On Tuesday 17th March, the latest meeting of the Fans’ Working Group took place. Here’s what happened.
- James Mooney, marketing manager of Hull City AFC
- Henry Crane, catering overlord
- Joel Bridger, member of the Safety Advisory Group
- Ryan Kerr, from the Not 606 franchise
- John Wilson, West Stand
- Kate Ogram
- Andy Dalton, hooligan
- Peter Gamble, marketing expert
- Geoff Bielby, involved in CTWD
- Nigel Hill, “exiled while he’s still in charge”
- Dave White
- Nigel Edwards, East Stand
- Ryan, South Stand
- Bill Shirley, Senior Tigers
- Ron Black, HCOSC chairman
- Tony Conway, HCOSC
- Ian Waterson, City Independent
- Rob Harmer, Hull City Supporters Trust
By chance, the meeting took place a day after the FA’s decision to “set aside” the decision of Assem Allam’s first application and invite a second application, while liberally scorning its contents and reaffirming the name Hull City; and just minutes after Mr Allam’s latest, um, colourful comments in the local media.
A tricky wicket, and we acknowledge the club for deciding not to cancel the meeting.
Name change & arbitration
This was elevated to the top of the agenda. James Mooney reminded us that he’s not been involved in anything to do with the failed name change bid for some time, and that answering all queries may not be possible. Phil Dixon gently ribbed Assem Allam’s latest media comments about both City and the Airco Arena (of which more later); JM had heard only the first.
The FA Tribunal’s verdict was made inside the past fortnight. City had not wanted it releasing, JM saying that neither party was ideally placed at this point in the season to respond properly to it. Some at City do sincerely believe the original application still stands despite the FA’s opinion. JM acknowledged the first application “could have been done better”.
His problem with releasing the decision now was that it complicates 2015/16 season ticket sales. However the FA wanted the decision announcing and decided to do so on Monday 16th March. When we asked who wrote the club’s strikingly ill-written Club Statement, JM described it as a “collaborative effort”, and politely declined to go into further detail…
JM agreed that a second application “could be in by April”, though sounded somewhat sceptical. Most around the table echoed the FA’s criticism of the first, and doubted a second will be in by April.
JM said the arbitration itself was held in February, in part owing to FA delays and something to do with “visibility of documents”. He’d been “pushing for an outcome”, and indeed stressed several times he wants it over with “one way or another”.
Citing the FA document, Peter Gamble noted that the club had been invited to put a business case, and then conspicuously didn’t bother. JM wondered aloud if the Allams’ were hoping for a “suck it and see” approach; many, including Rob Harmer from the HCST, strongly disagreed.
Peter Gamble asked if these meetings are a waste of time given that the FA’s own tribunal scorned the club for viewings its fans as “irrelevant”. JM defended the meetings, and a few voices weighed in to observe that the real problem is our intransigent owners causing that feeling. JM concurred with a suggestion that any future ballot of fans will be influenced by this withering criticism in the Tribunal’s report.
With Assem Allam keen to ladle blame at the council, the OSC’s Ron Black noted that the owner is always keen to build up the East Riding Council, but never its Hull counterpart. Few demurred.
With the name Hull City still firmly in existence, when will the club repair its social media identities? James Mooney is to liaise with those responsible for it; we have in the past seen the club harangued into dropping the Huddersfield hashtag on Twitter, so let us hope we can all become Facebook friends again.
JM says the promotional video for season tickets will actually feature (“highlight”) the word City. Ooh.
However, he takes plenty of responsibility for the overuse of Tigers and banishment of City, citing marketing consistency. That wasn’t entirely well-met, Phil Dixon for one saying he’d stopped buying the programme since it removed the club’s name from the front.
At this point, an OSC rep wondered if we’d overdone the name change discussion. JM again stressed he wants a “swift conclusion”, while a few wondered whether about the reaction of City fans on Sunday (for our part, we anticipate a very loud 19’04”, and that’s it).
Safety Advisory Group
Rob Harmer attended the latest meeting of the Safety Advisory Group, which meets intermittently to plan policing, stewarding and so on for City games. JM was very pleased by this, and believes we’re one of the first clubs in the country to get a fan to such meetings. Minutes of the SAG meeting will be sent around, and we’ll put them on AN when we have them.
Much of the SAG meeting seemed to focus on the upcoming Manchester United fixture. As some of the hardest fans to handle, particularly the issue of standing in aisles, the club can expect a sizeable police bill that day.
City fans’ behaviour having been so good all season (despite us apparently being “hooligans”…) it seems little discussion or specific provision has been made for the remainder of this season, though we’ll learn more upon receipt of the minutes. With some of the Sky Sports Chosen Ones soon to visit the Circle, the club is going to reiterate that being found in the home end with away colours will lead to ejection.
City repeatedly challenge the police over the use of the gates outside the East and North Stands. Most around the table seemed to agree they’re necessary on occasion, but not as a routine part of matchday.
JM praised Rob Harmer for his input to that meeting.
JM praised Dave White for his input to the Steve Bruce flag that’s recently been erected. Another is on the way. JM has said before of his wish for more fan-friendly adornments of the Circle. So much space has been taken up for advertising that it’s impractical for this season, however.
Back to that tricky wicket then, and a particular horrible area of rough outside the leg stump. James Mooney fronted up and said he “wasn’t going to try to defend us on this”.
The club has invested heavily in youth facilities, and missed out on Category Two status only by 2%. To be re-audited this promptly is apparently quite uncommon. This re-audit will occur on April 23rd.
The Premier League apparently rejected City’s compromise suggestion of a promise to have indoor facilities in place by the summer, requiring instead for work to be underway in time for their audit. JM said the club had investigated other sites, including Bishop Burton, but concluded that the Airco Arena was the “only place”. He admitted the club has been “reactive, not proactive”.
JM wants to set up meetings with any affected group, though some are declining his offer, wanting only to speak with Mr Allam (who thinks it’s a council problem).
Some community use may possible continue, though only for groups for whom a 3G pitch is suitable, and who are happy to base schedules around City.
It appears that affected groups could have been notified of this a little earlier than they have been. The club is considering an apology to those affected.
Away Supporters Initiative
Much has been made over the £200,000 given to each Premier League club for away fans. The management team is divided over whether this money is best spent “enhancing away fans’ experience here”, or being spent on travelling City fans.
The issue is “still not resolved”, and the club is aware of mounting criticism. We have been promised an update by Friday, as time is running short to actually spend the money. Some – repeat – SOME has already been spent on the away end here, and although JM declined to go into details we suspect the significant majority of the cash remains unused.
Those who decide on this sort of thing also cannot decide whether to spend it on subsidised/free travel, or subsidised tickets; this despite every meeting of this group firmly favouring the latter.
2015/16 may see discounts on season ticket for existing holders, though we should “not expect any major changes”. A plan B in the event of relegation exists but is not yet finalised within the club. Matchday prices will change, and the current £16/£35/£50 set-up, widely criticised, will be abandoned in favour of flatter (if not cheaper) alternatives.
If the name change fiasco drags on, JM is minded to provide refunds for anyone who purchases for the new season but is subsequently alienated by it all.
Season tickets will be available in N5 next season.
The existing 18-22 age bracket may be phased out next season and the overall structure may be looked at, with students potential beneficiaries.
JM said that gate receipts are up this season, and the Chelsea game on Sunday is likely to produce a club record.
A major pre-season tour is being looked at now, with Mike Phelan particularly keen to have one. Where? It seems we’ll have to wait.
Incidentally, JM lavished praise upon Mike Phelan – the players train longer and harder, and the day after games too. A breath of fresh air, it seems.
Announcing the team
Bill Shirley, wryly observing that his associates in the Senior Tigers tend not to have smartphones, asked about the team being shown on the big screen, as used to happen. These are choc-full of adverts, though space will be found for the team and fewer ads shown next season.
Bits and pieces
Turnstile queues are seemingly caused by the tendency of City fans to arrive ever later – at a recent game, some 12,000 people were still outside 12 minutes before kick-off. Four new turnstiles are being fitted, hopefully but not definitely in time for the end of the season. The old system of fans being able to use more than one entry point may also be restored.
THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE AT THE CLUB WHO WANT GOAL MUSIC! The group recoiled at this, and while stressing he isn’t one of these sickos, James Mooney wouldn’t identify the guilty parties. He encouraged those who abhor this practice to remind the club of their opposition.
Ian Waterson asked about the UEFA Supporter Liaison system. The club are sceptical, and JM in particular commenced a lengthy defence of Ann Holland, the lady currently in charge, who’s apparently been criticised on the internet. It seemed to us that the problem is not her performance, which those who’ve dealt with her speak warmly of, but the definition and scope of her role. JM aged it’s “more inbound than outbound”.
The club were disappointed by the response to its cancer charity cooking night on Monday night. It was noted that City never actually said this was a charity event, and that on a fractious evening suddenly lots of cooking stuff appeared. JM defended his social media team, and they probably do have a hard job, putting up with fanzine hooligans always being mean.
And that was that, another whopping four hour marathon from which we’ve taken the most salient points. Credit to James Mooney for appearing, something his bosses have sadly lacked the nerve to do.
Any comments/queries, send them our way for future events…