Minutes of the Millwall Supporters’ Club Annual General Meeting 27 April 2016

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imageMinutes of the Millwall Supporters’ Club Annual General Meeting
27 April 2016, ‘Arry’s Bar, The Den

MSC chair – Bob Asprey
MSC vice chair – Ted Robinson
MSC secretary – Laura Romitelli
MSC treasurer – Ian Toal
MSC committee – Stan Godwin, Dave Hart
MSC members attending – Peter Brittain, Stephen Davis, Brian Horne Snr, Mick Moore, Michael Parker, Brian Skelly, Pat Skelly

Apologies for absence
Fan on the Board – Peter Garston
MSC committee – Kevin Allen, George Lampey, Graeme Smale, Ayse Smith
MSC member -Danielle Lake, Micky Simpson

Introduction and welcome by MSC chair
BA: Thanks for coming to tonight’s auspicious occasion. We have a standard agenda so hope to be finished by 9pm.

Proposal and acceptance of the minutes of the AGM of 22 April 2015
BA: Does anybody have any comments? There are no questions. Minutes proposed by Dave Hart and seconded by Ted Robinson.

Summary of the year and the committee’s achievements by MSC chair
BA: First I’d like to thank all the committee members. We’ve had twelve committee members and the job does not get any easier. It’s often a thankless task but I’d like to thank you all and welcome most of you back on to the committee for the forthcoming year.

What’s been different this year? The team, the manager, the results, and the Fans’ Forum. It’s been an enjoyable season; it’s not done yet but regardless of what’s to come, it’s been a good year to follow the Lions.

We’ve had a Player of the Season vote, which didn’t happen last year, and the result will be announced on Lions Live tomorrow night.

We successfully updated the constitution with the help of last year’s committee and amendments discussed at last year’s AGM. Amending a constitution is an onerous task and I’m pleased that it was done – the piece regarding the next FotB, it remains to be seen if that comes into play. Pete Garston’s term ends next April and what happens after that remains to be seen, as this is at the jurisdiction of the club chairman, John Berylson. His current thinking is that there will not be another FOTB, but we want to try to convince him otherwise. The role may change but certainly, we would like a supporter in the boardroom and we hope to convince those necessary that having a supporter there adds value.

BH: I think that most supporters would want as much feedback as possible from the FOTB and don’t feel that is the case at the moment.

BA: I agree and will come back to that later in the meeting.

We have away season tickets, which is a minority interest but very popular for those that take part. The number sold is in the region of thirty. I am one of these away season ticket holders and have no issue with paying the club the £20 fee to administer this. The ticket price is taken at the time of each sale and you can decline up to three tickets in a season. Tickets are only transferable within the usual terms.

We cancelled our BT Sport subscription; no sooner had we brought it in, the company bought Champions League rights, increased the subscription price by about three times and so we gave our notice and cancelled the contract.

We had a quiz night this year – not the previous year due to the general despondency – and it was a great success. Both our beneficiaries, the Lionesses and Tobi Alabi turned up in force and it was a good evening.

We considered a Beer Festival, which was deemed too much of a financial risk, although there may have been some interest.

There was a shirt design competition. We’ve argued for many years that fans should have more input into the shirt design, given as we’re the customer base. In previous years, there has been a vote on a small selection presented by the club, but this year, there was a competition. There were over 500 entries with a pretty good prize to go to the factory in Italy and finalise the production of the winning design.

Bob was part of the panel to judge the entries. Neil Harris, the club shop manager and others on the panel favoured a yellow strip and this was the colour chosen by the panel as the eventual winner. The design has been featured online and in the matchday programme.

BH: Many of my generation like the all white strip, worn during the days of Benny Fenton.

BA: Yes, and I think we may see an all white kit again at some point in the future.

We subsidised the coach to Blackpool. You’ll have noticed we had a lot of long away trips this season, including three in one week, so, as an incentive to attend the midweek game, we agreed to share with the club the cost of subsidising the supporters’ coach, with the aim of filling the coach, which it did. It did lose money and we paid the club £337, representing half the loss.

BH: Given that King’s Ferry park at the club, how can we be losing money on the away travel?

BA: The King’s Ferry deal is all embracing – whilst they park at the club, they run the first team coach, and other transport for the club, so the away travel is a separate layer of that and incurs a cost. We certainly wouldn’t want to lose this relationship, as they’re a quality firm. The away coaches have generally gone very well this season, and as the season has progressed, the atmosphere on board has improved. There were problems earlier in the season with drinking on board, and other problems, but this seems to have been resolved.

We asked the supporters what we should spend our excess funds on. We received a few ideas, none of them particularly original, so sadly that wasn’t a brilliant result. There was a suggestion to ‘give it to the OAPs at Christmas’ and we did support three local lunches.

The big screen – We tried to persuade the club it was a good idea to replace this, eventually it arrived, eventually it worked and eventually a surround was placed. This will be completed in the close season. The MSC made a contribution to the cost of the replay machine, which has been very popular and we’ve even scored some goals to watch back.

MP: Why did they replace it back in its original location, given that the sun hits it during the day?

BA: This is because the infrastructure was in place to support it. We did suggest that they build it so that it could rotate 180 degrees and face the railway during the week (for advertising) but this was too expensive. For example, Colchester’s screen is double sided and faces the A12 that passes by.

Liaison with the FSF – This organisation is dedicated to improving supporters’ experiences. They have a police liaison officer and a lawyer. Millwall supporters have made use of these services. The FSF also helped with the MCFC fiasco, where some Millwall supporters went to the MCFC game after the late Oldham postponement and were denied entry, following ‘police instructions’. A 60 year old man, wife, disabled teenage son and one other son. Our club considered this to be discrimination but are in a difficult position so the FSF became involved, and supported the fans in a Freedom of Information request to Greater Manchester Police, who denied the allegation. So they’ve now gone to the Football Ombudsman and are awaiting the jurisdiction.

BH: A gentleman that sits behind me also went to City and was sold tickets that were quickly taken back. It’s not clear if this is the same group of people.

Lions Live has again gone from strength to strength. It’s always well written and well delivered although sometimes a little unprofessionally(!) It’s great mouthpiece for the MSC and so well done to the whole team.

BH: We should congratulate Graeme on the script.

BA: Yes and he always excels in areas such as the regeneration.

MP: I think it’s improved because more direct questions are asked now and I know of more people that listen to the show as it’s improved.

BA: Yes there used to be a reputation of shying away from the difficult questions, but that’s not the case any longer.

Club memorabilia – I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously about the dream of a Millwall Museum. The current pressroom has a memorabilia section. However, the stadium tours are extremely successful and the club historians including Richard Lindsay and Chris Bethell have lots of items that could go on display and would improve the tour. And so we’re looking to increase the number of display cabinets in the press room. We’re having trouble getting commitments from the owners of the exhibits but we’re making progress to creating this display in an ordered and measured way. Unsurprisingly this is expensive at around £2,000 and we’ve committed £1,000 towards the total cost.

BH: John West makes the tour.

BA: Yes, I hear he makes a very good host. He’s articulate and knowledgeable.

We have three new potential committee members. Sadly, two couldn’t make it tonight. I’ll come back to them when we talk about the committee.

What’s been the same? The relationship with the club has remained constructive. We sit down together monthly; issues are aired and the club are generally open in their responses.

The relationship with the Junior Lions committee. This is separate from the JL team at the club and it’s very difficult to engage with the JL committee. They only meet on matchdays when everybody’s busy and they don’t work in tandem with the club. There is currently a move to improve this and it would be helpful if everybody involved could set aside their differences and pull in the same direction. I think we should have a JL committee member on the MSC committee and vice versa, but it’s difficult to embrace them at the moment.

The memorial garden is being well maintained.

Sean McCarthy the poppy seller was here again this year and it looks as though this might become a tradition which is great, and it’s great that the club have welcomed him.

Ticket office – 99% of the time they’re very good. It used to be a weekly bugbear but we’ve had three/four very good years. They’re very helpful; I think we all recognise that. But when there’s over demand, as just last week with Gillingham, it all goes very wrong. It went wrong both at the ticket office and online. This is very disappointing. There’s no answer to over demand, but it should be managed better. This will be discussed tomorrow (at the next club meeting).

MP: Why were there so few tickets, when the away stand holds many more?

BA: The capacity limit was again due to the police demands. The theory is that the ground will sell out anyway, so presumably Gillingham fans will go in the same stand.

IT: Ayse has put in a FoI request regarding the allocations for Bury, Coventry and Gillingham and will do the same for every away game next season. Coventry is a prime example of where the capacity of the ground was very high but the ticket allocation was much lower than it could have been. We’ve had discussions regarding loyalty schemes or other ideas on better allocating away tickets. Previously the system couldn’t handle this and the recording of sales was poor. Things should be better now and maybe these could be introduced. Regular away travellers should probably have priority. The communication on the day of Gillingham sales should have been better.

SG: I also think part of the problem is that the police will reduce the allocation because it’s Millwall. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if we play Charlton last season. Will there be restrictions?

BA: I doubt it, Charlton need the money even more than us, so will want to sell us as many tickets as possible.

SG: I think some clubs hide behind the police decisions.

BH: The last two times I’ve been to Charlton, the away end has been packed.

MP: But when we play there, there are 10,000 empty seats, which is unacceptable. The Fulham mixed zone created a great atmosphere.

BA: Agreed; sadly there aren’t many Fulhams. Also, at other club it’s not easy to move home supporters to accommodate extra away fans in quieter areas.

So that’s what’s happened this year, mainly good, helped by results. Some not so good, but I look forward to the next year.

PB: When you asked the supporters about spending MSC funds, I think it was my idea. I didn’t think you would see many replies, but at least you’ve been more open with the fans, so I think it’s been very worthwhile.

BA: Yes and I think we should do it again in a year or so.

PB: I think there was discussion last year regarding responding quickly to issues and you were going to look at that. Did you?

BA: Yes, we thought about this and we appointed a subcommittee of three people, so rather than having eleven people agree announcements, just the three would manage this. Once or twice it worked well, other times not, where the whole committee were again involved in the conversation. Sometimes this was because many of us have day jobs and sometimes we just couldn’t agree. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it better to say nothing than the wrong thing. Certainly, for example with the regen, once the CPOs were adjourned, we could have said ‘This is good news, we call on the club, Renewal and the council to thrash this out’. I thought that was a bad idea because that wasn’t the strategy that was being taken. The club wanted to bring the council in and present their case, so I didn’t see the point in putting that statement out; it would have been a knee jerk reaction and would have carried no real meaning. It may have endeared us to some supporters but not to those who knew better. We did write and rewrite a statement, but nothing was issued. I think we did the right thing.

TR: We did actually discuss that (the three parties sitting down together) on LL when Vicky Foxcroft and David Prescott were in. Social media is so fast nowadays, so you need to be careful.

PB: It’s very difficult to find the balance, but saying nothing implies you’ve done nothing. You could say, for example ‘We’ll keep on top of it, monitor it’ etc. Especially when others are firing comments out there all the time.

BA: We’re going to try to make our system work better this coming year.

BH: I’d like to clear something up regarding the regeneration. Can you tell me, does the chairman want to do it all himself, with Renewal, or with the other two parties?

BA: JB wants to work on the three plots himself. Renewal are getting a lot of bad publicity, especially because they’re based offshore, and the Community Trust is also a consideration. It’s not clear if the council will sell the land leasehold or freehold. Regardless, the club will have to meet the terms of the planning permission granted on the land.

DH: The big attraction for the council is that, with Renewal, they won’t receive any profits, whereas Millwall have offered a share of the profits.

BA: Yes, but the attraction of dealing with only one developer is a big one for the council. The railway station must be built as soon as they start building property.

MP: Would JB want to build the station? It would be very good PR.

DH: The cost quoted was apparently in the region of £6m, which is unaffordable.

BA: The club seem to be very optimistic that everything’s moving in the right direction and let’s hope we reach the conclusion the club hopes for.

Presentation of annual report and accounts by MSC treasurer
IT: Thanks Bob for that review. I have put some prints of the accounts out for viewing. The landscape report is the MSC held account, which is generally for day to day running costs. The income is quiz and raffle ticket sales; £900 for PotS and man of the match sponsorship from the Coach and Horses, I’d like to go on record to thank them for that. The expenses: trophies; website costs; monthly meetings; charitable donations, including £100 to the Albert McKenzie race night. The accounting year finishes at the end of May, so these are part year. When they’re finalised they’ll be in the AGM section of the MSC website, where the previous report can also be found.

The club managed account is where we receive £1 for each adult season ticket holder and member. Current balance £15,900 at 3 March. Expenses to come include £1,600 for replay machine, which is partially offset by a £400 contribution from Lions Live. We’ve hosted an FSF meeting with the invoice still to be presented; you’ll see the spend on badges has reduced, and we still had enough badges to meet demand; donations to Lionesses and Tobi Alabi, BT Sport subscription for one month only, donations for the charity Christmas lunches; and the Blackpool coach subsidy.

Revenue has dropped this year but this is the true breakdown of the income to which we’re eligible.

Yes, we will ask the supporters again for ideas on spend of MSC funds; we are looking for ideas that help as many supporters as possible.

BH: I don’t like the pin style badges; who’s in charge of these? (George)

PB: I think we really need to look at spending these funds. If we keep carrying money over, there’s a danger that the club might pull some of their contribution.

It’s generally agreed that we shouldn’t waste the money but should spend it on items our members support.

BH: We could put better seating on the Blue Bus.

BA: Yes, we discussed this, it was £7,000 to refurbish the bus so this didn’t proceed. Even maintaining the bus is unpredictable and expensive.

PB: I think supporting the local community is a good thing, as it will help with the whole regen issue.

BA: Millwall Community Trust is on an upswing and Millwall for All also work in the local community on a smaller scale, so I think there may be opportunities there that we might be able to help with.

Summary of the year by Fan on the Board
BA: Peter Garston is on holiday in Greece and sends his apologies. Pete is still FOTB, although he doesn’t engage as much as he used to. He’s starting his own business and has become detached somewhat from the supporters. However, on the positive side, he does go to all the board meetings and take the fans’ voice into the boardroom, so whilst he’s in the twilight of his role, probably, he’s still a great asset, although the output is not where it was a few years ago. But in the next 12 months, we will move on to a new era of supporter representation.

I’d like to go on record and thank Peter for all his hard work, much of it unseen.

PB: Is he fulfilling the requirements of the job?

BA: He’s fulfilling the basic requirements. If he wasn’t, there’s not too much we could do about it, but he would probably step down. However, it’s better we stay as we are and engage with the club about the future.

TR: Peter created the role but has failed to maintain those high levels from the early days.

PB: If we don’t have an FOTB, the constitution fails. So how would you deal with this? An EGM, the next AGM?

BA: It depends what it looks like. We would need to know that any candidate would be accepted as FotB. If the chairman’s not minded to do that, then we would need to change the constitution.

MP: How many other clubs have FOTB? (The fan owned clubs and very few others.)

PB: If we don’t have an FOTB and move to some other type of arrangement, that’s not provided for in the MSC constitution. So how would you propose to develop the new arrangement?

IT: We can have discussions with supporters, but it’s ultimately the club’s decision on what they will allow. When we know what the options are, we will be able to decide how to progress.

PB: I believe at last year’s meeting, you undertook to consider this situation. Will you engage with the supporters? If you aren’t more proactive with the supporters, there are others that may be, which may not be helpful.

BA: There’s a movement to force clubs to have formal fan representation. Therefore it may not be possible for JB to make that ultimate decision.

MP: Given Andy Ambler’s role with the Football League, it would be good for him to have a good model here.

BA: AA is very proud of the model at this club and that he speaks to fan reps every month.

Election of members of the committee for coming year
BA: This year we had twelve on the committee. Three have left: James Groves, who’s now working in the US a great deal; Jamie Howlett also has a new job and is working with the Lionesses; Kevin Allen who has moved to Deal and doesn’t drive, making everything much more difficult.

That leaves nine remaining, Bob, Ted, Ian, Laura, Dave, Stan, George, Ayse and Graeme, who still does Lions Live but struggles to find time for the committee, so he’ll be unavailable until November, when other commitments end.

We have three new prospective members: Danielle Lake who has been on Lions Live lately, she is a young lady, her dad is a long time supporter, and I think she’ll be an asset. Danielle’s not here tonight, due to a domestic crisis.

Brian Horne Sr., who’s here tonight, and Micky Simpson who has been involved with AMS, who some have seen as ‘the enemy’. He has answered our plea for people who think we don’t do things too well to come forward and help us improve, so that brings us back to twelve, including Graeme. Any questions or objections? Graeme is no longer the secretary; that role is with Laura, who had carried out the role previously in Graeme’s absence. If there is a vacancy on the committee, there is the power to co-opt people in. So we have a committee of 12.

Introduction of the new committee
DH: At the first committee meeting after the AGM, the roles in the committee are allocated.

PB: I’ve said before I can’t commit to being a committee member, but I can help occasionally, if need be, with minute taking, etc.

BA: Thank you for that.

Discussion of aims and objectives of the committee for the coming year
BA: Make the meetings shorter! Yes, would love that. Much of this is covered in the areas that we know we haven’t done well and discussed here. We have the FotB situation to resolve. Carry on doing what we do well and hopefully, sort out some of the difficulties.

PB: I think the biggest issue is communication and presentation, given all that’s going on at the moment.

MP: Sometimes you can say something by asking the supporters a question; for example, the changes to stewarding – do the fans see that as a positive?

PB: One of the things that comes over from others is the feeling that the MSC is in the club’s bidding. For example, when I read the minutes of the club meetings, the way those minutes come over is that it’s a bit of a one way discussion. They could be tweaked to give a better indication that these are issues that the MSC is bringing forward on behalf of supporters.

Any other business

There being no further matters for discussion, the meeting closed at 9.10pm.

Income and Expenditure (MSC Controlled Funds) for the 12 months ending 31 May 2015

Man of The Match Sponsorship 2014/15
Total Income

Man of The Match Trophies
Entry for Lions Trust Cup
Website and Podcast Hosting
Meeting Room for Monthly Committee Meetings
Charitable Donation
Pitch Hire v Northlane FC
Mobile Phone Top Up for MSC Phone
Catering for Meetings
Various Flowers/Hampers
Other Miscellaneous Expenditure
Total Expenditure

Deficit for the 12 month period
Surplus Brought Forward
Less Deficit for 12 Month Period
Balance as at 31 May 2015

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