Melbourne City Fan Representative Group Update – March 2015

FAN REPRESENTATIVE GROUP MEETING
The Imperial Hotel – 11 March 2015

With a particular sense of buzz and anticipation ahead of the Round 10 (rescheduled) away kick off with WSW, Melbourne City FC’s Fan Representative Group came together at The Imperial Hotel – the first time the regular meetings have been scheduled at this venue – to openly discuss the culture of the Club which has instilled and developed throughout the duration of the season.

One of the first noteworthy comments was the keyword ‘transition’ which sums up the branding change from Melbourne Heart to Melbourne City FC and the feeling of the supporter base. Key to the discussion was the debate on the importance of winning now that the club has a new ownership, and the expectation that comes with the new resources at the club’s disposal.

Further to this transition phase, fans are still trying to understand the new City brand. Questions such as ‘Who are we?’ and ‘What do we stand for?’ are surprisingly still being raised by the representative group at the back-end of Season 1 for Melbourne City FC, prompting greater efforts of Melbourne City to be rolled out in engaging members and new fans with the shared values and pillars of City Football Group (CFG). Members, supporters and prospects hence require clear visibility of the Club’s stance, intended brand of football, community strategy and suggested ‘brand book’ in order to ensure culture of City is engrained leading forward.

The topic of CFG also raised further enquiry into the benefits globally. What opportunities are being shared to members such as tickets to Manchester matches and Etihad flight discounts just to name a few? One attendee proposed that Melbourne City uses this selling point to drive differentiation from other HAL clubs as to date the Club had not been doing anything significantly better in comparison.

In light of the CFG relationship and football in particular, the consensus of those in attendance at the FRG meeting is the perceived status of Melbourne City as a feeder club for MCFC & NYCFC merely being an option far down the ladder to play in Australia, or keep players fit (Villa / Lampard) prior to overseas seasons. It was agreed that the drive for Hyundai A-League success for Melbourne City FC was integral and needed to be transparent. Fans generally sense that the results to date for Melbourne City under the CFG influence have not translated with the increased resources available and one particular comment noted that ‘the inconsistency of play is demoralising’ in relation to player fitness, squad selection and standard of football on display.

JVS as coach was also openly discussed in regards to his media presence and how his statements reflect on the culture of Melbourne City as a Club and the underlying messages which are relayed to the general public. Fans recognised that JVS has only recently begun to accept responsibility for the team performance and average lack of results. Discussion further evolved to fans request for clearer visibility on HAL finals position objectives from the Club and whether the ethos of mediocracy into top 6 was enough to continue the drive forward. Should the club be communicating a stronger message and intention for a top 4 finish in future?

Positive feedback was shared on the Brian Marwood article published however, fans bought to attention the mention of a Manchester City player, James Horsfield, currently training with the Melbourne City squad and would prefer articles of interest be announced via the Club EDM.

On the topic of Club generated communication, fans also questioned the absence of a targeted marketing campaign. Previous Heart taglines including Believe were rolled out in various engaging concepts across interactions encouraging supporters of the Club to interpret and remain involved throughout the entire season. General understanding from the fan base is that #together was used unenthusiastically and inconsistently in City messaging and leading forward, an aligned campaign should continue digitally and physically in a stronger engagement capacity both online and on match-day.

Fan engagement initiatives and partner activations were further highlighted as more involving and present at AAMI Park for participants which the Club can credit as a positive step towards satisfaction of the match-day experience. Continuing to improve these aspects will no doubt increase the average crowd attendance which fans identify has recently been significantly lower than the beginning of season and in reflection can be attributed to team performance.

Interactions with juniors of the Club brand and match-day experience as a concentration for the Club to focus on in growing our member and supporter base was furthermore noteworthy as was maximising the value of a football specific home stadium.

Conversation at this point switched to the Asian Cup and accrued inventory of the player benches. Premium reserved members in the western stand have offered uplifting feedback on the aesthetics of the benches and thankfully not felt that their view of the match has been obscured since inception of the structures. The question was also raised as to whether it was the Asian Cup break in the middle of the HAL season which altered attendances and affected the momentum related to overall fan allegiances?

Kind regards

The FRG

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Melbourne City Fan Representative Group Update – December 2014

FRG

On a wonderfully mild evening in Melbourne City the MCFC FRG meeting took place. It’s been over two months since the previous meeting so we had a lot to discuss as Melbourne City fans.

The group met up on Wednesday 10/12/2014 to cover topics of the moment including the introduction of the new Cityzen’s program.

We started the meeting by acknowledging one of the group’s original Members, who had recently resigned from the FRG. The change of new owners brought with it new elements and differing viewpoints and we thank the recently departed Member for his valuable contribution and discussion during this time of transition.

Next we went around the table asking for the thoughts of each group Member garnering their feelings on the latest topics affecting our fans. The key points discussed are outlined as follows:

There is a level of trust in the club that it will get things right but it will take time due to the existing list and the salary cap limitations. There was a level of disappointment expressed by the way the club handled the David Villa situation. There was no information coming from the club on this change in arrangement. It was felt that some fans felt almost “cheated” or that the club was not up front with its Members. Honest communication with the fans on this occasion was lacking.

Most of the feeling from the group was that it would have been better to let us know either way about the length of time Villa would be with us. Silence on this matter from the club caused the media and fans to speculate.

Also, it was noted that Villa could have communicated better with fans and there was a definite level of disappointment within the crowd when he just walked past fans down the race in his final game.

The club acknowledged that while they didn’t even know the exact time frame Villa would spend at Melbourne City, and that it could have been anything up to 10 games, the lines of communication should always keep Members updated. Family reasons and club commitments with our sister club NYCFC were cited as the reasons Villa stayed for only the four games. While Heart is now City the culture of looking after our Members still remains and obviously everyone involved at the club wanted Villa to stay longer.

From the perspective of one of our new fans and Member of the FRG, for the first time this season he can now understand the emotional connection to Heart. But he is positive and knows that the CFG is not afraid to put their money in where it’s required. After some lower crowds he feels the Christmas Derby could be a real turning point. Having observed our crowd participation, he believes the support is fantastic and that the players are responding to The Melburnians hard work!

It was conceded that it wasn’t good when we lost our lead in games but it was felt the atmosphere was as good as can be expected given the situation. He also thinks it’s great how we hold our home games at a purpose built football stadium in AAMI Park compared to the Docklands.

Another Member indicated that the group she goes with to games has grown this season. Her friends are more interested in City than they were in Heart. It was mentioned that her expectations for the season were realistic (squad hasn’t really changed much) but the quality has improved with our players overall. Even though it didn’t turn out as well as it could have, she also wanted to make a point that having a player of David Villa’s caliber at our club even for a short stint was a great thing.

From another Member’s perspective, over the last couple of seasons he’s made friends with about 20 other Members that sit in his area. They’ve become like a family and has catch ups for away games and is planning future away trips such as the upcoming game in Newcastle. He attended the first game of the year away to Sydney FC and spending time with The Melburnians was a great experience.

With regard to Active, the representative on the group indicated that taking over from Yarraside was very challenging, with regard to attempting to please both old and new fans in the face of significant change. He felt Villa was a distraction and that we were too ‘Villa-centered’ and was actually glad to see the end of his tenure. He was happy watching him in our team, but always expected it to be a short stint.

Also, was happy that our fans on the wings were able to get involved in chants on game day. Chants are picking up as people get to know the capo. Some of The Melburnians attended the last post-game function where families, parents and kids gave them positive feedback that they were loving the chants.

A question was asked what had happened to our mascot Bluey/Ticker. The club indicated that something was in the pipeline, hopefully in the not to distant future.

There was a question whether our Red & White away kit was genuinely an away kit and asked why it was not worn away against the Roar and Victory. The club responded that unless there is a clash, the away strip is worn at all away matches outside the derby games and that the A-League and individual clubs work together when deciding which particular kit is to be worn. It was pointed out by a Member of the group (from experience) that the decision on what to wear is taken on a case-by-case basis and in fact most clubs around the world will wear their home kit unless there is a clear clash.

Asked when the home and away kits would be available for sale to fans, the club indicated that the away kit would be available in December and the home kit in January. Delays from Nike were cited as the reason for this.

Concerns were raised about the police involvement during the home game against Sydney FC. The club representative agreed with the concerns and stated that Melbourne City was looking into the matter with police to ensure that the safety of our fans is paramount. The Active Member said that it was a misunderstanding and had since spoken to the guys involved. He said that he’s let people know that in future if the police tell Members of the active support to get off the chairs to do so immediately.

CITYZENS

The charity component was well received with our fans. We all felt that the Cityzens program could be made a bit clearer and more user-friendly. Perhaps more information could be given in the form of a tutorial or even a bit of an explanation of the program during half-time on game day.

There seemed to be teething problems at least in the beginning. One of the FRG Members had some technical issues and emailed the club who were helpful with their response and tidied it up. There were also cases of Cityzens points not always updating, in particular with Twitter.

The club representative explained that Cityzens is a unique Member loyalty program that rewards you with all sorts of experiences. In a light-hearted moment one of our group suggested that Members should actually be punished and lose points for not attending games (unless you had a note from your doctor).

That’s it for now, there’ll be a big gap with the Asian Cup break until our next FRG meeting in February, if fans have any queries or items they’d like to raise please contact membership@melbournecityfc.com.au

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Melbourne City vs Sydney FC Preview

After another late slip up last week against Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne City face a tough challenge at home against Sydney FC.

It was the same old story for Melbourne City last week, leading 2-1 until the Mariners converted the last chance of the game to secure a 2-2 draw in stoppage time. Aaron Mooy returns for Melbourne City, but even with his addition it’s hard to be optimistic about Melbourne City. It’s all been covered before, and unless a major change happens it’s going to be a tough season for Melbourne.

Sydney FC come into this game off the back of a couple of scoreless draws, but those games were against two of the other top teams this season in Victory and Adelaide United. Hard to see Sydney not getting back to their winning ways tonight. Their defence should be too strong, and they should be able to do enough to score against the shaky Melbourne defence.

Line ups
Melbourne City Squad:
1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK)
3.Robbie WIELAERT
5.Erik PAARTALU
6.Aaron MOOY
7.Iain RAMSAY
11.Damien DUFF
14.James BROWN
15.David WILLIAMS
17.Jason HOFFMAN
18.Paulo RETRE
19.Ben GARUCCIO
20.Tando VELAPHI (GK)
23.Mate DUGANDZIC
24.Patrick KISNORBO (C)
25.Jacob MELLING
26.Marc MARINO
27.Ross ARCHIBALD
28.Liam MILLER
two to be omitted

Ins:
6.Aaron MOOY (returns from international duty)
19.Ben GARUCCIO (promoted)

Outs:
Nil

Sydney FC squad:
1.Ivan NECEVSKI (GK)
2.Sebastian RYALL
3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI
4.Pedj BOJIC
6.Nikola PETKOVIC
8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC
9.Shane SMELTZ
11.Bernie IBINI
12.Hagi GLIGOR
13.Christopher NAUMOFF
14.Alex BROSQUE (C)
16.Alex GERSBACH
17.Terry ANTONIS
18.Peter TRIANTIS
19.Nick CARLE
20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK)
21.Mark JANKO
22.Ali ABBAS
two to be omitted

Ins:
21.Mark JANKO (return from international duty)
17.Terry ANTONIS (returns from international duty)

Outs:
Nil

Prediction
Sydney FC should be too good for Melbourne City today. City will struggle to score so we have this down as 1-0 for Sydney.

Betting Odds
Melbourne City are the favourites today, paying $2.40. Sydney FC look good value at $2.80 and the draw is paying $3.35.

Match Details
Who: Melbourne City vs Sydney FC
When: 7:30 PM, Saturday 22nd October 2014
Where: AAMI Park

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