FEAT-SEATS

Safety Advisory Group meeting minutes

kcsoul

With thanks to Rob Harmer, a HCST representative on Hull City AFC’s (late?) Fans’ Working Group committee, here are the minutes of the latest Safety Advisory Group meeting…

HULL CITY COUNCILStreetscene Services

Sports Ground Safety Advisory Group Meeting

Tuesday 1st July 2016

KCOM Stadium

 

GENERAL MEETING

MINUTES OF MEETING

 

Present: 

 

Pete Curry     PC                  –           Hull City Council Sports Ground Safety (Chair)

Joel Bridger                                       Hull City Council Sport Ground Safety

Glenn Halsey                       –           Hull City Council Building Control

John Taylor                           –           Hull City Council Health and Safety

Sue Storey                            –           SGSA

Paul Cresswell PCr             –           Humberside Police

Garry Neal                             –           Humberside Police

Tracey Bradley                     –           Humberside Police

Chris Fothergill                    –           Yorkshire Ambulance Service

John Broadley                      –           Humberside Fire & Rescue

Sarah Nicholson                  –           Hull FC

Steve Bywood                      –           Hull Kingston Rovers

Graham Flowers                  –           Hull Kingston Rovers

James Deacon                     –           KC Stadium Management Company

Dave Gregory                       –           KC Stadium Management Company

James Mooney                     –           Hull City Tigers [sic]

Rob Harmer                          –           Representative of Hull City Fans Working                                                                           Group

Lisa Jewitt                             –           Chairman FC Voices

 

 

Apologies:  Mike Smith, Mark Walster, Phil Parker, Khaled Choudhury

               

AGENDA ITEM BUSINESS  ACTION

 

 1.

 

 

 Introductions

 

Introductions were made by all present. Before the meeting got underway The Chair explained that charterhouse rules applied to any of the potentially sensitive information discussed at the meeting. The Chair explained that any commercially sensitive items that anyone would like to raise could be discussed at the end of the meeting.

 

The Chair welcomed Rob Harmer (representative of Hull City Fans Working Group) and Lisa Jewitt (Chairwoman of FC Voices) again and for the benefit of clarity he explained the key objectives of the Safety Advisory Group and the terms of their invitation.

 

 

  
 2.  Previous Minutes

 

The minutes for the meeting were agreed as true record.

 

 3.  Matters Arising

 

4. Safety Certificate charges & Special Safety Certificates

(adoption of new style of safety certification)

 

The Chair explained how the recently departing Safety Officer, Sue Watson had created a new operational plan and how this documentation was intended to be used to move over to the new style of safety certificate, he expressed his satisfaction with this intention but  continued to add that the plan required careful reviewing before a transfer of certification can be agreed, he stated  how after briefly scanning through the document it looked of good quality, he continued to add that when the new Safety Officer was settled in his role and had, had a chance to review/influence the plan he would be happy for the transfer to take place.

 

Drop Box 

 

It was discussed that the new style certification document was essentially a “live” document and subject to change when the need arises, to that end it was agreed that electronic access through a “drop box” or similar would be ideal to ensure that interested parties were reading current, up to date information and how members can be advised by email whenever any document is revised. JB mentioned how LA IT security policy forbids access to drop box but that he will request that a dispensation can be made in this instance. JD explained how he will arrange a drop box account and make access available to those who need it. SS expressed her pleasure that the SAG and SMC were looking to embrace the risk based safety certificate and would be happy to review the current documentation to ensure that it is fit for purpose. JD thanked SS for this offer and confirmed that he would provide her with a hard copy in the meantime until a drop box account is set up.

 

9. Stadium updated plans

 

JD confirmed that all plans had now been updated and that up to date copies would also be made available on drop box.

 

 

 

 

 

10. Walton Street car park condition, lighting and traffic lights

 

JD informed members that a survey had recently been conducted and how the condition of the car park was found to be generally poor despite some low level remedial work being carried out. He and The Chair explained that there had been a recent meeting held between The LA and SMC to discuss this and general traffic management issues around the locality of the stadium, they agreed that some positive ideas had been discussed, the main action arising from this meeting was for The SMC to engage a traffic management consultant to conduct a feasibility study and propose some options to reduce congestion and improve safety. JD stated that in the interim period piecemeal improvements could be made to reduce the effects of the worst and most obvious defects.

 

LJ explained that she and others had noticed an improvement since the lighting levels had been enhanced and was happy to hear that the traffic management was being seriously looked at.

 

12. Leeds Utd 23/04/2016

 

The Chair gave those present an overview of the disorder that occurred at the North concourse segregation gate and the resultant debrief that followed (see debrief minutes for full details). He expressed how he found the debrief to be frank and open, very useful and how crucial lessons had been learned resulting in the implementation of action plans to ensure that a repeat of the disorder does not occur again.  The inadequacy of the concourse flooring slip resistance was one of the main issues noted; JD confirmed that work to improve the slip resistance of the flooring was imminently due to start with that a material specification and contractor already identified.

 

14. AOB (Traffic Regulation Order Poorhouse Lane)

 

The Chair pointed out how he was disappointed to find that despite a formal request in the last meeting no TRO application to be made to restrict parking on Poorhouse Lane had been made, even though emergency services had informed the club that they would struggle to gain access in the event of an emergency.

 

SB confirmed that this was still high on the clubs agenda and that they had involved Cllr Chaytor to find a way forward, he continued to add that this seasons low attendances and some traffic management tweaks, such as prioritising coach egress had improved the situation. JB mentioned that in his opinion that reliance on poor results and attendance was not a sustainable solution and that a return to the attendances and traffic conditions where emergency services access would be restricted was equally possible and that he wasn’t sure what influence Cllr Chaytor could assert to aid the remedy of the situation. JB informed members that there would be an inspection carried out by the fire service at the next home fixture, as part of this inspection they shall attempt to access the stadium with a fire appliance and report back on the current adequateness of access.

 

 

14. AOB (PA System)

 

LJ pointed out that the intermittent performance of the PA system was actually noted stadium wide, and not confined to the South stand as the minutes suggested. DG explained that the amplifiers had been upgraded and that it’s is now the speaker system that is in need of investment. In advance of this investment The SMC are required to implement a management plan to ensure that any PA shortcomings do not affect crowd safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JD

 

 

 

 

 

 

JD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SB/GF/MS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DG

 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 SGSA Update

 

New Guidance

 

SS informed members of the structural changes in the authority, which included the recruitment of three new inspectors and chief inspector overseeing the inspection regime.

 

SS tabled guidance booklets on the involvement of spectators in the SAG process; she expressed how she was glad to see that an appreciation of this initiative was already shown by the attendance of Hull F.C and Hull City supporter group representatives.

 

http://www.fsf.org.uk/assets/Downloads/News/2016/FSF-and-SGSA-engaging-with-supporters-2016-web-final.pdf

 

 

Annual Club Record 

 

SS reminded those involved that annual club records completed by the senior Safety Officer were required to be returned.

 

 

 5.  Lightstream Stadium

 

Stadium Annual Audit

 

The Chair explained how due to staff changes the audit was slightly disjointed, typified by administrative errors and some omissions that were rectified once identified, he did confirm that the audit found that the club were broadly compliant. The Chair expressed his apologies for the lateness in providing an audit report but he had not had chance to write them up due to a heavy workload. It was confirmed that a further stewarding audit was to be conducted due to the stewarding standards found in initial audit being unsatisfactory.

 

Safety Officer

 

It was confirmed that SB would be resigning from his post at the end of the season, it had been thought that he would be leaving earlier than this but finding a suitably qualified and experienced replacement proved to be problematic which lead to him offering to stay on for the rest of this seasons home fixtures and forthcoming rugby league international matches.

 

The Chair explained what the criteria was for appointing a new Safety Officer, pointing out that achieving this was not as simple or straight forward a process as it may seem, requiring a gradual introduction and a certain amount of progress to have been made towards attaining the relevant NVQ4 qualification and how careful planning is required to avoid a situation that could lead to a reduction in the “S Factor”.

 

As this was likely to be SB’s last attendance at a SAG meeting The Chair took the opportunity to commend him for his efforts during his time as Safety Officer and wished him well with his future endeavours.

 

Christmas Pantomime

 

The Chair, SB and GF gave an overview of the event, explaining that it would be held in an extremely large festival sized marquee on the overflow section of the Lightstream Stadium car park, with construction of the marquee scheduled to begin from the 12th November 2016 and was expected to be onsite for approximately 28 days. The Chair confirmed that he was happy for the event to run without a special safety certificate as to all intents and purposes it does not impinge on anything in the general safety certificate as no part of the stadium itself is used and the event occurs during close season, but warned that licensing and Fire Safety regulations must still be agreed/observed and that should any events in the stadium be planned during this time or the current understanding of the situation change then a special safety certificate may be required.

 

Parking, Central Reservation, Preston Road

 

It has been noted that parking in the central reservation outside of the stadium persists on match days, it has transpired that there is no offence caused by those opting to park there and that the implementation of a suitable TRO is not straight forward either (it is thought that a city wide TRO would have to be applied). It was suggested by JB that placing boulders in the reservation may remove the possibility of unwanted parking. The Chair stated that he shall look into the feasibility of this.

 

Post meeting note. PC has spoken to HCC Parking Enforcement and it is an offence to park on the central reservation as the double yellow lines on the nearside lane extend to the centre of the reservation. Parking enforcement will be carried out at the next fixture on 21/07/2016

  

 6.  KCOM Stadium

 

Stadium Annual Audit

 

The Chair explained that similarly to the Lightstream Stadium there had been some administrative errors and omissions that were rectified once identified and that the audit found that the club were broadly compliant. The Chair expressed his apologies again for the lateness in providing an audit report but he had not had chance to write them up due to a heavy workload. It was confirmed that the stewarding audit had been conducted and was found to be satisfactory.

 

Safety Officer

 

It was confirmed that Sue Watson was resigning from her post with effect from 31st July 2016 and that GN would was going to be appointed to begin his introduction towards becoming the new Safety Officer and that this would be within the remit of The Green Guide. It was discussed what the benchmark would be for adding GN to the safety certificate as Assistant Safety Officer. It had been agreed to be appropriate when he has attended the training, completed the question sections of the NVQ4 qualification and shadowed the incumbent Safety Officer at an agreed number of events. The Chair explained that the transitional period should not be as onerous for the GN or SMC to as there are two qualified deputy Safety Officers that can act up and mentor in the interim period.

 

Although Sue Watson was not in attendance at the meeting The Chair took the opportunity to commend her for her efforts during her time as Safety Officer and wished her well with her future endeavours.

 

 

 7.  Nitro/Concert De-brief

 

The Chair was happy to report that there had been another constructive debrief covering the planning and execution of the Nitro Circus event and the Rod Stewart concert. It was discussed how for future events The SMC should retain more control and that it would be more efficient to have one central project manager to have overall ownership of the event, it was agreed by all involved that the for some aspects promoters of these events had too much control, deviated from agreed plans and we guilty of making last minute changes that compromised the safety teams event plan. The Chair explained that moving forward it was likely that every “Part B” event would require a special safety certificate and that on reflection the Nitro Circus should have been delivered under one as despite initially appearing simplistic enough to not require one, particular issues arose that could have been controlled better if managed under formally certified conditions, the most notable issues were the submission of non UK stage calculations, documents referring to non UK legislation and codes of practice and aspects of the stewarding operation that were organised by the promoter being poorly managed.

 

The level of smoke and fallout from the Rod Stewart concert fireworks display was discussed. The Chair and DG explained how despite documentation and verbal assurances being received stating that there would be minimal smoke and no fall out, there was and it was to an excessive and hazardous degree with some minor burns reported and visibility for the pitch spectators impaired. It was also agreed that the display was too long and how the level of noise late at night was perceived as being anti social to some. The Chair explained how there was two fireworks contractors, one had been organised by Rod Stewarts promoters and the other organised by MKM, the problematic fireworks were those organised by MKM and it has since transpired that despite the SAG receiving the documentation that confirmed that they would be safe and fit for purpose the fireworks were unproven which resulted in the issues mentioned above.

 

 

 

       8.

 

 Proposed LED advertising to East stand 

 

JD gave members an overview of the general specification of the proposed LED advertising that the SMC would like to install in front of the East stand, as maintaining adequate spectator sightlines is the most fundamental consideration he circulated drawings that showed that as the LED hoardings were 1.24m in height, rather than 0.75m the hard standing between the terrace and the hoarding would need to be lifted by approximately 150mm for sightlines that meet the levels prescribed in the Green Guide to be preserved. It was discussed how the new hoardings would have displays on both sides, with the inside having the capability of displaying safety messages to spectators.

 

SS informed JD that another club inspected by her, Leicester City had installed a very similar product and experienced major issues that necessitated expensive retrospective alterations to overcome; she added that she was also aware that Swansea City had also experienced similar problems. The main difficulties that were faced were that the hoardings were not found to be epilepsy friendly and were a distraction to some spectators with a number complaining of experiencing “spots in their eyes”, JD responded to this by saying The SMC have reviewed the manufacturers specification in fine detail and were confident that the issues that have been described above have now been overcome as the technology has progressed, he added that these issues were the first things that came to mind when they first considered the product and that they will seek specific assurances from the manufacturer that there are not going to be problems of this nature, JD also mentioned that he thought that the raising of the hard standing would actually improve accessibility for disabled spectators and in general for emergency egress.

 

It was discussed how the operation of the hoardings must be adequate for emergency evacuation, that is to say they must have an equally accessible gate system onto the pitch, JD explained that they will have a gate which will be compliant with guidance and similar to the existing arrangement, he continued to add that they are in actual fact collapsible, SS mentioned that in doing this the display can sometimes be damaged so this may be a problem when training staff how to operate them, to which JD responded by explaining that the manufacturer has demonstrative dummy’s that can be put in place, it is intended that these shall be retained by the SMC to be used for training stewards. SS added that when in the down position she does not recall that there is a ramp down onto the pitch which may also present a problem, JD said he will look into this aspect of the design. It was also discussed how as solid barrier that is anchored to the ground the hoardings are likely to be very unforgiving for any player that collides with them.  RH explained how it was his perception that spectators generally disliked the LED hoardings.

 

 

       9.  Ticket allocation Manchester Utd

 

It was disclosed that the Manchester Utd fixture had been rescheduled to a 17.30pm kick off, The Police felt this was problematic for the safe management of spectators as the increased drinking time generally meant that more challenging behaviour was experienced.  It was discussed how in retrospect the previous minutes perhaps flattered the behaviour and manageability of a significant proportion of the Manchester Utd spectators, it was noted that there were some minor improvements made but it should be understood that the problems were by no way resolved with persistent standing, occupation of aisles and a progressive collapse leading to spectators falling over the pitch perimeter wall and  gate, to this end it was proposed by The Chair a restriction be imposed to remove the end seats of each row (two in total) and first row of seats including those behind the disabled seats in the east stand be removed with tarpaulin covers installed to restrict them.

 

JM questioned why this measure was necessary when segregation already exists with four seats taken out at the ends of each row in the home sections. The Chair explained that this was necessary to create segregation between opposing spectators but the removal of end the seats in the away sections was intended to reduce the effects of spectators persistently standing, explaining that when they do the space occupied is increased which forces those sat on end seats into the aisle which presents crowd control, general circulation and emergency service access issues. It was agreed by all but JM that The Chairs proposition was reasonable and that even though it seemed that it was unfair to JM the reality is it is unlikely to solve the problems described above. TB added that the group would be ignoring the lessons learn from past events of they did not impose these restrictions, SS seconded this notion, adding that in her opinion the proposal was fair and reasonable and assured JM that in these situations the removal of the bottom row is standard practice.

 

 

10.          KC Stadium, Allocation of away supporters (upper West)

 

JM confirmed that owners of Hull City (and The SMC) would like the SMC to conduct a trial of situating away spectators in the upper West stand. The Chair explained that he was in complete opposition to this suggestion as it contradicted the explicit guidance laid out in The Green Guide that has also been reiterated in a November 2013’s joint statement by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, FA Premier League, Football League, Football Association, Core Cities Group, Football Safety Officers’ Association, and Association of Chief Police Officers that was circulated to all Local authorities. The guidance asserts that

“Standing in a seated area with a gradient above 25 degrees must by definition be treated as unsafe”. The Chair explained that as the upper West stand has a rake of 34 degrees and as demonstrated in the last item, persistent standing is prevalent amongst a proportion of clubs away supporters, he felt that he would be negligent to support the proposal. JD explained that he had been instructed to devise an operational plan that would safely fulfil the objective of this reallocation but disclosed that he could not find away to do this safely or practically as in his opinion it could not be done. It was discussed that all of the expert guidance and opinion stressed that it was an inherently unsafe practice so for that reason alone the proposal should be dismissed, but it was also discussed that to even reduce the extreme hazards that were presented, significant changes to not only the fabric of the stadium but the operational management of the site would need to be made to ensure that away spectators are safely and sensibly accommodated and routed to the new location, in addition to this it was agreed that in any event, realistically there was not the time to facilitate this before the new season.

 

SS confirmed that she fully supported the SAG’s position and that it was clear that there was it was an unsafe proposal and that even if the reallocation was to be trialled the evidence suggests that heavy reductions in the S Factors would be appropriate as the situation appeared unmanageable.

 

JB mentioned how he recalled how in previous discussions The Police had stated that they did not think that they would be prepared to send officers into the stand to deal with disorder if the proposal was to go ahead as they felt that it was too hazardous, GN and TB agreed that this is Humberside Police’s initial view, it was then discussed how the same reservations regarding safe intervention with challenging spectators should be extended to stewarding staff. DG responded to this suggestion by confirming that The SMC would not instruct stewards to go into a dangerous situation either.

 

JD explained that he will complete and submit his feasibility report to the owners of the club, the content of which shall confirm that the request to move away spectators to the upper we stand is not supported by the SAG or safe and practicable for the SMC to deliver.

 

http://www.safetyatsportsgrounds.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/standing-in-seated-areas-2013.pdf

 

 

 
           

 

 

        11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part B

 

 

Stadium developments

 

West Reception

 

JD explained to the group there had been turnstiles installed in the West reception and that the reception has been given a contemporary renovation and how there shall be programmable displays installed facing the entrance that can present event specific material and information.

He then went on to describe future plans for the stadium complex which would be released to the public in due course. He informed members that he had held positive meetings with HCC Planning Department’s manager Alex Codd regarding the matter. JD confirmed that once these plans have been formalised they shall be tabled for consideration at SAG.

 

 

Access Control

 

JD explained how it had become apparent to him that some employees connected with the stadium are gaining unpermitted access to the stadium bowl and hospitality areas to watch events. The group was very concerned that there are persons unaccounted for in the stadium during events, The Chair was unhappy to hear this and raised concerns about the potential of over capacitating areas during sold out events and how it was expected that The Safety Officer should know exactly who and how many people are in the stadium at any time, PCr stated that this is also alarming from a counter terrorism perspective, particularly in light of the recent attacks, each of which involved some form of insider threat and/or hostile reconnaissance, to that end there must be seat to names, he also added that he was happy to provide some training to help improve the situation. JD confirmed that he shall bring this practice to an end in a firm but fair manner.

                  12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AOB

 

Concourse/Vomitory Visibility Barriers

 

The Chair explained that during the debrief process and assessment for the disorder at the Leeds Utd fixture the barriers were shown to be obstructive to crowd control for The Police. It was also noted that there was only a left hand turn available at the vomitory situated next to the segregation gate which effectively reduced the exit capacity of the vomitory. GN added that it was possible for misbehaving spectators to mount the barriers stand on them which also presented a hazard. It also discussed how in general they are also quite aggressive in appearance. The Chair suggested that initially the barriers located near the segregation gate, that restrict crowd control and exit capacity should be removed and thereafter the replacement of the remainder of  the barriers should be considered, replaced by stewarded hashed markings to uphold the restriction of the area where viewing whilst drinking alcohol is prohibited.

 

KCOM Rebranding

 

It was discussed how following Kingston Communications decision to rebrand to KCOM the stadiums name had changed too, SS explained that she would have to update the SGSA records to reflect the change. JD explained he had been negotiating with KCOM to secure some investment in the stadium for general improvements and to make changes around the stadium related to the rebranding.

 

Emergency Lighting

 

JD confirmed that a plan is being gradually executed to upgrade all emergency lighting to the current standard.

 

 

 

Accidents and Incidents – Near Misses

 

JT requested that any accidents or near misses be reported to the HCC Health and Safety department, this would help them record data that could help bring about improvements where standards are lacking, adding that this was particularly pertinent considering the recent serious accident in the Walton St Car Park.  The Chair confirmed that he has also recently asked for written incident reports for any accidents or near misses.

HullCityAN

Notes from the February 2016 Fans’ Working Group meeting

HullCityAN

After an 11 month hiatus, the Fans’ Working Group reconvened on Wednesday 24th February in the 1904 suite at the Circle. Here’s what was discussed.

In attendance:

  • James Mooney, marketing manager of Hull City AFC
  • Henry Crane, catering superstar
  • Jonathan Lee and Will Leaf, observing from Strawberry
  • Tony Conway (Senior Tigers)
  • Ron Black (Hull City Official Supporters Club)
  • George Machin (Hull boys’ league coach)
  • John Wilson (Away Direct)
  • John Watt (West Stand)
  • Geoff Bielby (Hull City Supporters’ Trust)
  • Andy Dalton (Amber Nectar ne’er-do-well)
  • Ian Waterson (City Independent)
  • Rob Harmer (Not 606)

Ticketing & prices

James Mooney noted that ticketing issues are now the “biggest thing we get feedback on”. The club was “informed” by the Stadium Management Company that self-service machines were being installed. JM expressed a preference for the ticket office being open on matchdays.

The SMC has a new Managing Director, James Deacon. He’s been in place for six months and has made “massive changes” in that time – many of which are restricting as the SMC made “big losses”. Mr Deacon also has plans for the stadium complex as a whole – witness the ongoing changes to the stadium reception. JM praised the work he’s done and hopes that another such change will be a revamp of City’s club shop.

Nonetheless, the decision to charge a £2 administration fee on tickets was a decision made by City, not the SMC. JM said that at its inception, it was thought the ticket office would remain open as an option and was done to drive more sales online. Of course, when the ticket office closed that made the £2 levy close to unavoidable for some.

JM confessed to “getting it wrong on away sales”, but stood by it for home sales – again, with the club desiring online ticket purchases (we were told these now constitute 88% of matchday sales). That £2 charge for away tickets had already been removed for season ticket holders, however when pushed further by the group, JM has agreed to remove it altogether in the future.

JM noted that although prices are up 36% on our last Championship season, gates are broadly similar, leading to increased revenue. 58% of current season ticket holders are full paying adults.

Tony Conway asked why we’d not seen much of a previous commitment to discounting unwanted tickets for matches. The club is planning something along these lines for those working in “services” shortly.

Offering discounted bundles of tickets is another thing the club wants to try during the promotion run-in. We were told this is easier towards the end of the season, whereas at the beginning it can detract from the value of a season ticket.

Finally, the club are planning major changes across the board in terms of tickets and prices for next season. It isn’t something they’re announcing or discussing yet, but it’ll be known before the month is out.

Arsenal & future kick-offs

City charging £26 for the forthcoming FA Cup replay is something that the club was bound by a reciprocal arrangement with Arsenal to do. Some fans in the North Stand (N4-N5) will have to be moved to accommodate a larger than usual away end that evening.

The date of this game (now announced) had caused a major headache, one that had apparently not begun to be solved before the first tie was played. At one point, a 5pm kick-off was mooted, though City and Humberside Police were not in favour.

So far, West Yorkshire Police and their counterparts here have not been in touch to try to spoil our trip to Huddersfield or Leeds’ visit here. JM promised that City will lobby on the fans’ behalf if required.

Birmingham

Geoff Bielby asked whether Birmingham had contacted City about a “Local Initiative” they’re running for their televised fixture against us, which makes a ticket far cheaper for their own fans than ours. This is something the FSF are opposed to on fairness grounds and are planning to make an issue of, as part of their Twenty’s Plenty campaign.

Birmingham hadn’t bothered to notify City about this, though JM did lend support to Twenty’s Plenty.

Away fans

JM expressed the cautious hope that one day away fans can be housed in the Upper West Stand, giving City fans access to the whole of the lower bowl. That wish has quite a few obstacles to overcome. A polite way of saying that Humberside Police are not entirely in favour?

Fans’ consultation

The government has expressed a wish and hinted at possible legislation to get football clubs talking on a formal basis with supporters’ organisations such as the Official Supporters’ Club and the new Supporters’ Trust. JM said that this is under review at Chief Executive level.

Reversing the rebranding

At present, many of the club’s social media outlets are incorrectly named, relics of Mr Allam’s failed attempt to rename the club. James Mooney said that these will not be changing; when pushed, he expressed a measure sympathy but said this was not his decision. We detect the hand of Ehab.

Being irredeemably sad enough to both notice and count, we raised the issue that a recent highlights video made zero references to “Hull City” or “City”, but contained 13 mentions (often amusingly out of place) to “The Tigers”. A quiet word with the commentator may be taking place. Rehabilitating the term “Hull City” is also planned – we’ll be keeping a keen eye out for that.

2016/17 kit

It will be stripes! Hurrah.

2016/17 badge

It will not be changed. Boo.

Sponsorship

City said that Flamingo Land have “done well from their tie-up” with City as sponsor, and both parties have been happy with it.

Goal music

At our last meeting, JM warned us that some peculiar people at the club want it. He was right. It seems that the hostile response to it will ensure it never darkens our door again. Unfortunately JM declined to name the guilty party who thought it a good idea in the first place…

Again, our thanks to James Mooney and Henry Crane for accommodating us. Any queries comments, please get in touch…

Notes from the latest fans’ working group meeting

On Tuesday 17th March, the latest meeting of the Fans’ Working Group took place. Here’s what happened.

In attendance:

  • 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

Read more

Notes from the latest fans’ working group meeting

kcsoul

The latest assembly of the club’s new fans’ working group met on Tuesday 2nd December. Here’s what happened…

In attendance:

  • James Mooney, Commercial Manager of Hull City AFC
  • Simon King, Marketing Manager of Hull City AFC
  • Henry Crane, catering overlord
  • John W, West Stand veteran
  • Abraham
  • Bill Shirley, for the Senior Tigers
  • Tony Conway, HCOSC
  • Ron Black, HCOSC chairman
  • Rob Harmer, City Till We Die
  • Ian Waterson, City Independent
  • Nigel Edwards, East Stander
  • Phil Dixon, North Stander
  • Ryan Kerr, Not606
  • Dave White
  • Nigel Hill
  • George Machin, Hull boys’ league coach
  • Peter Gamble, who knows stuff about marketing
  • Andy Dalton, Amber Nectar editor and hooligan
  • Angie Smith, “exiled until this regime clears off”
  • Ellie Cressey, Ben & Mike Gothard, for the Ulltras

Read more

Notes from the latest fans’ working group meeting

kcsoul

The latest meeting of the club’s attempts to create (recreate?) a Supporters’ working group took place on Tuesday 21st October in the 1904 Lounge at the Circle.

In attendance:

James Mooney, Commercial Manager of Hull City AFC
Pete Curry, chair of the stadium’s Safety Advisory Group
Geoff Bielby, part of City Till We Die
Mike Gothard, Ulltras Obergruppenführer
Angie Smith, “Hooligran”
Nigel Edwards, East Stander
Charlotte Ball, Tigerlink
Andy Dalton, Amber Nectar fanzine wanker
Ian Waterson, City Independent fanzine wanker
Rob Harmer, Not606/CTWD
Ron Black, HCOSC
Kate Ogram
Dave White, East Stander
Abraham
John W, West Stander (sorry for mishearing you last time, John)
Tony Conway, Senior Tigers
Phil Dixon, North Stander
George Machin, local football coach
Ellie Cressey, Ulltras
Dan, another Ulltra

The meeting kicked off at 7.30pm and was chaired by James Mooney, though Simon King may oversee some future gatherings.

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Notes from the first Fans’ Working Group meeting

kcsoul

The meeting began promptly at 6pm in the Vice-Chairman’s suite at the Circle on Friday 25th July, and introductions were made:

James Mooney, Commercial Manager at Hull City AFC
Henry Crane, from City’s catering partners
Pete Curry, chair of the stadium’s SAG
Ryan, new director of the OSC and “prolific poster on Not606”, West Stander
Abraham, long-standing season ticket holder
Peter Gamble, marketing expert
John Watt, 50 years a season ticket and West Stander
John Wilson, season ticket holder since the 1960s
Sam Campbell, a student at Hull University
Ron Black, chairman of the OSC
Andy Dalton, Amber Nectar fanzine tosser
Mark Gretton, chairman of City Till We Die
George, local football coach
Mike Gothard, Ulltras organiser extraordinaire

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Fans Liaison Committee – October 2008

Some five months since the last such gathering, the Fans Liaison Committee convened at the KC Stadium on Wednesday 22nd October 2008. Since the last meeting there have been some significant changes at the club, none bigger than the ascension to the Premier League, and achieving that status has led to Hull City re-evaluating it’s policies for the sale of match tickets.

Those changes dominated the agenda in a meeting that was considerably shorter in length than most FLC congregations, many representatives were absent and with a reserve game against Blackburn kicking off at North Ferriby at 7pm, the chairman and some members wanted the meeting done in time to attend that. This meeting took place in the Chairman’s suite, a salubrious facility on the second floor of the West Stand, though the last person to be told of the venue change was the chairman himself, Paul Duffen sat alone for sometime in the usual ground floor meeting place until he realised something was amiss, hehe.

Allocation of away game tickets
Having previously stated that supporters who attended five away games or more last season would get priority when applying for away tickets this season, the club recently announced that would no longer be the case and that when away games are oversubscribed, a random ballot would take place to determine who gets tickets. This caused some consternation among some people who have followed City away regularly in previous years but were not members of the Away Direct scheme. A long time passholder who had attended five or more away games last season and then attended the away games at Blackburn, Newcastle, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Brom this season might not be allocated tickets to see City play Manchester United at Old Trafford, whereas someone who has never attended an away game before and was a passholder for the first time this season could be. This was seen by some to be grossly unfair to ‘loyal’ supporters and pandering to ‘bandwagon jumpers’ who only wanted to see ‘Big Four’ teams and cared little for the Tigers.

Chairman Paul Duffen said he didn’t really think this was a big issue, but in that regard it was the club themselves who made it an issue, firstly by introducing loyalty criteria to begin with and then making an announcement that made it appear the club no longer saw loyalty as worth rewarding. Last season when the demand for tickets exceeded supply for the away game at Scunthorpe, the club said that new Customer Relations Management software could be used to find out who had attended a significant amount of away games previously and be used to give priority to regular attendees of out of town fixtures. A couple of subsequent FLC meetings were dedicated to hammering out a fair method of allocating away tickets and unanimous consent was given  (as in, some were vocally in favour and nobody voiced objection) to a proposal to follow the Wolverhampton Wanderers model of awarding customers 10 points for every individual ticket they purchased (passholders got an automatic 1000 point award), be it a home game or away game. This method would need to be applied at the start of the season as many away games in our 2007-2008 Championship season were not all ticket, you could pay on the day, so no CRM data was accrued on the customers’ record.

Of course when City qualified for the playoffs, they needed an immediate method for fairly allocating tickets for Watford away and later the Wembley play off final. The club decided that passholders who purchased five away tickets (or more) on their customer reference number would receive priority, and decided to keep that criteria for the purchase of away tickets this season. Two away games into the Premiership campaign, it was decided to scrap the five game criteria and give all passholders an equal chance to get Manchester United game tickets.  A question was put to the chairman, “if the idea of rewarding the loyalty of regular away match attendees seemed a good idea just 6 months ago, why has there been a change of mind?”

The chairman said that he views all season ticket holders as equal, they are the lifeblood of the club, and that when we first planned to have a loyalty scheme the plan did not discriminate against anybody. However the sizeable increase in volume of passholders this season means that if an away game is oversubscribed that there will be discrimination, and he didn’t want to play God and decide who was worthy, who’s support is more deserving. Duffen said that if he asked a passholder on the concourses to identify other passholders that he was more worthy than, the person asked is likely to shirk the responsibility of ‘playing God’, and that he doesn’t want to do it either. If it’s a choice of discriminating ‘the class of passholders’ or having a ballot then he chooses the ballot method.

He pointed out that the Manchester United game is the first to be oversubscribed, and even then not by that many people. There were just 3,900 applications for the 3,000 tickets, which is remarkable when you consider that well over 4000 City fans turned up at Blackburn in August. It’s also worth noting that every passholder who applied for Arsenal and Tottenham tickets got them, regardless of whether they’d attended away games last season or not, and in the case of Tottenham, tickets went on general sale, available to any old meff. Granted, this information is of no consolation to the 900 people who applied and were unsuccessful, the club will offer beamback tickets to those fans as a gesture of goodwill, but the fears of thousands of loyal fans missing out appear to have been misplaced. Some people’s names and customer numbers appeared on more than one application, however this would not improve their chances of getting a ticket as the club will only include individual numbers once in the ballot.

The FLO and chairman mused that perhaps the club ‘overcommunicated’ and if no grand announcement had been made, and the line of text referring to the five game criteria had been discreetly removed, few people would have noticed, the indignation that greeted the announcement would have been avoided and relatively few people would have been affected and given cause for grievance. Even with the announcement, there was no great clamour for tickets from passholders who usually just attend home games, maybe they baulked at the £50 ticket price, or maybe we don’t have as many ‘loyal’ supporters as we think. Taking a contrary outlook, it could be argued that the club might as well ensure those who’ve been to a fair few away games get tickets, as the Blackburn, Tottenham and West Brom matches going on general sale illustrates that it’s far from a ‘closed shop’.

If you go with the line that giving past away game attendees priority for future road game fixtures is discriminatory, then the Away Direct scheme really is a closed shop. Does the new away ticket distribution policy put the 700ish member scheme under threat? “Away Direct is under review” said the chairman ominously.

The FLO’s email response to complaints was that the move was taken after consultation with supporters groups, and it was asked who those groups were, since it clearly wasn’t the FLC. The club’s intention to change the policy was mentioned at various Official Supporters Club events and the response of fans was gauged and fed back to the club.

Matches on DVD
It was asked if the club intends to release DVDs of complete games as they have in previous seasons, as they’ve been conspicuous in their absence in Tiger Leisure this year. You could buy discs of games the week after back when City were in Division Three and beating Kidderminster, yet City beat Arsenal at the Emirates and there is no purchasable complete record. There was quizzical looks from both the chairman and marketing maven Andy Dawson, which suggests it’s not a deliberate change and it has merely been overlooked. Duffen and Dawson conferred to see if it’s a Premier League marketing rights issue and it isn’t, after all the club sell highlights discs that come with the City magazine. The club will look into it, and Andy Dawson had that pound signs in his eyes/kerching look about him as he openly contemplated a London 0 Hull 4 box set.

Replica shirts
There are no City shirts left in the club shop, and when one supporter asked when Tiger Leisure would be getting more in, the staff didn’t know. This is because the club don’t know, so can’t inform their retail arm. The chairman noted that following their purchase of Umbro, Nike destroyed the companies distribution infrastructure and this has led to huge delays for Umbro branded clubs. All Umbro can say is that they’ll be able to meet their contractual obligation to deliver more shirts before Christmas. As for the shop selling out, Duffman said we have sold as many jerseys as the whole of last season already.

Masters’ competition
City still don’t have any representation in the Sky Sports-televised fun fest that is Masters football, the 5 a side kickabout for haggard old pros on a disturbingly blue hued pitch. This was raised at a previous meeting but evidently forgotten about, though it doesn’t appear that the company Sky use to organise the squads has much contact with the clubs the Masters sides represent. It is thought that it’s done on a literally 5 a side type basis where one player on each team takes responsibility for their involvement in it, just without having to collect £2.50 from everyone to pays subs. Deano has been involved in Masters football before so he’ll be asked what he knows, and the FLO suggested it could be a job that Linton Brown might want to take on board.

FLC representation
The Fans Liaison Committee itself was raised as a talking point, do the club take is seriously considering the last meeting was aeons ago? Additionally,  some don’t feel it’s a true representation of the supporters, and that we don’t ask the questions we’re tasked to ask and instead all just get off on talking to the chairman once a month, high fiving DuffMan as he enters the room and thinking ourselves elevated from the rest of humanity as a result.

I’ve seen posts saying the same on the frightfully self-regarding Hull City Online site that call the meetings a ‘pointless bunfest’ for ‘self appointed members on an ego trip’, in fact not so long ago that site posted an article in which it was questioned whether Amber Nectar should have two representatives on board, wilfully ignoring that of all the representatives, the AN reps ask the most questions, on behalf of AN users who take the FLC fairly seriously and tend to raise meaningful points like ticket allocation and stewarding, whereas other reps are told to ask about plastic forks at the kiosks and betting slips in the bar. It also overlooks that the mummy and daddy of the owner of Hull City Online are on the FLC, why isn’t that questioned? Yes they may have separate titles, but they speak with the same voice, like avuncular Borg drones, and ask things like ‘when will the club donate shares in a business with a turnover of millions of pounds to the eminently pointless Tigers Co-Op for free?’ No ulterior motive to that article, eh?

Now the point about the FLC needing a rejig has valid elements to it, there are some people who sit on the FLC that never ask questions, raise points or even speak, they also don’t appear to be representing anyone, plus there’s that bloke who when asked what the club should do to entertain people at half time, said with no irony, “I could bring my dogs”. So yes, it all needs a reshuffle, that’s an entirely valid point that I can support, but the subtext of the Hull City Online article is ‘why aren’t we on the committee when Amber Nectar are, it’s not fair, I want to high-five DuffMan too and since my mam and dad go then why not make it a family affair and we’ll bring cakes, waaaaaaaaagggghhhh!’

I also believe that some people have too high an expectation of the FLC, as if someone should get a rep to ask for something to be changed and it be done, and right away. This is a view that is detached from reality, the club is not a democracy, nor is it the X-Factor and you don’t get a vote on what the club decides to do, those asking the FLC to raise points have no right to demand or expect action. However, the club is willing to listen and values a meaningful dialogue with the supporters, the chairman doesn’t attend these meetings and OSC events just to get out of washing the pots at home, he does it because he values the input of supporters, as evidenced by his recent quote in The Times… “A football club is an emotional piece of intellectual property that belongs to the fans.”

Right, I’ve had my rant, onto the response of the chairman and FLO. Danny Pratt said the reason that this meeting has taken so long to arrange is because the chairman wanted to attend, suggesting it is taken seriously, but he has been tied up with the various obligations being a Premier League chairman brings, and this was the first available, appropriate date. It was agreed that five months is too long between meetings. However Duffman sees the FLC meeting as “just one part of the communications process”, he referred to his regular, bulging mail bag, if people think FLC reps aren’t asking your questions in a group setting, then ask it yourself in writing. It’s not always possible for a rep to ask every question put to them, these meetings can go on a few hours, but even then some stuff goes unmentioned because the meeting might focus on a set theme or the discussion goes off on a tangent, but you can always write in yourself . Plus the chairman regularly attends OSC events and gets asked questions by fans at those too, then there’s the Chairman’s Night on KCFM, so supporters have more ways to raise issues with the club than just the FLC.

Danny Pratt also noted that whenever people complain to him that the FLC doesn’t meet their expectations, he asks them to come along to one to see what goes on and raise points themselves. They rarely take him up on the offer. He also agreed that it is time for a shake-up of the FLC and welcomes suggestions, so HCO-types, send your begging letters in now.

Miscellaneous
There have been some issues with people smoking and drinking alcohol on Tiger Travel coaches, and they were searched by Police on the way to Tottenham. Currently, passholders travelling on club chartered coaches book tickets using their customer reference number, so the club know who’s on the buses if culprits are found. The Tottenham game though, saw tickets go on general sale, so pass numbers weren’t taken for those people. A photo ID membership card was suggested and the chairman responded by saying he was happy for the club to “make the system more austere, but we don’t want to be processing people” Home Office style.

The City branded plastic beer glasses should be appearing on the concourses soon, hopefully by the time of the Manchester City game. The idea for these was approved ages ago but the club were negotiating another brewery deal, the old brewery would have done it but at a prohibitively costly price to the club, whereas the new brewery were very receptive and have come up with a workable plan.

The beer only kiosk in the East Stand was not open against West Ham, something both Duffen and Dawson were quite peeved about. “We will mention this to the contracted company with some ferocity” said DuffMan, thrusting in the direction of the problem.

Someone moaned that the names on reserve game team sheets rarely reflect the names of players on the pitch, uff uff uff.

The 50p per ticket booking fee when using a debit or credit card was queried, why is it per ticket? The club a charged a percentage of the total sale value for the processing of card payments, rather than a flat fee per transaction, so if you buy four tickets, the club are charged more for processing the card transaction than if you bought one ticket. The club could say ‘each ticket will have an X percent booking fee added’ but they figure that’s more confusing than just giving a specific amount. One FLC member noted that Ticketmaster’s fee for card handling is £4 per ticket. Ouch.

It would be nice to see City shirts in city centre sports shops commented one fan. It may be nice, but that means Hull City would concede control of how they are merchandised and at what price. Plus the Tiger Leisure exclusivity means all money from shirt sales goes to the club, whereas buying a City shirt from Sports World throws money into the coffers of Mike ‘Cockney mafia’ Ashley. Ugh. On the matter of merchandising, Tiger Leisure is moving to a much larger premises within Princes Quay soon.

Will we have beambacks for all away games that sell out? No, it’s not cost effective.

Some additional lighting around the ground, as promised last season, is now in place adjacent to the North and South stands.

The stadium expansion non issue was briefly mentioned, Duffen is “far from persuaded that the immediate need is there” and pointed out that the KC Stadium’s lowest attendance for a league City game was recorded just seven months ago (against Southampton apparently). The chairman wants to get the academy infrastructure right and the team established in the Premiership before we turn attention to stadium expansion. Amusingly, when the stadium expansion topic was discussed in the HDM recently, a bunch of Know-Nowt Meffs (KNM) on their website suggested, sans-irony, that we sack off the KC Stadium and build a 55,000 seater stadium somewhere. Meffs.

The SMC and other relevant stakeholders have commissioned a report (costing £35k) into the viability of a rail halt near the stadium, the reports findings will be due 31st January. KNM may suggest we think bigger and build an international airport on the Hymers school pitches to accommodate all the thirsty-for-City action Japs, Arabs and Martians flying in.

The International Premier League Round was never, and is never going to be a 39th game played for points says DuffMan. There will be a round of games played abroad, possibly as an extension of the Asia Cup, but the idea of an extra, integrity-of-league destroying round of games that count in the Premier League table was never a seriously discussed proposition.

It’s pronounced Zigh-At-Tay, and the chairman had a spot of IT bother when he put ‘Young Boys’ into Google when researching Kamil Zayatte‘s Swiss club, hehe.


Les Motherby

Fans Liaison Committee – April 2008

The Fans Liaison Committee met for the final time of the 2007/8 season on April 16th. Chairman Paul Duffen and Commercial Director Andy Dawson were present, as were Amber Nectar…


Stadium stuff

A query was put about the possibility of the capacity of The Circle being increased during the summer. Paul Duffen replied that any increase in capacity will not be undertaken until there is a “proven demand” for it, at which point it would make poor business sense NOT to have an additional 7,000 seats in the stadium. Any such increase would be a major project, most likely a significant expansion of the East Stand (which, incidentally, may contain corporate boxes and/or hotel facilities). No other means of increasing the capacity is really feasible ahead of 2008/9.

The habit of the PA welcoming each stand as part of his pre-match activities was questioned – many feel that while introducing visiting fans to the Circle was worthwhile when 26 wide-eyed Macclesfield supporters were present, but will look a little absurd should City make the Premier League. The chairman said that all of these things are to be reviewed the summer. In a broader sense, DuffMan explained that when he arrived at City he was not inclined to change too much of what he found. Now that he’s been here a year, and has his feet under the table and the respect of the fans, he presumably feels more comfortable with making alterations to things.

A query was raised about the pitch. This is to be relaid in the summer, during a break in the eggchasing season. The chairman spoke with remarkable fluency about the way in which the turf requires attention. The system installed five years ago is, we learn, Desso Grassmaster, featuring synthetic grass which is to be the case once more. Refreshing this is a fairly intensive operation requiring the shifting of some 600 tons of material, but Mr Duffen spoke keenly of his desire to ensure the state of the pitch is the best possible, which has not always been the case during some East Yorkshire winters.

Issues regarding two-way traffic flows outside the West Stand were raised, with fears of the potential for accidents. The club is aware of the problem, but reducing the risk to absolutely zero in a small area with several thousand people in it just isn’t really possible.

The state of the Walton Street carpark has been an issue for some time. Attempts to reach an arrangement with the council have been impaired by the departure of the officer previously responsible, although contact has been made with his successor.

John Cooper is to be made aware of continuing problems with hot water provision in the West Stand toilets.

Andy Dawson is undertaking a full catering review in the summer. The club is frustrated by the knowledge that all is not quite as it should be, and acknowledged that the use of agency staff can lead to linguistic problems. The fact that the beer-only kiosk in the East Stand has been shut in recent weeks will be rectified for the Crystal Palace game. Mr Dawson is also going to examine the possibility of increasing the Sports Bar’s ability to quench thirsts by adding a bottle bar to the existing pumps.

The stadium’s image was queried – one fan felt it looked a little shabby while being featured on ITV’s “The Championship” last week. While the missing “O” in the West Stand entrance is undoubtedly an irritant, and the unclean and unwieldy design of the dug-outs not being ideal, the chairman felt that overall it looked fine – and noted cheerfully the impressive impact the “Dare to Dream” slogan on the scoreboard had as the ITV man was recording.

Tickets
Much discussion surrounded the Ipswich game on May 4th. City keenly hope to arrange a beam-back to the Circle, although firm arrangements cannot be made until Sky Sports decide which game(s) they wish to broadcast. Meanwhile, all but 700 tickets were purchased today, and remain on sale to those with five previous away matches logged to their customer reference number.

The club’s Away Direct scheme was discussed. At present, this has approximately 300 members, comfortably below the capacity of every away end in the country. However, this figure is likely to rise next season, particularly in the event of City going up. Would this scheme be suspended if it grew to the point at which it exceeded the number of tickets City could get for away matches? This is not something that is unduly exercising the rather overworked ticket office staff at present, although should it arise as an issue in the future it will be looked at. Incidentally, it appears that next season’s scheme will not include the option to return 3/4 tickets, as has been the case thus far. A bit of a shame.

The club’s new season ticket pricing structure appears to penalise mature students, formerly covered by student concessions but now unable to take advantage of the young persons discount that has taken its place. Paul Duffen agreed that this is so, but pointed out that the new scheme assists apprentices, those on training schemes and so on, and observed that student cards are widely abused and in many ways “not valid pieces of ID”.

Other stuff…
One supporter asked if the club could look at broadening the range of retro replica shirts available. DuffMan is perfectly happy to respond to customer demand, although it cannot be denied that while it’s relatively easy to shift lots of replica shirts from the glory days of Liverpool/Man U/whoever, our slightly more, umm, modest history may make this a slightly limited endeavour. Additionally, our endless changing of kit manufacturers during the 1990s could make this tricky. However, the club’s vastly improved commercial savvy means that more retro items are likely to come about as time passes.

The idea of a memorial garden was raised at the last meeting, intended as a focal point for remembering the numerous individuals whose ashes have been spread at the stadium. The chairman is in favour of such a suggestion and stadium manager John Cooper is equally open to the idea – the club will need to speak with the council as such a feature is likely to be on their land.

On a similar note, the potential of city to reach the promised land after 104 years of striving has brought out of the nostalgic in some. Paul Duffen said he’s had numerous instances of people relating to him tales along the lines of “my dad never thought we’d make it/never got to see this”. With so many City fans having come and gone without seeing the top flight, could some way of acknowledging this be incorporated into any celebrations/events if – IF – we make it? The chairman readily agreed.

A rather far-fetched rumour surrounding Sam Allardyce being appointed as a Director of Football was related to the chairman. Wryly amused, DuffMan speedily quashed this suggestion.

A complaint was raised about the way in which the reserves’ fixtures frequently have a change of venue, which is insufficiently advertised. This will be mentioned more prominently on the official website in the future, although with many fans using the programme to plot their stiffs’ expeditions, it may be the case that encouraging the local radio to make mention of late changes. As a follow-up, the chairman was asked about North Ferriby’s United ability to host Premier League reserve football. The chairman said his impeccably able club secretary has not drawn his attention to any such issues. However, substantial investment in the training facilities at Cottingham may be made, which will include considerable spending on irrigation and levelling of the grass, which could cost up to £120,000.

The play-off dates have now been settled upon, including confirmation that the Championship’s final promotion spot will be decided at Wembley on Saturday 24th May.

Praise for the Juniors’ dazzling skills, seen recently on Soccer AM, was noted.

A query regarding the “Polska Tigers”, a group whose Polish flag has become a fairly regular sight in the South Stand was raised. There had been a suggestion that they had been asked to take this down at a recent game by a steward. The club is very keen to encourage anyone of any nationality to attend City games and quite rightly has no problem with flags being shown providing they’re not obstructing vital safety signs or impeding the views of others. Should the Polska Tigers be reading, the club is happy for them to get in touch and talk the issue over.

Pre-season friendlies were raised. Brian Horton is mainly dailing with this, though no firm decisions can be made until we know which division we’ll be in. However, in the event of promotion it is likely that a big European club would play here, and indeed would want to.

And lastly, because we all like such figures, the club has sold some 13,000 season tickets to date, three thousand of which are new applications. The club can only sell a total of slightly over 19,000 in total – DuffMan opined that in the event of promotion, this figured would be “tested”. Remaining space in the ground must be kept for segregation (groan), general sale tickets and away fans. Whether the club will reserve general sale tickets for the North Stand, or whether they’ll sell season tickets there, is yet to be decided. Ironically, promotion would entail the construction of a much posher media gallery in the Upper West Stand, necessitating the removal of 150 seats.


Andy Dalton

Fans Liaison Committee – February 2008

Ticket Office manager Carol Taylor joined Chairman Paul Duffen, Commercial Director Andy Dawson and Fans Liaison Officer Dan Pratt for February’s Fans Liaison Committee meeting at the KC Stadium. On the agenda then was ticketing, in particular the creation of a new loyalty scheme to establish purchase priority for regular fans when tickets are few in number or highly sought after, such as away games, cup games and *gasp* play off games…

Ticket Priority/New CRM system
After the Chelsea game, the club received complaints over the way tickets were allocated to non passholders. The issues were varied but one gripe that arises every time there is a high profile cup game or away game is that of regular match attendees, who for whatever reason are unable to commit to buying a season pass, receiving no priority over those who don’t go to many games.

At the September FLC meeting, when many of these ticketing issues were raised, the club held up its hands and said the system isn’t right, and that the club plan to equip the ticket office with new Customer Relationship Management software that will assist when such matters inevitably arise again.

The CRM system is in place and the club are in the testing stage now, and intend to have everything in place for the start of the 2008/2009 season in August. Yet to be decided though, is the manner in which priority is given, and after researching what loyalty scheme arrangements are in place at other Championship clubs, it was decided that the best model was that of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The FLC were shown details of the scheme at Molineux (http://www.wolves.premiumtv.co.uk/page/LoyaltyScheme/0,,10307,00.html )and asked for their opinions.

Wolves’ fans earn points each time they purchase tickets, notching up 10 points for each game they buy briefs for, be it a league game, a cup game, a home game or an away game. Members of the ‘Young Wolves’ scheme get 50 points, and those who subscribe to the Ticket Priority Scheme, a pass that covers the 8 games considered by Wolves to be the most attractive home league fixtures of the season (strangely, City’s victory at Molineux earlier this year wasn’t one of the Cool garner 100 points. The option for passholders to purchase their own seat for cup or play off games will not change, and Season Ticket Holders will always be in the first queue for tickets as they are awarded 1000 points. A non passholder who buys a ticket for every league game, home and away, would only muster 460 points.

In the run up to a high demand game, the club will announce how many points are needed to have first dibs on a ticket before they go on general sale. All in all, the Molineux model seems a pretty fair system.

It was noted that Wolves do not discriminate between home games and away games, some on the FLC felt attending an away game should entitle a supporter to a few more points, 15 say, instead of 10. Others suggested having a sliding scale that awards more points the farther the away game is from Hull. Attending Plymouth away is more difficult than attending Scunthorpe away and should merit more loyalty points think some.

Wolves say they used to work on that basis but later decided to make all games 10 points after complaints and our club has taken note. City have a passionate band of supporters based in the south, so for them, Plymouth is easier to get to than Scunthorpe, and if say, 30 points were awarded for going to the Plymouth away game, compared to 10 for a home game, that would give a City fan living in or near Plymouth and going to a game there the same amount of points as someone who attends 3 home games, and that didn’t seem right. It’s a potentially contentious issue and one the club would like feedback on, should away games merit more points than home games, or as in the Wolves model should all games be treated as equal? Let us know your views.

The OSC representative wondered if members of the lottery scheme would still receive any preference under the new loyalty point scheme. This is a possibility, though the consensus around the table was that this should only be a small points reward if so, say, one home game worth of points. Commercial director Andy Dawson, when discussing the implementation of the CRM software at a previous meeting, implied that purchases from Tiger Leisure could count towards any loyalty scheme, but Carol Taylor said this isn’t in the club’s thinking at this time, which is good. Buying tiger branded tat is no real indicator of level of support, whereas attending matches, home or away, is.

The Hull City Southern Supporters representative wondered how their members would fare under this scheme, but was given assurances that they would be looked after. 45 of the 105 HCSS members that the club know about are passholders anyway, so automatically qualify for high demand tickets, and the ticket office has a good relationship with the southern contingent and would work problems out as they arose, but given the loyalty of HCSS members, this scheme is more likely to benefit them than prove a hindrance.

The loyalty system will be reset each year, though past data can be used if needed, if say a high demand game comes very early in the season when few game by game points will have been allocated, such as the Chelsea league cup tie this season.

The system is highly flexible, and has some very cool features. Once the club have determined what number of points will be required for first round of sale ticket eligibility, the software has the functionality to text and/or e-mail all those who have the prerequisite point total to say how and when they can get hold of the briefs. The system is ready to use right now, and though the loyalty scheme system will not come into effect till the start of next season, the club will have a ‘dry run’ and collate data on this years ticket sales from now till May so they are fully familiar with how it works come August, and because we might need it should City reach the play offs. Ulp!

Your opinions on the matter are requested, especially with regard to the number of points allocated, and this system will be discussed again next month.

With the main item on the agenda discussed, the meeting reverted to the usual roundtable discussion…

Attendances and Marketing
One FLC member made a stream of consciousness rant about the club not marketing itself that well, hardly fresh news or opinion as we’ve discussed the club doing more to promote itself throughout the city during the last two meetings.

Paul Duffen made the observation that the club didn’t really need to market itself during the time when the team was winning regularly and achieving back to back promotions, but perhaps the club took it’s eyes off the ball in the subsequent years.

The club has done a lot of analysis to see where those who attend City matches are coming from. It appears that the primary demographic is people from outside the city boundaries, those living in the East Riding. This is a stark contrast to the rugby teams whose attendees mostly live in Hull.

The reputation of being a dull side to watch earned last season may have affected ticket sales game to game and it certainly seems to have affected season pass sales in the summer, that number dropped from 14000 to 10000. Having two Super League rugby sides in the city may have had some impact also, overall the number of people watching live sport in the city is increasing, but City’s share is falling.

The efforts to promote the club within the city are ongoing. Discussions with the club’s brewery are ongoing, but that contract is up for renewal anyway and the club are looking at tenders from other breweries. The promotion of the club in brewery pubs will be part of any deal done.

Toilet amenities
Heaters and mirrors were requested for the toilets. It was assumed that the mirrors requested are for above the wash basins, and not so people can watch themselves pee at the urinals. The requests were noted and will be passed to the stadium manager for consideration.

Friendlies abroad
No update on the fan proposed idea of a friendly overseas. This depends on what division we’ll be playing in next year and also needs the consent of the manager. 16 clubs have contacted City about pre-season fixtures but no decisions have been made at this juncture. Some fans would like a trip to Belgium to watch City play Royal Antwerp, who played at the KC Stadium in the summer. That’d be ace, frankly. Someone asked if a pre season tournament was on the cards but Duffman feels not, he thinks there’d be resistance from both the manager and the players, who play more than enough football as it is.

Pitch renovation
A much needed overhaul of the pitch will begin on May 26th, when a good deal of compacted soil will be removed and the pitch re-laid. The work should be done and the new pitch ready in time for the pre-season schedule. Someone asked if there should be a memorial garden created near the stadium since the ashes of some City fans were sprinkled on the pitch, it’s a possibility, but the pitch itself isn’t moving, it’s just having work done on it.

Rugby violence buck passing
A Nectarine asked if there is any will from the club to take the media to task for blaming football fans, namely Hull City fans, for crowd misconduct at Rugby League games. No, was the simple reply. Duffman feels he has said enough on the matter and feels further comment will “give it legs”. As far as the chairman is concerned, if you go to a rugby league match you’re a rugby fan, so if you cause trouble at that match you do so as a rugby league fan, whether you have other sporting affiliations or not, which is a fair point. He also feels that the rugby clubs are in denial about the matter, and would rather pass the blame on than tackle the issue.

Norwich away
There have been reports of some City fans being turned away at the turnstiles at Carrow Road and the HCSS rep said that Norwich appeared to have sold more tickets than the away section could hold. Someone else said that the Canaries ticket office was closed at kick off. Hull City was not aware of this as no one had complained to the club about this.

Unreserved seating abolished
Someone had heard a whisper that unreserved seating would be done away with, they were right. With unreserved seating the KC Stadium operates at only 90% of capacity, and with the club gearing up to playing Premiership football in the not too distant future, the club does not want the restriction of having 2500 seats unavailable to satisfy safety licensing regulations because of unreserved seating. So, from the start of the 2008/09 season, the KC Stadium will be ‘sell to seat’ for football games.

Passholders who want to take a friend to a game at some point can still ‘sell’ their seat back to the ticket office and then get a ticket for elsewhere in the ground where there are two seats together for the passholder and the one time attendee.

Joint passes
This month’s retarded question from the City-Mad meffs was this…

Since some people struggle to afford to go to both Hull City and Hull FC, why not have joint passes for both? “If they can’t afford to go to every game, how will they pay for a joint pass?” asked Duffman. Indeed. Presumably these people want massively reduced prices, which is of no benefit to the clubs and it’s a bit of a slap in the face of regular City passholders, who would pay more per game to watch City than people who watch eggchasing too. Here’s a tip, stop being a rugby meff and just watch City.

E1 Seating
Closed following crowd disturbances at the West Brom home game, the first block of seating in the East Stand will re-open for the Burnley game. However this area will be available to passholders only for the time being, and no migration will be permitted.

Some felt the stewarding was needlessly aggressive at the Blackpool game, when fans from both sides were ejected for what some perceived was ‘just banter’. It was queried why an ejected Blackpool fan was escorted, and effectively paraded to the City fans, to the large corner exit when he was near a vomitary and could have been taken out there with a minimum of fuss and showiness. Overall it is felt that stewarding and policing of the KC Stadium has improved though, stewards are directed to take a common sense approach to fans standing and the club now have a much improved dialogue with the local police force. Indeed the Football League recently cited the club as an example of good stewarding. One rep was tasked with asking what the chairman ‘made of the police’s meet and greet policy and the effect it has on atmosphere’, a question that baffled most in the room. Meet and greet? Eh?

Someone asked why away fans are not held back after games. Err, because we have a great big fence separating the sets of fans which renders holdbacks unnecessary. The club are satisfied with the current egress plan.

Sports Bar
There were no seats in the Sports Bar on a recent matchday. They haven’t been permanently removed, they were being cleaned.

There were fewer recurrent problems in the Sports Bar when there was a designated manager, but he left, the club will look at replacing him.

The price of Coke has been reduced in the bar and lounges, if you think draft lager is pricey, consider that a pint of Georgia black water would previously have set you back £3.60!

Food counters
The food counter shutters are in need of a good clean, at a recent game, a glob of chewed and discarded gum that was stuck to the underside of the shutters fell into one fan’s hot drink, eew! This was noted.

Miscellaneous
The no hot water problem appears to have migrated from the West Stand to the South.

There will be no more block bookings for the Tiger Travel service. Several instances of passengers flouting the no alcohol rule have led the club to change how they sell seats on the coaches, from now the club will only issue tickets to named fans.

Some City fans from Goole wanted to be picked up on the side of the road but this isn’t going to happen. Some fans request individual pick ups but this is very hard to organise and leads to resentment from those who live in outlying areas and do make the trip to the KC Stadium for Tiger Travel pickup.

The City branded plaggy beer glasses should be in use by the season’s end. Will they be available to buy? Um, maybe.

Research suggests that backpack clad drinks hawkers are more effective when selling cold drinks on hot days rather than the other way round, so you may not see them again ’til August. If you saw them at all that is, there have been more sightings of Bigfoot* at the Circle than these alleged hawkers.

*More than likely, they saw batfink, as Bigfoot doesn’t wear adidas track tops.


Les Motherby

Fans Liaison Committee – January 2008

The Fans Liaison Committee convened on Wednesday 16th January, ending the disturbingly Masonic sounding practice of meeting on the third Thursday of each month. Chairman Paul Duffen was in attendance, the first time since October, the last two gatherings were catering and stadium operations themed so he made way for specialists in those fields, but tonight saw a return to the open discussion format with City’s head honcho. The following topics were raised/fat chewed…

Board of directors
Little is known about the boardroom structure of the club, and it was asked who does what. Duffman explained that he along with James Craddock and Andy Dawson are executive directors , Russell Bartlett and Martin Walker and non executive directors, simply because they have other businesses to run on a day to day basis. The chairman failed to elaborate just how much say the non executive directors have in the running of the club, or what their financial stake in the club is.

Visual presence
After the topic was raised at previous FLC meetings, the club are looking to increase the clubs visual presence throughout the city and local suburbs. As an update the chairman said the club are in discussions with their brewery (Coors) to have some branding put into their 85 licensed premises, beer mats with City fixtures on, that kind of thing. Advertising on buses was discussed but the marketing department don’t feel this is cost-effective.

Hull City also want to increase the amount of club branding in the stadium to make it look “less civic”, this will include a redecoration of the Circle restaurant and having club logos on the kiosks that are removable for when the stadium is used for rugby.

Article duplication
There was a complaint that articles in the matchday programme are often recycled City magazine pieces, in particular player interviews which are sometimes duplicated word for word. This complaint was noted.

Kit design
It was asked if the supporters could have greater input as regards the design of new kits. This has happened in previous years when fans were shown 4 designs in the programme that supporters could then vote for, the rather lovely 1999/2000 kit (striped Avec shirt with red IBC sponsor logo) was chosen in this manner, though that excellent choice was countered the following year when the kit supposedly chosen was dishrag yellow and had white underarms (if you voted for that monstrosity, you are deserving of a kick in the cock). The chairman said the club are happy to have collaborative input from fans in principal, but this isn’t always practical given the timescales involved, not to mention that the kit manufacturer themselves have a big say on the matter. The current supplier, Umbro, generally have kit templates that are then tweaked to suit the club they are for, if you compare the current City shirts with Everton’s for example, the design is identical, only the colours, club crests and sponsors logos differ. In that regard, there isn’t that much room for fan opinion, so no matter how much Hull City Online users want it, there won’t be purple hearts and yellow moons on the shoulders of future kits.

Surely though the fans could have some input on whether we have a plain amber or black and amber striped shirt? Paul Duffen noted that when we have a striped shirt, plain shirt enthusiasts grumble, and when we have plain shirts, those who favour stripes raise their voice in protest. “Whenever the club has polled fans on the plain or stripes preference, the vote is roughly 60-40 in favour of what we haven’t got at the time” mused Duffman. It is likely then that the club will alternate between stripes and plain shirts with each redesign, “so we’ll be in striped shirts next season then” said one FLC sleuth. Apparently so.

TT TV’s
All Tiger Travel coaches should be equipped with a TV set and a toilet. There was no TV on the coach to Southampton apparently. I presume there was a toilet onboard, though that may not have stopped some Tiger Travellers having pee-stained pants.

FA Cup
Some feel that we don’t take the FA Cup seriously and field ‘weakened’ sides (i.e.. we start Sam Collins) and wondered what the chairman’s take on this was. Duffman acknowledges that a few team changes were made for the 3rd Round trip to Plymouth but feels that those changes should be viewed in context, the cup tie was our fifth game in fifteen days and some players needed a rest. Phil Brown felt the side chosen was strong enough to progress, and despite a horrid start to the game City did play competitively, “we won the second half 2-1″ said the chairman quasi-apologetically. From his point of view, as the man in charge of the purse strings, the revenue generated from a cup run is much desired, but the club also need to think about the players and it is “important to rest weary players”.

Hot drink temperature/Cardboard sleeves
You’d be amazed at how much time football fans and club officials can spend discussing little bits of cardboard, not my idea of fun like, but nonetheless… At the Charlton game a coffee was bought for a young girl sat in the West Stand, the unsheathed plastic cup was too hot to hold she dropped it, spilling boiling liquid on her thighs. Not good.

There was an investigation into this and it turns out that the hot water dispenser at the kiosk where the coffee was purchased was set at the wrong temperature and water from it was far too hot. This was changed and all other dispensers checked. Also, the club started giving away cardboard sleeves with hot drinks so that holding plastic cups full of heated liquid is more bearable. The West Stand FLC rep says that the girl’s family are upset that they have had no correspondence from the club, a bit churlish perhaps since the club have taken action. Maybe they want Paul Duffen to personally crochet one of these… http://www.magknits.com/warm04/patterns/java.htm

While on the subject of hot drinks, someone suggested having hawkers with hot drink filled backpacks. These already exist (apparently), and that nobody knows about them tells the chairman that they’re useless, so they may be dispensed with.

Sports Bar
Previously people not drinking firewater could not obtain a hot drink in the Sports Bar, now they can. Betting slips are readily available in the Sports Bar now but many people can’t find them, could the bookies have a branded board somewhere in the room so you can clearly see where the slips and pens are located. The match highlights shown on the main stadium screen, could they be shown on the Sports Bar tellies? maybe, the FLO will look into it.

Beer Prices This won’t be popular but the price of ale will be going up as from the Blackpool home game (9th February). From then a pint will set you back £2.80. The club’s brewery pushed for these price increases at the start of the season but the club resisted and has even subsidised the cost of lager since then, but this can’t go on so you’ll be paying 10p more if you fancy a pint.

The club plan to order plastic glasses with the club crest on, that will look ace and err, not unlike Amber Nectar’s pint glass logo. No greater flattery than plagiarism eh?

The previously suggested idea of pre-ordering beer and receiving a voucher redeemable at the beer kiosks has been rejected as unworkable. The club are open to suggestions of how to fast track the purchase of ale on the overcrowded concourses but feel this is administratively difficult. One bloke wouldn’t take no for an answer and went on and fucking on about this, saying such a scheme worked at the theatre, aye, the East Stand concourse and the bar at Hull Truck are uncannily similar. Groan.

Ticket Price Offers
Where the recent ticket price initiatives such as the ‘Buy two, get one free’ and ‘Six pack’ drives well subscribed to asked one Tiger National? The take up was in the hundreds and not thousands but nonetheless the club view the drives as successes. Someone noted that if child tickets were bought as part of the six tickets for the price of five offer and the West Brom game was one of the six games chosen, then the Kids For A Quid scheme for the West Brom game would have meant paying more for a WBA game ticket as part of the six-for-five offer than if you’d paid on the day for the Baggies game. The club had identified this pricing contradiction and refunds were offered to those who had the West Brom game as part of the Six Pack. Clear on that? Nah, me neither. 2,600 young ‘uns took advantage of the Kids For A Quid offer.

CRM system
The club have a meeting scheduled for 20th February to discuss the implementation of the Customer Relationship Management software, which will assist the club when it comes to discerning who is most deserving of cup or away tickets when there is a high demand. The system is due to go live in March and will allow the club to build up a profile of each supporter and grade them based on ticket and merchandise purchases, this information will be used when issues of ticket priority arise.

Big screen
The evenings most ludicrous question came from some Hull City Online meff (as usual). “Why does the big screen show the game being played?” Duffman was flummoxed by this question, and no wonder, what do they want it to show? Ready, Steady, Cook? Al-Jazeera news? Idiots.

As the screen’s operators get further through the instruction manual they’ll be looking to add new features and make incremental improvements, more replays are planned for a start. Someone asked for the score and clock to be made bigger so it’s more easily readable from the South Stand, this will be done.

Londesbrough Street Walkway
The footbridge is covered in tods. Dogtods, hosstods, walrustods, it’s a veritable festival of faeces and no laughing matter for people who value their trainers. You know what the club’s response is already, that tract of land is the Council’s responsibility and this will be added to the list of things the club have asked the borough to sort with little expectation of it actually happening.

Miscellaneous
The search for the Golden Fleece…sorry…the old Hull City railway plaque is still to bear fruit.

The stadium Founder Members plaque that was in the West Stand reception area has been relocated, but fret not, it still exists.

The club is pricing up child sized urinals and hopes to have them in place by the season’s end.

Can we play a pre-season game abroad? In Antwerp maybe! Duffman will consider it but the manager’s consent is needed.

Some TV’s have been moved to the East Stand concourse, the club removed a fair few to discourage people standing about where folks are queuing for beer, the bookies or a slash, but they was a little too zealous and some have been put back in.

Though it was brought up at the catering meeting, the point that there is never enough balti pies was raised yet again.

Some new lights have been installed outside the ground in the south/east corner, and the club continue to harangue the Council over the need for better lighting near the Anlaby Road flyover. The club have written to some people who park in the stadium perimeter bays and attempt to drive through crowds of people just after full time. A condition of holding a perimeter parking permit is that they wait until 15 minutes after the game has finished to let the crowd dissipate somewhat. Stewards will take the license plate numbers of those breaching these terms and if they persist after being warned, the parking permit will be revoked.

The Football League have recognised and praised the club’s work to build and maintain a good relationship with the supporters.

The man of the match text votes count for just the match voted on and are not tallied up for any end of season award, but the club would consider it if there is a groundswell of support for it.

 

Les Motherby