Present: Ben Kensell, Lynette Hannant (NCFC) Robin Sainty, Mandie Thorpe, Gary Field, Andy Polley (Canaries Trust)
1.My City, My Shirt
This is a project run by the FSA aimed at photographing people from different backgrounds in their club shirt and publishing those photos as a means of demonstrating the diversity and inclusivity of fan bases. Both the Club and the Trust will continue to discuss this as it is impossible to move forward currently due to lockdown, and also look at ways in which it can tie into a Club initiative on diversity and equality.
2. Women in Football
MT explained that Sarah Greaves was making great progress as the Trust’s Women in Football ambassador and was talking to both local and national organisations. There will be articles on this in the matchday programme and also the Trusts’ newsletter, which will hopefully also contain pieces from Zoe Ward and Mariela Nisotaki as a follow up to the Women in Football forum, and there are also plans for a questionnaire to get feedback on the matchday experience for female fans to discuss with the Club. RS stressed how impressed he was with Sarah’s work so far.
3 Marketing and Communications items
AP reported on his meeting (along with Chris Newby) with Simon Larkins, editor of the matchday magazine which resulted in plans for front pages and articles devoted to women’s football, Global Canaries, and the mental health initiative as well as longer term planning. Plans for the future use of Yellows were discussed perhaps to include an event based around the Trust’s joint mental health initiative with the Club.
AP also noted that the agreed data sharing hadn’t yet materialised, but BK explained that that was due to the Club undergoing a major technology upgrade and that better quality data would be available as a result.
There was also a discussion about possible future events to help raise much needed funds.
4. Return of fans
Clearly this is not going to happen for a while although the Club is ready to act when the opportunity arises and has done everything possible to facilitate the return of fans to Carrow Road through their strong relationship with the local Safety Advisory Group. In response to a question from RS BK explained that, although no protocols had yet been set out it was not currently expected that vaccination certificates would be required to gain entry once fans are allowed back.
RS reported that dissatisfaction with the service was still widespread. BK said that in his view iFollow is problematic and that the Club have pushed hard for improvements to the quality of the product and the inconsistency, but none have been forthcoming. It is frustrating for the Club that they have no control over the product and that they cannot make refunds for those who have bad experiences because all money goes transactionally at the time of purchase direct to the EFL who then pay a proportion out to the clubs. Sadly, the only alternative to iFollow currently is to miss out on watching games.
However, as part of the technology revamp the Club is setting up its own streaming system for next season.
6. Heading the ball
In the absence of Glenn Bate, RS raised the issue of heading the ball and its association with dementia and asked what the Club’s policy was on this. BK explained that the Club was supportive and was happy for its ex-player ambassadors to talk about the issue publicly. Jeremy Goss has indeed spoken with Ben and he was very pleased to hear about the collaboration and involvement. It is clearly difficult for existing players as heading is an integral part of the game. GB is to discuss this further with Zoe Ward.
7. Mental health joint initiative
BK stressed how important this is in the current climate and would like to see this continue to move forward based on the excellent work done already by Kris Gunns at the Trust and Gary Dack at the Club who have developed a good working relationship. RS noted that Gary has been very helpful in providing the Trust with draft documentation to make clear exactly what we can and can’t offer and will be taking part in the Trust’s Mental Health Forum on 4th February.
RS said that the Trust had expanded its mental health team to 3 to take some of the pressure off KG but accepted that the past few months had been a learning process and that we hadn’t always got it right. Nevertheless, the feedback from people who had been helped was generally incredibly positive and we would endeavour to continue to develop the service.
BK suggested that we should look to back up the forum as quickly as possible with additional forums to help those struggling and we will produce a plan for this.
8. Share purchase
GF explained that 2020 had been a record year for share purchase as the Trust had almost doubled its previous highest annual investment in shares to nearly £10,000 with a record number of transactions (24). As a result, the Trust is now the 12th largest shareholder and is aiming towards 11th place. However, once again the point was made that shares could only be purchased if funds were available and that finding new income streams to replace events like the Royal Norfolk Show was imperative.
9. Supporting the Club
MT asked BK if they were any specific ways in which could help the Club in these challenging times. BK pointed out that the Club is very happy with its relationship with the Trust and that these regular meetings had built a solid basis of mutual trust and improved communication. He feels that transparent messaging and communication is key to supporters as well as consultation and that the Trust helping to roll out information is very helpful as sometimes people take more notice of information from a third party than when it comes directly from the Club.
Next meeting to be scheduled for April.