Just a little reminder that the AFC AGM will be taking place tomorrow, Saturday the 9th of November. The meeting will be held at Pittodrie commencing at 10.15 am.
New AFC season ticket packages are now on offer. Prices start from £150 for adults, and £40 for Under 12′s. For more information, visit the link below.
AFC have announced 20% off all Adult and over 60′s tickets for the Dons next home game on the 4th of November. Students and Under 18′s also pay just £5! So get yourself down to Pittodrie, Red Army and roar on your team!
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.
- email@example.com system & website progress
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.