Notes from February 2021 Trust Board meeting
NEWPORT COUNTY AFC SUPPORTERS’ TRUST BOARD MEETING
FEBRUARY 25, 2021, 7pm
MEETING HELD VIA VIDEO CONFERENCE
REDACTED NOTES FOR PUBLICATION
ATTENDEES (Board members): Gavin Foxall (GF, Chair), Kelly Anderson (KA), Mark Crook (MC), Mike Everett (ME), Colin Faulkner (CF), Bob Herrin (BH), Peter Madigan (PM), Paul Marks (PMa), Kevin Ward (KW).
ATTENDEES (Club staff): Nigel Stephenson (NS).
APOLOGIES: Shaun Johnson (SJ).
NOT IN ATTENDANCE: Ryan Courtney (RC).
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM LAST MEETING (SJ)
- The minutes of the Trust Board meeting held on January 28, 2021, were approved as an accurate record.
- MATTERS ARISING (SJ)
- None that are not included in agenda items.
- EFL/CLUB UPDATE (GF)
- PFA challenge to salary cap: GF explained how the PFA had been successful in its challenge to the salary cap agreed by clubs. The independent arbitration panel ruled that the proposal should have gone before the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee and this had not happened. The ruling meant the default position of returning back to SCMP for the foreseeable future. Options are being explored by a working group focusing on the existing SCMP to eliminate the protocol’s shortcomings and reflective of the current economic outlook. Rules around squad numbers, number of U21 players etc are likely to stay in place.
- Premier League bailout: GF explained a further £20m was being made available for clubs ‘in distress’. This would take the form of a ‘monitored grant’ (effectively a loan) with conditions around transfer spend and player wages attached.
- Next season: GF reported the 21/22 league season will start either at the end of July or first week in August with the League Cup likely to start before that. We would prefer a later start due to the new pitch being laid over the summer. The impact of the National League curtailing relegation is yet to be understood in the context of relegation from League 2 and promotion from the national division.
- Rodney Parade pitch: GF reported that the club had engaged with the EFL some weeks ago regarding the possibility of playing at alternative venues due to the condition of the RP pitch. There was an initial lukewarm response, but we went back to them again after the Forest Green Rovers match. GF spoke to Rick Parry and our League 2 representative. Other League 2 clubs were canvassed by the EFL and representatives. We have proposed that three home matches in March be played elsewhere to allow remedial work to take place on the pitch, with a return to RP in April. This will be considered by the EFL Board next Thursday. We will also be asking the Dragons if they can move their March matches away from RP as well.
- Welsh Government engagement: GF said he made a Freedom of Information request to Welsh Government for an explanation of why no money from its £17.7m Covid grant for Welsh sport was made available to Welsh clubs playing in the English pyramid. We await a response.
- Operational: NS provided a season-to-date report on Media, Retail, Academy, Ticketing and Football Administration operations, including details around the launch of the Carl Zeiss Jena 40th anniversary shirt planned for February 26.
- FINANCIAL UPDATE (NS)
- Cash flow and budgets remain in line with forecast.
- The balance of the Premier League rescue package monies has been received.
- Flexible furlough continues to be utilised to the current cut-off point of April 30.
- We continue to take advantage of all available lockdown financial support.
- Overall performance remains significantly ahead of budget.
- Low level of debtors, with the balance being pursued by various means.
- COMMERCIAL UPDATE (PM)
- PM reported commercial revenue was now ahead of budget.
- All remaining home matches are now sponsored apart from Scunthorpe.
- Sponsorships have been agreed and for the home and away shirts for next season on two-year deals.
- Our ongoing work with the media team on initiatives to increase our social media following continue. We have already seen an increase of 10,000+ followers across our feeds.
- The board requirements and dimensions for all four stands have been determined & submitted for a quote. An acceptable quote has been received so that we can continue with our plans to make Rodney Parade feel more like home next season.
- We have begun to map out a sponsorship gallery that will appear on the club website from the start of the 2021/22 season to improve the offering to our sponsors.
- To drive interaction with our social media audience and generate new commercial opportunities, we continue to explore gaming and e-sports.
- Planning for the sponsor launch for the 2021/22 season is under way.
- EQUALITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION (CF)
- GF delivered the report on behalf of CF who was incapacitated by a back problem.
- Zero complaints received.
- The Newport Walk for Dementia has been launched as ‘3k Your Way’ during April.
- The club’s ED&I Forum is growing in strength, forging relationships, and increasing our presence in the city.
- A BAME meeting with FSA & Exiles Together was held.
- Football Leadership Diversity Code will need some focus.
- Progress has been made on setting up a LGBTQ supporter group.
- Level Playing Field’s Week of Action starts on Saturday – Stevenage is our nominated game.
- CF is putting together an awareness calendar for next season.
- Mental Health: The City Working Group met last week. The terms of reference and direction of the group are being reviewed. We have engaged with Andy’s Man Club. The Virtual Drop-in is to restart next Wednesday (March 3).
- TRUST COMMUNITY GROUP (PMa)
- PMa gave an update on Community Group activity.
- The Trust Members’ Survey was now live and will close on March 9.
- There is ongoing positive engagement with the Stadium Group.
- Joe Crocker is now undertaking the Membership Secretary role – positive outputs being seen.
- The first Trust ‘Watchalong’ was held during the Grimsby home game with 12 members taking part.
- Ongoing activity by KW and JC to increase social media presence.
- SAFEGUARDING (KA)
- KA provided a comprehensive summary of February safeguarding activity and focus points for March. Key points were as follows…
- February: Reviews of risk assessments, Academy visits remain online during lockdown, induction process reviewed, review of Barnardo Review action points completed. Meetings included EFL Southern Safeguarding Group, Academy Governance Group, Club Safeguarding Group and EFL Safe to Operate audit. Training included My Concern modules 7-8, NSPCC webinar, and Diversity and Equality in Sport.
- March: Continue with DBS audit, finalise matchday briefing report, finalise and issue player friendly cards, complete review of Safe to Operate audit. Regular monthly meetings. Training to include Bold Beginnings Pride Cymru, and an NSPCC webinar on domestic abuse.
- Board members approved the and addition of three new policies: Managing Allegations, Prevent, and Drug and Alcohol Misuse. ME took an action to look at the hierarchy of policies.
- KW suggested extending the pagination of the next Trust newsletter to include a comprehensive update of KA’s safeguarding work to ensure it has a wider audience.
- BAR AMBER (PMa)
- PMa reported the only key outstanding issue was the ending of the energy contract and the collection of the meter. GF took an action to contact SJ re the meter.
- ANY OTHER BUSINESS
- AGMs: GF reported that March 22 was now the likely date for both the Club and Trust AGMs. Comms has been drafted and will be released tomorrow to ensure three weeks’ notice. Online voting will be used at the meetings. The Club AGM will be to approve the accounts and the appointment of auditors. PMa said this will be the same for the Trust AGM, other than giving notice of a proposal to increase the ‘normal’ term of office for elected board members from three to five years. This would not be retrospective and the proposal would not be voted on until the next AGM after this year's elections.
- Elections: PMa said the timetable for elections would be announced shortly after the AGMs had been completed. He had spoken again to Colin Everett for advice regarding the communications process. The plan remains for digital voting with an option of postal voting to keep costs down.
- Lockdown anniversary: GF said the stadium will be lit up to mark a year since the first Covid-19 lockdown.
- Chair handover: Though he had given his apologies, this meeting would be the last for SJ as Trust chair before PMa takes on the role after the Trust AGM. GF proposed a vote of thanks to SJ to the unanimous agreement of the Board.
- Commemorative shirt: The shirt marking the 40th anniversary of the Carl Zeiss Jena match will be launched tomorrow. The Board thanked Media Manager Callum Ellis for his work on the launch video.
- Shirt donations: Any excess shirts in stock at the end of the season will be donated to key workers, with some also donated to a refugee team.
Meeting closed at 8.15pm. Next meeting: Thursday, March 25, at 7pm via Zoom.