Birmingham City Football Club Quarterly Supporters’ Forum February 27th 2018

Joys and Sorrows were proud to attend the most recent Supporters’ Forum on 27th February 2018.  Thanks to Rachele for arranging it and making us all feel so welcome…

Location: The Jasper Carrott Suite, St. Andrews.

Chair: Rachele Johnson, Supporters’ Liaison Officer.

West Midlands Police Representatives: PC Colin Barlow, Dedicated Football Officer.

Supporter Group Representatives: Lynda Courts (Redditch Blues), Dave Smith (BCFC Fan Forum), Chris Sinclair (Northside Blues), Bik Singh and Colin Nelson (Blues4All), Tony Routely (Central Blues Travel), Russell Dempsey (Joys and Sorrows), Steve Portman and Adrian Howell(Accessiblues), Richard Stanley and Cliff Horrocks (Blues Trust).

Unaffiliated Supporter Representatives (2017/18): Emma Willock, Richard Cox, Clare Normanton.

CB: PC Colin Barlow opened proceedings, after introductions from Rachele, reiterating that the allocation to Blues for the away match against Villa was 2,100 following Villa’s rejection of Blues’ offer of 2,500 tickets.  Once Villa had only offered 2,100, Birmingham followed suit.  As there were no arrests made and there was no disorder inside Villa Park, it is a possibility – should both teams remain in the Championship next season (**wouldn’t bet my house on Blues at the moment, but Villa may well be looking at the playoff lottery so their chances aren’t cut and dried at the moment either**) – that the allocation for the fixtures next season would be ‘upped’ slightly.  (**Let’s hope a) It’s a reality and b) It’s a reality.  If you get my drift 🙂 **)  British Transport Police and West Midlands Trains took approximately 1,000 Birmingham City fans to and from the game on specially arranged ‘football special’ trains.  Overall, all present agreed the match day experience was a positive one, apart from the result, thanks to the cooperation between fans, club and police.  A delay on the way out of the ground was confirmed as caused by a fatal incident on the rail line in Walsall.

SP: Disabled fans at the Villa match were taken through Villa fans by a steward, twice, receiving abuse especially after the game.

CB: I’ll mention this to the administration at Villa Park as this clearly isn’t appropriate…

The Forum thanked Colin for his time and honest input at this and previous Forums, as it is clearly having a positive impact on the match day experience of Blues fans.  He spent some time illustrating measures that were in place ahead of the Wolves game, approx. 2500 ticket allocation, and potential for a ‘cordon’ to protect arriving and departing Blues fans from potential altercations with opposing Wolves fans at Molineux.

At the last meeting we enquired if supporter’s groups were considered stakeholders of BSH and if we could join the share option scheme.  Has there been any updated information on this? (Blues Trust)

RJ: Roger Lloyd, Senior Finance Officer, is still chasing a final answer on this.  It’s an ‘action point’…

We have seen very little incoming activity during the last transfer window.  Why? (Blues Trust / Joys and Sorrows)

RJ: I spoke with Colin Tattum, Head of Media and Communications, and he said, “In the 17/18 transfer window we brought in 14 players, with a further 10 players in January signed up to new/extended/professional contracts.  The manager would have liked to add to the squad but wage constraints, and the availability of players, added to the need to move players out, resulted in the window we had.”

Blues Trust, whilst very supportive of the supporter forums, has notified the Club many times that it has concerns it does not fully comply with EFL rules on supporter engagement.  Has the Club got any intentions to implement any changes regarding fan representation or interaction with the Board? (Blues Trust)

RJ: The EFL’s rule E111 states a Board member, director or senior executive should be in attendance.  Roger Lloyd has attended in this capacity many times, and we are trying to ensure that Dong comes to a future meeting…perhaps in May.

Why is it when you call the Ticket Office and go into a queue to talk to Customer Services, it times out after 14 minutes and forwards you to Ticketmaster who then say you need to redial for Customer Services!? (Redditch Blues)

RJ: It will be double checked, but it shouldn’t happen…

Under 11s get a free season ticket with a full paying adult – a great initiative – but is it possible to roll this out for individual match days, even just a few a season? (Joys and Sorrows)

RJ: We feel that the free season ticket for under-11’s is rewarding for season ticket holders.  £5 maximum for children, with occasional ‘kids-for-a-quid’ deals provides great value.  Free tickets are unlikely for individual match days.

Why are disabled supporters charged for postage or collection when there’s no option to buy online and print online and print at home? (Accessiblues)

RJ: Wayne Cowan, Head of Ticketing and Retail, is looking into a solution to this issue which is obviously not equitable.

Over the last few months we haven’t had a mascot at our away fixtures.  It’s been said priority will be given to those who book for home games, but how do I go about checking and applying? (Accessiblues)

RJ: You should email the ticket office…

Could the Club activate Season Tickets for Cup matches/friendlies to save on printing costs? (Accessiblues)

RJ: The Club did trial this, but there were teething problems, so we’re looking at a roll-out next season, perhaps…

I’ve sent 5 emails to the Club about getting a disabled parking pass on match day.  I live in York, so it’s hard to park.  Can you ask them why I’ve had no reply? (BCFC Forum)

RJ: There are no spaces at the moment, a waiting list is in force.  Clearly there is no good reason for not having a reply, so the member is asked to get in touch with the Club/me directly so we can apologise.

The state of the ladies’ toilets.  I am a season ticket holder in Block 24 so I’m referring specifically to the toilets at Kop Entrance 5.  Several of the units consistently get blocked, they don’t flush properly and there are often leaks which spread to the floors of the adjoining toilets.  There is also a lack of hot water in the toilets and a lack of hand dryers.  (BCFC Forum)

RJ: Electrical outages is the issue that leads to a lack of dryers, it is being looked into by the operations manager.

I really don’t like the fact they use the big screen during the match for advertising lots of random stuff.  It should just be for showing the score, line-ups and highlights, etc. – otherwise it’s just a big, glorified advertising hoarding.  What the board should show is a continuous live picture of the match, directly from the same cameras which provide BluesTV – and include replays, close-ups etc. (BCFC Forum)

RJ: Commercial sell space, etc., team news is put up at the start of the match.  We believed (though an engineer present corrected this) it wasn’t possible to put a live feed onto the big screen…

At the Millwall match, programmes weren’t available outside the Family Stand 30 minutes before kick off.  Perhaps sold out?  Can the Club make sure they’re always available or at very least ensure spares will be sold in the Club Shop straight after the match? (Joys and Sorrows)

RJ: Wayne Cowan said unsold programmes will always go straight to the Club Shop.  Ian Dutton, Head of Commercial, said ordering and buying is done in bulk, four days before kick off, so it’s tricky to gauge the perfect  number to buy…

Why does the replica kit only go to XXL when the training wear goes to 3XL? (Redditch Blues)

RJ: Wayne Cowan said that Adidas set the limits, but that next season we will go up to 3XL in replica kit, too…

Why do the club not have proper, good quality BCFC bobble hats (they have a generic design bobble hat with the metal badge on it)?  Every ground has supporters wearing bobble hats apart from Blues (BCFC Forum)

RJ: There are now seven different types of bobble hat available in the Club Shop.

As the kit is so limited on style and is similar to other Clubs like Forest (apart from the colour), would the Club consider doing an Adidas retro kit like they have done with the Co-op milk kit, etc? (Redditch Blues)

RJ: Discussions have been held with Adidas, but it would need a run of thousands, likely to exceed demand.  There is also reluctance from Adidas due to the need to use their ‘old crest’ in light of their ‘corporate branding’…

Why can’t we get chips in the Kop?  They sell them in the Tilton Corner but there aren’t any available in Entrance 5.  (Redditch Blues)

RJ: There is no chip fryer in that kiosk due to a space issue, though it is an action point with Catering.

Queues for beers despite low crowds remain.  Too long.  Choose between drinking or watching the game as you can’t often do both. (BCFC Forum)

RJ: Hawkers in Tilton Corners help, but not in the Kop, as no alcohol is allowed in view of the pitch.  This is to be looked at in the ‘close-season’, with – hopefully – card machines to be introduced next season…

Bar areas in the Kop remain sterile, uninviting, freezing cold, nowhere to put your beer down (after queueing 10-15 minutes for it) and no bins.  (BCFC Forum)

RJ: This has been dealt with at length at previous forums, Dave Hoult, Safety Officer, has confirmed there is a Health and Safety issue with putting shelves up in tight spaces as there is then a risk of children, etc., hitting their heads on them.  It will be looked into, on how to make the areas look more ‘inviting’ though…

Lots of Season Ticket Holders didn’t get the mail-out advertising the Huddersfield Cup tickets.  Missed opportunity?  (Joys and Sorrows)

RJ: This is being looked into, more communication regarding away ticketing is being requested, so will hopefully be provided…

Marching bands at half time and parachutists coming down was always exciting in my younger days at Blues.  Long shot but has the Club ever approached Jeff Lynne to play Mr Blue Sky live? Jeff Lynne was responsible for (**Russ says he produced it, Carrott wrote it**) ‘Funky Moped’ and the B-Side ‘Magic Roundabout’ (**Russ says Carrott wrote AND produced this one** Discogs) which was a hit for Jasper in Carrott in 1975.  How about a medley of Mr Blue Sky and the Jasper Carrott songs with Bev Bevan and Mr Carrott in the centre circle? (BCFC Forum)

RJ: The Club would love these gentlemen to grace the centre circle at half time, the ‘door is always open’ 🙂

I have two season tickets, have ordered many items from the Club Shop including three shirts with printing and my loyalty points account shows nil points.  I’ve called the Club and they say they’ve had “some issues” and it’ll be resolved – it hasn’t! (BCFC Forum)

RJ: This should be an isolated incident.  Rachele will sort this if the member contacts her directly.

Blues TV was riddled with one problem after another, but they seem to have sorted it and gotten their act together for home games.  We now not only seem to get audio and video but also some replays and displays the score.  However, away games aren’t too grand.  Lately we only get video or commentary.  But I’d rather have Blues TV than not.  (BCFC Forum)

RJ: Audio will ALWAYS be available at away grounds, but if the filming/press gantry is on the opposite side of the ground to the ISDN box, it is not always possible to do both audio and video…U23s and FA Youth Cup matches have no commentary it seems, so this is being looked into…

I know other people have complained about Blues TV and I also have had problems with it here in Australia.  But my biggest gripe is the reply to requests for credit or compensation.  The ‘apology’ they gave for Sunderland was farcical as it was irrelevant what caused the problem. (BCFC Forum)

RJ: The signal went down, and – as it was beyond the club’s control and hasn’t happened since, the Club can only – and has – apologise.  The Club again apologises, and explains its stance on ‘credit/compensation’.  A lot of complaints with Blues TV were down to customer settings issues/teething troubles that were – again – beyond BCFC’s control.  Specific claims for ‘credit’ or ‘compensation’ must be looked at on an individual basis, and could only be granted if the Club were deemed to be at fault for the problem, which – clearly – they haven’t been in the majority of cases.  That said, it was being looked into whether some form of ‘loyalty bonus’ could be ‘stitched into’ renewals next season to compensate overall…

Ticket checks are confusing and inconsistent.  My son will get refused entry for having a “wrong kind of ticket” at the turnstiles but then a supervisor will come down and let him in.  This is by Block D. (Northside Blues)

RJ: This is being looked into…

Could the Club look into a registration scheme where registered users could anonymously report bad language, violent conduct, flares or “away fans in the home end”?  This would remove stigma and fear of reporting incidents which have to be done in the open at the moment.  (Joys and Sorrows)

RJ: Kick It Out have an app for racism and homophobic incident reporting.  West Bromwich Albion have a similar app that the Club may well look into utilising, so it is being looked into…

In the rare event someone with a child’s ticket is questioned, it’s always, “My son must have picked mine up by mistake, he’s already in there!”…”Oh, OK then,” and they let him in. (BCFC Forum)

RJ: Obviously this shouldn’t happen.  Staff are briefed on what they should do in the event of this happening, as if it really DID happen, it could be a child protection issue…

If you have any comments, please leave them below or post them in the Forum!

Keep Right On!

At the time of blogging, Cotterill is still in post, but rumours won’t go away that Monk is ‘in the wings’ to replace him.  The narrow defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground won’t do anything to allay those rumours, but I’d say I’ll be happier if Cotterill walks if Monk has been sounded out.  Never sits happy with me when a manager is publicly heralded, while the current manager ‘presides’, poor results or not.  The stats speak for themselves, something DOES need to change, and now, before League One finally claims us for its own, and who knows for how long.  Mutterings of ‘we need to rebuild the club in the third division’ don’t have any grounds in reality.  I’d rather rebuild the club in the second tier, with the imminent prospect of a return to the first.  A return to the first tier is totally impossible from the depths of League One…  Whatever is going to happen, I just hope the Board acts decisively and quickly. Keep Cotterill, but give him and the squad the proverbial rocket they need to keep us up with some kind of financial incentive, new contracts or whatever on the understanding they’re there if we stay up.  Or get rid and the sooner the better, get a new person in with a clear remit…survival.  Relegation CANNOT be an option.


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