Meeting Minutes of the All Together Town (ATT) Panel - 10.12.2020

Thursday, 10th December 2020 - 19:00-20:30

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Note: These minutes were taken by the Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association (HTSA), not Huddersfield Town Association Football Club.


Present

Club representatives: Andy Booth (Club Ambassador); Mark Devlin (CEO); David Threlfall-Sykes (Marketing & Communications Director); Andy Ward (Commercial Director); Ann Hough (Operations Director); Robyn Kennerdale (Supporter Services Manager); Rachel Taylor (Supporter Services Executive); Dan Cooper (Ticket Office Manager)


Also present: Brian Slater (KSDL Stadium Safety Officer)


Fan Groups: HTSA (4); Cowshed Loyal (1); Huddersfield Town Disabled Supporters’ Club (1)


+ 5 panel members


Agenda

Outstanding items from 23.09.20

1. Supporter Representation/Input on the Safety Advisory Group (SAG)

2. Governance Reform (‘Sustain The Game’ Proposals)

3. Stadium Shares


New items:

4. Return to Stadium Protocols and At-Risk Fans

5. Disability Access Officer

6. iFollow

7. Virtual Crowd Noise

8. AOB


1. Supporter Representation/Input on the Safety Advisory Group (SAG)

Ann Hough explained that, as the stadium safety licence is in the name of KSDL, the Club (and also the Huddersfield Giants) are guests and it is not their responsibility to invite other parties (such as a fan’s representative). She also advised that there is confidential information discussed within the meeting that wouldn’t be appropriate to share with supporters (security/anti-terrorism issues, for instance).


HTSA said that a lot of other clubs have fans' representatives at SAG meetings—such representation is in fact recommended by the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and Football Supporters' Association (FSA). HTSA noted that if anything needs to be discussed that isn’t appropriate for certain parties then the relevant representatives can leave the meeting. HTSA further raised the point that fan representation would benefit all parties through better communication and greater transparency, something which the Chairman, Phil Hodgkinson, has been particularly vocal about via the national media when discussing the lack of communication from the government concerning the decision to halt return to stadia test events.


Mark Devlin agreed to provide meeting minutes going forward (with any sensitive items redacted).

Brian Slater also said he would raise the issue of fan representation at the next SAG meeting.


2. Governance Reform (‘Sustain The Game’ Proposals)

HTSA asked for any feedback as to whether the Club is supportive of the campaign. Mark Devlin advised that there is currently nothing to report, other than that the matter is with the Chairman at the moment.


3. Stadium Shares

HTSA asked whether the current Chairman will be putting the stadium shares into a trust, as was originally proposed by the previous Chairman, Dean Hoyle. HTSA are aware that the current Chairman is under no obligation to do so but are keen to know either way.


Mark Devlin advised that he can’t guarantee that the stadium shares will be put into a trust, although he believes that it’s the direction that they’re currently heading towards.


4. Return to Stadium Protocols and At-Risk Fans

The Ticket Office said that all season card holders will be asked to provide various information via e-mail or phone to help the club coordinate the return of fans to the stadium, which is likely to be capped at 2,000 initially once Kirklees has restrictions relaxed to Tier 2 levels. Season card holders will need to provide information regarding members of their support bubble and whether they have specific accessibility requirements or not. It was also confirmed that those supporters who live outside Kirklees in a Tier 3 region will be manually blocked from applying for tickets until the area they live in is in Tier 2 or lower.


HTSA asked which parts of the stadium are likely to be open first and if the platform for disabled users in the Kilner Bank will be included.


Brian Slater advised that the Riverside Lower and entire South Stand will be used to accommodate the first 2,000 fans. These areas were chosen to best ensure social distancing as well as efficiency related to stewarding. The Kilner Bank platform will not open initially.


5. Disability Access Officer (DAO)

Supporter Services advised that the Club doesn’t have any plans to appoint a dedicated Disability Access Officer at the moment. The Club had a DAO in the in the Premier League as part of licensing requirements. However, the responsibilities of a DAO are currently covered by existing employees and there are plans to appoint a Disability Liaison Officer (DLO) in the future.


6. iFollow

Panel members raised the issue about how the BBC Radio Leeds commentary is often out of sync with the picture. David Threlfall-Sykes advised that this is due to the way that radio commentators commentate on the game rather than any technical problem with iFollow. He also advised that the most recent game (Sheffield Wednesday at home) was the first so far this season where no issues were reported by any supporters and that the biggest difficulty initially was getting codes out to season card holders and helping them navigate the iFollow interface.


HTSA asked whether there any plans to improve iFollow.


David Threlfall-Sykes advised that there are currently no expectations that iFollow will be needed next season although it is being continually evaluated.


A panel member asked if supporters will still be able to watch away games via iFollow next season even if all stadiums are operating as normal. David Threlfall-Sykes advised that the current broadcast deal was amended slightly due to Covid to accommodate fans being able to watch all games from home via iFollow or similar. Although not sure, he said that he suspects that will revert back to the original terms of the broadcast deal once stadia are fully open. Mark Devlin says it is a topic for discussion for a future EFL meeting as a couple of other clubs have already raised that issue.


Panel members suggested a compromise would be to allow supporters to watch away games via iFollow or similar only when the ticket allocation for away fans sells out. This would also avoid the risk of away fans trying to buy tickets in the home sectors for matches where away tickets are oversubscribed.


7. Virtual Crowd Noise

A panel member asked whether the club had considered adding artificial crowd noise while the stadium has restrictions on fans attending.


David Threlfall-Sykes advised that there has been no crowd noise in any of the stadiums so far this season and he hadn’t been made aware of any supporter demand for it at the John Smith’s, which Mark Devlin confirmed. In addition, David Threlfall-Sykes noted that Carlos Corberan would probably prefer less artificial noise as he likes to constantly communicate and direct his players throughout each match.


8. Any Other Business

The ATT Panel Terms of Reference are due to be published on the Club website in the coming weeks. Also, Andy Booth asked for any members to volunteer to resign from the panel to ensure that the requirement of a 25% turnover of panel members every year is met. A lot of other supporters are keen join the panel in future.


The next meeting is likely to be the end of February/beginning of March 2021, although Brian Slater suggested another meeting after the first game involving fans (whenever that may be) to ensure supporters are able to feedback their experience of being back in the stadium to the Club.

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