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Andy Holt and David Burgess fans’ forum in Coley’s summary

By Luke Pearson, ASFC

The Chairman and Managing Director met with supporters in Coley’s on Monday 13th March

Accrington Stanley Chairman, Andy Holt, and Managing Director, David Burgess, met with supporters, hosted by the Official Accrington Stanley Supporters’ Trust (OASST), in Coley’s on Monday 13th March.

The main considerations from the meeting were based on the anxieties of supporters around the number of Bolton Wanderers fans in home areas of the Wham Stadium and their behaviour at the recent Papa Johns Trophy semi-final tie.

An explanation of the stringent process the ticket office went through when selling tickets for the game, and despite not knowingly selling tickets to away fans, it was acknowledged that there were pockets of Bolton fans in the home parts of the stadium.

Historically, there hadn’t been major issues around small numbers of away fans in home areas, but the importance of the game and the highly-charged atmosphere caused some ructions and aggravations for Stanley supporters.

It was also brought to the club’s attention that a number of away fans had purchased tickets from home fans in town centre pubs prior to the game. This was still being investigated by all parties.

Supporters were advised that all CCTV, video and Sky TV footage of the incidents that took place via a minority of Bolton fans were now in the hands of the authorities, including Lancashire Police, Greater Manchester Police, and Bolton Wanderers.

It was explained that the overall stadium management of the game was undertaken by the police through their command procedures and that the Stanley Ground Safety Officer was their support mechanism and the decisions around the pitch invasion, and moving of the away fans from home areas of the ground was not solely undertaken by the club.

It was agreed that on the whole, the stewarding of the game was good, especially dealing with the Bolton fans when the pitch invasion took place. Concerns around the Bolton players coming back out on the pitch was a decision taken by stewards provided by Bolton Wanderers whilst the home stewards were engaged in forming the crowd barrier across the pitch at the end of the game. It was agreed all around that lessons can be learned from the experience moving forward.

The meeting attendees were informed that the club would review their ticket allocations when the two clubs meet in future at the Wham Stadium, including hospitality allowances to the away fans. It was made clear that well-behaving away fans from any club would be rewarded with access to Coley’s and hospitality, while those who caused issues would receive the basic requirements allowed and where needed, reduced ticket allocations.

Concerns were also raised regarding away fan behaviour in the hospitality seating areas and plans to address this were under consideration with one option being locating away hospitality visitors in the Eric Whalley Stand for the game period.

Supporters aired some minor concerns about other issues they encountered from time to time on matchdays. A discussion took pl

ace around ensuring the club didn’t lose any of its community identity, whilst making sure that the basic football regulations were met. A collective agreement followed where everyone agreed that it was important to drive the club forward both on the pitch, on the terraces and through the available income streams.

In conclusion, the OASST Chairman, Peter Leatham, commented that suggestions to help grow the fanbase or any fan concerns about the club could always be fed to the OASST and would be discussed with the club at the regular review meetings held between the Trust and the club. All review meeting minutes were posted on the Trust website for supporters to review.

The meeting concluded with the Chairman and Managing Director thanking the supporters for their continued support of the club, their understanding of the financial needs of a club the stature of Accrington Stanley and their excellent ongoing support.