Supporters Council - 10 September 2015
Chairman: Eddie Martin; Secretary: Donald Adamson
The Chairman welcomed rather more than 50 Pars Supporters to the Purvis suite for the Supporters’ Council meeting which was becoming part of the DNA of Dunfermline Athletic. Virtually the whole DAFC board were in attendance, and the Chairman also drew attention to Marvyn Stewart’s pop-up DASC shop in Box 4, as well as Lorna Morton doing a real-time account of the meeting for the benefit of Pars supporters unable to attend, and especially those members of the Pars family abroad.
The Chairman noted the great start to the season, and especially the attacking ethos which had been brought to DAFC by the new manager, Allan Johnston.
View from the Boardroom – Ross McArthur
Ross began by noting the ‘Carlsberg’ nature of the start to the season in both league and cup competitions. It had been tremendous, but the Club was prepared for a long and hard league campaign, which was of huge importance. No doubt there would be many twists and turns.
The Board continued to work hard to improve communication, transparency and engagement during close season
DAFC had appointed a new First Team Manager & Assistant Manager (Allan Johnston and Sandy Clark), who together with John Potter formed the football management team.
Another forensic financial review had been undertaken in order to reduce costs and thus provide as much financial support to the playing squad as possible.
There had been a very successful Open Day & Kit Launch at the Glen Pavilion in early July
There was a fantastically loyal and engaged fan base. This was demonstrated by just over 2,500 season ticket holders; over 4,000 at the first home league game of season; the Centenary Club Lifeline of well over 1,000 members; the social media platforms are booming which in turn were building engagement.
Allan Johnston was appointed as Manager on 8 May 2015.He has impressed everyone with his professionalism, work ethic, ambition and eye for detail. He is ably assisted by Sandy Clark and John Potter whose infectious enthusiasm rubs off on the squad.
Ross noted that Allan was taken aback by the size of club, its support and the positivity around East End Park considering a very difficult couple of seasons. He has set very high standards as evidenced by having the Squad back for pre season two and half weeks earlier than last year, using modern techniques such as sports science, detailed statistical analysis of games and training sessions, and individual plans for strength and conditioning. Ross also noted that Allan was very respectful of club’s financial position and restrictions, but has assembled a high quality squad through his ambition to succeed.
The ten first team players retained from last season have been joined by, to date, eight new first team players. Six of these came from teams in the Premiership and the Championship. The Manager is still working hard to add to his squad further. The return of Ryan Wallace has been a bonus, but the Ryan Williamson injury has been a big blow (and this was before the similar leg injury to Club Captain, Callum Fordyce). It is already clear that the squad is fitter, stronger and faster which should provide a better platform for success this season.
We have no access to borrowings or significant new equity, so we must run the business prudently. This we are doing. After a full year of running the Club, we have a much better understanding of the costs involved. A Premiership stadium in League One means that unavoidable stadium costs are about £250k per annum, although this has been helped by the much appreciated efforts of volunteers and supportive local businesses. A great many costs are fixed, but all areas were again reviewed and challenged, even though costs have already been pared back. Savings have been made in relation to utility costs, skip hire, travel & accommodation costs, Sky TV, and some supplier contracts. We have a budget to get close to a break even position, but so many uncertainties are involved in running a football club, that at this point of the season we are very vigilant.
We are looking at innovative sponsorship opportunities and fund raising events this year, and the Club has made a promising start off the field as well as on it. The budget for commercial income for the full season has already been met, although there is no sponsor as yet for the Stadium (despite considerable interest). Season Ticket sales at just over 2,500 have exceeded expectations. In addition, the level of walk up fans attending home games thus far has been very promising. The Match Day hospitality continues to be well attended and is a quality experience. In addition, it is pleasing to note that non match day events are increasing and becoming more profitable.
The ongoing support of the fans is absolutely vital for the club. So please attend home matches and encourage friends and family to come along. Continue to pay into, or join, the Centenary Club Lifeline, if you have not done so already. We would be grateful if you would consider match day hospitality for any friends or family special events. In addition, it would be great if you could hire one of the function rooms at the Club for birthday parties or indeed any special celebrations, such as anniversaries. This would be much appreciated.
[At this point there was some problems with the audio-visual equipment, which was quickly sorted, however, questions for Ross were taken at the end of the meeting, but are included here for easy reference].
Q: Is thought being given to offering players longer term contracts in advance of them being tapped in the January transfer window for pre-contracts elsewhere?
A: It absolutely is. This is one of the top priorities for the Board but also one of its greatest business risks. We want our successful players to progress with DAFC, and the Board is currently balancing the risks and rewards of early contract extensions.
Q: Will the stadium be re-named?
A: Talks were quite far advanced with several major companies about this, but it seems unlikely that such a deal will be signed this year. It was not in the Budget, and the Board will not give such a valuable asset away lightly.
Q: What about re-naming any of the stands.
A: This is unlikely this year.
Q: What about issuing pro-rata season tickets?
A: The Board considers that its season ticket strategy has worked quite well this year, and a key component of this is the U12 offer. Also the offer of books of 6 games for members of the Emergency Services/Armed Forces is proving popular, and will be continued. Beyond that nothing different from last year is contemplated.
Q: Some Pars die-hards are being asked to leave Legends/Charlie D’s too quickly after a game to make way for functions in the evenings. This has an adverse impact on match-day hospitality.
A: The Board are very sympathetic to this point, and will re-examine the policy in relation to Saturday evening bookings which might impact DAFC regulars. Even a half hour delay might be helpful, and this will be looked at.
The role of Safety Officer at Dunfermline Athletic – Kenny Arnott
Kenny noted that he had first become a fan in 1973, never thinking that one day his Saturdays would be bound up with working for Dunfermline Athletic. In 1997 he moved to work at East End Park and became the stadium electrician. His role then expanded, to the point that he became the stadium safety officer in 2007.
The Safety Officer is responsible to the Board for safety at the ground, and in particular he is in charge of liaising with both the stewarding company and the police on match days. Effectively the Safety Officer is the pivot of the match-day operation from a safety and security perspective. It is a job which is replicated at all Scottish senior grounds. Kenny is very mindful that he has to protect the good name of Dunfermline Athletic, and ultimately everything that is done, is done for the supporters.
The Safety Officer has to sensibly and pragmatically manage risk, for the benefit of the Club. Stewarding and police costs are a drain on funds which could otherwise be spent on the team, so a sensible approach is called for at all times which seeks to minimise such costs in conjunction with on-going discussions with the stewarding company, the police, the football authorities and indeed the Board.
Kenny noted that there had only been one ban in his eight years in charge, and that was for one year when a steward was assaulted. At every opportunity, Kenny and the Club have sought to deal with problems by discussion and agreement, often in an informal manner. We have good relationships with the local police, and the stewarding company, which has been of great benefit to the Club.
Q: Why is Charlie D’s and Legends sometimes restricted to home fans only?
A: This is really only an issue in relation to Ayr, Airdrie and Cowdenbeath. This decision is informed by information from the police. Whilst there may well not be any problems, it would only take one bad incident to cause on-going costs for the Club. It is really a case of risk management.
Q: Have there been any repercussions with regards to the limited pitch encroachment at the Dundee game?
A: The playing area was encroached upon several times, which is clearly not acceptable, and two arrests were made by the police. The Club does not want young supporters getting a criminal record through over exuberance, but when the authorities are involved there is only so much which is within the power of the Club. People must remain within the law, and must not prejudice the safety and enjoyment of others. In order to assist the situation, the Club has been in touch with the families to explain what has gone wrong, understand the issues, and outline the possible repercussions. The Club has notified the authorities that it has been in touch with the individuals to review their actions, and it is hoped that this might weigh in their favour when the matters are considered more formally, which is inevitable.
Q: Who decides the level of policing?
A: This is really a collaborative process. Each game is risk-assessed in discussion with the police and also the stewarding company. This is based on history and police intelligence. By opening the east stand on certain games, this provides extra space, which in turn means less stewarding and police (and thus a smaller bill), although other costs are necessarily incurred. However in this league, most games are grade c, which means the away support can be accommodated in the east section of the south stand.
Q: What about volunteer stewards.
A: We do have some volunteers but only in specific and very limited roles. The stewarding company is paid to carry risk, and thus uses SIA badge holders (not cheap) who are trained. There is a role for volunteers on occasions, for example in relation to snow clearing, and the response has always been encouraging.
The Pars Foundation and the Jock Stein match – Gregor Tennant and Billy Braisby
Billy Braisby spoke about the recent Dunfermline legends Vs Celtic Legends game at East End Park to mark the 30th anniversary of the passing of Jock Stein. The game arose out of a conversation between Bob Garmory and Peter Lawwell. This then led to a meeting involving Billy Braisby, Ross McArthur and Jim Leishman at Parkhead.
It was not possible to play a friendly, but what emerged was the desire to play a Legends charity match to benefit the Pars Foundation and the equivalent Celtic Foundation. The Stein family was fully behind this. The profits would be split 50/50. Prices were set at £12 and £6, but would have been £10 and £5 had HMRC been speedier to confirm the VAT exemption. Scott Thomson did a great organising role to get players and one or two such as Lee Bullen and Craig Brewster were prevented from coming by their current club commitments, to their great disappointment.
The Dunfermline supporters turn-out for the day was excellent, and a gate of 4,800 was achieved. Vinny Jones came with no boots, but whilst he didn’t play, he did take a full and lively part in the dinner interviews. It was particularly pleasing to see so many former players come free of charge, and especial credit was due to Davie Moyes who came early, left late and was most generous with his time. It was wonderful to see Stilian Petrov looking so well. The final profit is still to be arrived at but when the gate monies are added to substantial profits from the post-match dinner at the Glen Pavilion, the sum raised will be substantial. This will give the Pars Foundation and their many charitable ambitions around West Fife a considerable boost.
Two special presentation pennants from the match were then presented to Dunfermline Athletic Heritage Trust, by Billy Braisby, for safe keeping in perpetuity. Gregor Tennant then spoke about the Pars Foundation.
The Pars Foundation was formerly known as ‘Pars in the Community’. However it was re-structured in May 2013 as an independent charity, regulated by OSCR. The Pars Foundation carries on both footballing and non-footballing community activities throughout Dunfermline and West Fife. It started with 2 full time and 6 part time staff members in 2013 and now has 4 full time and 9 part time staff. There is a board of 4 trustees, with one of these being DAFC Chairman Bob Garmory. The Chairman is well known local vet, Richard Dixon. The other two trustees are Gordon Milne, who is active in the PST, and Gordon Clarke who is a chartered accountant.
The Pars Foundation is active all over West Fife but is careful to respect both Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy who have their own senior football teams. However, it does work in tandem with the other three Fife senior teams in some programmes on a mutual basis.
The Pars Foundation believes that it can showcase and evidence that DAFC is a community club, with deep roots in the community and this ties very much into the Pars United ethos, when the club was re-structured after the financial problems of early 2013.
The football activities are centred on six activities. These are the dribblers (18 months to three years), mini kickers (three years to five years), pars soccer stars (five years to twelve years). Then there is a girls’ football section with three all-girl classes – although there is much mixed football available too. The Futsal classes emphasise ball skills and Faissal El Bakhtouai has helped out in some of the futsal camps. Finally there are a number of age specific teams who play under the banner of East End Boys.
The non-football activities are presently centred on four areas, but there are ambitious plans to expand. There is a baby buggy foot camp, aimed at the fitness of recent mothers. There are residential camps for kids in school holidays. The Pars Foundation runs both a women’s fitness programme, and the Dunfermline end of ‘FFIT’ or football fans in training, which is sponsored by Allan Johnston.
The numbers of kids involved has risen from 750 to over 1,000 in two years. There are now nine age specific teams run through East End Boys. There are ambitious plans to expand activities, for example into a Memory Loss programme in conjunction with the Dunfermline Athletic Heritage Trust and the Disability Access group.
The Pars Foundation receives tremendous support from a range of local and Scottish businesses, institutions and charities.
Q: What plans are there for the money raised by the recent Legends game?
A: It depends on the eventual sums raised, but there are a range of programmes which will be assisted or started in West Fife. One example is the possibility of a new 7-a-side pitch at Commercial/St Margaret’s Primary schools.
Q: Do you have a full-time fund raiser?
A: There is no full time fund-raiser in post at present. Hopefully, the incoming funding might at least part fund such a post, which is a major outlay for a small charity, but nevertheless is seen as important to support future expansion.
Video of Gary McColl and Allan Johnston: Sports Science and football
- - Watch the
This video was shot by Craig Brown and John Simpson of the Supporters’ Council. Thanks are due to them, and Gary and Allan for making this thought provoking video available.
It covers the importance of sports science in modern football, and also indicates how this is being applied at DAFC in Season 2014/15.
Facilities for Disabled Supporters – Dave Nugent
This talk started with a couple of useful reminders:
See the person, NOT the disability
Access is a basic human right - a person is only disabled by barriers put in their way.
The intention was for DAFC to be a market leader in facilities for disabled supporters. That means that we aspire to go beyond the minimum standards. It is important to ensure that we are in compliance with Equality Act 2010 (formerly Disability Discrimination Act 1995).
We aim to adhere to the UEFA/CAFE Good Practice Guide. This is supported by the Board of DAFC, and is subject only to necessary funding.
The achievements to date have been impressive, and are due to the hard work of many volunteers and the generous sponsorship of businesses and individuals.
ACCESSIBILITY AUDIT – ESL Services Ltd
SCREENS – Purvis, PST, AK Moyes, individual donations
NEW DISABLED PLATFORM – Purvis Group and ESPC
NEW DISABLED TOILET – Pete Campbell, Stephen Vaughan and AK Moyes
YELLOW NOSINGS ON STEPS – Dave Blackburn and DAFC Volunteers
INDUCTION LOOP SYSTEMS – Alan Todd
DISABILITY CHAMPION – Ishbel Russell
HOSPITALITY EVENTS – ESL Services Ltd
ALARMS IN TOILETS – Stephen Vaughan
TOILETS FOR AMBULANT DISABLED -- DAFC
EXTRA PARKING SPACES -- DAFC
FLEECES – Dunfermline Athletic Supporters’ Club
COMMENTARY FOR BLIND – David Henderson
Recently completed initiatives include a special area of seating in the Norrie McCathie stand for the ambulant disabled; Dunfermline Advocacy’s ‘Sponsor a Season Ticket’ scheme; new kit for the assisted match commentary from Rex Blind Association; handrails at the DAFC shop entrance; a better ramp for entrance into the Purvis Suite; newly painted bollards outside the Main Stand; ‘Stu’s Blog’; and a detailed investigation into the possibility of a disabled toilet within the Purvis Suite level.
The big targets for the future are better signage throughout the ground; better access into the Main Stand and also the North Stand; and above all, access into First Floor suites in the Main Stand. In respect of the latter, much work has been put in, and a variety of solutions have been considered. These include an external lift, an internal lift, a stair climber and a ramp. There would also have to be the provision of suitable toilets. The main stumbling block remains finance.
The talk finished with a series of photographs illustrating the progress that has been made in recent months, which made a clear statement of progress.
Dunfermline Athletic trip to Somme – Donald Adamson
Donald Adamson announced that there would be a six-day, five-night trip to the Somme WWI battlefields from 29 June to 4 July 2016. This was partly in conjunction with McCrae’s Battalion Trust. The trip was put together by Dunfermline Athletic Heritage Trust and organised on their behalf by Mercat Tours International of Edinburgh, who were highly experienced in taking parties to the battlefields of France and Belgium.
The party would attend the 1 July commemoration at Contalmaison, 100 years to the very day after 16 Royal Scots (also known as the Scottish Sportsmen’s Battalion or McCrae’s Battalion) took part in the terrible disaster of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which was the worst day ever suffered by the British Army. Research indicated that at least ten Dunfermline men died together, mostly from 14 (Dunfermline) Platoon, in that battalion. These included Davie Izatt and Jimmy Morton of DAFC. John Simpson had attended as our advance guard and DAFC wreath layer in 2015.
It was emphasised that this was no glorification of war but rather a commemoration of the sacrifice of all nations in a dreadful conflict which had had such adverse consequences for so many West Fife families.
The group would also go to Moeuvres, where David Hunter had won his Victoria Cross in 1918, but where his family, coming on the trip, had never visited. In addition, the Menin Gate Ceremony would be attended as the party would be staying outside Ypres for two nights, and many Dunfermline names were sadly on that memorial.
The crossing would be from Hull-Zeebrugge, and accommodation would be in twin rooms or cabins.
The price was estimated to be in the region of £550, with a £50 deposit payable on booking. The luxury coach would depart from and return to East End Park.
Those interested should contact Donald Adamson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There were 24 places, and currently 13 were taken already (after the meeting this changed to 18). Consequently those interested in coming on what was sure to be a unique trip, should get in touch as soon as possible.
Closing Remarks – Eddie Martin
The chairman closed the meeting by noting that there were many volunteer positions for those who wished to assist the Club. For example, Davie Blackburn’s maintenance group did tremendous practical work around the ground, whilst the Heritage Trust needed more volunteers to work on projects such as the recording of brief biographies of all players who had played for Dunfermline Athletic in recent decades. Please come forward.
Eddie thanked all the speakers and those supporters who had attended, but especially Marvyn Stewart for her pop-up shop, and Lorna Morton for her real-time report of the meeting for those unable to attend.