Notes from the January 2016 Fan Advisory Board meeting.
- Minutes from the Wigan Athletic Fans Advisory Board, January 2016.
- Wigan Athletic Chief Executive Jonathan Jackson meets fans.
- Issues discussed included finances, the Academy, the Community Trust, transfers.
The evening began with a presentation and question and answer session with Head of Community, Tom Flower, who showed the FAB the work carried out by Wigan Athletic Community Trust and the importance of the work to the club and people in the local area.
A video illustrating the 2015 Impact Report was also shown to highlight some of the recent work. [Click here] to watch.
Prior to the Q&A, Tom Flower asked 'is the Community Trust important to supporters?', to which the room agreed it was.
Jonathan Jackson also praised the Community Trust as a 'brilliant scheme', with nearly £1million invested in the local area. He also stressed the importance of people seeing the Wigan Athletic crest on a daily basis.
The following are questions and answers raised after the presentation:
Q - Are there any plans to move into areas further afield?
TF - We have already started working with schools and organisations in West Lancashire and we're looking to increase projects in Chorley and Westhoughton.
Q - What age do you have to be to volunteer?
TF - Volunteering starts at 16, however, with written consent from a parent or guardian, young people aged 15 can also begin to volunteer.
Q - How many extra supporters are generated from the work in the community?
TF - There is no exact figure, but the Community Trust wants to be the first port of call for local primary schools if they require support or wish to take part in projects. Some areas of the region are hotly contested by other football clubs, therefore incentives such as player visits and tickets to matches are provided.
Chief Executive, Jonathan Jackson, held a presentation to highlight some of the key points from Monday 25 January's Shareholders Annual General Meeting.
Key points included:
- Explanation of parachute payments.
- The difference in broadcasting revenue between divisions.
- An explanation of player and staff costs/wages.
- Financial Fair Play.
- Plans to be competitive no matter what the circumstances.
- Four corners of success and the way forward for the club.
- Training facilities, player trading and the Academy.
Q - How does the club plan to bring through more young players?
JJ - Progression of players comes through from the youngest Academy teams, into the Under 18s and Development Squad, as has been seen in the last 12 months, with the debuts of Tim Chow, Jordan Flores and Louis Robles. There are a number of players in the Under 18s who are already seen to have the potential to make first team appearances. The volume of staff within the Academy has increased, as have the delivery hours for our young players.
Q - Why is the Development Squad only a small group of players?
JJ - Competitive Under 21 football is very difficult to make perfect, as players move up into first team squads across the country whilst in this age group. A football-wide solution is still being worked on to improve the current structure. It's important for the club to get players out on loan, as we would rather them gain first team experience in League Two or the National League, examples of which are Sam Cosgrove, Daniel O'Brien, Matthew Hamilton, Louis Robles, Adam Anson and our recent signings Dan Lavercombe and Danny Whitehead.
Ryan Jennings is a very good example of our reasoning behind sending players out on loan. His loan club Cheltenham Town are competing for promotion into the Football League, giving Ryan not only first team experience on a weekly basis, but also the experience of striving for success in a team where every result matters.
Q - Why are some players recalled from their loan spells if first team experience is so important?
JJ - If our players aren't being used at their loan clubs, then it's often preferred that they come back to train full time here. Each player has their situation assessed individually and it's discussed between the player, the loan club and ourselves what the best course of action would be.
Q - The club is currently category three in the Elite Player Performance Plan, how can it move into category two?
JJ - The level of facilities we can currently offer are just outside of the category two requirements, whereby clubs must be able to provide an indoor pitch. Our staffing levels and hours spent with the players are close to that of a category two, if not category one Academy.
A short video highlighting the work carried out in the Academy was shown to the room.
Following the presentations, Wigan Athletic representatives opened up the room for further questions.
Q - Why do supporters not get the full information on team news and injuries?
EJ - The availability of players for matches is sensitive information and in preparing for a match we don't want to give that information away to the opposition. It's very much a balancing act of being open with information to supporters, without alerting our opponents.
Q - Will the club be active in the transfer market before the transfer window closes?
JJ - We are currently exploring a few different options, with potential activity in and out of the club, but it's always difficult to predict. The week will be spent supporting Gary Caldwell in helping him to have the squad to achieve our goals. As a club we are unwilling to comment on individual players out of respect to other clubs.
Q - Are there plans to publicise the FA Youth Cup match with Manchester City?
EJ/NT - The match will be treated like a first team fixture in that we will communicate the details and promote it as much as possible through our growing online presence. Supporters will be able to access the information our our website and our social media accounts, as well as through our new calendar download, which gives up-to-date information on fixtures across the first team, Development Squad and Under 18s.
Q - (From Wigan Athletic) - How happy are you with the club's online presence and website?
A - The content and the frequency of content is very good, as is the look and feel. Ticket information is much more visible with the use of the 'on sale' page on the website, and clear social media updates are also given. There has been a recognised improvement over the past 12 months.
Q - Can anything be done by the club to make the bridge over the canal safer for supporters? It's often difficult to see the steps after a match when the light is poor.
JJ - We will contact the local authority and discuss how to make the area safer.
Q - If we are promoted into the Championship, will the club spend more money to achieve another promotion?
JJ - A balance is needed for every outcome, whether we are promoted this season or not. Responsible investment is the way we want to achieve success.
Q - When will season cards be available for next season, and is the £199 loyalty offer still in place?
JJ/IL - The promise we made at the start of the season is very much still in place, the idea behind it' was to reward supporters who stuck by us this season. We're aiming to have season card available from March this year.
Q - When will the new kit be available?
IL - We're aiming to have the new kit available earlier than last year. There are a number of factors when we release kit, such as major tournaments and from a retail perspective the time it takes for shipping. We must get the balance right for supporters and for the club.
Q - Is the club satisfied with the current league position?
JJ - We are fourth in the league and have been in the top six for the last few months, which is pleasing. Our recent record shows an average of two points per game, and we're gaining momentum. We're happy with how we're performing, especially when you consider the amount of new players that were recruited at the start of the season.
The Fans Advisory Board consisted of:
1. Jason Taylor WAFC SLO
2. Ian Wadsworth WAFC SLO
3. WASC Rep
4. Barry Worthington
5. Dan Farrimond
6. Simon Gregory
7. Mike Stephens
8. Becki Adams
9. Ian Schofield
10. Frank Taylor
11. Ian Clarke
12. Martin Lally
13. Philip Moss
14. Ryan Lowe
15. Adrian Heaton
16. Robert Foster
17. Terry Knowles