Notes from April 2021 Trust Board meeting
NEWPORT COUNTY AFC SUPPORTERS’ TRUST BOARD MEETING
APRIL 29, 2021, 7pm
MEETING HELD VIA VIDEO CONFERENCE
REDACTED NOTES FOR PUBLICATION
ATTENDEES (Board members): Paul Marks (PMa, Chair), Kelly Anderson (KA), Mark Crook (MC), Mike Everett (ME), Colin Faulkner (CF), Gavin Foxall (GF), Bob Herrin (BH), Shaun Johnson (SJ), Peter Madigan (PM), Kevin Ward (KW).
ATTENDEES (Club staff): Nigel Stephenson (NS).
NOT IN ATTENDANCE: Ryan Courtney (RC).
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM LAST MEETING (PMa)
- The minutes of the Trust Board meeting held on March 25, 2021, were approved as an accurate record.
- MATTERS ARISING (PMa)
- None that are not included in agenda items.
- EFL/CLUB/OPERATIONAL UPDATE (GF/NS)
- League Meeting: GF presented a report from the most recent EFL meeting. Return of fans was discussed. Welsh Government attended the meeting as ourselves and Swansea could make the play-offs. Online abuse was a key discussion point. Squad numbers for season 21/22 also discussed.
- Rodney Parade: GF provided an update on a number of subjects
- Football Reform/Fair Game: GF has written to MP Tracey Crouch, who is leading the ‘fan-led’ review of English football set up by the UK Government after the European Super League controversy, GF said it was important for us to be engaged directly as one of only three fan-owned EFL clubs. We have been in dialogue with AFC Wimbledon and Exeter regarding the Fair Game project. GF and PMa have led these discussions. The Board was provided with a presentation of the aims and objectives of Fair Game and asked to support the Club signing up and playing an active role in the project. KW said he thought being front and centre on such an initiative was vital for the Club. PMa said the Fair Game project was ultimately what we stand for as a Supporters’ Trust. The Board agreed unanimously with the proposal.
- Sporting Director: GF reported that 7 shortlisted candidates had been interviewed. More than 80 applications had been received. Four have been selected for second interviews. PM said all four final candidates were strong in different ways.
- Academy Audit: GF reported a health and safety audit was under way. We seem to be in good shape and no major issues are expected. Club sponsors Alfa Staff have been helping with training, demonstrating good synergy between commercial sponsors and the Club.
- Operational: NS provided a season-to-date report on Media, Retail, Academy, Ticketing and Football Administration operations. Key items: Esme Vines started as Media Apprentice on April 19; Club will join the ‘Enough is Enough’ social media boycott from May 30.
- FINANCIAL UPDATE (NS)
- Cash flow and budgets remain in line with forecast.
- Return to work of office staff increased in period with flexible furlough to be continued till new cut-off point of September 2021.
- Overall financial performance remains ahead of budget.
- Low level of debtors – balance being pursued.
- Budget 21/22: NS presented the budget for the forthcoming season to the Board. Key assumptions are: central funding levels remain at 20/21 level; Trust donations remain at 20/21 level; match day revenue structured around phased return of supporters over four quarters; season and match day tickets priced at 2019/20 season levels, irrespective of which league we are in.
- COMMERCIAL UPDATE (PM)
- PM reported current commercial revenue had exceeded budget.
- All available kit sponsorship for league and cup competitions this season was sold.
- All home matches for the 2020/21 Sky Bet League Two season were sponsored.
- We have seen an increase in new sponsors investing in LED advertising this season.
- Both the south and north terrace both received sponsorship.
- All senior team kit except the away kit shorts have been sponsored and designs approved for the 21/22 season.
- The first 11 matches of season 21/22 have been sponsored.
- Ticket sponsorship for 21/22 has been agreed.
- A training kit partner for 21/22 has been agreed and kit cads approved.
- Perimeter advertising boards that have been purchased have been ordered and can be expected to be installed at Rodney Parade in late May.
- We are in talks with 22 potential sponsors about a Fan Engagement Models next season.
- Being worked on: Improving the number of potential sponsors in our CRM is our immediate priority. Weekly calling days continue to take place a stadium plan is being produced for perimeter boards, the dugout, clock covers and other areas of Rodney Parade to increase the offering to sponsors and create new income streams; a hospitality plan is being produced for all scenarios of fans returning to Rodney Parade; we are looking at gaming and e-sports to improve engagement with our social media community and open up new revenue streams; we are connecting with player sponsors to inform them of the availability changes and opportunities for next season; the sponsorship of Exiles Match Day live has been proposed and is expected to be agreed early May; in June we have evenings planned for our 2021/22 kit sponsors. We will also use sponsor evenings, golf days and other activities to connect with potential and current sponsors; following the sponsors’ evening press releases will announce our sponsors. These will be produced in early June; our partnership portfolio will appear on the club website at the start of the 2021/22 season.
- EQUALITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION (CF)
- Zero complaints received.
- CF was attending the following EFL workshops – Global Cultural Awareness, Inclusion and Inclusive Practices, Inclusive Recruitment in Football, Racism in Football.
- Newport Walk for Dementia: 49 signed up; debrief & review planned for May.
- County with Pride: terms of reference drafted; soft launch planned for May 17 to coincide with International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia; group launch planned for June 28 to coincide with the anniversary of the Stonewalll Riots.
- Four areas of focus for 2021/22: BAME – plans drafted including MCMS & Matchday visit; LGBTQI+ - plans being discussed; Anti-Bullying – KA to own with Kidscape, Mental health – plans being drafted. No more than four bucket collections during the season.
- Mental Health: Updated Mental Health Charter to be presented at next Community Group Meeting; Drop-In sessions will continue to be virtual in May; creating a partnership with Andy’s Man Club.
- TRUST COMMUNITY GROUP (PMa)
- Trust members survey: PMa said analysis was continuing but there were high levels of satisfaction among members regarding value for money of membership and Trust communications. We are contacting members who provided negative responses to see how we can improve their experience.
- Positive progress and activity continues to be seen with Joe Crocker undertaking Membership Secretary role.
- Clwb Spytty and Teen Exiles membership package will remain the same for the 21/22 season.
- Trust Accounts for 19/20 have been filed with the auditors.
- PMa said we will be continuing with a signed shirt prize draw for members.
- SAFEGUARDING (KA)
- KA provided a comprehensive summary of April safeguarding activity and focus points for May.
- April: Review recommendations relating to the Sheldon Report; agree on an application form for the Club, instead of CV, to ensure consistent and relevant information being gained from each candidate moving forward. This has been agreed and now passed over to NS to implement; development of a reference request template including a request for safeguarding information – now agreed and sent over to NS to implement; Academy visits now scheduled to run in May – this may also possibly include a home fixture, and the visits will be un-announced as per EFL recommendations; Meeting with the Academy Manager and DSO to discuss the recommendations and adaptations that will need to come in with a view to meet the recommendations; Work on a timeline of events to be able to accurately measure progress.
- May: Academy visits to re-commence across all age groups; Review Safer Recruitment, Managing Allegations, Staff Code of Conduct and Anti-Bullying and Whistleblowing Policies in light of the Sheldon Report; Finalise Match Day briefing report ahead of the new season with Ben Lucey; DBS follow up for those that need them; Review Academy induction slides and handbook with Academy Manager; Devise and issue a Survey Monkey safeguarding questionnaire for all young people and parents to enable us to plan safeguarding strategy for the season ahead; Start developing safeguarding training for directors and Academy parents.
- KA said 19 Academy coaches had attended free Kidscape training on identifying signs of bullying.
- ANY OTHER BUSINESS
- KW congratulated Caitlin Bennett, one of our media interns from the University of South Wales, for being shortlisted for the FWA Student Football Writer of the Year award.
- GF confirmed the end of season awards will be virtual again.
- Return of fans: GF attending EFL session to discuss further ahead of 21/22 season.
Meeting closed at 9.15pm.
Next meeting: Thursday, June 24, at 7pm via Zoom.