The AFC Bournemouth Equality Focus Group recently met at Vitality Stadium for the first meeting of 2024.
Here are the minutes from the meeting:
18th January 2024 – 5pm Vitality Stadium
- Jim Frevola – President of Business (JF)
- Nick Zombolas – Chief Ticketing Officer (NZ)
- Hannah Powis – Head of EDI and Engagement (HP)
- John Jennings – Disability and Engagement Officer (JJ)
- Chris Ashton-Hollis (CA) FAB Representative
- Lousie Clarke (LC) Proud Cherries Representative
- Lesley Hathaway (LH)
- Emma Young (EY)
- Simon Shave (SS)
- Matt Sturgeon (MS)
- Rob Trent (RT)
- Ebi Sosseh (ES)
- Heather Hoggart (HH) Cherries Trust Representative
- Fiona Rogers (FR) DSA Representative
- Sarah Jelfs
- Princess Beckford
- Nick Bishop
- Nick Holmes
HP welcomed the group to the meeting, this was followed by introductions around the table. HP ran through the meeting agenda and handed over to CA.
CA gave an overview of the first Fan Advisory Board (FAB) meeting, relaying the content of the meeting to the group. He advised that he will bring all EDI related matters to the FAB and asked HP to share his email with the group. He asked the group to contact him should they have anything to escalate to the FAB. HP confirmed that there will be a section in each EFG meeting for CA to provide update on the FAB and the group to suggest topics/thoughts.
HP then handed over to NZ who introduced himself as the clubs Chief Ticketing Officer and gave an update on a number of ticketing related items:
- Ticketing system provider
- Home points and increase in home points holders
- The group noted how this was beneficial for progress towards the clubs EDI strategy
EY raised a question on having a points scheme for cup games that rewards loyalty to attending all cup games. A large majority of the group agreed that they thought this should be looked into.
NZ responded noting the strategy behind this but he would take it away for consideration.
HH asked if we would give the away club the South Stand for Cup games, NZ explained that this would offer them over their allocation, so work was being done to accommodate away fans in the away end and a proportion of the South Stand although this would only be on the basis the travelling club take the full allocation.
MS extended the question around loyalty to a discussion on points criteria for a new stadium. NZ discussed the points system highlighting its pros and cons, he went on to say we want anyone who wants to have a season ticket to have the opportunity to have one.
RT asked about membership options, NZ replied giving a breakdown of whats happening across the league in terms of membership packages. He explained that any move to memberships would include fan consultation and engagement with a variety of supporter groups.
RT asked for more information on the allocation for Newcastle. NZ spoke to the data that underpins all decisions on allocation amounts. The group noted that with the Newcastle game being in half term travel was a lot more expensive which may have affected supporters decisions to attend.
MS continued the conversation around away matches asking if all tickets could go on sale at the same time rather than a staged approach. NZ explained that the selling order is dictated by the host club.
HP moved on to talk about EDI Reviews with the first an early look at an introduction to digital ticketing. She detailed impact on protected characteristics groups and the suggested mitigations for this, speaking to the social side alongside access to and understanding of technology. CA suggested the club speak to organisations outside of football who are further down the line in introduction of digital systems. He also noted drop in centres and using ticketing as a way to engage with lifestyle.
HP then discussed the EDI Review for Safe Standing which was in its final form, again highlighting impact and detailing mitigations. NZ provided data on numbers of supporters who have relocated and where they have relocated to. He also noted that some supporters will utilise the second option to relocate in the season ticket renewals window. The group agreed that there were some benefits to happening mid way through the season. FR noted that there are some supporters who are standing outside of where safe standing is to be introduced, NZ explained that Operations Director Chris Gerrish is completing training and education with stewards around this topic. ES suggested that a safe standing etiquette guide could be shared with supporters which HP will take away.
RT asked if there was more demand for safe standing, would this be a consideration for more. JF responded that it would be unlikely within our current stadium.
MS asked if there was a reason that supporters who opted to move out of the safe standing area had limited relocation options. NZ explained that supporters were able to relocate to within the North Stand and to the South Stand and that limitations of the ticketing system made relocation to East or Main stand difficult within the season. He went on to say that this will be possible within the season ticket renewals process during the summer.
SS mentioned there was still a large number of people standing in Row A, HP noted that in depth conversations had taken place with the DSA about this and how it can be improved.
HP discussed the new sanctions policy with the group which led to a discussion on fan behaviour and a rise in reports of discriminatory behaviour and language. HH noted the fan education programme taking place at Gillingham with notable progress. HP discussed data on fan education sessions at AFC Bournemouth and spoke to their success. ES suggested a bystander campaign could highlight the importance of reporting or challenging behaviour. HP will take this back to be considered as part of Hate Hurts Everyone.
HP asked the group for any thoughts outside of the set agenda:
EY discussed an incident in the South Stand at a recent game where supporters found it difficult to get the attention of stewards. HP will report this back to relevant club staff.
MS asked if sponsor competitions relating to matchday could include a small run of text on the matchday theme. HP will discuss with relevant club staff and report back to the group.
HP thanked the group for their time and contributions and the meeting finished.