OxVox COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: Friday 23rd September 2016 (held at Oxford City & County Bowls Club, Oxford)
Attendees: Michael North (MN), Matt Cavill (MC), Terry Winter (TW), Graham Butler (GB), Jeremy Faulkner (JF), Simon Bradbury (SB), Maurice Earp (ME), Colin Barson (CB), Trevor Lambert (TL)
Start: 7.15pm. Finish. 10.15pm
1. Actions from the Minutes of the last committee meeting held on Thursday 9th June were reviewed and agreed with no matters arising.
2. Finance Updates
(a) The meeting discussed the current financial status of the Trust. It was confirmed that currently outgoings were minimal, with the exception of certain sponsorships and that income was growing steadily from new members. The Trust is in very good financial health and a full break down of the accounts will be prepared for the next meeting by TW.
(b) The Trust’s financial year end is at the end of September 2016 and the meeting discussed and agreed the required actions. TW will put together the necessary reports.
(c) Receipts totally £290 were presented relating to the recent members meeting held at the Masons Arms. The money was used on room hire and a buffet for members. JF and TL had paid the monies out and will be reimbursed.
(d) TW confirmed that the new bank mandates will be completed in the coming weeks. TW will mail out to the committee when everything is in place.
(e) It was noted that an invoice for the kit sponsorships of Chris Allen and Miles Welch Hayes has still not been received from the club. OxVox is now shown as the sponsor in the match day programme.
3. Membership and Communication
TL led a detailed discussion on ‘membership’ and updated the committee on current status and plans/actions required.
(a) ME is Membership Secretary responsible for sending out joiners’ packs and anything else posted to members. New letter heads with ME’s address have now been produced.
(b) TL is looking after the membership database and adding new members as they appear online via the website, and occasionally on paper forms. The new members are added in a cut and paste fashion rather than automatically. TL adds a marker to indicate new members which need joiner packs and ME sends the packs and resets the marker. This system is working well.
There is no easy interface between the OxVox website and the database to enable data to be transferred automatically. In any case, new entries online have to be reviewed to confirm they are unique and complete.
The database software allows emails to be sent to members and hyperlinks to website entities e.g. minutes of meetings can be included in the emails. The database itself does not include any facility for uploading documents.
(c) New Data Base. ITWM our software providers have given us access to their new system which all trusts are transferring to in the near future. It looks very different and learning to use it will take time. ITWM, rather foolishly, did a data upload of the database to the new system a couple of months ago and then told us we could start using the new system! Without a notice period, this was impossible, and we have carried on using the old (existing) system to process memberships and send out emails etc. Hence the new system will need a fresh data upload when we eventually transfer – there are simply too many updates to duplicate them by hand. The upload was just the raw data and no standard queries, report history, email templates and so on – essentially it is a new system not a seamless transition.
Action points: TL is continuing to update the database. But in parallel he will look at the new system and test it out to ascertain its suitability for our purposes. ITWM are supposed to be producing training videos and we will look out for them.
(d) New Members. As of 21 September 2016 the trust membership has risen to 678 current members. This includes 113 junior members: hence the number of non-Junior members is 565 as of that date.
Between August 2014 and April 2015 there appear to have been no new members at all. But Membership growth over the last 18 months has been strong and is shown in the following table:
End of month totals:
- April 2015: 509
- May 2015: 515
- June 2015: 515
- July 2015: 521
- August 2015: 537
- September 2015: 555
- October 2015: 564
- November 2015: 570
- December 2015: 573
- January 2016: 576
- February 2016: 590
- March 2016: 599
- April 2016: 609
- May 2016: 618
- June 2016: 624
- July 2016: 650
- August 2016: 671
- September 2016 (to date): 678
These totals do not take account of ‘returning’ lapsed members which are a little harder to identify in the system, as we record only their original joining date and their current expiry date, but we don’t keep any transaction history records. So the table above shows totals which have been produced by taking the current total and working backwards, deducting the ‘first time’ new members each month.
The table also ignores ‘churn’ i.e. members leaving and others joining. We may be able to approach some recent leavers and persuade them to return.
Action points: Identify members whose memberships are due to renew, their type of membership, length of membership and other details: break the task down and circulate the list (TL).
Committee members to contact their friends on the list to ask them to renew. Committee to decide whether the aim is to make the standard offer of the usual pricing, or whether members of some duration might be offered a ‘life upgrade’? This will be agreed at the next meeting.
(e) Members Meeting 4th August – We picked up 4 new members on the night and got 2 renewals.
(f) Supporters Direct Bulletins. Can we send them to members? Yes, we could include a link in members’ emails – particularly now that SD have started to provide a web link with each bulletin. There are also the FSF bulletins and from time to time there may be other material which we could provide. TL would advise providing links rather than whole articles, to avoid confusion that material may have been generated by OxVox, and the sending of very long emails.
Action points: We need to confirm a contact strategy for members. TL suggested that we add links to these bulletins to a monthly newsletter style email in which we consolidate a summary of what has happened in the last month. There may be a danger in spamming members with information too often. We should occasionally give a thought to members who are not users of email (less than 30 of them – what, if anything, should they receive?)
(g) Members Consultation – We can use Survey Monkey for consultation where there are clear questions to ask. Cost is around £25 for a month’s contract.
On broader issues we can ask for narrative comment and do content analysis, though this will be more anecdotal and subject to selection bias.
We do, in TL’s opinion, have a broader question with a growing membership of how to engage and involve them, and indeed how to find them something useful to do.
(h) Social Media and our Web Site. The committee agreed that we need a degree of strategy regarding integration of Facebook, twitter, Yellows Forum, local media links, website and direct member communications.
How do we maximise the strengths of each? What is the overlap in users? How do we reach all fans? Should we have a page occasionally in the programme? What about a loose membership leaflet in the Oxford Mail?
What should appear on our website? – Minutes of meetings? Committee profiles? Oxford Mail columns? The committee agreed that this is a big area to consider and was beyond the scope of 1 meeting! Committee members to feedback their thoughts/ideas to JF prior to the next meeting at the end of October.
It was agreed that TL would provide SB with the details required to update our website. This will help ensure we have a constant flow of ‘news’ and provide back up to TL.
4. General updates/Plans/Actions
(a) The meeting discussed the current situation involving the club and the stadium company/Firoz Kassam. The 2 parties are in an arbitration situation regarding the current service charge and the perceived services being provided for the level of service charge. This is a formal process between a landlord and ‘tenant’ and therefore will take time to resolve. It undoubtedly is the reason behind the delay on the proposed 4th stand. JF will seek an update from the club.
(b) The meeting discussed recent meetings/communications that have taken place with various stakeholders. JF fed back the details of the most recent meetings with Firoz Kassam and most recently Ian Hudspeth. The committee were reminded of the sensitive nature of the discussions. It was agreed that all communications regarding the stadium would remain confidential, although the meeting did discuss the need for a date that would see information made available to members.
(c) It was agreed to renew the CRTB and SB will prepare the paper work ASAP and discuss actions required and timings at the next committee meeting.
EFL – Whole Game Solution and EFL Trophy
(a) The meeting agreed to retain the view that fans’ attendance at EFL Trophy games was a matter of personal choice and therefore the Trust would not advocate boycotts.
(b) The meeting discussed the recent EFL statements that have dismissed the idea of Premiership B teams, or non-English teams, being involved in the EFL. This decision was welcomed, but other proposals such as the possibility of regionalisation, a winter break and an increase to the total number of EFL clubs, are still areas of potential concern.
(c) The EFL AGM is in June 2017 and it is important that members/fans are fully consulted on any potential changes as these would be voted on by clubs at the AGM. OUFC are fully in favour of fan consultation and the trust will prepare a number of surveys to gauge opinion and then feed back the information to the club. JF/TL will prepare the consultation surveys with a view to sending them out by the middle of November latest.
Standing at home and away games
There have been number of members who had made contact regarding issues with fans standing at matches – there were particular issues at MK Dons and also in the North stand at the home game with Swindon. It was agreed that this was not an easy situation to resolve(!), but that the Trust would write to the club to highlight the problem and offer suggestions, including designated ‘singers’ areas etc. CB will write to the club ASAP and copy in the committee.
The Family Area in the North Stand
(a)It was agreed to continue to monitor the situation. There did seem to be a lot of empty seats in the family area for the Swindon game, when the stadium was apparently ‘sold out’. The issue of potentially lost revenue will be discussed with the club.
Policing at Home Games
(a) In response to concerns raised by members at the recent members’ meeting, it was agreed to set up a formal liaison mechanic with the Thames Valley Police officers who are responsible for policing at home games. GB will be the Trust’s liaison with TVP and the first meeting will be on the 5th October. Members and the wider fan base will be asked to let GB know of any questions they have and these will then be raised at the meeting. JF will also put a message on Yellows Forum.
OUFC Community Trust
(a) It is with regret that Kate Longworth has now left the committee to take up the full time role of Head of Community at the OUFC Community Trust. Everyone, of course, is delighted for Kate and we all know she’ll do a fantastic job!
(b) Kate has agreed to brief OxVox on changes being made to the Community Trust. These changes will be sent to members when available.
(c) A joint meeting will be set up to see where Oxvox can work with the Community Trust for the benefit of the community.
OxVox – Oxford Mail Column
(a) Meeting discussed the new column which is being published every Friday in the Oxford Mail. It is certainly getting some good responses, but there is a need to publicise the column so that more fans can take part and let others know about their OUFC experiences! JF will post on Yellows Forum and a separate email to members will also be sent out by TL.
Sponsorships and Member Thanks
(a) Thank you to Paul Charles from Isinglass who has kindly donated the monies needed for the new OxVox pin badges.
(b) Thank you to Mick Denton from Denton Building Contractors who removed the old logos from the stadium and replaced them with the new ones.
(c) OxVox have sponsored the Oxford Blackbirds under 7’s team with shirts/kit and have now bought them a man of the match trophy for use throughout the season.
(d) The meeting discussed a new OUFC initiative which will see sponsors sought for the OUFC Academy teams. The cost is £1000 per season and the committee decided that this sort of sum needed much more consideration and a better understanding of the ‘return’ for the Trust. A decision will be taken in the coming weeks as to whether to support the initiative or not.
(e) OxVox ran a very successful free picture ‘print’ competition through Twitter during September. It is planned to do more free to enter competitions in the coming months.
OUFC Retail and Catering
(a) There was a long discussion about the OUFC retail offer. Some of the committee felt that although the shop had improved greatly from last year and that there was some good quality merchandise, that the overall offer was let down by some poor quality merchandise.
(b) It had been noted by some members that there was very little female merchandise on offer and what there was, was ‘pink’!
(c) It was felt that the ’6 in a row’ T shirt was not in keeping with professional merchandise and was the sort of thing that fans would normally put together themselves as a fun item.
(d) MN made the committee aware that merchandise that is sold by Sue and himself on match days has to be paid for by themselves! Monies then go back to the club. JF will pick this issue up.
(e) It was felt by the committee and from members’ comments that although catering at the stadium had improved, there were still issues with quality, range and overall service.
(f) It was agreed to arrange a meeting with the new commercial team at the club to constructively discuss the above and other fan comments. JF will write to GBT to set up a meeting, hopefully by the end of November.
There was no AOB
The meeting closed at 10.15pm