9th January 2023 Supporters’ Charter Group Meeting
Derby County Football Club
David Clowes: Owner
Stephen Pearce: Chief Executive Officer
Dave Biggar: Chief Commercial Officer
Tom Loakes: Senior Communications Officer
Emma Drury: SLO/DSLO
Tyrone Harta: Head of Ticketing
Supporters’ Charter Group
Lynn Hemsworth: DCFC Supporters Club
Andy Ellis: Club Historian & Derby County collection
Jas Gidda: Punjabi Rams
David Mortimer: Rams Active
Mike Rothon: Black & White Together
Gary Dempsey: Derby County Disabled Supporters Club
Nick Webster: Independant
Is there any movement in our business plan due to us overachieving?
The business plan remains unchanged, yet the overall outlook is positive. The club is in regular communication with the English Football League (EFL) but it was emphasised that this will not have any impact on the team's ability to recruit in January, as we have a wage cap in place.
How many Season Tickets have we sold?
The total number of Season Tickets has exceeded 20,000. Additionally, there’s an increase of 50.84% on Half Season Ticket sales compared to the same period last year.
If we run at a loss, will we be borrowing, or equity raised?
There will be no borrowing at the club, any shortfall will be fully funded by Clowes Developments.
What effect on turnover have cup games made?
The impact of cup games on the club's turnover has been incredibly positive. Despite losing sponsorship and partnership revenue as a result of the club's decision to partner with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), the revenue generated from the cup games has helped to fill that gap.
Was there any truth that Ian Botham will be chair and we want a celebrity chairperson?
What plans does the club have for the rest of the board of directors?
Currently there is no change, as it’s not a priority at this moment in time. It will only be when we identify somebody who adds value.
For the Port Vale away game, disabled supporters will be allocated in the home end. What influence does the club have to improve access?
We proactively reach out to the opposing club well ahead of the match to inquire about accommodating disabled supporters, including information about location, facilities, parking, etc. By gathering this information as early as possible, we aim to provide disabled supporters with ample time to make informed decisions about attending the game. Unfortunately, we are limited in our ability to address certain issues, such as the lack of disabled facilities in the away section at Port Vale resulting in our disabled supporters being allocated the home end.
Why can’t we buy tickets in block E & D in the upper West Stand?
The seating capacity for both sections is a combined 240, with 70% of those seats already occupied by Season Ticket Holders and the remaining seats allocated to commercial clients. However, for the upcoming 2023/24 season, we are considering releasing these seats for general sale again.
My husband and I have been ST holders for over 25 years. We didn’t have a Season Ticket for 2 years during Covid-19. Because of this we missed out on discounts offered for being long-standing ticket holders. We feel punished.
The club offered the appropriate discount to these individuals. The club makes every effort to keep seating options open for as long as possible, providing previous Season Ticket Holders with the opportunity to retain their current seats.
The atmosphere feels flat in recent weeks, are there any plans to improve this?
The decrease in attendance in the away end in certain games has had an impact on the overall game-day atmosphere, and at certain matches the way the game has unfolded has certainly affected the atmosphere, but the club does not have any specific plans in place to address this issue; ideally it should be generated organically. However, we are experimenting with different music during goal celebrations, before each kick-off, post-game etc and other things to help enhance the overall experience.
How do we encourage younger fans to come?
One strategy we've implemented to attract younger fans is offering prices as low as £4 for Children (Age 6-12) and, remember, it’s now Free for Infants (Age 2-5). Additionally, we've re-instated the Player Escorts, Guard of Honour and Flag Bearers for the younger age groups and are hosting open training sessions to enhance the experience for younger fans. However, we recognise that there may be more we can do to attract younger fans and are open to exploring other options. It should also be noted that 38% of Half Season Tickets against 22% of Full Season Tickets are for Ages 6-21, demonstrating an increasingly younger fan base attending games.
How is the pre match music chosen?
Selecting pre-match music can be a challenging task as different people have varying tastes in music. The club strive to strike a balance between what will get fans pumped up and excited for the game while also ensuring that the music choices align with the overall audience's preference. While it may not be possible to please everyone, we will continue to try our best to make sure that the music selection at the match is enjoyable and fitting for the crowd.
Are there any plans to improve internet coverage around the ground?
We are aware that internet coverage can be an issue in the stadium area and are currently exploring ways to improve it. Unfortunately, providing WiFi is not currently possible due to technical limitations and stadium infrastructure. However, we are focusing on potentially enhancing 5G coverage on matchdays to provide better connectivity for our fans. Our goal is to make sure our fans have an optimal experience at the match and will continue to look for opportunities to improve the service.
Are there any plans to reintroduce road rider away travel?
We are currently working with a third party on reintroducing an away travel service, ideally beginning next month (February).
Can we report issues that waste money for the club, for example the hot water taps being too hot or freezing?
Yes, certainly! The club values feedback and appreciates your concern about issues that may be wasting the club's money. It's important for us to know about any issues that you encounter, including issues with hot water taps being too hot or freezing and we will be looking into that problem specifically. We would encourage you to report this kind of concern to a member of the Supporters Charter Group (SCG) for them to raise with us at our regular meetings.
When will the club be introducing food drives with the Community Trust?
The club, through the Community Trust, has previously organised food drives, particularly during the month of December. We now have ongoing programmes taking place at the stadium at Harrison's Hub, which is dedicated to supporting various causes in the community such as food banks, mental health and child services. You can access the schedule for Harrison's Hub on this link for Harrison’s Hub schedule. These programmes are in place, and it allows the club and Community Trust to make a positive impact on the community all year round.
Link for Harrison’s Hub: https://www.dcfc.co.uk/news/2023/01/rams-family-support-at-harrisons-hub-january-to-march-2023
Rams TV is doing an excellent job, no doubt there are many budgetary issues but are there any plans to increase coverage and the resources available? Is there any scope to increase more coverage of youth games live? There is a decent size global community that already purchases RamsTV, is there a plan to bundle an overseas fan package including RamsTV, shirt, match programme, etc?
We appreciate your positive feedback about the job that Rams TV is doing. As for increasing coverage, the club is always looking for ways to improve the overall fan experience. Unfortunately, youth games do not currently attract significant viewership, but the club will continue to evaluate opportunities to expand coverage and consider ways to make it more attractive to fans. And whilst there is only a small number of fans overseas who subscribe to/access Rams TV, we will explore bundle options, however it is important for us to prioritise resources and target areas where there is a much larger demand.
Do the club plan on improving the food and drink in the concourse? Can more be done to improve speeds and service in the concourse?
We are always looking for ways to improve the food and drink options available to fans in the concourse. We readily acknowledge the importance of improving the speed and service in the concourse and are actively working to provide more options and experiences for both home and away fans (including, where practical, regional product for the latter). And we are introducing another option for outside the South Stand; a converted shipping container that has been repurposed into another catering unit. The club will be meeting with catering partner, Delaware North, later this month and it is on the agenda to discuss further options to improve the overall experience.
The club is currently conducting a thorough review of the current system to determine its effectiveness and efficiency. Our goal is to strike the ideal balance to ensure that the process is as fair and equitable as possible for all parties involved.
Can we do a loan with a view at a permanent deal while under business plan?
As in the summer, we are currently able to sign players for free and/or with a sell on. We can also take a loan with wage recovery but no loan fee.
Any outstanding fees with Bielik?
We still owe Arsenal as part of the original payment plan, nothing has changed here. Krystian Bielik is on loan at Birmingham City for the remainder of the season.
What are the club's current KPIs outside of league position?
This season has seen us working to a very short-term strategy for obvious reasons, but conversations are taking place for next season where specific KPIs are put into place. The long-term strategy is going to be looked at in more depth after the January transfer window.
Are there any plans for fans forums this season?
Our plan is to hold fans forums on a regular basis throughout the season. The goal is to organize four forums per year, which was one of the main objectives when the new management team came in. It's a high priority for the club to connect with the fans and provide them with an opportunity to give feedback and have open communication with the management. We believe that having a regular forum for fans to share their ideas and thoughts with us will be beneficial for both the club and the fans. We hope that this will help build a solid base so that the fans can better understand our goals and plans for the future. A key thing for the club is when these take place and we haven’t staged one yet this season as we felt it was sensible, in the opening months following the takeover, to receive feedback from this period and for supporters to be able to see the work that has taken place since July. This falls in line with the short-term strategy noted earlier, but as part of the long-term strategy Fans Forums have a place within that.
Are we bringing mobile tickets back?
We understand that some fans prefer the convenience of mobile tickets whereas others prefer a hard ticket or season card. However, currently, we do not have the necessary technology to offer both mobile and physical tickets simultaneously, but the club is evaluating the feasibility and potential benefits to find a balance between digital and traditional methods of ticketing.
Is there any chance of the heaters being turned back on under the turnstiles?
They haven't been in use for a while and need to be serviced before they can be turned back on. Safety is of utmost importance and it's necessary to ensure that any equipment or system is properly maintained and functions in a safe manner before use.