The LFC Supporters' Committee held their second meeting on Saturday November 5 at Anfield and put their questions to senior club officials.
Here are the minutes from the second meeting between Liverpool Football Club and the Liverpool Football Club Supporters' Committee.
To find out more about the Liverpool FC Supporters' Committee and its members, click here>>
To read the minutes from the first meeting, held on August 13, click here>>
To read the minutes from the third meeting, held on March 24, click here>>
Opening remarks by Ian Ayre, Managing Director of Liverpool Football Club
The Committee was established to be collaborative and for us to all work together. I have been very encouraged by what has happened since the first meeting. I've seen a lot of people in and around our business having other meetings and seen a lot of the dialogue that has gone on. This is absolutely what this committee is all about. The meetings, questions and answers are all important, but what is also important is the dialogue, effort and the time that is expended outside of the meetings. I've been very encouraged so far.
Opening remarks by Karen Gill, Chair of the Supporters' Committee
I would like to echo Ian's comment about collaboration and the positive feedback received. We have handled over 10,000 emails and whilst a percentage are between ourselves, the majority are to and from the fans we represent which means there is a lot of communication going on between members and the fans they represent. We have also held two conference calls between us since the last meeting, which has helped the learning process. As we are learning about procedures and processes we will be able to pass this information onto the fans and supporters. People have met with their points of contact at the club and have been very positive about the meetings they have had; which is really encouraging.
Question 1 from Jeanette Dodd representing the Disabled Supporters
Disabled supporters, who have contacted me, are becoming increasingly frustrated by having reduced or, at times, no access to someone at the Club who can deal with disability ticketing queries and sales. Dialing the premium rate ticketing hotline does not guarantee that a disabled supporter will be able to purchase tickets, as disabled ticketing issues can only be dealt with by a disability ticketing adviser, not general ticketing staff. Premier League guidance on this matter (D4 Ticketing Issues) clearly states, "...some clubs have a named contact to deal with disabled people's ticketing issues. This may well be a reasonable adjustment for them to make. However, clubs should not rely on that person alone as a source of information for disabled supporters, as that would mean that disabled supporters are given fewer options when buying tickets than non-disabled supporters". In relation to ticketing arrangements, can the Club improve on this situation to ensure that it is providing disabled supporters with the same level of service as they provide to non-disabled supporters?
Points raised: The phone service is not charged at premium rates but standard rates from a BT landline. The Club has three people who are an established support and deal with disabled ticketing. We operate over two sites, seven days a week and this spreads the operatives quite thinly, especially during holidays and staff absence. The current Ticket booking system does require tight control and this is our main challenge. However, the team has created a staff guide for the general queries and this is now available to all staff. If they can't deal with the enquiry and our dedicated support is not available they should take details and arrange a call back so supporters are not paying for a further call, we think this is a reasonable compromise. We work closely with our Disability Liaison Officer who is satisfied that we are meeting our obligations. We expect the next bulk sale to be a better experience for all purchasing tickets, particularly as we have set aside a day dedicated to the sale of tickets to disabled supporters.
Actions agreed: Monitor adherence to the new staff guide by all sales staff, not just the three support team members and determine satisfaction from disabled fans following the forthcoming dedicated sales day.
Progress report: Staff guides have been re circulated. All staff members are directed to handle queries where they can with a call back system in place when one of the specialist are required - this reduces the cost and inconvenience to callers. FAQ have been added to the Help Centre section on the website making it much easier to find / self serve. Sold out messages are now on the phones again reducing need to hang on / wait for an Advisor.
Question 2 from Lewis Cubbin representing the U18s
Why does Liverpool Football Club class children of thirteen years old as adults under the membership scheme?
Points raised: The scheme we run is relatively new. Junior Membership is recommended for 12 and under due to the benefits we offer, which includes a draw for attendance at a junior soccer school. In addition, research carried out by LFC, and other clubs, revealed that once a junior member becomes a teenager, they want to be treated as an adult supporter.
Actions agreed: Club to carry out research in the New Year to help build the scheme for 2012/13 to determine if there is an appetite for, say, a 13-16 year old scheme.
Progress report: Research has taken place and reviewed across members/non members. From 2012/13 the scheme will be extending to include up to 16-year-olds.
Question 3 from Laurie Whitehead representing the Corporate Fans
Can the Club explain why Thomas Cook Sport is offering a Chelsea home match ticket with a room at the Malmaison for £616 when a room only at the Mailmaison is only £149, in effect, making the match ticket £467?
Points raised: It is critical for the Club to generate revenue in order compete domestically and internationally. Thomas Cook is just one example of a great sponsorship deal. Anfield has a capacity of 45,500 and the match-break products referred to in the question amount to about 180 tickets a game, which is very small in the scheme of things. The products are very popular with fans and Thomas Cook reports that they could sell three times as many opportunities over and above what they currently offer. It is essential that sponsors get a return on their investment, as this is vital to the success of the Club.
Actions agreed: None.
Question 4 from Sam Armstrong representing the Female Fans
Will the Club acknowledge the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough?
Points raised: The Club meets with the Hillsborough Family Support Group, with whom the Club has had an association since the tragedy, regularly. What is clear is that there is difference of opinion between those serving on the Family Support Group and those serving the interests of the Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough. Whilst the Club would like to lend its support to help resolve these issues, the Club is not best placed, nor is it the right time to do so with the independent report into the tragedy is close to being published. In the meantime, the Club has no problem supporting any group on such an important campaign, and has provided acknowledgements and promoted activities, such as the justice tours. However, in the interests of harmony between the groups, the Club would like to encourage members of the Committee, who represent such a cross section of the fan base, to lend its support by acting as facilitators to a meeting that may lead to a resolution.
Actions agreed: : Sam Armstrong, who originally raised the question on 5 November, will report back to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough and suggest a facilitated meeting between them and Hillsborough Family Support Group to establish some common ground between the groups.
Question 5 from Les Wright representing the Away Fans
In a straw poll of 50 away fans, £30 was considered to be a fair price to pay for an away ticket and £50 to be a price they considered too high to pay. Given that Bolton fans will pay £15 to see their team at West Brom and Liverpool fans pay £42 (an increase of 180%), will it take a boycott of away games by Liverpool fans to bring prices down in what is supposed to be a Premier League playing field?
Points raised: Discussions with Man Utd have revealed that their travelling fans are subjected to the same pricing structure, so LFC fans are not alone. We can't set the prices charged by other clubs. The big clubs have made it known to the Premier League that there is a problem in this area and LFC will do its best to seek clarity and positive action. There is a Premier League Shareholders' Meeting on 17 November and we will ask that this matter is included on the agenda.
Actions agreed: Provide feedback to the Committee once addresses at the Premier League Shareholders' Meeting.
Question 6 from Jon Hooks representing the members of All Red
Can the Club improve the current information on how to obtain tickets? A comprehensive guide that explains how to obtain tickets for each type of fan (season ticket holders, membership scheme, disabled supporters, etc.)? Fans do not understand the system which often leads to confusion on how to best access tickets.
Points raised:This is an area were the Club can work with the Committee to pull all the information together and create a process and information stream that works seamlessly for the fans. The Committee has set up a sub-committee to look at ticketing issues and will be pleased to work with the club to create something new - either a document or an interactive web-based user guide.
Actions agreed:Club to meet with representatives of the sub-committee to review what is currently available and to create something new.
Progress report: The Club will continue to meet with "Sub Committee" on ongoing basis to discuss and create information guide as well as assess ideas how to best communicate on the website.
Question 7 from Tore Hansen representing the Official Supporters Clubs
This season the Club had two 'bulk sales' of tickets. Many have problems planning months ahead - and it is also a lot of games to pay for twice per season. Will the Club consider four sales instead of two next season?
Points raised: The Club made a fair number of changes to how tickets are sold and acknowledges that some supporters felt these changes could have been communicated in a better way last summer. The Club is keen to conduct a survey after the forthcoming concession day and second bulk sale. As there have been a couple of improvements applied since the first bulk sale it will be interesting to see how these have been received before conducting the survey prior to the start of next season. The sale of tickets is an emotive subject, but the Club remains committed to providing the best level of service that meets the needs of the majority of fans.
Actions agreed: Club to conduct a survey before the end of the season to determine overall satisfaction levels with the current process and to identify ongoing improvement opportunities.
Progress report: Research was conducted in January. Feedback is now being pulled together and an action plan being prepared.
Question 8 from Abu Nasir representing the Ethnic Minority Supporters
Can we please prepare actions points for tackling inequality (racism, homophobia, disability issues, etc.) and start publicising this and communicating this to a wider fan base? This would require monitoring to assess progress against the action points.
Points raised: The Club needs to make it more obvious to fans about what positive steps are being taken in this area. For example, there is an anti-racism hotline for fans to report such abuses and this will be expanded to include the reporting of incidents relating to homophobia. The Club is committed to take all necessary action to stamp out such abuses by banning perpetrators from the ground. The Club is working on a new signage scheme to remind supporters that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and to publicise the hotline number. There appears to be a growing number of 'young' fans engaging in anti-social behaviour when travelling to away games. There are some positive things the Club can do in this area, such as at the point of purchasing a ticket, fans can be reminded of their duty to act responsibly or face the consequences of being banned from future fixtures.
Actions agreed: Publicise the good work the Club is doing in this area; look at how the Club can help stamp out anti-social behaviour by some of the travelling away fans.
Progress against Actions:
Tannoy Announcement - at each of our home games a tannoy announcement is read out which outlines the club's stance against racism, homophobia and discrimination in any form. This is read out prior to kick off and during half-time; stating that supporters may receive a lifetime ban from Anfield if they engage in any such behaviours. The same message is also printed on the back of every match-day programme.
LED Advertisement -the message of 'Kick Racism out of Football'; the slogan of Kick it out; football's anti-discrimination organisation is shown several times throughout the match. This takes place prior, during and after the game.
Equality 4 All - On the 2nd December 2011, Charlie Adam attended an Equality 4 All session at Wavertree Sports Park. The session involves young people from the Chinese Pagoda Community Centre. Charlie took part in a short passing drill with the young people and a Q+A session which allowed the young people to ask Charlie about his playing career, the importance of football in his life, and his experiences on the pitch. On the 18th January 2012, José Enrique and Sebastian Coates visited St Silas Primary School in Toxteth. They also took part in a coaching session and hosted a Q+A session in Spanish to help with the children's language studies.
Both of these events were broadcast on LFC TV, published on the LFC website, in the match day programme, in LFC Weekly and covered in the Liverpool Echo. The event at St Silas was also covered by Premier League Productions which broadcasts in over 100 countries.
Kick It Out Northern Seminar - On the 24th January 2011, Liverpool FC hosted the Kick It out Northern Seminar at Anfield. This was led by Kick It Out, who used the seminar to discuss the Weeks of Action Campaign, Equality Standard, and the organisation's strategic plan for the next year. This was attended by a host of different clubs, including Man City, Man Utd, Wigan, Tranmere, Sheffield Utd and Everton.
Signage Project - the Club completed a stadium signage project in March 2012 which involved anti-discriminatory messages in and around Anfield. The messages demonstrate the Club's stance against discrimination and specifically focus on racism and homophobia as behaviours that are not tolerated.
Show Racism The Red Card Event - In March 2012, LFC hosted an event organised by Show Racism the Red Card which involved around 150 young people from around the city. The event consisted of workshops and a Q&A that focused on the different types of racism and discrimination that can occur both on and off the football pitch. Employees from Show Racism the Red Card and LFC attended the event along with Jay Spearing and former players Howard Gayle and John Barnes to show their support. This event was broadcast on LFC TV, published on the LFC website, in the match day programme and in LFC Weekly.
Youth Hate Crime Conference - Through the Club's relationship with the Anthony Walker Foundation, LFC will be hosting the annual Anthony Walker Foundation Youth Hate Crime Conference at the end of March 2012. This is a full day event which will involve around 120 young people from different schools around the City. Participants will be introduced to the conference by keynote speakers Gee Walker, mother of Anthony Walker, and Amal Fashanu, niece of Justin Fashanu.
Question 9 from Bob Humphries representing Season Ticket Holders
At the moment tickets may be 'sold out' at the window, yet still available 'online'. This creates confusion. Can we have one combined system?
Points raised: The same system is used for the purchase of tickets, whether this is in person or online, for home or away games. There should be no issues relating from the sale of home tickets at the windows and the Club will need to take this away to review what, if any, changes need to be made. When it comes to the sale of away tickets, problems can arise from the fact that we don't print the ticket here, it is supplied pre printed to us, so whilst we can be flexible with home games we have to try making sure that we have away tickets in each location for the sales, sometimes one sales channel will sell out before another. The Club is fully aware that improvements can be made in this area. The focus has been on getting the tickets for home games right and with this now running well, the attention will shift to improving the sale of tickets for away games.
Actions agreed: Club to conduct a review of away ticket sales, involving the Committee where appropriate, so improvements can be identified and implemented.
Progress report: Club has met with several supporters and is now finalising the plan for next season with the hope of trialing some of the solutions this season.
Question 10 from Jan Brown representing the Family Supporters
As part of our move to be family friendly, can we provide areas for families with young children to have time out for a short time during the match and wait until the crush is over at the end of the match?
Points raised: This is an area the Club is investigating to see what can be done. However, with the physical restrictions in terms of space available for such purposes. There is a family area in the Anfield Road Stand, but the Club recognizes that more can be done to improve the match day experience for families. With Andrew Parkinson, taking up the new position of Operations Director, there is a great opportunity to review what innovative ideas can be identified and acted upon. The Committee made a point of thanking the Club for setting a day aside dedicated to the sale of family tickets.
Actions agreed: Meeting to be arranged between the Club and representatives of the Committee to consider what can be achieved within the limitations imposed by the current stadium.
Progress report: Our stadium management team has agreed that supporters in the family section are allowed to remain seated until the crowd has cleared and this should be is communicated within the family area section at the end of the match by the stewards. The Club is reviewing the whole match day experience for families and looking at enhancements to such areas as signage, menus, entertainment, and assessing if other areas around the ground can be made more family friendly. The Club recently invited a research company to experience a match day at Anfield with a brief to identify areas in and around the ground where the family experience could be enhanced. Their findings will be presented to the club by the end of March 2012. The Club will consider these findings alongside our existing activities together with mystery shopper exercises, focus groups and surveys. The Club will continue to work closely with Jan Brown and supporters to ensure that the family experience at Liverpool Football Club is excellent.
Question 11 from Paul Amann representing the LGBT Supporters
Will the Club sign up to the government's charter for action on homophobia in sport?
Points raised: The Club met with representatives of the Committee following the inaugural Committee Meeting. Best practices were shared and the Club has since met with Brighton and Hove Albion, Man City and the FA. What the Club is trying to achieve is better understanding of the issues involved. The Club is committed to signing up to the government's charter and it is hoped that this will be achieved before the end of the year. The Club is keen to go beyond the requirement of just signing the Charter and wants to make this a part of a wider good practice initiative. The Committee made a point of thanking the Club for taking the matter seriously by the commitments given and the actions taken.
Actions agreed: Continue discussions with other clubs and the Committee before signing the charter before the end of the year.
Progress report: All 20 Premier League clubs signed up to the Charter for Action on the 2nd February. We have developed our work in this area by demonstrating our support for the Football v Homophobia campaign with a programme and website piece during the fixture against Brighton in the FA Cup. In addition to this, and with Paul Amann, the club hosted a Football v Homophobia tournament, which involved a diverse group of teams taking part in the tournament. This was held at LFC Academy.
Question 12 from Aaron Cardoso representing the UK Supporters
Are there any plans to increase the capacity of the park and ride system? In short, are there any plans to look into easing the burden of the average travelling fan both financially and logistically? This question was tabled by Karen Gill in the absence of Aaron Cardoso.
Points raised: It would appear that the park and ride schemes are restricted to the Soccer Bus scheme only, which is not accessible to disabled fans. Problems first appeared to exist with this scheme in relation to queues and crowd control, but following a review, these are now being addressed. Research needs to be conducted to determine what else can be done in this area, the limitations of which are not just restricted to LFC, but the City as a whole. There is a real problem with people travelling by train and consideration should be given to this group of travelling supporters in addition to those travelling to the ground by car.
Actions agreed:Club to meet with the City Council to determine what additional services and assistance can be provided.
Progress report: There are numerous options for travelling to Anfield on match day. By rail into Lime Street and then linking up with the Soccer Bus system as well as bus routes across the city. Additionally there are park and Ride facilities. The most recent of these is the Gilmoss Park and Ride which is situated on the East Lancs road. Many of these are well used however the Park and Ride are not being used as perhaps it might. We have met up with Mersey Travel to look at this. Research is being carried out with supporters to understand traveling habits and to look at how better take up could be encouraged. Areas being investigated will be looking at pricing as well as overall awareness of what is available to the travelling supporter.
Question 13 from Nasser Abbobakar and Damien Moore representing International Fans (East and West)
Many fans have an issue with the bulk buying system for tickets, for international fans, especially those travelling from different continents. How can the Club help with a 'one game' ticket package?
Points raised: It is possible to get one ticket for one game through the existing system. For example, you can buy a ticket in July for a game in December. This is a significant improvement on the past, when tickets were often released only a matter of weeks before a game. The task for the Club is to clearly explain to fans that require a one-off ticket how the process works and then deliver their ticket or experience in a seamless manner. The key will be to keep this explanation simple, particularly as English may not be the first language of the fan concerned. Google Translate was suggested as a 'plug-in' that might help makes the process easier in the short-term, but a graphical interface was considered to be a good long-term solution.
Actions agreed: Review the process from the fans perspective and implement a system that is easy to understand and seamless in its delivery.
Progress report: Following the survey which has gone out mid March to members, review the results and assess a communication process.
Question 14 from Nasser Aboobakar and Damien Moore representing International Fans (East and West)
What is the Club's policy of appointing branches to be recognized as an official supporters club? Why is the moratorium in place and what is required to get it lifted? Can the Club put any information about this out?
Points raised: The Club spent this season putting in a structure for branches and providing dedicated staff to manage the branch network. It is the Club's intention to review the branch waiting list and then look to expand the current network. It's important that the Club gets this right in order to support the branch network as it expands in the future. To this end, a member of staff has been recruited to manage the branch network and a formal review of how the networks can be utilised for the benefit of fans will be concluded before the end of the season.
Actions agreed: Feedback to the Committee on completion of the review.
Progress report: Resource has been recruited and will start work on Supporters Club activity on 2/1/2012. A Supporters Club survey was sent to all Branches on 13/01/2012. Feedback from this will enable a new branch policy to be developed. This will include criteria for starting an Official LFC Supporters Club branch including governance and location requirements. All on waiting list will be contacted in the closed season and advised of the criteria with the aim of expanding the network in a controlled manner.
Question 15 from Andrew Moran representing General Admission
Will the club commit to having a set minimum number of seats pre-allocated to general admission for every home game?
Points raised: General Admission is a term used as a 'catch-all' for tickets that are in danger of not being sold. There appears to be a base of around 500 tickets per game that are made available to general admission. However, this figure can move markedly and the Club is not in a position to commit to making a set number of tickets available to general admission for each game. The question and points it raises are valid and the Club would like to take this away so it can form part of the ongoing 'best-practice' review of the ticketing processes adopted by the Club. The Club remains committed to communicate the numbers of tickets available to general admission prior to each game. However, because of the nature of allocations being returned and buy-backs coming in just prior to the game, the start point is likely to be low one that could rise considerably days prior to each game.
Actions agreed: Club to review current process, communicate how it works and identify any areas where it can be improved.
Progress report: This is continuing to be reviewed and updates will be shared once agreed.
Question 16 from James Benson representing Anfield and Breckfield Supporters
At the Valencia friendly game, a different price structure was used across each stand. Will the Club be using the structure in the future?
Points raised: The Valencia game was used to trial a new pricing structure and much was learned from the experience. It only seems fair that seats on the halfway line are more expensive than those in the corner of the stadium, perhaps with a restricted view as well. The price banding adopted by LFC is very narrow when compared with other Premier League clubs, so it is highly appropriate that this should form part of a review so the right balance is achieved. The Club is keen to identify a workable solution before the end of the year, so that the result can be communicated to fans in the New Year, before being implemented in time for the start of next season.
Actions agreed:Following this trial, a review will be conducted and any changes will be communicated through all available means.
Progress report: This is continuing to be reviewed and updates will be shared once agreed.
Question 17 from Jon Hooks representing the Official Membership
Currently, the loyalty required for the first phase of bulk ticket is 13 attended home games. Can the Club consider adding additional tiers of loyalty e.g. 10 games, 7 games, etc.
Points raised: Half of all available tickets in the members' sale are allocated based on previous attendance. This year it was 13 games. The Club is fully aware that some supporters can't attend that many games or just want to attend their first game, so the second part of the sale is open to all fans. The Club can't really drop or stagger the loyalty any further as it would result in a closed shop; as you drop through the number of games attended, the number of supporters involved increases dramatically, even the gap between 13 and 12 is relatively large; there are simply not enough tickets to satisfy demand. In short, the Club believes that this is the fairest way process to satisfy the majority.
Actions agreed: The system will remain subject to regular review and if improvements are identified they will be considered and implemented where appropriate.