invest in more vans. Feedback on food supplied on these vans is welcomed.
- Real ale sold on the concourses please. Oxford Utd do real ale and cider as do Shrewsbury Town who have a mobile bar in the concourse of the West Stand with I think four pumps on the go.
- BCFC currently have a commercial contract with Heineken, but real ale is currently sold in Bar8. Blues are currently looking into the idea of back-pack beer and mobile food units and using “hawkers” to sell this around the concourses. However they are currently lacking in staff but this is still under review.
- I went to Brighton away and the food there was exceptional, if Birmingham can provide a menu and cook it to the standards of what Brighton have done it would really speak volumes of what the club want to achieve with pleasing the spectators
- Unfortunately space dictates what can and can’t be done with regard to extra facilities but blues are looking at the quality of the foods offered.
- More staff on at half time. Maybe alcohol can be served in plastic bottles instead of staff having to pour pints and take forever to serve people. Unless you leave 10 minutes before half time you will struggle to get a drink and have it before the second half starts.
- It is recognised the time it takes to get drinks and food at half time however Safety personnel wouldn’t allow the bottle option due to it being a projectile object. It also leads to trip hazards on stairs if they are left on the floor and safety is paramount.
It was also acknowledged that the reason why there are no non-slip flooring in the concourses is because it makes it harder to clean the floor and it would soon become very sticky. Review for next meeting.
Ground maintenance & facilities:
- Some areas of the ground developed leaky roof syndrome at some of the games when it rained heavily – how is this monitored and will repairs be made?
- Due to the age of the stadium the club are aware of this however maintenance team are fully aware that this needs resolving and will patch up areas if the club is advised. All supporters clubs asked to advise fans that if they advised the club of seat number, row and stand the roof will get patched and if the fan is not happy they can be moved elsewhere FOC.
- Why has the big screen and PA system been unreliable? Why doesn’t the big screen show substitutions? Does a non-functioning PA systems breach health and safety regulations because it would be dangerous in an emergency where it was necessary to evacuate the ground?
- The microphone had broken but they have now purchased a new mobile microphone that is better and so will improve the PA system (they have had no issues since). The supporters advised that the screen used to show team, subs replays etc (which Colin Tatum said he would investigate and feedback as he wasn’t aware). It is to do with the software now available and the screen is now coming to the end of its life and it is made up of a number of individual screens and it only takes 1 to break.
- This does not affect the ability to put a safety announcement out as the sound system is on a different loop and should there be an emergency this system would be used to make any announcements in the event of an emergency.
- The state of the area around the ground. I know it’s not something the club controls, but someone somewhere needs to lobby the council to do something about the fly tipping and general mess that can be seen everywhere – especially on the grass verge & corner of Coventry Rd where it meets Kingston Rd. I’m not sure what can be done, but I feel it really does paint the club – and the city – in a dreadful light for home and especially travelling fans.
- BCFC has no control over the surrounding area of the ground but unfortunately litter does also blow in through the gates. It has been fed back to the council but the club feels it is kept clean; supporters are urged to also feedback to the council.
- Maintenance issue: having been sent tickets for the other end of the Kop to where we usually go I struggled to find Block 20 because the plastic sticky numbers have all fallen off the backs of the seats. It’s no big deal but I thought it made the place look really shoddy.
- Again due the age of the stadium this is acknowledged however stewards are there to help you and by the element of deduction with the seats around it is possible to know where you should be sitting. Will be addressed and maintenance team asked to replace any missing numbers ahead of next season.
- The ‘Tamperer music is diabolical and I feel dejected when it droans on around Andrews before the match, it doesn’t motivate players or fans at all. Speaking from a personal point of view anything but ‘The Tamperer’ would be preferable. Try reverting back to Mr Blue Sky by ELO or try a modern twist with an oasis hit (although their man city supporters).
- On the half season survey it was 50/50 that this song should be played, it was also acknowledged as being part of Blues club identity. The timing of the start of the song and the players coming out of the tunnel needs improving as this is what the signature of the song states but it appears that the players are never ready and so fans are clapping for no reason losing the impetus of the song. Mr Blue Sky is played at every match it is now acknowledged that not everybody can hear it depending on where you sit. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
- We need better sound system in ground. Also need more rousing music (e.g. B’ham bands like UB40, ELO etc) before kick off to get crowd going and generate atmosphere. Music is barely audible and cannot hear half time announcer when interviewing ex players.
- Due to limited resource and therefore practicality this is not feasible yet however the volume of the current sound system has been increased.
Supporters groups & Government report on Supporter Ownership and Engagement:
- Suggestion that that the different supporters’ groups should try to agree on a co-ordinated approach to the City Council to seek to prevent the imposition of parking restrictions. This is an opportunity for supporters and club to co-operate.
- BCFC looking at the possibility of laying on transport however the favourable option is to sort the current situation out, currently still in liaison with council.
- What is the club’s view of the Final Report of the Government Expert Working Group Report on Football Supporter Ownership and Engagement? In particular, how will it implement the recommendations in 3.33 -3.36?
- BCFC are all in favour of working to implementing the below at the club.
- “33 The Leagues will recommend to their member clubs that the 2012 undertaking and the subsequent application of the relevant League rules will be met by meeting a representative group of supporters at least twice a year to discuss major issues.
- 34 The Leagues will recommend that this representative group of supporters includes the club’s Supporters Trust. The Leagues will advise clubs that no individuals should be excluded from the meetings without good reason, and, if attendances at these meetings is restricted to a small group of supporters – which is the preference of SD/FSF– a significant proportion of this representative group of supporters should be elected, selected or invited to these meetings in line with basic democratic principles.
- Aiming for 2 people from each of the stands to represent fan groups at meetings.
- 35 Senior representatives from the clubs – either club owners/directors and/or senior executive management should represent the club at these meetings. The Group recognises the importance of Supporter Liaison Officers and their roles in providing a key interface between clubs and fans on a wide range of issues – and this should continue – but this formal, structured dialogue should be led by owners / directors / senior executive management.
- Senior members of Club management to be invited to the meeting in August.
- 36 The Group recognises that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to either clubs or Leagues and that the fans’ appetite for specific information, and to discuss specific issues will vary from club to club. Whilst SD and FSF believe these meetings would be most productive with a tighter, independently democratically elected representative group of supporters with an interest in strategic and governance issues, the PL and FL support clubs having the flexibility to invite a broad and open group of supporters.”
Policing and safety:
- I keep hearing about cars being broke into during match days, are the club aware?
- The club were not aware of this at all but have made Colin Barlow (police liaison officer) aware of this.
- More coach capacity for disabled supporters wishing to attend away fixtures.
- Free away travel is available for ALL disabled supporters subject to capacity and demand. Birmingham International have a coach for all disabled supporters whereby the wheelchairs can also be located on the underneath – blues to investigate as this would be an option to use should there be a need for more space to accommodate wheelchair users.
- Shelter from the elements at the front of the GML for us wheelchair supporters. At present there is nowhere for us to move out of the rain and I’ve had complaints many times with regards to me taking in a brolley to keep me dry.
- Waterproof ponchos are available and hot drinks are issued at halftime however BCFC will look into the possibility of moving the location / positioning of where disabled supporters sit.
- To add to this, disabled at football not just Blues is always about the physical disabled, but what about people with mental health disabilities. Considering all the talk from Government and media, the players and people in the game who have spoken out on the issue or those that have committed suicide; football, the FA and Kick It Out do nothing for fans with mental illness, I don’t even think the disabled fans club engages with mental illness but I may be wrong, so I don’t go anymore, it’s easier to travel 30 miles in my car to go to work on a Saturday than go to the match.
- Will look into this if approached directly, but hasn’t been yet. BCFC acknowledge the need to have all options open and will do all possible to aid and support however they are not aware of what the demand looks like today.
Any other business.
Due to the current safety procedures that the club now have to abide by (due the recent issues in Paris) the club have asked that we pass on this information to all supporters that they need to have a sense of personal responsibility to get to the ground as soon as possible to allow for these procedures and ensure that they are in their seat for the start of the match. This will continue until at least the end of this season.