Club Staff: Scott Munn, Sally Freedman, Melanie Price, David Harris.
FRG Members: Bridget, Steve, Luke, Angus, Joey, Steve, Chris.
Club Staff: Nick Becker, Luke Wyman.
FRG Members: Haydn, Michael.
In the wake of recent media coverage relating to banned fans, this month’s FRG meeting commenced with Scott Munn providing an update on related issues. Scott was clear that MCFC is conscious of two main foci: protecting the privacy of staff and members, and providing a safe and welcoming environment at matches. Scott advised that Sydney FC’s Active fan group, the Cove, has met with the FFA, raising issues relating to the disclosure of personal information, venue safety and security, and treatment of Active supporter groups. Scott encouraged FRG members to read the Cove’s note regarding this meeting, which was posted online today. Scott also advised that a FFA representative was prepared to meet with the FRG at our next meeting if desired.
Scott outlined the current process involved in banning an attendee at A-League matches. If a person has committed an offence and is identified, police take their details at the match. Police then make contact with a Court Order; this order is sent to the FFA, and the banning process is commenced. If a supporter can demonstrate that the offence was not committed by them, the ban is reversed. This might be achieved on the basis of CCTV footage, for example. MCFC would support the implementation of a clear, concise process, allowing fans to have their voice while restricting the attendance of those who cause difficulties. MCFC communicates regularly with Active fans, and believes that their contribution to match days is positive and extremely valuable.
In response to potential boycotts, Scott advised that MCFC’s preference is that fans attend matches this weekend as they do every weekend; however, he was aware of the Active fan group’s decision to sit away from the Active area.
With regard to membership, Scott acknowledged that MCFC’s membership level was low, as was the case across the A-League. Membership and on-field performance are inextricably linked, and it’s difficult to increase membership interest when match performance was not at a high level. The FFA has also not undertaken marketing of the A-League at all this season, and MCFC feel that this has contributed to a lower awareness level across the league. The Club will offer flexible membership options to attract those who may have held memberships in previous seasons. One FRG member enquired as to the possibility of utilising guest/loan players – Scott was clear that this would only be considered if the player complemented and added to the squad, and was able to stay from January until the end of the season.
Some discussion was held regarding the relationship between MCFC and Manchester City FC. Scott reported that MCFC is conscious of the need for differentiation between the two Clubs, and that Manchester City FC has never been directive or prescriptive; rather, Manchester City FC invites MCFC to take ideas if they work in the Australian market, and MCFC’s approach is to utilise processes that are useful. MCFC’s 2016-2017 kit has been designed – it is predominantly white and does not feature any navy blue. It is not a shirt that has been previously worn by Manchester City FC. The away strip will still be red and white.
Sally expanded on information regarding membership, reporting on the three match flexi pack currently being offered – this pack exists across all membership categories, and includes the derby. This membership can also be upgraded to a full season pass.
David reported on various initiatives focused on increasing fan engagement. These include City Square, which is held at Gosch’s Paddock for two hours prior to kick off at every home match. The activities and features at City Square are improving every week, and FRG members were encouraged to explore it on the next game day. The Cityzens Portal is also very active at the moment, with various opportunities to win prizes and experiences offered to members. Fans are also encouraged to sign up for City Voice, which is a medium for voicing ideas and opinions. City Voice distributes a new post every two weeks, asking fans to contribute on such processes as match day music. Individual posts will also be responded to on a weekly basis.
Mel provided an update on merchandise, noting that youth jerseys will be available for pre-sale today, and pre-Christmas specials will be advertised over the coming weeks. Efforts are also being made to present the merchandise store in a more professional, user-friendly way.
FRG members provided positive feedback on the new format of the newsletter. MCFC are now directing marketing campaigns to particular target groups (e.g., members who have available seats next to them, female members), and members receive slightly different information in newsletters to that received by non-members.
Members and Club staff were also very positive about the success of our W-League team, and fans were encouraged to attend the next NYL/W-League double header on the 20th December 2015.
One FRG member highlighted the difficult process with accessing General Admission seats for the Christmas derby; Sally confirmed that such feedback had been received by other members and this would be taken into account next season.
FRG members questioned staff about the morale at the Club, given the lack of on-field success in recent weeks. Sally was clear that morale is affected by poor results, but everyone at the Club remains focused and is working hard to contribute to achieving success in the very near future.
Next meeting: January 2016 (date TBC), CFA