Summary of the online CUSG meeting held on 7 June 2021.
Attendance – Simon Clarkson (Chair, London Branch), Jim Mitchell, Nigel Davidson, Alastair Woodcock (CUOSC), Dan Maclennan, Matt Spooner (TheCumbrians.net), Keith Elliott (CUSAT), Barbara Abbott (Disabled Group), Gary Wylie (LGBTQ supporter), Keith Ward (Scottish Supporter), Andy Hall, Amy Nixon, Nigel Clibbens (CUFC), Peter Johnston/Carol Johnston (John Watt & Son), Matt Bond
Apologies – Terry McCarthy (London Branch), Geoff Weston (SLO), Barry Carter (Disabled Group), John Ireland (West Cumbrian Travel)
Simon introduced Peter and Carol from John Watt & Son who are partners in the club’s catering revamp and Matt Bond, who had expressed an interest in joining the new SLO team.
Nigel Clibbens introduced the item. The club had taken on the responsibilities for catering operations and had got outside expertise in to help. Peter from John Watt explained their approach. Their company has an approx. £2m annual turnover and has increased staff numbers from 15 to 35 in the last few years. They have worked with Tullie House and Castle Museum in Newcastle to provide catering services. Peter & Carol themselves have worked in catering roles in sports grounds before including Twickenham.
A pie tasting session had been arranged for this Friday in Foxy’s. Several volunteers from CUSG agreed to go along and take part. The suppliers would not be identified. Peter wants fans to select the pies to sell. Simon said quality over price was a deciding factor for fans. Vegan/vegetarian items and sausage rolls will both be considered as further options. Lakeland Steaks will not be operating at Brunton Park next season. They had chosen to go elsewhere. Talks are ongoing with another supplier. A fish and chip outlet is planned for the West Stand car park.
An app allowing orders to be placed cashlessly and remotely was to be introduced, allowing food orders to be collected from the correct part of the ground. This was under development and was not guaranteed to be in place for the first game of the season. Wi-fi capacity is in place to handle the new workload. Coffee and tea (sourced locally) would be sold in branded cups. Biodegradable glasses and cups are to be used. Staff coming in have incentivised schemes in place. New staff could be recruited from outlying areas if required. Some old staff could be re-employed but Carol stressed they would be starting with a ‘clean slate’ and high standards would be expected of all staff, otherwise they would be replaced. Pricing strategy has wastage built in. Real ale was a popular option from the questionnaire sent out to fans. Peter was also surprised by the numbers in the questionnaire wanting cashless sales. He said the first two months or so will be crucial in setting a good example. All this is work in progress, and he urged fans to show patience as the new set-up would take time to iron out all the existing problems.
Nigel C said the new catering set-up was the right thing to do. The new facilities require investment in infrastructure. Peter said as a catering operation it has been at a ‘low ebb’ and needs rebuilding.
Building control are due in this week to look at the planned disabled area (Wednesday morning). The club has hired a painter for the Sporting Inn who will begin work on June 14 and should finish by the end of the month. The colour scheme will be grey with dark grey highlights. New lights are to be installed. Old equipment is being removed including a smoke filter. Kevin Dobinson is looking at the Sunset and Foxy’s for further renovation plans. A designer is due to come in and check both venues. The SAG meeting to decide stadium readiness is due at the end of June. The club charter needs to be updated by June 30. Nigel offered the opportunity for the CUSG to suggest changes. An EFL club meeting held two weeks ago after the failure of the European Super League plan had discussed potential items to recommend to the government’s fan-led review into football. The EFL have now submitted their own recommendations. Nigel said the club had been planning on waiting for more information about the COVID-19 situation before committing to selling season tickets, but he was now expecting them to go on sale soon. Full details would be issued.
Some of the new kit had been delivered. Merchandising of this would commence as soon as possible and preparations for selling to the public would follow.
Nigel D reported back from the online awareness session held last month with Anwar Uddin and Alan Bush from Fans for Diversity, attended by many of the reps present including club staff. He had been impressed by the depth of knowledge and experience shown by the guest speakers. Good feedback had come in via the session, including the views of Anwar about the booing of players taking the knee by a small minority of fans. Nigel D said that the session had been successful and FFD/FSA had seen it as valuable. They hope to do similar sessions with many other clubs and fan groups. CUOSC reported a private complaint they had received that had now been dealt with.
£2,490.71 was in the bank. This represented an increase of £1k from London Branch donation (ring-fenced for upgrades to the Sporting Inn).
The Kendal Town fundraiser was dependent on fans being allowed in. No former players from CUFC will now be involved. The 50th anniversary of the away win at Roma would take place next year. Dan has made some early approaches to see what can be set up. He suggested an attempt could be made to persuade Roma to play a friendly. The London Branch are considering marking the occasion by possibly producing some merchandise.
Appointment of new CUSG Chair
One expression of interest had been received from John Kukuc. Simon thought he had the capacity to do the job. Matt expressed concern over the length of meetings and wanted the incoming chair to recognise the need for a concise agenda to speed things up. Dan said John as former CUOSC chair might be seen as CUOSC taking over. The issue was put to a vote. The group voted in John Kukuc as chair with one abstention from Dan Maclennan. It was also agreed that the constitution be updated to formalise the process for any future Chair appointments.
Note: After the meeting, although he was voted in by the Group, following careful consideration of concerns expressed by members raised over his appointment, John felt it was in the best interests of CUSG that he withdrew. He wished the group well.
Simon was appointed by CUSG to be senior SLO leading a team consisting of existing meeters and greeters. Geoff Weston and Keith Elliott (as away SLO) to be part of the team, along with Matt Bond. The whole team would be finalised before the start of the season. Simon said enough people as necessary would be added to fill the expanded profile.
The London Branch had paid for the first set of plans. Barbara to liaise with the club to get access to building control inspection.
Carlisle REUnited funds had provided £3k to the price of the NordBord. Remaining funds to go towards the refurbishment of the Sporting Inn. The future of the Face in the Crowd cutouts was to be discussed when a clearer picture emerged of crowds for next season. CUOSC are involved in the fan-led initiative to review the future of football. They would be represented at a meeting on June 15 with Tracey Crouch MP who is leading the review for the government.
CUSAT were waiting for fixtures to come out and were hopeful of being able to travel again. Two weekend away trips for the coming season were being planned.
The memorabilia project was ongoing. Programmes are still being collected. Costs were in from two upholsterers for the Murphy’s Bar/Sporting Inn upgrade. £3k approx. £4.5k total spend estimated.
For answers to questions raised by TheCumbrians.net forum users, click HERE.
AOB – Nothing raised.
Next meeting date: Monday 19 July.