The AGM started with apologies from committee members Keighly Osborne and Alex Hoenig. Before proceeding with the bulk of the evening a moments silence was held in memory of our friend and former Hon. Treasurer, David Blowers.
The minutes from last year’s AGM was provided to all attendees, proposed by Kevin Mothersole and seconded by Duncan Kendall and were approved unanimously by a show of hands.
It then fell to the Chairman, Steve Jones, to update the membership on the status of the LISC since last year.
Membership of the Supporters Club is currently at 597 which is approximately 65 members less than at this point last season in the Premiership. Some of that loss is down to members stopping their standing orders and another relegation to the Championship, but also stems from a lack of Matchday presence as LISC has struggled to man the tent and tables. There was a memorable event at the opening match of the season where we found that the Lions Club had moved our material from its storage locker to another at the Madejski without our knowledge. We have yet to actually run a tent at the Madejski this season.
We have trialled a family membership following the last AGM with very poor take-up.
I would ask either now or at any point tonight if anyone has feedback on the Membership Packs themselves to please give it, we have used some new suppliers this year and we can always do with new ideas on how to freshen this up.
Relationship with London Irish
LISC’s relationship with London Irish improved gradually when Bob Casey took over as Chief Executive with LISC proactively sought for opinions on Membership packages and communications. That has somewhat remained since Brian Facer took the reins last season. Every two months LISC has a formal meeting with London Irish to discuss what’s happening and where LISC can help.
This has led to a new Supporters Liaison Group, which met for the first time prior to the Yorkshire Carnegie match.
One thing that is clear from these meetings is that the club remains under pressure to deliver for supporters on a tight budget and with a smaller than usual backroom of employees.
LISC remains committed to holding regular meetings and communications with Brian and the team at London Irish and actively encourage members to bring issues to us that we can constructively present to the club.
Our AGM last season was preceded with a conversation with Nick Kennedy, who was in high spirits following an opening win versus Harlequins. Following that the committee did find it hard to get our regular events scheduled with limited feedback from the RFU for a Meet the Referee type evening.
Following that we tried a new event, a Burns Nights here at Hazelwood with several Scottish and “Scottish” members of the playing staff plus Brendan McKibbin as MC. It was very much a success.
Following that we held a Quiz Night, again with extensive playing and backroom support in a fundraiser for the Jarrod Cunningham Bursary which was also very successful.
I’d like to thank Kevin Mothersole of the committee for organising those and his continuing efforts.
Merchandise is always a tricky subject; supporters want a unique range that is different to the club but we have been hamstrung by a variety of factors including storage space, changing desires of supporters and a ban for lack of a better term on selling certain merchandise at the Madejski. I am happy to report that Brian Facer is keen for us to bring our full range of merchandise back to the Madejski – we just need to make it happen and get enough volunteers on a Matchday to run the tent. With the Championship Cup about to take over for the next 6 matches, I would suggest we likely won’t be back until the new year.
We will be introducing very shortly a 20th Anniversary Polo, which just needs to be placed online on our store. My personal opinion has long been that the time and effort to run a merchandise arm is at odds with the amount of time and storage space our committee has and that sooner or later this may need to be outsourced.
I’d like to thank Keighly Osborne for handling this in her spare time and her family members for putting up with boxes of unsold pint tumblers, t-shirts and feather boas!
This year we changed our web presence with a new look and new web address shortening the very long URL to just LISC.uk. I’d like to place on record my thanks to Adrian, Duncan and Alex for changing the website and maintaining its content, especially the travel guides. We have also changed the news function to a blog and that has led to much more traffic visiting the website to read our news articles and exclusive interviews. Matt Merritt and Stewart McCullough of the club have been instrumental in arranging these and I’d like to thank both of them for giving LISC access to the players and giving supporters content which is missing when we are not covered by the big newspapers.
Our social media channels keep growing in subscribers and driving people to our website and I’m hopeful this improves further in 2018-19.
I think we can always improve here; we need to communicate better and give members more time ahead of events, more and clearer communications and this is something that has fallen on my plate and I clearly don’t have the time to dedicate to it. I’m hoping with two new members of the committee that we can get better here and give members more insight into what the committee is doing.
The Chairman’s Report was proposed by Adrian Martins and seconded by Duncan Kendall and approved by a show of hands.
After David’s passing, the Chairman stepped in to complete the accounts with the assistance of former Treasurer Sarah Newton.
Income rose in our season back in the Premiership upto £11,662 an increase of £1,735. This was aided by a slight increase in Membership and Merchandise income which included selling Premiership Radios on Matchdays at the Madjeksi. Our social events with meals at Hazelwood helped raise more money and covered the cost of those events plus gifts for players.
Expenditure fell from £12,431 to £7,817. This was due to savings from our prior season in the Championship, such as player sponsorship and a reduction in outlay on Merchandise and a stop on our coach trips which had been poorly attended and resulted in several cancellations and refunds.
Presentations, Prizes and Gifts were far reduced but partly will be counted in next years accounts, with a £1500 donation made to the Jarrod Cunningham AASE Bursary.
Website costs also fell as we became more self-reliant thanks to Duncan Kendall and Adrian Martins in managing our web presence.
The accounts were proposed by Steve Jones and seconded by Kevin Mothersole and approved by a show of hands.
Election of Officers / Committee Members
The LISC committee received three nominations for joining or extending their time on the committee and we have several people who are stepping down or in the case of David sadly have left us.
I’d like to place on record my thanks to David Blowers and Sarah Jackson for their efforts.
Our three proposed nominations are;
- Sarah Newton – to come back as Hon. Treasurer – seconded by Bobby Jones
- Kevin Mothersole – for a new term on the committee – seconded by Duncan Kendall
- Mick Thompson – as a new general committee member – seconded by Kevin Mothersole
All three nominations were voted on by a show of hands and approved and now join the Supporters Club committee.
It was then proposed that our banking mandate be changed to remove David Blowers and to add Sarah Newton as our new Treasurer and Keighly Osborne as Vice Chair. This was voted upon by a show of hands and passed. The update to our banking mandate has been approved.
Upcoming LISC Events
In addition to further information events about the Supporters Trust proposal that we are going to get in the diary over the rest of this season we do need to talk about events and start organising these. The club have in an odd way by trying to add value to Members have stolen a march on traditional events run by LISC by running a combined Meet the Players / Coaches / Referee event earlier this season with JP Doyle and are hosting not one but two Quiz Nights.
Kevin Mothersole updated the AGM on plans for a South African themed night in the new year and a larger dinner / 20th Anniversary Night late in the season.
Supporters Trust Proposal
Steven Jones then introduced the concept of a Supporters Trust and how LISC has been evaluating this model for sometime ahead of a potential change to the make-up of LISC.
There was many questions and comments from the floor including some excellent constructive feedback on the timing of any potential change in a Championship season, what any change would mean for members, the general nature of Rugby Union supporters and whether that would translate to a successful Trust versus Football or Rugby League, and what we hoped to achieve by this change.
It was agreed that the next step would be a winder informative session with Supporters Direct and potentially an existing Supporters Trust at the Madejski Stadium prior to a match in early 2019.
At this point the AGM was concluded for 2018.