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Phoenix/Fever communications updates

Nz_Dave
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Dinosaur Dave
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For post sentimentaleasyirishdraughthorse

Hey team,

So as you know (or perhaps you don't) I meet regularly with the club to keep them informed of Yellow Fever goings on but also so they can keep us in the loop on things from their side.

These discussions are largely administrative but do cover a lot of topics - from approvals of banners, security/ stadium protocols, to all sorts of stuff. This is about fostering a good working relationship between the two groups and working together.

We certainly raise concerns when this is needed (e.g. ticketing in YF bays at home away games) and work to improve how those things are managed (And I like to think that one in particular got much better!) but it's not our opportunity to slag off on-field things. We as fans have more than enough chance to do that and a one-on-one meeting isn't the right forum for it and doesn't further the relationship.

Feedback from you guys over the last few years is you'd like to hear more about what the club are saying and we want to do that. Obviously it's not always that simple with some discussions had in confidence but we want to make as much info available out of those catch-ups as possible. So this is the plan:

  • This thread will be locked except for my updates to you to keep this clean and clear.
  • Any questions you have or clarifications can be asked via pm, twitter (@nz_dave) or email (dave@yellowfever.co.nz) – if there is something significant I’ll edit or update back in here.
  • Anything you want passed on to the club you can do the same - I'll endeavour to raise everything that is appropriate but as above this isn't necessarily the right forum for all discussions.
  • Following a meeting I'll draft up what I’ll be sharing and the club will see it and give their ok. This isn't for censoring purposes or anything like that but simply to ensure I'm accurately reflecting what was raised.
  • Some stuff won't be shared here nor reflected in my notes as they remain confidential (usually from the media rather than fans but we all know they check the forums) or are personal/individual matters (e.g. a fan ban should we ever have one)

So after all that preamble here is the first update for the coming season:

  1. Memberships - these are pretty much finalised and you can expect to see them in August. Pricing and offerings remain similar but expect minor tweaks. I highlighted that there was strong support for the new NSW membership offered and the club plan to continue and perhaps expand such tiers (and the fan forums held in Sydney were also viewed as successful). I raised supply issues over caps/scarfs as part of the member packs early in the season and also the change in scarf type.
  2. Preseason Games - these are in the works. The first one has been confirmed for the 25th (as you will have seen elsewhere). They will make sure to announce these with as much notice as possible so people can attend etc but schedule remain a work in progress so couldn't confirm any more than that one at this stage. They expect a game to take place in Auckland during preseason but can't confirm details yet.
  3. Post match at Bethel's - we discussed how at points in the past this had worked really well and was an envy of fans across the league, in particular with Siggy in charge, but had dropped off of late - especially following a loss. I highlighted that if it was an event the club planned to still push as the official after match that here needed to be at least some acknowledgement of fans having shown up whether that be the speech and prizes in the past or something more simple. That fans showing up but not players/staff was a poor look. They took this on board and planned to work a better solution for the coming season - they agree it has slipped back from the high quality event it was before and will work on it. They highlighted however that fans grumpy about losses etc getting in players/staff faces was not a good look either and was a factor in how these would need to be managed. But the club highlighted it is looking at revisiting the whole Bethel’s post-game engagement – location may change, number of post-game events may change, but they’ve taken on that feedback.
  4. Match day programmes - raised the fact these had decreased in frequency and then simply vanished - including the YF content that used to feature. Club aren't sure if they will come back, there is a significant cost involved etc and so a balance needs to be struck. Digital offering may be explored.
  5. Home/away matches - I expressed the fact that Wellington remains our home and as always we don't like seeing too many games removed from wellington. Club highlighted the commercial reasons for such agreements as they have previously as we are all well versed in by now. I further expressed that travel agreements were a big factor for fans both home and away and clear dates and location helped with booking trips and if more games were to move we'd want to be notified as early as possible (similarly away fans booking to come to Wellington should be aware if a game is moved elsewhere). I also discussed the Fiji preseason travel deal and how such arrangements would be sought after if managed correctly - that particular deal was announced on the day with little warning and most seats were snapped up by non members simply booking a holiday to Fiji and not attending any games as a result - a situation that needs to be avoided through planning. The club stated that the situation of last year (i.e. 4 home/away) games was not satisfactory for them either, and that the club is looking to minimize to 2-3 per season.
  6. Tifo - Processes for upcoming season and approvals chains etc were discussed.
  7. Podcast - Processes for upcoming season and appearances/interviews were discussed

"He's operating a turnstile down the left flank"

Nz_Dave
Moderator
Dinosaur Dave
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For post sentimentaleasyirishdraughthorse
  • Ticketing – I highlighted that there were some issues with buying tickets this season but compared to previous years it’s actually been not too bad. Most notable problems were:
    • Delays – some unexpected stuff at the Clubs end slowed things by a day. There wasn’t much that could be done and they tried to communicate the delays as best they could via channels.
    • Club are still working with Ticketek over the privacy concerns raised with the password reset to ensure nothing like this happens again. There may be some outcomes or feedback from this but nothing specific to be shared as yet.
    • Club also working with Stadium/Ticketek re some enforced seat moves. Again nothing concrete at this stage but better communication re this sort of thing can be expected in future.
  • Community Day – these details are now mostly public as you would have seen. Different venue to previous years with some details still TBC - watch club's social channels for the most up to date info.
  • Fever Fridays – Both YF and club are keen to try and reinstate these. I explained reasons for drop-off including lack of bodies on our side of things. We mutually agreed to try and push hard for the first game of the season as a trial and take things from there depending on success. You can expect us to be asking for volunteers to help out with this soon – ideally we will be looking for some both at lunchtime and some after-work. Intent will be to raise awareness of the first match. Club will support with bodies of their own (possibly playrs) and collateral.
  • We discussed if there were any plans for coming season re active zone e.g more instruments, tifo etc. I explained no specifics agreed at this side but we’d be able to provide more detail following YF Hui.
  • Home/Away – details still aren’t confirmed for if any other home games will be out of Wellington. I expressed concern re late timing given fans do make travel plans around draw etc. Club recognises late notice isn’t ideal and took the feedback on board.
  • Stadium Sounding Call – club (re-)raised idea of a sounding call, song or something and wants our feedback. I said discussions have taken place on this before but no clear winner in terms of a club song has ever been picked. New logo and branding a good time to revisit this. There are threads in the chants forum that people are welcome to revive to see if we have any solid thoughts as a group. Also the suggestion of it being more of a “call” eg conch (kazoo anyone?) was discussed.
  • QBE – Issues at AWs game were talked about. Nix have been very proactive at managing these issues in the last few years so no issues are anticipated but I highlighted the problems that had happened so club can continue being proactive in managing those areas.

"He's operating a turnstile down the left flank"

Nz_Dave
Moderator
Dinosaur Dave
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For post sentimentaleasyirishdraughthorse

Hey team,

Sorry I've been slack updating this recently - but to be honest the last few club catch-ups have been rather informal and honestly not a huge amount of consequence has been discussed (and then buggering off to South America for WCQ and Christmas with family etc..) 

Today however the below has been provided to the club. In light of the planned protest action of some and general unhappiness of other I have taken the step of fronting some of the larger concerns of the fan base to the club. I hope you all feel this is a fair summary of the state of things but I'm also sure there will be issues you feel are under or over stated. Summarising such a broad and often contrasting group of views isn't easy but we have tried our best.

As always people are welcome to contact the club directly so please feel free to continue doing that as I know many of you already do.

Hi team,

It’s fair to say there are some unhappy feelings flowing around the fan base currently. Fans want us to front these issues with you, so here they are no holds barred.

I know you both frequent social media and probably have your own take on the current vibe but this is the Fever take on things.

I’ll be sharing this on the YF forums to be very transparent with what feedback has been passed onto you around this (and similarly will look to share any response more broadly as well).

The main complaint -

Communications: fans are frustrated that communication to them is a mixed bag, a good chunk of them feel disconnected and unwanted, and that feeling seems to be getting worse:

  • It has been raised that people feel there is some news the club should be the one telling them rather than simply reading about it in the media. The initial lack of an announcement from the club on the move of the last game of the season left a bad taste in some people’s mouth. There were obviously press releases sent out but people feel more proactive communications from the club would be ideal – tweets, news on the club website, fb posts etc were not present around this. This does seem to happen on good news items but the feeling is the club needs to front on some of the “bad news” as well rather than it simply being a line item in the usual Friday newsletter. Fans would rather hear all news direct from the Phoenix rather than from someone else, while this won’t always be possible, it is the standard the club should strive for.
  • More broadly the fans appreciate the proactive stuff. Members nights were widely regarded as a welcome part of the comms programme, and although weren’t always hugely attended, the info discussed did filter to the broader fan base in a variety of ways and the honesty with which the club shared information bought a lot of goodwill. It would be good if the club could find ways to do this sort of stuff - probably less formally but more regularly – obviously some stuff is sensitive but the club’s openness and honesty has been a hallmark we should continue.
  • In the context of both of the above a “member” shouldn’t just be a current season pass holder. There are many people that feel as connected to the club, if not more so, than season pass holders and they need to be able to continue that connection. Living out of town shouldn’t be a reason to be dropped out of that “inner circle” the club talks to. These guys are the easiest fans to win back, and should be treated that way and kept in the fold. A way for these fans to continue to opt-in to receiving key club updates would be ideal – without undermining the premium membership offering obviously.

Some other issues:

  • Home-away games: There remain some fans unhappy about taking games out of Wellington. The financial basis for this might remain, but it’s still a big issue for the fan base. The late notice being especially grating for away fans travelling within and to NZ. The commitment to Wellington in terms of the re-brand at the start of the season has reignited discussion in that some fans want to see the club “walking the talk” on this commitment to Wellington. This is a particular bug-bear and a source of disillusionment for many long-standing fans in particular.
  • Marketing: Many fans still believe more visible marketing of games is a key to getting the fan base growing again. It may be reasonable to explore some of the now-stalled initiatives that did used to exist, eg the weekly “office poster” provided by the club so that despite the tight budget constraints there can feel like is more tangible presence in the city as well as factoring this into planning for next season. Obviously the club is best placed to know where the marketing money is being spent however and what the returns are on that, but the sentiment that “not enough is being done” is certainly prevalent in the fan base.
  • Culture: There is concern that a culture-shift has occurred behind the scenes that is not benefitting the club. There is an air of unhappiness and lack of desire at times which fans find worrying. There is genuine concern that a culture problem inside the club underpins a range of the other issues above as well as under-performance on the pitch so I highlight for that reason only.

All of the above has led to planned protest action by some fans. I will not take it upon myself to put words in the mouths of those protesters by detailing their exact concerns more than I have above, but I’m certain that engagement from the club with those people would go a long way and I’m more than happy to help facilitate such a meeting of the minds. I’m also conscious you are likely aware of those plans and are very welcome to engage directly.

I look forward to discussing in more detail at the next of our more formal meetings.

Dave

"He's operating a turnstile down the left flank"

Nz_Dave
Moderator
Dinosaur Dave
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For post sentimentaleasyirishdraughthorse

Hey team,

Just a quick note to confirm a few things:

As part of the FIFA/AFC meetings taking place in Sydney with FFA there were sessions with identified “special interest groups” – one of which were fans.

Fan reps of each club were invited to attend as was the newly formed “Football Supporters Australia” (FSA). Not all groups were able to attend (in fact most were not) however I was there and represented our views as best I could.

The meeting was specifically about governance and setting terms of reference for the FFA Congress ‘working group’ that is due to be established. It wasn’t simply a free for all on thing we don’t like about FFA/A-league.

There were a range of issues covered but obviously in a slightly unique position of being based not only in a different country but an entirely different confederation I tried to keep our views focused to that.

The two keys things I focused on were:

Engagement with fans is non-existent.

  1. Clubs do a good job in this space (ours does at least) but in many cases they are hamstrung but the central body. FFA only step up when a problem has blown up rather than proactively seeking to engage on issues on an on-going basis.
  2. Both recent occasions of actual real engagement from the central body have been driven by others – previously the media over the fan bans – and this time by the presence of FIFA/AFC in the room.
  3. Promises have been made in the past regarding better proactive engagement, however these have not been kept. This needs to happen. The fans are a key stakeholder and need to be treated as such in any new structure.

The current over focus on commercialisation to the detriment of fans.

  1. While recognising the need for sponsorship and money into the sport the FFA needs to focus on maintain the correct balance for both the clubs and fans. Issues such as scheduling and theming of rounds (and all the other many things I’m sure you know) may have driven short terms successes for FFA metrics but are hurting fans. Something strongly seen across the board in those same figures this season.
  2. The scale has tipped too far towards keeping commercial stakeholder happy while ignoring the fans entirely. If we keep losing those fans then the tv deals/sponsors eventually vanish too – the balance between those competing needs must be fixed. Both aspects need to be growing for football in the region to grow and the new structure needs to account for that.

You’ll see some more broad statements coming out regarding the meeting and I’ll also be discussing it more properly on the Phoenix City podcast we are recording tonight if you want some more info and gossip. For now there are some very rough thoughts from a man that landed back in very early this morning and needs more sleep….

"He's operating a turnstile down the left flank"

Nz_Dave
Moderator
Dinosaur Dave
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For post sentimentaleasyirishdraughthorse

Update: in addition to going and meeting with some of the protesters the below has been the response from Dome:

This is all good stuff Dave.

Definitely take some of this stuff on board. And we’re working on some of the ideas that have been raised below

"He's operating a turnstile down the left flank"