WFC Enables Members Meeting - Tuesday 7th September 2021

Held in the Horizon Lounge, Vicarage Road Stadium

Present:

WFC Enables Officers

David Butler Chairman Phil Nightingale Vice Chairman

Philip Linnegar Secretary Iain Lamb Treasurer

WFC Officers

Dave Messenger WFC EDI & Disability Access Officer


1. Welcome from the Chair

Firstly may I welcome you all to our delayed AGM and secondly to thank Dave Messenger and WFC for hosting our AGM

And a special warm welcome to our guest this evening - Watford Legend -Luther Blissett.

Great pleasure to welcome our new Supporter Liaison Officer, Meg Clarkson and our Supporter Liaison Assistant, Simona Rakovic-Irish.

Meg has joined us from West Ham, where she worked as the SLO for four years. Meg also worked at Wembley Stadium as part of the guest services team, so she has a wealth of experience in supporter facing roles.

Simona has taken on her first role in football, having worked for Hillingdon Libraries for five years.

Meg & Simona - May I offer a very warm Watford welcome to you and look forward to bothering you with all Enables problems in the future!

Luther with Liam and Gary

Supporter Liaison Officer, Meg Clarkson (Right) and our Supporter Liaison Assistant, Simona Rakovic-Irish.

I really must say Watford FC really do step up to the mark when it comes to disability support. With my PLDAG Chair hat on, I currently have problems with two large PL clubs each of which only have one very part time DLO!

I’ll introduce the current officers when we come to the election later.

Apologies received - Trevor & Shirley Moult, Margaret Rainbow, Brian York, Michael Polnik, Steven Hanwell, Richard Long, Gary Armstrong, Georgina Halls.

2. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes from this meeting will be published here shortly. The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

3. Matters arising

The TV monitors have been installed in the Lower Graham Taylor Stand.

The additional "P" rail installations have taken place.

No other matters arose that were not going to be dealt with on the agenda.

4. Chairman's Report

I can’t believe it is nearly two years since we had an Enables meeting without using Zoom!

And what a two years - Premier League – Championship – Premier League - wow! Let us all hope for a prolonged Premier League spell.

Let me cover my current topics and issues -

Membership

I am pleased to say that our membership – 193 - 13 more than 2 years ago plus if you count in carers and assistants Enables now represents the majority of Watford disabled supporters.

As ever there is a continual need to promote Enables Membership as we strive to represent ALL WFC disabled supporters. Please promote us at every opportunity.

If you see anyone with a slight limp get them to join!

I have to be realistic with our membership numbers, in that WFC and Dave have done such a good job of meeting the needs of the disabled supporters that we will have to strive harder to maintain that level of support.

However the average age of fans is increasing which gives us a marketing opportunity. (Man Utd's average age is now above 55)

As a club we need to keep attracting young fans understanding that nowadays they have many other distractions!

Stadium Parking - Chater School parking

The amount of parking at the rear of the stadium will reduce over the next few months as construction to develop the hospital site takes place. In anticipation of this problem I have worked with our very supportive WFC Facilities Manager, Ian Pope, and negotiated a 5 year agreement with Chater School for exclusive use of their 70 car parking spaces for match day use. WFC Disabled supporters are a priority and tickets can be purchased through the Ticket Office.

Away end safety and accessibility – both home and away

I am appreciative of the efforts of Ian Pope and Andy Jenkins for the changes they have made to improve the safety of the away disabled supporters at the Vicarage Road end but I am equally concerned for the safety of Enables members when they visit other stadiums.

Almost all incidents involving physical injuries occur in the away end often through lack of barriers to prevent crowd surge at exciting moments in the game.

My Premier League Disability Advisory Group agreed to continue the Premier League Away Reporting System on problems encountered and I thank all the Watford disabled supporters who have taken part and continue to do so – I would like to particularly thank Gary Armstrong for his comments and photos from the away games he has attended.

Also views from away end pitch side positions are often obscured by stewards or police who are there for safety reasons but also spoil the enjoyment of the match. Under the Accessible Stadia Guidelines’s 75% should be elevated! Many away end areas have no elevation!

Those reports together with police inputs on safety, have enabled us to force substantial physical changes to 4 stadiums to date with other discussions ongoing on with a number of other Premier League clubs.

We really can make a difference to safety and accessibility.

My Premier League Disability Advisory Group continues to unanimously support the reintroduction of safe standing, particularly in the away ends on the basis that the standing barriers would actually provide additional obstacles to crowd surge which endanger the pitch side disabled supporters.

Regrettably the decision on this issue has been postponed for 2 years despite the reality that persistent standing already occurs in the away end at every game.

We will keep pushing and improvements will occur. Thank you.

5. Secretary's report No report necessary

6. Treasurer's report, Annual Accounts, Year to September 2020 - report to be added shortly.


7. Election of Officers

All Officers shall be elected/re-elected annually at the AGM.

Current holders, all of whom are willing to continue to serve :-

David Butler Chair

Phil Nightingale Vice Chair

Iain Lamb Treasurer

Phillip Linnegar Secretary

Gary Armstrong Social Secretary

The meeting voted to confirm their election for a further year.


Representatives from Watford FC and Watford FC Supporters Trust are nominated and Dave Messenger WFC EDI & Disability Access Officer will continue to represent the club.


Lamb Treasurer

Phillip Linnegar Secretary

Gary Armstrong Social Secretary

Representatives from Watford FC and Watford FC Supporters Trust are nominated.

8. Election of Independent Examiner

9. Watford FC Report

10. Notified Business items - details of these items to be published shortly

10.1 Update on WFC Accessible Stadia enhancements

10.2 Utilisation of WFC disabled facilities

10.3 Away facility survey

10.4 Any Covid related issues

10.5 Digital ticketing


Luther Blissett Watford's very popular legend joined the meeting and spent a very entertaining half an hour with the group for which were all very grateful, not only for his time but his support for disabled fans.


11. Thanks to all, David closed the meeting at 9 pm.