Behind the windows of Manchester there is an insane love of football, of celebration
Report of meeting 8 pm 26th January 2012, Town Hall Tavern, Tib Lane, Manchester
(i) Liaison meeting for match against Liverpool: A report was given of the liaison meeting concerning the forthcoming match against Liverpool. This meeting represented a welcome move towards the authorities recognising the need to consult with all stakeholders although the outcome was disappointing. We are however to provide fans' liaison for this match whereby inappropriate behaviour by stewards/police can be reported directly to the match day command.
(ii) Fans Embassy for Ajax Match: Plans to provide a Fans' Embassy (help and information points provided by fans for fans of the sort IMUSA helped man at the CL finals in Moscow and Rome offering contact addresses of local English speaking lawyers, British Embassy/Consul etc) for the forthcoming match against Ajax were discussed and agreed. This will be in effect a partial embassy consisting of a focus point and a phone number where help/advice/information can be obtained, as it was agreed that without outside support it will be too costly to the organisation to provide information in printed form. Announcements will be made nearer the time about the phone number fans should use, the focus point they should head for and how to contact us via Twitter and/or email in the event of help/advice being needed. It was agreed that whilst the cooperation of the club would have been welcomed, the idea of fans' embassies has been put to them on several occasions and rejected each time, and so we will, as far as is possible, continue to provide these at our own expense.
(iii) Contact with the club: An account was given of existing and soon-to-be-introduced UEFA rules to do with consultation fans' groups and the implications for the club of their unilateral refusal to engage with IMUSA. In short, this was not allowed under existing rules and will not be allowed in the new licensing era. Clubs wishing to enter UEFA competitions, including Manchester United, will have to employ a fans' liaison officer to actively seek consultation with all interested fans groups, including IMUSA. It was agreed to contact the club once the new regulations are in place, so that they are in no doubts about what is required. As stated in the most recent Annual Report we look forward to the club renewing contact with us to discuss ways in which the interests of matchgoing fans can be better served.
(iv) Civil action against Italian police: The criminal action against the Italian police for their assaults on our fans in April 2007 is about to expire due the slowness of the Italian legal system. This is apparently commonplace where actions against their police are concerned. We are therefore to coordinate a civil action against the Italian police. The meeting was told that whilst Michele Vaira, the Italian solicitor who is working on our behalf is doing this work for free, an outlay of 3000 euros will be needed to cover the court costs. The meeting endorsed the previous decision to underwrite these costs.
(v) Annual Report: Several issues raised in the Annual Report were discussed including the implications for IMUSA and the individuals concerned of not defending the serious accusations made against them by the club's solicitors. The Treasurer pointed out that legal fees were now by far our biggest item of expenditure and that if we were to continue in this vein we would need to do more fundraising if our core activities were not to be compromised. There was a general agreement to discuss ways in which to do this at the next meeting.
(vi) Safestanding: A report was given of the position re: safestanding (aka rail seats) whereby Aston Villa and the Scottish Premier League were showing a serious interest. It was noted that the club was approached about this idea 3-4 years ago.
(vii) AOB: A vote of thanks was given to a named individual (not a committee member) who had single handedly and in the space of 24hrs doubled and then trebled the number of followers of our @IMUSAdotORG Twitter account, which included a number of celebrity fans.
The meeting closed at 21.45 and the date of the next meeting set for 24th February 2012, location to be confirmed.