Remote meeting via Zoom, 6 March 2023.
Attendance – John Kukuc (Chair), Terry McCarthy (London Branch), Nigel Davidson (EDI Rep/CUOSC), Dan Maclennan (CUOSC), Simon Clarkson (SLO), Alastair Woodcock (CUOSC), Gary Wylie (LGBTQ+ Supporters), Andy Hall, Nigel Clibbens (CUFC)
Apologies – Keith Elliott (CUSAT), Keith Ward (Scottish Supporter), Matt Spooner (CUOSC), Amy Nixon (CUFC)
- Club update
Nigel C invited questions about the club update, which had been circulated previously.
Click HERE to read the latest update.
Dan asked a follow up question about ladies facilities at the ground. Nigel D obtained large donation of 10 shopping bags full of sanitary products provided by Tesco just before kick off on Saturday. In the time available, these had been placed in some of the women’s toilets at the ground pre-match. Nigel C said new additional bins for sanitary products would be installed in all remaining women’s toilets that didn’t already have them.
Simon queried an item on page 6 where there is a reference to a mortgage on a club-owned property. £120k had been settled on the club’s house, explained Nigel C. The financing on it had expired.
Dan asked a question about groups who get invited to games - are there follow-ups about whether they come back?
Nigel C said the main ticket scheme via Cumberland Building Society is via schools. ‘Play on the Pitch’ is also attached to local football clubs. The club monitors the groups but not the individuals as they are young children.
Community groups going into 'Block 8' -- there is monitoring of people coming back. Nigel C stressed that the club seeks as far as possible to not give tickets away for free to people who would otherwise come anyway and pay. They are trying to attract groups and fans who wouldn’t otherwise attend, he said.
Nigel C said that each game was promoted in the immediate aftermath of the previous fixture and then again in the run up days beforehand.
Andy explained in detail the thinking behind the promotion of games by the club:
‘We are very much analytics based, and we have structured our week in terms of talking about the next game (particularly home games) based on the evidence those analytics give us. The stats show us that our fans online do not click through or go through social media posts about the next game before the Wednesday before the game. As an example, we had just beaten Crawley 5-2, everyone was on a high, so we immediately did a rallying call for the following fixture as a test. It produced one (1) sale of a match ticket. However, from the Wednesday, when we start to talk about fan zone, catering etc, the click-throughs are significant, with online and e-ticket sales now at an all-time high. Having the analytics to show us that detail is extremely valuable to us. It means we know we can prioritise the production of the programme (extremely time consuming), the filming of fun and interview videos, and much of the other workload through that Sunday to Wednesday timeframe. And we know that when we start the pre-match activity on a Wednesday it has a real and positive impact on ticket sales. However, we will be increasing the activity during that Sat-Wed period going forward, and we will monitor and share the analytics through CUSG along the way, more as a matter of interest so people can see how it all comes together.’
Nigel C said the club was planning a discounted match promotion. More details to come.
Andy explained that the practice of giving tickets to minority groups was seen by the club as a success whether people come back to future games or not. He was backed up by John who agreed with the principle. The idea was to act as a bridge to groups who might otherwise feel excluded.
Nigel C said that approximately 250 free or very heavily discounted tickets or were issued to community groups under these schemes per match in addition to 400 other complementaries. This represented about 10% of last Saturday’s home gate for the Grimsby game, by way of an example.
Nigel C said match promotions (half price typically) are not money-making opportunities. He didn’t think they attracted long-term new supporters. He stressed that the timing for them has to be right for CUFC – they won’t be influenced by other clubs.
Simon suggested a poster campaign to promote the remaining five home fixtures.
Nigel C said the club would support such an initiative. The media team would produce a poster for fans to download, print out and put up around the city and community. Nigel D said the posters could be put up in community group centres. He thought they would have an impact.
- Fan behaviour
Nigel C reported much improved behaviour over the last 3-4 games. He said the club are keeping things ‘low key’.
He paid tribute to the fans who he said are fantastic and give great support. The painting project in the Warwick Road End was a great success, he said.
- Finances inc East Stand funding proposal
Current bank balance was £2541.75 with £87 ring-fenced for the prediction competition.
£55 cheque had been handed over to Jigsaw by Terry.
Simon reported some small liabilities to cover framing work for the refurbished bars. This would come to under £100.
The 1974-75 Lounge has been completed. Simon reported that it looks ‘fantastic’. The cost of the refurbishment was £3800 in total.
The re-branding of East Stand bars as Hopper’s and Halpy’s is ongoing. Visibility of signage has been improved. To unveil for the Stevenage game. Cost is £2200 in total.
The group considered which of these two projects to fund.
Dan said that as a fans’ group, CUSG needs to be seen to be supporting fan-used bars over ‘corporate’ facilities. There was strong agreement with this principle.
Simon added that he would like to open up the 74-75 lounge to everyday fans as part of a pre-match tour. He hoped this could happen soon.
The group agreed to cover the cost of the upgrade of the re-named East Stand bars.
- Goal music
Some fans had approached Simon to request ‘goal music’.
However, the views he had picked up so far were against having it.
Andy said ‘goal music’ was a popular feature in the 90s but not today.
- Events and projects update
Covered extensively elsewhere. More players from the 74-75 season are being invited to future games.
Next fans’ forum likely to be coming up later this month. One planned date proved to be inconvenient. Late March or April still possible.
Nigel C said the forum should be a sell-out and will be an opportunity to raise more funds for CUSG.
Nearly every home game left will have community EDI groups attending.
Andy said diverse groups felt discomfort when the so-called ‘Save Our Streets’ march took place in Carlisle at the weekend. It was thought the organisation was ‘out of town’.
Gary praised an article on the club website about LGBTQ history month. He said Brunton Park is a welcoming environment.
Dan enquired about the lack of a formal LGBTQ group being set up. Nigel D said it was on a to-do list and progress has been made in reaching out to groups who could help. To discuss with Gary. Gary accepted progress has been slow but expects it to come together soon.
Nigel C said a promo game is an opportunity to get previous attendees together with their friends in larger numbers. It can be a platform to get groups together, he said.
For disabled fans, facilities need to be reviewed formally and independently under new EFL requirements. An external consultant has been approached and will do this for the club. The disabled group has not been active due to circumstances beyond CUSG’s control. Nigel C has a database of disabled fans/carers with recent season tickets. He plans to contact these people and point to Nigel D as first point of contact and take things from there. Hopefully this will encourage a Disabled Fan Group to reform.
- SLO update
As part of the EFL Green weekend on 4 Feb, we organised ‘Walk and Talk’ event pre-match. Craig Milne led the walk with fans encouraged to ditch the car for the match, and instead walk to the game. The walk was leisurely, starting in the city centre and took in both Bitts and Rickerby Park. The event received national recognition with an article featuring in an EFL newsletter.
The Colchester game saw the formal opening of the 74/75 lounge. It was great to see some of the former players with more due to come before the end of the season.
The half term painting activities in the WRE were a tremendous success. Fantastic dedication and enthusiasm from our younger fans, supported by CUSG reps and backed by the Club. Truly a great example of what can be done when we all pull in the same direction. I will do all I can to embrace the positivity from our younger fans.
The SLO team hope that the proactive social media presence enables our fans to have an enhanced game experience. We focus on fan information that also includes key messaging on appropriate fan behaviour. Even when the majority of fan reaction is against an idea e.g., goal music, the interaction is great.
The fan zone has remained popular even on cold match days. The extra space and seating have eased issues relating to queues. I am actively in dialogue about future plans, to represent the views of fans.
In the east stand we will soon have new signage across the bars with the addition of ‘Hoppers’ and ‘Halpys’ bars.
General issues raised by fans to the SLO team are continually relayed to the club and feedback provided to fans. We are always keen to recruit more meeter and greeters who are thanked with a complimentary ticket. If you would like to join us, please get in touch.
- Group updates
Meeting in early February was held to map out future direction of CUOSC. Members meeting to arrange soon. Foodbank appeal in February got a fantastic response. Staff passed on their thanks. Quiz Night - 30 March (Thursday) in Foxy’s. Food option. Guest hosts being lined up. Collection for Warwick Road End fund - £1600 total. £1550 after fees. £1000 spent on items (a secret for now), to be unveiled at Tranmere game.
- The Paul Simpson Q & A event hosted by CUSCLB the evening before the recent Wimbledon away game was a huge success. Over 70 Carlisle Utd fans were in attendance and as ever Simmo was in good form.
- On the morning of the final game of the season, Monday May 8th CUSCLB have booked Sutton Cricket Club, where from 10:00 in the morning Carlisle Utd supporters will be able to enjoy a pre match breakfast. More details will be published nearer the time as it is likely that breakfast will have to be booked in advance.
- Any Other Business
Andy said fans were keen to paint the Paddock in the summer, as a follow-up to the WRE project. CUSG will seek to arrange this along similar lines.
- Next meeting
April 11 (Tuesday)