BCFC: Fan Forum – Further Update
Blues Trust attended the Fan’s Forum with club official’s last night, Thursday 15 December. It was the first such meeting in 12 months. Cliff Horrocks, Trust Chair and Paul Kelsall, Board member represented the Trust.
Along with other groups represented at the meeting, the Trust submitted questions in advance at the request of the club. The questions submitted by the Trust reflected the questions received from Trust members and other Blues fans. The majority sought answers to concerns regarding ownership and the financial state of the club.
Unfortunately, and disappointingly, the following email was received from the club just prior to the meeting:
Ahead of tonight’s Supporters Forum, we wanted to respond to questions sent in from some attendees regarding ownership and finance.
We understand that this is a pressing topic for all supporters, as it is for everyone here at the Club. The statement we put out recently regarding the situation with MaxCo went through our legal team several times, and all the information we have and are legally allowed to share was included in the statement.
We understand that fans will always want to know more and we will strive to keep you updated as matters progress. However, we hope you all understand the legality issues we face when discussing business deals.
A link to the statement, which we’re sure you will have read, is here, and unfortunately when posed with questions about ownership we can only refer to this. Thank you for understanding, and we look forward to seeing you this evening.
The Trust sent the following by return response:
Dear Supporter Services
At Blues Trust we understand that business deals have to remain confidential. However, we do not accept that finance and ownership issues cannot be discussed with the fans. The concerns that the financial situation is unsustainable are very relevant and the financial accounts have to be published annually. So refusing to discuss what was in or will be in the published accounts is not a reasonable stance to take. It just keeps issues away from fans for a while. The concerns regarding ownership (and how the club will respond to the EFL) is very much a fan issue and also a BCFC board and senior executive issue. We all want to do the best for our club and, additionally, Board members and senior officers need to be clear what they are doing to protect the club and themselves.
There are ways other clubs use to discuss confidential and sensitive matters with fans, and Blues Trust would be happy to advise on those. If you feel a supporters forum is not the right environment then it is imperative that a Fan Advisory Board or something similar is quickly set up. As always happy to talk confidentially if that helps us all understand and move on from the precarious position we remain in.
Cliff Horrocks, Chair, Blues Trust.
So the meeting became a rather limited exchange concerning functional and operational matters which, as interesting as they were, lessened the possibility for genuinely meaningful discussion. In the Trust’s opinion this was, sadly, another opportunity missed for important engagement with fans.
However, at the meeting itself a number of issues were addressed by the club. The summary of the keys points that follows has been produced by those Trust members present. They are not the formal minutes of the meeting. It is expected that those will follow from the club shortly and they will be reproduced in full on the Trust’s website once received.
- The stadium repairs are on track to be carried out during the close season. The Tilton Stand is due for completion prior to the start of next season, with the Kop being completed in the Autumn. The design will be finalised during February and is expected to include safe standing across the Tilton. To comply with regulations the works will also include a small safe standing area for away fans in the Railway Stand. Assurances were given that professional advisors and contractors are able to meet the start date as soon as the season closes in May. However, for this to take place Board approval will first be required in April;
- Regarding transfers it was made clear that “we are not a selling club and the club has no plans to sell younger players and wishes to keep them”. The current press speculation regarding George Hall specifically was described as “rubbish”. But the point was also made that this commitment comes with the caveat that sometimes extremely high offers are too good to refuse, a situation faced by all clubs;
- There is no transfer budget as such, but the club is able to buy players that fit in with the plan of acquiring younger players with potential for development together with a reduction in the overall wage bill. Bacuna and Chong were given as examples of what the club is in the market for;
- Work to set up a Fan Advisory Board (or something similar) had been put on hold but will now continue. The Trust will engage the club separately to push this forward;
- Refunds for season tickets unused due to changes in fixture dates are not available. In particular cases of hardship and difficulty then it is worth speaking to the club to see if there is a way it can help;
- The allocation of tickets for away games was explained and, in particular, how corporate box holders are allocated tickets. This is only an issue for away games with severely restricted allocations;
- There was a good discussion regarding the Woman’s team. The venue for matches was discussed and other venues away from St. Andrews have been considered and will be considered further. Some fans apparently like the more intimate atmosphere created at Solihull Moors, whist others see St Andrews as the true home for all. The general consensus from the discussion was that a greater connection with the local community and schools would help promote the women’s team and improve attendance;
- There was a call for the club to rethink kiosk catering prices in the light of the current cost of living crisis and particularly for those people that bring a number of children. The club undertook to review the situation;
- There were a number of issues raised concerning the need to improve the experience of fans with disabilities at St Andrew’s. The club agreed to take them on board and discuss the matter further with Accessiblues;
- The issue of no hot water in the Kop toilets remains an issue.
Blues Trust will continue to seek to engage with the club on matters of concern to Blues fans, and will report back.
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