James Marriott reports from the Steering Group meeting at Hillsborough on Wednesday 12 April 2017…
SHEFFIELD Wednesday will manufacture their own kits from next season – with the home being all blue with white sleeves.
Chairman Dejphon Chansiri confirmed at Wednesday night’s Steering Group meeting that the kit for the club’s 150th anniversary would be styled on that worn during the 1965 to 1972 era.
The kits will be made in the same factories used by the major manufacturers, but dealing with them directly means the club has more control, and removes the long wait from ordering to receiving the shirts – currently six months.
It was revealed that turnstiles will be going cash-free, as the club moves towards card payments only throughout the stadium.
Chief Operating Officer Joe Palmer announced that they are looking at a way to allow fans to load cash onto their season ticket or membership card at designated ‘cash points’ so they don’t have to use a credit or debit card.
It was revealed that money has gone ‘walkabout’ in the past – described as ‘quite a lot of cash’ – driving the move towards a cash-free Hillsborough.
Turnstiles will remain manned rather than the barcode style at some other grounds though, as the Chairman doesn’t want those people to lose their jobs among other reasons.
Oversees supporters will be able to watch home games live next season through the club’s Wednesday Player service – but it won’t be available in the UK due to league rules.
The Steering Group meeting brings together the club’s senior staff with representatives of fan groups who pose questions on any matters relating to Sheffield Wednesday.
Other items covered included:
- Financial Fair Play isn’t a problem this season – it may be in the future if we’re still in the Championship. All agree avoiding a transfer embargo is key. Mr Chansiri thinks the current system is ‘unfair’ but doesn’t expect it to change
- The capacity at Hillsborough was reduced on safety grounds this season to 33,800. Lots of improvements have been made and the club has its annual inspection in two weeks where they hope capacity will increase back to 36,000ish. The NW corner will still be out of use regardless
- Discussions with the Safety Advisory Group are ‘slow and painful’ and it may be the club considers further action if capacity isn’t increased as a result of the inspection. “It will get to a point where enough is enough,” according to Joe Palmer
- The Police put a category on each game – higher risk of crowd trouble means fewer seats available
- The Club wanted to give Newcastle the full 4,700 allocation but the Police said no. The SAG sided with the police
- Jordan Rhodes is a ‘done deal, he belongs to us’ according to Mr Chansiri
- It was confirmed that David Hirst has resigned his position at the club, hence why he has not been present at the Foundation Lounge for recent games
- New children and baby wear clothing and merchandise is on order and will be in the club shop soon
- It’s the Police who decide whether fans can exit the South Stand onto Leppings Lane at the end of the game – and this will continue to happen for games they deem to be in a higher risk category. The club will look at extra stewards to help with the additional pressure on the other South Stand exits
- The loss of the Wednesday car park was discussed, and the impact of having 550 fewer parking spaces on matchday because of it. The club will look into parking issues. The stadium manager may discuss with Sainsbury’s about using some of their spaces on matchday
- Stadium redevelopment plans are drawn up – they will happen quickly if we’re promoted; less quickly if not. A lot of changes will need to happen in the summer if we’re promoted – such as additional press space and Sky TV requirements
- There were a good few thousand who registered for the Season Ticket waiting list. Most now have their STs sorted, the ticket office still working through those left on the waiting list
- The trial of selling local beer on the North Stand has been a success and will be extended next season. Also looking at smaller ‘street food’ stalls for other local producers. Looking at providing veggie and gluten free options next season. Bringing catering in-house has been a big success overall
- Also discussions taking place about an outside catering unit in the megastore car park – they’ll look at other ‘outside’ options in other parts of the ground as well
- Club trialled ‘walkers’ who go around selling snacks in the stand. First game it worked well but SAG made them change location three times and in the final location they didn’t sell much
- Club will look at issues around commentary provided for blind fans ‘if significant people provide feedback that there are problems with it’ (it’s rubbish, apparently)
- There are plans to open a café on the floor above the club shop
- Limitations of six tickets per transaction for Play Off Final were discussed. Club will look at it should it come around again
- Furthermore problems for disabled supporters at Wembley were discussed and again club will look at a better system if we’re there again this season
- Ticket Priority Points were raised and everyone in attendance agrees (unanimously) that it is a great system and does not need any alterations
- Looking at a new ticketing website for next season which may allow for flexi-tickets. Looked into offering Paypal payments but it’s pricey – club may trial it
- Club has no influence over whether Wednesday fans are sold beer at half time at away grounds. They confirm the behaviour of some fans at away games does influence other clubs’ decision
- The new kits won’t be out any earlier than previous seasons. Looking at pricing options for kids’ kits following feedback
- Comments were made about traffic problems on Penistone Road after games – outside of club’s control but will feed it to their safety officer
- Warm water in ladies brought up again – North is done, the rest will follow – needs a power upgrade first
- There will be improved pre-match entertainment in the Kids’ Zone in the Family Stand next season
- Club has looked at moving away fans to a different part of the ground, but the layout of the ground makes it tricky. We have to give 2,000 minimum away tickets – the West lower holds 2,500 but due to the current safety certificates, only 1,500 tickets can be sold in it
- 150 anniversary plans – a new book will be published in September covering all the club’s history, along with the Dream Scene already announced. Other stuff is in development including merchandise but nothing to confirm yet
- They’ve talked to various clubs about a high-profile anniversary friendly but had issues with dates. Real Madrid was mentioned but they could only come after the season has started. Currently talking to one un-named club who say ‘they can’t decide until they have a new coach’ – make of that what you will
- Club will let fans know which away shirt they will wear at games in advance if possible
- We’ll be getting a new main website in the summer which is ‘a lot better’
- Digital advertising boards around the ground are being looked into with a likely partner identified – it will ‘definitely’ happen if we’re promoted, and probably will if we don’t
- Some discussion about players we’ve signed but not played. “When we buy a player we expect them to play” according to the chairman. He confirms Lewis McGugan has one year left on his contract after this season
- Long discussion about whether George Hirst will get a new contract and how much a teenager should get paid – didn’t actually reveal anything though
- Home tickets will continue to be available three or four weeks in advance next season – no earlier than that
- Winners of the Season Ticket promotion will likely be announced in the run-up to the Fulham game
- Offering good prices for kids’ tickets is a priority. Some talk about Sheffield United’s chairman’s claim that more younger supporters are going to their games. “Absolutely no evidence to support that what-so-ever” is the response
- Finally, a request from one person for the club to request fans sing ‘if you don’t jump and bounce you’re a blade’ rather than the current lyrics is politely turned down