PRESENT

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).



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.


SAFE STANDING
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

AWAY TRAVEL/TICKETING
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

STADIUM ATMOSPHERE
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.

PLAYER ACCESSIBILITY/CONDUCT
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?

SHOLA AMEOBI
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.

 
The Group welcomed Wendy Taylor in her role as Head of Media at Newcastle United FC to discuss the relationship and communication between NUFC and the supporters. Wendy confirmed that Lee Marshall has recently been appointed as Newcastle United’s Supporter Liaison Officer. This appointment has been made ahead of UEFA’s mandatory club licensing and financial fair play regulations which come into effect from the beginning of the 2013/14 season. The role is permanent, and although main sponsors from next season ‘Wonga’ are supportive, they do not have any direct involvement with the role.

Wendy stated that Lee’s role will include PR, highlighting ‘good news’ at NUFC and looking after community and foundation events, However, the role will principally be regarding supporter liaison, and Wendy stated the NUFC Chief Executive, Derek Llambias is “100% committed” to making the supporter liaison role work and address the issue that NUFC’s communication with supporters has been poor.

Lee hopes to begin by meeting supporters, both as fan groups and individuals. He also wants to build the role on the best features of supporter liaison from other clubs, both in England and abroad – particularly Germany; as well as through dialogue with the FA and Premier League on their expectations of the role before he then formulates a new fan’s charter. Wendy said that she expects Lee to draft the plan in approximately one month’s time and make it available for consultation.

Lee hopes to reintroduce the fans’ forum in a format that will be both positive and constructive; building upon what things went well and where it went wrong with previous fans’ forum incarnations. The new fans forum is envisioned to provide truer fan’s representation with fans from all parts of the stadium and all walks of life.  As yet, it is undecided how often the forum will meet, but Wendy said it might meet regularly with a head of department (such as herself) and occasionally with the board.

Wendy acknowledged that the club’s relationship with the fans has as times been poor, but that the club want to establish a relationship in which the supporters have access to senior managers and the board. She stated that the club are looking to build and accredit a network of fan groups and supporters’ clubs to help achieve this. Wendy said, that Lee is keen to find out the views of supporters through the use of surveys, discussions and debates.

Everyone welcomed Wendy’s comments and the club’s willingness to engage with supporters and the group re iterated its commitment that NUFC Fans United, should be a ‘critical friend’ to NUFC, establishing a good relationship with the club, but being able to make critical comments to the club if and when needed. It was stated to Wendy that NUFC needs to be honest with the supporters. Steve H asked Wendy to pass on the group’s best wishes to Lee and an invitation for both Lee, Wendy or indeed any other club official(s) to attend future meetings. Wendy said that herself and Lee are keen to attend future meetings.

SAFE STANDING
This issue was discussed briefly at the last meeting in November. Since then, the issue has become more prominent in the news with four Premier League clubs interested in the proposal. The Football Supporters Federation (FSF) have been showcasing a safe standing model similar to that widely used in Germany in which terracing for Bundesliga matches can be converted into seating for European games. The FSF have previously been keen to host at safe standing event at St James’ Park but have not been successful in making the right contacts to make this possible. Steve H offered up to Wendy the possibility of NUFC Fans Utd co hosting an event with the FSF with the support of NUFC on a match day, either at St James’ Park itself, or a venue close by. 

Speaking for the club, Wendy stated that safe standing is an issue which Derek Llambias wants Lee Marshall to canvass supporters views upon, so that he is aware of the fans’ views when discussing the matter at Premier League and FA meetings.  We welcomed therefore the possibility of exploring with Lee the options available regarding the safe standing debate.

TICKETING ISSUES
A number of ticketing issues were highlighted to Wendy, including an issue with buying tickets via the website and security issues surrounding accessing and amending people’s details. Wendy was also made aware of zero priced tickets (used by the club itself) which have fallen into the hands of ticket touts. The issue of away matches was discussed as it was felt by some that the away day experience is not as enjoyable as it once was due to the behaviour of some fans.

SUPPORTER SPECIFIC ISSUES
A number of individual supporter specific issues were passed onto Wendy. These issues have come through to the group primarily because supporters have failed to get any redress from individual departments at the club through their own endeavours.  A number of suggestions were also put forward for consideration on how the club’s communication could benefit from more proactive, coherent and “joined up” social network practices.

WEBSITE ARTICLES
Steve H reiterated the website issue discussed in November regarding ideas for content on the website and links to other fan sites and blogs.



Post meeting responses from NUFC


Manchester City flare incident
The club has previously executed targeted and random searching of away fans, with the exception of clubs categorised as ‘High Risk’ (based on supporter history and intelligence acquired through a variety of means). In this instance, all fans would be searched. Manchester City were not in this category.

Naturally, the safety and security of all supporters in attendance is the club’s priority and as a result of the flare being thrown, the club has since changed its policy to now complete full searches of all away fans.

 It is of course worth noting that supporters will often take measures to conceal prohibited items which makes them extremely difficult to identify. In this instance, the flare, which was recovered, was particularly compact and had avoided detection.

Once offending items are identified in the stadium, stewards and security staff will act immediately to prevent any risk of injury or damage and will take the strongest possible action against those breaking Ground Regulations.

Ticket touting (complimentary tickets)
The Box Office manager and head of security are now aware of this issue and steps are subsequently being taken to identify the source as well as marking and tracking the tickets in question. We really appreciate your concern and welcome reports of any similar incidents in future.

Member log-in
As well as surname and postcode, the members’ log-in system also requires the supporter number (aside from the alternative email and password access). Accordingly, this makes it impossible to simply guess to gain access so supporters’ accounts remain secure. The club advises individual account holders to keep their login details private and to not pass them on to others. If you have any further information to add or you feel we’ve missed something, please do let me know.

#nufchour
An idea was put forward for an hour-long Q&A session on Twitter, #nufchour, during which fans can ask questions about Newcastle United (more ticketing, safety, Foundation than transfers and tactics) and they will be answered by the club.

This has now been included in a new Supporter Liaison plan which will be completed shortly.

Club store complaint 
A complaint was raised about the club store from a supporter firstly regarding a membership and secondly a branded pint glass which shattered. Please could you pass me the contact details of the person who lodged the complaint? This has been raised with the club’s retail department.

Details received and this has now been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

Looking forward to attending a meeting soon!

Kind regards,    

Lee
Lee Marshall
PR and Supporter Liaison Manager
Newcastle United Football Club

DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING

To be confirmed.

 
Attendees : Steve W, Steve H, Graeme C, Susan S, Dennis T, Zahra Z, Duncan J, Ashley P, Elaine P, Bill C,  Dave A, Tom L, 

Apologies:  Ian C, Malcolm D, Jane, 

The group moving Forward
The Development of NUFC Fans Utd as a structure and entity is something that is down to the groups themselves who participate and the feeling over the last few months from many is that the benefits of NUFC Fans Utd; offering supporters the opportunity to meet, discuss and build an understanding of the issues that supporters encounter is definitely a good forum. The question posed therefore was how the group move forward collectively while remaining proactive and allowing participants to continue to be independent groups within the framework.

The meeting was devoted solely therefore to gathering consensus on what sort of structure all parties would like to proceed with and how it might continue to develop over the next 6 to 12 months.

A healthy and constructive debate ensued with everyone being invited to put forward their suggestions on how the group should look to function in the future.

The consensus was that the structure as a concept works well; it gives individual groups the opportunity to feed their own opinions and ideals into a wider debate. It allows them to remain independent but also be more conscious of others opinions and the discussion process helps to broaden their own understanding and appreciation towards issues that would not normally impact on them as supporters.

The feeling was that now is the time for the group to be more structured, to allow it to develop a free membership, use social media to promote itself more and to introduce itself to the wider community through affiliation and promotion.

An interim structure incorporating an element of responsibility was proposed and agreed as follows:

Chair – Steve H

Treasurer – Bill

Secretary – Tom

Membership - Duncan

Events - Graeme

Multi Media – Zahra / Andy

Xmas Event
Friday 14th December was agreed as the date for a Christmas event involving music, comedy and an appearance by NUFC legend Pavel Srnicek. This will all take place upstairs in the No9 Bar, Stowell St, with the doors opening at 6.00pm. 

Website and Membership
It was agreed that a review and revamp of the website would be undertaken and consideration would be given to the practicalities of introducing a forum would be looked at. Ideas are now being canvassed regarding web content although it was agreed that an online membership joining page should be incorporated as soon as practicable. As the website needs to reflect opinions from right across the NUFC fan base, we hope that those who run their own football related blogs would provide us with links to enable them to be accessed on our own website. Similar goes for the excellent range of fanzines and forums that are dedicated to Newcastle United. If anyone would like to support us by bringing their expertise or ideas to this area then please get in touch.


Time and date of next meeting: to be confirmed


http://www.nufcfansutd.com

http://www.facebook.com/groups/nufcfansutd/

http://www.facebook.com/nufcfansutd

NUFCFansUtd@gmail.com

@NUFCFansUtd




 
Attendees : Steve W, Steve H, Graeme C, Susan S, Dennis T, Rob M, Zahra, Duncan J, Ashley P, Elaine P

Apologies: Neil M, Bill C, Ian C, Malcolm D, Geoff O’B, 

1. Club Loyalty Points and Changes of Circumstances: Susan explained the issue of missing loyalty points on her Club account and the issues she was encountering in trying to ensure that her account was brought up to date with the correct information and the reclaiming and retention of the points. The situation does seem rather irrational and it was suggested that we contact the club on Susan’s behalf to see what could be done for her.

POST SCRIPT: Many thanks to Wendy Taylor and Derek Llambias for intervening personally and helping to resolve the situation being encountered. A great example of the power of positive communication.

2. European Away Ticketing Allocations: Very much an up to date and ever changing issue, as more information comes to hand regarding the allocation granted for away tickets, particularly for Brugge: where demand for tickets is extremely high.  We are aware of restrictions that are being put in place regarding travel and how fans without tickets are going to be handled once they arrive in Belgium. Restrictions of movement including a 3km cordon around the ground have been mentioned and we feel that it is imperative that the club are open about the arrangements so that all who plan to travel are aware of what they can expect. 

We are also aware of the Club’s own chartered flight arrangements that have been put in place through Thomas Cook Travel. The question being asked at this stage is what priority is being given to those who book to travel in this way with regard to allocation of a match ticket. Does such a booking bypass the normal priority point allocation scheme that the club have in place? 

Other concerns include the very low allocation of only 1470 tickets (Birmingham City received over 5,000 when they placed there in the same competition last season). Supporters would like the club to speak more clearly on what is being done to obtain any increase in the allocation. 

3. NUFC Official Twitter Account: we are aware that recently the Club official Twitter Account was caught in a very public conversation with Steve W regarding tweets that he posted concerning matters related to the first team squad and whispers about unrest and disappointment within, which was picked up in the national press.  Steve W is a very positive supporter of the NUFC Fans Utd concept and has been a driving force in its set up and his desire to remain so proactive in the groups desire to develop communication with the club is applauded; as is the Club’s desire to reciprocate. 

Newcastle is a unique City and Newcastle United has a fan base that is passionate and loyal; living on the oxygen of club news. It is unfortunate that the spat between the two parties was played out in the manner that is was and we are pleased that both Steve W and Nufc Official were able to meet and appreciate each sides position and opinion. Communication should not be seen as divisive and we hope that the positive outcome helps to build a stronger relationship and respect between club and supporters as we move forward. 

4. Home ticket Booking Fees: many supporters have voiced their disquiet regarding the £1 booking fee that is now being placed on home cup ticket purchases as well as those already in place on away tickets. We consider this penny pinching exercise is unnecessary and while we all appreciate the financial situations that the club is in, this extra burden on fans has not gone unnoticed and is extremely disappointing.

5. Xmas Event: we plan to hold an xmas event preferably immediately after a home game just before the Christmas festivities kick off; More information to follow.

6. Fan Group Link Up: Once again we put the call out to fellow supporters, fanzine editors, bloggers and internet Administrators to join us at our monthly get together to discuss and listen to issues that may be affecting our match day experience or support of the club on and off the field in the hope that a balanced opinion can be put forward to the club. Our meetings are open to anyone and everyone. All we ask is that we all respect each other’s position and leave our pre conceived ideas at the door. 

7 AOB: mid way through the meeting we were contacted via phone by Andrew, an Expat based in Dallas Texas. Andrew gave an enlightening perspective on being a supporter who relies on the media, fanzines, blogs and local news outlets for news and opinion. It was great to listen to how he viewed performances on and off the pitch. Andrew accepted an offer to post his thoughts on our website and to remain in touch during future meetings.

Time and date of next meeting: to be confirmed




 
NUFC Fans United Minutes from 28.08.12

Attendees: Steve H, Malcolm D, Tom L, Steve W, Paul R Apologies: Zahra Z, Bill C, Neil M, Graeme C,

This meeting was called to pull together a number of discussion points that had been brought to our attention during the close season as well as giving us the opportunity to review how the loose format of the group has worked over the last 9 months and see what we could do better as this new season progresses.

1 Free the “Real” Two: A number of people have raised the issue of the dropping of the Three Legends from Real Radio and particularly the loss to the airwaves of our local hero and former NUFC star Malcolm MacDonald. Sport in the region is the lifeblood of many and the rivalry and banter that programs like The Three Legends give supporters of all the regions clubs the opportunity to air their views. It is disappointing therefore that Real Radio have chosen not only to drop the format but to also tie down the presenters to restrictions that disallow them from moving to other formats in the short to medium term.

We understand that Plans are being put in place for the Three Legends to resume on local Internet based broadcaster Star Radio and we agreed to do all we could to get the message out that The Three Legends will be back on the air soon.

2 Assistance to Local Sports Groups: following the assistance given to NUWFC in gaining sponsorship Steve W suggested that opportunities for other local sports groups could be provided to help in their own sponsorship seeking endeavours. It was agreed that this might be extremely helpful for struggling or fledgling groups who are seeking financial support. It was agreed that we would encourage approaches and do all we could to help. Naturally all requests for support would be vetted interested parties invited to pitch their requests for help to nufc fans utd.

3 Ticketing – booking Fees: the introduction of an away ticket booking fee levy was announced recently, with no dialogue, discussion or explanation forthcoming from the club as to why it was being introduced. On top of the need to be a member this booking fee appears simple exploitation of loyal supporters and a cynical way of extending club revenue from those who already support the club and team wholeheartedly by their presence at away games both here and abroad. It is viewed as another example of how the club fails it supporters and how its failed communication with supporters is damaging on many levels. We ask the club to explain the rationale behind this levy and why it see’s it necessary to introduce it on tp of what are already in many cases exorbitantly high ticket prices for most away fixtures

Anomalies: in the whole club ticketing arrangement situation are becoming more apparent as supporters, particularly for those who live outside the region and perhaps wish to attend an away game near their place of home. A recent example was that of a supporter who attempted to gain an adult and two child tickets for last seasons Swansea game. He was unable tom buy from Swansea because he was informed that he had to be a member and was unable to buy from NUFC because of the away allocation and points rules.

Other issues: with the ticketing include members losing loyalty points from their record due to changes of circumstances; a recent one being someone who lost points due to a change of name due to marriage, another following divorce.

Supporters are now reverting to social networks to create their own point swaps and matching fans with points with those seeking tickets for away games. This is as a direct result of the intransigence brought about by the clubs current arrangements and how it does not meet with the needs and desires of so many supporters.

a. Does the club have any control over its own membership, ticketing and points scheme? 

b. Is it aware of the problems fans are encountering at the box office when trying to seek assistance to put right the simplest of issues that fans are bringing to our attention?

c. Can something be done to review the whole membership policy and try and make the system not so arbitrary and be more flexible in its approach to ticketing in general?

d. Was the club aware that a number of Spurs fans were present in the Gallowgate end; how did this happen?

e. Will the “embargo” on away ticket allocation brought in after the Darlington fiasco continue?

f. What is the policy regarding tickets for European games?

g. The friends and family scheme does not seem to be working as it was designed to do.

Will the club listen to the issues and work with supporters to put it right?

4 Membership Loyalties: It is recognised and welcomed that 10% discount is available for holders of a club membership on purchase at Shearers Bar. However, an NHS staff discount is available of 15% is available to those who hold such an NHS Discount card but may not be a club member. How has this come about?

5 Betting on Match days:
the introduction of Bet Butler as the Clubs main gambling partner has brought about a number of issues including the strange situation whereby winning bets are not paid out in certain parts of the ground at the end of the game. Supporters are being informed that all winning claims have to be presented at the next available home game attendance or on line. For many, this may not be possible. Would the club please comment on how this has come about?

6 Obstructed View: At the first game of the season it was noticed that the new sound system in the Gallowgate end is creating an obstruction of view for some seated in the upper tier. Can we ask that the club look into this matter and see what can be done to raise the offending speakers above the sight line of the pitch for those supporters affected. We can provide photographic evidence if it would help the club to pinpoint some of the areas affected

7 AOB: None
Time and date of next meeting 24th September at 7pm in No 9 Bar 

 
Attendees: Graeme C, Rob Mc, Tom L, Martin W, Phil E, Brian B, Dennis T, Kevin B, Davey B, Bill C, Steve W, Steve H,

Apologies: Neil M, Malcolm D, Geoff O’B, Ian C, Zahra Z, Jayne B


Once again the meeting commenced with comment and congratulations being passed towards Newcastle United for the ongoing success that the team was encountering in what is turning out to be a highly enjoyable and potentially successful season for all.


NUWFC 
The group welcomed Phil Eadon, representing the Newcastle United Women’s Football Club. Of course in many walks of life finance is a major stumbling block and so it is too with NUWFC.

Formed in 1989, they have fought their way to top of their current division, 11 points ahead with one game to play and will find themselves in the women's premier league next season. With this promotion comes new regulations, new criteria for them to adhere to and further financial strain. The average age of the team is 19, with most players coming through the centre of excellence and their chance to wear the black & white of NUFC is high on their priorities but unfortunately comes with certain restrictions. 

The purchase of new strips, travelling costs, even the purchase of regulation footballs all need addressing for the season ahead. They gain limited but nonetheless welcome support from local businesses covering sponsorship of match footballs. The girls are proud to represent Newcastle City by wearing replica black and white NUFC kit and this is done so with the full approval of NUFC. However no formal backing or sponsorship is received from NUFC’s main sponsors Virgin Money and alternative shirt sponsorship is not possible if they are to remain wearing the adored replica NUFC shirts themselves unless they ditch the black and white strip and the name. 

The club, NUFC, have been forthcoming with only limited assistance through the Newcastle United Foundation and Virgin Money has shown limited interest too; although they have offered the Girls a couple of entries in next year’s London Marathon which can be used to raise funds through sponsorship as well as providing a signed NUFC shirt for use as a fundraising tool. A figure of £4000/year was mentioned as adequate to see them through the new season ahead but even with major assistance from family and friends, it will be a continual struggle financially. 

To put things into perspective; Arsenal Ladies Football team are all employees of Arsenal FC and Liverpool Ladies receive financial backing to the tune of £100,000 a year from Liverpool FC. NUWFC will be competing against both clubs in the premier league next season. 

A planned fund raising evening at Blue Flames on the 22nd June and their hope for some support for the last home match of the season to be played at Coach lane on the 15th April, entrance fee £3.00 for adults. We wish NUWFC the best of luck for the season ahead and propose to help publicise their final game and fund raising functions via social networks etc as well as going all we can as football fans to canvas support for NUWFC. 


Renaming of St James’ Park
Representatives from the “St James' Park, Always Has Been, Always will Be” Group; formed in opposition to the renaming of the stadium, expressed their thanks to all  who supported their first social evening; with special thanks going to Chris Donald of Viz magazine for his donations to the raffle, John Anderson for his support and help with the raffle, The Back Page and Sam Jacks. A second social evening is planned for the 2nd June at Newcastle Labour Club, Leazes Park Road. It will again be a family event with tickets for adults available at £2.00, children 50p.

Steve W and Steve H informed the group that they have met with both the Lord Mayor and representatives of the City Council concerning their stance towards keeping the name of St James' Park alive within the City. Further meetings and discussions are planned.

Graeme C from MAOC informed the Group of his intention to undertake a sponsored cycle ride from St James' Park Alnwick to St James Park Exeter via SJP Newcastle. This event is planned for August and it is again to keep the renaming of the stadium on the agenda and to raise funds for charities and future events. 

It was also mentioned that the local press have continued to publish the clubs press releases regarding the clubs finances, its directions and aims in The Evening Chronicle without any option to reply. It is thought that the local paper should consider representing the views of its readers as well as printing the views of NUFC.


Away Ticket Allocations
Dennis T raised the question of away ticket allocations, the club's reluctance to disclose how many away tickets we are allocated for each match and the ongoing restrictions on non season ticket holders legitimately obtaining away tickets. It was agreed that we would like to hear from the Club exactly what their plans are for the remainder of the season and next season regarding away ticket allocations and whether they are considering lifting the ban on the purchase of away tickets to non season ticket holders. 


Representation and Independence
Finally a note from NUFC Fans Utd, each group attending the meetings remain independent. This group is merely a catalyst for fan groups to get together and share their opinions on topics that they have a declared interest in or are seeking common support for. Attendance is not intended to impinge in any way on anyone’s right to follow or take a particular stance on any given subject or demand. Nor does it impact on their right to participate independently on any matter they see fit, they have an opinion or in any fund raising activities. 

NUFC have a fanbase rich in culture, opinion and support and these are among the things that make supporting NUFC so rewarding. Everyone’s opinion is welcomed and nobody’s opinion on NUFC is judged right or wrong at any given time. 

NUFC Fans Utd plan an end of season event, to be arranged after our final home game of the season on Sunday 6th May. The location is yet to be arranged, but hopefully will feature live music and an appearance from one or two NUFC ex players; diaries and other commitments permitting

Thanks to all who attended and hope to see you all at our end of season event.

http://www.nufcfansutd.com
http://www.facebook.com/nufcfansutd
NUFCFansUtd@gmail.com
@NUFCFansUtd

 
PRESS RELEASE: On behalf of a coalition of Newcastle United supporters under the banner NUFCFANSUTD 

Today Newcastle United supporters gather near their beloved stadium in a way that could be mistaken as a funeral.  They are here though, not to mourn the loss of St James’ Park, but to celebrate over 120 years of history that has seen generations of fans experience every single emotion supporting their team; worshipping in their own “cathedral on the hill”. 

It is already clear from those within football, the media and wider population, that there is a willingness for it to remain St James’ Park. Fans, civic leaders, MP’s, prominent media figures, publishers and broadcasters are all behind the retention of St James’ Park.  This fine stadium, with so many years of tradition - associated with iconic players, matches and moments in the history of football - should not be sullied by tasteless commercialism. 

Of course we live in very different times when it comes to finances in football. A look at events at Rangers or Portsmouth in recent weeks is a stark reminder that any income stream that eases financial burden has to be seriously considered and it is presumptuous and inaccurate to assume that supporters of Newcastle United do not understand the significance of that.  However, when it comes to making decisions that run roughshod over history and pay no grace or favour to the heritage of the club and indeed the whole of Tyneside, then this is clearly wrong. Surely the way ahead is not for the club to alienate it’s core customer, but to enter into dialogue with the club’s major income stream; the fans! 

When we are entering a crucial run in, that could see the team achieve way beyond expectation this season, there is a need for the club to show consideration and not take unnecessary and inflammatory actions, which we consider the renaming to be. 

Talk of a potential £10million per season is all well and good (though it appears Mike Ashley has re-branded the club for free) but we consider the name St James’ Park to be intrinsic to our identity and therefore priceless. Dr Joanna Berry of the Newcastle Business School says, “St James’ Park… carries with it such incredibly strong echoes of tradition and heritage and excellence and effort and all those great things. To take the St James’ Park name away and replace it with another one is a very big mistake. You are devaluing the part of the football club brand that really has got associations of excellence. There are different associations with Sports Direct as a brand.”  

NUFC Fans United want to make it clear that once the team is on the pitch they will be our focus.  However, the re-naming issue is not likely to disappear.  Rest assured, there will be more ways in which fans, the people of Tyneside and their representatives will ensure that the name St James’ Park not only lives on, but also is celebrated, embraced and remains for another 120 years. We urge the owner and decision makers within Newcastle United to communicate and enter proper dialogue with supporters. 

Newcastle is always stronger United! Viva St James’ Park! St James’ Park Forever!

www.nufcfansutd.com or Facebook NUFCFansUtd

 

The Prayer of St James' Park 

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to pay tribute to a highly regarded and famous name.........
 
I read from the Book of Revelations ( Chapter 1 Verse 3): "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand"


Newcastle Fans United is a broad church of opinion, made up of several organisations, fans groups and individuals who wish to express their disgust at the callous disregard shown by Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias in abandoning the name St James' Park. We respect our heritage and tradition and consider the actions taken in converting to the Sports Direct Arena to be sacrilege.


We urge all Newcastle fans to join us and help in our struggle to re-instate the name St James' Park...so that it will continue forever and ever....

Amen.

 
The removal of the sign that reads St James’ Park from the walls of the stadium was something we all knew would happen eventually.  The reaction was very predictable and understandable.  And as it already seems from those within football, the media and wider population it will forever be known to the vast majority as St James’ Park, no matter what sign is hung over the door.  No wonder the stadium has already spent over two years ‘showcased’ as “sportsdirect.com@stjames’park” !!  

This sorry episode has proved to be yet another controversial and unpopular move by Mike Ashley and his team.  Many fans feel that by renaming the home of Newcastle United 130 years of history has been simply run roughshod over.  Indeed the timing of this is once again appalling from a regime that seems to have scored more own goals than Gary Bennett and Michael Proctor combined.  Why court controversy on a convenient fixture free weekend when in the Premier League the team is performing beyond expectation?  This is utterly unnecessary and could prove to be an unwelcome distraction as we all look to get behind the team in a crucial run in to the season’s end and with a certain fixture, important to everyone who is black and white, looming on the horizon.  

It is not so much the decision itself that has caused widespread upset but also the insensitivity of its handling and the simple lack of communication with the supporters who do care so much about all aspects of the club and want to see a bright future whilst respecting a tradition that goes back to the Victorian era including the name of the ground, St James’ Park.  It would be wrong to say that all fans object to this, there is always a rich variety of opinion and healthy, intelligent debate amongst the fanbase of NUFC, and it would be wrong to suggest that clinging to a name is more important than securing the future of the club and financial prudence in a time when a club the size of Glasgow Rangers is about to enter administration and Portsmouth FC who also have their roots in Victorian times have sunk into the financial mire for the second time in as many years.  However simply making sure that when a decision is to be made that could create such furore that time is taken to reach out to the support, the very people who pay to come through the turnstiles week in, week out while other clubs struggle to fill their grounds.  

Dialogue and communication with the fans, talking to fans groups and representatives of the support would surely help everyone when it comes to managing sensitive issues and potential inflammatory decisions and it would certainly make understanding each other and the whole decision making process less stressful and potentially damaging for the club, especially at a time when unity and pulling in the same direction is so very important.  NUFC Fans United urge Mr Ashley, Mr Llambias and the senior management team at NUFC to communicate not just with us but with all supporters in as many ways as you can.  We have representatives from a wide range of fans who have an equally varied set of opinions on all matters.  

We have only one item on our agenda.  Communication.  Over to you.
 
NUFC Fans United are devastated at the news that Gary Speed has passed away. Condolences and thoughts are with family and friends as we all mourn the premature loss of someone loved and respected by Newcastle United fans all over the world.
 
“As passionate supporters representing a wide range of opinion, NUFC Fans Utd believes strongly in the importance of communication and in light of the furore concerning the renaming and the naming rights of St James’ Park in the future, we call upon Newcastle United to review how it effects its own communication with supporters. 

As the custodians of a Football Club steeped in 120 years of history and given the previous statements attributed to the Club’s Managing Director Derek Llambias that the name St James’ Park would remain an integral part of the Club’s future we are disappointed with the decision to drop the name St James’ Park, the manner of the announcement and how it was handled; without any consultation or appearance of constructive discussion with supporters.

We call upon the Club to act upon a collective desire among supporters for open and honest dialogue and we welcome any opportunity for supporters to engage in meaningful talk that benefits the Club in the short, medium and long term.”

Background

Following the recent shock announcement by Newcastle United’s Managing Director Derek Llambias that the Club would be dropping the name St James’ Park, officially ending the Club’s 120 year association with the ground name and replacing it with a more corporate and financially driven alternative, an open meeting of the fans Coalition Group NUFC Fans United was held on 14TH November to allow supporters the opportunity to debate its impact. A wide range of opinion was voiced, reflecting the emotive impact of the Club’s decision and at the same time voicing concern and confusion about the motives behind the decision and what it means for the future of the Football Club going forward.  

The outcome of the meeting is reflected in the following statement which reflects our feeling and those of many thousands of supporters in and around Newcastle, the North East, the UK and Worldwide. The statement also reflects the need for the club to engage in open and honest dialogue with supporters of Newcastle United Football Club; the lack of which they have rightly been criticised for and which can only benefit them in the future. The desire is there from the fans; now it’s the turn of the club to respond positively. 

NUFC Fans United was set up in April 2011 as a credible coalition of supporters, representative of the diverse range of opinion they hold regarding Newcastle United. Its main objective is to encourage and promote open and honest communication between Newcastle United and its fan base, encompassing individual fans and members of supporter associations or similar organisations, with the aim of helping the club excel both on and off the pitch.