Chair's Report 2000/2001
I believe that as an organisation we have had one of our most
successful years, although I realise that next year's ticket price rises
would indicate otherwise. It is important that we look at the big
picture and the potential long term outcome of this years efforts.
The opening of WT2 must be seen as a major success for IMUSA. We have
campaigned since our formation for a popular end at OT and we will
continue that campaign until the whole of the Stretford end is back in
the hands of those it really belongs to. Whilst by no means perfect, can
anyone imagine Edwards sitting up there to hear the views of fans as
Kenyon did? The VFG, formerly the TTC, have put in a huge amount of time
and effort to make the singing end work.. IMUSA and the VFG met the club
recently and they were very receptive to the ideas put forward. People
who contacted the VFG will now be able to take their season ticket
facilities with them into T2.
The club are also looking at decent cheap ale and food as a way of
enticing fans into the ground earlier and there will be an experiment
with unreserved seating next season. We are sure that without IMUSA's
dialogue with Trafford Borough Council and the club, SPS would have been
more heavy handed and areas of the ground could have been closed. We
continue to speak to the club to try to minimise SPS's presence, if not
eliminate it all together.
Since I first became involved in the organisation my main motivation
has been the return to terracing campaign. IMUSA were driving this
campaign for 2 years before Murdoch with limited success. For obvious
reasons terracing took a back seat during Murdoch. In the meantime a
blue, Phill Gatenby, had started the SAFE (Standing Areas For Eastlands)
We contacted Phill, offered our support, rebranded as Standing Areas
for England and with minimum effort received unprecedented press
coverage, had meetings with ministers, got Trafford Borough Council on
board and had the government and the Premier League making fools of
themselves trying to find a viable argument against. SAFE self funded a
fact finding trip to Germany which
prompted the Football Licensing Authority do likewise, both reaching
a favourable conclusion despite the misinformation put out by Chris
Smith, culture, media and sport head of department.
The Manchester Evening News sent a reporter out to Bremen who came
back with a glowing report of not only the standing area, but also the
terrace culture it engenders. SAFE now has a web site which is
attracting support from clubs large and small around the country. SAFE
has had amicable meetings with the newly formed Liverpool ISA and also
the Hillsborough families group. Safe are currently awaiting a date for
a meeting with the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. I firmly believe that
next season, a club will be given the go ahead to run a trial of safe
standing, unfortunately it will not be United.
IMUSA has written Euro reports for the last 4 years As a result of
these reports we now have greater access to tickets for independent
travellers. When we contact the authorities about potential conflict,
they listen, hence Athens passing off without a repeat of Porto. When
the government decide to set up a working group on football disorder who
do they contact? IMUSA. The fact is that IMUSA continue to drive
supporter issues at a national level. Both Monica Brady, with the FSA
and Roy Williamson, with the Nat Fed have been working towards one
single unified national body. This will happen in the summer of 2002
something inconceivable 2 years ago.
More and more clubs are starting to form effective well run ISA's.
IMUSA plays an active role in helping these groups get established most
recently Bury and Carlisle. These groups are all putting pressure on
their clubs and their MP's to get something done about the issues that
are fundamental to us.
IMUSA's participation in the fans forum has led the club to take some
steps in the right direction. I am sure that everyone who put in a
massive effort to producing our documents will be disappointed with the
outcome. Whilst the club have not gone far enough, they seem to have
some idea as to which direction they should be going in. We will keep on
fighting for a fully democratic forum (as has recently happened at
Newcastle). We will continue to strive for 50% discounts for OAP's and
juniors and the unemployed as of right in any part of the ground. We
would also like to see the junior age raised to 18 with concessions up
The swap shop is another IMUSA idea that has been adopted by the
club. As usual they have made life difficult for themselves by not
implementing it properly
We continue to try to build links with supporter activists across
Europe and hope to send a team to Venice for an anti racist world cup 5
a side competition where our team can develop relationships with fans
from clubs around Europe.
We continue to offer assistance and advice to fans who have had
difficulties with the club, most notably, Aled Williams who was charged
with touting a ticket before Christmas. Aled was determined to clear his
name and won his case, which may now lead to a change in the law
regarding the sale of tickets. We will keep pressurising the club to
implement a match day swap shop or return scheme for season ticket
I had a conversation with a former chair, Andy Walsh, about 4 years
ago. We both agreed that IMUSA had another 2 years life span maximum.
The fact is, that if IMUSA had not existed, someone would have started
it this year. I feel that the new people that have come to the
organisation over the last 18 months, the VFG, OTYC, coming under the
IMUSA umbrella, can inject fresh impetus and ideas which will ensure
that passionate United fans will have a voice into the future.