Minutes from 3rd October 2011
Andy S, Steve H, Brett C, Kev M, Gary R, Mark, Tom L, Ian C, Martin, Zahra
Apologies from absentees
Steve W. Bill C, Neil M, Jamie F, Malcolm D,
There was no formal agenda therefore we took the opportunity to go back over some of the most recent discussion points from the previous meetings and then build on points raised by the attendees.
Recap from last month:
We are still awaiting feedback from the club on whether they would like to work with us on the suggestions put to them concerning the tickets for Troops initiative. There is interest from the club and they have promised to respond but since the last meeting there has been no positive dialogue. The suggestion put forward was that something could be developed around the Everton game on 5th November; this being the nearest home game to Remembrance Sunday and could involve veterans and representatives of the Help for Heroes Charity with admission to the game being covered by the generous donation from supporters of ticket stubs from the abandoned Fiorentina game; with numbers perhaps matched by tickets donated by the club. Such an act of generosity would certainly be welcomed by many.
This lead to a long conversation around how we talk to each other and how the meetings are the forum for debate and that once announcements are made there needs to be unity. With so many groups coming together to discuss what can often be contentious issues where opinion can vary, it was important that everyone’s opinion was respected.
It was suggested that we look into a private forum for conversations to continue off the mailing list but not on public platforms like Twitter. This option was viewed as a sensible move and the idea would be explored and developed further if deemed appropriate. Forum topics could then form the basis for items raised for future agendas.
Over use of the email list and the endless email “tennis” has been a cause of frustration for many, and it is hoped that implementing a private forum will address these frustrations. It was agreed that if the forum could be introduced, emails would only be used to announce meetings and circulate minutes with other discussions developed either in person or on the “private forum”.
It was also agreed that people who “represent” other fans should try to refrain from responding to any goading and baiting online and to try and engage other fans in a courteous manner when using their “group” Twitter/ online presence and to save more controversial or argumentative comments for their personal accounts. It was pointed out that one of the things that has got us this far as a group was the pledge to “leave egos at the door” - that doesn’t mean we can’t have different opinions - for it is those differences and that diversity that provides our strength; rather it was felt important to distinguish and separate our personal opinions from those of the group/ groups we represent.
Tickets for Troops
With the clubs response still awaited, it is still planned that we continue moving forward regarding the Tickets for Troops day at the Everton game on Nov 5, pending their response. It is the closest match day to Remembrance Day, has been declared a Category C game, is an inconvenient for many 12.45pm kick off and is also being televised. We are working with H4H and hope that NUFC will help with any accessibility problems raised by facilitating a potentially larger number of disabled supporters than usual at the match. More news and updates will be given when available.
Christmas Night Out
It was suggested and agreed that we organise a Fans Evening similar to The Seats Tweet Up’s of last season. An evening with speaker(s), music and an opportunity to meet and talk to fellow Mags, Any money raised from the event would be passed on to a local charity.
Reserve Team Fixtures
This should have been discussed at last month’s meeting but due to an oversight it was missed from the agenda. We understand that a new Premier League directive has meant that more reserve team games/ development squad matches can be played behind closed doors. Unfortunately those games which are public matches are often announced at short notice, meaning those fans who want to attend can’t. We ask that the Club endeavours to publish in advance those reserve team fixtures that will be open to the public in a more timely manner to allow those fans who wish to go the opportunity to do so. Once again it was reiterated by all in attendance that better communication between the Club and fans is of paramount importance to ensuring a happy and supportive fan base and it was hoped that the Club would take heed of such advice regarding communication.
We then discussed the general issue of communication between the Club and fans an example used being that of the new signage on the East Stand. Had fans been informed about the clubs plans in a constructive and sensible manner; yes, there would have been a number of disgruntled reactions but overall it was felt that supporters are big enough and grown up enough to handle what might be perceived as bad news - if it is delivered in a sensitive and appropriate manner. The general consensus was accepted that the SD signage is within Mr. Ashley’s rights as owner to display but the colour scheme is what makes it particularly gaudy. A comparison was made to the halcyon Champions’ League days when the ground was smothered in Adidas signage - this was less bothersome mainly because it was black and white. Regardless of all this it was agreed that it would have saved a lot of sniping had the news been announced rather than leaked. It was acknowledged that Mr. Llambias pointed out that the Club are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t” in this regard; however the feeling was that better communication, by which we mean honest and without PR spin, is the way to help improve fans’ relationships with the Club.
Bring Back The Scarves
Once again this was cited as a positive example of how the Club does listen and act positively when it suits them. As a group we want to keep pushing this supporter led initiative and it was suggested that the Club may wish to run a promotion where scarves are given away or offered at a reduced in price on presentation of a ticket/stub. Nufc Fans Utd will continue to promote the idea of bringing your scarf to the match and displaying it and we ask all NUFC supporters groups, fanzines and websites to support and publicise it.
Level 7 / Strawberry Corner
This situation is still causing a lot of friction within the fan base and we are still waiting for feedback from the Club as to whether they are willing to try and resolve the situation or will simply continue with the draconian one and two match bans that are being imposed on “persistent offenders”. We understand that there are requirements of Health and Safely legislation and that the Club is acting to uphold the law. However it was pointed out that NUFC seems to be upholding the law more vigorously than other clubs and in a rather selective manner. Away fans can and do stand persistently at St James’ Park and this does not seem to be policed in the same manner as that of the Strawberry Corner. Indeed, the club is encouraging more away support by increasing the size of the allocated space on L7.
Fans have reported that they are being monitored, scrutinised and intimidated very closely in this section; far more so than in other sections of the ground.
The question to be answered is whether this was a deliberate strategy by the Club as a result of perceived trouble or because the club is being placed under pressure by the City Council Licensing Authorities to enforce the legislation. NUFC Fans United sees this matter as very much a problem of the Club’s own making and we would like to work with them to resolve it constructively. It was agreed that the comfort and safety of all who attend SJP was paramount yet you have to question whether upsetting the equilibrium among fans in the Strawberry Corner was the right course of action to take, simply for the purpose of disbanding the L7 singing section.
It was agreed at the previous meeting that the group might benefit by working under some kind of mission statement. A number of suggestion were forwarded and a final draft will be circulated for sign off and adoption before the next meeting.
Monday 7th November 2011, venue and time TBC.
email: NUFCFansUtd@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org