MSC / Club Meeting - November 2007

Held at the Den - 30th November 2007
Present: John Berylson (PLC and Football Club Chairman), Heather Rabbats (Executive Deputy Chairman), Andy Ambler (Football Club Chief Operating Officer), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Mark Holland (MSC), Ted Robinson (MSC), Sam Masson (MSC) and Graeme Smale (MSC Secretary).

Appointment of Kenny Jackett
John said that the Board had taken their time in recruiting the new manager in order to appoint someone who met all the criteria. In Kenny Jackett they thought they had found the right man to take the club forward. Kenny had expressed the desire to recruit players who would improve the squad, understand the club and its fans. Transfer targets had been identified and money would be available in the January transfer window for team strengthening.

Matchday Stewarding And Policing
Bob said that there had recently been a significant rise in complaints regarding stewarding at home games. Many supporters felt that some stewards went out of their way to be aggressive, rude and unhelpful and showed no interest in building a rapport with the fans. In response Andy said that the club took all complaints seriously and reviewed them against all photographic and other evidence available. Stewards found to be responsible for unacceptable conduct are dismissed and in fact two matchday employees had been recently been identified and sacked for exhibiting such conduct. Heather said that the Club had recently lost numerous stewards to the 02 Arena and that it was now even more difficult to recruit good people in this area. However, 65% of the club's stewards have been at the Den since last season. John recognized that stewards have a responsibility to the fans and undertook to ensure that this was reflected in the supervisors briefings. The club are also undertaking 'mystery guest' visits to check attitudes and competence. Bob asked if an MSC representative could visit the Police Control Room during a match and this was agreed. Heather also offered the chance for a committee member to walk through the full procedures that are carried out on matchdays.

Smoking
The stewarding of the toilets was raised again by Bob, who also asked whether the club could reserve an outside area for smokers at half-time. Andy explained that the police will not permit such an area, and that the club are obliged to ensure that the new smoking legislation is enforced on their premises, just as theatres and cinemas are. The club are in regular contact with fellow FL clubs to find any initiatives that might improve matters, but it was hoped that supporters would act responsibly and understand that smoking inside the stadium could result in them and the club being prosecuted. Again, the smoking ban and its enforcement is imposed by the government not the club.

Banning Orders
The club is currently reviewing its banning orders, with the intention of publishing a minimum and maximum ban period for each bannable offence. The MSC will participate in this review. It was confirmed that the appeal system for banned supporters is still in place, and that banned fans can have their bans reviewed. John undertook to participate in some reviews the following day. Bob raised the subject of swearing and it was agreed that whilst much swearing is inevitable, a constant stream of abuse is not acceptable. Contrary to popular belief, only 2 fans have received bans for this this season, and both cases were exceptional. Andy did point out, however, that due to numerous requests received from parents, in the future an effort would be made to enforce no swearing in the family (or 'no-swearing') area. This might not be the East Lower.

Catering
After a few quieter, improving weeks Bob had forwarded to the club a whole raft of complaints regarding the catering at the Yeovil match. There had been numerous cases of basic products not being available causing much aggravation, worst of all being the family enclosure. Andy said that Lindleys were very keen to make the catering operation work and had been meeting with club representatives within the last week. The performance had not been anything like acceptable and they have been tasked with improvement at the Bournemouth (although a small crowd was anticipated) and Oldham matches. Bob undertook to continue passing complaints to the Andy, who will ensure that the contractors deliver a visible improvement. 'Mystery guest' visits will include the catering performance. There is a plan to provide draught beer from some kiosks, but only when Courage provide the appropriate dispensing system for speed and quality.

Lions Live Radio Show
Bob explained that following hard work by MSC's George Lampey, the supporters club had now brought to fruition the weekly radio show on a Thursday evening, broadcast by South London Radio on 107.3 fm. George, Ted and Graeme currently run the show in their spare time along with SLR's Dan Davies, and receive no monetary reward for their efforts. It is run by the fans for the fans. Graeme explained that Pete Garston, Joe Little and Lions legend Brian Horne had appeared on the show, and asked whether the club could provide Board Members, the new manager or current players to contribute to the programme. John said that as long as their contractual arrangements allowed they would try to secure current players and the manager. Heather and Andy were supportive and agreed to contribute to future programmes.

Away Travel And Ticketing
Andy said that he was still to set up a meeting with Billy Neil, the Junior Lions and the MSC concerning the provision of coaches for away travel.
The question of why the club could not take credit card ticket bookings over the telephone for members to buy away tickets had been raised on the radio show. Andy asked for more time to research this problem as it was connected to the TicketMaster contract.

Millwall E-Newsletter
Bob reported that the long awaited e-newsletter had been received by very few members. His personal intervention had resulted in the newsletter being re-distributed, with much more success, albeit almost a week later. The episode had highlighted the difficulty encountered trying to contact Millwall, the lack of communication at the Den and the shortcomings of the IT system currently in use. Bob was also unhappy with the way the MSC section of the newsletter had been shortened. Andy replied that it had been the first one and provided a lot of learning for everyone. Some of the systems at the Den are indeed poor but will take time and investment to improve. Heather explained that the first transmission had not succeeded due to technical problems. The meeting agreed that the newsletter was of good quality and looked professional in format.

'Arry's Bar
Ted announced that he had arranged for Kevin Bremner to be present in 'Arry's to answer fans' questions, prior to the Oldham match. He asked Andy to ensure that a PA would be available. Andy agreed that the club would look after the former player and his family on the day.
Bob undertook to ensure that MSC provide a representative in the bar from 1 pm. on each Saturday matchday, in order to receive VIPs, directors or anyone else wanting to talk to fans.

Fans Forum
Bob asked if a Fans Forum could be planned for the new year to enable fans to meet Kenny Jackett and John Berylson. This was agreed and a date will be fixed for February.

Fan On The Board
The election will be in March/April next year and the MSC would be calling for candidates in January. It was hoped that the club's e-mail facility to members could be used to reduce some of the time consuming work and expense. MSC had sent the club the job description that had been devised for the first election and John and Andy were happy with this. The only suggested revision was to extend the period of office from two to three years, in recognition of the time it takes to get up to speed, and in line with the rest of the board members.

Frank Whipple
Bob thanked the club for the way it had contributed to supporter Frank Whipple's one hundredth birthday celebrations.

Corporate Identity
Bob raised the issue of the multiplicity and the varied quality of lion images now being used and the lack of corporate identity. Andy agreed that it is an issue and that it is now work in progress.

Next meeting - Thursday January 17th 2008

   MSC / Club Meeting - October 2007

Held at the Den - 18th October 2007
Present: Andy Ambler (Football Club Chief Operating Officer), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Mark Holland (MSC), Ted Robinson (MSC) and Graeme Smale (MSC Secretary). Apologies from Stewart Till.

Willie Donachie
Willie had gone following the unacceptable results and performances. Employing six managers within two years had been disastrous and it was the club’s intention to find a manager with experience of operating at League One level and who would bring improvement to the team and stability to the club. It was agreed that this was the only acceptable option.

Smoking Ban
Since the implementation of the new smoking legislation and the Football League’s agreement that all football grounds would be smoke free, many fans have complained about fellow fans smoking in the toilets at half time. This is causing a foul environment, especially for children, and the result is arguably worse than what we had before. Andy confirmed that the club is obliged to act on this and will station stewards in the West Stand toilets as a deterrent. If successful, the club intends to do the same in the South and progressively around the ground. The club will continue to publicise the fact that smoking is not allowed anywhere in the stadium, and that this is the same at all League clubs. MSC will do what it can to spread this message too.
MSC asked about allowing smokers to leave the stands and smoke at half-time behind the concourses, as occurs at a few clubs such as Derby. This was not believed to be workable at the Den because of health and safety and police considerations.

Catering
Andy had sent MSC some price comparisons from other grounds where Lindleys operate. Whilst these comparisons showed that prices at Millwall are comparable with prices at other grounds, Bob said that he was more interested in comparisons between kiosk pricing at the Den between this season and last season, although this was difficult because few products are like for like. Bob replied that he would still like to see the comparison, along with tariffs from other clubs. Andy stated that the kiosks were selling a greater volume of products than last season and that the spend per head had also improved. He also said that recently the club had received no complaints about the new kiosk operators, and MSC confirmed that catering complaints are well down on last season. It was noted that although not all the kiosks were being opened, queues in the South Stand were clearing very quickly. Policy for opening kiosks is down to Lindleys, but it’s in their interests to maximise sales. The mobile burger vendor in the car park had not been a success and was going to be tried at the Surrey Canal Road entrance.

Progress Of The Radio Show
George of MSC had worked very hard to try to broker a deal between the Club and South London Radio to secure a weekly radio programme to discuss Millwall affairs, but in the absence of a sponsor this was not successful. The radio station had now offered MSC the chance to run the programmes, and the supporters club had accepted this offer in order to get the show on the air for the fans. The first programme was due that evening at 8 pm, and now goes out every Thursday evening. Andy promised club support for the programmes offering club merchandise and tickets as competition prizes. He asked to be kept updated with developments and would also like another meeting with South London Radio. MSC asked whether the club to advertise the programmes on the official website and on the big screen at home games.

Club Provision Of Away Travel
MSC was keen to see the provision of a club travel option to all away games and Andy echoed this sentiment. There is a lack of coordination between the parties involved and so a meeting is needed between the club, the Junior Lions and the MSC in order to find a satisfactory solution. Andy said he would try to arrange a meeting.

Pay On The Day At Away Matches
Problems that had occurred at both Doncaster and Southend earlier in the season have made the likelihood of being able to pay on the day at away matches less likely going forward. Specifically this had been refused by Leeds United and Bristol Rovers. If the behaviour of younger fans doesn’t improve then this situation is likely to continue. However, representations of MSC and Millwall FC had succeeded in ensuring that the kick off time at Leeds was not altered.

The Lions Directory
Unfortunately it was looking as if insufficient businesses had applied to be included in the directory for it to come to fruition. Andy asked for the club to be consulted further before the plug is pulled to see if an alternative solution can be found.

The Gates
Andy suggested that the gates project should be delayed for a few months whilst the regeneration plans were clarified, so that a suitable permanent home could be confirmed. He also suggested that the gates should not be the ‘main opening ones’.

Email
Bob asked when the club next intended to email the database. Andy hopes to do this soon and undertook to give MSC good notice.

Long Service
It was noted that Millwall supporter Frank Whipple will be 100 years old in November. The club wants to do something to mark the occasion, and Bob agreed to get his contact details. Frank’s first visit to the Den was in 1918.

Next meeting - Thursday 29th November

 

   MSC / Club Meeting - September 2007

Held at the Den - 13th September 2007
Present: Stewart Till (Football Club Chairman), Andy Ambler (Football Club Chief Operating Officer), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Paul Burkmar (MSC), Mark Holland (MSC), Ted Robinson (MSC) and Graeme Smale (MSC Secretary).

'Arry's Bar
Some of the MSCs recommendations have been implemented, the faster and cheaper food, the Sky TV and the club have introduced a happy hour. The club offered to distribute team sheets to 'Arry's Bar also. It was noted that the staff shortage is now resolved. The MSCs aspiration is still to organize events in the bar in order to get fans in earlier, and Bob and Ted will meet with Billy Neil in order to be updated on when old players may be available. It was noted that whilst many old players are happy to come and talk to fans informally, most are not enthusiastic about question and answer sessions.

The Gates
Paul Burkmar now has finally confirmed the design of the shields and found a supplier for them. He is also ready to finalise the design of the gates, and showed computer generated visuals of the options, which received unanimous approval. It has been a long hard road to get this far. With the club changing its main entrance from Zampa Road to Stockholm Road, Paul was keen to know what the most appropriate location for the gates would be. Andy agreed to consult the current regeneration plans in order to resolve this satisfactorily. The proposed motto above the gates of "We fear no foe where 'er we go" was questioned, but Paul explained that this had been the choice of the fans.

The Lions Directory
Paul reported that he had so far received between 15 and 20 local businesses wishing to advertise in the Directory. Distributing leaflets to fans is planned for before the Walsall game, and Paul hoped to get a good number of volunteers for this task from the potential beneficiaries, Millwall Academy, The Junior Lions, The Lions Trust and the MSC. Andy agreed that the leaflets could be distributed in the Executive Lounge and Boxes before the game. Paul will supply artwork to Andy so that the Directory could be further pushed at the forthcoming Swindon and Northampton home fixtures by advertising on the big screen.

Kiosk Operations
Bob reported that there were still a few complaints about not all kiosks being open in the East and West, and that in the family enclosure they had run out of sweets. Andy said that the performance of the catering contractor was constantly under review, and that they were carrying out more in-house training. An improvement is still expected. It was noted that volumes and takings are better than last season. Bob asked for a price comparison to be provided to determine whether comparable prices have risen and what is charged elsewhere. Bob will continue to forward complaints to Andy.

Fan On The Board
Since an election for the Fan Director is to take place early next year, MSC wanted to know how the club viewed the position and whether any improvements could be made. It was agreed that Peter Garston had been largely a success. More efforts are required to engage the fans beyond the message boards. MSC agreed to revisit the criteria for the role and will send these criteria to the club. Andy said that he was surprised, when he joined the club, to find that the elected supporter was a full board member, unlike the practice at many other clubs.

Away Travel
This was stimulated by the club's failure to provide travel to the matches at Swansea and Crewe. It was accepted that coaches cannot run at a loss and when the numbers are low they are difficult to arrange. However, between the club and the Junior Lions there seemed to be a lack of will to find a solution and the coaches had been cancelled rather than an alternative found. Andy agreed to speak to Billy Neil.

Policing And Pay On The Day
Ability for fans to pay on the day facility was proving very hard to obtain from away clubs due to the behaviour of a small group of young fans at Doncaster and Southend. If this continues further restrictions on travelling fans may be insisted on.

Students
Bob asked whether the club would be interested in initiatives to encourage students to become part of the fanbase. Stewart agreed to consider what incentives might be offered to 'reps' at London colleges.

Stock Exchange Announcement
Andy confirmed that the £1.2m announced in the Stock Exchange announcement this was not new money but to meet the commitment made the PLC EGM.

Smoking
MSC had started to receive complaints about fans smoking in the toilets during matches, causing a foul environment. Andy undertook to investigate.

Lions Live Radio Show
This initiative was being held back by the question of sponsorship and MSC had now offered to contribute if it would get the show on the air. George Lampey, the committee member driving this, will update Andy with the latest developments.

Next meeting - Thursday 18th October

 

   MSC / Club Meeting - August 2007

Held at the Den - 2nd August 2007
Present: Andy Ambler (MFC Chief Operating Officer), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Ted Robinson (MSC Vice-Chairman), Graeme Smale (MSC Secretary), Mark Holland (MSC Committee). Apologies for absence were received from Stewart Till (MFC Chairman).

Season Tickets And Memberships
Andy stated that the club was up to date with the posting out of season tickets. To date 4,700 have been sold, more than last season. Hopefully the total will pass 5,000 by the end of August. All of last season’s season ticket holders and members had been written to at least once. Memberships are currently being processed. If anyone has not yet received their season ticket, then contact the ticket office asap.

New Home and Away Kits
It was agreed that the club’s inability to launch sales of the new shirt until July 31st was very disappointing. It was mainly caused by the change of manufacturer to Bukta, and so hopefully will not be repeated next season. As it is customary for a new away kit to be launched later than a new home kit, this launch will be in a few weeks time, as long as the stock has arrived.

Sale of Discounted Tickets for MSC Members
Now that MSC members receive a £2 discount on matchday tickets if bought in advance, it is hoped that advance ticket sales will increase. Graeme wanted an assurance that tickets for ALL matches that have gone on sale will be available whenever the ticket office is open, which has not always been the case in the past. Andy gave this assurance commenting that he wanted to make it as easy as possible to sell as many tickets as possible. Andy also indicated that he would consider opening the ticket office outside usual hours if a reasonable demand could be demonstrated. Furthermore, Bob suggested that a ticket terminal could be placed in the club shop, which would kill two birds with one stone, and Andy undertook to investigate the technical feasibility and the cost.

Fans Forum
Final arrangements for the Fans Forum were agreed. It was to be in Arry’s Bar as the Lounge was being let out for a conference, and there was space for 150 fans. A PA would be available, Willie and a player would take questions for the first hour, and then Stewart Till and Heather Rabbatts would take questions thereafter. The Bar would provide space for some 150 supporters. Stewart was thanked for ensuring that a player would be present.

South London Radio
Plans for a radio show featuring Millwall had stalled as SLR had failed to secure the sponsor they need. Both MFC and MSC are keen for this to be revived if a solution can be found. George Lampey and Dave Hart were thanked for trying to get the show off the ground.

Catering And Kiosk Operations
Andy confirmed that the catering at Millwall is staying in house, but that the matchday kiosk operations have been contracted out to Lindley Catering.
This followed the survey carried out by MSC the results of which had been presented to the club in May. He also confirmed that the police have agreed to the sale of bottled beer, which should significantly improve the speed of service. Unfortunately at the friendly against Southampton, some fans were caught taking bottles into the seating areas, which is against the law. If this problem continues, the police will withdraw sales in bottles and we will be back to square one. The MSC agreed to help the club publicise this. Bob and Ted asked whether bottled bitter can be stocked as fans have requested it. this will slow the kiosk operation down again as the club would have no alternative but to return to draught beer. On Peter Heard’s suggestion, Andy was asked to make another attempt to find a bookmaker who would set up in the stadium, which his predecessor had never succeeded in doing.

Buy A Player Scheme
The MSC had had some initial thoughts about establishing some kind of ‘buy a player scheme’, to which supporters could contribute on a monthly basis, as has happened at some other clubs. Andy responded saying that as long as the scheme was transparent, secure and professionally run then the club would offer any help it could.

Pay On The Day at Away Games
Bob explained that this is a perennial frustration for fans, as away clubs are unwilling to announce Pay on the Day facilities in order to maximize advance ticket sales and consequently know how many away fans will be travelling. Whilst it was recognized that the decision was made by the home club and the home police authority, Andy agreed to ask the question and to ensure that the answer was clearly communicated in as timely a way as possible.

Planned Events For ‘Arry’s Bar
Andy was very supportive of Paul Burkmar’s idea of staging events for fans in ‘Arry’s Bar before home games, and was keen to promote the Bar for the viewing live Sky football before games if an MSC event was not taking place. He was considering discounting drink prices for the first hour in order to help get people in early. He also agreed to the MSC’s suggestion of offering simple food, such as rolls and pies, at simple prices. Furthermore he confirmed that the club would provide tickets for former players who agreed to carry out question and answer sessions, and that the club would ask former players who were coming to games at the club’s invitation to become involved in such events.

Ticket Promotions
The MSC had made a number of suggestions regarding ticket promotions and Andy indicated that these would be discussed at a later date as such initiatives would likely be employed later in the season

Sierra Leone
This fixture was discussed in the light of many fans being unhappy about the way the game appeared to be hijacked by a promoter with a wider agenda. MSC pointed out that more supporters would have attended the game if the event had not had the political attachments. This point was acknowledged.

Date of next meeting - Thursday 13th September.

 

   MSC / Club Meeting - November 2007

Held At The Den - 4th May 2007
Present: Stewart Till (Football Club Chairman), Andy Ambler (Football Club Chief Operating Officer), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Dave Hart, (MSC), David Orr (MSC) and Graeme Smale (MSC Secretary). Bob thanking everyone for attending and stating that he had succeeded Suzanne Roberts- Attwood as MSC Chairman. Andy Ambler was also welcomed to the club.

Club Contacts
Stewart explained that following Ken Brown's departure, Andy had taken the role of Chief Operating Office and his exact role and duties are currently being defined by Andy and Heather. These should become clear within the next couple of months. Andy was certainly the point of contact for all fan matters formerly dealt with by Ken Brown.

Ticketing Ideas
It was noted that prior season ticket sales data was still required to enable evaluation of a number of ideas and concepts. Carnets and the number of games to be included in a carnet booklet were discussed. Suggestions included giving five games for the price of four provided the five games occurred before mid-season; Linking evening games with Saturday fixtures or giving a run of three unattractive games for the price of two. It was decided that the standard of opposition in League One would probably not warrant a category system for home games.
Action: Conclude discussions at next meeting, 31st May

Membership Benefits
MSC are keen to establish a ticket discount for members. The prior suggestion of giving members a £2 discount was raised again, alongside a £1 increase in ticket prices around the ground, or alternatively just in the South Stand. This idea is attractive, as it would allow the Club to increase prices for away fans in the North Stand, would offer a significant membership benefit and reward those fans who attend regularly. Andy was not keen on giving discounted prices on the actual match-day but saw the benefit of encouraging members to buy tickets in advance. MSC members could, for instance, purchase a discounted ticket for the next home game at the preceding home fixture

Family Enclosure
The family enclosure is typically 75% sold but much less full than that on match days. This seemed to imply that family enclosure tickets being purchased at reduced prices but that, once in the ground, people were moving to more expensive sections. There were also complaints that children were being subjected to bad language or poor behaviour from neighbouring areas of the ground. Stewart stated that he intended to spend a game there next season to understand the real issues and arising problems. Andy asked whether there was any necessity to have a family enclosure that size. The whole of the lower tier of the east stand seemed to be far larger than the real demand and maybe this area should be halved. It was acknowledged that nothing could be done to alter or re-position the enclosure for next season but changes could be made for season 2008 /09.
Action: MSC to seek fan opinion

Communications and Fan Representation: E-mail Facility Update
It was agreed that the supporters club must be able to communicate with its members. MSC was planning some 4 newsletters a season and the Club could also use these newsletters to inform and remind fans of ticket offers. In past meetings with the Club, Ken Brown had reported that it was proving very difficult for the Club's computer software to allow e-mail access to members included on the database, although he had continued to discuss this problem with Ticketmaster.  It was agreed that MSC would share anything sent through the database with the Club, who would in turn co-operate by providing topical information for any MSC newsletter etc.
Action: Andy to investigate technical difficulties

Parking Problems For Next Season
The Club's attention was drawn to two parking problems for next season. It was understood that the parking permits offered to fans by the Club in Stockholm Road would not be available as this road was to be affected by building works. Also, why was motorcycle parking sometimes but not always allowed in the ground itself? AA thought that the latter was probably due to a decision of the Police Commander on match-days.
Action: Andy to investigate both issues

Removal of KOR Banners From The North Stand
These banners were thought by some to be counter productive, to have a negative rather than positive impact. Andy informed the meeting that the existing banners have already been removed as he regarded the area they occupied behind the goal as prime advertising space. Next season he hoped to use the vacated space for advertising. The KOR signs would be positioned elsewhere in the ground, as the Club was required to do. Andy was asked about placing a sign on the back of the stands that was visible to railway passengers displaying the Club and Ground name. He responded that he would consider this when he could find an advertiser to pay for such a sign.

MSC Funds held by Club
The Club currently holds funds relating to the £1 per member previously agreed as available to the MSC, although the exact sum was unclear.
Action: Ian Toal, MSC Treasurer and Andy to agree financial controls and effect direct control prior to 31st May financial year end.

The New Shirt
The pictures published by the Club seemed to show a shirt of poor design and Stewart was asked why the fans had not been consulted, as they would be the ultimate purchasers. Stewart said He it was unfortunate that someone who was not a footballer had modelled the first published pictures and urged supporters to reserve judgement until they saw the final shirt. Bukta had changed the collar of the home shirt; the design and material were top quality. The need to consult the fans in the future was recognized. Andy added that the Club had a strong relationship with Bukta and this will be seen in the variety of goods in the shop and the larger range of prices.

Charity Support
Andy suggested that MSC and the Club could establish a 4-member charity sub- committee, who would co-ordinate events and agree how to distribute monies raised.
Action: Bob to discuss with MSC Committee

The Leeds Fixtures
The MSC asked the club to make the earliest possible announcement about arrangements for this fixture. Andy stated that he thought the fixture would be early or late in the season on a Saturday to give the Police as much daylight as possible.
Action: Hold for fixture list

Teamcard
To reduce confusion, 'Teamcard number' and 'MSC membership number' should be clearly differentiated.
Action: Andy to identify what options there may be.

Midweek Games
Although the Rotherhithe tunnel is routinely closed for maintenance on Tuesday evenings, this day is preferred for midweek fixtures for football reasons, ie recovery period between Saturday fixtures
Action: Andy to check possibility of switching maintenance work nights with Transport For London

Date of next meeting - 31st May 2007

 

Millwall Supporters Club, c/o The Den, Zampa Road, London SE16 3LN  -  phone: 07895 022 325  -  email: info@millwallsupportersclub.co.uk

 


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