Notes from September 2020 Trust Board meeting
NEWPORT COUNTY AFC SUPPORTERS’ TRUST BOARD MEETING
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020, 7pm
MEETING HELD VIA VIDEO CONFERENCE
REDACTED NOTES FOR PUBLICATION
ATTENDEES (Board members): Shaun Johnson (SJ, Chair), Kelly Anderson (KA), Ryan Courtney (RC), Mark Crook (MC), Mike Everett (ME), Colin Faulkner (CF), Gavin Foxall (GF), Bob Herrin (BH), Peter Madigan (PM), Kevin Ward (KW).
ATTENDEES (Club staff): Nigel Stephenson (NS).
APOLOGIES: Paul Marks (PMa)
1. APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM LAST MEETING (SJ)
- The minutes of the Trust Board meeting held on August 27, 2020, were approved as an accurate record.
2. MATTERS ARISING (SJ)
- None that are not included in agenda.
3. CLUB UPDATE (GF)
- GF said now the season was under way the intention across the Club was to move away from the necessary fire-fighting approach of recent months as a result of the pandemic to a more structured, data-driven, joined-up approach.
- Season tickets: GF reported 1,087 season tickets had been sold to date. The Board expressed its thanks to supporters.
- Retail sales: Performance has been above target.
- Academy: Finances are in line with budget; positive interactions with the first team with a number of players involved in training and match day squads; the local lockdown impact has been considered, understood and communicated.
- General: Partial staff return under furlough; office relocation to Rodney Parade to be completed by end of September; continual review of Covid protocols; local lockdown impact considered.
- Season start: All home games held to date passed off without incident. Welsh Government was content for us to apply to EFL for a pilot match with 1,000 supporters attending (pre- Newport local lockdown) but heavily caveated. This is clearly now not going to occur until at least the Spring.
- iFollow/Streaming: No issues have been voiced as yet. Audiences so far; Swansea (H) 380 (A) 1,286; Cambridge (H) 70 (A) TBC; Scunthorpe (A) 28; Barrow (H) 603 season ticket holders, 242 general sales, Watford (H) 479 (A) TBC. There is an emerging issue around piracy with iFollow with individuals and pubs showing games. It is lost revenue for the club. The Board agreed we should issue a communication to supporters through media outlets.
4. FINANCIAL UPDATE (NS)
- Summary: The Club continues to control its financial position in line with forecasted numbers. No unbudgeted costs have been incurred. Flexible furlough was introduced in August which has allowed the partial return of personnel in First team, Academy and Office while still retaining some government support. Premier League solidarity payment due to us in January 2021 has been brought forward to October (August payment already received). It is anticipated that there will be a phased return of the 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 (i.e. HMRC, Pensions etc) are up to date in accordance with agreed arrangements. Player wage costs are in line with forecast. Season ticket sales area ahead of forecast.
- Impact of no crowds: Current plan from a budget and cashflow perspective is to have no crowds until January. However, given the announcement yesterday by the PM, we have reviewed the assumptions and its impact.
- Next steps: While performance elsewhere has put us in a reasonable position to accommodate the loss of planned income we need to explore and pursue multiple areas to try and recover it. These include a rescue package for EFL clubs – there is a League 2 meeting on September 30th. It is not clear yet whether this package will come from the Premier League, government or other sources. A letter received from the EFL suggests government now recognises a package is needed and £200m has been mooted. We will review all the Covid support available again, we will push season ticket sales, reminding supporters it may be the only way to watch matches, push iFollow for away matches and home matches for non-season ticket holders. We have pushed hard and successfully with EFL to choose the Newcastle Carabao Cup match for live coverage. This will net us £125k. SJ asked whether Newcastle had asked us to carry out more player Covid tests than required under current protocols ahead of the match. NS said this had not happened as yet. SJ asked whether we would be reiterating to the players the need for Covid-safe behaviour in light of issues at other clubs. GF confirmed we had done so as part of the information conveyed around the local lockdown for Newport, and the players had received another update from the club doctor in terms of protocols.
5. COMMERCIAL UPDATE (PM)
- PM gave an update on commercial activity for the Newcastle match.
- Sales of LED pitchside advertising were going well.
- There will be a draw for front of shirt sponsorship for the match (the Alzheimer’s Society sponsorship is only for league games, giving flexibility on the larger cup games). Worn shirts will then be raffled to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society, JDRF and Kidscape.
6. EQUALITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION (CF)
- Zero complaints received.
- World Heart Day coincides with the Bolton away match.
- October is Black History Month.
- Mental Health – CF recommended the topic becomes a standing item on Agenda; October is MH Awareness Month; Kevin Ellison to be the Club’s MH Ambassador.
7. SAFEGUARDING (CF)
- Zero incidents reported; 1 risk reported.
- First team understanding and ownership is being improved.
- DBS checks have started – next in line will be directors, media team & volunteers.
- Training – a basic safeguarding online course has been emailed to all directors.
- CF recommended that Safeguarding is included in 2021/22 budget.
- Policies, procedures and guidance to be updated.
- Audit Action Points to be shared.
8. COMMUNITY (NS/CF)
- NS & CF gave a verbal report of their first meeting with the County in the Community trustees.
- This was a generally positive meeting that started the process of the Club and CitC building a closer relationship.
- There will be a quarterly meeting between GF and CitC chairman Haydn Ames, and NS and CitC chief executive Norman Parselle.
9. TRUST/CLUB ACCOUNTS & AGMs (SJ, PMa & GF)
- Covid has meant we have had to push AGMs back for both the Trust and the Club.
- Current situation is the accounts have been prepared and passed over to auditors.
- On the basis of the above, AGMs will be planned to coincide with publication of the accounts and will be held via video conference. This was agreed unanimously.
10. TRUST ELECTIONS
- The current term of four directors is nearing conclusion. All can stand for re-election should they so wish.
- PMa has agreed to act as Trust Elections officer and will agree a proposed timetable, and own and run the process on behalf of the Trust. He has had initial engagement with long-time supporter Colin Everett (CE), a local authority chief executive and elections returning officer, who has confirmed his agreement to support the process.
- The Board agreed unanimously to proceed with elections via a postal vote and aligned with the Trust AGM.
11. BAR AMBER
- PMa provided in advance of the meeting an update on remaining Bar Amber closure activities and their RAG rating.
12. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
- Stadium Focus Group: GF and PM met remotely with two members of the group, Joe Crocker and Mike Greenway. It was a positive meeting at which GF & PM shared some of the complexities of running the club and welcomed the support being offered by the group. The plan is to continue with the engagement.
- Safeguarding: GF explained BH had been sharing responsibility for Safeguarding with CF but both also had other responsibilities (BH with retail and CF with equalities etc). KA has offered to take on the Safeguarding role. Her experience with Kidscape etc makes it a good fit. The Board agreed the change of roles unanimously.
- NUFC Trust: KW reported he had been contacted by Newcastle United’s Supporters’ Trust offering assistance ahead of the Carabao Cup tie. GF reported on the fundraising idea proposed by supporter Jamie Roberts (donate what you would have paid for a beer, burger etc to the Trust). It was agreed to link the two together to help increase donations.
Meeting closed at 8.45pm.
Next meeting: Thursday, October 29, via video conference. Start time 7pm.