Forest Green Rovers Supporters Club
Annual General Meeting held on
Monday 15 November 2021
Carol Embrey Suite, The Fully Charged New Lawn.
Trading Name: Forest Green Rovers Supporters Club
Registered Name: Forest Green Rovers Supporters Society Limited
Registered Number: 30509R
Attendees – Ian Crawley (Chair), Richard Gray (Treasurer), Neil Munro (Secretary)
Richard Hale, Alan Beard, Allen Grant, Tony Anthony, Jacky Hoskin, Stephen Hoskin, Neil Newport, Paul Neale, Steve Earley, Chris Latham, Penny Smith, Matt Stone, Bakary Sanneli, Paul Pettipher, Wojcieech Poptawaski, Rob Adams.
Apologies – Tim Barnard, Kath Gray, Ron Oswell, Chris Gardner, Phil Butterworth, Phil Doble, Jonathan Duckworth. Mike Starke, Eric Harris, Tom Newman, Stephen Thatcher.
Ian Crawley welcomed everybody to the meeting and thanked them for attending. The meeting was open to non-members and members alike.
- Approve 2020 AGM Minutes
The previous years minutes were accepted without amendment.
- Chair’s Report (Overall Report on Supporters Club Activities)
This is the one opportunity you, as Supporters Club members, get to challenge your Board about what we have said or done on your behalf and in your name. With lockdown you lost that opportunity last autumn. Whilst my report is traditionally meant to cover only the period of the financial year for the Supporters Club, which ends on May 31st, I have reflected back, and with the significant changes in recent months, will share those as well. On challenging us, I just want to say that Sandy Jack was particularly effective at this, and I am sure we all sadly regret his recent passing.
Your supporter’s club has changed significantly over the last two years. The lockdown, and the lost season of live football for fans, encouraged and inspired some changes. Others were long overdue but are now in place due to the energy and enthusiasm of your SC Board members. The Player of the Season poll was solely on-line for the first time and will probably now continue in this way. You voted for Jamille Matt.
The two key responses from the Board to the lockdown were:
* Collecting the videos of old FGR home games at The Lawn and having them repackaged for on-line viewing. Thanks to Tim Barnard for organising this.
* Providing detailed and informative newsletters every month to all SC members, keeping us all up to date with everything FGR. Special thanks to Neil Munro for all his time and research to make these so interesting and entertaining, although perhaps too many references to Crystal Palace. Neil was a worthy recipient of the Brian Fream Trophy for Supporter of the Year.
* Maintaining monthly Board meetings by Zoom and then outdoors.
At the same time the SC Board has been modernising the way we engage with you and how you can contact us.
This has involved:
* a new SC website with the ability for you to contact us and pay for membership. This has been kept ‘live’ through regular new content, particularly on each away opponent. Phil Doble continues, to do a great job here.
* a SC social media presence. Long talked about amongst the older Board members with little or no knowledge of what to actually do! Thanks to Chris Latham who has set this up and maintains it.
* Our new Player of the Month Poll on-line. Thanks to Tom Newman for setting this up and running it so effectively.
SC membership is over 300 for the first time. A great achievement and the baseline for our new target of 350 members.
This has been helped by the new website and social media presence, with visitors growing every week, as well as people spreading the word about Neil ‘s newsletters and forwarding them.
Chris Gardner has taken on the task of managing our membership and producing the newsletters. He now has an on-line rapport with many international fans, taking forward the relationships Neil started and nurtured over the years, and developing many new ones.
We have publicised our willingness to recruit international fans and posted to them a welcome letter, badge, membership card and old programme. We will not be continuing with post or membership cards, as we now have an on-line membership certificate. You should all have received this earlier in the season. We now have 50 international members across 15 countries.
We encourage international fans to contact us well in advance of visiting the UK and FGR, so that we can advise on staying locally and meet them at a home or away games.
Recruitment in the UK has been helped by having the membership flyer, which we hand out at home and away matches. Thanks to Phil Doble for getting this in place. It has served as a good introduction to meeting new fans, whose first live match will be at the stadium where FGR are playing nearest to where they live or at a home game. I met a new fan from Liverpool recently who was attending his first away game at Scunthorpe, having driven over the Pennines that morning.
Many of you will have purchased your first Rovers Raffle ticket since February 2019 at the recent Salford game. Thank you for helping us make a surplus at our relaunch. Richard and Cathy Gray have made the Rovers Raffle the success it has become, through organising and managing the matchday process, and most importantly, overseeing the money. Thank you. They have stood down and Penny Smith now manages the process on matchdays. Ron Oswell provides the continuity and Maureen Lane – Mo – has re-connected with her customers in The Green Man and the Gym bar. Some people will only buy their raffle tickets from Mo. We are keen to go cashless and have purchased more i-Zettles to take card payments but recognise many will want to continue with cash.
Alongside FGR FC, the Supporters Club has committed to assisting the revitalised FGR Women’s team. This was through contributing £2000 last season and publicising the opportunities to support them and their successes.
SC Board representatives meet Henry Staelens, the football club’s CEO, on a regular basis to explore ways in which we help build support for FGR and improve the matchday experience at The Fully Charged New Lawn for both home and away fans. Disappointment at the removal of the away fans bar and marquee was tempered by the knowledge of the financial loss the football club made. We have explored whether the Supporters Club could provide an alternative, but reluctantly concluded this is not realistic.
We have, however, produced an Away Fans Guide. Thanks to Phil Doble for leading on this. It is on our website and promoted by the football club. We have talked to local pubs and agreed their promotion in this Guide.
Another key change for the Supporters Club this season has been the partnership with KB Coaches to provide subsidised away travel. Previously we were part of a three-way arrangement with the football club and KB, which included sharing the annual loss or surplus 50/50. Now the Supporters Club is solely responsible for the pricing, timing, frequency
and annual loss or surplus. Thanks to Paul Pettipher who continues to be a great host on the away coach.
There will always be a coach for every away game to enable fans to support the team, whatever the competition they are in. Bristol Rovers had 600 fans at Harrogate, when we had 160 at Bradford on Saturday 30th October. The same distance from the respective clubs’ home. There were nearly 700 FGR fans at Brentford, so we know the support is there. We just need more people to be willing and able to travel to support the team. We will also continue to subsidise the Ambassadors coaches to enable young Ambassadors to travel to three selected games for free.
To echo the football club’s commitment to being carbon neutral, your Board is exploring how we can be carbon neutral. Running the away coach means some offsetting is required, but we can minimise this by always filling the coach or coaches and reducing car journeys as a consequence.
We are always looking for volunteers – to provide content for the website; to sell Rovers Raffle tickets; and to help expand and improve the services the Supporters Club provides to members. You are welcome to come to one of our monthly SC Board meetings and see what we do or talk to a Board member.
Every year the Supporters Club sponsors two players. This season it is Dokes – Udoka Godwin-Malife and JMT – Jordan Moore-Taylor. They have been and continue to be key players in a team which really plays as a team, with everyone playing for each other. A key ingredient of our success so far
I am proud to be part of this Supporters Club; and a part of the very active and committed Board that manage and oversee all that we do. I am equally proud to support a team playing such good football; and a Football Club which has rightly gained world renown for its sustainability agenda and actions. Most of the new international and UK supporters say they are attracted by the Football Club and the Supporters Club’s values and actions. Long may that continue.
Please diary the date for the re-established Supporters Club Quiz Night. It will be here on Friday 25th March – day before Swindon away.
Ian thanked everybody for their support.
Ian was thanked for his efforts in organising Away Travel.
Penny Smith asked when SC Board meetings were in case any members wanted to attend.
1st Thursday of the month at 6:30pm at the Village Inn.
- Treasurer’s Report (Financial Accounts to 31 May 2021)
Richard Gray presented the accounts for Financial Year ending May 21.
There was little activity as we had only charged membership for new members and there had not been a Rovers Raffle.
Previously FGR & SC had shared the profits or losses of Away Travel so that had been balanced.
The biggest expenditure was £1,500 donation to FGR Women. Other expenditure was Player Sponsorship.
The Balance Sheet total consists of £69,000 which is made up of £28,000 FGR shares and £41,000 in the bank.
Financially, with the resumption of the Rovers Raffle and membership fees, things are getting back to normal.
Tony Anthony asked who are the donations from?
When the season ended prematurely SC Travel Club members were owed money which was refunded but £48 represented money which Travel Club members declined and gave as a donation to the SC.
£1,500 is an outgoing donation to FGR Women.
Allen Grant said that when the Trust and the old Supporters Club merged there was a float to cover Away Travel.
There is no float. Up until now FGR & SC have shared any profits or covered any losses. This season only the SC are assuming responsibility for covering any losses.
- Any Other Business / Question and Answer Session
Alan Beard – a SC Away Travel Club member – asked should he tell KB coaches if he was going on the Away Coach or when he wasn’t going.
Richard Gray said it would be assumed Travel Club Members were going to all matches so they should only contact KB Coaches if they were not travelling on the Coach.
Bakary Sanelli said that he had booked on a coach for an away match but as he had worked late the night before and it was an early departure time he wasn’t able to go. Should he have rung KB coaches to let them know? Somebody had rung him at the departure time.
Paul Pettipher – the SC host on the Away Coach -said that it would have been him who rang Bakary. if people have booked on the Coach and can’t make it at the last minute due to work or other commitments then they should try to contact KB Coaches. It is important to have an accurate passenger manifest. It is important that people provide a mobile phone number when booking. If somebody does not turn up at the departure time, then Paul will try to ring them. At the postponed Newport match a coach was delayed for 2 hours from leaving Newport as 2 supporters had wandered into town and had only provided an 01453 land line number and so could not be contacted.
Jacky Hoskins said that the half time coffee service was poor. There is normally only one person serving and collecting money Even if you are first in the queue you don’t necessarily get your coffee by the time the second half kicks off. Could there be a pre-payment system to speed up the process?
Jacky said there is little choice of food nowadays. There used to be a good Indian Takeaway.
Jacky was pleased, following her requests, FGR have now put up warning signs saying that the hot water in the toilets is very hot.
Jacky’s experience in the East Stand was echoed by the South Stand where there is also a lack of ketchup sachets.
Ian said – It is believed the Indian Takeaway stopped coming as they could not make it financially viable.
Jacky Hoskins said the Renishaw’s Park & Ride used to operate virtually every match. This season it had only operated for the Swindon match.
Dane Vince, FGR Stadium Manager, said that there were difficulties getting coaches to run the service. Due to the HGV driver shortages many coach drivers have moved from driving coaches to driving HGVs. Crowd numbers are down due to Covid-19. FGR are dependent on Renishaw’s generosity in allowing their car park to be used. Renishaw’s have had to introduce Covid protocols. Dane will investigate whether the Park & Ride can be run more often.
Ian said that these issues will be discussed at the regular meetings between the SC and FGR CEO, Henry Staelens.
Ian thanked everybody for attending.