1. Proposed fan bans for persistent standing and problems in the Gallowgate Corner.
It was agreed that this is being caused by a clash of fan culture brought about by the disbanding of Level 7.  The trouble was predicted by many fans when the closing of Level 7 was announced. Level 7‘ers are not hooligans but like to stand, sing and be generally noisy, which is at odds with fans from more sedate parts of the ground. It was agreed that much of the atmosphere in the ground (especially during the Championship season) was kept alive by the Level 7 fans.  Now however that section has been re-allocated and the fans from that area dispersed around the ground (esp into the Gallowgate Corner) this has resulted in many ugly incidents with NUFC fans fighting each other.


What is the reason for the Level 7 move? The reasons given by the club ring false ie:

  • The need to accommodate more away fans (why when our away allocations have been reduced?)
  • The need to increase family/ young people seating (not working still many empty seats)

It was agreed that this is still a pressing issue that needs to be fully addressed and answered by the Club rather than just being swept under the carpet of Health and Safety Regulation and over-aggressive stewarding, especially as the atmosphere at St James’ Park has suffered since the disbanding of the Level 7 Singing Corner.  

The Chronicle has covered the Gallowgate incidents at the Arsenal game but from a sensationalist and divisive angle. NUFC Fans United propose that there are two sides to the situation and the flash points could have been avoided if the Club had listened to the fans’ concerns before bulldozing on with the Level 7 move. Perhaps we could get case studies/ testimonials from both sides (legal actions permitting) to illustrate both sides of the argument and bring better understanding to all parties?

NUFC Fans United would like the Club to explain the thinking behind the closure of the Level 7 Singing Section and consider sensible action to remedy the problems and the backlash created by the closure rather than threatening blanket bans.

2. Response to Newcastle United sign being removed/ replaced

Do we know what the new signage will be? Malcolm Dix suggested the signage was old and worn. Other suggested that it will be replaced by a crest flanked by Sports Direct adverts. Steve Wraith said that he doesn’t have an issue with this in principle, but it depends on the terms of the deals being arranged between NUFC and SD. Are they full commercial deals? The most recent accounts showed £47,000 from Sports Direct was paid to NUFC for the “sponsorship” arrangements, this seems to be a very small sum compared to the reported £10m that Arsenal receive(d).

What are Mr Ashley’s long term intentions for the Club? And how do they play into these sponsorship deals? Is NUFC being tied up to long term low worth sponsorship deals with Sports Direct that will pass on with any potential new ownership of the Club? 

3Fiorentina match ticket stubs update and match selection.

Steve Hastie proposed that fans may need an incentive to give up their stubs for other people. He suggested linking up with Help For Heroes via the RNR and various regiments to offer the stubs/ tickets to returning servicemen/ servicewomen. Malcolm Dix proposed also tying up with the NUFC Community Foundation to increase ticket numbers. All agreed it would be great to have a bank of uniformed personnel at a match.

We also need confirmation of what matches are Category C - proposed talking to the Club to find out.

4. Bring back the scarves. 

It was agreed that this has been a success so far - but that it needs to be pushed properly and in a sustained manner for the rest of the season. It was suggested that as the weather turns colder it will be easier to encourage more fans to bring scarves.  Also it was proposed that we talk to a number of popular pre-match pubs to see if we can get a commercial tie in that would give fans free/ subsidised branded scarves.  The Club seemed to latch onto the campaign for the Fulham game and had posters in the Club Shops. This is seen as a sign that the Club does listen and act on fans’ ideas when it convenient for them to do so. Perhaps we should CC them into the delivery list for minutes form our meetings and invite them (ie Wendy Taylor and Simon Esland) to our meetings in future?

5. Neil Mitchell has been asked to submit questions to the club via The Evening Chronicle. We are looking for suggestions.

Neil reported that the Club had shifted the goal posts and changed the deadline for receipt of questions to noon on September 5th (the day of this meeting) so he had had to come up with some questions that he felt were representative of the thoughts of the fanbase generally and NUFC Fans United in particular.  Below are the questions he submitted via Lee Ryder at The Chronicle:

1.  Since the disollution of the supporters panel there has been no vehicle to canvas supporters opinion and give the board direct access to the fans.  What steps, if any, are being taken to rectify this, what format would any replacement take and how would members be selected?

2.  Is the stadium rebranding of "Sportsdirect.com@St James's Park" still, as was originally claimed, a showcasing exercise to demonstrate the possibilities to other potential sponsors or is it now a fully fledged sponsorship arrangement?  If so what actual benefit does NUFC gain from this?

3.  Why, given the amount of time the club has had to identify potential striking target since receiving £35million for Andy Carroll, is the club hiding behind a statement citing there would be no knee jerk reactions"?  Surely over 200 days was more than enough time to recruit an essential addition to the team that everyone from the manager down over has asked for yet it seems has been failed to deliver.

4.  Given that players have been criticised by the club for their actions in both how they act and behave socially and in their use of social networking, how does the board of NUFC respond to pictures released at the weekend of the owner undressing in public and how will the club be able to explain their moralistic stance towards a number of issues that inevitably arise with players and their social lives in the light of this?

It was agreed that Neil’s questions were very good and it is hoped that the Club answers the questions fully and openly.

6. Do we need a cohesive response to Mike Ashley’s latest embarrassment at the weekend?

Most present agreed that what Mr Ashley does in his spare time is entirely up to him, but that as he is the defacto figurehead of a publicly facing organisation like NUFC that he should perhaps act in a manner more befitting his position.  

Also in light of the very public dressing down of 3 players who were photographed flashing their abs in a Newcastle nightclub, 48 hours before a match in which none of them was fit to play, his Full Monty behaviour is at best hypocritical and at worst has the potential to undermine the discipline Mr Pardew is attempting to instill in the squad.

7. The club needs a Fans Liaison Officer in place by 2013. What would the group want from that individual and how could we put suggestions to the club on how that individual acts and relays between board/club/supporter/ level. 

In the months before relegation, Steve Hastie, Neil Mitchell and others attended a number of “supporters’ panel” meetings with the Club, including at least one attended by Derek Llambias. Both admitted that they had been impressed by Mr Llambias’ willingness to talk openly and at length about various matters.  At other times however the meetings were used to gauge opinions on subjects like “are the chips hot enough?” - it was felt that on the occasions when the club asked the “right” questions, that it was a most useful exercise for both parties.  This iniative stopped after the Club was relegated.  

Under the previous ownership, Steve Wraith had been the Fans’ Liaison Officer, however he felt that it was a position that was merely paid lip service and that it wasn’t every properly utilised by the Club.

Everyone at the meeting on September 5th 2011 agreed (even the most ardent Anti-Ashley quarter) that the first step to improving relations between the Fans and the Club would be improved communication from the SJP hierarchy.  The lack of communication and the perceived “strange” decisions by the Club (without explanation) are what cause the feelings of discontent and disenfranchisement of fans which subsequently causes unrest, talk of protest and boycott and also the 10,000 empty seats at Fulham.

It was therefore agreed, once again, that the primary focus of NUFC Fans United should be to foster lines of communication with the Club.

8. AOB

There was much discussion about boycotts, full NUFC boycotts, concessions boycotts and Sports Direct boycotts. Opinions on this are varied and wide with no clear consensus at this point. However it was agreed that as we are an open group whose aim is to unite the fanbase then these options should be discussed freely at our meetings and if consensus across the fanbase is reached then we will act in accordance with that consensus.

Consensus was a theme that was discussed throughout the meeting and it was agreed that as an organisation we need to grow our numbers significantly. This will give us credibility from both the fans and the Club, this credibility is necessary if we wish to be a truly representative force in any future conversations with the club.  It will only be by uniting the fanbase that we will make any progress in this regard.  For these reasons it was proposed that we ramp up promotion of the group and that we continue to try and engage the other fanzines, websites, groups and NUST.  Leaflets were suggested and will be designed and distributed to supporters ASAP.

Another situation that needs resolving is a MISSION STATEMENT for NUFC Fans United, this will enable us to promote the organisation more effectively and will hopefully answer any questions people will have about the nature (and intentions of NUFCFansUtd).  A mission statement will be drafted immediately and circulated to the group for approval.

It was also agreed that the club and The Chronicle (plus other journalists) be added to the distribution list for minutes and that the Club (ie Wendy Taylor and Simon Esland) are invited to these meetings in future.

9. Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday, October 3 2011; and every First Monday thereafter. Agenda, venue and time to be confirmed and circulated in due course.


Website: www.nufcfansutd.com

Twitter: @NUFCFansUtd

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nufcfansutd

email: NUFCFansUtd@gmail.com or newcastlefansutd@gmail.com
Written by Dan Greet 3rd September 2011
As I am sure anyone with more than a passing interest in football is aware, Plymouth Argyle are in trouble. Real trouble. The imminent danger of liquidation is all so prominent these days at Home Park. Stories of players not being paid, staff being paid by the manager out of his own pocket, administration, debt and the delays securing the new owners have dominated all news relating to Argyle since March of this year. This nearly came to a head this week when there was talk of the players and staff going on strike and refusing to play today's game at Burton. Fortunately strike action was averted when the players and staff agreed to receive 40% of owed wages now and the remainder on completion of the long overdue takeover by Bishop International Ltd on the understanding that the takeover will be completed by the 31st August 2011. Troubling times indeed for a club who just two short seasons ago were playing in the Championship having steadily increased league position including two promotions between 2000 and 2008.

Enter Brighton and Hove Albion. Back in 1997 Brighton were at their lowest ebb due to the shameful asset stripping of the club by Bill Archer and David Belloti. The club was run into the ground and evicted from its Goldstone Ground home (where they had played since 1902 and is famous for being the stadium where David Beckham made his Manchester United début as a substitute in 1992). The atmosphere at Brighton games during this period was less than warm and  protests and pitch invasions were commonplace. A protest during the Lincoln City game on 1st October 1996 resulted in a two point deduction given by the football league in December. Relegation looked likely at this point and the fan forum (www.northstandchat.com) was overrun with anger directed at the Belloti, Archer and particularly the FA due to their perceived lack of support during this period. Fans of other clubs left messages of support on the forum but none resonated more than a post from a 14 year old boy named Richard Vaughan – a fan of Plymouth Argyle. His post was as follows:

I see the scum FA have now taken 2 points who do they think they are they wouldn’t do this to Man United. It makes me sick what is happening to your club and it’s an insult to your fans. I’m a Plymouth fan and I think that one week when we’re away I`m going to come up and support your protest. I think it would be a good idea if LOADS of fans from different clubs turned up at Brighton (with their shirts on) and joined in it would show that we’re all behind you 100%

The passionate post from the young man brought Albion fans and campaigners against Albion's treatment together and a date was set for the 8th February 1997 for the Hartlepool United game to be the first ever Fans United day. From the previous foggy and anarchic atmosphere that had dogged Brighton games all season came a revelation as thousands of fans from all over the country (and a party from the German club Eintracht Frankfurt) joined together to cheer on the Albion and provide a wonderful atmosphere that helped propel the players to a 5-0 win. Albion went on to survive relegation on goal difference by three goals. How different things might have been should Fans United had never happened! Fourteen years on Albion played Argyle in League One this past February and whilst Richard Vaughan was not able to attend the game, he managed to send Brighton a message which was read out at half time and was very warmly received by both sets of supporters. 

Brighton has always felt a debt of gratitude to Argyle due to the snowball effect caused by young Richard's post and now in an attempt to repay them for the help they provided to Albion at their lowest point they are attempting to return the favour. In the last 24 hours on the very same forum where it all started 14 years ago, Fans Reunited has been born. A grass-roots uprising started by forum member Woodchip has become something of a phenomenon. In just 24 hours, 121 fans have already agreed to make the trip down to Home Park on the 24th September to cheer on Argyle in their match with Macclesfield. And with three weeks to go and the campaign only just getting started and spreading with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter the number can only multiply. In the day and age where the internet, and more importantly social media, has become an integral part of everyday life the message has a chance to surpass the impact it had all those years ago.

The knock on effect caused by the potential liquidation of Plymouth Argyle through football as a whole could be catastrophic. In an age where footballers earn huge wages and command bigger transfer fees than ever before, a domino effect for lower league sides is a strong possibility. Therefore, as football fans, we need to make this day the biggest event that we can to not only support Plymouth Argyle but also to support the beautiful game as a whole. No club with a history as long as Argyle's have been liquidated before and, whilst other teams have come close (notably Brighton's rival Crystal Palace last year), this would be and could become the first of many. We need to act now to ensure this doesn't happen.

So I implore you, if you are a fan of our great sport, please head down to Home Park, Plymouth on the 24th September wearing the shirt of your preferred team and lets show football that we still care.

To find out more please visit us on Facebook.
Remember how good Plymouth Argyle where to us when we were promoted?