Minutes from the June Meeting
In attendance: Jack, Thomas, Libby, Joe, Callum, Tom and Harry, Francis, Laurie Dalrymple, Lee Smith, Laura Nicholls, Tracey Randle, Kerri Davies, Laura Gabbidon
The Junior Fans Parliament members were introduced to the Club’s new Supporter Liaison Officer, Tracey Randle who will be the point of contact for the JFP moving forward.
The meeting opened up with an ice-breaker delivered by Lee Smith from Wolves Community Trust. Random questions were placed on the tables and the Junior Fans Parliament members were asked to pick a card and answer the question about themselves. The question was then put to Managing Director, Laurie Dalrymple.
Questions such as what trend are you glad went out of fashion, if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be and if you could change any event in history what would it be were asked.
The Junior Fans Parliament members were then invited to ask questions of Laurie.
Tom: What can be done to improve the fan experience for fans my age ?
Laurie: We’ve looked at ticket pricing to make matches more affordable for young individuals and families which will go a long way in filling the ground and building the atmosphere which all helps the fan experience. In terms of the matchday experience as a whole we are investing around half a million pounds in our infrastructure with the PA system, big screens etc. All of this we hope will help to strengthen the connection between the fans and the Club at home matches.
We’ve also got the Fans Zone coming in the North Stand and would like to expand that out to other areas of the stadium like we’ve seen at many away grounds.
Callum: Could we have music to celebrate a Wolves goal?
Laurie: Yes in theory, this is a decision for the fans as far as I’m concerned. I think opinion is split in that some like it and some don’t. If we can find a song that’s appropriate and the fans want it then I’d be open to it.
Thomas: What are the different stages to a transfer?
Laurie: Good question! This is the time of year when we do most of our activity. There are many stages to the process, we start to build a plan in January, even in the earlier transfer window we’re thinking about what to do in the summer. By March / April we’ve got a good idea where the gaps are in the squad.
Our recruitment team can follow ten to twelve games to monitor one particular target. They will look at their performance, their personal circumstances (are they married, do they have children), what they post on social media, how expensive they are etc. We’ll all agree as a group if it’s someone we want who will fit in and they are reliable and trustworthy.
If the player is out of contract then it’s much easier and we go straight to the player’s agent to approach them. We tend to get to the end of the discussion quite quickly as there is no transfer deal to discuss.
If a player does have a contract then we have to approach the Club first and ask if they want to sell the player. The first offer is normally rejected so there’s some back and forth until the two Clubs agree on a fee. This is when we start talking to the player about their terms. This way can be quite drawn out so we need to be patient and make sure we’re getting value for money.
Harry: Now Jed and George have gone do you think it’ll be better or worse?
Laurie: So long as we’re developing the squad with people who we think will improve the team it’ll be positive. We do need to reduce the size of the squad as it has grown too big. Coaches have a clear style of how they want the game to be played and some players might not fit that. That is part of football. I think Jed and George are both really good players, loyal and committed and I think they’ll go on to do great things in their careers.
Libby: What are your plans for the Club?
Laurie: The vision of the Club has not changed: the aim is to get promoted as quick as we possibly can. We’ve brought in a coach that we think has the ability to take us where we want to be. Will it happen this year? I can’t say but I hope we’ll be consistent and competitive throughout the season.
The big aim for me is getting the fan base to be more connected with the team and the Club and to get the stadium full. We saw great atmospheres and big crowds last season and I’ll be working hard to do this again for the coming season.
Joe: Are we promoting the club in other local counties, such as Shropshire and Worcestershire?
Laurie: We’ve got a national fan base in the hundreds of thousands, which is partly due to our huge success in the 50’s and 60’s and then fans moving away but taking their support for Wolves with them. In terms of Worcestershire and Shropshire we have over 40,000 fans in these areas which is a great starting point but we know we have work to do. One of the ways we do this is through Wolves Community Trust who work in schools and colleges, not just in Wolverhampton but throughout the local region.
Callum: I play for the Wolves under 16 Sporting Chances pan disability team. I proudly won player of the season last year and we came runners up this year in our league!
I see all of the other teams who are part of the community trust getting involved with the Wolves ‘family’ for example being invited on the pitch on match days. I was wondering why not our team?
Lee Smith: We’re working really hard to integrate all of our teams into Club activitie. For example, this is the first year that Wolves Women have featured in the kit launch and we’re making progress with other teams too. We are also working on on-pitch opportunities so please keep an eye on Wolves Community Trust social media as we’ll be announcing something soon! Also please tell us if we’re not doing something that you’d like us to - it’s really important for us to act on the feedback of all of our teams and participants.
Joe: What’s the process Wolves go through in recruiting young players
Laurie: We’re lucky to be a Category One Academy so that we can attract the best young talent across the whole country. We’re the same rating as Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool etc and we’ve got a really strong recruitment team who work closely with local football clubs as we see them as a very strong source of talent. We’ve actually got around 180 Academy players coming in, many of which are from local teams and schools.
Over the last few seasons we’ve had 11 or 12 Academy graduates in the first team squad on a matchday and this is still very much a priority for the new owners. It’s really expensive to have an Academy at the level we have so we need to make sure we have as many players as possible coming through.
Jack: Would you be willing to offer free tickets to local schools to fill the ground?
Laurie: We’re creating the Fans Zone in the Quadrant to help fill the ground and we’ll kick that off at the first game of the season at home to Middlesbrough. In terms of schools we already do a lot through Wolves Community Trust with tickets as well as coaching. We’re always looking at new ideas though and we’re working on something for next season to get more tickets distributed to schools and junior football teams.
Tom: How did you get into your current role at Wolves?
Laurie: I was a massive sports fan when I finished University and I had jobs in media and commercial positions then made my way into sporting venues. Three years ago I was lucky enough to come to Wolves as the Head of Commercial and developed the commercial sales strategy. After the takeover I was really fortunate to be asked to be offered the role by Jeff Shi. It’s an absolute privilege and I’m very fortunate to be tasked with the responsibility of taking the Club forward.
Following the question and answer session Lee Smith conducted an interactive workshop with the Junior Fans Parliament members to tell them more about Wolves Community Trust and find out what sort of activities they would like to see the Trust deliver and how we could make the sessions more fun.
The meeting was closed with attendees being asked to keep in touch and tell us of any feedback and ideas they had and to tell us what topics they would like to cover in the next meeting