Dunfermline Athletic

2014-09-08 - Supporters Council Meeting Minutes

Supporters’ Council Meeting No 3 on Monday 8 September

Meeting held in Kingdom Suite with approximately 50 people in attendance

Welcome and Introduction

John Simpson was in the Chair, and began the evening by welcoming all to the meeting, and introduced the guests from the Club.

Bob Garmory, Ross McArthur, Billy Braisby, Ian Hunter and David McMorrine were present, as was Jim Jefferies.

Donald Adamson took the minutes for the evening. Joe Graham, Gennaro Giuduce and John Russell had helped to facilitate the evening.

Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes had been circulated to all registered members of the Council, and as no objections were raised, were accepted as a fair account of the meeting of 28 May.

Jim Jefferies, Manager of DAFC, Question and Answer Session

Q: It has been reported that you intend to retire at the end of this season. Would you consider staying on?

A: Nothing is ever set in stone, but it is my intention to retire at the end of this season. I would like to stay on in football in some capacity where my experience might be of benefit. However I very much want to go out on a high and that means DAFC as Champions. I do believe that Neil McCann and John Potter are forming an excellent management team but such issues are a Board matter.

Q: What is the position with Ryan Wallace’s injury?

A: This is frustrating for both player and Club but we believe will come good with time. However, he is in some pain and as a precautionary matter he is being scanned and medical advice taken to ensure that all is well.

Q: What is the position with Lewis Spence’s contract?

A: The Board and I have the contract position of a number of our able young players under review currently including Lewis. We are very much aware that the Club needs to obtain maximum value in the medium and longer term for promising younger players who are developed by the Club.

Q: What can you say about Kerr Young’s departure?

A: Kerr is a young footballer of considerable ability on the football field, who everyone at DAFC wishes well in the future. We believe, however, that in Stuart Urquhart we have found a left sided defender of considerable potential.

Q: Who will be the next young players who will make the break-through?

A: The youngsters at Dunfermline train with the first team and benefit hugely from this. The U20 team are playing some great football and competition for places is tough. We also have some outstanding players coming into the U20s such as JP Crossan and James Thomas, who have great potential.

Q: What are your views on the new signings?

A: I may be a little biased but I think they will all prove to be good investments. Gregor Buchanan has been excellent from the off and has formed a good partnership with Lewis Martin. Andy Stirling is a great prospect and is not far off match fitness as injuries disrupted his pre-season. I have been very pleased by Michael Moffat – frankly he is far quicker and fitter than I expected. In addition, he is so much more than just a goal scorer –he makes vital space for others. Gozie Ugwu brings speed and a physical presence but he has a good touch too, and there will be more to come as his fitness reaches where it would have been had he had a full pre-season and not had to train on his own.

Q: What do you think about the right back dilemma?

A: It is a great thing to have two such talented players as Ross Millen and Ryan Williamson. I might have to find room for both of them, and both are capable of playing in different positions. For example, Ross can play across the defence whilst Ryan is an exciting prospect when attacking. It is a good problem to have.

Q: What feedback have you had from international appearances of our youngsters?

A: Well, for example, I got direct feedback on how well Lewis Martin had played in the second half of the Belgian game. My response was to say that he should have been played from the start then!

Q: Will Ross Millen’s red card be appealed?

A: It is important to choose your cases, and each sending off is fully reviewed. We felt that Ross was unlucky to be sent off but on balance an appeal is unlikely in this instance, as there were too many grey areas to consider in the decision to send off.

Q: Dundee seems to be copying some of DAFC’s corner routines – are you pleased?

A: They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We have a series of corner ploys and like to mix them up. Our intention is to keep the opposition guessing! There might be more to come!

Board Presentations

Bob Garmory: I feel that the Board are operating as a really good team with people focussed on the range of activities that a football club must undertake and do well. This applies across the spectrum from David’s cash flow control to Billy’s contacts with local restaurants, and in a thousand other ways.

However, DAFC needs a much larger band of active supporters to sustain it. The way I see it there are three aspects to the Club. There is ownership which concerns all of us. There is governance which concerns all of us. Finally there is management which starts with the Board, includes the paid employees, but need to be supported by as many fans as possible if DAFC are to punch above their weight in Scottish football.

Ross McArthur: The Close Season is perhaps the most crucial part of the year for a football team, as it is the “harvest period”. The last three months have been manic, as we seek to recover from past years of neglect.

The headlines are that we have over 2,000 season ticket holders of whom 300 are new. We also have 300 U-12 season tickets. The Centenary Club Lifeline has over 1,000 members, and is crucial. We have sold 800 Home kits and 180 away kits -- so make sure that you get your Christmas orders in before we sell out! Sponsorship and advertising revenues are in excess of £130k, plus £30k has been invested in new dug outs and a new CCTV system, through sponsorship.

There are a host of new initiatives including the Manager’s View e-newsletter; Match day team sheets; a growing list of new business partners (who have agreed between 2 to 6 year agreements) for whom DAFC can provide real benefits; new branded match-day Programme ‘Black and White’ (thanks to Duncan and the programme team, and Mikey for his design expertise); new official website (thanks to Brian, Matt, Douglas, Christine and Craig); Pars TV rebranded (I have to pay special thanks to Dave and Lee, who are stepping down after sterling service and we are actively sourcing new volunteers); and an outstanding social media presence (thanks to Mikey and Craig who have totally transformed this medium, and trebled the audience in a less than 9 months).

The stadium is recovering from years of neglect. There has been a huge amount of cleaning, tidying up (many skips of waste removed), and much painting. The DAFC ground staff (Willie and Kevin) have been greatly helped by a core of dedicated volunteers – who the Board wish to thank. In particular I should mention Dave Blackburn, Dave Allan, Bob, Josephine, James, John G, John B, Neil, Barry, Chris, Paul, Vanessa, George and Jim (I hope all those who I have not named, know that we are very grateful to them also). Dave Blackburn acting as co-ordinator has proved inspirational. Also I would like to mention the 15 folk from the local Mormon Church who helped out, as well as the 20+ people from the Lizzie Pars and PST who painted the undercroft. Well done to all but we continue to need more volunteers. At times, we have been disappointed by the actual number of volunteers helping out during the close season, and would urge more supporters to do their bit, where they can, even if just for a few hours. We need to tackle electrical, turnstile, toilet and access issues over the season. I would also like to thank Stephen Vaughan Electrical, AK Moyes, and Alexander Thomson Plumbers who have helped the Club greatly, along with Jim Thomson and the Purvis Group and Rodney Shearer.

I would also like to acknowledge the huge amount of help obtained from Ishbel Russell in relation to our accessibility programme. Her expertise, contacts and experience has proved to be invaluable. As a community club we are committed to making EEP accessible to all fans both able bodied and disabled.

Billy Braisby: Now that the commercial activity (sponsorship and advertising), along with season ticket sales and the initial kit launches have all taken place, the board’s priority is now match day income. Naturally, we would like to build the walk up attendances on match day but that does take time. However, one area we have a specific plan and a defined budget is match day hospitality. We have set an ambitious target of 150 covers per home game, and are looking to source match day sponsors.

We are very focussed on providing a great match day experience, whether it be in the Kingdom Suite, Legends bar, Charlie D’s (big thanks to Billy George), the Jock Stein Suite or the Rennie Suite.

The support from local restaurants and caterers for the Kingdom Club has been great and we believe that they get great benefits too as they advertise the quality of their product. The feedback has been encouraging, and the experience is greatly augmented by Club legends and, this season, we are bringing in skilled after-dinner speakers (George McNeil, Willie Allan, John Rowbotham) coupled to the pre-match sessions hosted by Jim Leishman.

We’d like to see every season ticket holder going at least once per season to the Kingdom Club and we can make special days even more special (birthday’s, anniversary etc) for you in a variety of ways (just contact me at ‘directors@dafc.co.uk’, and note FAO Billy Braisby). There are a few remaining sponsorship opportunities available for Home Matches at £900 for a table of 10, and this comes with a very full package of benefits. At this stage, we have managed to source 12 match sponsors which is fantastic.

We are in the process of creating a Club Diary of Events in order to co-ordinate functions. It is not always easy but we hope to have Sir Alex Ferguson along (this has been delayed but will happen). In addition there will be a Sportsman Dinner on 7 March 2015, and the Hall of Fame function will be brought back better than ever.

Other functions are under review and the Club has just begun to advertise a range of Christmas nights and also Christmas lunches for example.

Ian Hunter: The audited accounts for both Pars United CIC and DAFC Ltd for the year to 31 May 2014 were approved by the Board today. They will be submitted very shortly to both the SFA and also Companies House. These may well be the first set of accounts for 2014 to be submitted in Scotland, and shows that DAFC intends to be at the leading edge of good corporate practice. The 2014 accounts still include a period when the Club was in Administration, and thus should be read with some caution, but the Balance Sheet as at 31 May 2014 sets out a clear and unambiguous position which will be the bench-mark for going forward.

Pitreavie remains complex, but matters are likely to come to a crux in late September. A court hearing with regard to non-payment to DAFC, of rentals due by the sub-tenant, The Pars Trust, is scheduled for 19 September. The good news is that the team continues to use the training facilities unfettered. As events unfold, the supporters will be kept informed.

Questions to Board

Q: What is happening regarding the engagement between the Club and local schools?

A: Gennaro, William and Dave are liaising with local schools and the intention is to develop this as soon as possible. The club wants to re-engage with local schools as quickly as possible. We hope to start delivery of our “adopt a school” strategy after the school’s October holidays.

Q; what is the thinking behind the free U12 season tickets?

A: The Club wants to encourage family groups to come along and have a good Saturday out together. In many cases we believe that the school kids will bring their parents and in places like Duloch, where there are many incomers and new houses, we hope that the habit of supporting DAFC may be inculcated via the children.

The Pars Foundation and DAFC are developing community programmes together, and in future the Pars Foundation (and their excellent work) will be much more visible within the Club.

Q: Do we know how many season ticket holders actually attend?

A: Yes – records are kept and typically about 85% of season ticket holders are present. Unlike some clubs – our match attendances only count the season ticket holders who actually are present.

Group Reports:

Disabled Facilities (Nicola Campbell): The group had a number of early successes to report. These include two weather protection screens for the Norrie stand (thanks to PST and the Purvis group). Then there is the disabled toilet at the east end of the Main Stand (thanks to Pete Campbell). There is a new viewing platform at the SE Main stand (thanks to Purvis Group and the sponsors ESPC). Yellow nosing has been placed on steps for the visually impaired (thanks to Dave Blackburn’s volunteer group).

In addition, Ishbel Russell has joined the Stadium Management Group; there has been an accessibility audit (thanks to ESL Limited) done and recommendations made to the Stadium Management Group; DAFC have supported the Shiresmill Riding Therapy Centre.

The group is looking at access to the first floor of the Main Stand but this is not easy due to the 1960’s construction of the Stand. We would like to have an induction loop system for the hearing impaired in all hospitality and public areas but this is dependent on funding. We would like to develop a match buddy system for disabled fans, in the firm belief that no-one should miss watching the Pars through disablement. Equally we would like to have a commentary for fans with visual impairment. We are discussing with the Board how disabled (and able-bodied) fans can get to the NW car park more easily after the match, but security is a genuine concern. Generally the intention is to have better signage around the ground for disabled fans. In all of this funding is an issue. We are looking at sponsorship, commercial community grants, charitable grant funding, and supporter contributions and working with Fife Voluntary Action.

Generally it is good to have the backing of the Board of DAFC in further developing EEP to improve the match day experience for all disabled supporters. We also want to help provide an asset in East End Park which the wider community can make use of on non- match days.
Heritage Group (Duncan Simpson): Good progress has been made over the summer by the Heritage Group (new volunteers always welcome).

Following a presentation to the DAFC Board, we are proceeding with the formation of the DAFC Heritage Trust. We are finalising the trust documentation with the help of legal advice and are seeking charitable trust status via the regulators OSCR. The hope is to have the Heritage Trust up and running by January 2015. Among the trustees will be Bonar Mercer representing the Former Players Association and Bob Garmory representing the DAFC Board.
The tangible heritage group has now listed and photographically recorded all trophies and memorabilia held at East End Park belonging to DAFC. We hope to better display this material to the fans and this may include utilising both websites and the Club Programme, as well as more traditional display cabinets.

The photographic heritage group has been hard at work recording and digitising old photographs including some belonging to former players.

First steps have been made to put the Club’s statistical heritage onto the DAFC website.
Former players, management and supporters of a certain vintage will be interviewed by the visual and audio group, who will seek to record their memories of the Pars in past years.
The history group put on the successful World War I day at East End Park on 10 August, and are now in discussions with Dunfermline Museums about possible joint displays when the new Museum opens.

World War I event (Donald Adamson): This was organised by Kenny Maclachlan, Lorna Judge and Donald Adamson with support from Bob Garmory in particular.

It composed three talks -- about the two Dunfermline VCs and the Club and the First World War. Thanks are due to Helen Homewood, niece of John Erskine VC, Ian Hunter, grandson of David Hunter VC, and Gordon Baird. There were three musical interludes being the Co-operative Funeralcare Brass Band, John Rae (Piper), and Heather Henderson of Kelty Musical Association. In the middle of the afternoon there was a Remembrance Service conducted by Denis Madden and Pastor Jimmy Dowds.

There were displays of WWI uniforms (Bill Fletcher) and also Rosyth at War (Rosyth Garden City Association), as well as an antiques roadshow-style expert analysis of memorabilia from Dr Natasha Ferguson and Dr Jen Novotny. In addition, Poppyscotland made a presentation and had a display co-ordinated by Fraser Bedwell and Christine Evans.

A special real ale was brewed by John Reade of the Abbot Brewhouse for the occasion –‘Lest We Forget’. DAFC Afternoon Teas were on offer, along with special DAFC ‘Lest We Forget’ lapel badges. At the start of the day, £500 was presented to Poppyscotland, with more to come.

Supporters’ Council

Joe Graham explained the purpose of a Supporters’ Charter. The DAFC Supporters’ Charter was now available on the DAFC Website. This was the result of the work of a group of fans led by Graeme Herd, and had been endorsed by the DAFC Board.

It covers such things as what we mean by a community based football club and what we hope to achieve. It sets out the role of the Supporters’ council within the governance structure of the Club. More generally it records an understanding between the supporters and the Board on areas as diverse as merchandise, ticketing, disabled facilities, match-day experience, communications and heritage.

New proposals were invited for consideration but none were forthcoming.

Closing remarks

John Simpson noted that there would be no raffle tonight as Marvyn Stewart was unwell. We hoped that she would soon recover (applause)
Local meetings of the Supporters’ Council were being planned for Edinburgh and Rosyth.
The next full meeting would be held in three months – date to be advised.

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