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Supporter liaison updates

Cherries Trust Minutes: May 2024

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

The minutes from AFC Bournemouth's latest Cherries Trust meeting, which took place on Wednesday 15th May, can be viewed below.

Attendees:

Club Staff

  • Jim Frevola – President of Business (JF)
  • Chris Gerrish – Operations Director (CG)
  • Nick Zombolas – Chief Ticketing Officer (NZ)
  • Paul Fudge – VP Business and Hospitality (PF)
  • Ash Lord – VP Media and Communications (AL) – Attended virtually
  • Matt Payne – VP Brand and Marketing (MP
  • Hannah Powis – Head of EDI and Engagement (HP)
  • John Jennings – Disability and Engagement Officer (JJ)

Cherries Trust Board

  • Heather Hoggatt (HH) – Trust Chair
  • Gayle Hope (GH) – Society Secretary
  • Neil Weedon (NW) – Community Champion
  • Barry Smith (BS) – Website and Identity
  • Sam Viney (SV) – Supporter Liaison Officer

Apologies

  • Travis Gibson
  • Gareth Case
  • Matt Jackson
  • Robbie Sargent

Minutes:

CT Update 

  • HH provided a Cherries Trust (CT) update on a number of topics.
  • CT survey results, group agreed to review outside of the meeting, HP confirmed that survey results have been shared with staff.
  • NW gave an update on the CT’s Community fund which donated to AFC Bournemouth’s Disabled Supporters Association (DSA), Talking Cherries and MyTime Young Carers last season. He mentioned that the scheme is now opening up for supporters to vote on worthy causes.
  • HH spoke about the joint project with the club and CT for the rearranged Luton fixture. The CT would like to be involved in more events like this. HP responded that the club are currently looking at next seasons' plan, this will be consulted on by supporter groups. HP will share the plan with CT Board for consideration on how the club and CT align.  

Ticketing 

  • NZ discussed pricing strategy for the 2024/25 season, he noted that the club is looking to align pricing to make it more consistent.
  • NZ introduced the current disparity between wheelchair users and ambulant disabled supporters and discussed that the club have been working closely with Level Playing Field and the DSA to address the challenges this pricing structure presents in terms of potential for discrimination within the protected characteristic of disability. He detailed the 5-year plan that will begin this season and the extensive communications plan in place to ensure this information is communicated to all supporters who will be affected.
  • CT queried the game category and how this has been decided. NZ spoke of the data led approach to introducing game categories with the ABC model, which will be continued moving forwards.
  • NZ addressed ticket touting; AFC Bournemouth staff felt that there is a misconception that the club are not addressing ticket touting. He described the ticketing sanctions policy moving in line with the overall operations sanction policy. Ticket office issue a warning as a first offence before moving through the sanctions policy.
  • HH brought up a concern that stewards are not responding to supporters who are away fans in home areas. Club staff ensured that this is recorded and followed up. HP will complete a report over the summer which will review reported incidents from the season and share this with CT and with supporters.

Communication and consultation 

  • HH/GH discussed how important meaningful consultation with supporter groups is and stressed the significance of this taking place with ample time before the decision is made. NZ fedback that there have been times where we have asked supporter groups for feedback but haven't received anything back. HP and NZ spoke to the extensive consultation which has taken place with the DSA, FAB and other organisations over a period of a couple of months around the disparity in pricing for disabled supporters. JF discussed the importance of consultation but also in understanding when it can have an impact and appreciating at times, there are decisions that must be made by the club.
  • NZ and GH will liaise to obtain feedback from CT on membership ideas and suggestions.
  • HH commended the introduction of the Women's Working Group and noted how this had led to a fan survey which is helping to shape the future of the women’s range within the superstore.
  • JF confirmed that there would be extensive fan consultation around any stadium redevelopmen/new stadium.

National Game Issues 

  • CT asked where the club stand in relation to the scrapping of FA Cup replays. JF responded that he has nothing against replays and the club weren’t involved in a vote. He went on to explain that we are a club who benefit from replays, where teams with large stadiums are involved.
  • CT asked where the club stand in relation to game 39.  JF said the question is very hypothetical and hasn’t been bought up in any meetings he has been a part of.

AOB 

HH moved onto AOB within the first topic around banning orders and how they have been collected. CG responded detailing that 380 people have been recorded for persistently standing, 158 of these have been recorded two or more times and have therefore received the persistent standing code of conduct. 16 of these supporters have been recorded as persistently standing after signing the document, and have been referred to the clubs incident panel. This has resulted in six bans and two education sessions being issued. During this collection, 4 have been wrongly recorded, amounting to 0.9%. CG spoke of the challenges where there are blocks of people standing.

  • NW asked what prompted the action on persistent standing, CG made reference to the introduction of safe standing was the trigger to the process and we could still have a reduction in capacity enforced.
  • HH queried the appeal process and the timeline involved. CG described the process around triggering an appeal, he also detailed that an appeal is investigated by the Operations Team and then presented to members of the Senior Management Team, who are separate to the incident panel who make a final decision.
  • CG noted that the club investigated errors as a priority and bans were recinded quickly. CT said that this was well received from supporters and felt it had more of an impact as it was put in place for the last game of the season. NZ added that if supporters are banned over the ST renewal process they will need to call the club rather than renew online.
  • The group of AFC Bournemouth staff expressed to the room that we will continue evolve to and improve processes and are continually learning.
  • HH spoke about reports of stewards not being proactive in games. CG robustly defended the stewards and shares with the group details of some of the abuse they receive online.
  • The group move on to discuss the wider topic of communication. CT noted that communication and transparency with supporters is key. CG told the group that all documents relating to sanctions and policies are available on the club website. SV suggested that CT can help disseminate information to supporters, HP will share relevant links to policy over next season, where appropriate, for CT to direct supporters to. PF also mentioned that the club are currently designing a new website which will make navigation easier.
  • HH ask for information on the clubs approach to away fans standing. CG responded in detail, stating that this isn’t ignored but is recorded and passed on to the travelling club. He went on to say that we receive the same information from away clubs.
  • He detailed to the group that the clubs Premier League observer has asked for the club to outline its approach to safe and persistent standing, for this to be shared as best practice across the league.
  • HH then discussed the final game entertainment and how it had been received by the fanbase. The CT estimated they had received 80-100 enquiries on the matter, JF responded that the club had received only seven emails which have been addressed. JF commented that the club had cheerleaders at a recent Women’s Game which were well received. He noted that the Show Girls were promoting tourism although, as a club we do take feedback on board and appreciate that fans will all have different views.
  • HH asked about the methodology involved in choosing the Vegas giveaways and suggested a random number generator would have been a better option. HP responded this method would have been difficult as a large percentage of fans moved from their seats. She also spoke of the fan engagement angle, describing how positive this was for supporters to be involved in something collective.
  • GH commended the Premier League programme which featured Bill Foley, PF added that the direction of the club has catapulted with the new ownership, which has led to improvements in supporter experiencing particularly in reference to the outer perimeter license.
  • Both the CT and AFC Bournemouth staff described the atmosphere at recent games as being excellent and the club and the trust will continue to work together to promote positive messages around the club.

HP thanked the group for their attendance and bought the meeting to a close. 

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