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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The QPR Official Supporters Club (OSC) Meeting Report


-Left to Right: Linda Favell, Brian Paterson, Simon Paterson, Russell Wilson, Alison Burgess, Mark Wayne, Karen Hampshire, Rebecca Favell, Ian Stenning and Kishan Parmer


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Posted on: Wed 07 Mar 2012

The Official Supporters Club held a committee meeting at Loftus Road on Thursday 10th February.

Click here (OSC meeting minutes 100212) to view the minutes from this meeting.

Committee Meeting Thursday 10th February 2012
6.00 pm, Loftus Road

Present: OSC members as invited

Philip Beard (PB)
Becky Grote (BG)
Daniel Laryea (DL)

1)EGM – outstanding issues from 2011

Philip Beard (PB) opened the meeting with a welcome and thanks for those attending.  He also apologised for the delay in arranging the EGM.  The purpose of the meeting would be to elect members of the OSC Committee and to address any outstanding issues, i.e. ticket prices.

PB gave an overview of the new structure of QPR and stated that it had been four months, 21 days since the structure had changed on 18 August 2011.  Tony Fernandes and partners now owned 66%, the Mittals owned 33% with 1% owned by QPR fans.  PB went on to give an insight into his professional background and introduced his colleagues from the Marketing Department:  Becky Grote (BG) and Daniel Laryea (DL).   PB assured the meeting that they had tried to listen to what the fans were saying and the demonstration of dissatisfaction at ticket pricing.  The Board had made the gesture of refund vouchers on season tickets which he hoped was well received.  Buying five players and loan signings were also a demonstration of commitment by the shareholders.  With the run of the past few games, some transfer activity is needed in January, specifically in defence and attack.  There is a determination to stick together throughout the season in order to maintain QPR’s position in the Premier League. Another aim in the short to mid-term will be to build a new training ground, with the Club looking at a number of potential sites for the new facilities. Also developing potential for a new stadium in the local vicinity.

John Reid (JR), Secretary of the QPR LSA, was then invited to ask questions.  JR gave his warmest greetings on behalf of the LSA and assured the meeting that the LSA was happy to support QPR in whatever division.  He remarked that the 25th anniversary of the LSA was approaching and he hoped that the Club and supporters would join in celebration of that event, specifically requesting input by way of commemoration in the match programme.  JR informed PB, BG and DL that the LSA had written several letters to the Club in the recent past but had received no replies so far.  The LSA would like to have regular, separate, meetings with the Club every three months and mentioned that as the LSA was an independent group, their perspective could perhaps be better than that of the OSC.  The LSA would like to be involved in discussions regarding ticket pricing, new ground, etc.

PB apologised that there had been a lack of communication in lots of areas, and demonstrated that in the past this had even been true of the Club with its near neighbours, the Jack Tizard school.  Their relationship and communication had recently improved significantly and they were working well together.  PB remarked that communication with fans groups was not as good as it should be, but would like to commit to an open line of communication. He would revert to the LSA by way of follow-up.  Although there had been a tough run-in of games recently, support is strong but we need to work together towards greater stability.   

A point was raised from the floor by Michael Derrane that there were so many supporters’ groups, with factions and divisions, that the Club needed to reach out.  Vic Stevenson pointed out that there were only two recognised supporters groups – the LSA and the OSC – the rest were messageboards or fan forums.  It was further mentioned from the floor that all members had been given an equal opportunity to attend the EGM/AGM, demonstrating that communication was not entirely lacking.  Several issues, including stewarding, ticket sales, loyalty points scheme, website information, etc were raised, most of which will be discussed at future OSC Committee meetings. 

Bill Cox suggested that the Club could employ a Fans Liaison Officer, or perhaps have a regular contributor in the programme, to whom fans could correspond to aid communication.  PB stressed the current need to prioritise within the Club and it was unlikely to be able to fund headcount for a function such as this, particularly when communication should be straightforward.  

PB had not been involved in the loyalty points scheme but recognised the need to review it. 

Vic Stevenson raised the issue of the £3.50 booking fee when buying tickets in cashless transactions.  It was felt unfair that cash sales were not taken on some occasions and therefore fans were bound to pay the booking fee. 

PB stressed that the Club was looking at its Premier League competitors, not to replicate their processes but there was a need to adopt best practices, to recognise the procedures of other Premier League Clubs and utilise the best ideas for QPR as there was a need to generate significant revenues.

The Club recognised that some fans groups had been disagreeing, that there were huge problems and would work on how to rebuild trust and understanding, perhaps with more frequent and larger meetings than this evening’s EGM/AGM.   PB wanted to arrange and diarise a set of regular meetings throughout the course of the year.

Ron Hill asked that, on the revenue side, should the Club consider having a retail outlet on a local high street?  PB had looked into the possibility of a QPR concession at Westfield, but the costs involved were huge and that a High Street store was probably not an option as the economics were not viable.  It was considered that online retail capability was high and the Club was looking at improvements in that regard.  It was stated by several members that some QPR items (calendars, replica shirts, etc) were being sold elsewhere at costs significantly lower than the Club Shop.  PB explained that market forces meant that the Club could not compete with larger chains.

Ron Hill remarked that Fulham had recently sold tickets for their European games at a very low cost.  PB stated that it would take around 5/6 years to compete with the bigger Premier League clubs, and the focus was to stay in the Premier League.  PB then had to leave the meeting but would be happy to meet in future. 

2) Election of Committee

BG and DL held this part of the meeting on behalf of the OSC.  

Karen Hampshire (KH) was standing as Chairperson and gave an overview of her capabilities and suitability for the role.  It was a unanimous vote for Karen to reassume the role as Chairperson.

KH then read the list of 10 other applicants for the remaining 10 places on the Committee:

Linda Favell Brian Paterson
Ian Stenning Alison Burgess
Russell Wilson Kishan Parmar
Rebecca Favell Simon Paterson
Nicola Hammond Andrew Pearson

At this point, Mark Wayne objected to there being family members being put forward for the Committee places.  A debate ensued and it was largely felt that there would be no conflicts with members of same family serving on the Committee. 

The following were voted onto the Committee without objection:

Nominated                Seconded
Linda Favell Ron Hill Lionel Watson
Brian Paterson               Ron Hill Rebecca Favell
Ian Stenning        Vic Stevenson      William Hampshire
Alison Burgess   Zach Hampshire  Mark Wayne
Russell Wilson   Lionel Watson   Michael Derrane
Kishan Parmar              Ron Hill     Vic Stevenson
Rebecca Favell  Simon Paterson  Zach Hampshire
Simon Paterson   Lionel Watson  William Hampshire

As Nicola Hammond and Andrew Pearson were not present at the meeting, it was felt that their applications to stand were no longer viable. 

Mark Wayne requested that he be considered for a place on the Committee.  He was nominated by Vic Stevenson and seconded by Jeremy Gardner.  This was met with no objection.

KH gave apologies on behalf of Pat and Tom Harrison who had been unable to attend the meeting.  She also informed the meeting that two past Committee members did not stand for re-election and gave thanks to Brian Ahearne and Zach Hampshire for their previous contributions.

3) 2012 AGM:
Minutes from last meeting
Overview of activities
Financial updates

There were no matters arising from the minutes of the AGM held on 16 February 2011.

Linda Favell (LF) informed the meeting that there would be nothing to report by way of OSC activities for the past year.  Due to the unavoidable difficulties faced by the Club and the Committee in the recent past, the OSC Committee had been unable to fulfill its usual programme of fundraising and fan liaison.

LF gave the financial report for the past year, copies of which were distributed to those present.  She explained that it had been mutually agreed to discontinue the Ron Bannister memorial fund which currently stands at zero balance.  The last financial transaction had been a £50 donation to the Demelza Hospice in memorial of Neil Roberts.  The balance of the OSC account had remained constant at £333.98 for the past eight months.

4) AOB

Ron Hill asked whether the Open Day, Christmas Open Day and Fans’ Forums would be reinstated in the near future.  Although these items would be brought to a future Committee meeting, Becky Grote (BG) stated that Fans’ Forums would be something that are being considered for the future.  Daniel Laryea (DL) remarked that the Open Day and Christmas Open Days are being considered and would be arranged.  It had been difficult to do this year, due to the changing structure at the Club. 

Ron Hill asked about the players’ participation at events such as the Player of the Year Dinner and Kit Sponsorship Evening.  BG said there was a commitment amongst Neil Warnock, Philip Beard and the playing staff.  Joey Barton had formed a Players’ Council where a rotation of players dealt with external representation – hospital and school visits, etc – as well as internal meetings.  Thus, the commitment of the playing staff had improved enormously.

LF reminded those present to use the OSC email address to raise any issues for future Committee meetings, thereby raising issues to the Club and improving the Club/supporter relationships.  

Michael Derrane again brought up the issue regarding lack of communication.  It was felt by many that, having discussed this at length during the meeting, this would be a new start for the Club, the OSC, the LSA and the supporters as we now have a real opportunity to work together.

Although it seemed a very short-notice meeting, the EGM had taken a long time to come about, with the previous OSC Committee members pursuing the request many times since the Summer of 2011.  It was recognised that during the establishment of the new structure at the Club, there would not have been any alternative but to wait until the time was right but that at their soonest opportunity, BG and DL had acted swiftly and effectively.  A vote of thanks was given by KH to the Club, specifically to PB, BG and DL for the meeting arrangements, and to the members who had attended the meeting. 

The meeting concluded at 8.30 pm.

(FINAL) 10th February 2012

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