September 22 2015
As promised the econd part of the FP meeting.
Matt Grayson kicked off the second half of the first fans' parliament meeting of the season with a reminder that it had been decided at the end of 2014-15 to take on more members – and from more supporter groups. In recapping on past minutes, he and Head of Ticketing and Membership, Lynne O'Reardon, said, spoke of the new ticket office booking system that was now in place. There was praise from the floor that the club had gone to the trouble of reimbursing supporters left out of pocket through having made travel plans for this week's planned game at Fulham.
In revisiting an old topic of debate, Matt also said that if Celtic were given permission to go ahead and install rail seating, the club would be interested in sending a delegation, containing parliament members, to see it. Jez Moxey said legislation prevented clubs from introducing it at their grounds at present and the Club’s position was to maintain a watching brief and to examine any results from potential safe standing pilots.
Steve Parkes said he felt Jez had put pressure on Kenny Jackett to answer questions in the first half of the meeting that he (Steve) thought might have been Jez's responsibility. The chief executive, who attends every meeting compared to Kenny's much more occasional appearances, replied: "I didn't want to get in the way of anything Kenny wanted to say. I think he said one or two revealing things which have surprised you."
Steve also felt that the Kevin McDonald issue seemed to be taking away from the squad. Jez responded: "All I want to say on that is: Watch this space. Maybe you were expecting more when we replaced Sako. Replacing him like for like was never likely to happen. It's probably £10m, £12m, £15m to do that. I take the flak for it, it goes with the territory, I know.....but you now know the Ameobi story wasn't about money."
Steve James enquired why, if there was a four-man group to decide on transfers, it was so far down the track that Kenny decided he didn't want Ameobi. Jez said: "He was down here and was seen. Kenny had half an hour or so with him.....he then reached his decision and I respect that."
Andy James said the inference from recent player movement was that the club had to sell Richard Stearman in order to sign another winger. He added: "I believe we will be lucky to have Afobe after January." Jez repeated how determined the club had been to hang on to Benik, though, by saying: "Within 20 minutes of Norwich leaking the story, we made our unequivocal statement. They could have bid twice as much and the answer would still have been the same: Forget it." Adam Thompson described it as a 'great decision' to keep Afobe and was impressed the club nipped it straight in the bud with what they said. Andy added: "What worries me about Afobe is that he is the one we have to build the team round and, if we're looking at a three-year plan, I don't think he will be around." Jez continued: "We want to build the team round Afobe and his 25 goals."
Andy James went on: "Why have we sold Stearman, who is an influence on the younger players?" Jez repeated that the club felt there were good young players in situ. "Some of the best managers are those who sell a player in their prime, even if supporters don't agree, and replace them with a younger better player. Hopefully this will prove a very good decision given the young centre backs we have " the chief exec said. Frank Parkes said it made sense for the older one of the five centre-halves to go. Jez added:"I didn't hear anyone complaining when we let Richard go on loan to Ipswich."
Steve James said Tom Bate had hit the nail on the head with his pre-interval remarks but Matt Grayson reminded everyone that we were still only six games into a 46-game Championship season. He also said: "We aren't going to get promoted without the positive momentum we've had before." Terry King said Wolves had an owner who had made his money in a tough way and he wasn't that concerned. "We've hit a bit of a bad patch," he added.
Richard Green asked if anything was being done about what he called 'this ridiculous transfer window'? Jez replied: "The football authorities are listening to the complaints we are making. The Premier League feel likewise but, as I have said before, it's not going to change any time soon because the PL clubs need to compete for players with European clubs." Richard said that a lot of the discussion at the meeting would not have been necessary had the window been shut by the time the campaign kicked off. Jez agreed.
Dave Benton said: "What concerns me is that we knew we had to replace Sako but waited until Stearman was sold before signing Byrne. Either we were interested in this guy or we weren't, not based on a couple of games this season." Jez said: "The first thing we did was buy Jed Wallace. He can also play wide left and on the right. Then we brought in Ojo as an out and out left winger. You make it sound like he cost nothing but it was an expensive acquisition on loan. There were chats about Rajiv van La Parra leaving. Byrne has been scouted by us 26 times. There was this thought that we better have a replacement for Van La Parra but then he stayed. We didn't sell Stearman to sign Byrne. That's not true."
Jas Bahia said he was really impressed with Wolves following the Southampton model in their squad development and Michelle Turner asked why everyone was so gloomy after only six games.
Moving on to off-field matters, Dave Quarrell enquired whether the club would consider a ticket office Twitter account and asked what the remit was for the club's supporter liaison officer. Matt said there were no plans for a separate Twitter account, with reoccurring questions dealt with via the main Twitter account, which has a reach of over 120,000 followers, and asked Paul Richards, who was present, to explain his liaison role. "I speak to Jez and Kenny weekly or even daily on issues fans are asking," Paul said. "There are literally thousands of emails. I work with every single dept in the club on your behalf to make sure the issues raised with me are dealt with in the best way."
Dave Quarrell asked whether the club had considered being more flexible and doing what travel agents do by lowering prices for unsold seats closer to matches. Lynne O'Reardon said the emphasis was much more on the opposite stance and consistent pricing. To a question from Adam Thompson about whether Wolves had utilised their strong connection with the university by trying to promote themselves among the international students, Lynne said they had done so in the past to no great effect. Adam also proposed that prices could be dropped for those games being shown live on TV but Lynne said the club were always careful not to diminish the value of a season ticket.
Mark Griffiths asked if the club still operated the blacklisting scheme to counter-act fans trying to masquerade as under-17s. Lynne explained that some supporters bought tickets on the club website and were clearly seen on match day to be over age – a matter that could cause delays at the turnstiles. To a suggestion from the club that the club might deploy staff to check ages closely, Lynne said they didn't want to be seen to be suspicious because the vast majority of fans were fine.
Tom Bate turned the debate to the new kit by saying he didn't like it. "It looks a mess," he said. "Many people aren't keen on it. Who chooses the shirts and on what grounds? Is there any merit in more fan opinion on next year's shirt?" The club's retail manager Peter Pridmore was in the room and said selecting a strip was a very subjective issue. "The first time people saw it was when Richard Stearman was wearing it – and it was the wrong size!" he admitted. "But sales have been good, not quite as good as the previous season but that was on the back of promotion, and the change shirt this time has been fantastic. We are listening to what fans say and our staff hear on the shop floor what the feedback is. What happens with the larger brands is that we don't have as much influence as we think we do or as we did with the smaller ones. There will be guys who design shirts for a living and present us with a small number of choices. All we are doing really is tweaking it." Peter said the club were always open to suggestions on the kit by email.
Dennis Green asked why fans were having to wait until the end of September for extra large change shirts and was told that sales of the away shirt had been 58% higher than last year. "We have sold a full year's allocation in the first two months of sale," Peter added. He said sales of the away shirt were 40% of total shirt sales. On the choice of kits, Jez said club officials sat down with players, coaching staff, kit manager and chairman to discuss it. Tom Bate asked whether players could have a strictly coloured under-garment as they looked untidy if they were in different colours. Dave Quarrell said there was a problem with the collar on the kit and that's why people had to wear something underneath. Steve Galloway talked about charity kits and asked if Wolves could go with a traditional white change kit every other season and play in between in the colours of a chosen charity. Jez responded: "We have Wolves Community Trust and give away hundreds of thousands through that. That's the way we will continue to go." Frank Parkes said he had bought five shirts and thought the family discount was a great idea. Jez thanked him.
Julian Dent, having questioned the decision to withdraw crisps from sale at the ground and replace them with Pringles. In a light hearted response, Jez said: “I'm not saying a word about crisps, Pringles or indeed pies!” Julian said thank-you for the digital clock but asked whether the Redrow adverts were really necessary. Michelle Turner asked why the clock didn't show the overtime period and was told by Jez that 90 minutes added up to a finite time whereas stoppage time was not finite.
In answer to a comment that Albion had staged a question-and-answer session at the end of the transfer window, Matt said they had edited a piece they then put on You Tube. He asked whether members would like a TV camera in parliament meetings – a question that was met with an emphatic no.
Diane Jordan said she sat at the back of the South Bank and had noticed big clouds of smoke from e-cigs being smoked nearby. Paul Richards answered: "It's not classed as smoking, so it's not illegal. They aren't breaking any laws but it is discouraged." Matt said they would take the problem on board.
A suggestion from Simon Wade for Jez to go among the travelling fans at next week's Capital One Cup tie at Middlesbrough before kick-off was not greeted with enthusiasm! "I think it would be more appropriate for our players to acknowledge the fans as they do after the matches, I don't think the fans really want to see me," he said.
With the meeting drawing to a close, Clive Smith said he was disappointed everyone seemed so downbeat ....."Kenny has certainly won me over but I don't think all the money talk helps and suddenly we are being told we are in transition," he said. "We have lost one key player and we should be sixth or seventh, not 16th." Jez added: "The transition is in reference to getting through the difficulties of the transfer window which has, thankfully, closed. Now let's concentrate on winning matches."
Steve James concluded: "The parliament has been positive over the years and it (current events) is all relative. We have made great progress and there is just disappointment now. Tom Bate said the parliament weren't anti Wolves. Jez asked: "Do you feel you are able to ask the right questions and put us under pressure?" Tom Bate said: "Unless we leave this room with you strung up from the ceiling, some people don't think we have done our job as members. We give our opinion and you give yours." Jez answered: "The big criticism in football is that clubs don't listen to their fans. You can't say that about Wolves."