October 2, 2013
Notes of the Meeting with AFC Representatives – 1-00pm, Thursday 19th September 2013 at Pittodrie Stadium:
Attendees: George Yule: Ally Prockter: Ian Hay: Greig Ingram
Before the meeting started GY gave us a guided tour of the refurbished lounges within the Main Stand, the Sir Alex Fergusson Lounge, the Gothenburg Lounge, the Black and Gold Lounge and the Willie Miller Room and in the RDS, the Teddy Scott Lounge. Internal corridors within the two stands have also been refurbished and updated displays of photographs and memorabilia put in place. The corridor and tunnel leading from the Changing Rooms to the pitch have been decorated with large images of the current squad.
We also had a look at the superb new playing surface.
Positive Feedback from DST
GI opened the meeting by giving GY very positive feedback on our dealings with some of the key members of staff he has put in place ie. Ally Prockter, Derek Matthews and with the new Catering Manager, Paul Quick. Any communications from DST have been promptly responded to with full, frank and honest answers and information.
- 1. GY provided an update on progress on the 5 Fs
Football – There has been a marked improvement on the park this season. The professional approach of the Management Team and Coaching Staff in preparing the squad for the season has been reflected in good performances on the park to date. A new ethos has been created on and off the pitch.
The aim is continuous improvement
The Energy Cup match versus Stavanger was a great success. The free entry to the match was achieved via subsidy by Aberdeen City Council. The possibility of expanding this competition to involve clubs from other energy related cities is being looked at for future years
Development of the match-day experience is a work in progress.
The Junior Match-day Club has proved to be a huge success and the programme is sold out for the ICT match.
There are a range of community projects which have been put in place to encourage attendance and community attendees are concentrated in the Merkland Stand.
Attendance at corporate hospitality is up on last season.
The Upper RDS has not been closed for the season and will be opened as attendances at matches require. The compacting of the crowd at lower attendance matches has enhanced the atmosphere during games.
The DST reps put forward the idea of encouraging communities in the NE (based on Community Council areas) to be allowed to promote their communities on a match-day e.g. By inviting communities to provide the pre-match and half time entertainment and allowing businesses to set up promotional stalls within the stands. This would benefit the communities by giving them a very public platform and it would benefit AFCs aim of engaging with the community.
It continues to be work in progress for AFC.
An ‘aggressive’ budget has been set for the current season.
Savings and cuts have been made but on the basis of attempting to get better value.
The main aim is to generate greater income by improving the team performance.
A Five Year Fundraising Strategy is being drawn up.
Work is ongoing in developing the Sales & Marketing Department. AFC is trying to reach out to new clients whilst retaining existing clients..
A new Head of Sports Science and Fitness has been appointed. Graham Kirk (formerly St Johnstone FC) took up post on Friday 20 September 2013.
The new Management Team have introduced a range of new approaches relating to sports science and fitness and the Club has backed their approach by making funds available to create this new position.
New Training Facility – The proposed site for the development with one of the Universities has hit a problem as flood prevention costs for the proposed site have proved prohibitive. The search is on for an alternative site.
Meantime the agreements with Albyn School and Balgownie will continue.
The New Stadium – 12 months have been spent looking at alternative sites.
The preferred option now is still Loiriston. AFC is reluctant to have to start the progress all over again and lose out on some of the costs already incurred.
AFC has maintained dialogue with Aberdeen City Council and progress is being made. Another meeting was scheduled for the week beginning 23 Sept 2013. The aim is a mutually beneficial settlement.
Positive discussions had also been held with City Planners on land acquisition.
GY was more positive on a successful outcome being achieved.
- 2. The role of DST in progressing the 5 Fs.
The DST reps reiterated that as the biggest, properly structured fan group, with a website and social media communication with a large number of fans was in a good position to assist GY to get the message on the 5Fs out. GY acknowledged that he has been too busy doing many Club activities and hadn’t done a great deal about letting more people know what was happening. He agreed that DST could help to communicate the
Information and will give further thought re how this could be handled.
DST reps recommended that the club should study the Swansea model where Club, Board and fans are one big family. Season Ticket holders are automatically given membership of the supporters organisation and no-one opts out.
All work together to support and promote the club. There are great financial benefits which are reflected in team performance. GY said he would add this model to the others he is investigating.
The feedback system now has an acknowledgement message.
The negotiations on a new contract for the website provider have been put on hold until evidence of improvements are demonstrated on the website. The Leeds United website, which the current providers are finalising, will be the template for the revamped AFC website.
- 4. Fan issues relating to TV games (esp. Monday night games)
The DST reps related the problem a group of AFC fans from Glasgow had contacted DST about relating to dates being changed to accommodate TV. Advanced booking of train ticket and the resultant savings were not possible if fans were not given sufficient notice of games which were being selected for TV coverage. It was agreed that this was an issue which should be referred to the SPFL since it impacted on all clubs and not just AFC.The issue of looking at ticket pricing for games moved to Monday nights was also raised.
- 5. Match day experience progress.
See above under Update on 5Fs – Fans.
- 6. Hall of Fame & Sir Alex Ferguson tribute.
The Sir Alex Ferguson Lounge is in place. It was hoped that Sir Alex would be able to attend the match v Partick Thistle at Pittodrie in November because he had a speaking engagement in the city over that weekend. The fact that the fixture has now been moved for TV means that his travel arrangement will prevent him attending. Sir Alex is aware that the lounge has been established and he is delighted and honoured that his contribution to the club has been acknowledged in this way. Sir Alex Ferguson may not be available to visit Pittodrie until after Feb. 2014.
AFC Community Trust
Ally Prockter, Head of Community joined the meeting to explain the work and progress being made in creating a stand-alone charitable trust to be known as AFC Community Trust. Ally is currently working his way through the considerable administration procedures required to establish the Community Trust. The Trust will be along the lines that clubs in Germany have developed to become major providers of community programmes in cities & geographical areas. A range of social, educational, health, sport, welfare programmes will ultimately be delivered, by a range of agencies in collaboration with AFC. The aim is to use AFC’s profile and standing in the community as a vehicle to enhance participation and involvement in these programmes. NHS, Police Scotland, the Universities and schools will work with AFC to deliver these programmes. Encouraging participation in a range of sports will be a major part of the work of the Community Trust.
A Board of 8 Trustees will oversee the Community Trust’s activities.
This is a major initiative by AFC and once established it will radically change AFC’s role, standing, and profile in the city and NE. DST reps confirmed that our organisation applauds and supports this exciting initiative which is a major step forward in linking our club to the community & its life blood.
August 24, 2013
Catering is very much part of the fans “matchday experience “ so DST contacted Sodexo following comments from members regarding catering at the Celtic game last Saturday.
The manager provided a detailed response to the comments as follows
“Did no one tell the caterers that the Celtic game on Saturday was a full house, behind section F in the main stand, 3 young lads tried to serve hundreds of customers, left for a pie 5 mins before half time, got back to my seat just in time for the kick off. No points for the Dons on Saturday and definitely no points for the catering.”
- Section F could have done with more staff on duty on that particular unit, but were about 6 staff down on the day that we could have done with. We recruit through the EE, Facebook, Twitter and referrals. Now that the schools are starting back and next Month the colleges / universities too, our bank of staff will grow for the season.
“The kiosk in South Stand beside the Merkland only had 1 of the 2 windows open with the queue going up to the top of the Y section. As a result most trekked up to the main kiosks at the back of the South Stand meaning the queue there stretched all the way back and out into the open area beyond the stand cover towards the Y area again. There didn’t appear to be any queue monitoring/management taking place by Sodexo reps and so many fans with food only got to their seats after kick off.”
The South Stand is a tough area to operate in with the lack of kiosk facilities and the restrictions to enable us to bring in portable/mobile units and is even more testing when full and needed the area supervisors to be within the kiosk units throughout the ground on Saturday rather than managing the areas.
The stadium is lacking in the kiosk facilities that are available especially in the South Stand and apart from having enough product available for sale (which there was on Saturday), without major capital injection, only some small improvements can be made this season.
He then went on to outline changes that have been made this season, many of which tie in with feedback that DST received from members earlier this season and had been passed on to Sodexo.
- In the RDS concourse there is a separate Kiosk Express Unit that sells Steak Pie & Bovril only. As these are the 2 top selling lines it will speed up the purchase for those wishing to use it. It has now been open for 2 games and was extremely busy and popular at Celtic obviously.
- Merkland Road Family Stand has the main introductions. We have introduced: the range of Walkers Baked Crisps which have 70% less fat and more than half the saturate fats that the normal Walkers Crisps had; Really Light Ribena which has 98% less sugar than standard Ribena!; Cheese Sandwich and Ham Sandwich on Brown Bread; fresh fruit. Some of these products sit alongside the regular kiosk range but we will continue to look at introducing healthier products as time goes on.
- I have reviewed the structure of operating the kiosks on Matchdays and have now identified 4 area supervisors on Matchdays ( RDS,Main Stand, Merkland,South). Their role will be to ensure the units are operating and stock to the expected standards and to actively manage & monitor the queues as best they can.
- Suppliers. All fresh products within the kiosks are locally supplied in Aberdeen with the exception of the burgers, which come up from Glasgow.. All the bakery products are supplied by Chalmers & Doughnuts & Sandwiches by The Sandwich Larder.
- October time should see a ‘speciality’ sausage outlet introduced in the Main Stand and we are currently working on the feasibility of this.
DST are always happy to hear from fans about their experiences of the catering at Pittodrie so that they can provide feedback to Sodexo and fans needs can be met.
Minutes of DST Meeting with AFC on Tuesday 11th June 2013
Present : AFC -George Yule, Ian Jack and Derek Matthews
DST – Gordon Duncan, Phil Hay and Jennifer Moffat
AFC Vision and five F’s
George shared the AFC “vision” with us starting with a dvd montage of AFC related clips to the background of Coldplay’s “When I ruled the World”. He then went on to give a comprehensive presentation of the rebranding of AFC covering the following
Football Globally (including the 5 F’s- Football, Facilities, Fans, Finance and Fitness), AFC Community Trust and Youth Development
Football is changing and in the future it appears that domestic league seasons will be curtailed to allow for a GLOBAL SUPER LEAGUE for clubs such as Manchester United and Barcelona etc.
Next level down will be a Pan European/ Nordic League which would be AFC’s aim if they can finish at the top end of the league. It is difficult to estimate the timescale for these new leagues – maybe between 5-10 years time.
There are 5 key areas (the 5 F’s) which AFC need to work on
Results must be improved, need to be at the top end of the league.
Pitch – improve playing surface, refurbishment of lounges- Teddy Scott lounge and training facilities.
Need to reinvest in Pittodrie as Stadium move unlikely in the next 5 years.
Fans “needs” to be considered, club have to be prepared to listen to fans. AFC Community Trust – greater community engagement. Deliver best in class customer services. Matches become “EVENTS”.
P and L improved, focus on margins, reduce cost base, more new clients and spend within our means.
Bespoke training regime, strength and conditioning training, sports science, nutritional education & diet.
AFC Community Trust to be set up encompassing Youth Development (Youth Academy and Junior Academy) and Community and Supporter Liaison Officer
NEEDS and AIMS
This covers what must happen and the CHANGE will be driven by AFC Management
Board/ business reorganisation
Succession plan implemented
Playing squad changes
P+L/Balance sheet strengthening
Develop new training facilities – (work in progress – looked at how other clubs have linked up with a University – e.g. Falkirk and Stirling University).
Launch AFC Community Trust – (work in progress)
Secure club sponsor (2014-15) – (work in progress)
Identify fundraising strategy options
Confirm site for the new stadium
Deliver football success on the park
Implement funding strategy to deliver “new money” into AFC
Progress sale of Pittodrie
AFC Community Trust – to launch formally October 2013 (sooner depending on OSCR registration)
An application has been made to register the Trust for charitable status – legal process will probably take around 3 months. A business plan will be drawn up (with Key performance indicators) by the end of next month.
It will have its own separate identity from AFC and its own LOGO.
There may be a Head of Community Trust appointed to oversee current Head of Community and Head of Youth development.
There will also be a Board of Trustees to be appointed in September.
Main activities are AFC in the Community, Youth Development and SLO.
It will reach beyond Aberdeen City & Shire and involves everyone at the club playing some form of role.
Season tickets for disadvantaged groups- 2000 in the Merkland Road stand for next season.
Season tickets will be sold through the Community Trust to Corporates and smaller business and individuals, raising money for the Trust.
AFC Youth Academy
This covers the under 10’s to Under 17’s with competitive games being played from under 12’s onwards.
Vision for the future.
This will be more focused in the North/North East of Scotland with a higher profile and more engagement with local clubs.
There will be changes to the scouting system to run with 10 part-time scouts (employed by AFC) to cover the area from Moray to Angus with a network of volunteer scouts below each part-time scout e.g. boys club managers, teachers.
A computerised scouting database has been developed by AFC for use by club scouts.
The above ties in with the Hazlehead Academy SFA Performance school, where 12 out of 15 (Year 1) and 13/16 (Year 2) are already signed AFC players.
AFC Curriculum for excellence
In addition to health and fitness training and specialised coaching, this will include work modules on sports science, life skills and further education, corporate engagement and community work.
A discussion followed thereafter about the funding of this and it was noted that there needs to be investment at this stage to allow AFC to move forward.
Customer Services Manager
Derek Matthews, the new Customer Services Manager was introduced. He has been at the club for six weeks and he outlined the work he has been doing and the approach he has been taking to dealing with customer matters. He is happy for DST to pass fans concerns on to him personally and DST will forward comments from our Aberdeen Mad – Ask Dons Supporters Together Forum to him.
DST raised the point about customer service relations with Corporate customers being important as well.
The new General Manager at Sodexo – Paul Quick started on 3rd June and GY to check if he has seen any of the fans feedback on catering that was passed to his predecessor in January this year.
(Post meeting – all DST feedback has been passed to Paul)
Match day Experience
The crowd will be more compact now with the closure of the RDU Upper.
Simmons family stand will have fun days over several matches.
Prematch and half time entertainment to be introduced
Club day for the kids at the Sports Village – will now involve children being taken from the sports village to the game by AFC Staff.
Consider reducing the size of the programme.
Park & Ride
DST raised fans concerns about reductions in these services but AFC were not aware of any reductions and GY to check this out.
Club still in negotiations with current provider to develop/improve the website and this would include updating the Hall of Fame. Interim updates have been carried out by AFC staff to good effect.
The club receive vast numbers of e-mails on a huge range of topics and do not have the manpower to answer them all. DST pointed out that at the moment there is no acknowledgement of e-mails and AFC to look at this. DST stressed the importance of the e-mails being received going to the appropriate people at the club.
May 13, 2013
All at Dons Supporters Together hope our fellow members and Dons fans across the world enjoyed the many celebrations ongoing this past weekend to mark the 30th Anniversary of Aberdeen’s spectacular European Cup Winners Cup triumph over Real Madrid.
In recognition of the outstanding achievement of each and every member of that famous squad, Dons Supporters Together have awarded their latest D.O.N.S Award for Distinction of Notable Service to Aberdeen FC, to the “Gothenburg Greats”. The achievements of this incredible side are unlikely to ever be matched by a provincial club again, and in beating, deservedly so, one of the most famous names in football, they put Aberdeen Football Club on the world map and provided a generation of Dons Supporters with one of the best sporting experiences of their lives.
Having previously presented awards to several individuals, including Willie Miller, Joe Harper, Teddy Scott and Ally Shewan, we felt that with this important anniversary coming up and the fact that this monumental achievement was a team effort, we should recognise them collectively.
DST Chairman Greig Ingram was on hand to present the award during the Gothenburg Anniversary Dinner on Saturday 11th May. Long serving right back Stuart Kennedy accepted the award on behalf of the squad.
The certificate itself is a unique design, created by local Aberdeen artist Dod Dow to commemorate the Gothenburg Anniversary.
In recognition of their outstanding achievement and on the 30th Anniversary of the main event,the board at Dons Supporters Together are delighted to present the “Gothenburg Greats” with their latest D.O.N.S award.
April 15, 2013
DST recognises a desire amongst supporters to improve the atmosphere and add colour during games at Pittodrie. Accordingly, DST were pleased to support the Mad for the Merkland/Match Day Experience campaign and continue to wish to see changes being made that will make attending matches a more pleasurable experience for fans.
Whilst disappointed that the club rejected the supporters’ proposals, DST does recognise that the club has to balance the interests of many parties and so are in a difficult situation where there are competing priorities.
DST has noted the reasons for rejection as provided by the club and recognise that they are valid reasons. However, we do not believe them to be insurmountable barriers and feel that further discussion, including the on-going matter of a “safe standing” area, should take place in the near future to consider how some, or all, of the proposals could be, at least, trialled, to then take a longer-term view on the proposals as a whole.
The lack of alternative suggestions from AFC was similarly disappointing albeit it was good to hear that AFC were drawing up their own match day experience proposals following a review of the fans’ responses to the Match Day Experience survey, completed earlier this year. However, we now understand these proposals will not be ready for some time and so will not be able to accompany the marketing of season ticket sales for next season.
This does not appear to DST to be good business practice by AFC, nor does it show due consideration for fans. Whilst we recognise there are many important issues for AFC at present e.g. league reconstruction debates, we exhort the club to give this matter their urgent attention and communicate their match day improvements alongside the season ticket communications such that there is added incentive to fans to purchase a season ticket for 2013/14.
February 14, 2013
Present: George Yule, Greig Ingram, Gordon Duncan and Jennifer Moffat
George Yule has had a challenging six months at the club learning all aspects of how AFC operates. He began the meeting by outlining the key requirements that came out of his 100 day Report to the Board.
George’s general assessment of the current situation at AFC is encapsulated in this statement made during the meeting:-
“This Club is tired, it needs an uplift and it needs re-energised”
Issues arising from the review have been broken down into two areas for development –
· Football Development – covering all aspects of football related matters. A more proactive approach, including in depth analysis with structured decision making, planning and minuted action points. Duncan Fraser has responsibility for this area of development.
· Commercial Management – involves all aspects of commercial activity. George Yule has responsibility for this area of development.
An organisational/management structure has been drawn which included Duncan Fraser heading up the areas relating to football and business matters and George Yule being responsible for all other aspects of the Club (including media related matters).
Key requirements -
1. Improved Football performance must be sustained- this will generate increased SPL income, should increase match attendances and increase player values and AFC’s Profile.
2. Youth Development must be enhanced and maximised – this is the only way forward for AFC. Aberdeen now has an Advanced Performance School at Hazlehead with 12 AFC players attending.
3. AFC should be highly visible in the Community- actively engage with supporters and the local Community. AFC in Community Foundation will be running as a Registered Charity. A Board of Trustees is already in place. AFC will discharge a lot of its community responsibilities via this organisation.
4. Current Cost base is unaffordable – needs to be realigned with turnover. Cost efficiencies implemented across the club.
5. Succession Planning to be implemented across the club.
6. Injection of new money required- look at revenue generating activities
7. New modern training facilities essential - current training facilities are detrimental to football development. AFC working with the Universities to deliver a high quality modern training complex, with facilities which would include 3G pitches. Summer 2014 is the aim for the complex to be up and running.
8. New stadium options pursued – Loirston still being considered (and two further meetings have taken place with Aberdeen City Council), along with four other options.
9. Extend AFC marketing with e-marketing playing a major role- Club shop to be developed. New Shop Manager developing a range of new initiatives.
10. Develop and motivate the existing staff – invest time in personal development.
To underpin all developments and the working of AFC in general in the future, George has drawn up a set of Core Values which are prominently displayed throughout the stadium.
DST asked how they could help the club with these. George Yule agreed that DST had a role to play in communicating the message to supporters that“Change is coming to AFC” and in providing some detail on what is being done to bring about these changes. He also agreed that the FOTC idea has merit but it is difficult to see where it sits and fits in, at the moment, with the changes he has initiated. He assured DST that he would look at it again. He also said that he would give further thought to the role DST can play.
Match day experience
AFC are working on this with plans to compact the crowd and have more activities before the games and at half time. There will be a survey going out to fans next week seeking ideas on the matchday experience. DST explained about some fans requesting that the Merkland Road stand be given over for a singing/standing area next season. AFC will look into this while considering other areas of the ground. DST pointed out the need for any decision to be made soon, as the renewal of season tickets is not that far away.
It was clear that the reality is that there will be changes coming at the club as it is a “tired Club” and “no longer a big club”. However the club is ambitious and there has been a lot of work done to identify the areas which need to be improved in order that AFC can once more be considered “a big club”. There is also a new energy and drive that will hopefully see us get there.
February 11, 2013
In a recent vote by members many deserving candidates were recommended for a DONS (Distinction on Notable Service) award but top of the poll was Ally Shewan who played for the Dons from 1960/69.
Ally who comes from Cuminestown signed for Formartine United, who were then in the Amateur League, as a 17 year old attacking midfielder before adopting a more defensive role. In season 1959/60 he was converted to a central defence and played 50 games as an ever present when Formartine reached three cup finals, winning two, and got to the sixth round of the Scottish Amateur Cup. Ally was recommended to Teddy Scott who trained Formartine on a Wednesday evening and he signed for AFC at the end of the season. 1960 was Formartine’s first in the Junior League but Ally only played 8 games before being called up by Tommy Pearson who managed Aberdeen at the time.
He played regularly in the reserve side but his versatility came to light when he was switched to left back and became a first team regular in season 1962/63. Once in the team there was no shifting him and he went on to play 320 consecutive games, refusing to give in to injuries or ailments during that period. The number of games was checked and ratified by James Forbes who at that time was sports reporter with the Evening Express.
The award was presented by DST Board member Ian Hay who played with Ally in the Formartine 1959/60 side. Their paths digressed at the end of that season when Ally signed for Aberdeen and Ian signed for National Service and had not crossed since!
In his acceptance speech Ally said he felt highly honoured to be recognised in this way by the club’s supporters. He had loved every minute of his football career and although he did not win any trophies he felt he won an award every time he pulled on a red shirt. He paid tribute to Eddie Turnbull, who he said was an outstanding football tactician and a great motivator. He said one of the first things Eddie did was to give the players a ball each and make them do additional training to master their ball skills.
He had his own section of the crowd as his fan club and as his run of consecutive games increased the cheer when his name was called as the team was announced grew louder each match! He said that his six years plus without missing a game was probably because in those days ‘hamstrings’ did not exist! He was too modest to say what an outstanding player and club man he was regularly snuffing out the threat of the great wing players of the time including the legendary Jimmy Johnstone and Willie Henderson.
Ally’s outstanding contribution to our club was recognised by AFC when he was enrolled as a legend of the club and he is now very proud to serve as an ambassador.
January 30, 2013
The DST Board fully support the campaign for a singing section to create some atmosphere at Pittodrie, and recognise that the club need to improve the match day experience for fans.
Aberdeen Mad have a campaign
running for a singing section at the Merkland Road end and a dedicated forum
on this topic.
Please send us your comments on the Pittodrie match day experience and where you would like a singing section to be located in the stadium.
The club have a match day experience survey which we would encourage all members to complete (by Tuesday 5th Feb) to have their say on what they would like to see at Pittodrie on match days.
January 17, 2013
Meeting Notes – 16/1/13 at Pittodrie
Present: Duncan Fraser , Jennifer Moffat, Jeremy Wood
Duncan wanted to outline to the DST the background and detail of the SPL’s reconstruction proposals.
Desire is to implement at start of next season, which is still very possible but there is a great deal to be done. Next steps are that the SPL and SFL have meetings with their members at end January to see if agreement in principle can be reached
Proposals developed after the failure to deliver on the McLeish report recommendations for league reconstruction and the liquidation of the original Rangers FC in the summer.
The time it took the Rangers FC situation to be resolved was largely driven by external factors out with football in that a CVA remained a possibility right up until the end
At the SPL away day at Dunkeld a reorganisation group was formed.
This group (with 5 SPL clubs and the CEO) following extensive work came back with the proposed 12/12 and three eight solution. The SPL unanimously agreed to take forward this solution in principle as the way ahead in early December.
Proposals said to have following benefits
- Lots of pressure on top teams to perform to reach top 8 – so meaningful games
- A natural winter break
- Post-split top 8 have all to play for but no relegation leading to hopefully attractive matches
- Income (based on final league placement) will be more evenly distributed. Top 8 lose income share, much of which goes the teams in 9-16th (recognising that many present SPL members face a real challenge in the play off 8)
- Additional funds for all remaining 42 clubs within the present SFL
- A merger between the SPL and SFL bringing the senior game back to one governing body
- Pyramid system to be introduced which is a key SFA objective
- Ground regulations loosened, but all grounds to be under SFA licensing which is committed to raising standards
League structure linked to the voting change, governance and financial all through redistribution as well as single body and pyramid.
Protected areas only in relation to specific areas eg number of home live games, home gate receipts, existing club sponsorships.
Clubs to have equal vote, except where issues are specific to one league only – others benefit from new distribution model. New board is proportional between leagues.
New single governing body – but merger with SFA not seen as key
Artificial pitches use may be extended
Areas like summer football not part of initial process but could be debated down the line.
League Cup sections not seen as viable option to replace income from fewer league games in a larger league structure
Also keen to extend Friday fixtures involving local clubs where possible
Commenting on the newspaper comments on the ECA Doha meeting AFC confirmed that they are attending as a member of the ECA (Celtic being another ordinary member) which is open to invited clubs across all European leagues and is seen as a key driver in moving the game forward across Europe.
DST explained that fans feel they have not been consulted or involved in the proposals for league reconstruction and asked that the club communicate clearly to the fans on this issue.
AFC as with all other clubs will be engaging with fans if agreement is reached by the SPL and SFL. Vital that agreement is reached first.
AFC are keen to get ideas of areas where the supporters can influence. DST to lead this process with input from AFC as appropriate through a survey conducted by DST. AFC see this as a positive independent approach.
DST presented feedback of member’s comments. Communicated that only real consensus was fans were not keen on playing same teams four times. However it was clear that for now there is no alternative to that.
DST would like to thank those members that got in touch with us regarding this issue. Some feedback has already been given to the club and all the responses will be passed on to ensure that the club are aware of the fans feelings on this issue.
January 7, 2013
Club – George Yule; Ian Jack: Duncan Fraser. Reps of various supporter groups and DST members. Apologies – Chris Gavin
IJ opened the meeting and initially passed over to DF to provide an update on activities over the last 6 months or so for the SPL and SPL Board from the Rangers situation through to the current league reconstruction proposals. This, and the further, question areas were:-
2. SPL/ SPL Board matters update
DF gave a detailed and extensive background and update to the numerous matters that have occurred in the last 6 months or so.
Key points were:-
- The loss of Rangers to the SPL was a detriment to the central income re impact on overseas distribution rights and so on. DF and others met with broadcasters and agreed terms that were acceptable to all parties whereby the contract could be locked in for a longer period and there is a negative financial impact v income, and respective shares, for the bigger SPL teams, including AFC.
- As a result this influenced the further debate relating to voting rights per decision type. AFC’s commercial perspective is that they recognise that for the good of the game there will need to be some give up from the SPL central income pot but, having already given up some of their income, AFC is not prepared to give away a whole load more without suitable league reconstruction and fairer distribution of income agreements being tabled and settled as part of the further negotiations required. Hence, there is no tie up with Celtic on this but like Celtic AFC wish the wider debates to be had and sorted that would not need to take place were the voting rights merely changed as initially indicated i.e. the wider issues would then be ignored and not be tabled for discussion.
- To that end smaller working groups of SPL clubs have been challenged to review all matters and come forward with suitable proposals for agreement. This has re-clarified that a 16 team top league just does not stack up financially as too much income would be lost due to less games and less meaningful games amongst other relevant points.
- Accordingly the 24/18 SPL proposals that develop into 12/12, then 8/8/8 were produced and unanimously agreed by SPL clubs. This was followed by discussions with the SFL and SFA as to identify the fundamental principles for each group and what was available for negotiation. In essence there is a decent level of cross body agreement already re e.g. play-offs, promotion and relegation; pyramid structure etc..
- No decision has been made as to governing bodies in the future and/or the leagues being re-branded but the next steps are to have further meetings and thrash out the details with a possible start date in 2013/14. DF informed the room that all clubs and governing bodies were working together.
- AFC accepts that they, and other SPL clubs, will need to give up income to the lower leagues but are prepared to do so for the good of the game. However, local initiatives and efforts to replace that income will be needed.
3. What about summer football and are Sky keen on that?
Summer football has been raised various times and AFC are supportive. However, it is not a priority and so not specifically included in the above proposals but it is hoped it will be specifically discussed in depth 1-2 years after any change is effected.
Sky are open to this but it is not critical to them. The ESPN contract expires at the end of the year and their future intent is not known. GY advised that AFC’s preference with regard to discussions (short-term) with the broadcasters is more about the scheduling i.e. kick off times and date changes for games and so on
4. What about more Friday night football?
- Again AFC is supportive but have not been involved further. General agreement in place to continue this, but policing concerns are relevant here and are still a barrier as to what games re teams, and where, will be considered.
5. What does AFC get as a result of Celtic’s success in the Champions League and is there any prospect of European income being added to the central pot for distribution across the Scottish game.
- No, this income is retained by the club concerned and will not come under a central distribution set up.
- However, for the SPL, because of the stage in the Champions League that Celtic has reached, it will receive a payment of £1M from the UEFA Solidarity payment pool, to be distributed across all the other SPL teams, excluding Celtic, to compensate for any disruption to fixtures as a result of CL games
6. Will there be more signings in January?
- As things stand there are no available funds for more players despite the extensive injury list which is a concern.
7. What is the truth regarding the Ryan Fraser situation?
- Discussions, including an increased contract offer, were on-going from August to October. At that time the player submitted his expectations and AFC responded with an offer close to those terms. The player asked for more time to consider this offer and after further discussion he has indicated he wants to wait and see what develops elsewhere ie to keep his options open but AFC cannot afford to apply a wait and see position as plans need to be made for the future. Accordingly a formal offer was made which RF subsequently rejected which AFC communicated to the media as AFC needs to move on and focus on players who want to play for the club and with economics and finances being as they are all clubs will need to reduce their player pool budgets next season.
- RF should not be vilified for this as he is within his rights to make this decision and so will leave with AFC’s best wishes and time will tell if the decision was the right one for Ryan.
8. So, did the club act too late on this?
- No, the future of young players and subsequent contract discussions is an on-going and continuous exercise. 5-6 other young players have already agreed contract extensions this season and discussions are taking place with others, not yet in the first team pool. The club is also restricted to the terms of contracts, per age of the player concerned, but this is another reason why discussions need to take place all the time to make sure that the permitted timeframes are met.
9. (This was an external to the meeting question asked) – Should Ryan Fraser, and others in the same situation, not give an interview to Red TV explaining their decision to supporters in terms of being open and honest to the paying public?
- No, this would be totally unfair to Ryan and a bad example set that could discourage parents from letting their children sign with AFC at much younger ages if this was expected of them a few years later plus we know that it will happen again in the future as England is a Category 1 country but Scotland is only a Category 2 one and as England has set up an U21 league, they will keep plundering the Scottish leagues for young talent that is further progressed than their Academy players given that they have played many more games in the SPL even at such a young age. For similar reasons UEFA is very unlikely to change the compensation rules.
10. What is the latest on the plans for new training facilities via the University link up. Plus any stadium update?
- Negotiations regarding the training facilities are at a mature stage reflective of a mutual willingness to find a solution to make it happen which is good news but as the £ figures involved are big it will take a bit of time yet to conclude any deal. Hopefully there will be an announcement in early 2013.
- Little progress on the stadium front and appearing less and less likely that an agreement can be reached with ACC over the Loirston Loch site but there will be a further meeting soon with planning officers to review the situation again.
11. The mobile app (web site) does not appear to be working following a recent upgrade
- Not aware of this but we’ll look into it – thanks for the feedback. There are many improvements required to the website as advised at the last Forum meeting
12. Supplementary Q – what is the club’s view on the atmosphere created from section S (South Stand) at the Motherwell cup-tie and can previous suggestions re changes to the Merkland (sitting and standing section) and RDS and Main Stand etc be considered again to change for season 13/14 given we aren’t leaving Pittodrie any time soon?
- The attendance at the Motherwell game was very disappointing. We accept there can be reasons but attendances are still lower than fans indicated in the summer that they would be and need to be increased to support the club’s finances.
- That said, the atmosphere created by both sets of fans, plus the band and the drum was great and something we’d like to see more of.
Accordingly, the club will investigate further what can be done to help create the best atmosphere possible.
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