Steve Stone at the Trust's August Board meetingAt our August board meeting we were delighted to be joined by Steve Stone and Joe Ferrari and were able to discuss a wide range of issues with them. What follows is a synopsis of the main points.
THE TRUST ASKED HOW CLOSE STEVE FELT WE WERE TO WHERE WE EXPECTED TO BE AT THE CLOSE OF THE TRANSFER WINDOW.
Steve Stone (SS): The position changed after the Millwall game - there were some frank discussions and it was agreed that the team needed an experienced Championship centre back, but Club had very little funding left to do the deal. If NCFC stay in the Championship players on large wages will have to go - but the Newcastle deal for Grant Hanley was agreed because of the player’s age and would not have been an option if he was 30. The Club, based on past experiences, are wary of last day panic buying.
THE TRUST ASKED ABOUT THE SUSTAINABILITY OF NCFC
SS: This is one of the advantages of a young squad which will have significant value if players need to be sold next summer. At present there is no facility with Barclays Bank but an overdraft facility was secured against parachute payments. It is important that fans understand that money coming into the Club is not disappearing, but is all being used. For example, between £4M and £5M has been used on settlements for departing staff.
TRUST: WE UNDERSTAND THAT 12 CHAMPIONSHIP CLUBS HAVE MADE RECIPROCAL TICKETING ARRANGEMENTS. WHAT’S NCFC’S STANCE ON THIS?
SS: The Club have not given the issue any recent consideration for the long-argued reason that the Club can sell out whatever the size of the visiting allocation.
CURRENT GROUND DEVELOPMENT PLANS
SS: There are no plans to consider expansion until such time as the Club have proved capable of long term PL football. The “old” cantilever plan for building a tier immediately above the City Stand had no facility for “Corporate Accommodation” and therefore new plans (£30M-£40M) would need to be considered.
THE TRUST NOTED THAT AWAY FANS AT FULHAM WHO BOUGHT TICKETS IN THE NEUTRAL SECTION DID NOT RECEIVE POINTS. IS THERE ARE WAY AROUND THIS?
SS: There had been historical “problems” with Fulham regarding ticketing allowance for a recent match at Carrow Rd. and Fulham had responded by restricting the away allocation for City’s visit on the first day of the Season. The Club would investigate if there was any way the information on City supporters in the Neutral Section could be gathered and applied to their points accrual.
ASSET OF COMMUNITY VALUE STATUS FOR CARROW ROAD
The Trust explained their continued interest in this and described their previous discussions with David McNally who had a negative attitude to the idea.
SS explained his background in the Licensing Trade had made him familiar with the concept as many Pubs had taken this route and he was aware that Clubs the size of Liverpool and Man Utd had taken this route. He suggested we re-submit our request.
SS said following a recent change of heart among clubs, including Liverpool, regarding Safe Standing he has been looking at the “rules” and the “art of the possible” including the cost of conversion to one to one ratio and to ticket pricing. He recognises that some displacement of ST holders might be difficult but in terms of atmosphere he thinks it could be a good thing.
THE TRUST QUERIED WHAT IS HAPPENING TO FANS GROUP MEETINGS FOLLOWING THE DEPARTURE OF ED GUICHARD.
SS noted that as EG has moved on, the next meeting will be with Joe Ferrari and Gemma Gifford. SS was most impressed with the Barclay End Norwich’s work with the Club and with the organised “March to the Ground” and the improvement in atmosphere. Outstanding issues regarding banners and flag poles will hopefully cleared at next Mondays meeting. There have been changes in the marketing department and the communications team will be dealing with fan engagement moving forward.
SUPPORTER LIAISON OFFICER
SS confirmed that Stephen Graham was still the Clubs SLO although his main responsibility remains ticketing. SS said that he was aware of differing SLO responsibilities between Clubs and was willing to re-assess the role of the NCFC SLO.
SECURITY POLICY ON BAGS
Trust asked if there was a format for bag searches.
SS: There is no formal ratio for bag searches and the new Security Staff have the flexibility to balance length of queues to number of bags searched on the basis that a queue can become a target as much as a stadium.
In response to some fan queries regarding long-distance fans arriving with overnight bags SS felt there should be no need to bring them to the ground.
CANARIES FOR EQUALITY
SS: In response to the escalation of the campaign, Gemma Gifford will be in touch with Proud Canaries regarding a piece being written by one of their members. The Club had recently dealt firmly with fan abuse issues and were happy to keep the reporting of homophobic, racist and disability chanting under review. John Leggett, Head of Safety and Operations Team will communicate with Di Cunningham.
The Trust Chairman asked what would be the Club’s attitude to a more “aggressive” approach by the Trust to purchase shares.
SS: The Club would have no problem. The Club was impressed by the Trust’s recent share purchases. In response to a question regarding the increasing delay between the Club Solicitor agreeing the paperwork, and hence payment to the vendor, and the production of a new share certificate, SS said that all share transfers have to go to NCFC Board meetings and he will look into the current delays.
SPONSORSHIP OF UN-SPONSORED YOUNGER PLAYERS
The Trust proposed that, rather than have a number of players un-sponsored after a couple of months of the season, they could be nominally sponsored by the different fan groups.
SS: The proposal is a novel one and could be adopted if groups were willing to pay a small fee that could go to CSF. It will be considered.
INTER-FAN GROUP 6-A-SIDE TOURNAMENT
The Trust asked if this was something the Club could support as they had done so in the past. It could be held at Carrow Park and a trophy awarded to the winners.
Joe Ferrari (JF): The idea could be linked to the Visiting Fans weekend and could also be used as a CSF fundraiser.
TRUST STAND AT BRISTOL CITY GAME
SS confirmed that this could go ahead at the back of the Barclay Stand and include the co-opted fan groups and their banners etc.
CHRISTMAS FOODBANKS COLLECTION
The Trust explained that it would like to follow the lead of other fan groups and organise a collection at pre-Christmas games in conjunction with one of the local organisations.
SS accepted the idea in principle that collecting at an event where 22000 + people gather was a good idea, but the Club could not be involved with handling procedures. SS suggested the Trust discussed it with one of the local Foodbanks and then get back to the Club.
PRE-SEASON TICKETING ARRANGEMENT
Nev Townsend said feedback from fans who had travelled to Germany were disappointed by the lack of publicity and information about ticketing and local facilities.
JF: The Club always provides information for fans travelling to away matches in the League and Cup, but the fluidity involved in overseas pre-season matches would make it difficult to provide the same information. The Club has to be mindful it could be culpable if bad information is given out.