Notes from August 2020 Trust Board meeting
NEWPORT COUNTY AFC SUPPORTERS’ TRUST BOARD MEETING
AUGUST 27, 2020, 7pm
MEETING HELD VIA VIDEO CONFERENCE
REDACTED NOTES FOR PUBLICATION
ATTENDEES (Board members): Shaun Johnson (SJ, Chair), Gavin Foxall (GF), Colin Faulkner (CF), Bob Herrin (BH), Kevin Ward (KW), Mike Everett (ME), Paul Marks (PMa), Kelly Anderson (KA), Ryan Courtney (RC), Peter Madigan (PM).
ATTENDEES (Club staff): Nigel Stephenson (NS).
APOLOGIES: Mark Crook (MC)
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM LAST MEETING (SJ)
- The minutes of the Trust Board meeting held on July 28, 2020, were approved as an accurate record.
- MATTERS ARISING (SJ)
- None that are not included in agenda items.
- SEASON 20/21 (GF/NS)
- First Team Update: New playing budget agreed including additional funding from season ticket sales and increased Trust donations; process for signing players working well – strengthening of medicals welcomed and applied; new signings settling in well; manager exploring a number of loans with local clubs; movement expected over the next week or so.
- Salary cap: We are able to live comfortably within the new rules (£1.5m playing budget cap); any loans are likely to have no impact on age regulation
- Season preparations: Stage 1 return to training: all protocols met with no issues, all information lodged with EFL and the process is working. Stage 2 contact training: all protocols met with no issues; First testing of players and staff with no positive results second test of players and staff with no positive results returned. Training sessions: players have come back in good shape, 5 trialists included in sessions. Pre-season games organised against local clubs
- Season start: Behind closed doors: preparation with all stakeholders on track; detailed report being prepared by Rodney Parade and club for submission to EFL; agreed that club can staff for BCD games to reduce costs; stadium being prepared in line with protocols. Return of crowds: still planned on a restricted basis for October but this will be dependent upon pilots. Overall, we are on track with planning and aligned with financial forecasts and phased return of furloughed staff.
- Season tickets: Full Board has already agreed the approach to season tickets. EFL has now confirmed iFollow access for all home games without full crowds can be included in season tickets package. Flowte had assured us their system was configured ready to handle online sales. We have resources in place to mitigate any issues if necessary. Sales will be in three stages: renewals, Trust members/shareholders/volunteers, general. Communications and Q&A issued yesterday. Stage one of sales began today. Immediate issues and challenges with online sales. It would appear only newer devices (less than two years old) using Chrome browser can access online sales. Looking at extending telephone sales on Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday. Praise received from supporters for the work being done via phone and email by Poppy and Callum.
- Season 20/21 Summary: League season now confirmed to start September 12; Carabao Cup 1st Round takes place September 5; Leasing.com first game September 8. Transfer window to run from July 27 to October 5. Salary & Squad Size Cap agreed for League 1 & 2 clubs. Crowds still likely to be allowed to attend in a reduced manner in October with pilot events to take place late September to enable final guidance. Return to Training: First team returned on August 3 and now operating under stage 2 of the protocol with players and staff tested; PDP Academy returned on August 10 with reduced hours and under protocol stage 1 conditions; remaining Academy return on August 31 with reduced hours.
- FINANCIAL & COMMERCIAL UPDATE (NS & PM)
- Financial overview: Club continues to control its financial position in line with forecasted numbers. No unbudgeted costs have been incurred. Flexible furlough introduced in August which has allowed the partial return of personnel in first team and Academy while still retaining some government support. Premier League Solidarity payment due to us in January 2021 has been brought forward. Anticipated that there will be a phased return of remainder of staff during September and October. The club will then look to take advantage of the Job Retention Grant in February 2021. All key creditors (HMRC, pensions etc) are up to date in accordance with agreed arrangements.
- Financial July: Satisfactory performance against budget in July. Commercial sales ahead of forecast. Retail sales ahead of forecast. Player wage costs slightly below forecast. No un-budgeted expenditure.
- Commercial: Successful conclusion to Crowdfunder process. All sponsorship in place for playing shirts. Sponsorship in place for South Stand. Ticketing sponsorship for the season agreed with Kingsway Centre. LED advertising package in place for the season. Current sales to date of 86% against budget for the year; satisfactory position bearing in mind hospitality sales not currently an option. Match sponsorship and general advertising are current sales focus. Alex Eagle has tendered his resignation and is joining Swansea City as Head of Digital; given timing of AE departure continuity is key and therefore Matthew Owen, an experienced sales person who has worked with us previously, has been appointed and is already selling LED.
- RODNEY PARADE (GF/NS)
- GF led a discussion on RP.
- EQUALITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION (CF)
- Zero complaints received.
- FA Community Shield donations made to Growing Spaces, Newport Foodbank, and the Sparkle Appeal.
- Aims for the Season: Mental Health Charter to be updated; Awareness Calendar; meeting with JDRF & Kidscape for continued support and raising profile; return of Walk for Dementia; get Disabled Supporters Association back up and running; establish LGBTQ supporter group; Welsh language takeover; BAME event.
- Request for help received from Eden Gate (homeless charity). CF and KW to meet them to discuss further.
- SAFEGUARDING (CF)
- Zero incidents reported.
- DBS checks have started for all first team support staff & media team. Access to FA Whole Game needed to read certificates.
- Policies, procedures, and guidance to be updated ahead of pre-season.
- AGMs/ELECTIONS (GF/SJ/KW)
- AGMs: Covid has meant we have had to push back these for both the Trust and the Club. The date of the AGM will be driven by the laying of the accounts. KW suggested the use of Zoom webinar functionality. This was agreed.
- Board elections: The terms of four directors (RC, CF, BH, and KW) are up in December. It was proposed that we need to appoint a Trust elections officer who will agree a timetable and undertake the elections process on behalf of the Trust. It was agreed that PMa would take the role. KW to provide him with all materials from the last elections to use as guidance.
- BAR AMBER (SJ & PMa)
- SJ and PMa provided an update on Bar Amber closure activities and their RAG ratings.
- ANY OTHER BUSINESS (All)
- BH said Newport Veterans have an end of season five-a-side tournament planned at Newport Stadium and have asked if County can host it. More information required before a decision can be made.
- NS gave an update on the ‘virtual supporters’ proposal first suggested by KW at the June board meeting. The plan now is for canvasses carrying images of fans provided by fans to be placed on the south stand behind the goals. Timescales are tight but we hope to have this in place in time for either the Barrow or Mansfield matches. Sales process and supplier still to be agreed.
- NS gave an update on matchday programmes. Temporary arrangements were likely for the first few matches of the season.
- CF suggested all directors should be using Easyfundraising when making online purchases to increase Trust funds.
- CF reported on plans for directors to undertake a sponsored walk to the Forest Green Rovers away match on December 1. This would be a two-day walk. CF to provide more details at next Community Group meeting.
Meeting closed at 9.12pm.
Next meeting: Thursday, September 24, via video conference. Start time 7pm.