Hello Clarets, or should I say, Champions?
It doesn’t feel three months since a loyal legion of Clarets made the journey across county lines to Huddersfield back at the beginning of the season, but here we sit on the eve of our final game of what has been an unforgettable Championship-winning campaign. I thought I would take the opportunity to pen a letter briefly reflecting on the season and to give an update on the recent Fan Advisory Board meeting.
First things first, we must give a massive congratulations to Vincent Kompany, his staff and all of the players for winning promotion to the Premier League at a canter. At the start of the season, many of us would have hoped for a campaign pushing for the Play Offs, due to the large turnover of playing staff at the Club last summer and Vincent Kompany taking charge of his first season at this level. But expectations have been exceeded across the board and not just in terms of results, with the style of football at Turf Moor proving the talk of English football this season – and rightly so! With a proven strategy in the transfer market and exemplary coaching thus far at the Club, I cannot wait to see what Kompany has in store for us next season as we return to the Premier League.
Congratulations must go in particular to Josh Cullen, who has been crowned the Clarets Trust Player of the Year, as voted by our members! The Irish international only joined Burnley Football Club last summer, but he made his imprint on the team obvious right from the very first game away at Huddersfield. Touching almost every blade of grass on the pitch week in week out, Cullen quickly became a fan favourite and an integral cog in Vincent Kompany’s system that has set a host of Club records this season. I am looking forward to presenting Josh with his trophy!
As we enter the summer months, the Clarets Trust Annual General Meeting is fast approaching and will once again see us hold our Board Elections. The AGM will take place in early July, at a date to be decided by our Election Management Group, and we urge Trust members to stand for election! We currently have five members on the Trust Board and any extra help is appreciated as we look to begin new projects for the Trust, including the Clarets Trust Disabled Supporters Group. I have been delighted to work alongside Reece Taylor, Joe Skinner and Level Playing Field recently to begin consultation on how best to enter disabled representation. The upcoming elections will see disabled representatives be elected to the Trust Board, all being well, and an open-invite meeting to disabled Burnley supporters will be offered over the summer.
AN UPDATE FROM THE FAN ADVISORY BOARD
First of all, my apologies for not delivering an update regarding the last meeting of the Fan Advisory Board sooner. It has been a busy few weeks spent writing my dissertation and four other essays as the end of University approaches… but better late than never, right? The second and latest meeting of the Fan Advisory Board (FAB) took place on Wednesday 19th April, chaired by the Director of Fan Experience Russell Ball and attended by Alan Pace.
The proceedings began with official photographs taken of all FAB members, ahead of official information regarding the FAB being published by the Club in the coming months. It is not an official requirement of clubs outside of the Premier League to have a fan advisory board, with Burnley Football Club getting ahead of the curve in establishing its own FAB ahead of next season. As such, they have been finding their feet over the past few months and Russell will be attending training with the Premier League on supporter representation over the summer. That is all to explain why there has been no communication directly from the Club about the FAB since our first meeting a few months ago. In the meantime, I trust many of you will have seen updates filtering out across social media from various members of the FAB and I will endeavour to continue producing updates after each meeting!
As for what was discussed at the meeting, I was pleased to be given assurances from Chief Operating Officer Matt Williams that the EFL transfer embargo would be lifted in the coming weeks – with the green light coming earlier this week after the Club’s accounts had been filed. We also discussed plans for the Burnley FC Women’s match that was to be held at Turf Moor and it was amazing to see almost 3,000 supporters in attendance to see the players beat Liverpool Feds last weekend. With the welcome investment of former USA international footballer Kealia Ohai Watt (and her husband/NFL legend, JJ Watt), the Club looks well set to push for promotion again next season. At the first meeting of the FAB, my fellow Board Member Eve Gurman suggested that the Burnley FC Women’s social media accounts should be merged with the Burnley FC accounts, in order to bring the Club in line with teams such as Manchester City in offering the biggest platform possible for both teams. Eve’s suggestion was given the green light from Alan Pace and the Club was pleased to report that Burnley FC Women’s content has started to be pushed onto the Burnley FC feeds, with a full merger to come down the line – a first success story for the FAB!
Furthermore, after discussions at our first meeting surrounding issues of lighting in some areas of Turf Moor after night games, I am pleased to report that LED lighting is being introduced in some of the passages behind the Longside (North Stand), that will hopefully offer safer walkways in the future. Similarly constructive feedback was given by members of the FAB in regards to catering queues at half-time at Turf Moor, and Russell Ball reported in our latest meeting that additional tills will be in place for our return to the Premier League, alongside digital ordering screens and other improvements that should hopefully improve our catering offering. On a similar note, fans can expect to see notable changes in hospitality at the start of next season, especially in the Jimmy McIlroy Stand.
The majority of the meeting was led by Supporter Liason Officer Jack Ormesher and Insights Manager Nathan Kavanagh, who delivered a detailed breakdown of the results from the latest Clarets View survey. What stood out to me was that just under half of all fans who have attended a game at Turf this season have also visited the Fanzone, which is great to hear. As should be expected, the survey has provided the Club with plenty of scope for improvement, with matchday entertainment and kiosk waiting times high on the agenda. Finally, it was fantastic to hear plans for a ticket exchange ahead of the Cardiff City game, an idea that had proved popular at the first FAB meeting.
To cut a long story short – anyone who knows me will testify as to how much I talk (!) – the first couple of FAB meetings have been introductory on the whole, but have been thoroughly enjoyable and productive. It was a pleasure to be selected to represent the Clarets Trust on the FAB and I am loving getting to know my fellow FAB members. Onwards and upwards!
To anyone who has read this far, thank you! I hope you have learned a thing or two and my apologies again for the delay in providing a Fan Advisory Board update. It has been another wonderful season following Burnley and made even sweeter today seeing news of Vincent Kompany’s contract extension. It has been fantastic meeting lots of new faces as the season has unfolded and I think we can only look to next season with optimism. On the Trust front, I am looking forward to holding the first set of elections since I became Chairman and starting projects such as the Disabled Supporters Group and potentially a ticket scheme for local schools – watch this space.
Enjoy the celebrations Clarets, give Ashley Barnes a hero’s send off, and let’s toast our Champions!