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Supporters' Group Meeting - 15th December


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Notes on Pittodrie Meeting of Supporters’ Group Representatives – 15th December 2012

 

Attendees Club – George Yule; Ian Jack: Duncan Fraser. Reps of various supporter groups and DST members. Apologies – Chris Gavin

 

1.Opening

Ian Jack opened the meeting and initially passed over to DF to provide an update on activities over the last 6 months or so for the SPL and SPL Board from the Rangers situation through to the current league reconstruction proposals. This, and the further, question  areas were:-

2.SPL/ SPL Board matters update

DF gave a detailed and extensive background and update to the numerous matters that have occurred in the last 6 months or so.

Key points were:-

-The loss of Rangers to the SPL was a detriment to the central income re impact on overseas distribution rights and so on. DF and others met with broadcasters and agreed terms that were acceptable to all parties whereby the contract could be locked in for a longer period and there is a negative financial impact v income, and respective shares, for the bigger SPL teams, including AFC.

-As a result this influenced the further debate relating to voting rights per decision type. AFC’s commercial perspective is that they recognise that for the good of the game there will need to be some give up from the SPL central income pot but, having already given up some of their income, AFC is not prepared to give away a whole load more without suitable league reconstruction and fairer distribution of income agreements being tabled and settled as part of the further negotiations required. Hence, there is no tie up with Celtic on this but like Celtic AFC wish the wider debates to be had and sorted that would not need to take place were the voting rights merely changed as initially indicated i.e. the wider issues would then be ignored and not be tabled for discussion.

-To that end smaller working groups of SPL clubs have been challenged to review all matters and come forward with suitable proposals for agreement. This has re-clarified that a 16 team top league just does not stack up financially as too much income would be lost due to less games and less meaningful games amongst other relevant points.

-Accordingly the 24/18 SPL proposals that develop into 12/12, then 8/8/8 were produced and unanimously agreed by SPL clubs. This was followed by discussions with the SFL and SFA as to identify the fundamental principles for each group and what was available for negotiation. In essence there is a decent level of cross body agreement already re e.g. play-offs, promotion and relegation; pyramid structure etc..

-No decision has been made as to governing bodies in the future and/or the leagues being re-branded but the next steps are to have further meetings and thrash out the details with a possible start date in 2013/14. DF informed the room that all clubs and governing bodies were working together.

-AFC accepts that they, and other SPL clubs, will need to give up income to the lower leagues but are prepared to do so for the good of the game. However, local initiatives and efforts to replace that income will be needed.

3.What about summer football and are Sky keen on that?

Summer football has been raised various times and AFC are supportive. However, it is not a priority and so not specifically included in the above proposals but it is hoped it will be specifically discussed in depth 1-2 years after any change is effected.

Sky are open to this but it is not critical to them. The ESPN contract expires at the end of the year and their future intent is not known.  GY advised that AFC’s preference with regard to discussions (short-term) with the broadcasters is more about the scheduling i.e. kick off times and date changes for games and so on.

4.What about more Friday night football?

Again AFC is supportive but have not been involved further. General agreement in place to continue this, but policing concerns are relevant here and are still a barrier as to what games re teams, and where, will be considered.

5.What does AFC get as a result of Celtic’s success in the Champions League and is there any prospect of European income being added to the central pot for distribution across the Scottish game.

No, this income is retained by the club concerned and will not come under a central distribution set up.

However, for the SPL, because of the stage in the Champions League that Celtic has reached, it will receive a payment of £1M from the UEFA Solidarity payment pool, to be distributed across all the other SPL teams, excluding Celtic, to compensate for any disruption to fixtures as a result of CL games.

6.Will there be more signings in January?

As things stand there are no available funds for more players despite the extensive injury list which is a concern.

7.What is the truth regarding the Ryan Fraser situation?

Discussions, including an increased contract offer, were on-going from August to October. At that time the player submitted his expectations and AFC responded with an offer close to those terms. The player asked for more time to consider this offer and after further discussion he has indicated he wants to wait and see what develops elsewhere ie to keep his options open but AFC cannot afford to apply a wait and see position as plans need to be made for the future. Accordingly a formal offer was made which RF subsequently rejected which AFC communicated to the media as AFC needs to move on and focus on players who want to play for the club and with economics and finances being as they are all clubs will need to reduce their player pool budgets next season.

-RF should not be vilified for this as he is within his rights to make this decision and so will leave with AFC’s best wishes and time will tell if the decision was the right one for Ryan.

8.So, did the club act too late on this?

No, the future of young players and subsequent contract discussions is an on-going and continuous exercise. 5-6 other young players have already agreed contract extensions this season and discussions are taking place with others, not yet in the first team pool. The club is also restricted to the terms of contracts, per age of the player concerned, but this is another reason why discussions need to take place all the time to make sure that the permitted time frames are met.

9.(This was an external to the meeting question asked) – Should Ryan Fraser, and others in the same situation, not give an interview to Red TV explaining their decision to supporters in terms of being open and honest to the paying public?

No, this would be totally unfair to Ryan and a bad example set that could discourage parents from letting their children sign with AFC at much younger ages if this was expected of them a few years later plus we know that it will happen again in the future as England is a Category 1 country but Scotland is only a Category 2 one and as England has set up an U21 league, they will keep plundering the Scottish leagues for young talent that is further progressed than their Academy players given that they have played many more games in the SPL even at such a young age. For similar reasons UEFA is very unlikely to change the compensation rules.

10.What is the latest on the plans for new training facilities via the University link up. Plus any stadium update?

Negotiations regarding the training facilities are at a mature stage reflective of a mutual willingness to find a solution to make it happen which is good news but as the £ figures involved are big it will take a bit of time yet to conclude any deal. Hopefully there will be an announcement in early 2013.

-Little progress on the stadium front and appearing less and less likely that an agreement can be reached with ACC over the Loirston Loch site but there will be a further meeting soon with planning officers to review the situation again.

11.The mobile app (web site) does not appear to be working following a recent upgrade-

Not aware of this but we’ll look into it – thanks for the feedback. There are many improvements required to the website as advised at the last Forum meeting

12.Supplementary Q – what is the club’s view on the atmosphere created from section S (South Stand) at the Motherwell cup-tie and can previous suggestions re changes to the Merkland (sitting and standing section) and RDS and Main Stand etc be considered again to change for season 13/14 given we aren’t leaving Pittodrie any time soon?-

The attendance at the Motherwell game was very disappointing. We accept there can be reasons but attendances are still lower than fans indicated in the summer that they would be and need to be increased to support the club’s finances.

-That said, the atmosphere created by both sets of fans, plus the band and the drum was great and something we’d like to see more of. Accordingly, the club will investigate further what can be done to help create the best atmosphere possible.

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One recurring theme this season is that AFC don't seem to feel they're getting enough support at Pittodrie. We bang on about what the club/league bodies need to change, but fans also need to look at themselves and ask if they're doing enough to encourage folk to turn up.

 

Crowds have been very disappointing other than County, Hearts, Celtic and United.  Given the quality of football the team deserve a bigger crowd and given our financial situation the club needs a bigger crowd.  Other than our perpetual injury crisis the biggest disappointment this season is our home record, and I have no doubt that has a lot to do with the crowds.  However having had 3 home games on Live TV, and a further 2 coming up has certainly robbed us of bigger crowds.  I'm not sure if we can do anything about it but we seem to get a disproportionate number of our home games on tv compared to away games and compared to others in the SPL

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Crowds have been very disappointing other than County, Hearts, Celtic and United.  Given the quality of football the team deserve a bigger crowd and given our financial situation the club needs a bigger crowd.  Other than our perpetual injury crisis the biggest disappointment this season is our home record, and I have no doubt that has a lot to do with the crowds.  However having had 3 home games on Live TV, and a further 2 coming up has certainly robbed us of bigger crowds.  I'm not sure if we can do anything about it but we seem to get a disproportionate number of our home games on tv compared to away games and compared to others in the SPL

 

 

You say that but there have been big games at Pittodrie this season where decent crowds have turned up and the team on the park fucked it. If we got a result against Celtic or Dundee United thing would definitely be changing by now. The fans don't owe AFC anything. We've support them through thin and thin.

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