The supporter group brainstorming session was opened by Joanne Allsopp, Birmingham City’s Chief Co-ordinating Officer, followed by introductions by all club officials present. Representatives from Blues Trust, Redditch Blues, Forza Blues and Daniel Ivery of the Often Partisan website were also in attendance.
Meeting Date: 26th July 2013
Meeting Time: 10:30
Meeting Location: St. Andrew’s Stadium
Joanne Allsopp – Chief Co-ordinating Officer
Alexa Stockham – Head of Marketing
Sarah Gould – Customer Services Manager
Helen Tims – Consumer Sales Manager
Brett Baker – Assistant Club Secretary
Rachel Williams – Media and Charity Co-ordinator
Leanne Phillips – Conferencing and Banqueting Sales Executive
Mark Gallagher – Commercial Sales Executive
Jessica Taylor – Marketing Assistant
Steve McCarthy – Blues Trust
Lynda Courts – Redditch Blues
Paul Smith – Forza Blues
Daniel Ivery – Often Partisan
Alexa Stockham – Head of Marketing
Alexa stated that the club’s main target this year off-the-field was to win the ‘Family Club of the Year’ award at the annual Football League Awards. The club aim to achieve this by offering more family amenities and season tickets to under 10’s. The aim of offering free season tickets to under 10’s is to eventually bring down the average age demographic of those attending football matches at St. Andrew’s. Presently, there are no figures were available to substantiate its success. This season, the club will be focusing heavily on activities linked to the family stand – possibly including ex-players – and increasing the interaction between children and the first team squad.
Other initiatives discussed included family themed match days, a live camera that is linked to the big screen on a match day, new pre-match entertainment and the potential of having a season ticket holder only days. The club recognises the devotion and commitment shown by season ticket holders and are continually working on ways to reward loyalty shown by supporters. The club also acknowledged that all future initiatives need to be marketed and communicated with greater vigor in order to ensure all sections of the Birmingham City fan base are engaging with the club effectively.
The club acknowledged that more can to be done to engage with the various supporters groups. It was also highlighted that this needs to be a two way process, enabling the club to access free resource whilst at the same time increasing supporter group involvement in club related activities.
Discussions took place regarding a supporter group area within the ground, with the aim being to finally replace the supporters club that was disbanded in the 1990’s. Also discussed was the poor choice of alcohol served in the ground on a match day, leading to suggestions of a possible supporter run area / bar to be used to enhance fan engagement as well as host away supporter groups. The club is currently looking into the idea and will endeavor to report back on the practicalities of having a supporter run area. The club has also agreed to set up a meeting between supporter group representatives, Heineken and the club’s commercial department to discuss the range of drinks on sale on match days. Note that Trust members will be asked for their views and feedback on what things they would like discussed at the meeting, and a mechanism for this to be carried out will be put in place in due course.
The club confirmed that approximately 8,600 season tickets had been sold to date for the 2013/14 campaign. This is currently 1,000 down on figures from this time last year, and discussions took place on why this may have been the case. The club agreed that setting season ticket prices earlier would definitely help and accepted the criticism it had recently received regarding this. The club also acknowledged that that communication is vital and that they must consider every avenue when promoting season tickets in the future.
Relocation of Away Supporters
Discussions took place regarding the possibility of moving away supporters into the paddocks, similar to that employed at Wolverhampton Wanderers ‘ Molineux Stadium. The club stressed that nothing definite had been decided and that relocation of away supporters may be an area of focus for next season. A working party was appointed led by John Newsham to look more closely at the health and safety implications of relocating away supporters from the Gil Merrick Lower stand.
Ticket Office Restructuring
Helen Tims was introduced as the club’s new Ticket Office Manager. Upon her introduction, Helen informed attendees that the ticket office is undergoing somewhat of a restructuring exercise. In the future, it will allow them to look at more offers for current season ticket holders, schools, colleges and university students.
All in attendance talked at length about the atmosphere in and around the ground on a match day, discussing why is it so poor. Varying models within football and how there is a fundamental difference across football within the leagues was also discussed; however no decisions were taken at this stage. While the subject of musical instruments was discussed, only personal views were aired. Note that before the Trust can support this idea, members would need to be consulted first.