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Sunday 12 September 2010
From recent programmes

From time to time we reproduce articles from the progamme on this site. Here are two recent articles:

First, from the Newport County programme, Erik Samuelson's used his page to talk about why the carvery was introduced and what happens next, as well as touching on the subject of burger bars

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Good afternoon and welcome to the fans, officials and players of Newport County. Today I will go through some of the changes we’ve made to the ground during the summer. The one that has attracted most attention is the introduction of a carvery in the back bar. This isn’t a structurally substantial change, but it is significant. It has generated a number of comments – and a small number of complaints – so I will explain what we’ve done and why, and what we are going to do next.

First, the bare facts. Half the area in the back bar is being used to provide a carvery before games. The carvery is open to all fans, home and away, while also giving us a place to meet our obligations to offer food to visiting directors. The prices are comparable to those charged by other Conference clubs, and in my opinion the standard of food and service is much better.

We introduced the carvery to try to increase our profitability. We have stretched ourselves to the limit to give Terry his current budget, and if we can make extra profit from this venture then we urgently need to do so.

Introducing anything like this always brings new problems, and in this case the space for fans in the back bar has been reduced. It is the board’s responsibility to make the best use of the bars, and we believe that the back bar was underutilised on match days – in fact, that’s probably why some people found it attractive – but we also have to look after the fans.

We have put new TV screens at each end of the bar; we are awaiting quotes for a way of providing extra covered space adjoining the back bar so that more people can sit down; and we are providing stalls for the regular tables (Dons Trust, WISA and iDons) which used to occupy part of the back bar. While the stalls may not be suitable for winter use, we believe that these groups will reach more people outside the main bar than tucked away in the back bar. And we are working on an alternative for bad weather days.

Despite all of this, I realise that some fans feel displaced and that, until we can provide the additional covered space, the reduced-size back bar will feel very crowded. Until we have a better stadium we will always suffer from a lack of space for even basic things like storage, let alone accommodating the number of fans we get on match days. We have done our best to strike a balance between much needed additional profits and looking after the fans, and there is still work to be done. In the end, all these initiatives are aimed at making sure that we can fund a high-quality playing squad without overreaching ourselves.

We have installed new turnstiles to ensure that we satisfy ground grading rules. And we have also built two new burger bars and some additional toilets at the Kingston Road End. We felt that it was time to put the burger bar supply out to tender, and we did so in the close season. After much thought, the existing caterer decided not to apply, and we appointed DRS as our new partner after assessing the other quotes.

Changing a supplier and introducing two new burger bars at the same time was bound to lead to a few hiccups. DRS are keen to give fans the service they want, and we are in regular contact with them to give feedback and exchange ideas. We will stay on the case and I’m sure that this will also prove a great success – and deliver more of the profits we need to support Terry in his efforts to build a team fit for promotion.


Second, is Erik's page for the Bath City game, which talks about the burger bars in more detail and some issues about segregation

MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Good afternoon and welcome to the fans, officials and players of Bath City FC.

The season is at an early stage. The new players have settled in very well and have made a great start to the season. But there are some operational matters around the stadium that we are still working on. I want to deal with two of these today.

First, as I mentioned in the Newport programme, we have changed our supplier for the burger bars. With the increase in the number of burger bars from two to four, we felt it was a good time to re-tender the appointment. We invited three companies to tender; the existing supplier decided not to participate. After reviewing the tenders we appointed DRS.

Whenever there is change, there is some disruption and unease among fans about new arrangements. As happened the last time we changed, about four seasons ago, we’ve had complaints from fans, particularly about pricing and drinks.

It’s helpful to look at the facts. When we received the tenders, I compared the proposed prices with the existing ones. Of the prices quoted in the DRS tender, seven were higher, three were lower and two were the same. The remaining items weren’t comparable because of differences in the menu. Overall the prices were slightly higher than before, but our previous supplier had talked of raising prices, so I concluded that the new prices were reasonable.

Much of the criticism has been about the price of water and the smaller cups for tea. We talked to DRS about this and they have reduced the price of water and reverted to the previous way of serving tea – although this led to complaints from fans who preferred the new cups! In response to other feedback, DRS also now sell chocolate bars, and they are giving their staff additional training to make sure they that fully understand the level of service we expect.

We are confident that the service will be a success, and we are determined to make it so. As fans know, we stretched ourselves to the limit this season to help Terry build a team to challenge for promotion. Additional income, such as the extra commission we are earning from DRS, is essential if we are to be able to maintain Terry’s budget in future. We’ve not had a large number of complaints, but those we received have been very vociferous, and I was disappointed to hear that some fans have abused burger bar staff. Please don’t abuse anybody who is working on behalf of the club in the stadium – if you aren’t happy, tell us and we will respond.

We’ve also received comments about the arrangements for the segregation of visiting fans. Visiting fans are now allocated the Kingston Road end of the John Smith’s Stand and have use of the new burger bar and toilets in the north-east corner of the ground. When our opponents bring a large number of fans the new arrangements work well, and we were pleased with their success for the Newport County game.

However, one consequence of the changes is that when we impose full segregation, home fans no longer have access to the toilets at the north end of the John Smith’s Stand. We don’t want to impose full segregation when it isn’t necessary, so we will continue to try different approaches, such as “soft” segregation, whereby our fans can also use the new tea bar and toilets, i.e. share them with visiting fans. The idea is to make it easier for our fans to get access to facilities, but it does mean that the arrangements may change from game to game. We apologise if it becomes confusing.

We will continue to work to make things as comfortable as possible for all fans, but while we do so, please do continue to be patient.