Notes from January 2021 Trust Board meeting
NEWPORT COUNTY AFC SUPPORTERS’ TRUST BOARD MEETING
JANUARY 28, 2021, 7pm
MEETING HELD VIA VIDEO CONFERENCE
REDACTED NOTES FOR PUBLICATION
ATTENDEES (Board members): Shaun Johnson (SJ, Chair), Gavin Foxall (GF), Kelly Anderson (KA), Mike Everett (ME), Colin Faulkner (CF), Bob Herrin (BH), Paul Marks (PMa), Kevin Ward (KW).
ATTENDEES (Club staff): Nigel Stephenson (NS).
APOLOGIES: Peter Madigan (PM), Mark Crook (MC).
NOT IN ATTENDANCE: Ryan Courtney (RC).
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM LAST MEETING (SJ)
- The minutes of the Trust Board meeting held on November 26, 2020, were approved as an accurate record.
- MATTERS ARISING (SJ)
- None that are not included in agenda items.
- EFL/CLUB UPDATE (GF/NS)
- Player recruitment: GF gave an update on the player recruitment process. Offers were made for the permanent transfer of Scott Twine from Swindon Town but were unsuccessful. Seven loanees have gone back to parent clubs and 5 have come in – 3 more targeted to come in and possibly 2 leaving. Increased playing budget agreed by full Board with funding identified. GF said a further budget increase might be needed if all of manager’s targets are signed and approval will be needed from the full Board as usual. The medical and administration processes are working well.
- League update: GF confirmed £250k Premier League bailout money had been received. We had also received a further grant as a proportion of gate income lost.
- Rodney Parade update: GF reported he had had a lengthy and positive telephone meeting with Dragons executive chairman David Buttress (DB). Further meetings are planned with GF and PM taking the lead for the Board.
- Covid protocols: The Covid protocols have been strengthened again with twice weekly tests funded by the PFA. The EFL has made clear that, providing all protocols have been followed, there will be no sanctions for Covid-related postponements. The Board placed on record its thanks to the Club’s medical staff.
- Welsh Government engagement: GF reported that Welsh Government had provided a Covid grant of £17.7m to sport with the bulk going to rugby union. There was a small amount of funding for the FAW but nothing for Welsh clubs in the English pyramid system. GF has engaged with politicians and policy makers and told them the funding decision suggests football played outside the Welsh pyramid is not important to Welsh Government. The award of an ERF grant to the Club and Premier League bailout money were given as reasons for the lack of funding from Welsh Government. However, the ERF grant was a business grant rather than sport specific and no doubt other sports clubs in Wales would have received such grants, and the Premier League support has nothing to do with support for Welsh sport. It looks unlikely the stance will change. There is some media interest in the lack of support for Welsh EFL clubs, and Jayne Bryant (Newport West MS) has raised the issue with the First Minister. The Board agreed GF would engage further on the subject.
- Operational: NS provided a season-to-date report on Media, Retail, Academy, Ticketing and Football Administration operations.
- FINANCIAL UPDATE (NS)
- Cash flow and budgets remain in line with forecast.
- Flexible furlough to be continued to be utilised throughout January to April, in line with current Government policy.
- Will continue to take advantage of lockdown financial initiatives where applicable.
- Satisfactory performance against budget for YTD. Retail sales well ahead of forecast. Player wage budget increased in January to facilitate new signings.. Season ticket sales ahead of forecast. Low level of debtors with some overdues being chased.
- KW said a further set of Welsh Government business support grants were likely for February and the Club would receive this automatically as it was already registered for the scheme.
- Business plan: NS to agree a base plan with GF & PM to reflect a budget for the 2021/22 Season, taking account of departmental input & requirements. Alternative League One budget to reflect known factors which will impact both income and costs. Assumptions to be based on a return to normality, i.e., supporters back in stadiums, hospitality etc. All key figures to be assessed based on confidence of achievement, in percentage terms. New appointments and business opportunities to be costed and budgeted for. Timetable for finalising budget to be completed by April. First draft to be presented to Board at March meeting. Full Board final sign off at April meeting.
- COMMERCIAL UPDATE (PM)
- GF presented PM’s report in his absence.
- Ccommercial revenue was now ahead of budget.
- All charity donations from the Crowdfunder project have now been made.
- All matches up until the 9th of March are sponsored and planning is underway to discuss the remaining 6 home matches with existing and potential sponsors.
- Ongoing work with the media team on initiatives to increase our social media following will continue. We have already seen an increase of 8,000 + followers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Conversations are under way to explore gaming and esports opportunities, driving further engagement with the fanbase, introducing new fans to the club and increasing commercial opportunities.
- In order to keep the fans up to date with commercial development, a commercial ‘State of the Nation’ document is being produced. The document will inform our fans what we have achieved at this stage of the season what we are doing and what we are planning to achieve for the rest of the season.
- Work is under way to produce a document for potential front of shirt sponsors for the 20/21 season. Platinum, gold, silver and bronze packages have been designed to suit potential sponsors.
- To make Rodney Parade feel even more like home next season, the North, South, Bisley and Compeed stands will all undergo mini-projects to determine how they look, advertising board requirements and dimensions, but most importantly to ensure they all contain Newport County AFC branding and sponsors.
- EQUALITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION (CF)
- Zero complaints received.
- JDRF activation vs Brighton a success; well received.
- Kidscape activation vs Bolton at home (KA taking lead on this).
- Newport Walk for Dementia to be a virtual event due to Covid restrictions.
- Kick It Out banner being sourced.
- Club ED&I Forum to be held in February.
- Mental health: Charter being updated and will be presented to next Community Group meeting; Managing Mental Health at Work Training taking place – this is an EFL partnership; Children's Mental Health Week is the first week of February; appointing Mental Health Champions across the club with relevant training; PFA posters and support for players being provided at Training Ground; support for all areas of the club and community continue.
- TRUST COMMUNITY GROUP MEETING (PMa)
- PMa provided an update from the most recent meeting of the Trust Community Group on January 21.
- PMa said engagement with the Stadium Focus Group member Joe Crocker (JC) was continuing and he was helping with membership admin and ensuring data was robust, producing an expired members’ list so we can engage with those who have not renewed their memberships in the last 12-18 months. JC’s social media work with KW continues.
- Technical issues around the members’ survey had now been resolved and this would be going out to members early in February.
- SAFEGUARDING (KA)
- KA provided a comprehensive summary of December and January safeguarding activity and focus points for February.
- December/January: Academy visits made prior to lockdown to all phases with feedback provided to Academy manager and all leads. Policy reviews now complete and ready for sign-off. Meetings included EFL Southern Safeguarding Group and NCAFC Safeguarding Group. KA attended Academy governance meeting. KA attended EFL Prevent, and EFL Child Sexual Exploitation training, and delivered My Concern training to 12 County in the Community staff.
- February: Risk assessment reviews to continue, Academy visits will be online due to lockdown restrictions, induction process to be reviewed, learning needs analysis to be developed, review of Barnardo Review action points to be completed. Regular monthly EFL and Club meetings.
- KA reminded Board members the policy reviews were now complete and three new policies had been added: Managing Allegations, Prevent, and Drug and Alcohol Misuse. Sign-off was needed from all Board members by February 25.
- ANY OTHER BUSINESS
- AGMs: GF, PMa and NS had met with the Club and Trust auditors. This was a positive meeting with progress made towards resolving the Trust accounts. The delay to the filing of Trust accounts should be resolved in the next week. Once accounts are signed, AGMs can follow three weeks later. The election process needs to follow the AGM. PMa confirmed he intended for the elections to be run digitally with the option of postal votes to minimise costs.
- Media: The Club is planning to recruit a Media Apprentice to support the Media Manager.
Meeting closed at 9.30pm.
Next meeting: Thursday, February 25, at 7pm via Zoom.