NORWICH City were pleased to hold their latest consultation meeting with a number of supporter groups at Carrow Road on Wednesday evening.
Representatives from Barclay End Norwich, Canaries Trust, Capital Canaries, Forces2Canaries, Hong Kong Canaries, Norwich City Disabled Supporters Association, Norwich City Fans Social Club and Proud Canaries were in attendance.
Several Club matters were debated with representatives of the Club - Jez Moxey (Chief Executive), Ricky Martin (Technical Director), Joe Ferrari (Head of Communications), Ben Kensell (Head of Commercial) Danny Casey (Customer Sales and Ticket Office Manager), Peter Swordy (Head of Operations) and Gemma Gifford (Media Relations Manager) answering and discussing a wide range of questions across multiple subjects.
Topics covered included, but were not limited to: -
- The Club gave an outline of its new consultation structure which was first announced at November’s AGM and will be communicated in more detail in the upcoming release of its new updated supporter charter.
- This provides a more far reaching commitment to consultation and engagement with supporters than before and will include throughout the year monthly face-to-face meetings with fans and other events, as well as an on-going commitment to communication through the Club’s digital channels. It was specifically noted that this does not exclude the Club from meeting with fans/groups on specific topics or receive invites to non-matchday events such as supporter group AGMS/social events.
- Other forms of direct supporter interaction, including on-going digital consultation with supporters through social media, with views of supporters being monitored on a daily basis and received directly from them via e-mails, phone calls and letters to the Club will continue and the Club will, where it feels necessary, respond to certain issues raised by supporters publicly from time-to-time.
- Online surveys being sent to supporters to further assess the views of fans on a variety of topics, across a wide demographic, with a view to publishing the outcome.
- The 'exemplary' loyalty of supporters and the Club's need to maintain an 'open, honest and trusted' relationship with those supporters.
- The role of the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) and how this could be improved through increased awareness and visibility. Positive feedback from those groups present for the work of Stephen Graham as Norwich City SLO.
- The opportunities represented by the 'Global Canaries' brand and how to capitalise upon it, with an initial focus on pre-existing supporter groups across the globe. A Global Canaries focus group to look at possibilities and ideas with the Club to be proposed but it was recognised that promotion to the Premier League was required in order to make the most of this opportunity and some early planning would be well advised.
- Discussion to take place with relevant groups about the use of facilities for their events at Carrow Road.
- Responding to direct questions the CEO gave a perspective of supporter interaction with his former club and in particular the Wolves Parliament. It was noted that there were no current plans to create something similar here within current consultation framework.
- Plans to progress the Club as a self-sufficient yet robust competitor, both on and off the pitch, against a backdrop of the financial position of the Club as outlined at the AGM in November.
- Investment and strategy for shareholding and the concept of the self-funding model. The Club maintains the aim of doing everything it can to maintain a competitive squad to take us back to the Premier League, with all spare cash going towards maintaining and strengthening the squad.
- The development of young players at the Club, the use of the loan system and the importance of further improving player recruitment with recent structural changes taking place internally and aims for the future following the recent arrival of Richard Money as the Club's new Academy Manager with more and more focus on producing home grown players.
- Financial impact of relegation on the Club – reductions in football department wages, including player and manager contract and nature of the Club moving up and down divisions in recent seasons affecting player trading as well as Club finances. CEO confirming he would never reveal details of individual employment contracts despite being asked about the Manager’s contract at the meeting.
- Ticketing prices, with a particular focus on the FA Cup third round tie at home to Southampton and subsequent admittance that the Club's pricing decision for that game was wrong. Discussion around free coach travel and future matches.
- Wigan fixture change and notice given – request from supporters for their concerns to be represented to the EFL.
- Season ticket renewals for the 2017-18 campaign – confirmation that details will be released shortly.
- Improving match atmosphere and half-time entertainment – discussion of positive stadium management and matchday atmosphere in German’s Bundesliga.
- The question of safe-standing, the consistency of Carrow Road stewarding and the frameworks which the Club must work within and adhere to.
- The challenges of seat availability at Carrow Road to move groups of fans together – and reflections of groups on unreserved seating areas, sitting groups together and models and trials at other clubs such as Celtic, Bristol City and Burton Albion.
- Discussions about supporter flags and possible locations in Carrow Road.
EQUALITY AND INCLUSION
- Signage at Carrow Road is being reviewed and will be updated to incorporate reference to homophobia.
- Reporting mechanisms for supporters to report abuse – more prominence to be given to contact details in matchday programme.
- Proud Canaries would like to offer their services as an educational resource as part of any anti-discrimination work the Club is undertaking, including through the Community Sports Foundation.
- Canaries for Equality - The coordination of inclusion programmes to help champion and give more prominence to the work the Club and key organisations and partners do to combat discrimination and promote equality and inclusion.
- Access at Carrow Road for disabled supporters, including the number of wheelchair positions available within the stadium and continued work and review in this area moving forward, including how the Club would meet new Premier League requirements in the event of promotion.
- Questions on pitch hire availability this summer.
- Questions submitted by Global Canaries on shipping prices for Club merchandise and website/broadcasting plans – Club will contact these groups directly with answers to their questions.
- The CEO reiterated the Club’s stance that the purpose of the new supporter consultation policy was to genuinely build closer links with its loyal supporter base through the various mechanisms discussed. He wanted to ensure fans that regular, open, honest and structured dialogue with fans was very important to the Club and that communicating in a consistent and fair manner where no one supporter or group had an perceived advantage over the next was necessary.
- It was also stressed and agreed that the Club and the fans should, wherever possible, work together for the benefit of the Club.