Club Staff: Sally Freedman, Luke Wyman, Melanie Price, David Harris.
FRG Members: Bridget, Haydn, Anthony, Michael, Steve, Chris.
Club Staff: Scott Munn, Nick Becker.
Sally commenced the meeting by thanking the FRG members for their attendance at last month’s meeting, and by welcoming two members who were unable to attend the previous meeting, Steve and Chris, both of whom also sat on the FRG last season. Given that the FRG still requires an additional 2-3 members, Sally also advised of the plan to invite Melbourne City members to submit an application to be a part of the group.
Sally also distributed fixtures for the NYL and W-League teams, noting that there are three double-headers at CB Smith Reserve. This led to discussion of the Club’s emphasis on promoting the W-League team in particular, given that other W-League teams have not garnered significant numbers in terms of regular supporters. Sally and Luke spoke about the popularity of women’s football in terms of player numbers, and the recent interest held in the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year. The Club are hoping that the W-League team will be successful on the pitch, thus stimulating interest for both male and female fans.
Sally, Luke, Mel and David provided a number of updates on upcoming events and promotions, including:
- Away Games – The Club have promoted a member’s organisation of transport to our first away game in Sydney. There are currently only six seats left on the 50-seater bus, indicating a very positive response.
- City Live – The Club’s City Live event will be held on the 12th October at NGV, commencing at 7:00pm. This will serve as an official launch of the season, and will involve the presentation of both the A-League and W-League teams, as well as other entertainment. Tickets are currently on sale for $15.
- Video Conference – As per the recent Club newsletter, a virtual video conference is being held on Tuesday, with John van ’t Schip, Patrick Kisnorbo, and Thomas Sorensen answering questions submitted by fans. The FRG were welcomed to submit a question, and prepared several questions to submit via FRG member, Chris.
- Senior Cityzens – A new community initiative entitled Senior Cityzens will be launched on Sunday at the Seniors Festival at Federation Square. This initiative aims to encourage older Australians to engage with football, both as players and spectators. Melbourne City will be involved in the promotion of Walking Football, which allows people to play football without being required to run. In addition, Melbourne City are offering seniors the opportunity to purchase a season membership for $150.00, which allows them to bring a grandchild to games for free. FRG members were very positive about this promotion.
- Which Player Are You? Survey – All current players have completed a 10-item questionnaire about personal interests. Members will be given the opportunity to complete the same questionnaire online; an algorithm will then be used to match members to a player, enabling members to identify the player that they are most similar to. Feedback from FRG members regarding this idea was very positive.
- Mid-season Member Surveys – A platform is being established to allow the Club to survey members throughout the season, rather than waiting to obtain feedback via the end-of-season Member Survey. Surveys will focus on varying issues that affect members, such as match day experience, social media, etc. Again, FRG members felt that this would be a useful way of allowing the Club to make improvements during the season, without delay.
- Memberships – Membership packs are currently being posted, with some members having already received theirs – one FRG member showed his personalised membership card, which all were very impressed by! The personalised option has been very widely embraced, with over 1000 members choosing to personalise their cards. Other A-League clubs have also been impressed by the process and have asked for information on how they may able to emulate it. A question was asked as to whether some members might have avoided personalising so they can continue to share memberships with family/friends; Mel assured all that memberships were transferable and this had hopefully not deterred members.
- Merchandise – Nike supporter apparel, including media polo shirts and hoodies, will be arriving before the start of the season. The Home jersey has been altered slightly, and the Away jersey is now manufactured using better material – both are now available for purchase. Jerseys will also be available in junior sizes this year, hopefully just after Round 1 or 2. FRG members were very positive about this.
Discussion was then held about the recent Family Day, which two FRG members attended. Feedback was very positive, both by FRG and on the supporters’ online forum, particularly in regards to the accessibility of players, the signing sheet that was available, and the engagement of sponsors with fans. In terms of negative feedback, one member noted that the PA was difficult to hear when players were announced, and another noted that while the CFA venue is a very impressive site, it is a difficult location to access for supporters that live in other areas of Melbourne (e.g., south-eastern suburbs), and thus a more central location might be considered in future. One FRG member noted that the players seem more focussed and determined in their attitude, which is great to see.
Each FRG member was also asked to nominate something about Melbourne City that they would like to improve. In terms of match day experience, one member noted that the catering at AAMI Park remains problematic – options are often limited and expensive. It was observed that catering was particularly poor at the recent FFA Cup fixture; Luke reported that the catering company apologised for this on the day following the match, acknowledging that they hadn’t accurately predicted attendance numbers.
Another FRG member felt that the half-time entertainment was still not appealing enough. Although it has improved considerably in the last two seasons, it is often too loud, thus impeding conversation, and it can be difficult to determine what is actually happening. Suggestions were made for improvement, including more junior small-sided football games, and involvement of W-League and injured A-League players.
Another member suggested that the pre-match entertainment might feature video footage of matches/highlights of other City Football Group teams such as Manchester City and New York City. Concern was expressed about whether this might alienate Melbourne City fans who are supporters of other English Premier League or Major League Soccer teams. It was determined that footage of NYL or W-League matches might be more appealing.
One FRG member asked whether the Club could tweet information about parking on match days; for example, it would be useful to know if the MCG carpark is closed. Club staff will look into this.
Discussion was held about the new arrangements for General Admission memberships, as the Yarra River end of AAMI Park now comprises entirely of reserved seating (Premium C memberships). This means that non-members can purchase Premium C tickets on any match day, but these will not necessarily be allocated next to the reserved seat of members. All Premium C members can sit at the North end, where seats are not allocated, in such instances.
Finally, a brief discussion was held about the communication of the FRG’s meetings and minutes. It was agreed that minutes would continue to be posted on the supporters’ forum, but consideration would be given to minutes also being posted on the Melbourne City website, or the FRG creating their own website. It was also agreed that the Club would tweet details of each FRG meeting to allow members to contribute questions or suggestions beforehand.
Next meeting: 29th October, 6pm, CFA