MSC / Club Meeting - December 2009
Present - Andy Ambler (Club Chief Executive), Ray James (Head Of Commercial And Marketing), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman) Sam Masson, Jason Roseman, Ted Robinson, Ayse Smith and Graeme Smale (All MSC).
Season Tickets and Memberships
To date 58 half-season tickets have been purchased and there are now 5,025 season ticket holders. There are also 5,680 members and 1,338 Junior Lions. Total is now over 12,000. Some literature had been misprinted promising a shop voucher but this was an error.
The Club have mounted an advertising campaign highlighting the benefits of Junior Lions membership in the SLP and other local publications. The Junior Lions Christmas Party had been a success and the Times had sent a reporter to the Family Enclosure at a recent home match and the Family Club had been described as a good family day out.
The MSC thought it was unfair that the tickets went on sale on the day that fans were travelling to Exeter. Consequently those on trains and coaches and staying down in Devon were disadvantaged. The club recognised this and whilst the purchase of tickets is now easier it shouldn't be repeated.
The Charlton game will be dedicated to the campaign against street violence. The sponsor's names will be replaced on both team's shirts by the slogan 'Street Violence Ruins Lives'. The families of Rob Knox and Jimmy Mizen, supporters of the clubs, will be presented to the fans before the game and the shirts will be auctioned off after the match with the proceeds going to the Rob Knox Foundation and the Jimmy Mizen Foundation.
Andy once again called for decent supporter behaviour before, during and after the game, which was sure to be monitored by the press as a big occasion fixture.
New Ticketing SystemMSC raised concerns over the purchase histories being built up on the new system, as accurate data will be necessary for
possible future loyalty schemes. These concerns were proved to be well founded and it was clear that more work and revised reporting was required. This to be presented at the next meeting.
Meanwhile the club to ensure all ticket sales are correctly recorded against each member's account. Any further training needs will be addressed as quickly as possible.
Away Coach Travel
Bob raised the issue of the funding of the coach to Exeter. He reiterated that the MSC will consider contributing to the running of a coach if and only if that contribution will ensure that the coach runs. This had not been the case with the Exeter coach which was subsidised by Millwall and was full. Andy will ensure that Billy and the ticket office are clear on this. Further, it was agreed that coaches should never be cancelled less than one week prior to a match.
Andy agreed that the reconciliation of MSC monies held by the club will be completed in time for the next meeting.
A separate 125 year celebration committee has been established chaired by Ray James, and ideas have been formulated. These include 1885 gift boxes, possibly containing old publications charting the development of the club, and possibly a club scarf and shirt.
In addition to the home and away shirt, a special 125-celebration shirt will be produced to be worn by the team for the game closest to its foundation date.
The home shirt will be chosen by the fans from a shortlist of three, and one of the shirts may have the names of past players woven into it. The Club logo however will not be debated.
MSC asked whether the Club would meet the necessary timescales for the manufacture of the celebration shirt. Andy replied that the Club is currently in the final process of striking a deal with a new kit manufacturer following the failure of Bukta, the current kit provider. The likely new manufacturer already has experience in providing kit for a celebration season for another professional club, and Andy will set appropriate deadlines with the new provider once the contract has been signed.
The next Fans Forum should be held in February or early March. Andy said that the Chairman would like to attend and will establish his availability.
Naming Of A Stand
There is indecision at the club over this and also where a club museum could be positioned. Ultimately the club would like to maintain the possibility of linking sponsors names to the stands as this could produce extra revenue, although no such deals were on the horizon at present. He suggested that maybe kiosks around the ground should be named, as is the case at some other clubs, but this did not appeal to the MSC.
Big Screen And Clock
The big screen's 'box of tricks' is currently broken and needs substantial expenditure to affect a repair. The club makes no revenue from the screen and so this will not be a priority. A direct feed to the screen from the cameras is the only current option.
Under 13s Kit
Bukta have still not provided this but the club do not intend to buy additional kit when Bukta are contracted to provide it.
The picture on the screen in 'Arry's Bar is poor. Andy agreed to investigate
MSC / Club Meeting - August 2009
Present - Andy Ambler (Club Chief Executive), Ray James (Club Head Of Commercial And Marketing), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Mark Holland, Chris Rudd, Jason Roseman, George Lampey and Graeme Smale (all MSC).
Season Tickets and Memberships
4,489 season tickets have been sold to date, an improvement over last season (4,289 excluding half season tickets). 2,874 memberships have been sold, compared with 3,350 by the end of last season. 887 Junior Lions memberships have been sold, compared with 462 last season.
Andy and Ray expressed satisfaction with these figures. The club is focused on recruiting junior members and it is hoped the new 'family club' in the West Lower will help this drive. The Junior Lions have strengthened their committee including Pru Buckley from the club. In the wider quest for more new fans, Ray has secured a relationship with the Mercury which will feature a Millwall 'wrap around' feature encouraging attendance at games. He also has a forthcoming similar arrangement with the News Shopper, and is talking to the Kent Messenger. Kent is a key area for attracting new and lapsed fans to The Den. Other tie-ins with Dartford FC are possible.
The MSC were critical of the way the mail-outs were conducted. Once again, although all Season Ticket holders did receive their tickets prior to the first match, they were distributed at the last minute, and there were no messages of thanks from the Chairman or The Manager, and nothing from the MSC at all despite Bob submitting a piece for possible inclusion. Andy argued that the new ticket system had had its teething problems largely sorted and a huge amount of staff time and resource had been taken up with the new installation. Nevertheless the club took the criticism on board.
Ken Chapman (Club Head of Security) joined the meeting. He stated that the club were reported by officials on 12 occasions last season, the largest number in the league by far, and 2 of these are not yet dealt with by the FA, Hull City away and Leicester City at home, which involved 6 missile throwing incidents. Being reported by officials is always harmful to our club and a campaign explaining this is being prepared by the club for the new season. This campaign will concentrate on the major issues namely missile throwing, pitch encroachment, and racism. There will be posters around the stadium and in matchday programmes. It must be clarified to fans that the pitch surround is classed as the pitch and so incursions on to this area to celebrate a goal is the same offence. The second intruder who ran on to the pitch and confronted the Leeds goalkeeper has now received a 3 year Police banning order.
The meeting was joined by the Stadium Manager and Area Manager from Lindley Catering. The caterers stated they operate the catering at more than 50 football grounds throughout the country, plus cricket and rugby venues.
The company is very keen to provide customer satisfaction as their profits depend upon it. Millwall has one of the highest spends per head in the country. The pricing at Millwall is in their lower price banding. Despite this, MSC reported that matchday catering continues to generate the highest number of fans' complaints, particularly regarding poor quality, poor service, high prices and unimaginative menus.
Catering prices will always carry a premium at stadium events, as there are only 52 hours per year to operate a profitable business and the temporary and fragmented nature of the operation brings many additional costs.
The new season's price list was provided which revealed that beer, cider and lager have increased by 30 pence from last season to £3.50 per bottle. This increase was met with great displeasure and the caterers and the club were warned that will be highly unpopular with the fans, given the current low inflation and economic conditions. The caterers explained that the price of beer had increased, the duty had increased, and that the £3.50 price will be for the whole season and will not increase, for instance, when the VAT Rate returns to 17.5% at the turn of the year.
The caterers were questioned about why they had run out of non-perishable goods such as Bovril and tea at the colder night games. It was admitted that this had been due to a lack of communication between the kiosk staff and the stadium catering manager. Ample non-perishable goods are always kept on site and it is up to each kiosk manager to ensure they maintain adequate stocks in their kiosk. The caterers believe that this problem is very unlikely to re-occur.
MSC raised the issue of insufficient numbers of kiosks being open and resultant queues. Lindleys explained that there must be a business case to open a kiosk. The beer only kiosk had been opened next to the main kiosk in the West Upper but this had not been particularly successful. MSC responded saying that this kiosk had been woefully inadequately signed, and the trial had not lasted long enough for fans to recognise the change and alter their behaviour.
The new 'family club' will have a children's food kiosk and a beer counter for parents. MSC raised the issue of the quality of the staff employed, and the caterers responded that recruitment is an ongoing challenge but only staff who had an adequate understanding of English are employed, and they are all fully trained.
Stadium PA System
Andy admitted that the new PA system was not correctly adjusted or operated correctly for the Middlesbrough game but it was put down to teething problems.
The installers are returning next Monday to ensure it is all in order for the Bournemouth Carling Cup match.
The Lions Centre on Matchdays
It is still hoped that it will be possible to establish matchday activity in the Lions Centre for kids and their parents. Hopefully the new Junior Lions Committee and Millwall Community Scheme will be able to make it happen, despite the issues with the lease and the licensing which will have to be overcome.
Naming The East Stand
This initiative is currently stalled whilst the club tries to establish a tie up with the Port Of London Authority, to ascertain whether that body wants to become involved with stand sponsorship at Millwall.
The new home shirt was in the club shop by the beginning of July, and indeed limited numbers had been available prior to the Play-Off Final. The new red and black away shirt is scheduled to be worn by the team at Southend United, and the club hope to have it in the shop by then.
It is intended that the fans will be fully consulted on the design of the 125th anniversary shirt next season.
Credit Card and Postage Charges
It was noted that currently no charges are being made for credit card transactions at the ticket office or for postage on online sales. This is to encourage online sales but may be reviewed in future.
MSC / Club Meeting - April 2009
Held at the Den - Thursday 9th April 2009
Present - Andy Ambler (Club MD), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Dave Hart, Ayse Smith, Mark Holland and Graeme Smale (all MSC)
New Season Tickets
The mailout took place and the new ticket system and ticket website were launched successfully. 500 S/Ts were sold in the first four days including 300 online. Adverts will be appearing in the SLP. The decrease and subsequent increase in VAT was discussed and the club does not intend to increase prices when the rate increases. Prices next season are the same as this season.
S/T holders will receive a new card for 2009-10, but renewing members will not, as existing cards are not dated and contain all the necessary technology.
Whilst it was agreed that the final solution should deliver what is required, the implementation and the timing of the limited consultation that took place was a bit of a disaster. This occurred despite advance warning from MSC. The club did not agree to all under-12's being able to buy their S/T for £23, but have extended the availability to include the new FE and the East Lower.
MSC again raised the issue of inadequate stewarding, leading to congestion in the South Upper and S/T holders being unable to sit in their own seats. The club recognise that the stewarding is not correct and would like to employ more of their own stewards.
A meeting will be held in the close season involving all relevant parties in order to address all the issues surrounding stewards, police and bans.
Lindleys have a new regional manager and now he has taken up his role the ongoing catering issues will be addressed. Again, a meeting will be held in the close season involving all relevant parties in order to address all the issues and plan for next season. Furthermore, Andy suggested that the new ticket system, which should enable the club to interact much better with the fans, should be the basis for sending out 'feedback questionnaires' concerning all aspects of the matchday experience.
New Ticket System, Matchday Tickets and Memberships
The benefits of the new system are now being felt, with the S/T renewals available online. Matchday ticket prices for next season will be set when we know which division we are in. Discounts are unlikely to continue in their present form because the new system will bring a significant change in fans' ticket buying behaviour with the unprecedented convenience now available. Take up of the £3 discount for members this season was low, except for the Leeds match for which all tickets were sold in advance.
The key benefit for members next season (apart from buying away tickets) will be the ability to buy online or by phone at any time and not require a paper ticket.
Possible Play-Off Matches
At the time of the meeting preliminary talks were taking place regarding possible play-off matches, particularly considering the possibility of a Millwall v Leeds semi-final.
With all the midweek matches we have had, it has not been possible to organise another Fans Forum. This will be resolved next season. There has been no attempt by Kenny or anyone else to avoid having a Fans Forum.
The trial in the South stand has been a great success and it is hoped to extend it to the East stand next season. The West stand will be a challenge, however, due to the geography of the stadium.
Home Pre Season Friendly
This is key as a full trial of the new system will be needed. It is intended that there will be a match on 1st August, which hopefully will also be the long-awaited Richard Sadlier Testimonial match.
This is a big problem as the system needs replacement. Potentially this will cost a six figure sum and will not be considered until the close season. All health and safety requirements are being met by a separate PA system, which is why only safety announcements can be heard in parts of the ground.
Sound System in 'Arry's Bar
This is still not sorted.
New MSC Logo
After Easter MSC are launching a competition to find a new logo to replace the boring uninspiring one we are currently stuck with.
The new home shirt will hopefully be launched at the Leyton Orient match, and been the shop by the end of May. We are still with Bukta and CYC and Oppida have signed for another year. The away shirt, the colour of which is secret, should be on sale by the end of July / early August. It is intended that the fans will have significant input into the 125 year anniversary shirt to be launched in 2010-11.
An ATM (Cash Machine) At The Den?
The club agreed to look at this but the likely issue is the lack of foot fall on non match days, and so most potential providers are unlikely to be interested.
Naming The East Stand
Further to previous conversations a list of 4 names has been put to the Board for consideration. If agreed, the fans will have the opportunity to choose one from the list.
MSC / Club Meeting - January 2009
Held at the Den - Thursday 8th January 2009
Present - Andy Ambler (Club Chief Executive), Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Mark Holland, Ted Robinson, Dave Hart and Graeme Smale (all MSC)
The Use Of The Community Centre Building On Match Days
This subject was discussed at a recent MSC Meeting when Fan Director Peter Garston had been present. It was thought at that meeting that the Club could encourage the Community Scheme to make use of the centre on match days.
Junior football tournaments could be arranged supervised by community scheme staff and the bar facilities could be used by parents whose children were participating in the tournaments. The use of the centre in this way would, it is hoped, provide a benefit to supporters of all ages, generate additional revenue and potentially increase crowd numbers.
Peter had drawn up a proposal and sent it to Bob. Andy was asked who was the best person / people to present this plan to in order that it had a chance of coming to fruition.
Andy pointed out that the Club do not actually have any controlling interest in the Centre and merely work with the Community Scheme. The scheme has its own Board Of Directors who include Loo Brackpool, Dick Towner and Chairman Dick Liddell. Any profits made will therefore accrue to the Scheme and not to the football club.
There are various obstacles, but Andy could see the merit of the ideas put forward and suggested that Bob could meet Dick Liddell to discuss the subject.
Stewarding And Swearing Bans
The Club's stewarding policy had been criticised again over Christmas following the ejection and banning of a fan from a section of seats behind the away dugout. Andy stated that he did not like talking about individual cases but the fan involved seemed to intimate on message boards that his outburst had been limited.
In fact it had become so prolonged and uncontrolled that the 4th official had alerted the Police who were asked to take action.
Bob asked whether the supporter was warned before he was ejected and Andy replied that at one point the fan had four stewards sitting next to him trying to curb his behaviour. No warning was actually given.
The MSC requested that the Club follows the rules laid down and that a warning is issued before a fan is ejected.
Andy countered that this procedure will be followed in the vast majority of cases but there may be times when immediate action is required. As in the case above, the Club's actions seem to have prevented an arrest being made.
It was agreed that a statement will be placed in an upcoming home programme highlighting the Club's policy regarding swearing and crowd behaviour and that a continual tirade of swearing accompanied by aggressive behaviour will not be seen as acceptable.
Over the Christmas home games, the MSC had received a number of complaints about catering. Firstly, Andy recognised that the caterers had run out of major lines such as burgers etc and, even worse, non-perishable goods. It was not as if the club's crowd numbers were varying substantially and over the time the caterers have been operating in the Stadium a pattern of consumption should have become evident. He had already had a meeting with the caterers on this subject.
Andy warned, however, that the margins for caterers are being squeezed as food prices are rising. This could also be seen in the provision of beer where the Club was hearing that its supplier, Courage, was contemplating a price increase.
Andy also pointed out that there would always be a difference in price between similar goods sold inside the stadium compared to retail outlets outside as the consumer is paying for the convenience of buying the food at the game.
The price difference can be seen at all major sporting venues and a fairer comparison would be to look at prices between sporting venues.
It was pointed out that Pukka Pies were cheaper in 'Arry's than the inferior ones sold in the kiosks and Andy said he would investigate.
The fact that kiosk 3 in the West Stand was never opened has been discussed with the caterers, who say that there was not presently enough profit generated in the West to justify the wages of the five staff needed to run the kiosk. There had been a suggestion that this kiosk could be used purely for selling beer, with only 2 staff needed, but the fact that this has not been tried suggests lack of vision by the caterers. ( This has since been done at the Tranmere game).
Complaints about cold 'hot drinks' have led to Andy asking the caterers to review the operation of their boilers and things should improve in this area.
Andy saw no reason why customer satisfaction forms could not be handed out. Indeed, the caterers were embarking on their own research by conducting customer interviews. It was agreed that they should be doing both.
More appealing meal deals were also asked for again. These could be based on those commonly seen at petrol stations, for example a burger, drink and crisps. Andy would discuss this with Lindley's. He would also take the suggestion to the caterers regarding the provision of another vegetarian option of a cheese and onion pasty.
The question of providing heaters and/or stools in parts of the concourse near kiosks, was ruled as other clubs, such as Derby County had tried it without success. There are also health and safety concerns regarding ease of access.
Andy also said that Happy Hours before the game to encourage crowds into the Stadium had proved unsuccessful at other Clubs and it was very doubtful that this initiative would be trialled at The Den.
Mobile catering could be used in limited areas of the stadium, Andy will speak to Lindleys about this.
In answer to whether the caterers had penalties in their contract to deal with under-performance, Andy said such penalties do exist but they are intended to be a sanction of last resort and that point had not been reached.
It was suggested that might be a small group of supporters interested in catering could meet Lindleys as a 'focus group', It was agreed this was a good idea and preferable to discussing catering at a Fans Forum.
Andy announced that the company has now been chosen to supply and control the ticketing system at the Club, beginning next season. There were points to be ironed out and before the deal is finally completed, a presentation by the company would be given to a group of supporters who have expressed an interest in this area, together with Peter Garston and a representatives of MSC.
The system should satisfy all modern ticket requirements with online choosing and purchasing of seats, the online selling of boxes, in house purchasing of away tickets and season ticket holders being able to reserve their seats online for home Cup games.
It will also offer barcode entry to the Stadium and will provide the Club with a much improved database for communicating with the fanbase.
As regards the MSC complementary ticket initiative, this was to be run again for the Tranmere game but has now been postponed until the new marketing manager is appointed.
Leeds United - it was West Yorkshire Police who had insisted on the voucher system. In answer to the question of how those travelling independently by car or train, rather than on official coaches, were going to collect their match tickets, Andy replied that this will become clearer closer to the game as the exchange point/s are decided. The MSC will try to ensure that all fans are satisfactorily catered for.
Cup replay at Crewe - The cost of coach travel to this game had been reduced following a contribution made to the overall cost by the MSC.
Smoking At Home Games?
Following the many complaints received from supporters about half-time smoking in the toilets, It has finally been agreed that the Club will run a trial at the Scunthorpe and Colchester home fixtures, of establishing a portable fenced area in the car park behind Block 9 to allow South Stand smokers to smoke at half-time. If this trial proves successful, it will be employed elsewhere around the Stadium.
The trial will be formally announced after the Tranmere game.
Club Arrangements For The Presentation Of An Award When Neil Harris Breaks The Goal Scoring Record
Andy said that the Club would make a presentation at the next home game when Neil breaks the record. He suggested that the MSC should make its presentation at the end of the season at the Player Of The Year function. Andy explained that pitch presentations before games can sometimes be difficult as permission is needed from the referee and the opposing team. Bob explained that the MSC was not happy about presenting a supporters' award at the Player Of The Year dinner, preferring it to be presented in front of as many supporters as possible. Bob will propose a course of action when the time comes.
Any Other Business
- Next Fans Forum - This will be discussed with the Chairman when he flies over to attend the Crewe game, with a view to having the Chairman as well as Kenny Jackett present. Hopefully this will be before the end of February.
- The Provision Of A Sound System For 'Arry's Bar - Veronica in the hospitality department has made an appointment for a technician to visit within the next week.
- The Repair Of The Replay Facility - This represents a significant cost to the Club and the club is looking for a sponsor for this facility.
- The Tannoy System And The Concourse TVs - The Tannoy system is currently in poor condition and is likely to need some £60,000 to repair. The Club are presently looking at the options. The system is still sufficient to satisfy all health and safety regulations. Andy will investigate the poor picture quality on some of the concourse TVs
- An MSC Newsletter - The MSC would like to produce a newsletter to fans, to include involving the supporters in the design of a new MSC logo and other things. Mark Holland will liaise with Michael at the Club about the production of this newsletter
- 2009/10 Season Ticket Prices - It was decided that MSC discussions with the Club regarding ticket pricing and discounts for next season should be delayed until the full capabilities of the new ticketing system were confirmed as these will impact on pricing.
- The Playing Of Evening Reserve Games - Andy stated that this might happen towards the end of the season, due to the backlog of reserve games following the recent bad weather. The League has always been enthusiastic about this idea but Millwall do not want to see a precedent established as, in general, afternoon reserve fixtures saved the Club substantial money.
There being no other business, the meeting ended at 6.20 pm - Date Of Next Meeting 5th February 2009
Millwall Supporters Club, c/o The Den,
London SE16 3LN -
phone: 07895 022 325 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org