July 18, 2012
The AFC board has led the way in the fight for Sporting Integrity and stood up for their principles in the face of other parties seeking to manipulate alternative outcomes.
The board has done everything our fans have asked of them, and now it is time for every Dons supporter to back the club and do whatever they can to capitalise on the opportunity for a New Don in the proud history of AFC.
The club has issued a rallying call for fans to get behind them, and provided suggestions on how to do so. DST fully supports this message and is pleased to note the inclusion of ideas from the fans i.e. http://www.afc.co.uk/articles/20120716/the-time-is-now_2212158_2850606
In his statement on Friday Stewart Milne spoke to every Dons supporter when he said – “Finally I would like to address Aberdeen supporters directly. The challenges facing every club in Scotland going forward are severe, not least to our own club. I urge every single Dons supporter to get behind the Club, and the time to do that is now, as we face these challenges that have come about as a result of this situation which was not of our making.”
Whilst DST does not agree with Stewart Regan’s, and others, suggestion of “Financial Armageddon” being on the cards, we do appreciate that times may become harder than they have been. The country continues to be in a recession, money is tight and fans can only afford so much. Any contribution that can be made is appreciated.
On that note, DST is aware of a belief that Season Ticket sales for this season are high. Unfortunately, whilst we do not specifically know the numbers sold, nor the mix e.g. free under 12 ones, we do not believe that sales are even at last season’s level yet. Clearly, there are many valid reasons for this, but we feel it is important for fans to be aware of the situation, as a catalyst to act if he/she has not already done so.
DST would like to set a joint target with the club of 11,000 season ticket sales as, achieving this would be a major factor in ensuring the future of the club. We think home attendances need to be around 11,000 for the club to break even and so, if we could guarantee this as the minimum gate income per match, it would be highly advantageous for the club’s finances and budgeting.
You may well have seen comment in the media, and social media, recently regarding “Sell out Saturday” i.e. to get full houses around SPL grounds on 11th August. Our primary concern, of course, is for our game against Ross County and we originally commented that if we could have a 19,000 crowd, or more, then we have immediately negated the potential for “lost” income through not playing Newco twice at home.
Therefore, in addition to buying a season ticket, if you can afford it, we encourage everyone to try to attend the Ross County game, at least, and hopefully many others. It would be excellent were this to become an all-ticket game. The club will be doing other PR/marketing activities as part of their strategy as the start of the season gets closer and DST will be happy to pass on any further marketing or merchandising suggestions you may have.
Another way of looking at this is to have an extra 1,000 fans, above last season’s average home attendance, at 8 games during the season. That is fine but it would be much better to pack the ground out as quickly as possible, create an enjoyable atmosphere in the ground, get behind the team, and hopefully earn the 3 points, such that the extra fans will keep coming back. That would evidence to the media, and SFA/SPL executives, that Scottish football is not just about 2 teams, even though we do not actually know who the 2nd team is at present.
On that note, DST now has a 2nd basis for its communications to all Dons fans. Our primary basis remains as standing up for sporting integrity, and seeing the situation as an opportunity that AFC should capitalise on, through everyone connected to the club working together to deliver the New Don.
However, there is now a secondary angle of an “own goal” as it were, whereby the club and the fans do not make the most of the current goodwill and positivity, and let things slides back to how it has been for the past few seasons. Were this to happen we then face the West Coast media enjoying our failure and saying “we told you so” and worse, those members of the Oldco support who say they are very happy to see other clubs fail, as they believe that clubs like ours cannot survive without them.
In the last week, alone, DST has noted:- Jim Traynor writing – “The big mistake made by the SPL clubs was to pander to allow supporters to dictate. When cold, calculating business minds were required we ended up with fans allowing hearts ruling heads”
Hugh Keevins writing – “there’s no case to be made for letting supporters influence business decisions within the game. The fans shouldn’t be thought of as extras who turn up to provide atmosphere at matches and have no say in anything. But they’re not the ones who will be liable for personal loss when their moral crusade goes belly up. It will be people like the director I spoke to on Friday who will pay the heaviest price. Some people in the game have become consumed by the spotlight throughout the Rangers crisis but they can’t be blinded to the truth. Power and influence must also carry a sense of responsibility. Those who have done nothing wrong are being victimised by Friday’s vote. The moral high ground is full of people who have no appreciation of the calamity in our midst. It’s time they understood.”
Admittedly, they need to be a bit controversial to help sell papers but there is no excuse for such condescending attitudes towards the customers of the game who actually pay to attend games each week.
Further, we have noted the amount of column inches given over to the Rangers bloggers and spokesmen to trot out wholly inaccurate and blinkered views about how harshly their team has been dealt with; we have seen a so-called Rangers historian appear on TV and state wholly inaccurate historical comments about AFC, and then saw an interview on Sky Sports with Gordon Smith who, if you have seen the recent Irn Bru advert, gave an example of why it is appropriate that Newco are playing in the lower leagues.
Many comments on the internet and on social media, by alleged supporters, are clearly not repeatable but do clearly demonstrate just why it is so important that everyone connected to AFC does his, or her, bit to make sure AFC does indeed have a successful New Don, and at the same time avoids any own goals.
So let’s all “Sell out Saturday” and “Pack out Pittodrie” again, and again.
Representatives from Dons Supporters Together met with members of the Aberdeen FC board on June 28th. Below is a summary of what was discussed.
Meeting between Aberdeen Football Club Representatives and DST representatives on Thursday 28th June 2012 at Pittodrie Stadium.
• Update on DST
Membership rising rapidly; Heightened profile and media exposure extensive – often the voice for other clubs; D.O.N.S. Awards; Plans for merchandising and fundraising; Very positive response from fans. Various DST business items discussed including progressing the initiative to obtain shares in return for funds raised for AFC youth development via Reds Direct.
• What are the reasons for the changes in the AFC board and what are the implications upon finances?
Has been a long time in the planning to create a “step change” and to spread Duncan Fraser’s workload. George Yule will be a fresh pair of eyes with a wide-ranging remit to change the DNA and corporate brand of the club to reconnect the club with the city and supporters. GY also stated that each area of the club will be under pressure to perform well and will be managed/ led on that basis including the team itself as “Top 6 is a soft target”. GY intends to build a dynamic future as he can’t do anything about the past. There is little change to the club’s financial position at this stage as most AAM shares will be taken up by the new/recent Board members.
• What’s happening about a Fans Rep on the Board and can DST fill that “void” following Chris’ change?
The approach will be to build on the arrangements and access DST has at present and for formal supporter contact sessions. GY and Ian Jack will be the main contacts.
• Communications and PR
Issues of Hayes’ announcement, Willie Miller’s treatment, the Chairman’s announcement on “no Newco decision yet” and the Board changes all raised with Dave McD who explained the background to each and the lessons learned. AFC’s position has always been no newco in the SPL and application for SFL in the normal way. That is still the club’s stance irrespective of the Div 1 proposals and this was welcomed by DST and will be by AFC fans. GY acknowledged that the PR Dept of the club requires looking at and there needs to be greater co-ordination of PR procedures.
• AFC Strategy – Vision for AFC
Mark handed GY a copy of his “Friends of the Club” proposal paper. GY assured DST that it would be looked at and form part of his initial information gathering/assessment of the current situation exercise he will be carrying out when he takes up post on 1 July, and will discuss the paper with Mark.
• Youth Development – what is the on-going status following Willie Miller’s departure?
GY confirmed that there would be no reduction in the importance of the youth development programme. The opposite is indeed the case and there will be a fresh structure to achieve the important aspirations.
• Stadium – What is the purchase of ground situation?
Feeling is that the land issue will be resolved. Current difficulties were explained as these are outside of AFC’s control. Further questions were raised and answered but DST accepts that it would be inappropriate to publish those answers at the current stage in the new stadium process.
• Current situation in Scottish Football
DST feel AFC need to take the chance for club to get closer to fans – last week’s “mis”-communication was a huge faux-pas and a major opportunity to connect with fans lost – what will AFC do now to try to repair some of the damage? How can DST assist? Acceptance that the club needs to work at engaging with the fans. The unfortunate events of last Friday had a significant impact but appear to have been overcome quickly with AFC’s stance being made clear and confirmed. The plan to work for a full house for the Ross County game was welcomed by all. DST to liaise on this with Malcolm Panton. The current situation needs to be seen as an opportunity to mobilise the Dons support and community to back the club in financial terms. DST’s assistance is welcome. It is a “New Don / Don of a New Era”
• AOB – Various other matters were discussed including
Recognition efforts for Teddy Scott can only be undertaken if they carry the agreement of Teddy’s family;
DST raised member feedback where supporters have “lost” their long standing season ticket seats through not renewing in time – Whilst difficult to resolve, the club will offer to help the parties concerned to discuss any situation where a fan remains very unhappy at losing his/her seat to see if a swap might be feasible.
DST raised member feedback regarding the price of kids’ kits (£72-77) and the fact that these can only be sold through the club shop/ website. Both points were considered as not being ideal, especially the price of the strips but that the clubs hands were tied due to the contract terms with Adidas. However, a new manager, responsible for this area, started on 27/6 and he will be requested to look into the matter and let DST/fans know the answer and what can be done, if anything.
General discussion around ideas to promote the club/attendances as necessary to compensate for any reduced income next season took place and DST will send these ideas to Malcolm Panton and Chris Gavin e.g. the idea that ex-pats buy season tickets and give them to AFC to pass to under privileged children/groups to attend games i.e. the expats want to show their support and contribute to the cause.
On a side note, please remember to do all that you can to show your support for Aberdeen FC during this season. A major effort is being coordinated to gain as large a crowd as possible for the Dons opening home game of the season vs Ross County on August 11th. Greig Ingram from DST appeared on Reporting Scotland last night (6.5 mins) calling for a big support in the opening home game. An attendance of 19,000 at Pittodrie on August 11th will wipe out the defecit from old Rangers travelling support in just one fixture.
July 9, 2012
Dons Supporters Together have been working recently with a number of supporters of other clubs to raise concerns over the handling of various matters within Scottish football and are seeking to involve Supporters Direct Scotland in this matter.
Additionally, we have passed our views to the AFC board for comment and we will update members upon the club’s response.
June 28, 2012
Dons Supporters Together were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of a true Dons legend in Teddy Scott.
Teddy served Aberdeen as player, trainer, coach and in many other capacities for nearly 50 years since joining the club in 1954.
Willie Miller referred to Teddy as “a cornerstone of the Pittodrie establishment. His depth of experience, together with his unquestioned loyalty to the club and his conscientious attention to detail were assets successive managers recognised and treasured”
Alex McLeish said of Teddy, “He is probably the most important member of the Pittodrie staff. If he ever left AFC they would have to appoint three or four people to take his place such is the volume and variety of the work he undertakes. But his greatest importance lies in the role he plays in developing the talents of young players”
Teddy was held in such high regard by the club that he was awarded a testimonial match in 1998. Alex Ferguson described how he regarded Teddy as so important and influential on his own career that he convinced the Manchester United board that it was essential to take the unprecedented step of sending a full strength side for the testimonial of an “unknown” member of the backroom staff at his former club.
DST board member Colin Milne was in attendance at today’s funeral in Ellon and placed a wreath on behalf of all Aberdeen fans to mark our respects to someone who meant so much to Dons Supporters of all ages.
It speaks volumes of the high regard Teddy was held in within Scottish football that so many Pittodrie greats were in attendance to show their respects including Sir Alex Ferguson, Willie Miller, Alex McLeish, Jim Leighton and Joe Harper as well as others from throughout Scotland including SFA President Campbell Ogilvie.
DST were delighted to have been able to honour Teddy during his lifetime with a DONS award for Distinction of Notable Service to Aberdeen. Hopefully it let Teddy and his family know how much he meant to everyone associated with Aberdeen FC.
There will only ever be one Teddy Scott. There has not been nor will there ever be a finer servant to Aberdeen Football Club. A true legend of our club to whom we owe so much.
June 26, 2012
DST applauds the brave and correct decision of the AFC board to go public with its intention to vote against any newco gaining direct entry to the top tier of Scottish Football. We have always understood the difficulty of company directors having to balance the conflicting interests of sporting integrity and their financial responsibilities, and are delighted that they have listened to their fans and customers, and have taken the only decision which makes long term sense for Scottish Football and for the club both as a sporting entity and as a business.
We regret the false start a few days ago, and understand that as a result, some supporters may wish to hold off buying season tickets until after 4 July to ensure that the no to newco vote actually happens. While we empathise with that view, we feel the time has come to get behind the club, and we therefore urge all supporters to show their support now in what will be a very hard financial environment. In recognition of the club’s public stance, we encourage all AFC fans to buy as many season tickets for themselves and their families as they can reasonably afford, and to persuade everyone they know to do likewise, even if they have previously paid at the gate. Our target must be for the club to sell at least 1500 more season tickets than last year in order to limit the loss of income which reduced revenues will otherwise cause.
In view of the uncertain environment during the “early bird” period, we will also try to persuade the club to re-instate the early bird deal until 7 July in recognition of the exceptional circumstances which have existed up until yesterday.
The club now has an outstanding chance to try to regain its place at the top of Scottish Football, and qualify for Europe once more. AFC can be great again if we all support the club financially as well as vocally from the stands.
Stand Free and Come On You Reds (and Whites)
June 8, 2012
Greig Ingram from Dons Supporters Together has been invited to participate in a discussion on the possibility of a Rangers Newco during Sportsound this Saturday 9th June.
The feature will include an interview with Stephen Thomson, Chairman of Dundee Utd followed by a discussion with fans reps focussing on the pressure being placed on clubs by fans in relation to a possible vote on a Rangers newco being granted entry to the SPL.
The piece should be on at some point between 2 and 3.30pm tomorrow afternoon.
June 4, 2012
Everyone in Aberdeen remembers the Piper Alpha disaster and the tragic loss of 167 men.
The statue and memorial gardens in Hazlehead park are a fitting tribute to those men and a major feature in the Park.
The “Pound for Piper Memorial” Fund has been set up by Sodexo and plans to raise £1m by 2013 (25th Anniversary) to help maintain the memorial gardens.
You can donate to the fund and find more information at the Pound for Piper website here
May 13, 2012
On 12th May, Dons Supporters Together were delighted to present Norman Goldie with the latest D.O.N.S. award – “Distinction of Notable Service to Aberdeen Football Club.
Norman is now the 4th recipient of this award from AFC Supporters, following the awards to Willie Miller, Joe Harper and Teddy Scott, demonstrating that the DST members are able to nominate anyone, in any capacity, who has provided notable service to the club over the years.
Norman was recognised for his great many years of supporting Aberdeen. That, however, is not the whole story as he is not the oldest supporter and may not have been a supporter for the longest period, but he is undoubtedly the most charismatic supporter, in that every AFC, and many opposition fans, who has attended games over the years, knows Norman.
His official match gear, that he was insistent he be photographed in when receiving his award (so that “people knew who he was!”) is legendary – who doesn’t recall with fondness the red and white socks with the sandals (and now the red and white trainers), the multiple scarves, the hat and the official club jacket?
That, alongside travelling to games, the length and breadth of the country, and walking to and from Pittodrie, in all weathers, regardless of how the team were performing at the time, help give Norman his legendary status with AFC fans and explain why he is regarded so fondly by all.
Thanks Norman, for your support and for adding so much colour and character to our games and here’s to seeing you around the country for many years to come.
If you want to join DST and submit your nomination for future awards, then please sign up, for free, at http://www.donssupporterstogether.com/membership/
May 7, 2012
DST views with increasing concern the possibility that SPL clubs will vote to allow direct entry of a newco to the SPL with minimal penalties. The overwhelming opinion of supporters in Scotland is that a newco should enter senior football by applying for admission to the SFL 3rd division and working their way up again in a sustainable and honest way. Rangers like all other member clubs must be seen to comply with the rules and honour their debts, otherwise why should fans ever bother to turn up again, knowing for sure that the league is permanently rigged in their favour.
The mantra being repeated by most pundits and the officials of the SPL is that it is in the member clubs’ financial interest that a Rangers newco is immediately admitted to the SPL. The purported grounds are that Rangers along with Celtic bring about £700,000 a year to the other clubs by their fans attendance at matches and the TV deal. The message now being put about is that integrity and fair play is trumped by the financial imperative to survive since Scottish football will supposedly cease to be viable if Rangers are not in the top league. How can this stance be squared with Rangers and Celtic’s insistence in recent years that their departure to England/an Atlantic League would not be detrimental to Scottish football?
These assertions must be strongly challenged by the SPL club chairmen. Firstly, who are making the assertions? Many of the proponents of the “status quo” being essential have a vested interest. Media pundits and the press pack know that there will be far less appetite for their blanket coverage of the Old Firm if there is a transfer embargo and Rangers are facing East Stirlingingshire twice a season rather than Celtic. Their jobs hang in the balance. Clearly Rangers officials and supporters want their club at the top table winning trophies every season with guaranteed European football. They also have a vested interest for either financial or emotional reasons.
Now for the financial reality. In the case of our own club, in a season when AFC is in the top six, Rangers will normally add about 8000 over 2 games to the overall attendances for the season. Including programmes, food and other ancillary sales, the annual revenue is therefore about £200,000. Ranger’s fans represent about 4% of Aberdeen’s gate revenue in an average season, and if we have a good run in Europe, such as 4 seasons ago their effect is reduced to 2% of gate revenue.
Should Dundee (probably the best supported club in the SFL 1st division) be promoted into Rangers place, they have historically brought at least 2000 fans to Aberdeen matches, so the Rangers effect is reduced to £150000. If only 300 AFC fans fail to renew their season tickets and walk away from the club next season as a result of a misguided vote to allow a Rangers newco direct entry to the SPL, the effect of any Rangers support attending Pittodrie will be cancelled out. This is an entirely plausible scenario, which may well be repeated across all the SPL clubs given the strength of feeling being demonstrated across Scotland on this issue. SPL club chairmen will only finally count the cost of their decision when season ticket sales fail to materialise, by which time it will be too late to persuade the fans that the SPL is not permanently rigged in favour of the “too big to fail” clubs. The SPL chairmen should indeed “be careful what they wish for” if they vote for finance over integrity.
The TV deal melt-down scenario must also be challenged. If imaginative thought is applied, an alternative TV deal could be put together which would replace the current tired format. Rugby Super League in England has a £90m 5 year deal with Sky despite having lower attendances than the SPL. That is a better deal than the SPL had, so why can a minority sport with lower support do it and the SPL can’t? Probably because we are competing with the EPL and UEFA games, and therefore get less money and the lunch-time, Friday and Monday evening kick-offs to fill in the TV schedule gaps. If we go for summer football, we would be the only show in town for several weeks of the year and our product would be much more valuable. We could increase the league size as the customers want, have bigger play offs to keep the end of the season alive, and if OF games are actually essential to the deal, re-introduce the old League Cup qualifying groups at the start of the season with Rangers and Celtic in the same 4 team group to start the season with 2 OF games before the league starts. Overall, a revised programme for the season could easily generate the same cash as before from a TV deal, whether Rangers are in the SPL or not.
Finally let us address the potential absence of £500,000 a year income from TV. This could be replaced by increasing the average home gate by attracting only 1000 extra fans to every home game. The latent support for a successful Aberdeen FC is there to be had. 18,000 made the long trip to Glasgow for a 1215 kick-off only last month. If the AFC product on the pitch was more attractive and marketed as enthusiastically as a certain well known North-East house building company’s product, a target of 1000 extra season ticket fans to replace the TV income could easily be reached.
In summary, AFC like all the other SPL clubs does not need Rangers in the SPL to survive and thrive, and must vote for integrity in our national game.
April 27, 2012
The Board of Dons Supporters Together have sent this open letter to Aberdeen FC Chairman Stewart Milne in regards to the upcoming SPL Meeting later this month.
Dear Mr Milne,
As you prepare for the meeting of the SPL clubs on 30 April 2012 to discuss the proposed changes to the rules of the SPL, we wish to make you aware of the views of the supporters we represent.
It is our opinion that the proposed changes to the SPL rules do not go far enough, and have as their main purpose the facilitation of the direct entry of a Newco Rangers into the SPL following liquidation of the previous commercial entity. You will be aware of the strength of feeling that such a potential outcome arouses amongst followers of football across Scotland, and the potential damage to the game as a whole if financial self-interest is allowed to over-ride the principles of fair play, integrity and honouring ones obligations.
The astonishing number of responses to the recent splsurvey and consistency of views expressed (even from Rangers supporters) cannot be ignored. Ultimately, the finance in the game comes from the pockets of the paying supporters, either through their direct contact with the clubs through ticket sales and merchandise or indirectly via their subscriptions to TV companies and sponsors.
In survey after survey, these same customers whose money funds the game are telling every club and footballing authority in Scotland that they want more variety in larger leagues, more positive open, attacking and attractive football played, a fairer distribution of money within the game across all the leagues, and an even-handed application of the rules by officials and regulating bodies. Until the customers views are listened to and their views acted on, the game in Scotland will continue its slow and steady decline
With regard to the SPL proposals our view is
Resolution 1 – In favour.
Resolution 2A – Against. Instead, we feel that an alternative Resolution 2 should be proposed which specifically prohibits an Insolvency Transfer Event.
Resolution 2B – Not applicable due to the prohibition of Insolvency Transfer Event.
Resolution 3 – In favour.
Resolution 4 – The principles of our views on Resolutions 1,2A, 2B and 3 above should be applied to whatever specific updates are proposed.
Resolution 5 – Not applicable due to the prohibition of Insolvency Transfer Event. An alternative rule should be proposed under which a member club’s share in the SPL is not transferable, and in the event of liquidation that share lapses. The remainder of the current season will be played out by the remaining clubs with games already played against the defunct club declared null and void. The vacant place will be filled by a double promotion from the top of the SFL first division at the end of that season.
Resolution 6 – In favour.
Resolution 7 – In favour.
With regard to the potential of “life without Rangers”, it seems to us that the official statement you made in the Annual Accounts of 2002 is as relevant to the current situation as it was during the events of 2002 :-
“It is difficult to envisage exactly what is going to happen in terms of the infrastructure of the game in Scotland
but, as things stand, Aberdeen, along with all the other SPL clubs other than the Old Firm, will be leaving the SPL at the conclusion of season 2003/4. If that does happen, Aberdeen, along with the other clubs outwith the Old Firm, will be looking to form a new league with a new voting structure which Rangers and Celtic will be invited to join. If they choose to decline this invitation there is little doubt that, in the short term, there will be a reduction in revenues from broadcasting and sponsorship due to their absence. However, it is my firm belief that within a short period, a Scottish league, in which a number of clubs will be capable of winning the championship, will become extremely attractive to television companies and business organisations alike.”
If the current 10 non Old-Firm clubs were to pursue today, the course of action proposed 10 years ago, it would be with the full support of DST. The notion of individual clubs owning their own TV rights in a league is preposterous, as is that of 2 clubs acting as a concert party and having the power of veto over the majority. The situation is entirely analogous to the rugby 5 Nations situation of the past when England’s demands for an unfair share of TV money were successfully faced down by the other countries.
In the event that Rangers go into liquidation, as an alternative to the 10 resigning from the SPL, we suggest that an immediate egm of the SPL is called and the 10 push through changes to the voting structure while Celtic are in a minority of 1, and before any resumption of Old Firm hegemony can be re-established.
DST considers that the time has now come to arrest the rapid decline of Scottish Football by restoring democracy, and re-distributing finances fairly in the game. The supporting public will no longer tolerate irregularities by the game’s fat cats, nor the subsidy of “too big to fail” enterprises whether they are banks or bankrupt football clubs.
The Board of Dons Supporters Together
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