Charlton Athletic F.C.
Date: 2nd December 2008 6.30pm, ABC Lounge
Re: FANS‟ FORUM
Attendees: Steve Waggott, David White, Martin Simons, Stephen Kavanagh,
Sacha Zarb, Dave Rudd, Gavin Barratt, Geoff Billingsley, Gary Davenport, Tony
Paul Ellison (C&B), Michael Rea (retail) , Dave Archer (commercial centre), Mick
Everett (operations), Matt Wright (communications) , Suzanne Hillcock (notetaker)
Apologies: Steve Porter, Terry Hastings, Lars Liljegren, Bob Miller,
All parties started the meeting by introducing themselves. David White asked the members since being
appointed as members of the fans‟ forum, what they had been doing to raise the profile of the forum,
and how they had been canvassing fans to gain opinions.
Gary Davenport explained that he‟d been visiting pubs on matchdays, and at QPR he also approached
fans and asked for their thoughts and if there were any concerns. The opinion was that there are a lot of
people that need to be reached and there has been some negativity towards the forum, but this could be
because of the bad results on the pitch.
Sacha Zarb added that there had been some debate and interest has been raised and that there are those
that will be negative for the sake of it instead of embracing the opportunity. Gavin Barratt added that he
had spoken to various people around the ground and received some opinions. Geoff Billingsley said
that lots of the comments had been negative about the catering.
David White asked what else could be done to raise the profile after this initial meeting. Geoff
suggested that there could be regular articles in the local press and that he has contacts at the News
Shopper. Matt Wright did explain that the News Shopper have dropped a lot of their sports coverage
although they do cover sports stories online. Dave Rudd explained that he‟d made himself visible on
matchdays, making himself available and that fans have been latching on to the idea. He did suggest
that fans are waiting for there to be an impact before they necessarily come forward.
Sacha mentioned that the results on the pitch didn‟t make it easy and that it had a negative effect on
fans. Gary only received proper questions after the QPR game when the results were improving. David
White asked again if they are getting to specific areas, how they are attracting fans‟ opinions, instead of
sitting back and waiting for fans to approach them.
Steve Waggott asks about the negativity around the ground off the pitch and Sacha answered that it was
a bad time because the comments are all negative; the queues are always longer when the results are
Dave Rudd said that he had received a lot of praise regarding the Q&A sessions and that it would be
great for the fans‟ forum to attend these and possibly get involved and regulate them. David White
explained that they are independently run and that the fans‟ forum can host their own and obviously
attend the others if they wish. It has recently been announced that on December 16th, Derek Chappell
will be attending the Bromley branch meeting.
The meeting began with the agenda as follows:
1 Suzanne raised the issues below on behalf of the overseas members:
Reduced rate – It was confirmed that a reduced rate has been agreed with The Clarendon SH
for those overseas visitors to The Valley. Dave Archer also put forward a reduced rate that
we have with Novotel in Greenwich. I will forward details later when received from
Nicola Bland in the commercial centre.
North stand bar passes - the north stand bar (Crossbars) is oversubscribed currently with DA
fans and therefore it wouldn‟t be possible to issue passes to overseas visitors. It is possible
though for packages to be arranged as and when overseas groups are coming to the games,
whether individuals or groups and Dave Archer and the commercial centre team will be
happy to deal with any queries. In the past there have been group visits of 40, 50 60 people
and they have been accommodated. Simple to do if a call is put into the commercial
Gavin Barratt volunteered to be a future spokesperson for the overseas members when FF
they were unable to attend the meetings.
International Supporters‟ Club – The International Supporters Club dissolved when we DA
were relegated but there is an overseas membership which is free. The International Red
Mail order – postage prices – Michael Rea explained that the cost of mail order items is MR
sadly out of the club‟s control and he admits that it is high. The packages are insured
which is why there is a high cost involved (£19 to send a mug). Michael also explained
that the cost may be going up in January. They have tried to use different carriers but it
became expensive for UK deliveries, and this way is the cheapest way overall for doing it
but it is really because they are insured. It was suggested that there be an arrangement
where items are picked up by members of the overseas group on bulk and forwarded on?
Or one person order on behalf and distribute locally to reduce cost?
Overseas Q&A blog – There was an open discussion regarding live web chats or blogs, or MW
overseas questions being forwarded to a director for response and publication maybe /FF
online. There was also a discussion regarding video conferencing for meetings held with
directors. The fans‟ forum reps in the UK could hold meetings at suitable times for those
overseas so that all could get involved. We weren‟t sure of the technology, but it wouldn‟t
be impossible.It was explained that transcripts of the meetings held at Bromley/City
Addicks/other supporters groups are not run by the club, and therefore the club have little
say in what happens and they wouldn‟t want to guarantee information about what is said.
There is an unwritten rule that what is said, whether confidential or not, stays within those
walls, although there is an understanding that this could leak. It may be that a member of
the forum could feed back information to the overseas members on their behalf?
International Supporters‟ Club – It was questioned if this would be something that fans
could work out how to resurrect in a more structured way and it would be for the fans‟ FF
forum to discuss moving forward.
2 The minute‟s applause in memory of Charlton fans that have lost their lives within the past MW
year will be remembered on January 10th. It was suggested that all members of the forum /SH
could ask fans to forward names to Matt or Suzanne to be added to the list. There will be
mentions online and also articles in the programme informing fans of the details.
3 Conference and banqueting:
Cost of lounges for season – Dave Archer explained that there are a variety of packages
available to all fans. Ranging from the Centre Circle blue ribbon prices to Legends three- DA
course meal for £21. These are advertised regularly on the website.
Encouragement of fans to visit lounges post match instead of local pubs – the Legends
pass is also a bar pass and allows fans into the bar after the game. Bartram‟s is open (as PE
long as there are customers) but other lounges are usually open to those who have bought a
package in that lounge. It was discussed the possibility of having events on after match
days – live music etc as a way to keep fans in but it was considered this could be result
dependent and not a guaranteed success.
Quality and price of beer – real ale will not be available to drink in the kiosks in the near
future as it only has a seven-day shelf life and this isn‟t possible. PE
Quality and price of food – This is constantly being looked at and the club has recently
introduced different pies, which the majority of the forum seemed pleased with. A lot of PE
the displeasure could be down to personal taste. The price of the Wimpey food was
questioned, as was the price of tea/coffee but Paul explained because of the margins he has
to hit, the price of the food versus the drink has to balance out which is why it may seem
expensive for a bottle of water or tea/coffee. The pie and pint was also praised as a great
initiative. The quality of the food was also shown to be better value and quality than of
that at some other stadia including Wembley.
Delays of service in kiosks on concourses – There have been issues with pre-pouring lager
in the past due to those fans who may complain that their pints are stale. This has
happened before, and is why there is a reluctance to do it. It was explained that it is PE
virtually impossible to serve 15,000-plus people in 15 minutes due to the limited kiosk
spaces in the east and upper west stands. Improvements are being made all the time to
improve fans getting served food and drink from the kiosks.
Bottle lids – It was asked why lids have to be removed and it was deemed because bottles
without lids were less of a weapon. Paul did indicate that the club is under review for
selling bottles as other clubs sell „post mix‟ drinks. Common sense needs to be applied by ME
some stewards who take lids of baby‟s drinks who require the lids to drink from.
It was then suggested that the fans‟ forum should take the opportunity over the season to
gain an „access all areas‟ pass and shadow Mick Everett, Michael Rea, Paul Ellison, Dave
Archer on a matchday and that could explain the operation a bit more, and therefore help
the members explain to other fans. ALL
4 Home fan searches – treatment of fans by stewards
Mick explained that 90 per cent of fans excluded from entry are done so because they ME
refuse to be searched. Due to both intelligence received, and the CCTV system we have at
The Valley, it is possible for the control room team to see everything that happens in the
stands. At previous matches there have been fans seen drinking wine from a bottle, and
therefore it was decided that sporadic searches should be carried out to deter fans from
bringing in items which are prohibited. Away fans are searched at every game. The
searches did prove beneficial as a number of banned items have been confiscated. It was
also mentioned that at the majority of major sporting events fans are searched including
Twickenham, The Oval, Ascot etc. It was also noted that the stewards may get a little short
tempered due to the way previous fans have spoken to them whilst they are trying to do
their job. They do suffer a lot of abuse.
The CCTV system can also see fans standing in the aisles. It would be helpful if fans self ME
policed, as some fans don‟t understand why they are being cautioned. There is a ledge at
the back of the north upper, behind the last row of seats and if the fans stand on it, there
are health and safety issues. Despite constant warnings some supporters continue to stand
in this area, and we constantly have to warn fans against this practice. This ledge is not
reinforced, and if it broke, they would fall a considerable distance, possibly severely
The smoking issue – the club did consider letting the fans out of The Valley at half-time, ME
but the police raised concerns about this practice. They could effectively lose the control
over approximately 6,000 fans that would be outside the stadium, so they effectively
disagreed that we should allow this to happen. We cannot do for one stand what we cannot
do for another. Fans do smoke in the toilets and in the north stand stairwells, and on
„quieter‟ games we do tackle this issue and remove the culprits.
5 Ticketing – „pay on the door‟ Information
Dave explained that as soon as the information is available from the away team, it is put
out to everyone either via the website or through telephone callers. QPR was a rare case, DA
due to the change in club circumstances and the fact it was an evening game. QPR were
slow in getting the information to the commercial centre, despite calls being made to ask
for a decision on „pay on the door‟. The club is held to a certain extent by the away club.
Season-ticket members retail discount – There is a discount in the season-ticket book
which essentially allows all fans to purchase any Joma item. ie a home shirt for £35 MR
instead of £40. It was noted that the items on sale were of a high quality.
International members retail discount – It was confirmed that international fans do not
receive a discount, and it wouldn‟t necessarily be fair to offer them one. MR
All members of the forum applauded the 25 per cent cut and Steve Kavanagh explained
the VAT hit and how this wouldn‟t be passed onto ticket sales as the difference is SK
Michael informed the group of “double discount” on Sundays in Bexleyheath and also MR
“Shop and Save” initiatives. It wasn‟t known by all that the shop in Bexleyheath sells
away match tickets.
Gary asked Michael if there was a shortage of kids training wear, and Michael explained MR
that this has been very popular and that it covers all age range from 3 ½ to adult. (Spanish
There is a club charter that the kits will be valid for 2 years and there is a volatile MR
sponsorship market – JD Group is a one-year deal. Who knows what will happen. Sacha
asked if the fans could see designs for kit and choose them, but Michael explained that the
kits are produced so far in advance it would be impossible and that next year‟s samples
have been decided already.
7 CAFC TV
Mac availability – It was noted that some fans have been having difficulty with using MW
CAFC TV with their Mac computers or Vista. Perform (CAFCTV provider) do not
guarantee that it will work with this software, although it is working to improve coverage
to all. Perform currently work with 70 out of 72 Football League clubs.
There was discussion as to the content, and improvement to features all the time. It MW
shouldn‟t take any „free content‟ from the website. They have added post-match
interviews, youth games possibly. There was an issue at the weekend with the coverage
and this was rectified for half-time. They are looking into how the response time to get
fixed can be quicker. Any fans that have any questions regarding their access to CAFC TV
should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions were raised regarding BBC London and their coverage and Matt explained that MW
they were cutting costs, and they are unable to support coverage of numerous games.
Sacha and Geoff agreed to look into getting the fans forum involved with the media and FF
possibly to Charlton Live and CAFC TV.
8 Takeover information – The Zabeel interest was discussed, and Martin and Steve DW/
explained that it is a case of waiting and seeing. The club would hope that if it is sold it MS
would be to those who would keep Charlton for the people, but it may not be that simple. /SW
Comparisons were drawn up between QPR and Aston Villa. Martin reiterated that the
directors do want the club to compete at the highest level, and that they are all fans and
want the best for the club.
David White explained that directors were hurting as much as the fans with regards to the DW/
dissatisfaction of results on the pitch and that they know mistakes have been made, but it MS/
is a learning experience. Belief was in Phil Parkinson to turn things around and Martin SW
added that when he was told of AP‟s departure, he was keen to make the team his own,
and that he was capable of being a number one and that he had different opinions to AP.
The board believes this was shown in the changes of the team and the results and
performances in the last week or so. It is a case of waiting and seeing for a while as to
whether the right decision is being made. At the time the board had no question that they
were making the right decision at the time with regards to Dowie and Pardew otherwise
they wouldn‟t have done it.
Junior Reds – this became Junior Red Card membership. Dave Archer and Steve Waggott DA/
have entered into a discussion with regards to putting something together. There isn‟t SW
currently a Junior Red co-ordinator who organises parties, birthday cards etc, but there is
possibly something in the pipeline.
Valley Express – A user of the Valley Express from Eastbourne asked why the coaches Dev
take so long to get to games. There were multiple pick-ups, and this caused delay. This is
self explanatory. The fan asked for reduced train fares, but this isn‟t viable, and although
Valley Express may not be direct, it is there to include as many as possible within reason.
– club development are responsible and therefore should perhaps be approached to
Programme fans‟ forum feature – Gary asked for a feature to be included in the program, MW
either regularly with photos and information. David White suggested that the fans‟ forum /FF
get together and decide how they want to publicise the role of the forum. It is in their
hands to do it.
Frequency of meetings – the fans forum can call meetings as and when they wish with FF
members of the club. It was considered healthy that these take place approximately six
times a year but that the members were to meet up more frequently and take initiatives
with regards to learning more and feeding information back to the fans.
Player of the year event – Tony Garratt asked if there were plans to take the player of the FF
year event from the supporters‟ club and if that was something that the fans‟ forum could
do. Steve replied that there were no plans to change at the moment but the supporters‟ club
reps could be invited to a meeting with the fans‟ forum members to see how to move
forward with the supporter‟s club events, role and the player of the year event.