SCFF meeting with the Club, Tuesday 26th April ‘05
Club Guest Suite, Britannia Stadium
Terry gave a short introduction, particularly for the new attendees for the Fans Forum and management at this meeting, explaining the development of the Forum over the last year and the establishment of a constructive relationship with the Club.
Season tickets – sales & PR strategy:
Underpinning the ticket sales had of course been the recent disappointments, which had completely overshadowed our early season expectations, plus other Club, and team issues, which had entered into the public domain. One of which was the manager’s contract situation, and because this had not been resolved during the early bird period it was decided to extend the deadline date.
Forum members expressed their recognition of the consultation that had taken place with the Club in formulating pricing and sales strategy for the coming season.
However there were also frank views expressed about the PR strategy, team performance influences and perceptions about the Board that may have affected total sales. Concern was expressed about the worry of an underlying bias at the Sentinel against Stoke City.
Several points were discussed that in hindsight may have influenced the sales total of season tickets. Tony Scholes expressed the wish and intent to improve on PR and customer relation issues during this coming year, as well as pursuing an active policy of ‘pulling the Club together’ in terms of supporter expectations and a much more positive communication policy with the fans.
As for the structure and pricing of new season tickets for 2005/6 both the Club and the Forum believed that it had been relatively well received with very few complaints, the concept of trying to maintain an attractive price for the first sales deadline was considered to have been, once again, very successful.
The main issues of concern were (once again) the credit/debit card surcharges, which are outside the Clubs control.
There was also the timescale of the sales period (which unfortunately covered 2 home defeats), which caused some concern, and not sending renewal letters out to current ticket holders. The Club and the Forum agreed that they would begin consultation in January of next year regarding season ticket prices and sales strategies for the 06/07 season.
Review of meeting with stadium caterers:
Fans Forum members and a representative of Stoke City however recently held a productive meeting with Azure on all issues associated with catering and drinks provision. Having raised a number of comments from supporters particularly about food availability during a match, Azure explained the mechanics and constraints of food production at such a venue. For example, some food such as chips has a very limited life on the shelf and therefore has to be produced ‘on time’. The production was therefore aimed at the peak periods, e.g. half time. There was discussion on how to communicate this to customers, so that instead of being told “we don’t have any” it should be made clear that the food is in preparation rather than not actually available. In addition there was some discussion with Azure about improving the use of Delilah’s bar, and using that facility more for organised functions, particularly for supporters groups.
Alcohol consumption in the seating areas:
John Booth explained that they had explored all the issues beforehand and were content for the promotion to continue; it provided income for the club and something for the fans. However the Club are to investigate why some of the snacks available at the game were a day out of date!
Children’s age thresholds:
Information/support from Club staff/training needs:
The issue of matchday ticket availability was also discussed particularly for away games. We questioned whether away tickets could be sold at the Hanley Store (or even other outlets around the city). Tony Scholes and Richard Potts agreed to take this away for further investigation, though there are some identifiable difficulties that would need to be overcome. There is some hope that future combined sales/ticketing systems could be an avenue for investigation.
The Forum raised the issue of availability (or lack of) of clothing ranges/sizes for Club products, particularly important if the Club is trying to encourage an increase in their younger supporters. Again this has been recognised and will be looked at when a new business manager for the Club outlets has been appointed.
Foot, Aim, Shoot!