The minutes from the first meeting in August 2011 can be found by clicking here>>
The minutes from the second meeting in November 2011 can be found by clicking here>>
The minutes from the third meeting in March 2012 can be found by clicking here>>
The minutes from the fourth meeting in June 2012 can be found by clicking here>>
To find out more about the Liverpool FC Supporters' Committee and its members, click here>>
OCTOBER 2012 SUPPORTERS' COMMITTEE MEETING - MINUTES:
William Montgomery (WM) opened the fifth Supporters' Committee meeting by asking club officials and Committee representatives to observe a one-minute silence in memory of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster and in light of the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
WM led a discussion on whether, following the review meeting that took place at the end of the fourth Supporters' Committee meeting, it was the Committee's intention to base future meetings discussions on emerging themes identified from questions submitted by fans, through committee representatives, and answered by the club. It was agreed that this was the intention, but time constraints and some problems with the private forum the Committee uses to communicate with each other had prevented themes being identified prior for this meeting.
Karen Gill (KG) clarified that the questions presented today had all come from the forum and had been agreed by all members of the Committee before the meeting.
Ian Ayre (IA) advised that questions about players and transfers were beyond the remit of these meetings. However, he confirmed that he would answer such questions today in the spirit of what the meeting is about; namely, the club working with the Committee for the betterment of the club.
Q1 from Nasser Abbobakar representing International Fans (East): In light of problems with pending applications, will the club engage and consult with the Supporters' Committee before issuing changes to official branch matters and publish a process map explaining different stages of the application process?
WM welcomed Scott Richardson (head of CRM) to the meeting.
SR informed the Committee that his role as head of CRM was to help LFC understand more about their fans and how to engage and support them in the future.
There are two key areas of his remit as head of CRM - the membership scheme and the supporters' club network.
The club was doing its best to engage with the Committee, keeping them informed of any policy changes.
The club conducted a number of surveys in order to elicit feedback from branches; held one2one meetings with its supporter club branches and with members of the Committee who have relationships with the branches in order to determine what the club was doing well and where it could improve.
The club has over 200 supporter club branches across the world, a network that was set up over 15 years ago, with a focus on selling tickets to help fill Anfield to capacity.
The role of the branch network has now changed and is now more about helping fans engage with the club as a local community and less about acting as a ticket agency.
The club is keen to grow the supporter club network from those groups currently on the 400-strong waiting list.
The club now has a team of people to manage and support the branch network, with one person responsible for day-to-day contact, one heading up branch strategy and one heading up membership.
Difficult decisions have needed to be made, particularly concerning those branches that were solely involved in the distribution of tickets. The club has developed a governance process for existing branches that is scalable for new branches when they come on board.
The club will contact all branches on the waiting list over the course of this season and determine if they still want to run an official supporters' club branch in line with the governance that has been developed.
If the club gives official status, it needs to ensure that people running a branch do so in the right and proper way.
The club is happy to share details of the application process with the Committee and the rationale behind any decisions that are made in the future.
NA: The Committee is concerned that the approach is not being communicated and has a perception that engagement isn't taking place. After hearing the answer to the question today, the club is taking the right steps and moving in the right direction.
IA: The club identified some time ago that some branches were receiving as many tickets as they had members, and this had to change. The club still provides tickets to branches, but it is now on a much fairer basis.
Les Wright (LW): Is the size of the supporters group proportionate to the number of tickets it receives?
IA: Yes. There is an application and it is based on the number of members.
LW: Have you considered looking at group airline bookings etc.?
Tore Hansen (TH): It is very difficult for a branch to get into direct contact with an airline. We have done it but we need a solid fund to guarantee seats. There have been many frustrations, but many good things have happened in the last year. The club didn't know much about the network or how many members each branch had, but that has improved very much. We had a meeting with 17 of the European branches. We are going to have one with the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world branches as well. So things are certainly improving.
Action: SR to continue to meet with representatives of the Committee and keep them informed on matters relating to the official supporters' club network.
Q2 from Paul Aman representing LGBT Supporters: Following recent FA decisions about discrimination cases, there is an apparent lack of consistency concerning the same protected characteristic and between different protected characteristics. Will the club raise this matter with the FA?
IA: We wrote to the FA this week and only yesterday was the judgement issued on the John Terry case. Our legal team studied this yesterday so that we could understand what the legal standpoint was. One part is the consistency and the other is how the punishment given to John Terry differed to that given to Luis Suarez. The reason perhaps that Luis's ban was longer than that of John Terry's was that it was claimed to have been a repeated offence. Luis was accused of repeatedly abusing Patrice Evra, whereas, John Terry's was considered a single incident. We will share the response from the FA at the next meeting.
PA: It's very evident when you look at homophobic chanting by supporters at a match, there doesn't seem to be any sanction by the FA. Yet, if the same supporters were shouting racial chants, the team would be sanctioned, and rightly so. What I'm asking for is the protective between the characteristics.
Actions: 1. Club will raise that matter of protective characteristics with the FA. 2. The subject of homophobic behaviour and racial abuse and how LFC can deal with it locally to form the basis of a discussion between the club and the Committee at a future meeting.
Q3 from James Benson representing Anfield and Breckfield Supporters: As members of the European Healthy Stadia Network, will the club it considered the installation of a safe area next to the stadium for fans to lock up bicycles? In addition, what initiatives are in place to help fans to travel to the game in a 'greener' way, and will the club offer other incentives for 'green' fans?
Andrew Parkinson (AP): The club conducted a survey about six months ago with Mersey Travel and 90 per cent of people come to the games by car - no surprises in that. There are several other ways of getting to a game, namely; by public bus, soccer bus, or by park and ride. What we've got to work to over a number of years is to put in place a policy towards a number of initiatives for people who cycle. Obviously we are not blessed necessity with space, but we could share space with Everton on Stanley Park. We can certainly have a look into it over the next few months.
BH: I've heard we're part of an incentive called Reds Going Green.
AP: Reds Going Green is about us looking at incentives within the club to try to reduce energy and reduce our carbon footprint. There are lots of simple things that we've started in-house, such as reducing energy - gas, electric, water, etc.
Action: Keep fans updated on green initiatives via the website and other channels.
Q4 from Nasser Abbobakar representing International Fans (East): Will the club confirm it is planning a 2013 pre-season tour of Asia and, if so, which countries are being considered?
WM: I don't think it would be inappropriate to congratulate the club on getting a new sponsor in this economic climate. Maybe Ian can tell us how to get sponsors in the current climate and, if it doesn't compromise security or contracts, perhaps he could confirm a pre-season tour of Asia.
IA: We are going to Asia next summer, which isn't new news. When we signed with Standard Chartered we were contracted to travel to Asia in 2011 and 2013. We are currently negotiating with different venues, in different countries, and don't want to prejudice these discussions. We appreciate fans want to know early so they can book cheaper flights, but it's work in progress at the moment. As soon as we have a date and a sanction from the FAs in those countries, we will let the fans know.
NA: I've been asked this question a number of times as it's on Garuda's website and they have officially announced it. I understand that the dates will be announced once the club have confirmed the dates.
Action: Club to announce the 2013 pre-season tour to Asia as soon as practicable.
Q5 from Les Wright representing the Away Fans: In light of the recent incident involving fans travelling by coach to the game against West Bromwich Albion, will the club expedite the creation of a "platform" consisting of key fans, stewards and local police to improve the match day experience and health and safety of fans when travelling domestically and abroad?
AP: It is not appropriate to go into all the details around the incident, as we don't have jurisdiction over the decision-making that Staffordshire and West Midlands Police have in terms of what they did. Effectively there were a number of coaches that got held up on the way to The Hawthorns. Because of one incident with one coach, the match day experience for some was ruined. One of the things we do need to look at is the role of the supporter liaison officer. There will be an internal sub-committee that will be working on this. We do have to look at better ways of dealing with incidents when they happen outside of the club. We have made progress with away games in Europe, which are sometimes fraught with different problems. However, we need to do more for domestic games.
LW: These issues don't just happen abroad, but at home as well. We've got similar issues in the UK, where we have better police and steward support. Had the fans been keep on the coaches much longer, there could have been an overflow of aggression?
IA: Having a supporter representative travelling on the coaches might help the club know what's going on. An incident line for home and away games would also be a good idea.
JD: A hotline number would certainly work especially at Wembley for the number of issues disabled supporters have.
Action: The club to investigate better ways of communicating with travelling fans when incidents happen.
Q6 from Bob Humphries representing Season Ticket Holders: The club has been trialing a tiered pricing structure for cup games at Anfield and is considering introducing a similar structure for league games. In light of concerns raised by fans, will the club commit to working with the Committee prior to any changes being finalised?
WM: We've discussed tiered pricing structure around cup games and the club is considering applying the same policy around league games and, how someone at the halfway line has a better seat that someone at the goal end. The question is about whether the club will work with the Committee in moving this forward.
IA: We have produced a footprint of the Main Stand that takes in every seat. So if we ever to implement it on a league game basis, we would absolutely know which seats are in the footprint.
BH: Emails indicate that fans understand what is happening and are okay with it; they're not really against the principle. However, seats that are central but have an obscured view and poor facilities, this needs to be taken in to consideration.
Action: Club to keep the Committee updated on plans to implement a tiered pricing for league games.
Q7 from Bob Humphries representing Season Ticket Holders: This summer's transfer activity appears to have left the club short of strikers. Some supporters believe this is due to the owners trying to run the club with a five-hour US-UK time difference. Can the club explain how we ended up in this position and give reassurances to supporters in regards to what appears to be an 'arms length' control of the club?
IA: The distance and time difference have no bearing on the running of the club. The owners set the direction, budget, rules and processes and it is my job is to run Liverpool Football Club. I work with the manager and various other people around on the football side of the business and we go and sign players. Some we get, some we don't. But one thing that's played out in the media and will continue to play out in the media, probably forever, is the issue around Clint Dempsey. It is very simple, we tried to get that player, but we wouldn't go beyond our budget and some people won't like that, but that's the way it's got to be. We signed five new players, and re-signed four players. I'm going to run this club in a responsible way, in a way that's sustainable so we don't create debt that we can't support. We've got a strong team and they're here with me.
Q8 from Richard Pedder representing fans in the Merseyside Postal Code Area: Two years have passed since FSG completed its purchase of the club. Will the club bring fans up to date regarding a new or revamped stadium?
IA: Today, we are still in the situation where we're; following two parallel paths. Our preference is that we will stay at Anfield. But this has a challenges and constraints - acquisition of property and planning permission. The next solution is to build a new stadium on Stanley Park. It took two years to get Standard Chartered and Warrior to sponsor the club, so how could we possibly expect a time scale right now for a new stadium? It will not make sense for Liverpool Football Club to invest £100s millions for 15,000 new seats, as that's what you'll get without outside investment and sponsorship. It will take forever to pay off that debt which will eat into the transfer funds. We need a big partner and would need to know that we could acquire the extra land. Having 15,000 more seats at each match doesn't achieve much, if it's not making the club money. The right solution for the long-term benefit for the club will be announced when known. We're moving forward and hope it won't be too much further down the line before we're telling the world.
WM: I'm conscious of the time and I've heard IA answer this question on five different occasions and, by and large, he has not changed his answer. JC, could I kindly ask that you produce an official answer that the Committee can use when any of the fans they represent ask for an update on the stadium issue?
RP: The fans seem to think a new stadium is out because of the cost. There are obstacles at Anfield, which have been touched on, but the City Council have a say in this. Could we find out what the obstacles are and how we can deal with them?
IA: We work with a working group that involves the City Council, plus housing and resident committees. This isn't the football club working in isolation and not getting support. We've had the best support and relationships with these organisations that we've ever had and we're all working together to find the right solution.
JD: It might be worth putting on JC's statement that whatever we end up with will be better for all fans. Disabled plans have been promised better facilities for 10 years. So, so long as it won't stop us improving things in the meantime, this will be fine.
IA: One of the things we could debate in this forum is, whether we stay here or somewhere else, what would we like to see - a wish list of things we'd like to see improved and having the input from the Committee would be essential.
Actions: 1. JC to produce a communiqué for Committee members to use when pressed for a status update on the stadium issue. 2. Table a discussion at a future meeting to determine what fans would want from a new stadium or improved Anfield.
Q9 from Les Wright representing the Away Fans: Fans travelling to watch British clubs playing in Europe are penalised with over inflated ticket prices. Will the club identify a way to address this issue?
WM: The next question refers to inflated ticket prices for travelling fans and whether Liverpool fans are being used as 'cash cows'.
IA: I have to say I don't know that answer. I know how it relates to the UK and that we can set our own pricing for games at Anfield. The most we can charge a travelling fan is the same price as the highest ticket price in a similar location. I'll have to come back to you on this.
LW: We need a transparent ticketing structure, say, each club charging the same for each stage of the competition.
IA: I will take this idea to the European Clubs' Association (ECA) and try and get it on the agenda for the next meeting.
Action: Club to investigate and report back at the next meeting.
Q10 from Les Wright representing the Away Fans: There are deep concerns regarding Category A pricing being applied to all away games. Could 'Category A' clubs agree a price cap of £25 for visiting fans of lower category clubs and that this offer be extended to fans of 'Category A' clubs travelling to stadiums of lower category clubs? Will the club present this proposal at the next Premier League shareholders' meeting?
IA: We will raise this at the next ticket officers' meeting. I imagine the different capacities would be an issue in the sense that we get 5,000 tickets for Old Trafford when we play Manchester United. If there is more people going to one stadium than another then the loss of revenue will be different across clubs. The idea is a good one. However, we have to take it to the Premier League, as you can't collaborate with more than one club on any initiative to prevent monopolies being created.
LW: On the plus side, the smaller clubs are more family friendly to attend. If the average age of a Liverpool Football Club fan is 45, at smaller clubs it's younger. If we make a forceful enough statement, we could get more big clubs on our side and help resolve what is a very real issue.
Action: LFC to raise the issue at the next ticket officers' meeting.
Question 11 from Jeanette Dodd representing the Disabled Supporters: The current disabled toilet facilities at Anfield do not meet the needs of disabled supporters. When Anfield is redeveloped, or a new stadium built, will the club commit to installing a 'changing places' toilet facility and investigate having a similar facility located in the Family Park.
JC: The club is committed to providing a changing places toilet facility. In terms of looking at existing toilet facilities in Anfield there have been visits by the LDSA and none of our existing facilities are suitable. We've looked at getting a mobile unit, however the problem is storage around the stadium. The place where it would be located would be too far away for a disabled user to use. Short answer is yes. We will provide facilities in any new build or redeveloped Anfield. In the meantime, we have explored every option within the current stadium and it's simply not feasible at this time.
JD: Will you look at mobile facilities for families with disabled children who may be using the Family Park? Liverpool City Council has two such mobile units.
Action: The club to look at providing mobile toilet facilities in the family park.
Question 12 from Sam Armstrong representing the Female Fans: Will the club outline any plans for Liverpool Ladies over the coming year?
JC: Liverpool Ladies Football Club has now been incorporated into Liverpool Football Club We've restructured the way the ladies train and developed their sports nutrition. We're going to reshape the squad in the November transfer widow and move the team to Halton Stadium in Widnes, which offers greater facilities for fans and better transport links.
SA: My question was a very general which I wanted tabled so the information could be minuted and communicated to the fans.
Question 13 from Damien Moore representing International Fans (West): In light of the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel regarding safety issues at football grounds, what procedures does the club have in place to ensure stadiums in the UK and Europe where the club will play have a current ground safety certificate and that issues regarding suitable policing/security arrangements have been reviewed by the club prior to each game?
AP: It's the responsibility of the host club to ensure, with their safety team, that they have an effective ground safety certificate, which is endorsed in the UK by the local authority and Sporting Events, the governing body. It Europe it is the responsibility of the host club, which, in turn, has to be endorsed by UEFA. These regulations might not be the same as they are the UK, but nevertheless clubs have to have safety regulations in place. If visiting a club prior to a game, LFC saw something that would put the safety of our fans at risk; we would not want our fans to go there.
IA: Immediately after the draw for the group stage of the Europa League the club's safety team and club secretary visited every stadium and conducted an advanced risk assessment and looked at everything from hotel routes from the airport, segregation, stadiums, turnstiles, etc. All clubs abroad have to comply with a minimum safety standard, but were necessary, LFC demands higher standards. Our stadium manager attends the UEFA stadium committee meetings and is influential is pressing for change.
Closing remarks by WM, KG and IA:
WM: All the questions were asked, and, in being answered, we had more debate than we've ever had before. This just emphasises why discussions rather than Q&A might be the best way forward. I've highlighted four potential discussion points for our next meeting.
KG: We've lost three members recently owing to the pressures of arranging time off to attend meetings, only for the meeting to be cancelled at short-notice. They also felt that they could not do the role justice. We are now down to 15 members and in the process of restructuring and merging constituencies in groups of up to three.
IA: I'd like to have an open discussion about the stadium; what we would like and what is most important. So, when the club goes to market with its chosen solution, people feel we are doing it for the right reasons. We have a commercial need to make it work financially, but it's got to be something that people want. This group represents all fans and gaining your input is an important part of that process.