CUSG: Minutes from the June meeting

CUSG Meeting Summary - Remote meeting via Zoom, 27.06.2022

Attendance – Nigel Davidson (EDI Rep/CUOSC, Chair), Keith Ward (Scottish Supporter), Simon Clarkson (SLO), Alastair Woodcock (CUOSC), Barbara Abbott (Disabled Group), Keith Elliott (CUSAT), Andy Hall, Amy Nixon, Nigel Clibbens (CUFC), Stefanie McLean (CUFC Club Shop Manager), Jonny Sunley (Police Liaison Officer CUFC)

Apologies – Terry McCarthy (London Branch),  Gary Wylie (LGBTQ+ Supporters), Barry Carter (Disabled Group), Emmanuel Boateng (EDI – PoC), Kelly Dixon (EDI – Women Supporters), Rev Alun Jones (EDI – Faith Group)

  1. Stefanie McLean introduction

Stefanie, as the recently appointed club shop manager, reported on an ‘exciting’ weekend where the new kit was launched. She had received great feedback from fans already. She said suggestions were welcome for what fans want sold in the shop. Stefanie had spoken to a lot of fans this weekend, with a lot of young female fans in particular coming into the shop. She was interested in getting together ideas for kids’ items. Stefanie explained to the group that she was new to football, coming from a background in retail fashion.

Simon said an idea for a fans’ panel to bounce retail ideas off, similar to the catering panel had been sold successfully to Stefanie.

Nigel C said the club wanted to take fans’ views on board when it comes to the club shop. However he stressed that the playing kit won’t be selected by ‘committee’. Fans don’t agree on kit designs. He highlighted a totally negative reaction to the new kit on fans’ forums whereas social media, in particular Facebook, had seen a strongly positive response. He reported record breaking sales so far.

Barbara asked if someone with a good knowledge about the history of the club could be involved when decisions are made on kits. This was considered a good idea by the club.

Amy pointed out that the new away kit is not red. It is a combination of maroon and orange shades. It would only be worn when there was a clash between CUFC’s blue kit and the home team’s kit colours.

Nigel C welcomed an appeal for fans to join the new panel. This was echoed by the group, who were asked to advertise for volunteers to join it.

Stefanie said that improvements can and will be made to the shop interior. She said that online orders were ‘through the roof’. Work was being done to make the shopping experience easier. Online shopping was now a major part of sales taken. Orders were being placed from around the world for the new kit. She said that Wednesday closing will remain in place for now, but that would be reviewed in future.

Keith Ward asked if the training polo kits were made from the same material as the full kit? Stefanie said yes. Amy added that some other polo shirts on sale were made in cotton. Cotton T-shirts were also on sale.

  1. Jonny Sunley, the dedicated police officer for CUFC introduced himself to the group.

Jonny had served in the police force for 10 years as a constable. He has had seven seasons in this current role. Every football club has such an officer. He oversees the risk assessment of each fixture. Based in Carlisle, he acts as a single point of contact. He works with the club and fans. His remit is to make each fixture as safe as possible for supporters, players and officials. He reports to the Home Office via the UK policing unit. One of his aims this season is to work more closely with the CUSG and help with EDI work. He is one of four officers who are on duty on a match day - two from each of the home and away club. Jonny leads investigations into football related offences. He has tried to improve integration with club/fans, hoping it has led to improved service and communications. He works alongside SLOs, and hopes closer liaison with the CUSG will lead to more educational work with specific groups within the fanbase. He spoke to the players last season shortly after the departure of Keith Millen. One issue he highlighted was that statistical measures of racist abuse towards players doesn’t get reported enough. Some banning orders from last season were still being processed. Majority of fans are ‘brilliant’ with only a small risk element. He encouraged fans to get in touch if they wanted to ask questions or raise an issue.

Nigel C said he has regular contact with Jonny. He said he enjoyed great relations with him. He asked Jonny about specific issues with away travel.

Jonny said CUFC are typical of most clubs. Intoxication can be an issue. There are no major current issues with hate crimes. Missile throwing and pitch encroachments have been a problem, however.

There was a chance of a clash with the World Cup when the reverse fixture (at home) with Barrow takes place in December.

Jonny said it would be a challenge to handle the Barrow game. Changing the fixture time will be looked at. The safety of fans will be paramount. An effort will be made to  accommodate any England game on the same day.

Nigel C said the process of Barrow fixture planning was already underway with the police. One option is to play it on the Friday night. The EFL say they will be flexible. The game will be streamed on iFollow.

Jonny said a decision would be taken as soon as possible to improve on last season's situation.

Jonny said that alternatives to banning orders were always considered. There was a contract in place with ‘Remedy’ who work outside of the court system. This involves educating young people about the impact of their behaviour. Jonny said he wanted the club to be involved with this work, involving Nigel C and/or the playing staff and manager. He said going to court can have a huge impact on the lives of young supporters. He talked of achieving ‘positive disposals’ in dealing with the aftermath of such cases. He said a ‘street triage’ approach was being adopted at high risk fixtures.

The club are coming under increasing pressure to work with police to handle these situations. The EFL is under pressure from the FA to act tough. All clubs are being put under pressure to take stronger action. The messaging from Jonny can only help.

Jonny said that serious issues have grown throughout the season, citing the Billy Sharp assault as an example. The For Football’s Sake (FFS) campaign had been well received, he said.  Andy backed that up, saying that the message to not go on the pitch at the last home game of the season worked because nothing was at stake. Promotion/relegation issues makes it difficult to prevent pitch invasions, however.

Nigel C said that the football authorities accept that the passion of the game is part of the sport. It is not seen as a major issue. The bigger issue is the growth of  a desire of a small minority of fans seemingly to glory in the failure of the opposition, and to metaphorically ‘stick the boot in’ to opposition fans when a match is won rather than celebrate their own team’s success. The messaging over this, he said, needs to be closely thought about. He stressed that maintaining balance was important. There was no need to go ‘over the top’ with messaging as it is a tiny minority but it is not acceptable. The club does not have a massive issue at the moment but want to keep it that way.

Andy said the reaction when FFS messages were repeated was negative. He said the club would continue to repeat messaging about pyrotechnics, pitch encroachment and behaviour throughout the season at reasonable intervals.

Andy requested that groups retweet Jonny’s messages about CUFC matters on social media. Jonny himself said he deliberately added a bit of  ‘personality’ to his social media output.

Barbara highlighted the issue of players getting in fans’ faces last season. She asked what was being done about it?

Nigel C said guidance had been issued by the EFL to the players, telling them not to incite the crowd. There had been a mixed response. The authorities are concerned about this and players are expected to behave responsibly too – everyone has a part to play.

Jonny said he would be willing to attend future CUSG meetings where necessary.

  1. The Chair

No applications had been made for the position.

Simon suggested the group continue rolling forward with the present system of rotation while issuing a reminder that anyone who wants to take on the position can come forward by contacting the group.

Keith Ward had offered to take on the role if nobody else came forward.

Nigel C said that in his opinion, rotation has worked. It doesn’t put too much burden on anyone.

The next group to take on the role would be LGBTQ+ (Gary). Barbara agreed to take on the meeting after.

  1. Club updates

Nigel C had circulated these already - click HERE to read the club update. 

Simon asked about the new equipment for the family zone. Was this an upgrade on old equipment or a legacy from last season’s break-in? He noted that the club’s family excellence score was very good, but areas of improvement had been earmarked including family activities.

Nigel C said the equipment was to replace old equipment including the pool table and bar football. New games were coming in. It was not related to the break-in. Various activities for families were being looked at, including child friendly food, shop items and programme/website content. There would be QR codes to scan in the programme. Players would spend time in the fan zone, not just injured players.

Nigel made one correction to the update – the Footyrider bus service will be happening as normal. Route No. is 63 for Brunton Park (used to be 75). Also 685 from Newcastle/ Brampton.

  1. Finances/fund-raising

Terry had reported £1629 in the bank with £55 ring fenced for Jigsaw.

  1. Events/projects

Sunset Suite refurbishment is now 80% complete. Painting and signage still to do. Furniture is a bigger issue – this will be looked at. The room will be ready for the first league game of the season. Jimmy Glass to be approached about attending for a full re-opening as the new ‘Glass Bar’. Nigel C said that a lot of the memorabilia collection can’t be displayed due to a lack of funds. He suggested the CUSG could raise the cash to improve the displays.

Simon said he would have to send his apologies for Thursday's forum due to a prior appointment.

  1. EDI Update

Nigel D has been working closely with the community sports trust and anti-suicide charity Every Life Matters on a range of potential training opportunities and also the health and well-being agenda for the club and CST.

We have been developing an EDI Calendar and are also looking to theme each home game for the new season, looking at anniversaries, awareness date etc.

Connecting with organisations old and new in respect of the new season and the work we can do with them.

  1. SLO update

Simon reported on a quiet period during close season. A new meeter and greeter had been recruited. He acknowledged Liberty Leisurewear for supplying new hi-vis jackets. He was now in planning mode for the new season's fixtures including teams we didn’t play last season. He was planning to learn lessons from last season to improve the match going experience.

  1. Group updates

Disabled group – Barbara and Barry had a meeting a with the club. They requested room in the Pioneer Stand to take out some seats to help access for disabled supporters. Nigel C asked for a specific location in the Pioneer Stand so the club can sort something out.

Some individual problems had been sorted out with Louise in the ticket office.

Scottish supporters – Keith said things were quiet during pre-season. There had been a mixed reaction to the new kit.

CUOSC - Don Beacock had been co-opted on to the board until the AGM.

Jim Mitchell stepped down as CUFC 1921 Board Rep on health grounds.

Nigel Davidson replaced Jim as CUFC 1921 Board Rep, with Carol Wilson as the alternate rep.

AGM this year to take place on Sunday July 31 at 11am in the Sunset (Glass Bar to be).

CUOSC had agreed transfer of final tranche of Carlisle REUnited funds to the club. Funds to be used to upgrade Fan Zone, acquire new goals for the football dept and purchase of software.

The CUOSC financial year is being moved to August 1-July 31. The current financial year will end on July 31, 2023. Future AGMs will therefore take place in December or January.

Keith Ward asked why the maximum board size (12) isn’t taken up.

Nigel D said the board used to be bigger (11/12 people). Roles and responsibilities had been created to focus the board better. The number had stayed at 8 for the last few years. The FSA also found that smaller boards work better. 6-10 was likely to be their new recommended size. Six would therefore be the minimum in future. Nigel D said that if a whole new board was appointed, the required skills could be lacking. A ‘best fit’ has to be found. The finance role vacated by Mark Middling was being filled by Don Beacock as co-optee. The board would announce how many places would be available before voting at the AGM takes place in July.

London Branch - The branch’s Roma Special of Hit The Bar was very well received and parts of the publication actually appeared on the Roma Ultra’s website.

The branch have sold nearly 300 Roma T Shirts and a number of commemorative mugs. A donation in excess of £600 will be made  to the Alzheimer's Society before one the games in the coming season.

Now that the refurbishment of The Sunset Suite / Glass Bar is almost complete the branch will making a donation of £2,000 as a contribution to the refurbishment costs.

The branch has agreed to sponsor Jack Ellis for the coming season and will also be sponsoring two Carlisle Ladies games.

CUSAT -  are sponsoring Owen Moxon and the fixture cards for this season. Prices for away travel will be similar with only slight increases. One weekend is being planned. Keith gave a positive report about the service in the club shop. Numbers were being sought for the Morecambe friendly, and a bus would be run if there was sufficient interest. 500 tickets had been requested by the club.

West Cumbria Travel -  CUSG issued the following statement: ‘The West Cumbrian travel group Route A66, have notified us that they will no longer be participating in CUSG. Whilst we find the decision disappointing, the door will always be open if the group wishes to return at any point’.

  1. Any Other Business

Keith Ward asked if it was true that a CUFC team was playing a friendly at Gretna? There were no plans for such a fixture. The Youth team are playing at Queen of the South.

Nigel C responded to the ‘Twenty’s plenty’ campaign on social media. CUFC could do this as a ‘one off’ only for away tickets. It was not practical for a whole season.

The first game of the season – the club was looking at planning it but not aiming for a big discount game. Looking instead at ways to make it a big PR game. Andy requested that any ideas be put forward.

Next meeting - August 8 scheduled.

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