Fans Liaison Committee – March 2006

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The Fans’ Liaison Committee held its regular meeting at the Circle last night, and discussed the following topics…

Boothferry Park
A question was asked about Boothferry Park’s ownership, one fan wondered if the club could hold a nostalgic open day at City’s former home. However the club no longer own the old stadium and have no right of access to it. A housing development is planned for the site and the relocation of Kwiksave is being negotiated. The club do hope that items from the stadium (i.e. seats) can be removed and offered to supporters at a later date, although this is dependent upon the site owner granting consent.

Groundshare
The issue of groundsharing in the Premier League, should we ever make it, was raised. The Football League have recently signed up to the same regulations as the Premier League, which oblige football clubs to offer assurances that they can fulfil fixtures no matter what. This necessitated a discussion with the rugby lot, but City have priority when it comes to use of the ground and Pearson notes that the relationship with the rugby club is excellent and that a fixture clash remains unlikely. Wigan Athletic’s Premier League excursion has set a useful precedent in terms of top-flight clubs being permitted to groundshare.

Litter
A large amount of litter has built up on the footbridge and the walkway towards the stadium coming from Argyle Street. This, and everything else on the stadium complex, is the responsibility of the SMC and will be tidied up ahead of Saturday’s fixture and maintained in future.

Bar stools
The familiar gripe about insufficient stools in the Sports Bar was raised. The last count was 18 for a venue that regularly attracts upwards of 350 people on a matchday. The Chairman suspects that there are sufficient chairs in the ground but they’ve been hidden somewhere! This matter should finally be resolved soon.

Policing
The club are deeply unhappy about Humberside Police’s maddening decision to impose a 12pm kick off for the Leeds home game. The chairman opined that our best chance of gaining a result would be to have a 3pm kick off and whip up a fervent atmosphere, and is aggrieved that the police’s implied inability to look after football fans has denied us this. He added that a 3pm kick-off against Leeds is unlikely to ever occur, a sorry state of affairs indeed.

Gate
Positive comments were offered about the club’s decision to have the gate at the North-East corner open before games. The chairman admitted that keeping it closed prior to kick off was perhaps a step too far but that the club have learnt the lesson from the exercise. It inconvenienced East Stand ticketholders and was also affecting takings in the club shop – not the driving force behind the decision but certainly a factor. With luck, the gate will remain open before all future home games, including Leeds United. For the time being though, the policy of keeping the gate closed after the game will remain in place regardless of the opposition.

Pitch
The state of the pitch was commented upon. It is definitely looking worse for wear but cannot simply be relaid, the artificial elements woven into the turf mean only a re-growing will help. It will receive a two-week rest period during the optimum growing season in June, during which the groundstaff are optimistic that major improvements can be made. The chairman noted that the Council are upset that Skirlaugh’s amateur eggchasers have been refused permission to stampede across the pitch this month, but they have no more right to use it than you or I have to play an impromptu game of headers and volleys there. It is simply not in the interests of City or Hull FC to allow more wear and tear on a surface that Pearson suggests could be the most heavily used pitch in the country. Despite appearances, City’s players have said that the pitch plays well and they have no problems with it.

Leicester away game
Leicester City’s farcical handling of getting ticketless fans into the Walkers Stadium last week was raised. City first made a formal complaint to LCFC at 2.20pm when it became clear that they had massively underestimated our support. Nothing was done, despite communications by the Fans’ Liaison Officer, the club secretary and the chairman. The club are very disappointed by Leicester’s attitude. 1,740 tickets were sold prior to kick-off and an official away attendance of 2,400 was announced, a figure that has raised a few eyebrows. Amber Nectar wrote to Leicester City last week and received a reply that “records show that Hull City has an average ticketless away following of 160″ – quite where this figure has come from is anyone’s guess, but it was something of a surprise to the chairman. We were also told that 1,200 ticketless fans arrived and caused the problem, which would suggest that their stated total figure of 2,400 is plainly untrue. We were also told that it is the first time this has happened at the Walkers Stadium, an assertion immediately contradicted by the chairman and the FLO. We will be in touch with Leicester City again this week (and if necessary, the Football League and the FA) to try to uncover just what went wrong. At no point did Leicester contact the FLO to enquire as to our likely following. We will report back on this.

Season tickets
Many queries about season tickets have been raised. The chairman said that the earliness of the renewal date is a valid issue, as it is 2/3 weeks earlier than the past seasons at the Circle. Although seats need to be reserved by April 8th, payment does not start until May 26th, a point stressed by AP. He also feels that the £12 fee for spreading the payment across 12 months is a fair one for being able to stagger it for such a long period, and reflects well compared to other clubs – take-up of this scheme has also been strong. The club has noted that a lot of people are unhappy about being invited to make a decision while the possibility of relegation remains, but it is also true that the discount period rewards those will make a financial commitment to the club come what may. The FLO noted that he had received a glut of emails from people expecting their seat to be reserved for now even though they have no intention of renewing should City be relegated. The U7s pass, which is just £100, applies throughout the stadium. Incidentally, by means of comparison Leeds United fans are required to book for the following season in early February. Scunthorpe’s renewal date is early July.

New kit
Mock-ups of next season’s kit were shown to the committee. Bold black and amber stripes remain the order of the day, with black shorts with amber panels and black socks with amber trim. City are seeking a national sponsor for the 2007/8 when the Bonus deal expires, although they will remain an associate sponsor of the club and the chairman noted his gratitude for their unswerving support during darker times. Please click on the thumbnailed image below to view these mock-ups in full.

Miscellaneous
A rather peculiar issue regarding ball rotation was mentioned. It appears that if the ball is thrown onto the pitch from the stands twice during a game and causes the match to be held up, the ball rotation system is suspended. Seemingly a piece of trivia, but the club want to have ball rotation in place for home matches to prevent away sides slowing things down – a la Plymouth’s keeper – and hope that fans throw the ball straight back to ball-boys rather than onto the pitch. You learn something every day.

A request was made for a pre-season tour. This is something the chairman would be happy to arrange for a future time (though probably not this summer) if the manager wants to do it. Peter Taylor has organised tours of Norway with past clubs and the chairman appreciated the benefits that could come from a tour abroad, even if just a couple of games in Holland.

This summer’s open day was raised, particularly an issue with collecting autographs from the players. Last summer, the players were split into the three rooms, which reportedly caused difficulties for some young fans in collecting all of the signatures. The players were split to prevent one massive queue forming around a single table with those at the back unable to get any signatures by the time the players left for the training session on the pitch, the idea being that this way many will get some signatures rather than a few getting all of them and most getting none. This will be repeated for the 2006 open day – anyone who is unable to collect a full set of signatures is invited to the write to the club, and they will provide them.

Friendlies are currently being arranged – Aston Villa at the KC on July 25th is pencilled in, with one more home friendly to be arranged, possibly against a foreign side. Happily, the annual fixture at North Ferriby is being retained. Adam Pearson noted that David O’ Leary is keen to come to Hull because we are a ‘nice team with a nice set up and our players don’t get kicked.’ He’s clearly unaware that we’ve signed Jon Parkin!

City have received a warning over plastic bottle-throwing incidents in the North East corner. However, the FA and FL are pleased that the club is actively taking measures against this and immediate sanctions are unlikely.

Baffling, the Upper West stand ran out of pies for the last game and the Lower West stand ran out of lager. The club is puzzled as to why supplies were simply not switched from kiosks with available items, there is a radio link between the kiosks for such eventualities.

The state of the PA system was raised – it is reportedly very muffled in the South Stand. The difficulty appears to be with Steve Jordan’s roving microphone while on the pitch, as the quality is generally excellent when announcements are made using the static mics in the PA booth. The company charged with maintaining the system attend every match and are generally eager to provide a good service, so hopefully things will improve soon.

A bout a dozen final warnings have been issued and one fan has had his parking pass on the stadium perimeter rescinded for attempting to drive away when the crowd is leaving, a staggeringly stupid act. The stewards are being asked to keep on eye on this with the club concerned that serious injuries are being risked by those who merrily drive off with 18,000 people attempting to leave a football ground.

More complaints about direct debits being taken out of accounts toward the end of a month rather than the beginning were aired. This will no doubt crop up again unless sorted, and we’ll see what action has been taken ahead of the next meeting. The chairman has assured us it will be looked at.

The FLO attended a forum at Glanford Park last week at which the issue of smoking in stadia was discussed. Derby and Wigan have recently made their grounds no-smoking. Curiously, Derby have an option whereby fans can have their hands stamped and can exit the ground for their nicotine fix in a stewarded area. The hassle of this saw low up-take at Pride Park, and both clubs reported that the move to no-smoking has been fairly smooth. City’s intention remains to make the Circle a no-smoking ground when, as seems inevitable, the FL dictates that they must. The sentiment around the table was in favour of a total ban earlier than that – the club will organise a means of collecting a broader section of opinions on this issue.

Programme sellers close to the new pathway by the crêche are causing an obstruction and will be repositioned for the next game.

Ian Ashbee’s recovery is continuing well. There is no prospect of an immediate return to the side but the beginning of next season is the target.

Finally, the chairman discussed the club’s plans for this summer. 5/6 new signings will be made, with the emphasis upon experience at this level as City seek to build upon this season’s (very much hoped for) survival. Household names seeking final paydays will not be the order of the day, but the manager is aware that inexperience has cost us this season.

Peter Taylor is keen on Alan Rogers and the player likes being here, but there is no urgency to sign him. Rogers currently has one more year on a £10,000 a week contract and though Forest have hinted that they don’t want the player back, they would need to put off that contract in order for City to sign him an a much more reasonable wage.
A shake up of the play off format for the Championship is in the offing.

The next meeting will be on Monday 8th May – one is not scheduled for next month as there is a Fans’ Forum on April 19th. As usual, the message boards are available for anyone with any queries for the next meeting or comments upon this one.

 

Andy Dalton

Fans Liaison Committee – February 2006


Official Coach Travel

An issue was raised pertaining to the official coaches that had travelled to Luton. After arriving very early for the match (“too early” in the view of the local constabulary), supporters were frustrated that they were unable to disembark on police orders, meaning they were kept aboard for 45 minutes. The frustration of this was added to by the fact that City fans were clearly walking the streets close to them, and that the communication by the on-board stewards were deficient. The club will examine ways of training the stewards to increase their ability to deal with situations and liase better, and information about delays and service station stops will be more clearly given out.

Smoking In Vomitaries
The thorny issue of smoking at the stadium was again raised. With more clubs banning the habit entirely from the ground and complaints about the smoky atmosphere on the concourses being added to by smokers gathering in the exit gangways, there is increasing pressure on the club to declare the ground a No-Smoking stadium. Some fans have been seen smoking in seats which the club are plainly unprepared to accept.

Lower Admission Prices
Most people were broadly supportive of the club’s decision to lower matchday admission prices for the upcoming Plymouth and Crewe fixtures. However, the club acknowledges that these have not been universally popular among existing season ticket holders, particularly newer ones. However, their view is that the benefits of holding a season ticket far outweighs the benefits of two discounted fixtures against two of the lesser attractions in the Championship, and note that it will boost support for two vital fixtures and the potential long-term gains in terms of possibly creating more regular fans are considerable.

Leeds Fixture Change
The club are unhappy with Humberside Police’s dismally predictable decision to enforce a midday kick-off for the Leeds United home fixture. It is frustrating given West Yorkshire Police’s letter of commendation about our conduct at Elland Road (which recommends a full allocation and no travel restrictions the next time we travel there, and was not seen fit for publication by the local newspaper), and presents the club with a number of unwanted difficulties. From a commercial perspective, the club will lose revenue in terms of corporate activities, sales at the kiosks will be lower than usual and becase greater segregation than usual/necessary may cut the capacity. City are intending to give Leeds a full allocation of 2,500, possibly 3,000 and a beamback to Elland Road is likely once they sell out.

On a wider scale, the club are still pushing for the introduction of a national task force to oversee police operations at football. Costs are being hiked up to ridiculous levels and a number of clubs are suffering disproportionately to their competitors. About 10 clubs in the Championship support this stance.


Miscellaneous

To ease the flow of supporters exiting the stadium, the chairman has agreed to look into the possibility of keeping the Arena open until beyond 5pm. Also, the club will investigate the feasibility of opening the steel doors on the concourses after the match so that fans can walk right the way around the stadium. Stewards will be reminded that supporters gathering in the exits and causing an obstruction and impeding the view of others should be discouraged.

The food kiosks by the pitch that serve fans in the East Stand will be rolled out to the South Stand.

The club intends to introduce a new home shirt every season from now on, and designs for the 2006/7 shirt will be available soon.

Dennis Wise and the match referee did not make a great fuss over the incident by the East Stand at the end of the Coventry match, although it has been reported to the FA.

Those wishing to purchase season tickets with the greatest discount will have until April 15th to do so. Prices are being held firmly in check, with large number of fans eligible for a pass at 2005/6 prices and some may even be reduced. A pass costing £100 will be available for Under 7s. Matchday admission prices for children will be frozen or possibly reduced. The club is very eager to build upon the existing base of 11,500 season ticket holders (excluding 1,000 Premier Club members) as we attempt to progress in the Championship.

A 12-month payment plan will be introduced for season ticket holders with a £12 administrative charge in conjuction with the existing 4-month payment plan.

The new paved area close to the creche has made a useful difference, and the club are now intending to cost some replacements for the low posts that prevent vehicular access through some areas because of their awkward height and low visibility in a crowd. The police have been informed about the preponderance of horseshit that their beasties deposit around the stadium, though whether that’ll translate into a manure-free utopia is anyone’s guess.

A question was raised about ownership of the new training facilities. The chairman stressed that these are an asset of Hull City and not the Stadium Management Company.

Three-year season tickets will again be available to purchase this summer. Saturdays-only passes are not an option the club is considering.

A complaint was brought about the speed at which the kiosks were operating at half-time in the West Stand, with a suggestion that the difficulty has arisen not as a consequence of understaffing but poor organisation.

Away fans are being sighted in the West Stand on a semi-regular basis. This is clearly against club policy and where possible those discovered to be away fans will be moved to the North Stand.

Music after a goal was raised (again), and unanimously opposed (again).

Your humble note-taker observed that Jon Parkin is ace.

A fans’ forum is being planned for the end of the season, at which the manager and chairman will both be attending. An Open Day for the summer is being prepared, along with various events coinciding with school holidays at which younger fans can meet the players.

Finally, the chairman spoke about the club’s plans for the summer with regards to player recruitment. He expressed concern that his recent utterances had been interpreted as an indication that City will be bringing in “household names” this summer to boost the squad. At this stage of the club’s growth this is neither possible nor sensible. Instead, the policy – which is that of the manager, not just the chairman – is to bring in players with Championship experience, who can add to the side their knowledge of playing and succeeding at this level. The club will slightly increase its wage bill next season in line with increased turnover, and this will fund 4/5 signings in key areas. The chairman was keen to stress that although they may not be “famous” players, he does not want old players seeking one final glorious pay day, the club’s ethos has always been to sign young, hungry players with plenty to prove and hopes that we will not be disappointed if we are not seen signing ex-Premier League stars.

The next meeting is on Monday 6th March 2006. The two main topics for discussion will be:

– pre-match music, what should it consist of? Does it matter what is played in the run-up to kick-off?
– Smoking: should the Circle become a no-smoking ground? Should a smoking area of the concourse be introduced? What should be done to balance the interests of smokers with those of the non-smoking majority?


Andy Dalton

Fans Liaison Committee – December 2005


Loyalty Scheme

The meeting opened with a discussion of the club’s intentions to implement a loyalty scheme for supporters which awards points for attending away games to determine priority for occasions when demand for away tickets exceeds supply. The committee agreed that this is a good idea ans that fan reaction had been positive. The exact nature of the points scheme is yet to be determined, one simple method offered was to base points scored on reversal of our own categorisation of home games – ie, attending Plymouth away (a “B” home fixture) would be rewarded with more points than Leeds away (an “A” home fixture).

Difficulties must be overcome, however. It will require supporters to buy away tickets using their own Customer Number at the club, so that points can be correctly allocated. At present, it is often the case that one person buys a batch of tickets for a group of friends, so in future it may be necessary to provide a list of names and customer numbers so that points can be given out. This has been an issue with Leeds tickets, with quite a few people having been to 3+ away games but being unable to prove it due to not buying tickets on their own customer number. The club intends to contact fans in the future to advise them of how the scheme will work and the benefits of using their Customer Number, as these will “become more important as the club progresses”.

The scheme Sunderland use was researched by one committee member. Fans there have a unique customer number, and at the start of each season are invited to apply for away tickets for every game. Those who commit to buying the most receive higher priority when lesser allocations are available. The scheme runs on a rolling basis over three years.

As an aside, it was noted that fans are becoming more accustomed to pre-purchasing tickets – the considerable majority of home tickets this season have been bought in advance, it is estimated only 300-400 tickets are bought on a match day.

Policing
The attitude of the police, home and away to fans, was discussed at length. The club accepts that the police had a “difficult afternoon” for the visit of Cardiff’s knuckle-scrapers. Future meetings are scheduled between the club and Humberside Police. It was the case that the two sets of supporters were successfully kept apart inside and outside the ground (the much maligned fence playing a part in this), which can only be a good thing, although the police’s decision to send fully kitted riot police to glower at those in the East Stand while Cardiff fans were assaulting stewards (several were hospitalised) was criticised. The chairman said that the restraint of the City fans “showed us in an excellent light”.

There was a minor commotion outside the East Stand on Saturday – the reason for this may be that the police identified 150 Sheffield Wednesday fans whom they were eager to escort to the train station as soon as possible to have them on the 6pm train to Sheffield, and not hanging around Hull for another three hours awaiting the next one. A voluntary holdback was in operation, and was judged a reasonable success. Additionally, no alcohol was on sale to away fans on Saturday, another consequence of ill-behaved Welsh types a week earlier. This measure may now be implemented at other high-profile home matches this season.

Adam Pearson is pushing very hard for a nationwide task force to examine and monitor police operations at football stadia across the country, with the aim being to standardise operations, and also costs, which are rising exorbitantly as police forces become ever keener to recoup costs from football clubs. Sadly, only 50% of Championship clubs concurred with such idea (70% was needed to carry the motion), the reason being that several clubs currently receive excellent deals from their local police forces and are probably unwilling to rock the boat. Leicester, who also received a stupidly high police bill, are as keen as City to see some standardisation. Derby County pay significantly less than Leicester although the clubs have comparable attendances and are just down the road from each other.

The Sheffield United match, which Sky wished to televise, is not being played on the Bank Holiday as the police felt unable to cover it adequately, or at a cost that would be even remotely close to reasonable. The club are remaining fairly diplomatic about this, despite the loss of £60,000 in television money – those whose taxes fund Humberside Police may arrive at a less charitable viewpoint.

That bloody bus
Another complaint was registered about the silver community bus that parks outside the South Stand and causes an obstacle after matches. This will no longer block egress points from the stadium, although it will remain in close proximity to the ground to assist disabled supporters.

Beamback
A query was made by an Amber Nectar contributor about the prospect about hosting the Leeds beamback in the Arena rather than the stadium itself. The reason for having it at the stadium is sheer numbers – the arena could house only 1,700, and that many tickets have already been sold and the club are expecting 4-5000 will attend the beamback. The Sports Bar will be open, and the chairman has agreed to buy a number of programmes from Leeds to sell at the Circle on the day.

Miscellaneous
A complaint was made about West Stand turnstiles shutting at 3.05pm for the Watford match – this will be looked into, and a repeat hopefully prevented.

The issue of coffee cups was made, both about the occasional lack of lids for hot drinks and the difficulty of holding a scalding hot beverage. Possible solutions may include a paper holder, Starbucks stylee, or polystyrene cups in the future.

The shocking condition of the pathway by the crêche was raised. This has seen increased usage since the fence was erected, and with the onset of winter has become treacherously muddy. John Cooper is aware of the situation, and is meeting representatives of Hull City Council this week to discuss improvements to the area.

The prospect of a second KC windfall for the council was mentioned, with reference to possible financing of stadium developments. With Labour in danger of losing power to the Liberal Democrats, the situation is currently unclear. However, should yet more cash be raised through a further sale of the telecoms company it is not likely to find its way towards improving the stadium, as the two political parties (particularly the Liberal Democrats, who opposed the building of it) will pledge it towards ‘worthier’ causes. The club submitted two possible expansion schemes into planning a while ago, which is little more than a technicality at this stage.

The chairman spoke positively of the gates this season – averaging 18,000+ with the side struggling and no appreciable rise (yet) in away support is quite something. Favourable comparisons were drawn with Sheffield United and Leeds, both of whom are barely eclipsing the Tigers yet are having much better seasons. The Championship now draws the fourth highest gatest of any league in Europe, and is the only of the four divisions to see an increase this season. Rumours that this is because City are massive and ace are probably well-founded.

Pearson noted that the Villa game is maybe a trifle over-priced, although commented that it would have taken quite a significant reduction in prices to have an appreciable impact upon the attendance. Around 18,000 are expected, including 3,000 from Aston Villa. They were in favour of keeping prices at the usual matchday level, but were comfortable to negotiate with City – how admirably mature. Prices of £20/£10 will be in place in the massively unlikely event of us not losing this televised game and forcing a replay.

Comments about the muffled PA in the East Stand were again made. Although it appears to be crystal clear in the West, the quality in the East has never been great. A full audit of the system is planned soon.

Some fans noted that some of the televisions on the concourses were missing at the last home game, they haven’t been permanantly removed, they’ve been sent away for repairs and servicing and will be back soon, and in future at full time will be weighted more in favour of live Final Score programmes rather than the club’s in-house programming.

The committee was shown two draft proposals for next season’s home shirts. Both designs feature sexily thick black and amber stripes (hurrah), one features a round-neck and the other has a proper collar. The committee slightly preferred the look of the proper-collared one. Diadora should have some samples ready soon, hopefully in time for the next meeting. Also, do you prefer black socks or amber to go with a striped shirt. Feedback on the kit issue would be particularly welcome.

The situation on the Walton Street carpark is not great, with traffic wardens and stewards seemingly issuing contradictary instructions, including the rather bizarre forbidding of drivers turning left from the “left turn only” exit. The club is not happy, with a particularly detoriartion noticed in the past two games. Reports of traffic taking an hour to leave have been made.

Issues with the Sports Bar were raised, including the perennial gripe about Radio Humberside not being turned on, the live football being turned off and there being too few stools. A proper bar manager may now be installed to oversee the place and ensure it is run correctly.

Smoking within the stadium is gradually creeping up, with some supporters smoking in their seats during games. There have also been requests to make the concourses no-smoking areas. With the Government’s attitude to smoking in public places taking an authoritarian turn lately, the chairman suggested that legislation may soon be introduced to prevent smoking anywhere in the stadium. For this reason, the club will probably not prohibit it themselves and will leave that to another swathe of Government meddling.

Peter Taylor is looking to sign another forward in the January transfer window, although no names are known yet. With safety (hopefully) achieved in April, the manager and chairman will be plotting the next stage of Tiger Nation World Domination, consisting of the signing of 3/4 players with the ability to kick us on next season. A reasonable approach has been taken by fans and management this season about the need to survive, however the club’s ambitions exceed the mere treading of water at this level.

Players have not been loaned out this season because of the club’s gargantuan injury list, although the chairman spoke of the value this can have. Matt Duke appears to have benefitted from his stay at Stockport. No firm offers have been made for any City players (including Boaz Myhill), save for interst in Kevin Ellison and Jason Price, neither of whom the manager wished to release.

The next meeting will take place on Monday 9th January 2006. The two main topics for discussion will be:

– ticket prices for next season. The club are hoping to cap increases wherever possible at a fair level; the chairman spoke of a “moral” aspect to keeping football affordable.
– more about the police: how can things be improved at home matches, and what are supporters’ experiences with them recently?

Andy Dalton

Fans Liaison Committee – October 2005

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Car park lighting
The lighting outside the East Stand and on Walton Street carpark is inadequate, and with winter approaching this needs resolving. The club acknowledged this will endeavour to improve the lighting around the ground, the car park lighting is the domain of the Council, the club will inform them of the lamp failures.

Leeds ticket allocation
Leeds United have indicated they will allocate City 1,750 tickets for the fixture at Elland Road away on New Year’s Eve, though this allocation may be partially dependent upon the success of Leeds’ home fixture with Sheffield United on October 21st, Leeds could yet halve the allocation not yet out of the question. The club are strongly opposed to the police enforcing mandatory coach travel from Hull, although the respective police forces have decided upon this. With demand certain to outweigh supply, the chairman will be arranging a beamback for supporters at the KC Stadium on the largest screen the club can find and holding prices to about £5.

Public Address
It was suggested that the PA announcer shouting “come on, get behind the Tigers” prior to kick-off is unnecessary and just a bit naff. Attempts to involve the crowd in shouting a player’s surname after scoring a goal (“the scorer is Ben…..” fell rather flat, although it may be tried again in the future. A brief discussion was held on the atmosphere at games – after the equaliser against Millwall it was very loud, and the chairman feels there is no real problem with it. The away support given at Norwich was mentioned in glowing terms.

Away Direct
Difficulties with the Away Direct scheme were raised, with members wanting to arrange for family members/friends to get tickets next to one another at away fixtures. The ticket office will attempt to seat people together where possible and should use “common sense”, although where an allocation is likely to be filled this may not always be possible. Away Direct itself is considered a success. For next season, they club may examine a means of allowing supporters to deposit money into a fund for the scheme to spread the cost of away tickets.

The rash of all-ticket games this season is partially due to the habits of clubs with recent Premier League experience, for whom the majority of fixtures were all-ticket and sold-out. The club will attempt to communicate it earlier should all-ticket games become pay on the day.

Cup games
One fan had questioned City’s attitude to cup competitions following the disappointing first round League Cup exit at Blackpool. The chairman gave assurances that City will be taking the FA Cup very seriously, and that he feels a Championship club should aiming for at least the 5th/6th round. The cup competitions are potentially lucrative for the club and the importance of this will be stressed to the playing and management staff prior to the 3rd round game. Adam Pearson also commented that the side that lost to Blackpool should have been strong enough to win despite being short of a few first-teamers, and the players “highly incentivised” to win in cup competitions. Any monies made from a Cup run may be made available to the manager for team strengthening.

Concourse overcrowding
The thorny issue of concourses were again raised, with the problematic East Stand still very full during half-time. A queueing system similar to that at Carrow Road was mooted as an option, with barriers inserted to create more orderly and efficient queues, though it was pointed out that the concourses may be too narrow for this to work and that barriers may not be permitted under the safety license. The smoky atmosphere of the vomitories leading to the concourses caused some concern, though the club are not prepared to ban smoking on the concourses unless compelled to.

Section E1
Unrest in the North-East corner was discussed, with one steward claiming to have been threatened with violence in that section. The club are concerned about stewarding as it has such a high turnover, which makes training costly and often wasted. This brought us onto Millwall, where more hopeless policing was dejectedly commented up. Leaving aside the shocking treatment of innocent Millwall fans refused entry into the stadium, the antagonistic close-up filming of supporters by a police camera crew was deplored by fans and the club alike, with CCTV more than sufficient to identify any alleged wrongdoers. Pearson stated that any fans misbehaving should have been challenged and ejected at half-time if necessary and that filming in such a manner served only to inflame the situation.

A committee member will be invited into the match control room for an upcoming game to witness how operations are handled. The club’s relationship with Humberside Police is not the best at times, however there can only be one winner and it is rather depressing to see the police repeating basic operational mistakes over and over again, particularly when the bill they present to the club is so large – a tactic that police forces across the country are slightly more keen to stick to. Reading, happily, will be a non-policed game.

Miscellaneous

The superb half-time display by the Marines was commented upon, although remarkably Adam Pearson had received a couple of complaints about this. However, they are were praised by the committee and (joy of joys) will be invited to return for a rematch with Roary.

City have sold around 800 tickets for Southampton so far, a strong show of support given the average start to the season and lengthy journey involved.

Problems with the ‘Tiger Travel’ coaches to Crystal Palace were raised, with all three buses breaking down at some stage! The operators have been warned that they will lose the contract should this occur again, and an improvement has been noted. The club offered free travel to Coventry or Norwich to those affected who complained.

Problems with food running out recently have been dealt with. And did you know that City sell chicken soup? It came as a bit of a surprise, and it’s not advertised, but ask and apparently ye shall receive.

One member commented upon the lack of availability of programmes against Millwall, and wondered if fewer had been printed. This was not the case, and the club will seek ways of making them easier to obtain on a match day, possibly with pitch-side vendors.

Yellow stripes will be painted onto the steps near the disabled sections, to hopefully discourage people from the egress routes allowed for wheelchair users.

The club will aim to have the team on the scoreboard much earlier in the afternoon before kick-off.

The Sports Bar needs more stools, a big screen television and Radio Humberside on after the game. A Bar Manager will be appointed and these issues hopefully remedied. Use of the bar for televised international/European fixtures will be looked into, and will depend upon the likely demand.

A question was asked as to whether local bands could be featured on the pre-match music loop. Pearson responded that this is unlikely.

Complaints about the North-East fencing continue to be made, however the club are not going to alter their policy on this until they have assessed its success at a later time.

City’s “link-up” with Liverpool over youth team player Paul Anderson was mentioned. Although Peter Taylor is happy to foster a good relationship with Liverpool, this will never be to the detriment of City. The manager felt he had to let the player make a visit to Anfield once their interest was known, and the situation will be examined. In our favour is the fact that John Welsh is keen to become a City player permanently.

The Casino issue looks a little rosier, with the Labour Government now seeming likely to press ahead with their plans for “super casinos” and the Conservatives less likely to oppose it. Between 8 and 12 are being mooted and although Hull faces stern competition, the chairman is quietly confident we may get one. The development in Coventry created 5,000 new jobs.

The club has a significant sum of money at the manager’s disposal should he wish to strengthen the side during the season.

Lastly – the FLC will in future invite its members to take any major issues that arise for further discussions with those they represent. The key issues from this meeting were:

– the club is eager to fill the stadium as often as possible, although some fixtures are naturally less attractive than others. Without being unfair to existing season ticket holders, to what lengths should City go to attract new supporters? Should there be more kids-for-a-quid days? Should schools get blocks of free tickets to entice young supporters?

– how can away tickets be allocated in the future when demand outstrips supply? Assuming that Away Direct members have first crack at tickets, what should the remaining hierarchy of priorities look like? Should stubs from away games be taken into account to reward loyal travellers? Should the length of time a season ticket has been held for be taken into account?

Several players are out of contract this summer – Duke, Leite, Joseph, Edge and Price. Thelwell is on non-contract terms at present as he attempts to regain fitness.

 

Andy Dalton

Fans Liaison Committee – September 2005

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Superintendent Andy Street from Humberside Police and Stadium Manager John Cooper were in attendance at this month’s Fans Liaison Committee meeting, along with Chairman Adam Pearson. The primary theme of the meeting was the policing arrangement for City games, the new segregation fence and other measures relating to supporter safety at home matches.

Supt. Street introduced himself and explained his role as Match Commander. This is split into two separate but linked operations – the policing of the event itself within the stadium, and the policing of any potential disorder away from the stadium. Throughout, the focus was on decisions “being made in the interests of public safety”.

Match categories
All matches are categorised – A, B & C. Typically, Category “A” matches are relatively police-free (with a small group of officers known as the “Taylor Reserve”, available to be called upon if required but otherwise not active). This is a legal requirement for events that attract large numbers of people (presumably this was a recommendation of Lord Justice Taylor after his enquiry into the Hillsborough stadium tragedy), and does not cost the club any money. More officers are present for Category “B” games, and Category “C” games are those with a high potential for disorder. It is also possible to have Category “C+” as an extension of this. City’s promotion into the Championship, which contains a disproportionately high number of clubs with hooligan elements, mean that more games than in recent years will be given “B” or “C” categorisation.

Supt. Street stressed that “primacy remains with the club within the ground, and the police provide support”. This means that the police will intervene only if required, preferring to leave operations to the club and its stewards. Outside of the stadium, the primacy is with Humberside Police.

Supt. Street discussed operations this season, and was candid enough to concede that mistakes are made and sometimes police intelligence is incorrect. He noted that his role includes a balancing act between the policing of football matches and the allocation of resources across the region. He said that Humberside Police often liases with other forces in the country and invites auditors in to monitor their operations.

Supporter holdbacks and the fence
He was then asked if the refusal to enforce holdbacks of away supporters is a human rights issue. It is not. The local police force “support voluntary holdbacks by the club”, and one was in place for the Leicester home match. Future home matches will also see them in place, with away fans asked to remain behind for about ten minutes.

The primary difficulty, we were told, is with resources and the actual enforcement of it, with the exits at the top of the stairs presenting particular problems. Supt. Street recently saw a holdback in operation at Cardiff, and it required just as many police outside as usual despite it being a ‘mandatory’ holdback.

Some of the reluctance stems from the problems encountered against Bristol City. If people insist upon leaving a ground they must be allowed to. It was stressed that even if the club operate holdbacks, the new segregation fence will remain. City officials stressed the clubs commitment to it after an initial financial investment. Under stadium licensing laws, John Cooper explained, one exit has to be available per 2,000 supporters, meaning that if the whole North Stand were to be given to away fans they would require 3 exits, all of which are to be encapsulated by the new fence. The new fence, which will have sliding double gates to accommodate access and egress as required, will hopefully be operational by the Luton match, and definitely in time for the visit of Millwall.

The police hope it will allow for a lesser deployment immediately outside the ground, with more resources available for Walton Street carpark. This was raised as a very strong objection to the police’s operations, with fears that it would simply transfer trouble from the North-East corner onto the carpark. Supt. Street conceded that more police are required on the carpark, something they manifestly have failed with in the past, and they must look to change their operational tactics to counter this. In future, the police will seek to avoid congregating in large, intimidating groups and will look to spread their presence over a wider area.

The issue of police turning up in riot gear, which can again appear quite unsettling, was raised. Supt. Street explained that this equipment takes some time to put on, and it is impractical for officers to quickly change into it in time to react to a developing situation so his men wear it from the beginning of a shift. He acknowledged this as a concern, but there seems little chance of a change in policy over it.

QPR chanting
The fence was praised as very valuable immediately after the hot-tempered QPR match. The club’s commitment to it will not be changing, and the club will be adopting a policy of not opening it before matches for supporters to access the East Stand. This is patently not ideal, but the club’s position appears quite firm.

Adam Pearson noted the excellent response of QPR to the chanting at the first home game of the season, and regretted that some elements of the media were not terribly responsible in their reporting. Those elements probably don’t need naming. The club has identified those who were the ringleaders of the chant, and several banning orders will be handed out shortly.

Traffic management
City have finally secured an arrangement to have Walton Street closed at either end for thirty minutes for the easier disgorgement of traffic at full-time. In future, those who park in the northern section will only be able to turn north when leaving, likewise those in the southern part of it will only be able to turn to the south. The numbers who turn in either direction are about the same, so an approximate line of demarcation will be drawn up for future matches. This is aimed at speeding up the process of traffic leaving the area, which is currently not acceptable.

The carpark itself was described as poor. When the fairground site was levelled and surfaced, the surface, supposed to be ‘self compacting aggregate’, turned out to be fairly large stones, providing plenty of missiles for those intent on creating ‘disorder’ with opposing fans. The site is often used for flytipping, compounding the problem further. As soon as an even at the stadium is over, the land ceases to be a car park and becomes the property of Hull City Council again, and with the costs of tarmaccing the site estimated at £4m, it is unlikely to improve anytime soon, if at all.

Regarding incidents of supporters fighting outside the ground, John Cooper explained that the club have 64 CCTV cameras around the site, the recorded images from these are permanently manned by three people during matchday operation, which begins at 12.30pm. The presence of these may be highlighted with warning signs to act as a deterrent.

John Cooper explained that the banks of earth that exist outside the North-East corner are problematic, the raised mounds offer a vantage point for potential troublemakers seeking to confront away fans. He would like to remove these for safety reasons, but accepts that the aesthetics of the stadium site would be altered and this would not find favour with the council.

Problems with the signage for away fans were raised. This will hopefully be changed soon. The option of a specific carpark and park-and-ride scheme for away supporters will be looked into. The Humber Bridge area is a possible location with a park and ride scheme for away fans mooted.

The reasoning behind the Millwall fixture being brought forward to a Friday night was given. The original date is the ‘pull-on’ day for Hull Fair, when the large wagons transporting fairground rides and attractions arrive to unload them and begin construction of the fair. Confronted with the challenge of policing a C+ Category game while the car park is a building site, the decision was made move the match. Millwall were not terribly impressed by the decision, which was largely out of City’s hands.

This brought up an objection to the recent rash of games being moved from Saturdays at 3pm, a particular problem for exiled fans with season tickets. The chairman acknowledged this, but stressed that it is a part of life as City progress and nothing can be done about it. He will look into a scheme whereby exiles who cannot make games can have their seat for games “bought back” and offered on general sale, which is apparently done at Watford and Norwich, although this may only be practical for sold-out fixtures.

Standing
The perennially topic of standing was raised. Last month’s meeting saw a number of complaints about over-zealous stewarding with regards to supporters who prefer to stand. The club’s position remains that they have a duty to enforce the law of the land, which forbids standing in seated areas, but this must be done with a degree of common-sense – standing during important phases of play should be tolerated, although persistent standing must not be allowed, even for those on the back row. Frustrating, but the club argue that they risk a reduction in capacity if this is not adhered to.

The club requires a minimum of 267 stewards to put on a fixture, and with national annual turnover of stewards at 40%, this is a very difficult part of Mr Cooper’s job. A new and rather bureaucratic stewarding qualification that is to be introduced soon will make this very difficult for clubs up and down the country.

Miscellaneous
The Sheffield United home match has not been moved on police advice, but because the managers of both sides wanted an extra day for their players to prepare for it. A preference for matches to remain on Bank Holidays was indicated.

Four more pitches are being built at the Cottingham training centre, and the youth team will be moving in soon.

Ian Ashbee is naturally devastated with his injury, which requires an unpleasant sounding operation to re-fracture the afflicted knee to enable a better healing process. The chairman is pleased with the start to the season and optimistic we are heading in the right direction.

Finally – Peter Taylor was very happy and touched by the supporters who so loudly backed him in the Leicester game.

The next meeting will be on Monday 3rd October, and will have a much broader remit after this month’s police-dominated meeting. As usual, please leave any questions for Adam Pearson on our forums.


Andy Dalton

Fans Liaison Committee – August 2005

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The FLC convened on Monday 2nd August for the first meeting of the season. Amber Nectar’s intrepid representatives were there…

Match categories and ticketing
The categorisation of matches this season was questioned. The chairman feels that the higher price for Category A games should be viewed as the standard price, with the lesser prices for Category B games acting as a discount for less attractive fixtures. At present, the difference is only £1, although a £2 gap between price bands was considered to make the discount more noticeable, and may be implemented in future seasons.

The prices for away fans have been set to mirror the South Stand prices. The rules for the League, clarified in June and effective for this season, state that the facilities of each stand is no longer the sole criterion for pricing, and that the view of the pitch must be considered. Although City would like to have made the away prices closer to those of the West Stand, this would have meant an unfair rise in cost to supporters in the South Stand.

The high cost of Wolves tickets was raised. City are to be housed in a stand down the side with prices similar to those of Wolves’ costly Main Stand.

Leeds United away – the rules state that visiting supporters must be given 10% of the total capacity, however this can be over-ruled at police discretion. Millwall have refused their 950 allocation, and City are still awaiting confirmation from Elland Road of theirs, which will almost certainly not exceed 1,700. Leeds are unhappy at the prohibitive restrictions placed upon them this season in response to difficulties with the home fixtures against Millwall and Cardiff last season.

East Stand fence
the contentious new fence being erected at the away supporters’ exits was debated at some length. The club have reluctantly decided this is the best way of preventing minor incidents at full time when both sets of supporters flow from the north-east end of the ground. The police’s attitude to holding back away fans (“yes we will, oh, sorry, out you all go”), which is clearly the most sensible approach, does not instil confidence in anyone, therefore this appears to be the best option for the time being. It will be a semi-permanent structure which the club intend to use only when required. It will not affect lesser sporting events at the stadium, and as it will be gated, can hopefully be left open before matches and at low-profile games.

Replica kit pricing

A question was asked about the possibility of a discount if the whole playing strip was bought rather than just a shirt; as the shirt is already cheaper than in previous seasons, and can be bought with a 5% discount for season ticket holders, this is not likely to be introduced.

Away Direct scheme
Away Direct – some supporters complained that monies for Sheff Weds and Wolves was taken from bank accounts too early, and at the end of the month. This will be reviewed, and the club will aim to take money only 1-2 days before tickets go on sale to passholders, and wherever possible in the first few days of a month rather than at the end. This will be extended to season ticket instalments, which will again not be taken out on the 28th of the month. It was also noted that some people are having to return the first two away tickets of the season due to holidays, which brings them close to the 3-tickets per season limit. The club will exercise common sense on this issue, anyone requiring assistance should contact the FLO.

Car park egress
Difficulties with exiting the Walton Street carpark were again raised. This is being examined, although the sheer volume of traffic means that a wait of some sort is largely unavoidable.

Tannoy music
The pre-match music was mentioned, with varying opinions. Some consider it too loud, some too quiet, others were content with it. The volume is the same throughout the stadium as there is no facility to alter it for different stands. It was also noted that the 27-minute pre-match loop is becoming a little jaded, and may be altered slightly in the coming weeks. Predictably, no consensus about what to actually play was reached! The last few songs before Tigers Tigers Burning Bright will probably be retained.

Beer supplier change
Following a supporters’ vote on the official website, the beer sold is to be Worthingtons and Carling this season. New multi-dispense units are being fitted to the Sports Bar and the East Stand, which the club hope will cut down on waiting times. Back-pack units are also being looked into – the club are anxious to be given the go-ahead for these. Only 24 unsold passes remain for the Sports Bar.

Magazine
The new City magazine was discussed. At present, an anomaly exists in subscriptions, with a commitment for six months actually costing more than individual purchases, albeit including a free wallchart. City are very enthusiastic about the project and are determined to make it a success. Once sales rise to a certain level, cuts to the price may be feasible, although at present the profit margin will be low, and does not have sufficient scope to include a wholesaler’s cut to aid distribution.

Miscellaneous
Rules on cameras in the ground – images of the game are exclusively the domain of Sky Sports and the print media. However, the club is keen not to be overly authoritarian on this issue.

A leak in the South Stand roof has been identified and repairs are being carried out.

The team will be flying to Plymouth in late-August – however, as it is only a small provincial airport the aeroplane will not be large enough to accommodate any supporters, and a larger craft would require them to land at Exeter instead.

Some supporters expressed disappointment at not being able to vote for the new home shirt. It may be the case that the next shirt will be plain amber, to freshen it up, although no decision will be taken for some time and it may be opened up to a vote. Both kits are selling very well, and the away shirt is proving particularly popular.

Litter bins for the stadium were mentioned, as the stands can become quite dirty at half-time. Unfortunately it is not as easy as simply installing them, the club must obtain permission from a safety aspect, but this will be hopefully be in place shortly.

A revamp to the mechanism for selecting the Player of the Year is to be undertaken. One possibility is that of having a quarterly vote to be tallied up at the end, to take into account more fully the contributions of players early in the season which may be overlooked with just a single vote in April. New ways in which we can cast votes will also be examined, with SMS and internet polling a possibility.

Nothing will be happening in the immediate future with regards to stadium expansion, although it has not been forgotten. Much depends upon the decisions taken at national Government level about casinos in this country.

A complaint about overzealous stewarding was made. The claim that City are being monitored for excessive standing was emphatically refuted. Stewards will be asked to employ a degree of common sense during games, which has largely been the case to date.

City’s credit card was mentioned – it was launched six months ago and has several hundred active users.

The Millwall home match has been brought forward a day to the Friday evening, a decision that wasn’t welcomed by Millwall but was on police advice due to Hull Fair.

Could fixture cards be included with season tickets next season? A good idea, depending on when City have the cards printed – they were not manufactured until fairly late this summer due to the number of fixture changes that were likely. 20,000 of these were printed. Also, there were a number of concerns about tickets in the post – it is often quite clear that tickets or season passes for City were within, which has worried a few people. These will be distributed more discreetly in the future.

City are continuing to invest in the facilities at North Ferriby United – the pitch, floodlights and training ground are all being upgraded, and City are very happy with the reserve team venue it now provides.

The new training complex was discussed – this is a long-term project that the club feel will provide a benefit for many years, and final completion may be some time away. Nonetheless, the chairman is happy with the progress being made.

Andy Dalton

Fans Liaison Committee – April 2005

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The FLC met with chairman Adam Pearson for one of the final meetings of the 2004/5 season –  here’s what was discussed…

Season Tickets and Match Day Prices
Adam Pearson stated that it is the ongoing philosophy of the club to ‘look after’ season ticket holders in terms of discounts and other benefits of being a passholder. Those who pay on the day will effectively subsidise these benefits, which the club justify as STH’s underpin the club’s financial stability. By making the benefits of being a passholder better the club hope to attract a significant amount of new season ticket holders. The chairman is hoping we can have as many as 14,000 STHs by the start of the 2005/2006 season.

Although matchday prices have not yet been set, a season pass will give fans a significant discount on each game compared to a fan paying on the day. Furthermore, new season passes bought before the end of April will be cheaper than if purchased from May onwards. For example, a new East Stand adult pass bought before April 30th will cost £350 (£15.21 per game), a pass bought from the start of May onwards will cost £370 (£16.08 per game). Contrast this with an expected matchday admission fee of £21 (this is an estimate only, no on the day prices have yet been set). Existing passholders renewing their season ticket receive a further discount, a renewed East Stand adult pass will cost £330 a discount of £40 on a new pass bought in May (Passes that were renewed this time last year will be even cheaper, £295, meaning an increase of only £20, less than a quid a game). In addition to the matchday saving, STHs are entitled to a 5% discount from any purchases made at the Tiger Leisure stores (though not from the website, as the club are not yet equipped to check discount eligibility electronically, discounts at the shop will be given on production of a passbook.)

The most expensive single person season ticket available next season (West Stand pass bought after April 30th) is £425. Contrast this with average pass prices at Leeds which cost £640, QPR fans are expected to pay in excess of £700. The admission prices across the board for City games are expected to be among the bottom 7 or 8 in the Championship.

Pass prices for new applications before April 30th (Not including family packages):

West Stand (both tiers); Adult £390 Concessions £235
South Stand; Adult £340 Concessions £170
East Stand; Adult £350 Concessions £180

Pass prices for new applications After May 2nd (Not including family packages):

West Stand (both tiers); Adult £425 Concessions £265
South Stand; Adult £365 Concessions £190
East Stand; Adult £370 Concessions £200

Scoreboard and added time
One supporter asked if the scoreboard clock could count upwards after the 45 minute countdowns reach 00.00, in order to gauge how much additional time has been played following the Fourth Official signalling of how much time the referee intends to add. Adam Pearson is under the impression this is not done because of a Football League regulation, the reasoning being that the amount of time to be added signalled by the Fourth Official represents only a minimum of time to be played, and that additional time for stoppages within stoppage time is a possibility, so a scoreboard clock count would not offer an accurate reflection of the referee’s decision, they being the sole arbiter of how much time is to be played beyond the regulation 90 minutes. The club will check to see if this regulation is still in place.

PA Bloke/Opposition line up
An opinion was given that Simon Jordan, matchday P.A. man, is not up to the job, and that previous incumbent Martyn Hainstock should be reinstated. Adam Pearson’s first response was that Martyn Hainstock has made no attempt to communicate any desire to return to the role to the club, if such a desire exists. The chairman also added that although there is scope for improvement, he feels Mr. Jordan is growing into the role and becoming more confident, and that negative comments about him have significantly decreased – views echoed by most of the committee. Mr. Pearson is content to give the new man more time, and is grateful to the commitment shown by Simon Jordan, who left a permanent job at Nottingham Forest to come work at City with no guarantee the role would be permanent.

Adam Pearson agrees that the visiting teams line up should be announced nearer to kick off, instead of 20 minutes before as is the current practice. The chairman accepts this is ill-mannered and that he would not be happy if City’s line up was announced when few fans were in the ground to hear it. Colchester’s chairman recently wrote to City stating his displeasure with this and a decision has been made to announce the away team at the same time as the home team is announced just prior to kick off.

Plastic glasses
There was a request for more rigid pint glasses as the flimsy ones lead to spillages when gripped tightly. The club will enquire if this is possible but when the safety licence for the stadium was first granted the non-rigidity of beer glasses was one of the specific conditions of the license.

Away shirts
The club had ordered a new batch of the sky blue away kits, as these are to be used as a third shirt next season. However the supplier have let the club down and as yet it is unknown when these shirts will be delivered. They will feature the regular City crest as opposed to the centenary branding on the chests of shirts produced earlier in the season. The new home shirt is still scheduled for a July 1st release date.

State of ground and surrounds
A few complaints had been received about the state of the walkway that connects Londesbrough Street with the stadium, this has been used as a dumping ground of late, with mattresses and other large items being disposed of on the grass verge. This will be brought up with the Council.

There will be a spring clean of the stands in the close season as many seats and fittings are very dusty. There are signage errors all over the ground and these will be rectified shortly.

Away ticket allocation
It was raised that supporters who receive away tickets on the Away Direct scheme are always given poorly situated seats in the corner of stands, the chairman agreed that the club should ‘go the extra mile’ and try to give Away Direct members decent tickets since they are agreeing to travel to away games and paying for tickets long in advance of the game.

Programme sales
Adam Pearson is disappointed with programme sales, especially since the matchday magazine has garnered much praise this season, and has been given an official award. Programme sales tend to be one sold for four people in attendance, the average at Premiership games is one sold for every two and a half customers. Only 3,000 were sold at the recent Barnsley match.

Queues at betting outlets
It was suggested that barriers are erected near the betting kiosks to prevent a queue forming across the concourse, obstructing the path to the toilets, food kiosks or vomitaries. This will be looked into, if no barrier is permitted under safety regulations then a steward could be deployed to ask people to queue along the side of the concourse. Betting slips and pens may also be made available away from the kiosks.

Sports Bar
The beer pumps in the Sports Bar simply do not pour quickly enough to satisfy demand, leading to long queues at the bar. Although staff do attempt to pre pour beers in anticipation of orders, the pumps just do not pour quickly enough to make a difference. The club will speak to the brewery they have a contract with about installing more or faster pumps. A stage will be erected in the Sports Bar for post match ex-Tiger interviews. Gareth Roberts has ceased his appearances in the bar as he felt daft that no-one could see him in the middle of the bar, wee chap that he is. It was the consensus that the Sports Bar is a little bleak and unwelcoming and this will be looked at, no promise of a total refurbishment, but it may be possible to add bench seating along the walls.

Policing
After 18 months of complaints and dialogue with Humberside Police, the situation with away fans leaving the ground at the same time as home fans is still unsatisfactory. The Match Commander is unwilling to force away fans to stay in the ground for 15 minutes after final whistle as at several games, notably the Bristol City game, away fans have charged the gates, endangering the safety of the stewards and officers manning the doors. With Championship football and increased away followings a near certainty next season, this must be addressed soon. The Match Commander will be invited to the next FLC meeting to discuss issues with the committee. Don’t hold your breath.

Wage structure for 2005/2006
After long consideration, the club will seek to consolidate a Championship position rather than blow a fortune on going for promotion straight away, thus putting the club’s current healthy financial situation in peril. However Adam Pearson is determined that City shall be competitive and is aiming for a top ten finish. To that end, the chairman has decided there will be a budget of £3.75m for player salaries. There may be some transfer fees paid but these can be paid over a period of time and this will not affect the salary budget. Adam feels the transfer market is ‘knackered’ and that few players will move for significant fees this summer. Peter Taylor has said he doesn’t think he’ll need all of the budget to build a squad fit to compete in the Championship, but it is there anyway, and should City struggle then the amount would go up.

The clubs relegated from the Premiership this season or last have a huge advantage as they qualify for ‘parachute payments’ from the Premier League which they’ll use for salaries. Nonetheless the chairman estimates our wage structure would be around the 8th or 9th highest in the Championship. He cited the example of Stoke, who started this season with a salary budget of around £3m, but they struggled until this was raised to £3.7m at which point they found life a lot easier. A budget of £4m or over would damage the healthy state of affairs the club’s accounts books show at this stage, Cardiff are wrestling with a budget of £7m and have borrowed against ownership of their ground, something City cannot do as the KC Stadium is municipally owned and frankly should not do, we’ve been down the administration route before and it’s not worth the gamble.

Apparently some Premier Club members were unhappy when Pearson explained the financial philosophy for next season, which begs the question where were they when we played Rochdale and Kidderminster twice a season? City’s rise up the Football League has been meteoric but that upward motion cannot be sustained in the short term without risking financial ruin. Surely a season of consolidation and a decent cup run is enough next season? We’ll be playing at a level we’ve never bettered and playing teams such as West Ham, Leeds and Leicester. Our chairman knows we need to compete in order to maintain the current high interest in the club and will pull out stops to make sure we have a sniff of the play offs throughout, but he won’t pull out all the stops and rightly so. In 1990, the last time were were playing in the second tier of English football, the Hull Daily Mail ran a headline entitled ‘We’ll break the bank to get promotion’, we were relegated that season and the club was broken, seemingly beyond repair until the arrival of Adam Pearson 11 years later. Expectations are inevitably raised when a club is promoted twice in succession, and indeed Peter Taylor’s superb work over the last three years have allowed us to dream again, but we need to temper our demands for 2005/2006. Of course the aim is to get into the Premiership, but the chairman anticipates the next phase of evolution for the club will be slower than the first phase, which was completed more quickly than expected.

Transfers
Peter Taylor has not yet determined his summer transfer targets, so any names bandied about right now are pure speculation. Signings will not be discussed until promotion is assured. Adam Pearson says he finds stories linking Stuart Elliott with a move to a Premiership club amusing, as he feels no club would offer in excess of £500,000, and since we don’t need £500,000 he’s going nowhere. The chairman expects at least 6 new faces ‘in the building’ over the summer. Peter Taylor knows the money has to be spend wisely, and that mistakes that have gone awry the last few seasons have not cost the club that much, but that changes in the Championship. Pearson noted that “a £4000 a week player on a three year contract that doesn’t work out is a big problem for the football club”. In Leagues One and Two players will accept a one or two year deal but higher up they expect a long term contract.


Les Motherby