18th October 2021 (Online Session)
Attending: Dave Eyles (Chair), Bruce Walker (Minutes), Lionel Bird, Rachael Brown, Andy Fletcher, Grace McKenna,
Apologies: Luke Harris, Nigel Lawrence
Matters Arising from Previous Meeting
One matter that arose was the continuing absence of the documentation from the Independent Reviewer of the Trust's 2020/2021 Accounts. Dave and Rachael to follow up.
Other potential Matters Arising - specifically those concerning membership renewal - were dealt with during the meeting.
Update from the Chair
Dave thanked Luke for his outstanding work in making the new website not only operational but also positive and exciting. This represents the beginning of a complete overhaul of the way in which the Trust both presents itself and delivers information, participation opportunities and benefits to members.
He went on to indentify, in a wide-ranging discussion with other Members, the steps and activities that needed to be undertaken in order to enhance the membership offer which the new website details. This discussion is summarised under Items 9 and 10 below.
The Board agreed that a unanimous vote of thanks and appreciation be recorded for Luke for his invaluable work on the website, its functionality and the new membership procedure.
Bruce attended the Supporters' Forum on behalf of the Trust held on September 30th at the Sky Blue Tavern. The Minutes of this Forum are published on the Club's website at:
Bruce indicated that most of the issues raised by Trust members had been at least touched on in the discussions as minuted at the Forum. He pointed to four matters of particular interest.
One issue which Bruce had subsequently followed up with the Club, was that of the timing of the availability of away tickets. The EFL suggests a 4 week lead time but this was nowhere near being met to date. The Club's response was that they were dependent on the actions of the particular home club but that in general it was the case that across the League tickets for away fans had been released really quite late this season. [NB: This was prior to the release of the away tickets at Bournemouth and for Birmingham fans at the Arena, both of which gave around 3 weeks lead time].
Pete Griffiths had raised the question of the re-introduction/feasibility of the direct Station-Pool Meadow-Arena return shuttle bus services. Bruce had reminded the Forum that this had been pursued by the Trust some years back but with little success. The Club agreed to reconsider this and asked supporters' reps to ask their respective memberships for their views on this. Peter had indicated that he would keep Bruce informed during his planned pursuit of this matter.
It was agreed that the New Stadium should appear on the Agenda twice a year, despite assurances that this was a long term project and one not yet ready for consultation
The Club's CEO did not rule out player sales in January if offers received were substantial enough, despite a tripling of home gates and a rent reportedly over 30% less than in the previous year. This was due to additional costs incurred on returning to the Arena - e.g., £10k to 'wire in' goal line technology and the need to improve the Club shop - and adherence to the Club's budgeting policy, referred to as the 'Brentford Model' (sic)
Finance, Membership and Accounts
The membership stands at 2747, which includes 14 new members through membership renewal via the website. The Fighting Fund stands at £3577.59.
Football Supporters' Association
Grace reported that there would be an update on what was happening with the Review in time for our November Meeting. She also asked the the Board to note that the new Minister for Sport was much more pro-gambling in football than her predecessor.
Lionel has been asked by the FSA to provide a history of the organisation in this its centenary year. The idea of what became the FSA was originally proposed and pursued by a Coventry City supporter, Lewis Bennington, in 1921.
Lionel is also providing an overview of the development of Women's Football. Women were banned from playing football by the FA in 1921.
The Board wished Lionel well with these endeavours.
Andy reported that the reaction to Grace's appearance on Sky Blue Fans TV had been very positive indeed both in terms of the content of her interview and the information on the new approach of the Trust which she had outlined in that interview. He also hoped that the podcast could be referenced/linked through the Trust website.
The Board was delighted to express it's appreciation of, and congratulations to, Grace on her SBFTV 'performance'.
Andy also asked whether, when available, summaries of Lionel's work on the history of the Trust, the FSA and Women's Football would be available on the Trust website and hence be disseminated through social media.
Lionel responded that he hoped that this would be the case and that, as it is, he had sent a potted history of the Trust to Luke for inclusion both on the website and in any future members Welcome Pack [See Items 9 and 10 below]
Website, Membership Acquisition & Newsletters
There was an enthusiatic and very positive discussion of the next steps in the development of the website and associated communications. In summary:
It was agreed that it was necessary to clarify for members the charging arrangements for both Existing and New Members and the proposed date for the full implementation of the membership package(s). Those joining/renewing now would have their membership dated from the date (tbc) of the 'official' launch of this phase of the Trust's operation.
To stress this, it would be important to inform existing members that they would not be 'disenfranchised' if they did not renew immediately.
It would be important to clarify the additional benefits that new and existing members would gain from their annual fee. These could include membership cards, pins, badges, merch and benefits to members from commercial partners. Differential membership fees might be introduced for different periods of membership (e.g., 1yr, 5yrs, 10yrs)
It was agreed that we should hold an Open and/ or Zoom meeting for members to discuss and refine these matters before full implementation.
Individual Board Members agreed to further different aspects of the above. Bruce agreed to summarise these as Action Points for those individuals immediately following the meeting.
City of Culture
The possibility of an SBFTV input into this initiative was discussed. Grace also agreed to sound out Hannah Kumari, whose one woman show on being an England and Coventry fan of Asian heritage, might possibly form part of a co-branded Trust/Kumari/CoC performance.
The proposed Open/Zoom meeting for members might also help to rekindle interest in the CoC initiative.
Recruitment & Succession Planning
Dave reiterated his intention to retire at the next AGM but that succession and recruitment was a wider matter than simply that of a new Chair. The Trust Board was running well light of the active members it needed.
It was to be hoped that new and renewing members might offer opportunities for recruitment in the light of the new and more proactive approach of the Trust. An Open Meeting(s) might similarly provide opportunities for participation in the future.
The Trust needs to emphasise the benefits - including Forum and FSA links - that membership and participation can bring.
Any Other Business
The Trust had received information from national FSA concerning an independent initiative entitled Fairgame. Although apparently sharing some principles and objectives with the FSA and Trusts, it was aimed, it seemed, at Clubs themselves. The initiative was neither sponsored nor endorsed by the FSA so it was agreed that the information should be passed on to CCFC with that caveat.
Date of Next Meeting
Monday 15th November by Zoom at 7.00pm (to be confirmed)