Supporters Council September 2016
Welcome and introduction from John Simpson (Supporters Council Chair for the evening).
Chairman - Ross McArthur.
State of the Nation update - where are we?
Season Ticket Sales now sit at exactly 3,000 for this season which includes 691 under 12s . The Club made a small profit last year for the first time in around 20years and we are on line with current year budget after the first financial quarter at end of August.
Centenary Club Lifeline remains absolutely vital to the functioning of our club and will again provide £210,000 this season.
We set challenging sponsorship and stadium advertising targets for the new season and these have been met with the exception of a few match ball and player sponsorships.
Match Day Hospitality continues to be very popular with entertainment provided by the usual sources and some new faces.
The club sits below budget however for non match day income and we are looking to improve that. So we are hoping to encourage our fans to book parties and events within the stadium, using our facilities. We are also looking to extend the use of our overall conferencing facilities. However we continue to be faced with increased costs of having a large stadium and the years of neglect to it. Some of the list of repairs include emergency lighting in all stands. electrical repairs in main stand. under soil heating repairs. There is a lengthy and ongoing list.
In addition to this we have rightly had to invest in new equipment and grounds machinery repairs. We have lots of new ideas for the club and these include Wi-Fi availability throughout the stands which will help with the overall match day experience.
There have been some changes behind the scenes too including on the DAFC Board. Bob Garmory had a lot of ongoing commitments and has (finally for his long suffering wife)stepped down as Chairman but has remained on the board for continuity. I cannot personally thank Bob enough for the selfless work he has given to the club and his personal support for me throughout the last few years.
We have the new appointment of a General Manager at the club. Mikey Mlotkiewicz is unfortunately unable to be here tonight due to a last minute commitment and nobody is more disappointed than Mikey himself who really wanted to be here to wax lyrical about his role and the dream that came true for a local lad. This is yet another sign of progress at the club and also its commitment to the local community.
Mikey has made many changes already and is beginning to understand the difficulties in the running of a football club like Dunfermline. Everyone wants a piece of your time but he is doing a fantastic job. At the next supporters meeting Mikey will have his day in the spotlight and will be well prepared.
Board changes have also taken place on Pars United CIC Board. Ian Hunter, Margaret Ross and Ross McArthur resigned in May 2016 and have been replaced following due process by Donald Adamson, William Braisby and Gordon Milne. DAFC board work with the Pars United Board and they share all the information each other needs. We hold regular meetings. Agendas and required information is collated for each item and budgets are stringently monitored. On the football side of the business. Just to reiterate that every single player was out of contract at the end of last season.
The board were more than happy that AJ and Sandy were staying on. We now have Gary McColl employed full time as our sports scientist/nutritionist. Davie Westwood has been appointed as our goalkeeping coach.
All existing backroom staff remain in place. 8 new players have been signed to date and we currently have a first team squad of 22. Work on the new strength and conditioning gym starts after next Saturday`s match and should be completed by early 2017.
We are still looking to further enhance training facilities, where we can. We have an additional new mini bus due to arrive in 2 weeks to help transport players to training. Our aim is first and foremost to compete in the Championship - we believe the players we have assembled should be aiming for this. We have however budgeted to finish below mid-table.
We are aiming to do well in the cups and advance a few rounds. Competitive results so far have been hampered by early season injuries and recovery times, illness and suspensions. The illness issue is being investigated as we are not sure if the under croft has contributed to this. This training area there isn`t perfect - there are a number of items including washing machines and it`s cold. We are looking at it. I would just like to put the record straight. Squad recruitment takes time and we are looking to bring in the right players. All existing players were told by mid April whether they would be offered a new contract.
The manager wasn`t in a position to offer a contract to every player however every player was spoken to by mid April. Every single player who left was thanked by Ross, personally, for their contribution to the club. AT NO STAGE WAS RECRUITMENT PUT ON HOLD, AWAITING A RESPONSE FROM ANY PLAYER. We need to stick together, to continue to make progress as a club and help us get out of the present sticky situation we find ourselves in. Can I say that constructive criticism is acceptable, abuse is not. I have heard abuse at games from a small minority aimed at individual players from the start of the season - abuse is NOT appreciated by anyone.
Again the usual faces are here tonight - we need more people, more volunteers. We can only continue as a community club with community help. The SPFL are, in their wisdom, bringing in some changes. The challenges face by Scottish football at the moment are huge, particularly following the aftermath of the Scottish Cup Final. Politicians are once again getting involved.
UEFA is also looking to create uniformity across all footballing borders. Addressing unacceptable behaviour/conduct. The club have to be seen to be doing things, being proactive and not letting things just happen. There is pressure from all sides including the government. If you do not take some form of action then the clubs will be taken to task which could lead to fines. This conduct issue does not restrict itself to supporters but covers staff, directors etc. It can be comments, chants, flares- the onus is on the club to take action. Actions can lead to confiscation of season tickets, life bans -" appropriate action".
Each club has to submit an annual return to the SPFL for each season. They need to include name and address of the purchaser of any season ticket and of any game ticket purchaser- home and away. So it can work like this. As an example, Raith Rovers give DAFC 2,500 tickets to sell. We have the right to get the name and address of the ticket buyers. This becomes an administrative nightmare. This is supposed to help identify suspects but if you buy a ticket on match day this information is not required, only for advance sales. Not only that but if you buy 5 tickets it`s only the buyer`s name and address that is required so if inappropriate behaviour is from one of the four additional ticket holders then no one knows who they are. We are only one of four clubs who have complained about this. It`s going to add to the costs of the club and it`s all down to the SPFL. Strict Liability Effectively all clubs are responsible for the actions of their fans while attending/representing the club.
Fines, points deductions, closed stadiums are all possible sanctions. DAFC are being cautious how we approach this. In England punishments are generally only handed out for racism/anti-Semitic behaviour. As a board no vote has been taken, but a lot of work has still to e done. There has to be fairness around all Scottish clubs as to what the punishments are and for what reasons. Finally, we still need your help. On behalf of the board and the club I`d like to thank you for your continued support.
If you haven`t joined the Centenary Club Lifeline, then join and encourage others to do so. Take along family and friends to the games. Try a match day hospitality. Book a birthday party or our venue.
Nat Wedderburn - what`s the injury situation? Nat went over on his ankle at the Dundee United game. Now he has a problem with his calf and this is all being looked at.
Comments about strict liability etc. but referred to earlier answer and nothing more to add other than asking the fans to behave as they usually do. This is a family/community football club.
Garry Davidson - 1885 Business Club Overview
Why a Business Club?
1.After the club went into administration a lot of particularly local businesses were affected. Dunfermline Athletic needed to look forward and not lose the connection with the locality and the community.
2. So, try to create something new? Businesses who became affiliated with the Business Club would get something back out of it. So the idea is that people are able to do business around a room while also helping to raise money for DAFC. Our membership means we have a captive target audience to sell anything to e.g. advertising. Each business member is in it for different
reasons but most members are supporters and are quite happy to fundraise as best as we can.
3. How long has it been running? We started on 20 Feb 2014 and are now into our third "season". The club was started from scratch. Ian Morris, Steven Taylor, Garry Davidson and Billy Braisby. We looked at other business clubs within the football community e.g. St Johnstone have a successful one and others have tried to do it so we were conscious it wasn`t going to be an easy task.
4. How much is it to join? Well, it`s not free! You can pay monthly at £25 or gain a small discount if paid upfront at £290. For that we obviously have to provide benefits among which are precious networking sessions. I will say here that we are not competing with the rotary clubs etc but we do work with them. We just try to have open avenues to help everyone be associated with DAFC in any way.
5. We have 60 members paying £300 per year helping to fundraise for the Pars and for other charities. We sit down with the Board at the start of each year with everything being done in advance to raise money for the club which then budgets the money. We have been involved in the Fife children`s clothing bank, the food bank etc. The young pars wanted sponsorships and flyers so we got involved with that. We do not need to go through the board, you contact the business club and we can see what we can do to help.
6. Onto networking events. Who comes to these events? Mixture of business owners looking to do business, big companies and small.
The members have great connections. Billy Braisby knows everyone, Jim Leishman and his connections etc. We have a small selection of event contributors. We usually have a meal followed by an after dinner/lunch speaker. We had the former Falkirk manager John Hughes here. We`ve had Ruth Davidson, Jim Nichol, Alex Ferguson.
They speak about their career and how they made it. Coming up we have Jack McConnell who will no doubt have some interesting stories to tell us. A man who started out as a sheep farmer then ended up Scotland`s First Minister. Doug Allan, the wildlife photographer for the BBC who works with David Attenborough is also due soon. We do a couple of joint events with the Club.
The Black and White Ball , The Sportsman`s Dinner Business Club Events include:
A Curry Night with Allan Johnston at the Garvock House Hotel, An Away Day. 50 people in a bus. We`ve been to Dumbarton and Airdrie.
We had a memorable day away at Stirling Albion. They looked after us so well and to meet other footballing clubs is a great experience. We do DAFC Hospitality where we usually try to pick a quieter game. We chose Brechin City game and it was a great advert for hospitality. 50 of us in the dressing room, the boardroom and that was the day it all happened. Not a bad quiet game to choose.
We have a Christmas Party here. We have a night out at the Edinburgh Festival each year and an infamous Burns Supper with the next installment on 20 January 2017 again with Jim Leishman. So what have we done to support DAFC? We, - Sponsor DAFC travel costs - Sponsor two players each year - Sell the Match ball sponsorship £125 - in the glass box, free bar, lots of extras - Help fund the heart monitors - Donated funds to help build the new dressing rooms - Host many functions at EEP - Support family charities and much more than that.
In summary the Business Club has handed over £79,440 to the club over 2 years.
Join at www.1885club.co.uk
Talking about(Scottish) Mental Health Awareness
I am a Shop Steward for a Trade Union at work and am at present working to raise awareness for mental health in the workplace. We have 600 employees in a male dominated environment and are looking to break down barriers, remove stigma, change a culture that is there. Mental Health issues should be spoken about and the taboo removed. A conversation has already started with Dunfermline Athletic. Ann Mathie came along from SMH first aiders. She works in conjunction with Mark Fleming, chaplain for Scottish clubs. Mental health comprises mental and emotional states to deal with in everyday life.
We would like to promote Mental Health first aiders at the club. These can be taken from any source players, kit man, directors, volunteers, supporters. This role would be to spot early signs of a mental health problem. The person would be trained over a period, becoming confident, helping people to stop self harming, harming others, reduce the stigma attached to mental health. This is a important thing, especially from a employer`s point of view.
Scottish Metal Health first aid has been adapted for Scottish football by Mark Fleming. He has been working in the football world since 2001.
Metal Health issues affect so many people, everyday. English football clubs started to get first aiders in to assist after a number of mental stress and suicides, linked to the game. A Mental Health first aider does not make them a guidance counsellor or a psychotherapist. It enables them to make someone feel safe and for them to ask questions. The training has been in Scottish Football since 2005. Mental health issues are now "a popular thing" in media and news channels. Mark Fleming talks about footballers and he never mentions any names who have had problems in the past, stress, gambling addictions, relationship problems and other stresses. One player he did want to speak about and was allowed to use his name was Neil Lennon. He would hate any young player to go through what he has gone through. A conversation has started with Dunfermline Athletic through Ross and we are hoping to take it out into the wider community.
Ross has stated there is an Awareness Day coming up soon. Last year two young supporters who were good friends took their own lives and this puts things into perspective. SMH first aiders could be the people to go for help, to speak to and to assist with families and friends. It`s important that this takes place in ALL of Scottish football. Drew Main, Dunfermline Athletic Disabled Supporters Club Disability Awareness Day.
A few months ago the DADSC approached DAFC and asked them to identify a fixture that could be assigned as Disability Awareness Day. That date ad fixture is 22 October 2016 versus Hibernian. The support from the Board has been outstanding, everything we have asked to do on this day has been no problem whatsoever- from Mikey, Matt and Billy Braisby and thanks to everyone who has been involved in what we have done so far. The "event" is twofold.
First of all it highlights the problems disabled supporters face when they come to the match and it also presents the opportunity to raise funds for the supporters club. Improvements in the stadium over the last couple of years have been amazing, suffice to say that on the back of these improvements, EEP is now rated the best Disabled Supporters match experience and assessment in Scotland, on the back of a poll on the SDSA website. Fantastic effort!! We cannot stop there and we must keep improving even to maintain this position. So what about the next stage.
At the very first supporters meeting it was proposed to provide a means of getting disabled supporters to the first floor to use the function suites. We are now focussing funds to build a lift to enable this to happen. This is a long term project that will cost in the region of £55000. But we will get there. We have to be careful in fundraising for this project not to detract from the fundraising within the club and other outlets. But in the last six months alone we have raised £6,000.
DA-Day - will help us to raise more funds. At the same time, this project will also have some commercial benefit to the club. Ross mentioned that perhaps bookings were down on the function suites upstairs and perhaps some disabled supporters may want to use these rooms, or disabled guests.
This is something that would address that access problem so there would be some commercial revenue for the club too. So what is happening on DA Day? We will have specially commissioned shirts for the team to wear on the day using the red away kit with the disabled supporters logo on the badge. Thanks to Ian Hunter and Shirley, the club secretary, who have liaised with SPFL and SFA to get the permission to wear these shirts. They are one off shirts, which will be auctioned off by our specialist Kenny McLachlan. On the day players will be wearing special t shirts again with the logo. Flyers will be handed out describing what the aims are. Bucket collectors will be out in force.
There will be merchandise in the Norrie concourse. Sammy will be doing a routine with a disabled supporter. Hibs will hopefully be involved too with Sunshine, their mascot. We want them to join in. Disabled fans will be leading out the team and we have extended this invitation to Hibs also. At half time disabled children, who are part of the Pars Foundations Rising Stars will be on the pitch with Army Personnel and this connection has been made possible by the work of the DAFC Heritage Trust. The 50-50 draw will take place on one of the wheelchair platforms with a disabled supporter making the draw. A Paralympics swimmer from 2012, Craig Rodgers will be a guest at hospitality. We are still working behind the scenes to get some of the Rio 2016 Paralympians here too. So the plea is that we need volunteers to help us with this superb day. Handing out flyers, rattling buckets. We would be delighted to hear from you. The DADSC has a membership of around 43 people at the moment. If you would like to become a member and join the club there is no requirement for you to be disabled. Share the vision of what we are trying to do for just £5 per annum. Membership forms are available here tonight.
Supporters Council - the future?
Well folks, there are only around 40 people here tonight with our biggest crowd around 180 last year. Has the Council got into a rut?
We have invited people along to speak to these evenings and some people do ask questions. We want to get more people involved but how can we do this? Supporters Council is part of the fabric of the club when Pars United started and it`s still up to the fans to shape it, take it in a new direction perhaps.
There was no set format then and there is no set format now. Even our very first meeting in February 2014 was just a few fans who got together to see where it would go. There is no hierarchy and no formal membership. We drew up an agenda in those early days and it has stayed roughly the same ever since. I think the supporters and the Council too have achieved successes e.g. Disabled Supporters Club awareness, revitalising work around the stadium, the Heritage Trust. What do the supporters want?
We can`t keep going with continued dwindling numbers? We can`t keep asking directors to come along if we`re not delivering what the fans want. What are we doing well? What can we do better? What do you want the Council to do? Can you help? Ideas from the floor?
Not necessarily the manager but maybe someone from the playing staff, the coaching staff, the backroom perhaps. Maybe that`s what people are interested in. We are a football club and maybe people want to come to listen to players. John Potter has come along in the past.
We asked AJ tonight and Ross has confirmed that he has a commitment to attend one meeting a year. He lives in Bothwell, training finishes at 4pm then this at 7pm to10pm. There will always be things that he cannot talk about also.
Comment that no advertising for the meeting on COWs or Official Twitter but was on their Facebook page.
We will work with Mikey on that issue.
Are the meetings too often or is the frequency about right? As in a period, not that long ago, post administration, we do not want apathy to set in.
Have fans have become complacent thinking that things are ok now. Perhaps we could bring in more outside people such as referees or the SPFL who could give their views on things discussed earlier in the meeting, explaining their justifications?
Other clubs` directors or people involved with their fundraising and business clubs. John Fleming discussing the penalty situation. Is it or isn`t it? Maybe Pars TV could do a presentation on an overseas fans` match day experience and have a video link up so that they can ask questions in "person" and feel part of the meeting.
Tours for fans round part of the stadium on the night too.
The Council meeting ended with John Simpson thanking all those that had attended, had taken part and had shared ideas at the end.