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Thursday, August 18, 2011

CS & u.r.s.u.n. v "The Committee" of Lfc

Question ;  what is a CAMEL?
Answer ;  Its a RACEHORSE designed by a "committee"  (or its a ciggie! ;)

Open Letter to Nasser Aboobakar from Singapore,
claiming to be representing the International Supporters, of Lfc
I have to correct you!
we ALWAYS had & have a voice, when it counts,  Global REdS have a network of unofficial supporters & fan clubs connecting several Millions, but you currently have the (apparent) advantage of being "sanctioned" by Lfc officially, but I feel you should have waited (if you are as wise as we wish you to be) to see the actual RESULTS of meeting with Henry & Werner, before congratulating the board or commending your own benfited position on the committee..
If you are that comfortable with the english lanaguage you will know the saying "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"..well the menu looks inviting but we dont know any more than you, whether FSG's business team are just so much better than the previous "suits" at placating the globals fans..
IMO they have obtained a global entity , worth several times the 200 Million+ they paid for. It  was sad that due to the distractions of the SoS/SL fund concept not being "sold" to our global members , and that failing to materialise through "prolonged committee discussion" etc, (and Lfc failing to sanction the supporter action!) that WE (the global Reds supporters) do not own the club, on paper.
Although LIVERPOOL FC is morally and actually OURS, should anyone ever attempt to "con" our global members again, we shall act, radically, however, in the meantime, we shall obviously give you & your colleagues the opportunity to earn the privaledge you seem to have gained. Quite candidly, I am highly suspicious of the mechanics that placed you and 17 others in such a position. (You were selected by people selected by Lfc, were you not?)

p.s. only 17 arrived - one absent through ill-health (get well soon!) isnt there a "back-up" (substitute) for each member in case of emergency/sickness??
p.p.s why werent the global membership canvassed for THEIR viewpoint/questions prior tot his meeting , or have you a "system" worked out to do this in future?

LFC>"This summary has been compiled by William Montgomery, who facilitated the meeting, and has been accepted as a true record by the Club and the Chair."

I have NOT found any minutes of the Supporters meeting where they discussed HOW they would formulate the questions???????????????????????????

"First (so-called Lfc) Supporters' Committee Meeting"Saturday, 13 August 2011 at Anfield

Question 1 from Jonathan Hooks representing LFC Official Membership
How does the club see the role of the Committee going forward and what assurances can we have that these meetings will be productive and result in real change for the benefit of all fans?
Ian says "Pretty much" well the committee may be "pretty" ;) I dont know , but how much was prepared  we dont know, as there are NO minutes of the "committee"'s OWN meeting beforehand! this should also be "transparent " at least to members!?

Ian Ayre (Managing Director): That's a question for everyone because we all have to be productive. When the idea of this committee came together it was born out of a lot of emails and a lot of conversations I had personally with fans, either in and around the stadium or in and around the city. Often people feel they read something on a message board or some other form and don't feel they share that view. What we wanted to do with this committee is put together a group of people who represent pretty much all of the constituent parts of our fan base. Today it's about giving you the opportunity to ask the questions, us to respond where we can, either immediately or in good time to make sure you get those answers.

CS> already a mistake ; the committee should be stating what IT expects not acting "sub-sevrvant" to the board, WE are the club, they may have the initial power, but over all ; we do!..
IA>The other part of this committee going forward is it has to be a two-way street. I expect us to bring things to you as well, so we will have lots of things that we're thinking of doing, some ideas, some concepts, lots of things that we're always reviewing within the business, and we see this forum as also being the outlet for that, so you can go to your constituent groups, share that information and come back to us so we know we are getting a real cross-section view of the fan base.
I hope it will be very productive. I think, certainly the process we went through to select all of you to the committee, and the process you went through yesterday has all been very positive so far. I hope that answers what we are trying to achieve. We just want you and all of our fans to feel that you genuinely have a voice within the club and that it's the voice of everyone, not just individual groups.
, CS>NOTE (Ian)" certainly the process we went through to select all of you to the committee,  "(the "committee" were, perhaps indirectly selected by Lfc "office" not by the global supporters!

Question 2 from Damien Moore representing International Fans
Do you see certain countries as offering significant opportunity to develop and enhance our fan base, e.g. Canada, United States and China? If so, do you envisage organic growth through community involvement, new soccer centres and being a leader of special needs clinics?
Ian Ayre: It's a very difficult thing actually because what we try to do is not particularly rule anywhere out in terms of our effort, but at the same time you have to be selective in order to achieve the growth and achieve things properly. I'd say Asia has definitely been a focus for us of late and continues to be so. South East Asia particularly has been very productive for us. A similar question came up on our recent pre-season tour where people asked why have we come to China or Malaysia and not elsewhere. Obviously we get to go to certain places once a year and we try to encompass as many different places as we can and try to provide places where people can come from other countries, so in the case of Malaysia we had lots of visiting fans from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong.
In terms of the touring element and the team, that's what we try to do. The plan next year hopefully is to be in the US.
What we do on a day to day basis is a little bit more widespread because we have different activities. You mention soccer schools, and as you know we have seven new franchises this year, Northern Ireland being the most recent, but Norway, Greece, Indonesia and others that have developed in the last year. That team is growing and that franchise system is growing. It's one of three or four different elements that we try to roll out.
Our media coverage, our TV channel and our website and the localisation of that is a focus currently, to get that into different markets. Our media channels are shown across the world, our TV channel is already there but the ability to localise that more is important to us, but not on a specific country basis.
Our merchandising team are just about to go out to a couple of places around the world to look at local delivery, such that as a shopper in the online community, rather than have everything shipped from Liverpool it'll be delivered locally from Asia, and you'll be able to pay in Singapore dollars and transact in that on our website. That's a process that we're going through.
In different markets we will have different levels of engagement and a different level of concentration. We won't rule anywhere out. We don't say we're only going to concentrate on China but there is a lot of different activity across the different parts of the club, but I would say Asia and to a lesser degree the US, would be the two main focuses right now.
CS>Ian Ayres "business acumen" comes mainly from Asia , no wonder that OUR "european initiatives" never even got a "polite reply" he and standard (corrupted) are putting emphasis on asian areas that dont NEED much support because Lfc traditionally have a massive following in those countries, but it makes HIS job easier! (he probably loves the "blue & white sh*te shirts, promoting his "sponsor")

Question 3 from Lewis Cubbin representing the Under 18s
Is the Club satisfied with the process of buying tickets (bulk-buying) that those under the membership scheme have to carry out, and will this be reviewed before the next phase?
Phil Dutton (Head of Ticketing and Hospitality): The short answer is yes, we were satisfied to a point with how the sale went. To answer the second part of the question, we do review everything constantly and there are a few things that we will tweak before the next sale in November. We had a lot of system problems last year with website crashes - which is quite frankly unacceptable - and we have worked very hard with our provider over the summer to make sure the system at least is more robust so it doesn't get to the transaction and then crash. I think it's a lot better than it was perhaps last season.
There are a lot of areas we can look at with our systems. We can have a proper queuing system, so we will work on that. Broadly speaking though, we were satisfied with the sale. I'd love to have more tickets and more seats to sell, I can't help with that, we've got what we've got and we try to sell them in the best way that we can.
CS>so "satisfied" that tickets were not available for home games in september shortly after the sale began, and there was no allocation left for "International members"!!
John Henry (Principal Owner): I think the question is, are the supporters satisfied?
Committee Member: The feedback wasn't as good as I thought it'd be.
Committee Member: Could there be an opportunity to survey people online post the Membership sale?
Phil Dutton: Yes. I read a lot of the online forums, and we do get a bit of a kicking. Some of what is written on there isn't true a lot of the time. Some of it is relevant to what happens and one of the things I saw was 'can we not stagger the sale further?' We simply don't have enough tickets. If we stagger it too far it's a closed shop. I have two or three thousand fans saying 'why didn't you go down to ten games last year as opposed to 13?' If I was to do that and stagger it right down I'd have 100,000 fans saying they could never get a ticket.
Ian Ayre: If we were starting again and if we'd had that conversation with everybody here we might end up somewhere different, or we might not because the way the sale works is in two halves. You have the loyalty based half of the sale, which is 13 games or above and that allows those fans who have built up a loyalty and continue to build up a loyalty the opportunity to buy into about 4000 tickets, but then in the second half of it it's a first come first served, which is designed for a more casual fan or for a fan who can't come to every game even if he wanted to, so there is a flush through of people getting the experience. It was trying to find the balance between a hard core fan who can't get a season ticket but wants to come as much as possible and the guy who can only come two or three times a season. That's why we created that balance. As Phil said, if we move too far down the number of games process, it actually becomes a lock out because it's only people who have been to games who could come to games.
Phil Dutton: We are working very hard with the visiting clubs now, so we are going to clubs in December to ask how many fans they are going to bring with them. We spoke to Blackburn this week who said they will bring 2000 fans, so 1000 will go back on sale next week straight into Membership. We are not messing around and holding back. It's completely transparent. When the Manchester United situation finally gets resolved those tickets will go straight back into the pot. If there are any season ticket holders who can't attend a game and put their ticket back in the 'buy back', it goes straight on sale. There's no cloak and daggers. We make as much as we can available.
CS>the new ticketing idea could easily have been explained to members online (we are supposed to get a regular mailing (which sometimes arrives!) and a "vote" with a chance for suggestions - more likely the board and TO, took the "easy way out" and done if prior to any "committee" objection..thus "too late?
Committee Member: Will any of those tickets that come back in be allocated to children? Children are our future.
Phil Dutton: We have an adult/child section in the Anfield Road. There are a variety of reasons why we can't sell tickets to children online but what we might look to do is have a dedicated day of sale for adult/child tickets. At the moment you are in the pot with everyone else. The reason we don't sell to children online is not a system problem, it's because in the past its been abused because people have bought a child's ticket and then tried to get in with it even though they weren't a child. It is absolutely something we need to look at.
CS>I bought my son a junior membership last year, (for his birthday) he never got the member package, we only once managed to get a ticket online, and the office didnt send him a renewal, as he is not "conversant" he didnt realise it had run out and he also lost out on a ticket for the new season home games!! 

Question 4 from Tore Hansen representing Official Supporters Clubs
Why do branch members of Official Supporters Clubs need to be members - cost of £29 - to get tickets through their branch?
Phil Dutton: This was a decision taken across several departments within the club. It was to bring it into line with how we allocate tickets. It's also so we have more of an interaction with the different individual members of the branches, so there is more transparency that way, and also to give them more access to tickets because there are branches like yours who want more tickets and could take thousands of tickets to some games. You can now buy during the Members sale as well. It's nothing more than that, to be honest with you. It was just to bring it more into line with the rest of the ticketing policy.
CS>probably  so they can communicate with members without talking to you Tore, they then have the contact direct, (make more money and make sure u dont sell non-official merch. to the members, lol) ;) ???
Ian Ayre: What we are trying to do with everything, and have been doing for some time, is make it an even playing field for everyone. Whilst we recognise, and the club has always recognised the Official Supporters Clubs and their wants and needs to come as a collective to games, often from long distance, we have to make it a level playing field in the sense that the people who are members of the general Membership scheme are paying £29 to gain access to tickets, for supporters clubs to gain access to those tickets and gain access to supporters clubs tickets, we felt it was wrong to have supporters clubs members not to have to pay for access to those tickets. We have therefore created a level playing field.
CS>and of course make an extra 29 quid from each member, that they may not have got before, oops , didnt mention that Ian?
IA>In the Norwegian case we know there are thousands and thousands of members, but in other cases we have quite small supporters clubs who were getting access to what I would say was a disproportionate level of tickets to their members and, again, that was unfair.
By making it membership based, as in the members of the official supporters clubs, we can see exactly how many members there are participating in this ticket programme because we know exactly who they are by them being members of our scheme. That was the reason behind it. It wasn't because we wanted to make £29.
CS>ha ha ha , then why didnt U integrate all the data bases, ordinary online members(forum) proper "All RED"/fancard members, & e-season, its a mess..still??
Question 5 from Robert Humphries representing Season Ticket Holders
can the Club explain why there is a charge of £23 when paying cash at the ticket office window for a season ticket when there is no charge via the internet?

Phil Dutton: I was really happy this question came up, and I'll explain why. I am a season ticket holder and have been for 20 years so it's in my interests to get season tickets right. When we used to sell season tickets we had a deadline - so if you paid before the deadline you paid £600 and if you paid post deadline you paid £650. 85% of people paid pre-deadline but it was incredibly labour intensive. We brought the online transactions in to bring it in line with the rest of the business, and the online transactions now are where you get your discount, with the offline transactions you don't. It's not just cash at the window, it's on the phones as well. You pay £600 online and £650 offline. There's nothing more sinister to it than that. It's not a charge, it's not a booking fee, it's just a discount. It's not based on the date you buy, it's based on whether you buy online or not as online sales are the most efficient.
CS>not when U have bug*ers, deliberate or not, obstructing connection from abroad, or particular;y from me! ;)
Committee Member: Not everyone has access to the internet or the capability of using the internet, so will feel marginalised. A friend of mine went to the ticket office thinking that paying at the ticket office would be the most cost-effective way of buying.
CS>why isnt the "committee member" named?...if he/she is representing, maybe millions, shouldnt I know if my "rep" is doing something , or not?
Phil Dutton: What I will say is that if there are any concessions at the window, they pay the online rate. It's a flat rate. Your point is taken, though, and we'll take it away. I just want to emphasise it's not a booking fee or a charge.
Committee Member: I accept the way you've said it, but the perception from outside is you are penalised if you don't buy online.
CS>good point, why are U anonymous? ;)
Jean Crisp (Head of Customer Experience): Can I just add something about what we have done to try and support fans who have maybe never done it before? If people do come down and say they have never done it before and are not computer literate, we would work with them and help them through that. In most cases they were charged the online rate. We said to them we have done that for you, you are up and running, so next year you can do it in that way. So we did try to support wherever possible. There weren't many people who did that, but we did show some flexibility acknowledging that if you've never done it before or don't have computer access it is quite difficult.
CS>hope that is true, last time I went to the TO window (in a GOOD mood) to take up a point about a late ticket arrival for a european game, I got "bounced" ..even though it wasnt a match day, the "manager" was too busy to help me..
Committee Member: That's nice to hear. Someone gave me the example that they paid cash for a season ticket at the ticket office and got 'penalised', as they put it, and then went to the club shop, paid cash for something and not be penalised.
CS>your NAME?
Committee Member: A lot of people are wary about transacting on the internet because of fraud, so that would stop people.
CS>your name??
Phil Dutton: What I will say is whereas 85 per cent of people used to buy before the deadline, 85 per cent of people buy online now and get their discounts online.
Committee Member: It is a particularly concerning issue in Liverpool itself because the levels of literacy and computer literacy in this city are substantially below the UK average and there are a substantial number of fans who will not be able to use a computer to book tickets.
CS>?? really?? (still no name of committee members, who is taking these "minutes"???)
Question 6 from Les Wright representing the Away Fans
Can the Club approach the Premier League to investigate pricing structure at away games for supporters of LFC? If officials representing home clubs wish to raise their ticket prices for Category A clubs, then why should the away fans pay the same rate, effectively paying the same price to watch a category B or C game?
CS>good point!
Ian Ayre: Yes, we have spoken to the clubs before. There is a guideline that they can only charge the same price as the highest price ticket that they have, but of course that can be a completely different proposition with one ticket being a fantastic seat over the half way line, and they can charge that in the away end. They do try to take advantage of it. I will make sure we raise it again and put it on the agenda for the next Premier League meeting.
I know at Chelsea it's particularly expensive, but even at some of the smaller clubs our fans are getting over-charged, but that's how they get around it because the rules currently say they can charge the same amount as the highest priced ticket they have anywhere else in the stadium.
It's one I will have to take away but I give you our assurance we will follow it up and come back to the committee with it.
Question 7 from Andrew Moran representing General Admission
I would ask The Club to provide to the Committee an explanation and breakdown of how the 45,276 seats at Anfield are allocated to the different sections of the support - including the away support - and the number of seats that would be unavailable due to e.g. fan segregation, and to then provide a 100% break down, on a game-by-game basis, of how seats have been allocated so far already for the current season, and then publish and maintain this information on The Club web site, to be updated as necessary and when the allocation for future games is arranged.
Ian Ayre: Of course we know where all the tickets go. It's a bit of a moving feast - certainly all of the tickets that are allocated to certain categories which are pre-defined, we can definitely share that with people.
But what then happens...I will give you a couple of examples.
We couldn't divulge individually what sponsors get as that is a contractual element, but we could show as an overall what is allocated. Not all sponsors take their allocation for every game, so anything that's a residue or left over from that goes back into the pot that goes down to the Membership sale. Likewise, for corporate, we have an allocation but it's different from game to game so for the big category A games we have more corporate facilities than we do for the others.
We used to have that corporate facility for every game, but for the bigger games - United, Chelsea - there are a couple of facilities where we have additional capacity. There are a couple of other random areas, players' tickets, that type of thing, where if they're not used they go back into the pot.
What we can do is show what the start position is, ie how we allocate and how it's divided up, how it ends up each time is completely different depending on the uptake. The other thing I would say is we also have to understand the maintenance of the balance between what people call hospitality tickets and general admission tickets, and the reason for that is hospitality tickets generate about 50 per cent of the match day revenue, even though they are massively disproportionate to the number. So six or seven per cent of the capacity is generating 50 per cent of the revenue, and without that we'd all be paying a lot more for our seats, so it's important that people grasp that across the board.
But, absolutely, we could share the information.
CS>"could share it" or WILL share it... I wont hold my breath waiting though, ;)
Committee Member: It's important from a general admissions point of view to help supporters better understand how the process works and help them work out if they can get tickets for a game depending on which section of the support they're in.
Ian Ayre: Absolutely, and we encourage that. What's important to understand is we don't make any more money depending on where the tickets go. We have an allocation of hospitality tickets which never goes up, other than what we've pre-defined. We don't take extras because we don't have the facility. We have a fixed number of seats in lounges like this every game and we can't expand upon that. Actually, it only ever goes down. We start off with what we have allocated. If we didn't sell every seat in this room today, for example, then those tickets would go down into a general admissions seat.
Phil Dutton: We work incredibly hard, as I said earlier on, to make sure that when those allocations aren't taken they go straight back in as quickly as possible for supporters.
CS>lets see, though, eh? ;0
Ian Ayre: A good example is the one Phil used earlier about Blackburn, so we have already spoken to Blackburn about a game in December. We know we can sell those other thousand tickets that would have been empty in the segregated area, so we just move the segregation across and we recover a thousand seats by having that dialogue.
Phil Dutton: We do that across the board, so partners, hospitality seats, I've got two or three people literally on the phone saying 'do you want these seats?' We cut allocations down, we've done a full audit of what we give out. That's why we have designed Membership the way it is. We have the week in July and in November when it is manic, it is very busy, but there is a constant churn. Today there are tickets for Blackburn on there, there were tickets for Newcastle earlier in the week as well and there will be tickets for Manchester United going back in this week.
CS>its not that we dont trust the TO!! ;)
Committee Member: Do Blackburn have to pay for the full 2000 allocation?
Phil Dutton: Premier League rules state they have to pay for the first 1000. We have a 1000, 2000 and 3000 allocation. You pay for the first thousand and then after that it's sale and return. Personally, I'd rather they take the whole lot and pay for it whether they sell them or not but unfortunately we're not allowed to do that.
Committee Member: So if they only sell 1500 of the 2000 they have said they want, we have lost out?
Phil Dutton: Correct.
Ian Ayre: If you imagine the other thing with away fans, it's not just where they sit, it's where they go when they go downstairs. You can't have 1000 Liverpool fans in the same toilets, kiosk areas and concourse areas as away fans.
Phil Dutton: We did raise that question during the summer to ask if we could change this and that's why we are speaking quite a lot with the other clubs to say 'you only brought 1200 fans last year, do you really want 2000 seats?' We've been in constant dialogue with Blackburn. Some clubs are easier to deal with than others, but we are trying to make sure that the maximum number of seats go to our fans, but there will be cases where they don't sell 500 or 600 seats - the Wigans and Fulhams of this world traditionally don't, I think we played Wigan on a Saturday afternoon last year and I don't think we sold their section.
Ian Ayre: I'll go away and think about it but my view is we will produce some kind of ticketing report that will be posted on the website that will show the breakdown after each game, once we have reconciled what was sold and where.
Committee Member: I was thinking more from the point of view of having the information beforehand.
Ian Ayre: We can tell you how the split is today (morning of match v Sunderland). For today's game we can tell you what we started off with, we'd have had that much allocated for that and so on....what it ended up at we won't know until today or the day after or the day after that. But, yes, we can put both up there.
CS>VITAL that its checked, Surely, we can take an average of the last 5 years away support and negociate on that must be wrong IF there are empty seats in the away section and  WE cant get in???
Question 8 from Laurence Whitehead representing Corporate Fans
Why have corporate season tickets increased despite there being no European games this coming season and will prices increase excessively next season assuming the team qualifies for European football?
Ian Ayre: We've always said the same thing with hospitality - we don't set the prices based on whether we're in Europe or not. You win some years and lose, if you like, in other years, it's an all inclusive proposition, as you know. I think this is the first year for many, many years where we haven't enjoyed European football - so I'd say people have had more rather than less as a general rule. Going forward, our price increases wouldn't be related to being in or not being in there. They are based, as they were this summer, on where we think the market is, where we think inflation is, where we think various other factors fall into place, but it's definitely not a derivative of European or non-European football.
There are a couple of examples. In 2009 we had something like 12 Cup games - and in some years you get half as many, and others like this year where you get less.
If you look at a trend across a five-ten year period people would be spending more rather than less.
Phil Dutton: We are currently reviewing the whole pricing structure. We're looking at what other clubs do, some of the clubs down in London are quite creative about how they do their ticket prices and hospitality, particularly Arsenal and Tottenham. The same goes for some of the European clubs so it is something we are aware of.
CS>we are not going to bleed for the corporates who can afford it!
Question 9 from Nasser Aboobakar representing International Supporters

Can the Club provide additional time for international fans to purchase tickets as the current timescales are far too short?
Phil Dutton: We have a broad array of supporters clubs dotted around the world and we do try to accommodate the ticket requests within that framework. What we also do is have a relatively small allocation of tickets for group bookings. Invariably you don't come across on your own, you come across with family or friends and so you can email us six months in advance to say you're flying in, you don't want to spend two or three thousand pounds flying across for the week and not know if you're getting a ticket, so we do try our best to work within that framework to allocate tickets.
CS>THAT IS ABSOLUTE BS! - ask Anita or a number of european supporters, including myself, who have been IGNORED or refused when attempting to get things booked "in advance" including tickets (I had the same myself, I am coming over for the Wolves game, and must rely on mates for tickets!!)

IPD>t's very difficult because for some games we get hundreds of requests - I don't need to tell you which games they will be for, but everyone seems to be coming across in October this year when we've got Manchester United - but we try our best to allocate those tickets to the right groups and we'll continue to do that. But it's something I'll take away.
Committee Member: The confirmation that the supporters clubs are supposed to give is very short. By the time the fixtures are out, we know the number of tickets available, by the time we inform the fans and they come back to us - the window is very close.
CS>agreed (name??)
Ian Ayre: So you mean at the start when we do the sale, we should give a longer period for that?
Committee Member: Yes
Ian Ayre: Okay, that's pretty easy to address.
CS>then why didnt you DO it?
Question 10 from Jeanette Dodd representing Disabled Supporters
Are there any plans to address the deficit of wheelchair spaces available at Anfield in order for the Club to meet its access duty in line with the government's minimum standards as described in the Accessible Stadia Guide?
Ian Cotton (Director of Communications and Community Affairs): The challenge we face is the physical constraints in which we operate within the current stadium. We are aware there is a deficit in terms of the figures and what we try to do every year is to think creatively, involving our Disability Liaison Officer Colin McCall and our Stadium Manager Ged Poynton to see where, if there is any way we can increase those numbers. For instance, this year we have added another disabled toilet in the Kop. We try to think creatively in terms of the space available. We are aware of the DDA legislation in terms of the audits. The last audit was 18 months ago and we implemented what we thought was a reasonable addressing of what that had shown us.
I think going forward, when the stadium question is finally determined we will clearly have to address that, in terms of the physical changes to the stadium and/or a new stadium. Our scope at the moment is limited even though we do sit down every year and try and think how we might increase those spaces.
Committee Member: So are there no immediate plans?
Ian Cotton: There are no immediate plans to increase those numbers but we try to think creatively. We are constrained by the physical structure of the current stadium.
Committee Member: I first got involved in 2006 and we keep being told 'we will do, we will do'. In 2007 they got given this dream of a new stadium, where they said we won't even have the minimum number, we'll go above and beyond that. There comes a point when people want to remind the club there is a continuing and evolving duty under the DDA - you can't keep saying to people 'well, next year we might have a new stadium'. There comes a point when people want to know there is something concrete in place...
John Henry: Has the number gone up at all?
Ian Cotton: It has over the years. The current number is 101, but again we are limited simply by the physical layout of the stadium.
Committee Member: It's 90 for home fans. 101 altogether.
Ian Cotton: It has increased over the years but we are at the limit of what we think we can do. Again, it's linked in to the question about the stadium and when the stadium decision is taken then clearly the numbers we are talking about in terms of the increased capacity will have to be implemented.
Committee Member: Is it a big job now to increase that capacity and put the stadium issue to one side?
Ian Cotton: I think that's a question I'd have to put to the Stadium Manager. I think if you're going to increase the spaces to give to disabled supporters then you are going to reduce the spaces available for everybody else. It comes back to a limitation of space under the current stadium.
Committee Member: What is the number supposed to be?
Committee Member: We are supposed to have a minimum of 221. The only increase I am aware of is when I was chair of the Disabled Supporters Association we did agree with Ged to have additional bays in the Kop. He said we couldn't put any more in because of the lack of toilet facilities. We've now got another toilet, in the Kop. I would urge the club to think creatively because I've got loads of examples from clubs all over the country, some of them with no money at all, where they have done fantastic things for their disabled supporters without any significant changes to the structure. I think it would be a real goodwill gesture on the part of the club. Disabled supporters are loyal fans and it's a shame they are competing five to one for one of 28 wheelchair bays, whereas if you're not in a wheelchair you're not in that position. It's about making things more equal and addressing a big equality issue.
Ian Cotton: Jeanette, I think what we'll do is sit down with both Colin and with Ged and see how we can explore things further.
Committee Member: I'd be really grateful if you would because it's the biggest thing I get emailed and contacted about.
Question 11 from Janet Brown representing Family Supporters
How is LFC going to make the club more family friendly?
Jean Crisp: I'm glad you asked this question because it is something we do want to focus on this season within the Customer Experience team.
For me it's around two areas, it's some of those fundamental things which would be around ticketing and family tickets, where we put families in the family area, they're the quite big things. We'll certainly be talking to Phil (Dutton) and the Stadium Management to see what we can do. They're the ones which will give us the biggest challenges because the facilities are restricted.
Outside of that, on matchday and when families come to Anfield, what is it we do for them? That's where we can be creative and where we can do some of the things we haven't in the past.
For example, Paul Cuttill has developed a lunch pack, that's absolutely something we can do. For the Valencia game we trialed and tested a couple of things that we thought might work. We had a promotion for Anfield, we tested 'my first to Anfield' where we had certificates for the children with their name on and the first game they came to, with a little gift pack. We also created a photo opportunity where they could have their photo taken against a backdrop with their favourite players. I was quite surprised how many of the adults elbowed the children out of the way for that photo opportunity.
There are things we can do and there are plans to come out and talk to yourselves and, now that it's set up, canvassing the families about what works for them.
We also work closely with the Football League and the guy who runs the Family Awards for the Football League. Some of the clubs do some incredibly creative things around family proposition. Cardiff won the award this year and they have done some great things which we can look at.
The big thing I guess, with Ian, Tom and John is the work we are doing on the stadium, whatever decision there may be, it presents a tremendous opportunity for families in particular, so it is absolutely an area which me and my team are going to be focusing on.
Committee Member: Because we can only have a finite number of kids in the stadium, I don't understand why we haven't explored what other things we can bring kids to on a matchday. Are LFC going to work with the community, is there an alternative venue, we could do lots of other things with occasional players visiting. I just think we've been too blinkered in the way we've looked at families. Families are the lifeblood of the club and I think we need to be more proactive and more creative. I don't think Liverpool have been at the forefront of that.
CS>whilst it is important to bring families and especially kids into the club, there should be NO "positive discrimination" /..many life long supporters dont get tickets...!!!
Ian Cotton: We have a very active community department and part of the work they do is around families. We have a particular programme called 'Tactics 4 Families' which is talking about social cohesion and about how we can support whatever shape the family takes and whatever individuals are involved in that. That is something that we take out to schools locally and it's something that the Premier League themselves have expressed a great interest in. Jamie Carragher has been very involved in that.
We have another programme called 'Truth 4 Youth' which is addressed to schoolchildren and talks about a whole stream of different issues, but again trying to reinforce positive values amongst children. That is actively taken out into schools, not just in Merseyside but further afield as well.
The community department are very involved in understanding the importance of the family.
Committee Member: I am a school governor in Toxteth so I am aware of some of the stuff that Liverpool do and I'm also aware of some of the stuff that Everton do. I have to say that Everton provide far more than Liverpool do at the moment.
CS>name?  (mind you, the bluenoses dont have a global support to satisfy)
Jean Crisp: I think what Everton are good at is promoting it very heavily. We haven't necessarily been as proactive with that. We do an awful lot and it is important for our supporters to know. In the Premier League survey one of the questions was about how important is it in relation to what happens in the community and we were the second highest. Then there was a question about how aware you were of what happens, and we were lower. So getting that message out there is something we perhaps need to be a bit stronger on. We do some fantastic stuff.
Ian Cotton: Perhaps we have been lacking in promoting what we do in the community and it is something we are actively addressing, in making people more aware of the breadth of activity we are involved in.
John Henry: Aside from that, there are things we can do to make matchday more attractive for families.
Committee Member: I believe so, and we don't necessarily have to be constrained by the fact that we don't have a new stadium. There's lots of other ideas that we could think of.
CS>name?...(committee members should come WITh ideas??, as they are the "chosen ones" ;) )
Committee Member: I have been to sporting events in the States and the experience in terms of being aimed towards children is much better.
CS>(name?) dont ever want Anfield to be like Boston , ta!
Committee Member: We are Liverpool, we should be at the forefront of this. We're a family based club, that's one of our values and I think it's important we show the world what we are really about.
CS>well we had the "boys pen" but seems to me no "ordinary men" will be able to get into Anfield if this committee has its way! ;)
John Henry: There's a tremendous opportunity here, so thank you.
CS>(John thinks "to make a lot of money") ;)
Question 12 from Paul Amann representing LBGT Supporters
What is the club's LGBT/Equality policy for fans employees and players and how is this monitored and what action is taken, if and when necessary?
Ian Cotton: The simple answer to that is it's a policy which is being worked up as we speak, so we don't have one in place at the moment. That said, I'd be very happy to meet with you privately to see what input and guidance you can give us in terms of bringing it to fruition. It is something the club takes extremely seriously.
Paul Amann: It's good to hear those words but I'm sad to say the club has shown no sign of taking it seriously. We had a player who left in January who received a torrent of abuse from away fans whenever we played Manchester United or Everton. Our stewards did not apply the FA standards and it was shameful. I love this club and many LGBT fans love this club, but we're not proud of its record at the moment and I think we've got a lot to learn.
CS>problem is that some of our "fans" now say exactly the same things about HIM!

Ian Ayre: I'm interested to know do you have any examples of quality of application of this in other clubs?
Paul Amann: Brighton and Manchester City have both been very progressive and moved things forward substantially. You can look at other sports such as rugby where Sheffield have recently taken the step of having the club's sports kit addressing the issue of homophobia in sport. There's lots of good examples out there.
Ian Ayre: I think they're good examples for Ian (Cotton) to talk to as well.
Committee Member: From my experience as an event steward in Scotland, where sectarianism is a particular problem both in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the stewards are well versed in making sure that if they hear any such sectarian language used by supporters - and sometimes it can be a few thousand people doing at the same time - if they can pick out individuals they will do so and speak to them, if not arrange to have them ejected from the stadium by Strathclyde Police, who have no trouble in doing so. It is something you can do if you put your mind to it.
CS>name? ......IF!
Question 13 from James Benson representing Anfield and Breckfield Supporters, Aaron Cardoso representing UK Supporters and Samantha Armstrong representing Female Fans
What new information can you provide regarding the stadium and what dialogue has been had with the local community regards the changes and regeneration of the area and do you have any timescales regarding the future of Anfield?
Tom Werner: We've had a lot of dialogue. We've had private communication with the city council and Ian can fill you in on some of that. Obviously we are aware that the status quo is not as anyone would want. It would be very helpful to increase capacity but there are challenges in both directions and we're cognisant of not wanting to assure our supporters we are doing something until we are ready to really take action. We're aware of the history of this. While we're not saddled with the burden of doing something immediately, we certainly would like to do something expeditiously. There are challenges and we don't want to take action until we are really clear of the direction we are going on. We are in constant discussion about this. Ian can give us the specifics but it's a vexing problem for everybody and we hope to have a solution. It's fair to say that John and I just do not want to promise something and then not be able to deliver it.
Ian Ayre: We are going down two parallel paths at the moment and I think the biggest issue, particularly for the very local residents, is that there has been a path for a long time. The unfortunate thing I think is the club that exists today is not necessarily relevant to that past. That doesn't help anyone, it's just a fact. I think there have been a lot of things promised, a lot of mistakes made, a lot of money spent and all those are detrimental in many ways to where we are today.
One path is the refurbishment of Anfield. We have done a lot of work with some very good people who really understand what may or may not be possible. We have some designs that we've looked at that encompass all of the types of things we have talked about today - better access for disabled supporters, more tickets, more seats - but in order to deliver that it involves the acquisition of a lot of property between here and however far we need to go. It's not because we want to knock peoples houses down, it's because if we build it this big you have to build it so far back. It also involves some other investment around that area, so in order to even understand whether that's possible we have to continue to explore a process which says 'would we be able to acquire those properties?' Would we be able to get all of those properties or some of them, and if we can't get all of them what is the next stage of process and would that be successful?' As Tom said, we can't promise we can do that because we don't know the outcome and it could take years to reach that outcome.
So in parallel with that we are also looking at a new stadium. We have a design, we have a site - which is Stanley Park - and we have planning permission. But economically it costs about twice as much as redeveloping Anfield, roughly. For that reason, from the club's point of view and as fans you all want us to invest our money, your money, wisely in the football club and if there's a solution that costs half the money - if it's actually a real solution and we don't know that - then I'm sure you'd much rather us invest the money in that cheaper solution, the more economically viable solution than the more expensive solution.
One of the ways of making the new stadium proposition more economically viable is to find a naming rights partner. That takes time. It's not something we started five years ago, it's something we started in January and deals like our Standard Chartered deal, and other big deals that we've done, take a long time. The Standard Chartered deal took 14 months. So we are going along those two paths. It doesn't placate anybody I don't think from a day to day point of view very locally, but I am absolutely certain we are doing the right thing for the football club and its fans, and ultimately the right thing for the community because we could promise we're going to stay at Anfield today and we could promise we were going to seek permissions to knock those houses down around Anfield, but if something gets in the way and it doesn't happen then we have let everyone down and I think the only assurance I can give you is we are doing everything we can as expediently as we can for the right outcome for Liverpool Football Club, whichever of the two outcomes it may be.
Committee Member: The time it takes is inconsequential to me, to be honest. I just want the right decision to be made for the area long-term. I want to make sure the area grows and is a better place to live.

CS>name? why dont YOU have an opinion??? thats what you are there for!! you are privaledged and just say "i just want the right decision" ..pathetic! 
Ian Ayre: We have talked a lot about the matchday experience today and as someone who grew up in Liverpool 4, the last thing I want to see is ITV or Granada showing some pre-match thing where they go down the streets which are boarded up and make everybody think that's Liverpool. It's not. It's not even Liverpool 4. We all want that outcome and the sooner we can get there the better, but only for the right outcome and not promise something or deliver something that gets the club into significant debt or doesn't pay back. If we build a new stadium and it costs too much money we'll have to put that money in from somewhere else and it'll mean we're not putting money elsewhere, like for players. So we have to get the mix right.

John Henry: Yesterday I toured the Allianz Arena in Munich. We are spending an extraordinary amount of time on this issue. Having seen state of the art, there is still a desire here, as Ian expressed, to do the right thing economically for the club. Anfield has a history. At Fenway Park in Boston we had a similar situation. We had tremendous support from the Mayor and the redevelopment agency there, from the historical society, they made everything easy for us. Here I think it's a much more difficult issue because you are talking about homes that would need to be removed or destroyed. Some people, I have heard, have recommended that's a very good idea because of the situation in this area.
Some people also think the club is somewhat responsible for regeneration of this area and that we're somehow holding it up. I don't believe that whatever we do will cause regeneration in itself in the Anfield area. I don't think you can rely upon the building of a new stadium or a refurbishment. The fact remains we need help and assistance if we're going to be able to deal with the issues which surround this if we're going to refurbish Anfield.
As Ian said, if we're able to get a naming rights deal then a new stadium may be what's necessary because we're blocked from other standpoints.
It's a very difficult issue and it may not be answered for a long time. People are saying 'you need to answer this question now because Anfield and its citizens are waiting to hear' but, again, I don't believe that whatever happens is going to necessarily solve all of the issues here locally.
When things don't go your way people look for people to blame. I don't think it's fair to blame any one individual or the city council at this point. But we need their help and the help of various agencies and we may not get it.
Committee Member: The 'right to light' is obviously an issue for the local residents. If you were to redevelop this stadium, presumably the 'right to light' could be a stumbling block...

Ian Ayre: The right to light issue is the reason we need to take the other streets out. There isn't a design that doesn't have the right to light issue. There is only the Main Stand and the Anfield Road Stand that could be redeveloped.
John Henry: We physically have to move outwards to where there are homes right now so there is the 'right to light' and also other issues.

CS>a) The whole area could be re-developed IF the community, council and Lfc co-operated, until that happens DO nothing, because thats what the Lfc "office" are professional at (doing NOTHING!) 
b) I havent seen any initiative about Supporters also coming into the equation, with 6/7 million global fans WE should fund it, BUT only if WE name the new stadium (or keep it Anfield) thats OUR right for supporting the club our whole lives!

Question 14 from Stephen Kelly representing the Over 60s
Is there any possibility of parking close to the ground specifically for the over 70s?
Phil Dutton: The short answer is it is certainly something we can look at. We have car park facilities in Stanley Park, some in Anfield Road, we have recently taken one in St Domingo's which is the other side of the stadium, about a five minute walk away.
I would like to look at volumes of numbers you think we should look at here. We can try and administer this and help you.
Question 15 from Abu Nasir representing the Ethnic Minority Supporters
Will the Club have a policy or strategic way of BME (black and minority ethnic) engagement? For example, opportunities to attend matches, recruit players from Asia, employment within the Club?
Ian Cotton: There are some things I can address and some things I can't address. In terms of player recruitment, I think that's something for Damien Comolli. I think the absolute metric is 'is a player talented?' rather than 'what is their ethnic background?' In terms of the Far East, for instance, while on our pre-season tour Damien did attend some trials with local talent in China. We have the Head of Player Recruitment at the Academy going to China next week to conduct a series of scouting missions to see what sort of talent is there. The bottom line is 'is the player good enough?'
In terms of engagement, we run a very successful 'Equality 4 All' project which is run by Rishi Jain, a young kid who has come up through the ranks, he was our Young Person of the Year, his dad works locally, he's now our Social Inclusion Officer and works with organisations like Kick it Out and Show Racism the Red Card, running soccer camps within the different ethnic communities within Liverpool. The other day Jaz Dhami, who I believe is a big Asian music star, attended one of our camps. It's that sort of engagement, using positive role models across the whole Liverpool family, all the different communities and all the different stakeholders, which we are very committed to. I think Rishi does a great job in trying to do that.
Ian Ayre: A couple of other things you may not be aware of. We have developed a facility in India, it's a faculty in a university which is a Liverpool FC faculty so we're running in conjunction with the west of India football association a series of educational courses that are related to football. It's not about coaching players, it's about educating people in India into the business side of football, so sports science, physiotherapy, business administration in football, a whole bunch of things. This is under the Liverpool brand and the idea is to seed the Indian football market and other markets with people skilled in football related disciplines to give them opportunities in football.
In terms of the recruitment side, like on the player side, we would only ever employ somebody because they are good enough, not because of their background. Our club doctor is an Asian Muslim and there are lots of other examples.
We are also in discussion currently with a national sports authority in Asia about an opportunity to have an academy based there, so there is work going on. That doesn't for one minute suggest we haven't got more work to do.
CS>as with my point above , there shpuld be EQUALITY, NOT special conditions for each group! footy as in Life...the dangers of this committee are obvious, and no "strength " is seen as I feared! ..FSG & the board will do what they want..
John Henry: If there's one thing to come out of today, it's that we've got a lot of work to do. There's always a lot of work to do.

CS> I refer you to ("under construction")

last words....Oh....dear!! 

p.s reminder...WHERE are the minutes of the "committee"'s Pre-meeting??

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