WHUISA Committee Meeting Minutes - 31/03/2018

Minutes of Meeting
31st March 2018

Apologies for absence

Seven committee members in attendance. Three committee members sent apologies. Large number of members attended. Attendance record held by Chair and Secretary.

Minutes of last meeting

Minor amendments to be made to minutes of 20/1/18 to reflect incorrect initials attributed to the SAG. 

With minor amendment minutes of last meeting agreed as accurate reflection of meeting of 20/1/18.

Update from Chair – Mark Walker (MW)

MW informed the meeting it had been a difficult month for WHUISA and whilst some of the issues won’t be resolved soon, it is important to continue representing the membership and wider fan base. The day to day business of WHUISA will continue.

MW emphasised the importance of a place on the Safety Advisory Group board.

MW thanked the committee for the support of the last few weeks.

A member present asked if the abuse of the last month was on social media only? MW explained there have been examples of ‘keyboard warriors’ but the abuse had been personal and has spread. The personal abuse has largely stopped now, majority of negative comments aimed at WHUISA generally. This is on Facebook as well on Twitter.

A member present commented on the need to build bridges between the fragmented fan groups. The importance of clarity of purpose seen as critical.
It was expressed that a proactive approach in bringing groups together via a clear strategy needed.

A member present gave his opinion that one reason for the fan involvement was talk of a march. When this was unilaterally cancelled there was anger that their voices were not heard. If groups are brought together this may bring fans on board if they feel their voices are heard.
MW responded that the only winners with a fragmented fan base, is the board. All fans can join WHUISA. WHUISA wants to represent all fans of West Ham United and give them a voice. MW further pointed out that any coalition has to be accountable. 

Feedback From SAB

Paul Turner (PT) reported back on the Supporters Advisory Board meeting of 28/2/18. The value of this meeting was negligible in PT's opinion. PT spoke to a West Ham United employee at the end of this meeting requesting a further meeting between WHUISA and the club, to look at the feedback re the champions place stones issues previously highlighted by WHUISA. The response was “there is no point" holding a separate meeting with WHUISA on this matter, outside of the SAB.

The minutes for the SAB meeting of 28/2/18 have not been sent out by the club yet. 

George Mann (GM) reported back on the Emergency Supporters Advisory Board meeting of 26/3/18. The first hour of this meeting had engagement with board members from West Ham United, who listened to a range of issues. This could be due to an acknowledgement of the difficulties the board are in. The last part of the meeting was less useful. 

GM informed the meeting that a couple of amendments to the club’s minutes of 26/3/18 had been requested. Both GM and Sue Watson (SW) had agreed at meeting of 26/3/18, not to send out a report of this meeting until the club’s minutes had been published. MW explained he had received emails from Karren Brady and phone calls from Tara Warren, telling WHUISA to take their report of meeting of 26/3/18 down.  The audio of the meeting was requested to clarify this point. The audio account hasn’t been sent. MW pointed out that as an Independent Association that is fully accountable to their members, if we had not been able to report back then GM/SW would have left the meeting.

A member present asked what the contentious issues in the club minutes that GM had requested changing? GM explained the phrase “rebranding” of the SAB. This had been changed as the club’s right of reply. 

The role of the SAB as a forum to meaningfully engage with fans was questioned. PT gave the example of how the disabled fan being moved and gates going up, was not mentioned at the SAB meeting of 26/3/18. 

Feedback on Meeting with David Sullivan

MW and PT attended the meeting with David Sullivan (DS), along with Amanda Jacks from FSF as a neutral party. 

MW/PT asked the questions as voted for by the member’s survey. DS put no restraints on the questions asked. DS had turned down a member of the West Ham PR team, attending this meeting. DS expressed he is keen to meet with WHUISA again. WHUISA are keen to continue the dialogue with DS. WHUISA want to have a fan on the board of West Ham United. DS is receptive to this idea of a fan on the board. 

A member present asked how a fan on the board could work, would this be a non-executive position? A further point was made that a fan on the board was a starting point for a better working relationship with fans.

MW responded that the fan on the board could excuse themselves from the financial parts of any meeting, for example. 

MW summarised the discussion with having a fan on the board of West Ham United and the Safety Advisory Group an important step forward in meaningful fan engagement.
Full minutes of the meeting available on the WHUISA website. 

Feedback from meeting with Premier League

MW attended this meeting on behalf of WHUISA. MW fed back that there was a discussion around the TV deal with the Premier League. 

There is a coalition of the Independent Supporters Associations and Trusts to lobby the train companies for fixed price fares to be available when match days/times are rescheduled and that WHUISA would launch a West Ham based campaign to feed in to this. 

MW informed the meeting the Premier League points to an area of a stadium that fans always stand in, could be converted to a rail area but it was for the DCMS. 

MW will email further information out to members re the Premier League meeting. 

Working Groups- Elected Supporter on Board/Stadium/On-Line Voting

MW informed the meeting that a family area and singing area had been discussed with DS. 

A member asked what else had been discussed about physical changes to the stadium. It was commented that roof coverage is a comfort issue not a safety issue. The roof would not have to be adapted if seats were moved closer to the pitch. 

A member present asked what the timelines arising from the meeting with DS was,  as a real commitment from the board needed. DS is hesitant to set timelines. 

A member present asked if the stadium as it stands is the future or should pressure be applied to get a ground ‘fit for football’ a purpose built stadium?

PT pointed out the break the lease either the Greater London Authority or West Ham United would need to declare bankruptcy. 

A ground ‘fit for football’ was seen as a good point by those present at the meeting.

ACTION - Committee to look into on-line voting using a secure system.