Present – Geoff Gibbs (Secretary), Jenny Dowden (Treasurer), John Carroll, Peter Keen, Mervyn Stokes-Geddes, Keith Berners, Fiona Currey and Amanda Harper-Ives.
Apologies – these were received from Lloyd Briscoe – Chairman (work) and Mark Hollis (new baby). In the absence of the Chairman, Geoff Gibbs chaired the meeting.
Draft AGM notes – 3rd July 2012
Geoff presented the draft notes from the last AGM. He apologised for their lateness and asked that the Committee accept his final draft (this had been recently circulated to all). He asked if any amendments were necessary but there were none. He said that these would not be formally approved until the 2013 AGM but he recommended that they were published as a “final draft – pending AGM approval” on the SA website. He referred to the two actions mentioned in his draft.
1. Peter Keen to invite Geoff Millman to help the SA Committee where feasible (particularly with updating the out of date suppliers list), and
2. Mark Hollis to design the wording for a poll to go on the SA website re ideas from members for an end of season event.
The first of these was underway but the second needed addressing soon so that any feedback received from the membership could be acted upon ideally in March and certainly well before the end of the season.
The next item was an opportunity for each of the officers to update the rest of the Committee on anything of interest in their respective areas.
Chairman – in his absence Lloyd had asked Geoff to mention a few things. These were:
1. Lloyd had purchased a vinyl banner for displaying on match days at the SA Hut and also for the Committee to take to external events to promote the SA. This partly addressed a commitment made by Lloyd at last year’s AGM re “road shows”, etc. Lloyd was intending to also purchase a trestle table and small pop up gazebo.
2. Lloyd wanted the Committee to decide on which annual events (besides Stevenage Day) the SA should attend. It was likely the SA would have to pay a small charge to attend and have a table but we might be able to double up effectively with the Club’s Community team.
3. Lloyd said that the SFC’s SA was becoming prominent in the Football Supporters Federation (FSF). He had strengthened links with supporters of other clubs. He passed feedback from his attendance at these to Mervyn for inclusion in the monthly enewsletter.
4. Lloyd’s mission of researching Boro’s (and before) history was gaining momentum. He had given presentations to a number of local organisations including the Local History Group at Stevenage Museum. He volunteered to do the same presentation at a SA event possibly one on a Saturday evening after a home match. This could be made available to anyone although he acknowledged it might have somewhat restricted appeal.
Secretary – under his own item Geoff had little to report other than update the rest of the Committee with the latest membership numbers for the season (905). In total this was around 100 less than last year but this was still a good achievement bearing in mind, unlike recent years, there had been no FA Cup run and the chances of a play-off place were fast declining. He mentioned that the SA had sold over £550 of shop stock at the SA Hut on match days. Although this was smaller than he would have liked (partly because the absence of any lighting in the Hut meant it wasn’t possible to sell stock at evening games) this was nevertheless additional income to the Club that the shop probably wouldn’t have taken.
Treasurer – Jenny gave an overview of financial issues. She mentioned that £7500 had already been made on the 50/50 draw but that she felt the SA were losing sales because of a poor supplier. A new sponsor was needed and she was keen to return to the original printer. And disappointingly there appeared to be some areas for potential conflict with the commercial side of the Club. She then mentioned the Christmas visit by the SA, Boro Bear and certain players to the Lister hospital. This had incurred costs of £300 but was a great promotional event for the SA.
Last season the SA had donated £30k to the Club but the presentation of this had been poor with little build-up from Andrew Green. In fact there hadn’t been anyone from the Club seemingly willing to take receipt of the cheque before Marcus Taverner kindly did so. It was thought that the SA ought to get more publicity and local press coverage for doing this. There was debate about the likely size of the contribution this year. At this stage of the season it was thought £20k was most likely.
Action – Peter said that nearer the time he or Mark would contact Jack FM and the press about this. It was agreed that the most suitable date for a single SA presentation to the Club would be the final home game against MK Dons on 27th April.
Travel – John had little to report other than mentioning that things had gone smoothly so far with the coach arrangements to away games. (Post Committee update – the Carlisle trip was the first occasion this season where John was let down badly by at least 8 “no-shows” from people who said they would travel but who on the day actually didn’t – this has been subsequently been addressed).
Communications – Peter said he had been frustrated with errors and omissions on the SA page in the match day programme. There had been problems with this on more than one occasion. Hopefully there would not be a reoccurrence of this.
Administration – Mervyn mentioned that his monthly enewsletter seemed to be well received. He also mentioned that the membership year on year was down by 97. This included 63 fewer adult members. One notable success was that 52% of memberships had been paid on-line. He mentioned that a new application form had been designed and would be available from the end of March. He also said that badge sales continued and offering this on-line had attracted interest from badge collectors. The Committee thought the 86 badge (a few of these remained) might be promoted on Borochat but there was now a real desire from members for a new SA badge. Geoff agreed saying he had received various enquiries from SA members about having a new one.
Action – it was agreed that designs for a new SA badge would be drawn up, costed and considered by the Committee. (Post Committee update – Mervyn has arranged for this to be addressed through a current SA competition).
Social activities – Fiona and Amanda
At the last AGM Fiona and Amanda had kindly volunteered to try and revitalise the social side of the SA. For the Committee’s benefit they described what they had organised since the start of the season.
1. The Race Night had been financially successful raising £400. But it had not been without some problems. The big screens in the Broadhall Suite had not worked that evening. This was frustrating to both the organisers and those attending. Only 50 people had turned up but the feeling was that the SA would repeat such an event as it was popular by those who had. Lloyd had bought a DVD on this occasion but it was felt it would be better to hire one next time.
2. The Children’s Entertainer, Mr Marvel, had gone ahead but it was never intended that this would be a money-making event as free tickets were given to the children of SA members. It had cost £185 but nevertheless had been well received by those supporting it.
3. Low take up for the Adult Pantomime resulted in this having to be cancelled. Part of the problem had been promoting this around Christmas, this not being helped by the postponement of home matches preceding the event when the SA might have been able to promote this more visibly.
4. The Boro Memories event had been successful with past matches against Doncaster and Newcastle being shown to a packed clubhouse of Boro supporters and Doncaster fans.
Fiona then reflected on other issues. At a time of recession people didn’t spend money as freely as perhaps they would in better times. She thought the SA had to appreciate that attendances might as a result be lower than anticipated. She also asked that Committee members themselves were more visible and supportive at such events. But besides attending she felt that the Committee should also man a SA table at all events. Hosting an event immediately after a home game could prove difficult as many folk came for the match and went straight home afterwards. Not hosting social events for a while has not helped her and Amanda as members have got out of the habit of attending such events.
There was debate about holding a quiz in the Broadhall Suite something that perhaps might be promoted through Jack FM. There seemed to be a need of publicising SA events more effectively maybe through the community pages in the press or on local radio. There was also discussion of live gigs, barn dances, etc. but there were concerns as to whether events like these would appeal to a wide enough audience. Finding an event which would particularly appeal to younger SA members was quite a challenge. People were not generally attracted to the Roaring Meg area at night with all the attractions offered by the Leisure Park complex. So more effective and targeted advertising seemed essential. Once again the commercial side of the Club appeared reluctant to interact with the SA Committee. One important factor though was that we were no longer just a local community club and as the Club tried to be more commercial in all it did this inevitably had an effect on what the SA could and couldn’t do. Fiona also said that perhaps the SA Committee would consider donating raffle prizes for any events that she held in future.
Fiona then mentioned the sponsorship of the Boro Fans team by the SA. Unfortunately the team had failed to meet the one fundamental request of the SA in this, i.e. all the team had to be or become SA members. Apparently only 4 were. There was also talk about holding a football tournament in the close season – maybe a 5 a side event possibly between teams of fans from each of the stands. The SA thought it might be worth speaking to Alex Tunbridge about this and thought he might provide a community team or two. Action – hearing all of this, the Committee thought the most appropriate action was to consider setting up an Events Sub-Committee to help Fiona & Amanda. Geoff said he would speak to Lloyd about doing this.
Geoff explained that it was necessary to agree on a date for the 2013 AGM. This was usually held in late June or early July. He suggested Tuesday 2nd July at 7.45pm. Most agreed this was a suitable choice. All agreed that the current format of formal business followed by a guest presenter worked well. The SA would need to identify a suitable person from the Club to undertake the latter. Action – Lloyd to speak to the Club.
He said that at this year’s AGM the current Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer would all come to the end of their two year term of office. All three officers were prepared to stand again for a further term but Mervyn raised an important point. He said that should all three officers stand down or fail to be re-elected at the same time sometime in the future, then the SA would literally overnight lose a huge amount of collective knowledge. He suggested therefore that from this year’s AGM, these three officer appointments were staggered. Geoff agreed with this and said that it might be sensible if the positions of Chairman and Secretary roles were filled at different times. He said if the Committee thought this change a good idea (which they did) he was willing to be considered for re-election at this year’s AGM for just twelve months leaving the other two officers to be appointed for the usual two years. This proposal would be explained to members at the AGM and presented as a recommendation from the Committee for their approval. Action – Geoff to include this as an agenda at the AGM and present the Committee’s proposal.
Date of next SA Committee meeting
Geoff said that everyone seemed content that these were held as and when needed. This was the first meeting since the AGM last summer and there would be a need for at least one more this season, ideally a week or two before the 2013 AGM to finalise matters. He suggested formalising a date in the week commencing 17th June and suggested Tuesday 18th at 7.30pm. This could always be changed if individuals had a problem with it nearer the time. All agreed it was better to have dates set well in advance.
Mervyn mentioned the possibility of the SA supporting another Boro Fan of the Year award. This was agreed by the Committee. Action – Mervyn & Geoff to discuss how this might be promoted and chosen.