FANS FORUM: A summary

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Following calls from the fans to ask the board direct questions, and following the appointment of the new manager, this seemed like the ideal time to have another Fans Forum.

There was a great turn out, so thank you to those who were able to attend.  Several issues and queries were raised, for the purpose of the notes they have grouped together, rather than run through of the Q&As in the order they were raised.

On the panel was manager Gavin Hurren and chairman Mike Burke. Scribe was Sandra Cable.

The Manager 

Newly appointed manager, Gavin Hurren, introduced himself explaining what he has been doing recently and where he has worked.  Gavin is currently taking his MA in Sports through the PFA and undergoing his UEFA A coaching badge.

It was pointed out that the team have scored the lowest number of goals in the league, something that Gavin is very aware of. 

“Yes we are looking at being in the relegation zone at this precise moment but we intend to change that.  Things do take time and the first thing the team are working on are our shape and making us hard to beat.  Which so far is starting to come together,” Gavin commented.

Gavin was asked if he would be making any more changes to the team.

“Yes, there will be changes, but the current players also need chance to impress and show their ability to me before we go rushing in to anything.  We need to focus on stopping leaking goals,” he said.

Gavin was asked if he felt the budget was acceptable.

“Yes, in the current climate, the budget in place is that of a Top 10 team in my opinion.  There are some local teams that are spending ridiculous amounts of money on their squad, and in some cases that still isn’t working for them.  Players will have their head turned by a bigger wage but I don’t want to get into a bidding war with people with big pockets.  I couldn’t stand in front of you and say we are keeping ‘such a body’ and paying him in excess of £500, when I don’t feel that he is actually worth it,” he said.

Mike explained that at the moment the club are losing around £2000 per game, so the budget has to be kept as it is for now.

Discussions with the board have been that if we can improve on the results, which will improve the gates there is room to increase the budget.  Likewise if a player comes along that we do feel he is worth the extra we can have that discussion – but they would have to be worth it.

Gavin was questioned on his ability to manage after being sacked from Gresley.  He was more than happy to correct this mis-truth, explaining that he was asked to help a failing team.

“Yes, they were still relegated, but the team as a whole was in a much better position than when I first got there,” he said. 

Gavin had 15 games with Gresley – they were the worst 15 games of his life but also the best He learnt a lot about managing and about the type of infrastructure he wanted to work in and Gresley wasn’t it (and it was too far) so he left at the end of that season.  

Gavin was questioned on the style of play.

“This is something that will change from week to week going forward. The team are already starting to work more like a team and this can only get better,” he said.

Fans commented that the players look happier, with more togetherness.

How many players on contract?

There are 4 players currently on contract. Gavin briefly explained what the contract covers adding that should a higher club come for a player they would not stop in their way, developing players for progressing is a huge boost for everyone throughout the club.

The Future & Youth Teams

Chairman, Mike Burke, was asked what the future plans for the club were.

Mike explained that the Academy had been due to start, with players/students, already recruited for a September 2020 start but obviously COVID stopped that. The club now hope to get that up and going again ready for September 2022.  

Alan Horton (Ladies Team Manager) said that although he had recommended that the youth team should not continue a couple of years ago ,he now feels that it is time to get another team in.  Others then asked about an U21 and/or a Reserve team – are they in the plans?

Alan offered to be the liaison with the Colts to help bring on their players, should the plans include a youth team, he feels that the club should work on narrowing the gap between the Colts and Sporting.

Currently the community interests include Colts, Vets and Ladies teams.  We are always looking to do more but it comes down to funding and having enough people to cover all of the jobs.  Future hopes are to go into schools and work with other groups, definitely something we want to build on to work towards completing the Rovers Sporting Society dream for a fan owned and fan run club.  If you have ideas, or time, please get in touch.

Communication 

Fans feel that there is a lack of communication from the board to the fans, with no transparency.

Shedenders Facebook page was discussed, lots of questions are posted on there but never answered by board.  Mike explained that the board are not supposed to get involved with the FB page as this is for fans.  There were several discussions around the FB page but it was agreed that there could be better communication to the fans, with more information being posted on the club Website.  A Fans Forum will be held quarterly in the Rouslers Bar but when you want to know why a something has or hasn’t happened just email the board, they will get back to you with what they can – all we ask is that the question is asked without a personal attack on anyone or in the form of a rant.

Mike reminded fans that they also have the BSSS to go to with any queries as they have capacity for 3 members on the board.  Well this didn’t go down well.  The fans in the room were keen to remind Mike that this is a Fans Forum, nothing to do with the BSSS. 

The evening’s scribe Sandra was baffled, so asked what the BSSS are for then (adding that she was quite a newbie and hadn’t really given things much thought, but the bit she had thought about wasn’t quite right).  The role of the BSSS is probably best left to them to explain in detail but the short version is they are there to make sure the club doesn’t run into financial difficulties like it had in the past.  They will answer queries from fans that have paid the £5 joining fee to become a member.

If fans wanted to have a few ‘voices’ to do the asking for them – great, but equally some may wish to ask their question more privately – we are all different but either works.

Fans want a say in the club and want these forums to be a place for communication, both ways, with a promise from the board that they will listen, and where possible action.  Obviously in some instances what has been requested can’t be actioned – just let us know why so that the fans know you have looked into it, an explanation is better than silence.

Mike asked how can we get the fans involved?

It was suggested that taking at least two suggestions forward from today’s meeting for the board to feedback on would be a step in the right direction.

Alan expressed that he had been on both the BSSS board and the Club board but felt that there should be one board.

Volunteers

As a club dependent on our own income we are keen to have as many volunteers as possible to help keep costs down. This is both on match day and throughout the rest of the week.  

Fans said that if they felt their voice was being heard they may be more inclined to volunteer.  

Both Brian (Poole) and Shep (David Sheppard), two key volunteers, have issued open invitations to anyone who is interested in finding out how they could help.  The kettle is always on in the board room during week days, whilst the guys carryout the ground maintenance, both on and off the pitch. 

Concessions

Discounts for disabled fans was discussed.  Although it may seem harsh the club need to raise as much as they can, with the main funding coming through the turnstiles we cannot afford to reduce the price – especially for this season as we have to take into account those who have already paid for a season ticket.  We can look at it for next season but let’s see where we are at by the end of this season.

One suggestion was that anyone who qualified could present their official evidence to prevent people taking advantage.

Commercial Plan 

What is the plan?  It all starts with winning on the pitch, bigger gates and then more people will want to pay for sponsorship when the audience it bigger.

Richard Boorn (of Bondtech, club sponsor) raised a report where it was suggested that the club try to secure a 50 year lease and to ask the council to reduce the rent.

Mike advised that the rent issue had been discussed, the council won’t reduce it but they will reimburse some, provided it is used to improve the ground over the next 50 years.

BSSS & AOA & AGM

A fan, who is also a shareholder asked what the AOA proposal was, he had been written to in April and told the club would be in touch again in due course but to date nothing has been received.

Mike gave a quick summary of the proposal and why the proposal came about.  A fuller explanation will be presented to the AGM but as there were non-shareholders in attendance it was probably not the right time for a full discussion.

A while ago a task group of four people, to BSSS board members and two Club board members, were asked to look into the AOA, take advice and bring their findings back to the board 12 months later. The process has taken a lot longer than anticipated with opinions being very varied.

The current AOA declared that one shareholder = one vote, the BSSS own substantial shares but are only permitted one vote, just the same as someone who owns only one share. This could prevent investors committing to the club as no matter how much they invested they would still only be entitled to one vote. The proposal was to base votes on a percentage of the shares that they own (up to 10%), making it more attractive to the BSSS and new investors. 

Actions

Board to look at better ways to keep fans updated on changes, player news, and other news as much as possible. Timescale – ASAP.

Board to look at the feasibility of concession prices being applied for next season.  Timescale June 2022.

Set date for the next Fans Forum (to be held quarterly) – early 2022.

Club director David ‘Shep’ Sheppard will now act as a fan liaison officer. Any questions that fans wish to put to the board between forums should be given to Shep, in writing.

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