OxVox COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: Friday 8th September 2017 (held at Oxford and County Bowls Club, Oxford)
Attendees: Colin Barson (CB) Matt Cavill (MC), Jem Faulkner (JF), Simon Bradbury SB), Trevor Lambert (TL), Maurice Earp (ME), Ali Wolfe (AW), Jemma Hayward (JH), Michael North (MN)
Apologies: Graham Butler (GB)
Start: 7.15pm. Finish. 9.50pm
1. Actions from the Minutes of the last meeting held on Friday 27th June 2017
(a) The minutes of the last meeting were agreed with no outstanding items.
2. Finance Updates
(a) The Trust bank balance remains in a healthy position with £11,000 in available funds.
(b) It was resolved by those present that the Trust cheque book should be held by GB. This had previously been proposed by Terry Winter (Treasurer) and GB. This needs to have been actioned by the next meeting in early October.
(c) Sponsorship monies (£350) for Oxford Blackbirds and £250 to the Kidlington girls football team have both been paid. Both sponsorships are for kit.
(d) The meeting discussed the potential to sponsor the OUFC youth team kit and potentially the OUFC ladies kit. MN will investigate and report back costs ASAP. It was resolved not to go above £750 for either sponsorship.
3. Membership and Communication
(a) TL took those present through the key points from the last meeting and updated the group on current activity:
(b) Membership now stands at 955, which is up from the 908 reported at the last meeting. It is hoped that the 1000 mark will be reached by Xmas at the very latest!
(c) As part of ongoing work with the OUFC safety team, it has been proposed that all OUFC full time/contracted stewards be offered Trust membership. This would provide an excellent benefit to the stewards, strengthen links with fans and give stewards the direct opportunity to engage with OxVox and see fans’ comments, through minutes ETC. Ian Mixter has already been approached about this initiative and he is in favour. It was resolved by those present to agree the plan and the individual names/details will be sent to TR and be registered as members when available from Ian Mixter.
(d) It was agreed by those present that the Trust will mark the achievement of reaching 1000 members with a prize draw for all members and give individual recognition to the 1000th member himself/herself. Various prizes were discussed and will be agreed ASAP. JF will also speak to the club to get their involvement.
(e) ME confirmed that we are up to date with membership packs being sent to new members. TL confirmed that the data base is also up to date and also that the web site is working well. A new tab will be added on the web site for ‘renewing members’. Also, all lapsed members will be contacted in the coming weeks.
The current membership make up is as follows:
- Adults 514 members (54% of total)
- Life 208 (22%)
- Juniors 134 (14%)
- Seniors 89 (9%)
- Young Persons 4 (<1%)
- NUS 3 (<1%)
- Corporate 3 (<1%)
(f) TL confirmed that the age profile of the OxVox membership has changed significantly over the last couple of years. 39% of all members are now under 35 years old and 19% are under 25. This is in marked contrast to 2014 when only 16% of members were under 35 and only 9% were under 25. This data has highlighted that the Trust now appeals to younger fans and the committee are delighted that this trend has occurred. It is felt that the various community initiatives and the Trust’s high social media presence have been significant contributory factors. Total Trust membership has doubled in a little over 2 years.
4. EFL Trophy
(a) The meeting discussed the results from the OxVox survey of fans’ views on the EFL Trophy.
(b) The OxVox view remains that there should not be Premiership or Championship club involvement in the competition and that the competition should be for League 1 and 2 clubs only. The club and Darryl Eales are also of this view.
(c) The Trust will continue to keep in close contact with other supporters’ Trusts, who, like OxVox, have lobbied their clubs. The Trust will monitor the situation and report back to members on any developments.
(d) The OxVox survey was completed by over 350 members and the consensus was that the Trust’s and the Club’s stance was the correct one, but that attending matches was a matter for personal choice and that OxVox should not advocate any form of boycott.
5. Stadium Updates
(a) The meeting was updated by JF on recent communications with Firoz Kassam (FK) and those present discussed at length the situation and next steps regarding the stadium.
(b) JF briefed the committee on recent telephone communications with Firoz Kassam. Frustratingly, we are still not at the stage of a firm deal and JF has told FK that this needs to happen, or he (FK) must formally confirm that he is not prepared to do anything. JF will formally write to FK by 18th Sept and will also speak with him on the phone.
(c) JF and Darryl Eales met with Ian Hudspeth (leader of Oxfordshire County Council) on the 31st August. The meeting discussed stadium options within the County. A separate meeting has been arranged for Darryl Eales and JF to meet Bob Price (Leader of Oxford City Council). The next committee meeting will discuss and agree next steps. The committee will also meet with Darryl Eales in early October.
(d) The meeting resolved to write to members and formally bring them up to date with the Kassam Stadium talks and that this should happen by the end of the month at the latest. The committee did however resolve to keep talking with FK, as it was felt that breaking off communication would serve no purpose and that keeping open dialogue was the sensible/professional approach to take and could still yield positive results.
(e) The meeting discussed the potential for a 4th stand (regardless of there not being an overall deal to purchase the stadium being in place). Those present debated the practicalities and costs of a good quality ‘temporary stand’ and how this could be funded (could it be fan/sponsorship funded?). This would be an important move if the club were to secure promotion. A circa 2000 seat stand would move total capacity close to 15,000. The meeting also resolved to investigate a ‘safe standing’ option. JF will speak with Darryl Eales and FK ASAP about this potential initiative.
(f) The meeting discussed the potential for an ‘Ultras’ section in the East Stand. This follows on from the meeting/forum with Ian Mixter – who was in favour of the idea and would support it.
(g) SB and AW are looking at the feasibility and potential for allocated tickets at away games that would ensure the ‘flag wavers’, Ultras and ‘singers’ & ‘standers’ could be together and therefore add atmosphere, but would not inhibit the view and potentially enjoyment of other fans. This will be followed up with the club ASAP and AW/SB/JF will also look to meet with the Ultras over the next couple of weeks.
(h) The meeting agreed a Kassam Stadium Issues communication link for fans feedback on any problems experienced at the stadium. A new, dedicated email address has been set up for this purpose. The email is: email@example.com We will communicate the initiative out to all fans via social media and members’ emails. CB/GB will co-ordinate responses and then formally write to FK/Firoka and the Club on an agreed periodic basis. This will be an ongoing plan designed to highlight stadium issues and get them rectified.
(i) The meeting discussed the CRTB which is due to expire next year. The meeting agreed that this important of legislation needs to be renewed. SB will contact Oxford City Council ASAP to ensure renewal is completed in a timely manner. No issues with renewal are envisaged.
6. OUFC Safety Team / Ian Mixter – fans forum
(a) The meeting discussed the recent forum held at OCFC on Thursday 10th August.
(b) Overall, the meeting was viewed as a success and it has established the opportunity and relationships for future, regular and constructive dialogue. It is proposed that a follow up forum will be held early in the New Year.
(c) It is recognised and evidenced from the first games of the season that there is clearly a more professional and interactive stewarding policy now in place. It is also noted that the uniforms are significantly better and that there are more ‘full time’ OUFC stewards in place. It is clear that positive progress has been made.
(d) However, one item that has caused significant interest and a degree of consternation from fans was the revelation of the Oxtales system of logging ‘risk’ fans’ details on an App which is held by the Stewarding team.
(e) Having spoken with fans, it was resolved that OxVox and the wider fan base require more details about this system and its ‘management’. There are many questions around – who decides who’s on the system, why are they on it, who has access to the data, how long is the data held, ETC, ETC, ETC.
(f) OxVox have taken advice from the FSF and Supporters Direct and will be writing to OUFC with the concerns and questions that are being raised. JF will deal with the formal communication in the next couple of weeks and report back to the committee and members/fans as soon as possible.
7. OxVox AGM and members Open Meetings
(a) It was agreed that the OxVox AGM will take place in March/April 2018.
(b) Ideas are sought for a guest to attend a members’ open meeting. It is hoped that this meeting will take place either just before, or just after, Christmas. The next committee meeting will discuss/agree the date and details.
8. General Updates
(a) JF took those present through the content of a seminar he attended in Darlington, which launched the Fans Not Numbers Initiative. Details will be sent out to members in due course for comment.
(b) It was noted that Joe Nicholls has stepped down from his role within the Yellow Army. JF will speak with Joe and see if his fan engagement expertise could be utilised and be helpful within OxVox.
(c) A date for the next committee meeting will be communicated shortly. The meeting will be in early/mid October.
9. Any other business
There being no other business to discuss, the meeting closed at 9.50pm.
The Bowls Club were thanked once again for their hospitality.