SAB - 28th Feb - WHUISA minutes

Minutes of Supporters Advisory Board Meeting

Date of meeting – 28th February 2018

Minutes taken by Secretary of West Ham United Independent Supporters Association.

Present at meeting

West Ham United

Karren Brady (KB), Vice-Chair, West Ham United

Tara Warren (TW), Executive Director, West Ham United

Nicola Keye (NK), Head of Ticketing, West Ham United

Ben Illingworth (BI), Head of Matchday Operations, West Ham United

Julie Pidgeon (JP), Disability Access Officer, West Ham United

Jake Heath (JH), Supporter Services Manager, West Ha United

Gavin Stanley (GS), Head of Retail, West Ham United

Joe Lyons (JL), CEO West Ham Foundation

West Ham press department also present.

SAB Attendees

Debbie Hoffman (DH), Treasurer of Hammers Supporters Club

David Baker (DB), West Stand

Sean Whetstone (SW), Claret and Hugh

Bev Cornell (BC), Claret and Blue Bubble social media platform

Steve Applebee (SA), nominated to represent Bondholders

John Beavis (JB), Chair of Bondholder committee

Don Adams (DA), representing Over 65s supporters

Cecilia O’Herlihy (CO), East Stand

Lee Vehit (LV), Bobby Moore Lower, member of WHU Deaf Supporters Group

Trevor Bright (TB), Representing Wheelchair using disabled supporters, co-founder of DSAB

Paul Turner (PT), Vice-Chair of West Ham United Independent Supporters Association

Sue Watson (SWa), Secretary of West Ham United Independent Supporters Association

Alistair Holmes (AH) Treasurer of Pride of Irons

Jim Dolan (JD), Co-founder of Pride of Irons

Jodie Crane (JC), representing women

Jose Sanchez (JS), Club London bars

Brian Gale (BG), Club London Restaurants

Alexander Middleton (AM), Scandinavian Hammers-International Supporters Club

Welcome

KB welcomed all to meeting and thanked for attendance. KB explained that she finds the meetings useful in decision making, highlighting improvements needed and affecting change.

Working with fan’s groups.

JH summarised actions completed from SAB of 15/11/17.

Ø  Sky News now on TVs on concourses.

Ø  Away ticketing scheme has been trialled. This item is discussed later in meeting.

Ø  Additional shelving has been put in. BI explained East Stand shelving is still to go in. This has been approved by Newham Council.

Action agreed- BI will provide timescales for East Stand shelving going in.

Ø  Club history and heritage- Bobby Moore anniversary plans explained. TW asked for input from a focus group to decide content of display. KB explained consensus needed on what to do to around recognising the club history and heritage. Possible themes include crest, Bobby Moore, and the memorabilia.

TW asked for a focus group from the SAB to support development of heritage.

KB was asked re moving The Statue to the London Stadium. KB confirmed The Statue will be moving to the London Stadium. Not a significant amount of backlash expected. KB explained West Ham United owns the statue. This was then clarified at joint owned with Arts Council. Cabinet vote will decide the next move.

SW asked what was the plan for the memorabilia?

KB explained the old museum had closed due to non-attendance. There will be special exhibitions which will change every 2months. This will allow the memorabilia to be seen. 

Hammers Supporters Club

West Ham United are sponsoring Stour Space for this season.

TB asked for shuttle buses to be better publicised.

Actions agreed- KB asked that ‘pink bib’ wearers have cards giving info. TB to have cards too.

Champions Place

JH informed meeting all outstanding work had been completed by Chelsea game.  LS185 has been regularly jet washing the stones. 

JH also stated all customers with outstanding orders have been contacted (emailed) re update.

Now there is an in-house team working to ensure stones are of a high standard.

Memorial Gardens

Grounds team from West Ham United are now maintaining the Gardens. BI is checking the state of the Gardens every week.

SW asked who owns the land of the Gardens? KB explained it’s Barrett. KB informed the meeting the club is speaking to the families to see what they want. The area will be landscaped.

Action agreed – KB informed meeting West Ham United are committing to the maintenance of The Memorial Gardens rolling forward.

Inclusion and Equalities at West Ham United

JL explained how West Ham United has worked through the equalities standards. There has been extensive training and awareness raising. The silver standard has been achieved. The Club is now working towards the gold standard.

JL informed the meeting there will be specific sections in the Club website along with a focus on Kick it Out at the Everton game.

KB informed the meeting there are no issues in relation to the comments of the ex-chief scout. KB explained West Ham United is committed to hiring and buying the best and not interested in sexuality, colour etc.

There is an ongoing FA investigation into ex-chief scout. KB said the FA want to speak to ex-chief scout.

Level1 British Sign Language has been awarded to KB, TW, NK, JH and other employees of West Ham United.

A sensory room is being developed.

SWa questioned who was advising re setting this room up? JP provided the names of two founder members. SWa asked if The National Autistic Society was also providing professional advice? JP confirmed they were.

Ticket Prices and renewals

NK explained the prices for 2018/2019 have been frozen. Band 5 is £289 until April 2019. This is for those that already have season tickets.

There are 18,000 tickets at £99. Those who get tickets on the waiting list, will be charged £320. There will be new prices for the other bands.

KB informed the meeting the seat move process was ongoing and had been seen as successful.

Closure for renewing current tickets will be 1/6/18. There is a 10 month repayment scheme. This has 6% APR.

KB would felt there is a need for more ‘top end’ tickets. KB also explained there is a huge waiting list for the corporate tickets/option. KB informed the meeting there are 48,000 on the waiting list. Those on the list have all paid £10.

PT asked how do people know where they are on the waiting list and how will they be contacted?

NK explained people do know where they are on the list. They will all be written to, to confirm still want a season ticket. This will be done via place on the list.

Away Ticket Scheme

NK informed the meeting there are 43,000 season ticket holders who have 10points or less, so are “locked out” of getting a ticket for an away game.

NK explained it is the Club’s aim to take the full allocation, of 3000 tickets, for away games, unless it’s a smaller stadium. NK repeated it is the board’s stipulation that a full allocation should be taken for away games.

There is a desire to improve the physical attendance at away games. At BHA game there was 2% of tickets sold, where seats weren’t taken. At the Liverpool game this was 7%.

KB discussed that if those that had purchased an away ticket and has not used it could be identified, then they would not be allowed to buy future tickets. 

NK explained there has been a reduction in complaints.

NK discussed a ballot system, where those with the required points could purchase at ticket, with a percentage to go into a ballot for purchase. Those that could enter the ballot are the 43,000 season ticket holders.

SW informed the meeting on KUMB, Facebook and other media platforms, there were a lot of people who didn’t like the 10%scheme.

PT explained WHUISA has carried out a ticket survey. There has been a response from 1500 West Ham Fans. WHUISA have requested meetings with NK to discuss the findings and work with the club to find a way forward. No meeting has been agreed to date.

KB/TW asked for the findings.

PT informed the meeting the findings will be published 1/3/18 on WHUISA website.

Help Centre

JH shared the new help centre on the website, with the meeting. There is a facility to send an email to supporter services. This has been driven by fan feedback.

Stewarding

KB commented that there has been dramatic improvements in stewarding, but there is still a way to go.

There are just over 1000 stewards at games. These come from 4companiesG4S, CSP, Wise and Expedia. They have 70 Boleyn stewards on their books. There are 46 Boleyn stewards at the London Stadium as supporter liaison officers. 2 Boleyn stewards have been promoted to quadrant (stand) managers.

BI explained the West Ham Way briefing stewards get. He is constantly reviewing and at games. Aggressive stewards have been removed.

A concern was raised around exiting the ground at 90minutes when playing Shrewsbury. Fans from block H were told the doors could not be opened at not policy.

BI explained the ‘mushroom door’ is the exit. The safety officer will decide when it is safe to open the doors. That decision is final, but if want to leave then absolutely can via the ‘mushroom door’.

A further concern re drivers being refused permission to leave the car-park was raised. KB informed the meeting the Police don’t allow the gates to be opened to the car park at the end of a game. This happens everywhere.

Action agreed- BI to put out a tanoy re exiting via ‘mushroom door’ and monitor.

JH to audit facilities on a non-match day.

London Stadium

SW asked what the status was between West Ham United and the LLDC?

KB explained she has written 15 letters to the Mayor of London, requesting a meeting. To date there has been no response or meeting.  There has been a meeting with the new CEO, who felt it was “pathetic” what has gone on. The lack of pragmatic approach, Mayor’s inability to make decisions and refusal to meet, along with  the view West Ham United has got too good a deal; is not helpful in moving the issue on.

KB shared the LLDC won’t allow West Ham United to seek a naming partner. The rent is set in stone. It was commented that asking the Government to think in business terms is difficult as they don’t want to make decisions off the back of the Moore Stephens report.

KB detailed the court cases that are ongoing at the moment. One is to increase the capacity of the ground under reasonable use clause. West Ham United have identified a “lifelong Spurs fan” to provide expert advice. The case will be heard 4/4/18 or after.

It was questioned as to whether West Ham United could buy the stadium?

KB explained she isn’t sure this is the best move for the club. It was also explained the cost of moving the seats is between £8-12million (for the full move of seats). The club would have to pay for this.

KB  explained the priority was buying players not paying to move seats. It was also explained that the contract with the stadium operator is for 25years and the contract can’t be passed to another  commercial enterprise.  Generally KB  felt West Ham is not being held hostage by a private corporation, but by an ineffective political organisation.

KB has met the West Ham Fans group. The bridge will be re-named Bobby Moore Way. The concessions from Green Street don’t want to move to the London Stadium additionally Westfield won’t allow it. However the badge and scarf sellers can sell on the West Ham way bridge. West Ham United will negotiate this.

Finances

SW asked if the accounts of West Ham United could be shared with the SAB as will be available in the next 24hours.

KB refused to share the information ahead of the release by Companies House.

SW to be given financial explanation at end of meeting.

April Games 2018

TB asked what control West Ham United have over moving games?

KB  explained TV tells the clubs when to hold games. There is £1.5million payment to clubs when the match is televised. West Ham will have been on the TV 17times by the end of April.

KB also explained that matches are decided in 8week cycles and clubs get 8 weeks notice.

Communications

A concern re the time lag between images and sound and action on the pitch, was raised.

Action agreed-JH to look into this over next 3 games.

There was a discussion around wi-fi and how to improve it. LS185 own the rights for wi-fi, therefore LS185 need to put together a competitive tender.

Issues with the loudness of announcements and quiet/inaudible nature of pitchside interviews were raised.

BI explained the announcements need to be clear for health and safety reasons. Both systems are separate, but the PA system can be lowered.

Action agreed- BI to look into both PA and pitchside issues.

 KB thanked all for attending.

Meeting ended 8.15pm