Summary of the CUSG meeting held on 9 April 2018.
Attendance – Simon Clarkson (Chair, London Branch), Ian Jardine (London Branch), Jim Mitchell, Alastair Woodcock (CUOSC), Barry Carter (CUSAT/Disabled Fans’ Group), John Ireland (West Cumbria Travel), Nigel Clibbens, Nigel Dickinson, Andy Hall, Amy Nixon (CUFC)
Apologies – Keith Ward (Scottish Supporter), Kate Rowley, Keith Elliott (CUSAT), John Kukuc (CUOSC)
Minutes of the last meeting were accepted.
Items of action from last meeting.
All included in the minutes.
Ground/ Stewarding/ Catering/ Bars
Nine further stewards were completing their NVQs.
Complaints about catering had significantly reduced. Nigel C requested any feedback from members on catering and bars. He said fan comments were monitored by the Club on social media to help identify and fix problems.
Nigel C reported no material impacts seen from the club’s ‘Mad March’ promotion. The club will continue to implement such promotions in future. The biggest benefit of the promotion was the club shop, who reported improved sales.
In the wake of Phil’s departure, the club had reviewed the position re: commercial department. No immediate appointment would be made but the club intended to fill the vacancy in time for next season.
July Fun Day
Planning for the July Fun Day would begin after the Easter Fun Day for Junior Blues was held tomorrow.
Up to Friday close of business, numbers sold so far were in line with last season at the same stage. Reminders had been sent out via a third party but there appeared to have been a delay which the club would investigate. Fans’ groups indicated a willingness to help with manning phones to remind people of the need to renew. The two deadlines were May 4 to retain seats and May 31 to acquire full savings.
The club had met Heineken to discuss requirements for this. Heineken had indicated willingness to help with bars, barriers and canapes. A design was being planned for the wall adjacent to the proposed site next to Foxy’s entrance. Licencing and H&S matters were being worked through. Aim to have in place for start of next season.
This was still on the agenda for next season. Unfortunately the deal that had been agreed in principle has been reassessed. A new proposal had been put to the club who were now considering it. The scoreboard would be similar to one used at Kendal rugby club, but larger in size.
Funds/ Sunset Suite
Bank account stood at £897.29
These funds had been ‘ring fenced’ to help with the further refurbishment of the Sunset which would hopefully go ahead in the summer. There had been a good response to requests for items of memorabilia which could be displayed on the walls. Simon outlined a plan to put items around the walls in chronological order, beginning with post-war and moving through the Shankly era and on through the First Division season and into the present era. CUOSC and CUFC Media Dept were thanked for their efforts in promoting this. A project manager would be sought with experience in art and design.
Nigel C explained that he, Jim, Billy Atkinson, Suzanne Kidd, Andrew Jenkins and Steve Pattison would attend the forum to be held on Thursday evening. No football staff would be present because it was thought the majority of questions would be on non-football matters and it would be better to focus on those. BBC Radio Cumbria and News &Star would be represented but there would be no live radio broadcast. The club had received the most positive feedback about the radio phone-in they took part in last year, but some fans preferred the more direct method of a forum.
Questions would be taken from the floor and via social media. The venue had been changed to Foxys to accommodate disabled supporters more easily.
Supporter Group updates
CUOSC – would be associate match sponsor for the Luton Town game and match ball sponsor for Newport County. Five hospitality packages would be available for the Luton game. A competition would again be held via the members’ weekly briefing.
There had been some criticism of the numbers of tickets given to Luton. Amy explained that the practice of sending out tickets in batches was standardised throughout the league, in response to demand. As tickets sold more would be available, for example, CUFC had only received 500 tickets initially from Morecambe, for example. Luton would receive all the tickets they requested.
CUSAT – will be running four buses to Morecambe.
Disabled Supporters Group – requested club to extend number of spaces for disabled fans for next season. Club said if more fans qualified, they would do what they could to accommodate them.
The group was seeking charitable status, which could help with corporate support for its projects. It was on the lookout for trustees.
A disabled fan who was visiting all 92 league grounds had given good feedback after visiting Brunton Park last month.
Some disabled fans had been using the able-bodied toilets at the ground. They needed ‘radar’ keys to access the disabled toilets. Nigel D would sort this out.
Membership of the disabled group was now up to 70.
West Cumbria Travel – asked if there had been any interest in buying the club. Nigel C responded that there had been two email enquiries but when the club responded, they did not hear back.
The group were running a 61-seater bus to Morecambe. The end of season trip to Port Vale would see over 40 members dressed as traffic cones.
London Branch – had a query about email messages to ticket office staff not always getting through to the right person or not being picked up when people were out of the office. The club said that the email address to use was firstname.lastname@example.org as this was continually checked by office staff.
Club agreed to provide additional information about the Academy tournament in Manchester which London Branch helped fund travel for its members. Feedback from players’ parents would be useful. Club to arrange with academy staff. Club thanked London Branch for its support.
Issue 300 of Hit the Bar was soon to go to print. Ian requested some help from the club in selling it. Simon suggested 100 copies could go in the club shop. CUFC was supportive of this plan. It was thought ‘HTB’ might have the most published issues of any fanzine that was still in existence.
Ian was doing a sponsored cycle ride of 40 miles on May 13. He asked for help to promote it from the various groups. A JustGiving site had been set up.
Any Other Business
Nigel C provided an update on the new stadium discussions. A follow up meeting would be sought with the council to provide feedback from various meetings with landowners that had taken place. CUOSC would be represented, as usual.
Nigel C said following a review and discussions with CUSG members, ticket priority would change for next season. All constituent groups of the CUSG who had members would have equal priority with CUOSC members for all-ticket matches and big cup ties. The CUSG groups would be required to provide member lists to CUFC at the appropriate time and follow GDPR rules if they wished to take up the opportunity.
Nigel C took questions on the accounts for 2016-17 season which had been released online over the weekend. He said:
Business turnover was up
Ticket income was up
Retail income was up
Commercial income was up
Overhead costs were up but overall club made more trading profit to pay for its football
Football Fortune was down £0.75m
Football spending was up 15% after going up 20% the year before
Overall loss for the year was £690k – which was due to the football fortune drop and football spending increase
This was reduced to just over £200k due to conversion of £480k debt to equity in the form of non-voting shares in CUFC Holdings.
Debt unchanged at £2m
He referred back and read extracts from his December 2017 update which had highlighted the background and issues and track record of heavy losses when football fortune was down. He said the accounts were available online for the first time and the Strategic Report was very detailed, again something new. He said he hoped the December review, coming together with the increased financial information and deeper explanation in the club in the accounts, all this would be seen as positive changes and steps forward in providing information, and be welcomed by supporters.
The members discussed the sustainability of losses and the need for the club to be viable.
Next meeting – 21.05.18