CUSG Meeting Summary - Remote meeting via Zoom, 30.05.2023
Attendance – John Kukuc (Chair), Terry McCarthy (London Branch), Nigel Davidson (EDI Rep/CUOSC), Simon Clarkson (SLO), Matt Spooner, Dan Maclennan, Alastair Woodcock (CUOSC), Keith Elliott (CUSAT), Keith Ward (Scottish Supporter), Andy Hall, Amy Nixon, Nigel Clibbens (CUFC)
Apologies – Gary Wylie (LGBTQ+ Supporters),
- Club update
Click HERE for the club update.
Simon asked about fans ‘clamouring’ for access to the play-off winners’ trophy. The club had already tweeted about this. It will be on display in the club shop as soon as it re-opens this week.
Andy said he hoped to get the trophy out into schools too (as was done with the EFL Trophy in 2011).
Simon asked about the prospects of another ‘community fun day’ for this summer. Nigel C responded by saying access to players was crucial to the success of such an event. Andy added that without any forward planning done, it would be really difficult for this year. Nigel C commented that such an event would be ‘unlikely to happen’ at this stage.
Dan asked a question about pre-season friendly dates.
Andy said the media team already has a partial list of games/dates. They won’t make it public without the full list being available. He said this would be sorted as soon as possible.
Dan asked: How much have we made out of the play-offs?
Nigel C replied: Nothing was confirmed yet. Circa £200k from the final and £75k from the semi-final was his estimate. He said a large percentage will be paid out in bonuses from promotion.
Terry asked if there had been any consultation with national supporter groups about the EFL TV deal. Nigel C said the EFL did the deal and he had no information.
He added that live match selections up to mid-November will be disclosed early on. Second half of season live games will be disclosed about November time.
Andy said that four camera coverage in League 1 will be far superior to the one camera used by iFollow. To view the games live fans would need the Sky app. He said he was sceptical at first when he learnt of the deal but now reckons it will be a big improvement.
16 CUFC games per season will be streamed live. Fixed scaffold camera positions will be in place at Brunton Park – as opposed to the temporary positions used for the Bradford game. Impact on capacity of the stadium will be ‘negligible’.
The Sky TV deal comes in for the 24/25 season. There will be no cost to the club for the improved broadcast infrastructure.
Matt asked about the use of ‘local’ commentary for the Sky coverage. Nigel C said he doesn’t know for sure but thinks ‘central EFL commentary’ will be used.
Nigel C wished to put on record his thanks for everyone who helped during the play-offs. CUOSC volunteers helped with ticket distribution. He said season tickets will be going on sale soon. Seats will be reserved for a set period - dates coming out Friday. Prices (match prices and therefore season ticket prices) will go up but this will be kept to a minimum. General non-football cost inflation is over 10% and the costs of operating in L1 are much increased on top. Plus increases in the playing budget and football budget are essential to compete. These must be funded, he said.
He said that the club has tried to keep increases to a minium while rewarding season ticket holders for their loyalty.
Kit launch - the manufacturer will be announced imminently. Kit to be delivered within the next week. Launch to be ‘around’ June 22 when the new fixtures will be announced.
While Nigel C understood the euphoria behind the pitch invasion in the moment, the club faces an FA investigation for events at the Bradford semi-final second leg.
A number of flares were released during and after the game. A number of fans came on the pitch at points before the final whistle. Missiles were hurled. Fans were caught on video throwing objects. This comes on top of the other instances of misbehaviour this season. Nigel C said the incidents were ‘really disappointing’. He said this can't go on with the club going up into League 1. In addition to these incidents, a flare was also released at Wembley.
Matt said messages on social media about fan behaviour this season have been prolific. While accepting that CUOSC as an example could have put more out, he wondered if the club would be better off using playing staff and/or management to put these messages out? He said it was easy to ignore similar messages that go out every few weeks.
Nigel C said the club are now under the spotlight for their ability to put on a big game without incident. He said the mass invasion was a one-off and was extraordinary and not expected to be repeated. He added the club will have to be ‘more forthright and far tougher’ next season if fans don’t stop flares and missiles coming on the pitch.
Andy and Nigel D both referred to the EFL media pack about crowd behaviour. Managers were listened to, they said. Players not so much. The EFL video on pyro would ‘shock’ fans, according to Nigel D.
Simon asked how many pyro devices were found on fans? Nigel said 2 or 3 had been found during a mass search earlier this season. Simon said police dogs involved in the search would be a ‘massive’ deterrent. He also wondered what proactive measures were being taken to stop purchase of pyro. Dan said there are a lot of online sites across Europe where you can buy pyro. Nigel C added that pyros get smuggled into grounds in numerous ways which makes detection very difficult.
- Wembley feedback and new ticketing system review
John said he had no trouble getting hold of Bradford tickets. He added that the selling of tickets for the final was well marshalled and set up well in a short period of time.
Matt said that club staff had been tremendous. He said he had no idea what a mammoth task it turned out to be. The new ticketing system that was introduced by the club this month is a ‘thousand years’ ahead of the previous one, he said.
CUOSC members have made queries about priority for ticket sales next season.
Nigel C said the new system allows for ‘tags’ to be added. It can filter down to many different indicators. The club still needed to find a way to ‘tag’ CUOSC members. He expected this will be done by the start of next season.
Andy responded to another query about E-season tickets. They will not be done for next season but soon it will be possible, he thinks (from 24-25 season onwards). These will then become an alternative to physical plastic cards.
Nigel C said that take up of e-tickets is still quite low. 40% of Wembley tickets were sold in person or over the phone. The new system plus a push to move habits to buy online is planned to increase this.
Matt said if all tickets for Wembley had been available from the start the system would have been unmanageable. He said the club were right to do all the ticketing in-house.
Andy said that CUFC players thought they couldn’t even see Stockport fans when they walked out at Wembley because they were all spaced out and the CUFC fans were all together – which was due to ticket selling policy by the clubs. This he said created a ‘wall of noise’ from United fans.
Nigel C confirmed that season tickets will be available online. An option for Direct Debit is available online too.
Terry asked about the registering of London Branch members on the new system.
Nigel C said ‘bulk buying’ of tickets should be possible - selling to LB as a block of tickets who then sell tickets on to members.
Matt suggested a separate meeting between CUOSC/London Branch/Club to thrash out details of how new ticketing arrangements for members would work. Nigel C for the club agreed to this.
Current bank balance stood at £787.89 including proceeds of the bucket collection at the Salford game which raised £562.
The disabled supporters group, which has fallen into abeyance, has a bank account with approx. £300 of funds. It was suggested that these funds could transfer into the CUSG account and be ring fenced for use supporting disabled fan projects. Keith said he thought the disabled group had acquired some funds from the London Branch. Nigel D suggested the account be kept open for now, and the group agreed. He and John Kukuc offered to act as cheque signatories.
- Events and projects update
Archiving of memorabilia is the only ongoing project. To be processed as time allows. A couple of big donations had been made recently. The collection continues to grow.
Foxy’s corridors are next on the modernising list for Brunton Park venues. Details are still to discuss with Nigel C.
Another fans forum is coming up before the end of June. To be held under the CUSG banner again. Mixed panel again of directors and football staff. CUSG could lay on a raffle – to discuss.
Terry asked about plans for another Christmas raffle this year. Matt ruled out CUOSC taking it over as it was his understanding that the club and some CUSG reps wanted the CUSG to be the main fundraising body.
EFL Code of Practice on EDI
Now Wembley is out of the way, and we have League 1 status confirmed, I’ll be focusing on getting the Code of Practice (CoP) Equality Action Plan document finalised over the next few weeks, ahead of the assessment in October ‘23.
We have had our main meetings with the EFL re CoP, but the contact has changed since the last meeting, as Catherine Edmunds has moved on to a new role, so we are planning a face-to-face meeting with the new EFL EDI Manager David Hayhurst.
As part of the CoP I’ll be doing an EDI review of the season, which will go on the website and form part of the CoP evidence.
Projects such as around Neurodiversity will pick up now the season is out of the way. And once the fixtures come out towards the end of June, I’ll be planning the EDI calendar for next season. With a mix of existing and new events. Ukrainian Independence Day at the end of August is already in the planning stages given its success last season.
The EFL have asked us to supply a member of the supporter base to be in an EDI film they are producing. We only found out late last week and the timescales are very tight, plus the filming is in Wimbledon. So, I have agreed with Nigel, Simon and Andy to use a London-based supporter for this. More details to follow.
Womens and Girls EDI Rep
Having had little success recruiting the Women & Girls rep for CUSG EDI, I have agreed with Nigel to advertise for this in the same way as we did for the SLO role. I will organise this asap.
EFL EDI & Disability Officer Conferences 2023
I represented the club at both the EDI and Disability Officer conferences at Walsall FC in May. These were really good and I was able to pick up a lot of information and make many more contacts which I will be taking forward.
I was asked to speak on one of the panels at the EDI conference relating to supporter behaviour and how we deal with supporters who have crossed the line in relation to racism, homophobia etc.
The gist of what I said was around three things:
*The work we do ahead of time promoting good behaviour
*What we do afterwards in relation to restorative justice and not instantly going for banning orders, especially with young supporters
*Most importantly, the whole EDI journey that we have been on over the last few years and how things have changed as a result. This is crucial for all clubs to undertake.
I went on to say that for clubs to achieve the CoP, to be successful at making their clubs welcoming spaces for all, a firm commitment needs to be in place around EDI. For the EFL to be successful they need the clubs to be successful and to do that they need to be at least adequately funded to do this. With no defined roles or budgets the journey isn’t sustainable.
I noticed that at the conference around 70% of those there were NOT a dedicated EDI resource, they were senior HR Managers or HR Leads with EDI ‘tacked on’ to their roles, which didn’t give them the time to do the work justice.
The Head of EFL EDI David McCardle, facilitated the panel and we discussed during the panel and afterwards, the fact that for the EFL to achieve, the clubs need to achieve and for the clubs to achieve the EFL need to help them do that. Watch this space!
The Disability Conference was equally interesting and again I’ve made many contacts and have several new ideas bubbling after this one. Again, watch this space.
The Disability Access Audit was undertaken recently, several issues to look at, probably see NC update. It is heavily ‘physical disability’ driven and I’ve spoken with People First who have some Autism Ambassadors who would like to come to BP to explore the site and offer their advice free of charge. I’ll talk to NC and Louise about this. Similarly with Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Wheelchair accessible area
Wheelchair area etc. spoke with John Kukuc about this. We aren’t much further forward. However, the meetings I have been having with various groups, schools, individuals and charities in the area regarding neurodiversity and our lack of facilities for supporters from this group, are suggesting that there may be funding opportunities there that could contribute/cover some of the expense. I’ll update further when I meet with the group soon. John K, I’d welcome your attendance at that meeting.
Simon said that the season had been ‘fantastic’ for expanding community groups. Nigel D said he wants to do more things outside of match days during next season.
Dan asked about the vacant womens/girls rep role. Nigel D said that the position wasn't cherry picked. An appeal for volunteers had gone out on social media. One contender backed away because of online abuse she saw Nigel D receiving. It will be advertised again in conjunction with HerGameToo.
- SLO Update
The final push of the season, the play offs and culminating at Wembley involved a huge effort from all of the club staff, supported by fans groups volunteers. These efforts helped to galvanise everyone, and we all got the due reward. Despite the challenges of tight timescales, a new ticketing system, significant demand and major transport challenges, to get 15,000 fans to Wembley was incredible.
I was delighted to personally help one fan have a Wembley experience courtesy of the EFL. Jacob who celebrated his 14th birthday over the same weekend had a truly amazing time watching us get promoted.
The SLO team hope that the proactive social media presence enabled our fans to have an enhanced game experience throughout the season. We focus on fan information that also includes key messaging on appropriate fan behaviour. We aim to raise the bar again next season.
General issues raised by fans to the SLO team are continually relayed to the club and feedback provided to fans. My role puts me actively involved in dialogue about future plans. So as to represent the views of you the fans, please get in touch.
Simon added that he was looking forward to the new challenge of League 1 next season. He said there was a lot to be proud of this season and acknowledged Keith’s efforts as away SLO.
Nigel C offered praise for Simon's efforts during the season including his help with the play-off arrangements.
Both Nigel C and Simon wished to put out another appeal for more meeter and greeter volunteers for next season. The main advantage was free match tickets being provided. Simon said he wanted the meeter and greeter team to be more diverse, to incorporate female fans and other members of EDI groups. Nigel C added that the Family Excellence Awards encouraged fans to help fans.
- Group updates
LGBTQ+ - covered by EDI update. Gary W not present for this meeting.
CUOSC - Membership increases had been seen in the run up to Wembley. Members used and appreciated the priority available to them, but have asked for the ability to purchase online. Matt will look to discuss this with the Club. Dave is working on direct debit payment methods and we hope to introduce that before next season.
We’re pausing the weekly N&S column over the close season, as usual, we’ll advise of restart dates closer to the time.
Orders have been placed for our WRE t-shirt design. Once stocks are received (or a delivery date is confirmed) we’ll make folk aware of arrangements for collection and process delivery for those who selected that option. Thanks to Rob Morley for the design work. We’ll start plans for the next design.
We are looking to continue our support of the ladies’ team into next season and beyond.
London Branch - The branch had over 300 members, families and friends at the Wembley game.
June 10th to 13th the branch will be in Warsaw for their annual European Summer Trip.
The ‘promotion’ edition of Hit The Bar will be available later in June from the Club Shop.
CUSAT – The trip to Wembley brought very positive feedback including the update from coach stewards. Keith praised the club staff for their efforts.
Barbara Abbott had raised the following issue with CUSAT: ‘I have noticed over the last couple of seasons there seem to be more clubs refusing to allow drop-offs for coaches near to the grounds. This means people with disabilities struggle to get to the ground. Surely the EFL should be looking at making football available for all fans? Can someone bring this up with the EFL, who could remind clubs and the police of the consequences of restricting drop-offs near the grounds?’
John as chair acknowledged the efforts of Nigel C and the media team this season. He said that when he was asked by Nigel C 7 years ago what ‘good looked like’ in terms of a football club, he named Rochdale. At the time, they were a League 1 club surviving on smaller gates than CUFC, with a productive youth system. He wished to put on record his acknowledgement of the improvements in terms of admin at the club.
- Any Other Business
Simon reported the fan zone has been massively successful. He asked if there were any plans to expand beer capacity? Nigel C said plans are in hand to double the capacity with another container bar in the car park, plus more seating. Caterers are looking at other options for food outlets. He said the match day experience is excellent these days thanks to the fan zone.
Simon asked about investment. Nigel C said there was nothing new occurring with PurePay. The club is still trying all avenues to engage with PP. He was hopeful that the debt problem will be resolved after seeing all the success achieved at the end of the season, with promotion and the euphoria in the city being the catalyst.
Dan asked about earthworks going on behind the flood bank, to the back of the Pioneer Stand. Nigel C said it was connected to a new training pitch. Car park hard core was being replaced with soil. The car park was being made into an overflow training area.
- Date of next meeting