IAN C, PAUL E, STEVE H, TOM L, LEE M (NUFC), ELAINE P, SUSAN S, LINDSEY W, ZAHRA Z
Apologies: MALCOLM D, GRAEME C, DENIS T, STEVE W, BILL C, ANDY S, WENDY T (NUFC).
The group welcomed Lee Marshall, NUFC’s recently appointed Supporter Liaison Officer, who was attending for the first time. Lee stated that there is a ‘genuine desire’ at NUFC for the Supporters Liaison Officer role to work. As the UEFA remit states, Lee will act as a conduit between the club and fan groups. He stated that having organised supporters groups such as NUFC Fans United makes it easier for him to work with supporters and feedback on issues that are forwarded to him. It is Lee’s intention to attend as many NUFC Fans United meetings as possible. He is also aware that there are many supporters who are not involved in fans’ groups, and it is his intention to engage with them too.
The group recently held a Safe Standing event with the support of the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) before the Chelsea match on February 2nd. The event attendees included fans, local MPs, councillors and journalists and the feedback received was extremely encouraging. Lee reiterated Wendy Taylor’s comments from last month’s meeting; that the club is interested in looking at the feasibility of safe standing; that the club needs to consider its fan base, and that Derek Llambias is interested in guaging supporter opinion.
Steve H suggested we conduct a safe standing survey on the fans united website. Steve has studied a number of safe standing surveys conducted by supporter groups of other clubs and has in mind some of the questions which need to be asked. Steve proposed that the information gathered by such a survey, could then be passed on to NUFC to help the club conduct its own studies. Lee replied that this may be possible and that he is happy to work with fan groups on this issue. Steve will liaise with those with responsibility for the Fans United website to put the survey up. Done - here
Susan S highlighted issues regarding away matches. She suggested to Lee that NUFC revive the club’s previous official travel club. As a regular at NUFC away matches, Susan feels that organised away game travel has become less organised, and that those organisations who do run coaches allow drinking, which is causing an increasing amount of trouble, tension and anti social behaviour that spoils the enjoyment of other supporters and paints the NUFC and supporters in a bad light. Susan feels that an official travel club would allow for better organisation and would attract many supporters who have been put off travelling to away games due to the conduct of a small minority among our excellent away support.
6 GAME DEAL
Susan S made Lee aware that some season ticket holders are upset about NUFC’s recent deal, which allows the final six home games of the season to be purchased for £120 (£55 for juniors). It was put to Lee that season ticket holders have shown loyalty towards NUFC by purchasing their season tickets up front, with many committed to the 10 year deal, and that deals like this undermine the economic advantage that season ticket holders tend to enjoy due to their long term commitment.
Lee was asked about the possibility of season ticket holders being offered some sort of award in the shape of additional loyalty points or free or discounted cup tickets in the future. Lee appreciated that this is a difficult issue, and explained that if seats are available, then the club has to take any available opportunity to sell the tickets and make the ground as loud and as full as possible. A full house is the target for the remainder of the season and everyone in attendance hoped that this was achieved
Following on from the last point, several comments and points were made regarding the atmosphere at St James’ Park. It was felt that the atmosphere at St James’ Park has diminished as a result of the singing section in Level 7 being disbanded. The comments by NUFC’s new signings about the atmosphere at the Chelsea game were noted. It was felt that this was the exception rather than the rule and that in order to create this type of atmosphere more often, the Level 7 or an alternative location singing section should be revived. We know that their location should not put off people singing at the game but spontaneous and continued singing works best in areas within the ground where likeminded supporters are situated together.
Comments were also made about the pre and post match music over the PA. It was felt that this can spoilt the atmosphere building before games, and certainly dampened the post match celebrations when the players and fans applauded each other at the Chelsea game. It was suggested that the PA be toned down immediately pre and post-match, though the half time music was deemed fine.
It was felt that the players are not very accessible to supporters as they have been in the past and that appearances once or twice a year at the club shop is not the most convenient way of getting to meet your favourite players, particularly as many/most fans work. It was suggested that NUFC should put on talk-ins with players both at St James’ Park, and also get them out and about at pubs and clubs across the region. Lee stated that the players do a lot of community work, but that this perhaps needs to be publicised more.
An issue regarding the conduct and responsibility of NUFC players on Twitter was raised. It was felt that the majority of NUFC players using Twitter conduct themselves well and interact with supporters, but that there is one player whose tweets have been detrimental to NUFC’s reputation.
Comment was also made to the use of the @nufcofficial twitter account, which has moved from a straightforward informative and informational account to one that regularly promotes the club store. Can an alternative store only account be set up?
NUFC Fans United notes that in withdrawing from the Nigeria squad for the African Cup of Nations, Shola Ameobi missed out on a major international and personal honour, as Nigeria went on to win the competition. The group wishes to express its gratitude to Shola for the loyalty he has shown to NUFC as we appreciate the Club before Country pressure that Shola was reported to have endured according to press reports.
DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING
To be confirmed.