Invited: The Harrison family, The Willetts family, The Jennings family, The Joyce family, The Tiller family, The Doel family, The Whitaker family, The Davies family, The Saddington family, The Kay family, The Hill family, The Wright family, The Christopher family.
Attended: Stephen Harrison, Andy and Euan Joyce, Libby and Jack Doel, Mat and Henry Davies, Mark and Harry Saddington, Simon, Ellie and Lauren Kay, Claire, Daniel and George Christopher, Liz Finney – General manager AFCB, Kerry Smith – Club Liaison, Cherries Trust.
Apologies from: The Tiller family, The Hill family, The Willetts family, Tony Maycock – Chairman, Cherries Trust.
Liz began by opening the meeting and explained that we would be making notes and action points. Liz asked that the notes are circulated after the meeting has been held and that we agree on them being a true reflection of the events before being made public. Everyone agreed to this. It was agreed that Kerry would be happy to take the notes and distribute amongst all the families. For ease of reading the notes are not in a minuted order, more of a subject order.
Kerry to distribute notes to all families and amend, add to or action accordingly.
Liz circulated the agenda of points which had been sent in, in advance. Kerry suggested that we leave the people who were unable to attend this meeting’s agenda points until last and visit them if there is time. If there was not time, then we can address them at the next meeting when hopefully they would be able to attend and ask themselves, or we may well answer as we go along.
We started with Euan who had produced a lovely mind map of the positives and negatives about what is already offered as well as some new ideas.
Junior Cherry Open Training Session
It was brilliant and everyone received a photo or something signed, the first team did not leave until every child was happy. Really good event everyone agreed. Would be great if some food available to buy next time and Liz said she would ask about this.
Junior Cherries Christmas Party
Those who had received an invite, said that they found the party and the new venue to be a successful one. Liz said that they had changed venue to increase capacity by an extra 100 spaces this year, but unfortunately 60 people who had applied and been allocated a space had not come to the event. Everyone expressed their disappointment to hear this and there was some conversation around systems whereby the ticket stubs could be identified as to who those families were, as on this occasion there were no names on the stubs. It was suggested by Mat, that maybe interested people could pay a nominal amount (£2 or £5 suggested) for the party and then receive back a credit for the superstore, once they had attended the party, to encourage people to only apply if they are going to make use of the tickets. Euan said that would it be possible for team to be sat in squad number order so it is easier to get who you wanted. There was much conversation (mainly lead by Claire) about how fair the current system is as the announcement goes out on a first come first served basis, however many people who work in schools, who do not have their phones on them may not see that until the evening and by then the chance has gone. Libby also mentioned that in some cases people have been more than once and others have never been, so is it possible to regulate it so that if you have done the party or any of the other things then you do not get to go again. It was asked how many JC’s are currently enrolled and Liz confirmed the number was a bit over 2600. Andy said that if that figure was communicated to people then they may have an understanding as to why it is hard to get to do flag bearing, mascots, party etc. Ellie mentioned that there wasn’t anywhere for the parents to get a drink, but Liz said that there was outside of the main room. There was also a query over the no photos rule, but this was just because it slows everything down and with the amount of people there it just couldn’t happen. Liz did say moving forward that if they used that venue again they would look at using the balcony area for parents possibly again to increase capacity. Liz did say they also were looking at using Bournemouth University and she has not ruled out trying there in the future either. Ellie also mentioned that older JC’s may not need an adult to come with them so you could cut capacity that way also. Stephen mentioned that maybe it would be fairer to do a lottery system and then record who has been so that others get a chance another time. Simon suggested that the party could be split between two age ranges and half the squad could attend each but his daughter Ellie certainly did not agree in case her favourite is at a different party to her! Liz agreed that she and look at the process of issuing tickets/invitations to the Christmas party and try to get a consensus of agreement before the next one.
Junior Cherries Badge
Euan’s mind map put forward the idea of a JC badge for shirts which everyone agreed was a great idea. Ellie said that it would be a good idea to hold a competition to design it, which was agreed with by all present.
Signature Strips For Shirts
Simon suggested an iron on/stick on type badge which you can buy and get the players to sign and then put onto your shirt.
Junior Cherries free shirt offer at 8 is widely agreed to be a great offer however what happens to anyone who joined the club at age 9? Apart from a reduced ticket price, and a meal deal they do not get a shirt offer. What about a shirt at age 12? Liz said that there were other JC benefits but we can look at this as the club recognised it needs to engage with young fans who were not potentially able to attend games.
Daniel said that he would like to see the Mansion logo on the children’s shirts but as Liz explained as Mansion is a gambling company, AFC Bournemouth had, along with other clubs in a similar situation, taken a responsible approach. Daniel said that you can have it printed on to which Liz said she had heard and seen that to be the case. Claire said that they want to look like the players and they don’t without the Mansion, so maybe the choice could be given back to the parents? Liz will ask and report back to the group.
Junior Cherry Ambassador In Schools
Ellie suggested having an ambassador who could arrange for the schools to fundraise for the charities, which Ellie did ask if the football club would support. Liz explained that back in the last close season, junior cherries were asked to vote for the charity they wanted to support for the coming season. Mosaic was the one chosen from the responses. Ellie said that Ambassadors can arrange events like bake sales and fun runs to help raise money and spread the word. Liz mentioned that the raffle held at the JC Christmas party raised overa £100 for Mosaic. It was agreed that this was something that could be taken forward.
Junior Cherries Birthday Card
Claire mentioned that it would be a nice touch for the children to receive a birthday card.
Junior Cherries Meal Deal
A vegetarian hot dog option would be nice and Ellie would appreciate it as would many others. Everyone asked about fruit as children do like it, and as Claire pointed out they are used to eating it every day at primary school. Most people were happy to pay for it rather than adding it to every box. Liz said she would ask to put fruit in the family stands. Claire suggested small boxes of raisins or small packets of haribos could be good. Liz to arrange for fruit to be available in the family stand and ask about the raisins option.
Currently nothing be given to new families by way of vouchers when they go to community activities. Kerry added that they used to give away match tickets to anyone who completed a course in the holidays but there is no longer capacity to do that. Harry asked if there are any after school clubs to which Liz explained that yes there were as well as pre-school clubs and during school activities. She added that Steve Cuss and his community trust team work with around 3000 children a week and Claire added they offer 10% off for junior cherry members and a discount for siblings also at the soccer clubs.
ID Centres and Other Affiliated Feeder Clubs
Libby raised the point about his son(s) who are currently in the development centre and he wanted to know if it would be possible to get some feedback from the club as he is spending a lot of money as you have to commit to a block of 12 and it can feel a little like you are chasing a carrot and not sure as to whether there is a chance or not. He said there are different stages and once you get into the elite academy then it is free. Liz to speak to the academy for a response direct to Libby.
Under 18’s, 21’s & Development Matches
Access to these matches (which was pointed out are mostly held on afternoons while the children are at school) would be another way to watch AFC Bournemouth, but as Liz said the games are set according to the leagues they are in, so would be difficult to change times, and they do not play at Vitality stadium at all.
Booster Seats For Smaller Fans
As some people struggle to see, you could provide booster seats (like those you get in cinema’s). Everyone thought this was a good idea and Liz will take this back to investigate.
It would help if there was someone directed the traffic at the end of the match, as there is only one way out and it can take a long time. As Euan had mentioned car parking Liz wanted to ask the question, did anyone use the Harewood college car park and no one around the table did. Liz asked if everyone knew about it and everyone said yes. Those who did drive were parking in particular places that they have done so for years. Liz said it is free to park in there now, which most people were not aware of. Liz said they used to charge £2.50 but they no longer charge but it is still under used. It was asked if they advertised it anywhere and Liz said yes it went out as part of the timings for match day that they do, but she did say they were looking at a DL guide to go in with the tickets (like was done previously) so it will be mentioned on there.
Junior Cherry Family Viewing For Away Games
This was down as an agenda item from Simon but was bought up by Henry who wanted to know if the club could arrange “family style” showings of the away games, which means they can watch them in a family friendly venue instead of having to join the masses at the local pub which they would be subjected to bad language etc. it would also encourage new families to come in and engage with the club if they cannot currently get tickets and Liz said she would put this to the relevant departments.
Half Time Entertainment
This was raised by Harry and Mark, and was also touched upon by others in the room that the general half time entertainment, particularly Dizzy Pen’s, repetitive and a little boring now. Claire said that it is not easy to see it very well either as it seems to be at one end of the stadium constantly. Liz said that a new marketing manager (Amanda) had just started at the beginning of January and they have already pencilled in a meeting with Mike (Botto) to discuss half time entertainment. Liz asked everyone to email her Liz.firstname.lastname@example.org with their ideas for half time entertainment and she will invite Amanda along to the next family focus meeting to discuss them. As Andy mentioned most adults will go under the concourse for a drink/food so the families are left with the entertainment. Ideas that the group have enjoyed in the past were the singers (came around Christmas time) and the freestyler who came before also. The children to email their ideas to Liz by Monday morning (23rd Jan)
Ideas that were given on the night were:
T-Shirt gun – firing free shirts into the crowd
Giant ball – bouncing around the stands
Cherry Bear on a Segway!
Highlights to be shown on the screen (and we ALL agree we need another screen in another corner)
Half time scores and any Sky coverage
Text messaging service, so the messages can be displayed on the screen instead of being read out.
Better WiFi coverage
Around the ground competition to look out for things and write them down when spotted.
Simon mentioned about more bands, schools, groups to come and entertain at half time. Liz pointed out that the pitch was really for the first team and they would want to stay away from too much being on there on a matchday plus it is constantly being watered at half-time!
Flag Bearing Opportunities
Claire asked if it was possible to have small groups such as football teams etc. to come and flag bear as a way to get them involved. Kerry said that that is what used to happen and they were given match tickets but it is not possible now as all tickets are sold. The front row all around is for disabled seats but if they are not taken up in the family stand, they have also been offered to JC’s to buy (if they apply for them) so that they can then get a foot on the points ladder. Mat confirmed this scheme worked well as it enabled his daughter to get her first point through this scheme and she is now up to 9 points now. Again there was some conversation around how fair the system is with regards to some people doing things more than once and other never doing it. Liz confirmed that one person (Shannon) is now doing all the Junior Cherry admin of these opportunities so things should improve.
New Family Database
Simon asked what is happening with any new enquirers who may be approaching the club but they are unable to watch any matches currently. Are they being recorded in some way and are they being offered anything to keep the interest there, so that we are building for the future. He asked if the ticket office staff can open up a whole new level of engagement with them instead of just saying no there are no tickets available. Libby said that maybe an email saying we know you are there and we know it is hard to get tickets but we are still thinking of you. This would be something for the marketing manager to pursue and as she comes from a leisure background she is experienced in dealing with engagement with children and their families.
Instant Replay Highlights To Be Shown On The Screen During Live Play
Liz to ask if this is a possibility, not everything necessarily but some children miss goals or moments in live play because people stand up or they cannot see so to show it back on the screen would be helpful.
Laser Light Show Or Fireworks
Harry suggested but the group thought probably not possible due to health and safety.
Is there any chance to have more toilets (cubicles). Liz said it would be difficult to add any more due to space under the concourse, but it may be possible to keep one cubicle for children? The club has recently lowered urinals in the family stand toilets to assist young fans. Liz confirmed that they had spoken to visit football about screening from a safeguarding point of view it was a not something that was recommended. Liz to confirm if a cubicle is going to be kept for use by younger guests.
George said that he noticed a lot of rubbish being left around. Claire said children are a lot more aware of it and Simon said they feel it is strange to eat and then leave their rubbish on the floor. Liz said they would have to be bins they moved in and out as they take up so much space, but it could be looked at. Ellie suggested bags on the ends of aisles, but Liz said that might be a problem and Mark said if it is there you are more likely to bring your rubbish down with you and put it in a bin. Liz to update if it is possible.
The children do not like the swearing. They say that it is bad in the family stand. Liz said that if you can tell a steward or if you text the number, the text gets passed to the control room and they can locate via the cameras and then send a steward to have a word. Caution letters have been sent in the past to people, and the club have a zero tolerance on offensive, abusive, discriminatory language.
Mark wanted to mention the stewards around block 7 were very good with the children and others at the meeting agreed. Liz to pass on to them
Simon mentioned that at the previous forum a couple of seasons ago there was some conversation around making the stewards more engaging i.e. first name badges. Liz will look into this
Sometimes the seats have poo on them and there are some pigeons that sit at the top of the stands pooping during the game. Liz said she will speak to the cleaners in case they are missing some seats before the stadium opens but during the game it would be tricky to move a pigeon on. Liz to speak to the cleaners.
Away Day Allocations
Simon asked as to why the front rows of seats can not be kept and sold to children and older/disabled people or anyone who wants to sit down. Liz explained that the way the tickets are sold are dictated by the away club. As a club every ticket is serviced through the ticket office at AFCB, they need to be matched, checked and sent out and they are sold in blocks. Liz did say that the new ticketing manager has been employed (the previous one who had started had stood down) and that there were some plans to get a seat map from all of the clubs and then people can pick their own seat. They would be hoping this could be ready by the beginning of next season. It may also be possible to flag up seats for family, OAP, disabled etc. so they can then be placed at the front.
Away Day Packs
To keep children entertained on their travels
Henry asked for word searches in the programme. Liz said she believes there are word type puzzles in the JC section of the programme.
There was some conversation around the empty seats when a game has been communicated to be a sell out. Liz said that the scheme to let the JC’s buy them had helped with this. She said it was usually the international press who let them know quite late that they will not be taking the seats and also the sponsors can release seats last minute too. It was asked whether there is a way or a system to track how many matches season ticket holders actually attend? Liz agreed and asked if the latest premier league survey asked how many home games you attended last season etc. as it had previously and Mark had confirmed it had. Liz said it would be interesting to see when it is out.
It had been mentioned that some of the younger girls were missing Annabel, the new bear who came in last season as the mascot for The Amelia Grace Rainbow fund. Liz said that because of the nature of the work that Mosaic does (child bereavement care), it did not seem as appropriate for them to have a mascot. However Liz said we could look at the next charity nominated by Junior Cherries to see if a girl mascot would fit and did not rule out a return of Annabel in the future.
Superstore New Line Ideas
Premier league match balls instead of AFCB ones as most of the children agreed they are not very good quality and usually white so get dirty quickly.
Collectors cards and mini figures (gogos, say) which can be swapped and maybe set up a “Swap Corner”
Shin pads and goalie gloves with finger protection
Iron on/sew on poppies to assist with raising money (all agreed the poppy/club pin badges were great)
Pocket money gifts as most children walk into the shop but do not have enough money to buy anything, except pencils and they already have them. If they had a dedicated pocket money area they could go to it would be good with items under £6.
The children thought the sweets that had been in store previously were too expensive. Liz agreed and said this had been recognised and they were reduced to 50p. Going forward it was suggested smaller bags for less money would be better as more people would buy and the store would make more money.
Liz advised that a new superstore manager and buyer have started so this will be helpful for them.
Family Stand Criteria
Liz asked for some feedback on the family stand ticket criteria which the club is currently reviewing. Liz asked for everyone to review the points below. Liz asked for people to say which option they preferred with regard to concession upgrades (which I have put in italics). Liz confirmed that they had made contact with other football clubs to see what they are currently offering as a guide in respect of upgrades.
The family stand is applicable to blocks 1, 8 and 9 in the west stand
Adult tickets in the family stand must be accompanied by an under 16 in order to purchase tickets in the family stand – at a ratio of no more than two adult seats per under 16 seat.
Adult tickets purchased with a child’s ticket qualify for the family adult ticket price, however any upgrades in the family area will be to full adult price.
– (Option a) Due to the nature of the stand unfortunately upgrades on concessions tickets are not available in the family stand at any point in the season.
– (Option b) Upgrades on concession tickets in the family stand are only available on evening matches.
– (Option c) Season ticket holders in the family stand can upgrade their tickets five times across the season at the discretion of the club.
When a Junior Cherry turns 16 and stops qualifying for a child’s ticket in the family area, they can remain in the family area if the family group still falls within the ratio of no more than two adults per child. In circumstances where the change in concession takes the ratio outside the family area criteria, the club will liaise with the family to make a move to another area in the stadium as seamless as possible. The original seats will then be released for sale to another family who meet the criteria.
It was widely agreed that Option a was not a popular option so it was dismissed straight away. Option b was better as Mark pointed out he is less likely to bring the children to an evening game, but all around the table seemed to agree that Option c offered the most flexibility and as many of the adults did say five times is really generous if not over generous. The group agreed that if an upgrade led to just adults being in the family stand, those adults should move to another area of the ground for that game and so allow the seats to be sold to an eligible family.
Liz will speak to the department managers about all of the above and feedback.
Next meeting will involve Amanda the marketing manager and Liz asked if there was anyone else who the group would like invited. The group asked if possible for a player! Liz said she may be able to arrange for a future meeting.
Meeting date to be agreed.
Liz and Kerry thanked the children and their parents for a really useful and enjoyable meeting.