The first meeting of the new Supporters Panel was held at the end of last week and as promised we will publish the minutes of each meeting to allow as many fans as possible to see the work being done
Oxford United Supporters’ Panel Meeting 14th October 2021 4pm.
Grace Bailey (GB), Janine Bailey (JB), Greg David (GD), Trevor Lambert (TL), Paul Scaysbrook (PS)
By invitation: Ashley Brown (AB), Andy Taylor (AT)
AB chaired the opening of the meeting, introduced himself, offered to help as much or little as we need. Always available by phone or email as needed.
Do not be discouraged at not filling the Panel seats. It’s up to Panel to show independence and that Club takes us seriously, then interest will increase.
Communication to fanbase is important, as is visibility of Panel members to fans. Maybe set up separate email address – but have some way to be contactable.
Club is keen on idea of Panel, AT genuinely interested in making this a success.
Tracy Crouch govt review likely to strengthen rules around fan engagement at multi layers. OxVox remains important on more strategic issues, Panel on “operational” / matchday issues.
Election of Chair
GD willing to stand as chair.
Proposed by Janine. Seconded by Grace – voted unanimously. AT handed meeting over to GD
GD – welcomed TL, and asked how OxVox would like its representation, either as one nominated person or changing. TL asked how much we want to see the same face?
OxVox might like to not tie one person down and availability might be an influence. It was agreed that variation from OxVox could be positive, and that the important point is communication. It was suggested that there be a single contact point even if different OxVox reps attend meetings based on topic/availability (?TL)
1) Fans with Disabilities
JB raised issues for ambulant disabled supporters with poorly signposted lifts.
GB pointed out that Disability info on club website is out of date both in terms of Club info and disability info e.g. family area in SSL, DWP evidence for personal assistants referring to discontinued benefit.
PS raised issue that wheelchair users in SSU were moved to North Stand over close season with no consultation and poor communication.
TL – raised sensory room, equipped by OxVox funding. Advertised as a quiet area for anyone who needs to take a break from noise. Support to set it up and initial staffing from Jigsaw. Currently a problem staffing it – how can we find people to run this (need to have appropriate skills, checks etc.). Not sure it’s actually active/operating each match. Maybe need to do some information gathering. Perhaps question to NMcW – does club want it? What will they do to help it?
PS suggested we need a named disability liaison officer to do the job properly.
2) Ticketing/Seat changes for 2021-2022 season
In addition to wheelchair users being moved (see above) GD noted changes of access to various areas without consultation, notably 1893 club which had directly led to at least one fan not renewing their ST. Other areas were affected e.g. seats alongside dugouts.
It was agreed that this should be one of the first things raised with the club.
GD – suggested that for the first club meeting we should invite NMcW as appropriate person to address these issues.
AB – general points – meetings with Club – always agree agenda in advance, brief attendees as much as possible in advance and allow Club to add agenda items. Club must then send right people for those topics.
All to collate examples.
Panel had received two emails from fans offering support and help with the Panel.
AB clarified the Panel’s powers to co-opt. The Panel noted that anyone co-opted must by default stand at next election. The Panel can trigger an election at any time or wait until next scheduled election period (for us this would be May/June 2022).
Panel agreed we should find a way to involve people who are interested, especially when there are spaces on the Panel. TL pointed out how difficult it can be to get volunteers, and suggests we use their enthusiasm and offers of help.
GD will contact these two, and discuss co-opting to Panel.
GB explained she had a message from a fan with some ideas about better access for women, and that she was waiting on follow up detail.
Election of Secretary – Panel unanimously agreed JB should take on role of secretary.
GB happy to take over twitter account. Agreed by all. JB will handover password
Emails – agreed to use OUSPinfo as the main public email address. JB will contact Michelle Young for account passwords and documentation.
TL suggested using Google Groups and a Whatsapp group. Noted that Whatsapp can get confusing for detailed discussions and that its best used for short messages.
JB will set up Whatsapp group also look into Google Groups or Slack for group communications.
PS to email JB mobile number
Andrew Taylor joined the meeting and was briefed on discussions so far.
Panel will want to have some face to face meetings, particularly full meetings with Club. AT suggested options would include M-F in stadium, or training ground after hours depends on other activities there. All should be accessible. There are other county venues we could look at if needed and Club will arrange.
Agreed that online meetings work for panel planning meets, Club “Full” meetings will need to be face to face.
AT is looking at matchday host volunteers and asked how we could get matchday volunteers to do this role?
TL pointed out a rota will help, as commitment week on week can be hard. Need good “people” persons and who know the club. GD – Newcastle away match was amazing. There were greeters all around the stadium, sorted out specific problems quickly and easily. Obviously easier with bigger attendances and larger staff.
JB – need to have job role fairly well nailed down before launching. What will commitment be, any kind of reward (? free cup voucher).
Currently there are a few staff around outside the stadium but not necessarily visible. Needs to be proactive and achievable.
Condition of Stadium
TL – pointed out that interaction with Stadco has not always been good in the past. They may need to be involved in some of the things we are discussing. E.g. toilet facilities. Issue of who will pay for things may also be a factor.
AT said Stadco has lost many staff including key roles. OUFC is now responsible for maintenance, upkeep and everything in the concourse. Any necessary works can now be sorted out by OUFC. Some things probably won’t get done as not effective for long term and require significant building infrastructure. AT – it will give him weight going to Board for funding if fan base gives its wishlist.
Some examples were given e.g. of chewing gum stuck in urinal and never removed. Some of urinals have been damaged by cleaning. Floors could be steam cleaned and floor painted?
Start of season cleanliness – There was a schedule of pre-season activity and Stadco never did the specified clean. Subsequently club checks every week and sends on to Stadco details of areas needing work. OUFC has asked to take on cleaning of seating areas but this isn’t moving forward at present.
It was agreed Panel should canvass fans to get a wishlist.
GB – will use Twitter account to get feedback from home and away fans.
All Panel members to speak to fans to get suggestions, also ask on yellows forum
Fan Experience and Attendances
GD brought up disappointing attendance, noted Morecombe match ticket price initiative might help. Club has some ideas for increasing attendances. E.g. AT looking at formation of a Fanzone outside the ground – but issues around loss of carparking if this happens.
From Saturday 10% of fans will be emailed matchday survey information to gather data (survey monkey). AT agreed data from survey will be shared with Panel and OxVox. TL has background as statistician and wondered about the format of questions – AT used to work in market research and understands the importance of phrasing questions and that stats don’t tell the whole story.
GD asked if Away fans were considered as part of this? AT acknowledged that Away fans had been overlooked a little. JB pointed out info on website is not helpful for them and that could be improved. AT also pointed out signage could be better, and having club volunteers as mentioned above would help as stewards are not currently providing good customer service.
Will do survey in future on catering in light of new arrangement, but realistically unlikely to see significant changes before next season.
JB to set up poll for Panel meeting (28/10 – 5/11/21) and for Club meeting w/c 8th or 15th November.
AT will consider agenda items from the club – e.g. what 5 things can we do to improve your matchday experience?
Likely agenda items:
Catering, fans with disabilities, ticketing, stadium cleanliness.