2014-02-17 - Supporters Council Meeting Minutes
MINUTES OF MEETING NO 1 : 17 FEBRUARY 2014
The inaugural meeting of the DAFC Supporters’ Council was held at 7pm on Monday 17 February in the Kingdom Suite, East End Park, Dunfermline, with around 100 supporters in attendance.
Chair: Donald Adamson
Facilitators: Joe Graham and Graeme Herd
Minutes: John Simpson
Donald Adamson welcomed all supporters and introduced the guests from DAFC Board and Management: Jim Leishman, Ross McArthur, David McMorrine and Margaret Ross.
2 Tribute to Joe Nelson
Jim Leishman paid a richly-deserved tribute to Joe Nelson, who had died the previous day. Joe had been visited by Jim on Saturday after the match at Forfar, and he had been pleased to find out that the Pars had won. His daughter Barbara Anne sent her thanks to the Pars supporters for their messages of condolence and fond memories of her father. There will be a minute’s silence before the match against Ayr United, and Joe’s funeral will be on Monday 24 February at Dunfermline Crematorium, with a reception afterwards at East End Park.
3 Supporters’ Council
Joe Graham outlined the purpose and aims of the Supporters’ Council, by way of a slide presentation, to be found at http://www.pars-united.com/dafcmembers/2014/02/12/dafc-supporters-council-slides/
The Supporters’ Council (along with the Patrons’ Council) is an official part of the governance of the club. Initially at least, there is no defined organisation, constitution or permanent office-bearers, with the Council being expected to grow organically and to develop according to circumstances and fans’ wishes. It aims to give fans a meaningful voice in “round-the-table” discussions with the Board, and all supporters are encouraged to register (free of charge) as members at http://www.pars-united.com/dafcmembers/register-here/ , with this eventually becoming a membership of Dunfermline Athletic Football Club.
The Supporters’ Council aims to have a community-led approach for a community club, and to provide local Ambassadors who can promote DAFC to the local communities, hopefully over time reinvigorating and restarting supporters’ clubs. Joe stressed that “our most devoted fans will make our best advocates” and anyone who wishes can volunteer to become an Ambassador, and also help to define the role, by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
The Supporters’ Council will run local “road-show” events, with the first ones planned for 11 March in Cairneyhill (hosted by Marvyn Stewart), and on 22 April in Kelty (hosted by Niall Shaw).
Responding to a question from Niall Shaw, Joe explained that the DAFC model for a Supporters’ Council had not (as far as was known) been used elsewhere. It had been developed by Donald Adamson, Graeme Herd and himself, refined and modified by a Focus Group of about 20 supporters, and approved by the DAFC Board. It was “Made in Dunfermline.”
4 Strategy for DAFC
Ross McArthur presented by way of a slide presentation an overview of the strategy for DAFC. Because much of the strategy was still subject to further development and discussion with the Boards of DAFC and Pars United (and with other stakeholders) the slides are not reproduced here, and only the high-level aspects are minuted.
Ross emphasised that although DAFC would never be the biggest club in Scotland, there was no reason why it could not be the best. The strategy has three (interlinked) elements: Football, Community and Commercial.
Football: Ross recognised that since money is limited, DAFC must be seen as a stepping stone for ambitious and talented players, and so it is vital that the club develops its own players through the youth system, and has mechanisms to spot hidden gems – either players in lower divisions or youngsters who have (for whatever reason) not made the grade at bigger clubs. It was noted that DAFC had been very successful in all these areas recently, but much more needed to be done – particularly in forming closer links with the Soccer 7s, schools, boys’ clubs etc, and exploiting the vein of football talent in West Fife.
Community: Ross said that as a Community Interest Company, and with the support shown by local people during the “Save/Buy/Keep The Pars” phases, “community” is now part of the club’s DNA. Initially this would be reflected in closer contact with youngsters through football (as above) and their parents, which might even lead on to programmes that could help deal with social problems in the community. If this is successful, then it would provide “good news” stories that might encourage the involvement of (and contributions from) local employers.
Commercial: Ross noted that if the Football and Community elements were successful then the Commercial performance and opportunities would improve. The aim would be to maximise matchday revenue, improve the matchday experience and to gradually grow the core support by encouraging the children of Dunfermline to support their local team – players would be expected to “adopt” a local school and form links with it. Above all, it is essential to maintain and if possible increase the revenues from the Centenary Club Lifeline (Jim Leishman noted that 895 members had now signed up.) Work will be done to develop a proper marketing arm and strategy for the club, with a Client Relationship Management system and an integrated social media and communications platform.
Ross said that progress is being made on a lot of fronts (eg improvements in Kingdom Suite hospitality and work done by the focus/scoping groups from the Ideas Forum ) but fans have to be patient and realistic – with very few paid staff the club is heavily dependent on (and appreciative of) volunteers. The aim is to build a sustainable future and something special that we can all be proud of.
5 Question Time
Donald Adamson noted that the Board had already provided answers to about 40 questions which had been submitted by supporters via dafc.net. See http://www.pars-united.com/dafcmembers/2014/02/16/dafc-board-management-answer-fans-questions/
Questions were then invited from the floor, to be answered by the Board and Management present (Jim Leishman, Ross McArthur, David McMorrine, MargaretRoss.)
5.1 Jock Taylor said that he had taken out 2 Lifeline subscriptions which had been processed by his bank but apparently not received by the club. Why had it taken so long to identify the problem and what was being done about it, as others could be in a similar situation?
Ross McArthur and David McMorrine both apologised, explaining that the system currently used by Lifeline had a 6-week delay in the reconciliation process, which was being addressed and problems such as Jock’s identified. They accepted that it had to be improved.
5.2 Jock Taylor said that his daughter-in-law had called in at the DAFC shop wanting to book hospitality for ten people, and although she had been told that someone would get back to her, no-one had done so.
Again, Ross and David apologised and said they would investigate – they accepted that it was vital that potential customers were not deterred and were called back promptly.
5.3 Graham McHarg asked about the loss of 3* status for the Academy, and Gordon Smith asked if there was a timescale for an upgrade to 4*.
Ross confirmed that the current status was now 2*, subject to an appeal which should be ruled upon this week. If the appeal was unsuccessful then it would remain as 2* for the rest of the season, but that an application for 3* status would be submitted for next season and he expected this to be granted. The club’s vision was in fact to move as soon as practicable to 4* status and work was being done by Craig McWhirter and Stephen Wright to scope what was needed to achieve this.
5.4 Drew Main asked what could be done to ensure that the club retained the services of its brightest stars, and/or obtained maximum benefit were they to move on.
Jim Leishman said that all the players were happy learning their trade and developing under the current management team, but inevitably if significantly better deals were on offer then they were likely to leave. He was sure that every effort would be made contractually to secure the best outcome for DAFC.
Ross McArthur stressed how important the CC Lifeline was in retaining and signing players.
5.5 Steve Primrose suggested more resources should be put into identifying and registering potential players from youth teams playing locally, and this would be consistent with the “community” ethos, by possibly alleviating social problems.
Jim Leishman confirmed that Fife Council had budgeted for a £100k academy in West Fife (location undecided) which would help develop local football talent and DAFC would be well placed to take advantage. He agreed it was necessary to scout, develop and keep local talent. (After the meeting, Jim and Steve discussed some ways to progress the ideas Steve had.)
5.6 Gordon Wilson expressed concern about the club’s training facilities, with the uncertainty over Pitreavie.
David McMorrine said there was no question of the club having no training facilities, and alternatives were available should Pitreavie not be.
5.7 Niall Shaw asked if the Supporters’ Council was the appropriate platform to recruit and manage the volunteers needed by the club.
Ross McArthur said that Ambassadors were needed for the Supporters’ Council, but the club would need specialist help in a range of areas, particularly during the close season when work could be done at East End Park. It was recognised that the club needed to identify and publicise what help was needed and when, but in the meantime anyone willing to volunteer should do so in one of the categories at http://www.pars-united.com/blog/ideas-programme-priorities-your-invitation-to-join-in/
5.8 Doug George asked how the club is prioritising all the work that needs to be done.
Ross McArthur said that the focus groups were doing some of this, but within the constraints of limited finance and staff/volunteers.
David McMorrine said that the immediate priority was the football and youth activity, and it was vital that we were realistic and did not get too far ahead of ourselves. David and Ross had recently visited Motherwell FC and been impressed by the extent of their community involvement, but at this point in time we had to be more limited in our ambitions.
5.9 Billy George asked if there will be full-time football at DAFC next season if we are not promoted.
David McMorrine said there would be, but with lower revenues that would impact on numbers and quality.
Jim Leishman said that player expectations have to be taken into account, and it would be understandable if some wanted to play at a higher level than League One.
5.10 Gennaro Giudice suggested that innovative season ticket pricing should be looked at, eg “Adult + Child” to be priced at not much more than ”Adult”, to encourage children to attend.
Ross McArthur and David McMorrine said they would consider this (and any other innovative proposals) although simply reducing admission prices was not in itself commercially viable.
5.11 Niall Shaw and others observed that the DAFC shop staff were not sufficiently pro-active in selling fund-raising items or event tickets that were not part of their core activities.
Ross McArthur said he would look into this.
Joe Graham said that this would be a standing item on the agenda. From Meeting No 2 onwards voting on proposals would be restricted to registered members of the Supporters’ Council, and eventually it might be possible to use on-line voting.
At this meeting, there were three proposals which (although not formally voted on) gathered general support and will be proceeded with.
6.1 Donald Adamson and John Simpson proposed that DAFC develop an archive of the club’s history, including oral and paper or on-line information, which could be accessed via the DAFC platforms. Gordon Smith noted that some clubs (St Mirren and Dundee Utd were mentioned) have something like this, and Brian Duncan suggested that the information at http://parsdatabase.co.uk/ could be incorporated. This met with general approval.
6.2 Dave Lemon asked the DAFC Board to commit to a standing area at East End Park (subject to money being available). The Board said they were in favour and agreed to look at it but could give no commitment beyond that. It was pointed out that the Supporters’ Council could itself approach outside bodies, and it was agreed that the SFA and Fife Council (Health & Safety) should be informed of the Council’s views.
6.3 Dave Lemon also raised the topic of access for disabled supporters to Legends etc, and proposed that surveys and costings be obtained. This found favour generally. (Subsequent to the meeting, Ali Carstairs volunteered to do some initial research on costs and availability.)
7 Other Business
Jim Leishman reminded the meeting of 2 forthcoming events:
• 7 March: Barbara Dickson concert on behalf of DAFC
• 10 May: Player of the Year Ceremony – only £15 per head
Margaret Ross reminded the meeting that the U20 team was playing at Ibrox this Sunday (23 February), kick-off 1pm. A few seats were still available on the Young Pars bus.
8 Dates of Next Meetings
On Tuesday 11 March (7.30pm) at The Maltings, Cairneyhill there will be the first local “Supporters’ Council Roadshow” meeting for supporters in the Cairneyhill/Crossford area. This will be hosted by Marvyn Stewart, and players and DAFC management are expected to attend.
On Tuesday 22 April (7.00pm) at the Retired Miners’ Club in the Moray Institute, Kelty there will be the second local “Supporters’ Council Roadshow” meeting for supporters in the Kelty area. This will be hosted by Niall Shaw, and players and DAFC management are expected to attend.
The next full meeting of the Supporters’ Council will take place in late May (date to be decided.) This will be after the end of the season, and it will be known which division DAFC will be in, as this will affect finances, strategy, planning etc.