Remote meeting via Zoom, 16.05.2022
Attendance – Keith Ward (Scottish Supporter, Chair), Terry McCarthy (London Branch), Simon Clarkson (SLO), Nigel Davidson (EDI Rep), Jim Mitchell, Alastair Woodcock (CUOSC), Barbara Abbott (Disabled Group), Peter Johnston (John Watt), Andy Hall, Amy Nixon, Nigel Clibbens (CUFC)
Apologies – Gary Wylie (LGBTQ+ Supporters), Keith Elliott (CUSAT), Barry Carter (Disabled Group), Emmanuel Boateng (EDI – PoC), Kelly Dixon (EDI – Women Supporters), Rev Alun Jones (EDI – Faith Group)
- Club Update inc. catering
Nigel C’s report had been circulated already. The club was about 80% of the way towards planning the installation of a new outside container bar for next season in the Fan Zone. This had a six week lead time. The club was waiting for a quote to dig up the car park and install an electrical supply. Heineken have done a deal to enable this. The fit out of the bar was still to sort. CUOSC funds will be used towards the cost of providing cover (marquee) if viable. Car park access will be affected. Peter said that the fan zone had proved successful in ways that can’t always be measured. People are coming down to the ground earlier. The late rush for tickets has been reduced. Peter said the ‘Brunton pasty’ was being tested with a view to coming back for next season. Volumes were better than expected for all catering outlets, he reported. However, massive challenges remained with staffing. Beer price and VAT increases have not been passed on so far and absorbed by the club. Food prices will be an issue for the next 6 months or so, he said. Products, prices and operations all under review for next season. There will be more beer choices for next season, along with pre-match entertainment being planned in the East Stand concourse. The fish and chip van will be back.
The new catering app was launched this season but usage has been rather low. Simon said he hoped it would continue to be promoted, while Peter commented that if attendances increase it will prove itself. Payments went from 70:30 cash:card at the start of the season to a 30:70 ratio by the end. Peter said the catering operation will never go 100% cashless, because some outlets will continue to take cash. Nigel said COVID had pushed the acceptability towards cashless payments.
Peter said the catering huts in the Warwick Road End and Paddock could be re-arranged to make two service points and extend opening times.
Nigel paid credit to John Watt staff and Peter himself. Improvements were being looked at for corporate hospitality. The takings were increasing and sponsors will be back next season in the Sponsor’s Lounge.
Peter thanked the club for the investment in cabling/WiFi which helped to drive improved service facilities in the ground.
Simon asked about the iFollow service for next season.
Nigel said clubs were earning a lot of money from it and it has become part of the routine now for many supporters. He reported no major glitches with the service this season. He didn’t believe it was impacting attendances on Saturdays. He expected it to grow in terms of usage.
Simon said there was sometimes uncertainty around which games will be shown.
Andy said the club want iFollow being available every Saturday but rights issues get in the way. Sometimes notice is given late due to commercial considerations and there is occasional disagreement between clubs to sort out.
Nigel said the club doesn’t get any iFollow money from opposition sales.
Andy added that EFL Digital attempt to get the best deals available for the club. Some clubs don’t stream via EFL Digital and do their own streaming deals. CUFC have the ability to opt out, too. Andy said it was not viable for CUFC to go it alone as things stand. He said that the ISDN lines in the ground would be replaced soon for radio/audio commentaries.
The media team was committed to producing a printed programme again for next season, but it would be smaller. More online content would be produced.
The results of this season’s Family Excellence Awards would be coming tomorrow (Tuesday 17th). They give an independent viewpoint of the match day experience and the feedback is therefore of high value to the club.
Click HERE to read the club update.
- Finance and fundraising
Financial updates were circulated today from Michelle. No change to last month.
£1,613.52 in the bank with cash of £24 and £114 ring-fenced for prediction competition prizes, which would be paid out soon.
- Events and projects
The next owners and directors forum was being planned for next week. The scheduled date is May 24 in The Sunset. The CUOSC rep and some shareholding directors along with Nigel and Suzanne Kidd will be in attendance. There would be an opportunity to hold a CUSG raffle on the night.
Memorabilia project – progress was being made in cataloguing a very large collection (1000+) of programmes from the last 60+ years. Any duplicates left and non-CUFC stock could potentially be used for fundraising. An options paper for this would be produced for the next meeting.
- EDI Update
This season has been a successful one in respect of EDI and the work undertaken to make, develop and strengthen links with the community around Carlisle United. This work couldn’t have been achieved without help from the CUSG member groups, Nigel Clibbens, the club, the Community Sports Trust, all the groups we have worked with and partnered with over the season and of course the supporters – so thank you to all who have contributed to this work.
Planning for next season’s activity with Emmanuel, Kelly and Alun is to begin soon as well as sitting down with Nigel Clibbens to look at next year’s activity.
Rounding off the work for this season, on Saturday in Bradford, Tracy Gannon and I met up with Humayun Islam, who founded the Bangla Bantams group.
We had a tour of their facilities, which are right next to the Valley Parade ground and now include the recent additions of a sports hall, meeting rooms, a cafe and a 4G pitch. There will be an article on this ready for the CUSG section of the club website shortly.
We did discuss potential plans for next season with an event in Bradford, possibly including supporters of a few of clubs and also something football/5 a side related for before the home game with Bradford next season.
Concern had been raised about one autistic supporter who was at Bradford. He had issues with intoxicated fans in one of the toilets and was unable to use the facility. The potential use of separate facilities for autistic fans next season would be discussed. Simon as SLO to liaise with this issue. Nigel made reference to the PicturePath app that helps autistic supporters before they visit football grounds. It had been put together by a Cambridge United supporter.
The CUFC Police Liaison officer was keen to talk to fans. He could be invited to the next meeting. Simon supported the idea and the group agreed. Nigel D would arrange this.
Nigel D put on record his congratulations to Jake Daniels of Blackpool who came out as the first openly gay professional footballer today, aged 17.
- SLO Update
Simon attended an SLO webinar on 28 April, where there were updates on:
- EFL Supporters Survey
- SLO seminars for 2022/23
- For Football Sake campaign
- EDI – Together Against Discrimination
- Family Excellence
He gave an overview of some of the poor experiences of our fans at ‘new’ grounds and how some of these experiences could have been better prepared for with improved communications.
As relationships develop with other SLOs, we can provide our fans with good quality and specific match information that we hope enhances their day out. Social media interactions have significantly increased with positive feedback. It was great that through early dialogue with Bradford, we were able to arrange the displaying of the new large Simmo flag. Rail travel was challenging despite efforts by Cumbria Police that resulted in an increase capacity on the return train.
The fan zone is becoming very popular and fan feedback is helping to shape this going forward. It was useful being able to see the Tranmere model at our away fixture and consider aspects that we may be able to adopt.
General issues raised by fans are continually relayed to the club and feedback provided to fans. The number of issues reported have reduced throughout the season.
Simon said it had been a positive first season in the role and it was something to learn from and build on. He said he was hoping to attract more ‘meeter and greeters’ for next season. Nigel thanked Simon for his efforts this season. He too made an appeal for more ‘meeters and greeters’. It is something CUFC do well, he said.
- Appointment of permanent Chair
Terry circulated an advert for the position, which is included below:
CUSG are looking for someone to take on the role of chairperson of the group with effect from 1 July 2022. In accordance with the group’s constitution CUSG would like to invite expressions of interest from Carlisle United Supporters. Anyone who is interested in this role should review the job description HERE and if they want to pursue it further contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 6 June 2022.
- Group updates
Disabled Group –
Barbara will discuss various issues regarding disabled fans with Louise in the ticket office. Progress with the WRE platform had stalled for now. No progress had been made with sourcing a grant, with more info needed. Two quotes that had been received for the work are both out of the affordable price range. Lottery grants were being looked at by Barry. Keith offered to help in finding a builder.
The latest members’ meeting last week had been constructive, said Nigel D. A draft version of the CUOSC vision/manifesto had gone out to members.
There was a debate on fund raising.
Nigel C said that he believed there was support to help provide funds and support Paul Simpson’s plans but any significant fund raising by CUOSC to provide general funds to the club was now even more challenging. His view was unchanged and had got stronger on the reality of CUOSC’s fund raising ability at present, in the current set-up. This was why he favoured CUSG as an organizer at present, especially for raising cash for specific projects.
It was raised and suggested that some fans didn’t want to support the current CUOSC regime nor were willing to help fund the Club with its current regime either. The ownership wasn’t injecting cash and fan cash donated could be taken by Purepay if they wanted to be repaid or just go into general funds and be used to pay Purepay debt interest or not be used to benefit fans. It was a matter of trust.
Nigel C said he recognized the concerns, but he felt the issue was about fans supporting the club not individuals. He said fund raising works when it has a purpose. Often in an emergency or a project. Fund raising by fans when a club is privately owned for general funds as donations is not realistic at present.
Simon suggested CUOSC members keen to do more fund raising could represent CUOSC and join in on the CUSG to put forward ideas.
Nigel D agreed that the CUSG should lead on fund raising. CUOSC can contribute, he said.
London Branch –
CUSCLB will be publishing a special “Roma” edition of Hit The Bar at the end of this month to commemorate the historic win in Roma on June 1st 1972. A copy will be posted to all London Branch members before the CUFC media team publish the document on the club’s website. Copies of the document will also be available from the club shop. Production of this document has been a collaborative effort, however CUSCLB would like to offer a special thanks to the following:
- Andrew Jenkins, David Dent, Ray Train, Helen Ross and Derek and Sheila Hemstead for taking the time to be interviewed and providing photographs of players and other memorabilia associated with the game.
- Nigel Clibbens, Andy Hall and Amy Nixon from CUFC.
- Nigel Davidson for putting the branch in touch with Gabriele D’urbano the AS Roma archivist who provided archive newspaper articles and interviews with Roma players who were involved in the game.
- John Notman for providing squad details and the travel itinerary
- Jon Colman of The Cumberland News for allowing the branch to use his interview with Tot Winstanley and providing archive articles and photos.
A reminder to all United fans that Roma shirts and mugs are still available in the club shop.
As Jenny Anderson and Anne Marie Gardner from the Commercial Dept and Pat Mclean from the club shop will be leaving the club in the near future, CUSCLB would like to place on record their thanks to all three for the help and support they have provided to the branch over the years and to wish them well for the future.
Branch Members Howard Atkinson and Dave Croxford recently attended an Academy training session at Caldew School Dalston where they were able to view the training equipment purchased by the Academy following a £2,000 donation from the branch.
- Any Other Business
Chair to be identified by date of next meeting.
Otherwise it would be chaired by a CUOSC representative.
Date of next meeting – June 27