Report of the Fans' Forum 22nd September 2001
This meeting of the Fans' Forum was to set the agenda for the coming season, review
what had taken place during the close season, review the Club Charter and discuss
the issue of standing.
- Record of Minutes of the Last Meeting
- Matters Arising from Minutes of Previous Meetings
- Close Season (Off the Pitch) Activities
- Standing at Old Trafford
- Review of the Club Charter
- Forum Topics for this Season
- Any Other Business
If anybody wants a copy of the minutes of the last meeting or rules of the Forum
then they can visit www.imusa.org as well as the
As a new member I was keen that the minutes of the last meeting and any actions
that had been agreed were followed up and not lost.
Youth Tickets in East Lower
There is concern within the club at the little interest that has been shown in
these tickets but so far there is little evidence that the new section has been publicised
much further than existing club publications. One of the over riding intentions of
IMUSA when raising the need for better youth ticketing was to ensure that the club
attracted 'new young supporters'. I am not so sure that the separate section is the
best way of tackling this problem. As IMUSA have outlined already in the document
on ticketing that we submitted to the club last season, younger fans want the choice
of where they sit in the ground and far better that the club have comprehensive junior
and other concessionary pricing throughout the stadium.
The whole issue of ticketing, prices and other connected matters, is to be discussed
at the next meeting. IMUSA's committee needs to re-examine the proposals we made last
season and resubmit our ideas; anyone who wishes to have an input to this important
discussion should send their suggestions in.
As stated last season the club intend to cut prices for any home ties in the WC.
This is not being announced formerly until the opposition are known as it is a League
rule that both competing clubs must agree price cuts. Admission to the match at Highbury
will be at reduced prices as Arsenal and United have agreed to the discounts. It is
likely that the adult prices for home games will be cut by up to a third - but don't
hold me to that.
Atmosphere and West Stand Tier Two
Following IMUSA's suggestion and the work of the Vocal Fans Campaign (formerly
the TTC) the club have agreed to establish a committee to oversee future improvements
to the facilities and atmosphere in WT2.
So far the club has installed TVs on the concourses and draft beer outlets and
offered help to the VFC to get people relocated into blocks of 'singers'. There has
also been agreement that the fans can make suggestions about 'decorating' the stand.
The banners at the front have gone down so well that they are now a featured part
of the club's stadium tour and the ticket holders in the stand have ideas about how
they can make the space under the stand a bit more 'homely'. Suggestions have been
made for old Stretford End memorabilia to be displayed on the walls along with photographs
and some of the banners which don't currently feature at the front of the stand.
If the improvements to WT2 are a success then the club have said that they will
be willing to roll out the changes to other parts of the ground.
Following IMUSA/VFC suggestion the club has commissioned an acoustic survey with
a view to improving the acoustics in the stand so that the vocal efforts aren't lost
to the ether, the results of which are yet to be produced.
It was reported there has been little enthusiasm displayed for unreserved seating
at matches, personally I have never seen or heard of the consultation exercise but
it was reported that most fans want things to remain as they are. I was unsure how
wide this consultation had been but I am sure that it will be something we will be
revisiting once IMUSA have had a chance to look at the matter again.
Pre Season Friendlies & manutd.com
There was a complaint that the 'domestic' pre-season friendlies were not well publicised
and the club has said that they will improve publicity in the future. Those fans who
have Internet access will no doubt be excited to hear that club's official web site
is currently undergoing a major revamp and the new version should be launched early
in the New Year. No doubt just in time for streaming video and other on-line pre pay
A number of proposed amendments to the club charter were put before the Forum.
Some of the inconsistencies were challenged and Ken Ramsden agreed to look again at
a number of points. When the validity or accuracy of certain clauses were questioned
the Forum was told that the Charter is the property of the Club and that the content
is only referred to the Forum for information and not for debate - which is nice but
not much use.
It was agreed however that the Charters issued by other clubs would be distributed
in time for the next meeting so that the members of the Forum can compare United's
with other Premier League clubs. Whilst there is an understandable debate about how
useful the Charters are the idea was a recommendation from the Government's Football
Task Force and it is important that the activities of football clubs should be subject
to some scrutiny.
The Premier League is shortly due to publish a report comparing the individual
performances of all clubs against what they say they do in their charters and across
a whole load of other headings. This report should be available next month so if any
of you are having trouble getting to sleep a remedy is not too far away.
Future Structure of the Fans' Forum
The announcement of the Forum's decision to spurn democracy in favour of keeping
things as they are was received with much gnashing of teeth in IMUSA circles and the
whole question of how the Forum is to be run in the future will be the subject of
a discussion at a meeting later this season.
At present the Forum is run like a glorified focus group with many fans unaware
that it exists let alone know what it does. The minutes and reports of the meeting
are publicised on the club web site and in the programme but as less than twenty per
cent of the match going support looks at these it is little wonder. IMUSA has already
discussed the subject of the Forum's effectiveness at some length and I expect members
will want to have their own input to the debate again this season.
A lengthy discussion took place on the subject of standing that danced around the
usual problems of reduced away ticket allocations and threats of ground closure but
a number of interesting developments appear to have taken place.
The club are said to be pleased with the response from supporters and 'unbelievably
encouraged by what has happened in West Stand, it was reported that 'persistent standing'
at OT is now greatly reduced. There are a number of reasons why this has happened
one of which has been that SPS have been given a lower profile. IMUSA informed the
club that SPS were part of the problem some time ago, a view backed up by their own
stewards, nonetheless I feel it was still a brave step to take in accepting our advice.
Now that it has been seen to work we can only hope that the club get rid of SPS all
Peter Kenyon has been to see the new Sports Minister Richard Caborn where standing
was a subject of discussion and the meeting was informed o0f the up and coming debate
in Parliament around Roger Godsiff's Private Members Bill in support of safe standing.
A representative from the Premier League informed the meeting that the Football
Licensing Authority has demanded that clubs take a firmer line at matches this season
and it is expected that many clubs will face having their away ticket allocations
cut in a similar fashion to United. As many clubs in the Premier League struggle to
fill their ground unless United are playing I find it hard to believe that this will
The PL representative told the meeting that the FLA wanted a 'multi-agency' approach
to the problem of standing at matches this included consultation with the national
supporter groups (FSA and National Federation) to which IMUSA is affiliated. However
the FLA were not willing to discuss safe standing at meetings with the fans and the
consultation was not what could be described as meaningful.
It was interesting to note that despite the Nat Fed's conference overwhelming support
for the safe standing campaign the PL stated that the Nat Fed took a different line
to the FSA and their support for safe standing during these discussions was less than
fulsome, which is an issue that we should take up with the Nat Fed ourselves.
In short the FLA believe in the stick and video approach to solving the problem.
Ground capacity and ticket allocations will continue to be reduced if fans stand and
publicity material including a video is currently being produced to tell fans
why they must sit. A discussion took place about how United might try and 'educate'
our own travelling support with letters to home addresses and leaflets handed out
with away tickets. Peter Kenyon stated that he would fight to make sure our away allocations
were increased if our fans sat down at away games, which is reassuring but surely
the least we would expect. What we want is for the club to support the fans call for
safe standing areas at matches, offering a choice to those who wish to stand and peace
and quiet to those who don't.
The club again refused to be drawn into supporting safe standing but it appears
that matters have progressed since Peter Kenyon and Paddy Harverson came to the Shareholders
United meeting and a joint meeting of the football authorities and the fans on the
subject of standing is to be held in November. The last time we tried to get a meeting
of this nature the Premier League and the FLA refused to talk about safe standing
and it would be pointless attending this meeting if the authorities simply want to
tell us all what we 'need to do'.
A proper meaningful debate is long overdue if for no other reason than to 'educate'
the clubs and the football authorities on what it is required and what it is that
the fans are proposing. The ignorance on the subject was demonstrated when the PL
rep at the Fans' Forum stated that the introduction of standing areas would require
'primary legislation' which even the most junior member of IMUSA will know is absolute
The next meeting of the Fans' Forum will be on Saturday 1st December after the
Chelsea home game.
If any member would like me to raise a matter at a future meeting or at any other
time they can contact me via the IMUSA web site.