Fans' Forum meeting - April 2015
Below are the published minutes of the latest meeting of the Fans' Forum, which took place on Thursday 16 April 2015.
Supporter Liaison Officer: Keren Harrison
Leyton Orient FC: Alessandro Angelieri (CEO), Roberto Gagliardi, Colin Munford, Rob Noble
Supporters: Doug Harper and James Cassidy (Leyton Orient Fans' Trust), Tony Roome (Leyton Orient Supporters Club), Mat Roper (Pandamonium), Matt Miklaucic (E10 Mess), Paul Levy (Orient Outlook)
Apologies were received from Jim Nicholls of Leyton Orientear.
Keren updated the meeting on this subject and confirmed that there was agreement between her and the club for her to take over as SLO, with activities commencing from the beginning of next season. A web page will be placed on the LOFC site, containing details of the role and contact details etc. This is to be drafted by Keren and Tony Roome and submitted to the club for final editing and posting.
The finalisation of this appointment was welcomed by the meeting.
2. Unresolved business from previous meetings
It was confirmed that the club has no plans for a voluntary AGM, but would be making the financial results for 2013/14 available to all shareholders shortly.
With regard to the subtitling of the Agon Channel Orient programme on You Tube, this had proved impossible for this season of the programme. No decision has yet been made regarding whether this programme will run again next season. Subtitling will be considered as part of the process of re-commissioning of the series. LOFC noted fans’ interest in the programme.
3. Ticketing Issues
Children’s ticket prices are under review. The club recognises the problem of different children’s prices in different stands and are actively reviewing the issue in time for next season’s ticket sales.
No decisions have yet been taken on season ticket prices for next season. The decision will only be taken when we know what division we will be in. An ‘early bird’ discount is under consideration.
The idea of designating a specific ‘singing area’ in the stadium was broadly welcomed by the club. The CEO recognises the value of such an area and would like to do it if possible. He also noted the likelihood of people in such an area standing throughout the game and this would need careful thought and liaison with stewards. It is clearly illegal to designate an area of the stadium for standing in a seated area and so the matter will have to be approached with some delicacy. The club asked which areas the fans thought appropriate and, after discussion, the consensus appeared to be that the best place would be in the South Stand at the west end. Some preference for a part of the East Stand was also discussed. The issue will be included in the end of season supporters’ questionnaire which the club is planning and Doug Harper indicated that it would also be included in the next LOFT survey. The club is happy to facilitate the display of flags etc and the use of drums in such an area.
4. Ground and stadium issues
The suggested improvements to the stadium infrastructure will be reviewed. It was confirmed that the issue with the non-slip steps in the West Stand is to be addressed over the summer.
Catering is recognised as needing improvement and discussions are ongoing with the catering contractor. Developments are planned. Catering will be included in the end of season questionnaire. The pre-ordering app has been withdrawn through lack of use.
The club confirmed that the current Stadium Manager, Steve Copp, would be leaving for a much larger job with another company. It has been decided to slightly re-structure this job so that the safety and stewarding element will be included in the responsibilities of a re-written Chief Steward’s job description, and the ground infrastructure a separate responsibility. Announcements will be made shortly on these appointments. It was noted that all the staff who had left had gone on to better jobs.
The contract for the Training Ground at Chigwell has been renewed.
Once again, the club confirmed that there are no plans to leave Brisbane Road – this will only be considered if crowds outgrow the stadium.
5. Club shop/merchandising
There will be a new kit for next season and this will be launched in the normal way. Discussions are ongoing with potential kit and stadium sponsors.
The possibility of a one-off kit for next season, outside the normal Nike range, is only possible at very high cost. This is mainly due to the relatively small number of kits we sell. This is, sadly, considered to be unrealistic. It is conceivable that a replica of a popular past kit (eg braces) could be sold as a replica kit only. Club will meet the shop operators to address other issues which have been raised.
The fans noted the very positive response to the use of the Somme badge on the current kits to replace the 666Bet logo, and asked if the badge could be included on future kits as, perhaps, a small patch on the sleeve or shoulder.
The CEO confirmed that the club has not exceeded the salary cap limits and is not subject to any restrictions on transfers.
Club funding remains as before, with 100% funding from the President when required.
No decisions have yet been made on next season’s budgets.
The problem with late payment of club staff in February was a one off problem, caused by a delay in the international bank transfer from Italy. Both CEO and staff present confirmed that the delay had only been from a Friday to the following Monday and that there had been no problems since.
In response to a question from the fans, CEO confirmed that KPMG remain as club auditors.
One supporter had asked what would happen to Orient if there were problems for the President’s businesses elsewhere. The club view is that Orient are unlikely to be affected by any changes or pressures on the President’s businesses as the club forms such a small part of his overall holdings and turnover.
It was confirmed that transfer and contract decisions are the responsibility of the manager, under the club’s supervision, and that negotiations would commence once next year’s league position is clarified.
7. Media and Communications
Orient Player will change during the off season with a new provider taking over the service for the whole Football League. New facilities were already being installed, including fibre optic communications from stadia to the new provider’s HQ.
The club will consider more, short ‘behind the scenes videos’ but these take a lot of time to produce and upload.
A digital programme was launched on the website before Christmas – the take up and cost of production will be reviewed at the end of the season.
8. Future Planning/Initiatives
With regard to the plans to gain new fans for the future, the club is working closely with the Leyton Orient Trust and hopes that this will keep the club profile high in the area. Ticketing initiatives continue with the objective of gaining new supporters.
A pre-season tour in Italy is a possibility – and will be announced as soon as information becomes available. The club recognises that fans need to know about this as soon as possible. Local friendlies are still a possibility, further information will be released as it becomes available.
One supporter had asked for the club’s analysis of what has gone wrong this season. The CEO indicated that he believed that the takeover had been later than would have been ideal and that, despite a significant playing budget being made available, the players who had come in had not always performed as had been hoped. These issues should not recur.
The issue of the PA announcement regarding Henderson’s late arrival for a game was mentioned – the club confirmed that this had been dealt with internally.
The fans’ side of the Forum indicated that they would be meeting to assess the representation of supporters, with the intention being to identify appropriate ‘constituencies’ and propose ways which supporters could be elected to the Forum. A proposal would be submitted to the next Forum.