LEYTON ORIENT SUPPORTERS REPRESENTATIVES
Minutes of the Meeting be held at
The Breyer Group Stadium, Oliver Road, Leyton, London, E10 5NF
on Monday 16 September 2019 at 7.00pm
Nigel Travis (“NT”)
Martin Ling (“ML”)
Danny Macklin (“DM”)
Dave Toyn (“DT”)
Elliot Byrne (“EB”)
Keren Harrison (“KH”)
Steve Jenkins (“SJ”)
Steve Dearing (“SD”)
Anna Fleming (“AF”)
Paul Arnup (“PA”)
Lee Swallow (“LS”)
Lee Boyce (“LB”)
Garry Watson (“GW”)
Roger Webber (“RW”)
Glenn Bevan (“GB”)
Apologies received from David Travis and Matt Porter.
NT thanked everyone for coming.
NT explained that when he first took over as Chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club (“the Club”) it was agreed at a meeting in the US with Marshall Taylor and Adam Michaelson of LOFT that there should be a Supporters Director on the Board of Directors of the Club.
On NT’s first visit to the Club after the takeover was agreed he met with representatives from Leyton Orient Supporters Club (“LOSC”) and Leyton Orient Fans Trust (“LOFT”) and tasked them with working out how having a Supporters Director could work for the Club.
After many discussions and LOSC and LOFT putting their findings to the Board this was given further consideration by the Board. After some due diligence by the Board it was discovered that due to Eagle Investments 2017 Limited (the Company which owns Leyton Orient Football Club) being deemed a US holding company by HMRC this would mean that any Supporter Director would have to meet US tax compliance requirements. Furthermore it would require an extensive Non-Disclosure Agreement to have been put in place with potential far-reaching implications for any breaches. It was therefore agreed by the Board and LOSC/LOFT representatives that committing to regular meetings (minimum of two a year to include at least two Board members) would allow the Board to keep their promise of supporter engagement and give the variety supporters groups to air their views directly to the Board.
NT congratulated the players, staff and supporters for their contribution to getting the Club back in the Football League (“EFL”) and said that the Board were pleased with the start to the season given the unforeseen circumstances we all found ourselves in after events during the summer.
ML explained why Ross Embleton was promoted to the position of Interim First Team Manager and it was felt by all that this was the correct decision. SD passed on his congratulations to Ross for stepping up given the circumstances. LB said that he was backing Ross and had been gaging how others felt and reported there was a big swing in supporters backing him since he had been appointed.
DM said that now the Club were back in the EFL this would allow the Club to be able to make known to the EFL that a review of their governance procedures are urgently needed after the expulsion of Bury from the EFL.
NT explained that he had been in discussions with some potential new investors who seemed very keen to invest in the Club. NT thought that this was due to the $ to £ exchange rate being preferable for US investors in the UK. The Board are looking to ensure that the Club is sustainable as soon as realistically possible so all new investment opportunities would be considered to help achieve this target.
SD asked how this would affect the minority shareholders holding. The Board reported that there is no particular appetite to amend the shareholding of the Club at this same, except where it is necessary for the purposes of the Salary Cost Management Protocol (“SCMP”) and Financial Fair Play (“FFP”) Regulations.
An AGM will be held during the season and communication will be sent to all shareholders inviting them to attend and by which time any additional investments will be announced.
NT commented that he hoped that with the extension of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) this would help attract more fans and help spread the word of the Club.
3. Matters Arising
3.1. Ticketing and General Administration
DM explained that in future it was hoped that the stadium would become cashless. This would involve having entry ticket scanners as well as cashless reward cards to allow for spending at all refreshments kiosks and for use in the shop – a “one ticket for all”.
NT announced that The JE3 Foundation was holding a ball in December 2019 to celebrate what would have been Justin’s 50th birthday. NT asked all representatives to consider what auction items/prizes/experiences they would consider bidding on so that the Club could donate items that the supporters would like to win. Everyone to report back to NT.
ML reported that there was a recent audit at the Academy. Players from the 9-16 age groups had been sold generating income in the region of £150k. Furthermore, we were still attracting new talent due a wider scouting network which included South London.
ML said that the Academy were also in the process of setting up a U18 Girls Academy. This would allow the Academy to apply for a variety of grants. A decision had been taken to start with U18 Girls and then to develop the age groups below this on an ongoing basis dependent on the success of the U18s. It was agreed that this was a good approach as we did not want to “run before we could walk”.
LOFT asked (on behalf of one of their members) if the Club would continue to sell printed programmes or if they would consider going down the digital route. DM and EB said that all the time the programme generated a profit they would continue to provide a printed match day programme. At the moment they sold approximately 1,000 per match (which is to about 20% of the attendees). However if this was to decline drastically and run at a loss then the digital route would be given stronger consideration.
RW said that whilst he purchased a programme the content was very “samey”. EB said that suggestions for articles/regular contributors were welcomed. RW suggested maybe an injury update. ML commented that injuries were a tricky subject matter as they did not want to inform the opposition of any late injuries as this would assist them with their tactics. KH said that if it was in the programme and not available digitally beforehand then the opposition would only find out the same time as the fans. EB said that this was a fair point and that consideration would be given to including an injury update.
LS suggested a programme article with some general coaching tips. It was agreed that this would be a good feature going forward and ML would speak to the Management Team for their input on this.
3.4. Hospitality, Commercial and Events
LOFT raised a concern from some of their members that they felt that everything at the Club had become “monetised” and that it was taking the Club away from the friendly tag it holds. DM explained that sponsorship was needed to ensure that the Club was able to work within the FFP rules. In theory and in short the higher the income the higher the playing budget is.
The North Stand was now sponsored by Qualiteach and DM explained that they intend to enhance the match day experience for the whole family. All future sales of season tickets in the North Stand will only be accepted if there is an under 18 on the application and children’s season tickets will be higher in other stands. AF raised that the family stand does not necessarily appeal to teenagers, many of whom prefer the South Stand due to more singing.
Disabled season tickets were discussed and DM said that the Club were acting within FA guidelines by charging disabled supporters.
Commercial opportunities are continually being sought for both match day and non-match day. During the week (when there are no matches) the rooms at Stadium are available for hire by local businesses for team building events. NT said that if anyone knew of anyone who would like to make use of the facilities then get in touch with the Commercial Department.
Streaming – it was asked how we can stream Tuesday night games and not Saturday games. NT explained that there was a blanket ban on televising (and streaming) matches between 2.45pm and 5.10pm but this does not take effect for Tuesday matches. However, EB said that this did not include the Carabao or FA Cup games, only EFL matches. KH then asked about the reliability of the streaming platform as she had heard that it was quite unreliable at times. EB said that there had been some issues previously with picture quality and EB said that issues should be reported via the in-view connection. EB also mentioned that most issues would be downstream of the service provider and would likely be related to the user’s browser/IP settings. EB then asked that if viewers also reported issues to the Club they could then collate the same so they were aware when dealing with the streaming provider. KH then asked why this was only available to view on a PC rather than on a mobile device. EB said that EFL regulations block viewing within browsers on phone due to security reasons. EB said that the Club are looking into ways to develop an app with our digital media partners so that this could be broadcast to mobile devices.
3.6. Marketing and Retail
DM reported that sales within the new shop were 40% up already this season and it was hoped that this would be a continuing trend when new products are introduced. DM/DT said that a Supporters Survey was being prepared and this would ask supporters what products they would like to see offered.
DM announced that the Third Kit was due to be launched on 20 September. ML said that he was very keen and thought that this would sell well.
3.7. Stadium and Safety
LS reported that a large unit had been moved to an area of the North/West corner refreshment area.
DM said that due to refurbishments in the area (and the continuing need for the fridge) it was reviewed and this was thought to be the only suitable area for it.
AF asked what/if there were any development plans for the East Stand.
DM reported that the Hub is to be relocated and the current Hub is to be refurbished into a bar. DM explained that work was to be carried out in the old Wyvern Suite to enable its use on match days and possibly throughout the week. DM further reported that all works needed to be carried out to comply with requirements for the Safety Certificate were being managed – fan safety was a priority.
NT was asked if there was any development of the East Stand in the future would safe standing be considered. DM reported that at this moment in time safe standing was extremely expensive but it was hoped that this was something that could become financially viable within time. LOFT to share the Safe Standing Report with the Club.
GW queried the positioning of the “Singing Section” so close to the away fans as he felt it could become confrontational. GW suggested it would be better positioned behind the goal. DM to give this some consideration.
LB reported it was very lively in the area of the South Stand where he sits and a drum was not required to enhance this.
RW asked if handrails were to be considered in other parts of the stadium and it was asked by the group if they could they be higher than those in the West Stand. DM explained that funds had been donated to the Club (by LOSC) towards the cost of the handrails in the West Stand. It was reported that the height of the handrails installed are as they are so as not to interfere with the sightline of spectators.
3.8. General Matters
LOFT asked for the Board’s views about owner regulations. DM reported that John Nixon, of Carlisle United, was the League 2 Board Representative. NT confirmed that the Club were pushing along with the other 70 member clubs (minus Bury) for the EFL to review their Fit and Proper Persons Test. LOFT to share ideas about EFL regulation and work done with other fan groups with the Board and previous interactions with the EFL in terms of regulations.
GW asked the Board if they knew where the supporters lived. DM said that due to GDPR rules there was not much done with the data but that the Club were using postcodes to see if there were clusters of supporters. DT reported that he was pleased to see that there were so many still living in Waltham Forest (“LBWF”) and surrounding boroughs but he was very aware that there were 2nd/3rd/4th generations of supporters who have moved out of London and live along the A12/M11 corridors. DT said that the Club had a very good working relationship with LBWF and that events were being arranged with the Club in mind to promote that LBWF are the first London Borough of Culture. LBWF have arranged a Carnival Festival in Coronation Gardens to take place on Saturday 28 September (Port Vale at home) and it is hoped that supporters will attend and some attendees to the carnival will attend the match.
The Board were asked if they would consider sponsoring coaches to enable supporters to get to games from the corridors mentioned above. It was reported that this had been tried before and that was not viable. As mentioned earlier in these notes it is hoped that the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) will assist those who live further afield getting to matches.
4. Any Other Business
Medical screenings – GB asked if the players and staff had regular medical screenings. ML reported that players had annual screenings but that due to the events of the summer this close season all members of staff had been offered the opportunity for a medical. It was hoped that the Club would continue on a regular basis. ML confirmed that he has to attend the League Managers Association for a Fit to Manage test and that he passed the same.
Succession planning – SD asked NT what would happen to the Club if he or Kent Teague were to die. NT confirmed that (speaking for himself) his wife was aware of his love for the Club and he hoped that she would continue but that the Board would look into Key Man Insurance just in case.
Shirt badge – LOFT asked about the heritage of the badge on the team shirt as it had changed and adopted a crest background. DM reported that the red wyverns woven directly onto the red shirt did not show the badge so it was decided to put it on a white background. LOFT asked if any future changes could be discussed with the supporters. EB asked attendees to let him know via the Representatives what they thought defined “club heritage”.
5. Date of Next Meeting
It was agreed that the next meeting would take place later in the season and that KH would liaise with DM to announce details for the ballot places in good time.
Minutes taken by Keren Harrison