OxVox COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: Tuesday 27th June 2017 (held at Oxford City & County Bowls Club, Oxford)
Attendees: Matt Cavill (MC), Maurice Earp (ME), Graham Butler (GB), Jem Faulkner (JF), Simon Bradbury (SB), Colin Barson (CB), Trevor Lambert ((TL), Ali Wolfe (AW), Jemma Hayward (JH)
Apologies: Michael North (MN), Kate Longworth (KL), Stewart Donald (SD)
Start: 7.00pm. Finish. 9.35pm.
1. Actions from the Minutes/notes of the last committee meeting held on Wednesday 12th April and the AGM held on Thursday 25th May.
(a) The minutes and notes of both meetings were agreed and there were no outstanding matters arising.
(b) It was felt by all those present that the AGM had been a success and it was noted that there had been a large number of messages from members who also believed it had been a very good meeting.
(c) The meeting welcomed new Committee members – Jemma Hayward and Ali Wolfe.
(d) The meeting re-affirmed the Trust’s confidentiality requirements and the need to be mindful of comments on social media.
2. Finance Updates
(a) The meeting discussed the current financial status of the Trust. It was confirmed that currently outgoings are minimal and that the Trust has cash reserves in excess of £10,000.
(b) The Committee agreed that the Trust should respond positively to a request by the Yellow Army for a short term loan. The loan is required for YA to be able to buy stock for the coming season. The loan is for £1,000 and will be repaid by the end of October. A loan note will be signed and recorded.
(c) Terry Winter has now stepped down from the committee. It was however agreed that he will continue as the Treasurer for the Trust.
(d) It was confirmed that the annual accounts for the Trust which were presented at the AGM have now been filed and also been sent to all members and Supporters Direct. All is in order.
(e) It was raised by TL that he is owed £220 for the food and room hire which he organised for the AGM. A cheque needs to raised ASAP. MN and GB to sign and issue the cheque.
(g) It was discussed that for the last 3 years the Trust have sponsored the kit of Chrissy Allen. Given that the Trust has not received any request/notification of sponsorship opportunities from the club this year, we would wait to decide if we will take part in kit sponsorships for the coming season. This will be discussed again at the next meeting.
(h) It was agreed by those present to continue the sponsorship of the boys’ team – Oxford Blackbirds. £300 will be provided for the purchase of track suits. A cheque will be raised ASAP.
(a) TL updated the meeting on current membership numbers and joiners/leavers.
(b) Membership now stands at 908, up from 891 at the last committee meeting.
(c) There will be circa 45 members who need to renew this September. Reminders will be sent out.
(c) ME confirmed that all membership details and the sending out of starter packs is fully up to date.
4. Stadium and Right to Bid (RTB)
(a) It was resolved to re-apply for the Right to Bid status on the Kassam Stadium when it runs out next year.
(b) The meeting discussed recent communications with Firoz Kassam and that the Trust had laid out the various options to FK. FK will revert during July, but remains amenable to previously indicated moves to see a different stadium arrangement and/or a move to community control/ownership.
(c) The Trust will update the club on the current status over the next few weeks.
(d) It was resolved at the AGM that the Trust would seek a mandate from members to continue discussions with FK. A background/overview and questionnaire will be sent to members by the end of July and the results published as soon as they can be. It remains the view of the committee that continuing to talk is desirable, but the Trust will obviously abide by the wishes of the membership.
(e) It was noted by JH that there had been a recent property advertisement which had invited applications for the use of parts of the stadium (East Stand space) for ‘storage’ and/or office accommodation. It also spoke of the potential for a restaurant (top floor). This has been advertised before, but JF will pick this up with Firoz Kassam at the earliest opportunity.
5. EFL Trophy
(a) The meeting discussed the plans for the forthcoming EFL Trophy that have now been made public by the EFL.
(b) Last season, the Trust took a neutral view and did not advocate any form of protest, or boycott. However given the retention of last season’s (unpopular) changes/format, it has been agreed to consult with members as to any action the Trust should, or should not take, in this season’s competition.
(c) A consultation document and ballot will go out by the end of the first week of July. Results will be shared with members and the club. The Trust will also liaise with other supporter groups across the country – who are also taking similar steps to gauge supporters’ views. Those present approved the ballot document which had been prepared by TL.
6. Stewarding at the Stadium
(a) It was noted that Ian Mixter is keen to speak to members about plans for this season with regard to stewarding and ground rules ETC. An open (members) meeting will be organised – hopefully by the end of July.
7. Questions from Members
Given that there has been a great deal of activity in and around the club over the last couple of months, the Trust invited, and has received, a significant number of questions from members. These questions are grouped below (lots of similar questions were received). The information will be passed to the club for comment and JF will contact Darryl Eales to arrange a meeting.
(a) Michael Appleton. News that MApp is to leave the club has created significant interest! It is expected that by the time these minutes are issued, plans/news will have moved on, but it is
hoped that the new manager will be able to take the time to meet with the Trust and all fans in the coming weeks/months.
(b) Juan Sartori interest in OUFC. Following the club’s statement that the potential deal with Mr Sartori would not have been in the best interests of OUFC, many members have asked for clarification on what those ‘best interests’ actually were. Members understand that it was very much DE’s prerogative to reject any bid, but many members are keen (if possible) to understand the rationale.
(c) Day to day operational management of OUFC. A large number of members would appreciate clarification on ‘who does what’ and individual responsibilities at the club. There appear to have been a number of senior ‘leavers’ over the last year and it would be good to hear how key functions are to be managed going forward. This also includes board member roles and input.
(d) An understanding of the strategic direction of the club was a question asked by many members and it is suggested by members that an open fans’ forum would be very useful in helping fans gain a better understanding of the club’s plans going forward.
(e) What is the status of the Arbitration process that has been ongoing for some months with Firoz Kassam?
(f) Many members said they are concerned at what are perceived to be current ‘divisions between fans’ and that a call for unity and getting behind the club is very important. OxVox will work towards helping with this aim and endeavour to develop stronger (two way) relationships with the club’s Board. Meetings, with the objective of healing any rifts and agreeing positive communications and plans will be arranged. It is hoped that DE and his Board will agree to this stance and play their part for the good of OUFC.
(g) The news that an OUFC retail outlet is to be opened in the City Centre has been welcomed by members. Questions received, asked if there might be discounts available on merchandise for season ticket holders and/or OxVox members?
(h) Season ticket sales. Any update on season ticket sales and if there might be any offers available that could boost numbers – half season tickets, tickets that could include food and programmes, ETC.
(i) South Stand Restaurant. Is the restaurant going to be open this season? Some members indicated that they would ‘buy a table’ for the season, but know information has been issued and indeed the official website is still referring to last season’s arrangements.
(j) In previous years, new sponsorship deals have been communicated to fans and this has been seen as motivational. Are there new sponsors this year and will they be made public? It is also noted – by members who are already sponsors – that they feel their businesses are not being recognised as they feel they should be.
(k) Oxford City. Lots of questions seeking clarification on what arrangements have been agreed between Oxford City and Oxford United. Has there been a totally separate company set up and how will any new link benefit OUFC?
(l) Training Ground. It has been noted that the deal at BMW has been extended, but only for the short term. What longer terms plans does the club have for a permanent training facility?
(m) Some members have asked if would be possible to set up a membership scheme that could see ‘discounts’, priority ticket arrangements and offers for fans who travel to away games.
(n) Open Day. Is the game at Oxford City the annual open day, or will there be something else organised as well?
(o) Are there any club initiatives for fans on the upcoming pre-season trip to Portugal?
(p) Is there any news on plans for The Priory Pub (OxVox will take this up with Firoz Kassam and the City Council).
It was discussed by those present what potential projects could OxVox get involved in the season.
This would be a follow on from various initiatives last year, including the highly successful ‘One of our Own’ campaign that raised over £10,000 for the club and saw hundreds of youngsters gain their first ever experience of OUFC.
Those present discussed a number of potential opportunities and it was decided to focus on community based projects that would have a knock on benefit to OUFC. The following potential projects were debated:
(a) The Asian Community
How might we develop stronger links and interest in OUFC with the large East Oxford Asian Community?
We will discuss this with the OUFC Community Trust and local Councils, ETC.
(b) Grandparents and Grandchildren
Idea to develop a scheme to encourage grandparents to bring their grandchildren to games. This could create new young fans whilst potentially reigniting interest from the older generation.
It is felt that this could be an excellent family initiative.
Could we subsidise tickets in the ‘old’ family area – which is now largely empty on most games, and maybe put a dedicated food truck in the open corner area for use by this group.
It was noted by JH that Sept 10th is National Grandparents Day and on the 9th Sept, we are at home to Gillingham. This could be the prefect weekend to launch the initiative?
This will be raised with OUFC over the coming weeks and the ‘logistics’ discussed.
9. Any Other Business
There was no other business to discuss at this meeting.
The meeting closed at 9.35pm.