The latest notes from the recent Cambridge United - Cambridge United Supporters' Panel meeting...
Club: Alex Tunbridge, Gareth Daniels, Dave Matthew-Jones
CUSP: Chris Neild (Chair), David Burkett, (Vice Chair), Philip Saich (Secretary), Nigel Browne, Chris Casey, Mark Cawdrey, Wendy Glancy, Daniel Rivers
Apologies: Ben Payne, Danielle Foster, Gina Parkin, Ben Phillips
|Item||CUSP comment||Club comment|
|New members||Introduce new CUSP members|
|Parking at the ground for disabled etc||
We have had a number of complaints about this being removed. Is there a way of looking at how we can find a solution? What options are going to be available for those who can’t walk that far (e.g. drop off at the front of the ground may not work)?
General feeling also that this change should have been messaged earlier so those who buy season tickets could have re-evaluated their options.
|Pre-Covid he Club has had crowds of c.4,000 this has risen to 6,000 which has presented challenges. We now have more media, ambulances, Police, staffing and officials attending so operational needs have taken priority, alongside the expansion of the Fanzone. Of the 40 fan spaces, 10 Blue Badge spaces have been retained and 30 users have been asked to relocate. In terms of communication, it’s been an unusual close season, so season tickets went on sale later than hoped. All 30 fans have been contacted and offered refunds; none have been requested to date.|
|Supporter prioritisation||Recent changes to parking and bar areas have led some regular supporters to feel the priority is revenue generation from hospitality etc over and above the supporter ‘experience’.||None of the removed parking has been sold to hospitality, and commercial partners pay for their spaces in their package. One of our top priorities over the past two seasons has been improving the supporter experience for everyone, which is why we have installed the bar at the NRE, invested into the Fan Zones for all stands and introduced a number of initiatives for supporters of all ages aimed at improving their matchday experience.|
Generally in support of this. However some concern that if it’s left with CUSP, CFU, Amber Belles to decide, these are generally older members? How do we get younger input? Can we get Cambridge Aces involved?
Also can we understand why we have used a London agency rather than a Cambridge based one. Local options would perhaps have done it for free as well?
Can we get feedback on what was wrong with the current one and why it needed ‘fixing’?
What is the process going to be for approving the new one? Who will vote and how?
This project has been driven by the Club’s Owners. The survey went to 27,000 contacts on the Club database who’d engaged with the Club within the last two years, and 4,000 responses were received. Concepts will be presented to the Club and Shadow Board meeting on 7 August. Consultation will then continue to the wider fan base. The final decision will be made by the end of the September with the Shadow Board asked to propose a mechanism.
Involving Cambridge Aces may extend involvement to Junior U’s – consideration will be given to this.
|Season Tickets||Can we pick up the “money can’t buy” season ticket idea again? We discussed this around about a year ago. Suggestion that it’s for all season ticket holders and that it’s a monthly draw for a prize. One further suggestion was that you get x number of entries into the draw based on the number of years you have been a season ticket holder?||This is one for further consideration.|
|Season Tickets||The message seems to be that it will be fully digital next year. Many of the older generation don’t have modern phones so this will discount them, so we need to find a provision for paper/card.||The default will be a digital season ticket – 700 physical tickets weren’t collected last season. With the digital ticketing there is no booking fee, and the scanners will work with all phone types (Apple Wallet / Google Wallet). Physical cards will be available as an option.|
|Season Tickets||Why were new fans not allowed to buy season tickets earlier than July for standing areas?||This was caused by the renewal window as you can’t offer two prices for the same event. 200 new season ticket holders were onboarded on the first day of general sale.|
|Ipswich game||How are ticket sales? There’s a feeling that the kick off time hasn’t been publicised enough - people don’t know it’s 12 noon||Lots of communication was going out in the run up to Saturday – crowd fell just below the target attendance of 3,000 most likely due to the bad weather.|
|Spurs friendly||What was the reason for keeping this so confidential?||This was driven by Spurs.|
|Club shop opening hours||Is it possible for this to be open at other times? People who work can’t get there Tuesday or Thursday mornings.||The shop opening hours are data driven. 75% of all sales are online. And of the remaining 25%, 75% are on matchday. There have been challenges around supply with the change of supplier taking place late and stock is a month later than normal. A change to launch arrangements / timings will be considered for next season. All shirt sponsors are now signed up for next season, which is encouraging and should prevent delays.|
|Ticket & club shop process||Quite a few customers seem not to have been getting email confirmations etc when they have bought things. Is this just a timing issue or a reflection of the volume of purchases currently? Or something else?||There is no automated email notifying that orders are ready to collect. Delays in other emails were a blip.|
|Away ticket and special games||Does the system allow a carry forward of prior year loyalty points when the ranking is decided as to who gets priority for big games?||It may be necessary to have recourse to last season in terms of loyalty for some games – the system can do this. Communication around the criteria for season ticket holders was published last week.|
|NRE/ Habbin stand redevelopment||Can we get an update on the long-term plans here? When might design options be available for fans to see?||Development illustrations should be available to be shared with the wider supporter’s base by the end of August.|
|Supporters Club/redevelopment||Feedback from some who know the individuals involved feel that we maybe need to have more discussions with those on the “inside” about moving forward.||The Club has written to the Supporters’ Club setting out their offer and this will be published this week.|
Is there any plan to renovate/replace the blue bench seating when all the upper seats have been done?
|There is no intention to upgrade these seats at this time due to investment into the Habbin/NRE. Switching to proper seats would also reduce the capacity due to the rake of the stand.|
|Fan’s bars in Main Stand||What is the plan for these? An update on long-term layout plan for the Main Stand/NRE would be helpful.||Plans will be shared alongside the soon to be released illustrations.|
|Shirt sponsor||What were the criteria for the decision on Brewboard? Were other options on the table for consideration?||Mick George withdrew due to their takeover. The owners rejected applications from certain sectors, including crypto, vaping and gambling. The Club was keen on a sponsor who was local and could engage on matchday. The Under 18s issue was debated at Board level – there will be a new charity sponsor next season, chosen by BrewBoard. BrewBoard beers will be sold around the ground and from a bus in the Habbin.|
|Mascot and half-time entertainment||Who/what will replace the Mick George branded entertainment?||This will be replaced in due course with plans being finalised.|
|Habbin South catering & catering in general||
For a few games last season there were only pies and no further food/alcoholic drink being served. This might have been due to staff shortages at the time, but we’ve been asked if there are plans to ensure a full food service around the ground?
Can we get an update on the macro catering plan. Any options for ‘street food’?
|Consistency is an issue here, especially with labour. There will be a new menu, with more options for vegetarians, vegans and kids. Street food sadly doesn’t work for 6,000 customers due to the speed of service. Feedback on the catering and toilet cleanliness would be welcome once the season is underway.|
|Man of the Match||
Don’t feel that all fans can vote as its only via Twitter. Can we look at a new platform? Also can we find a way that fans can pick from everyone rather the “selection” from the media team? Also could the scoreboards flash up a reminder for this at the same time for every match?
|The MoM arrangement is contracted for another 12 months, change will be considered subject to commercial parameters.|
Some fans and families of fans whose friends or relatives have died would like to give money to the club as a memorial. There are plenty of plaques and benches etc around the ground, but we were thinking if there was a central “fund” that was ring fenced that people could donate to over the year. At the end of the year CUSP (say) could decide how that money was spent and then the families would be informed. Also at the same time we could have a board in the ground stating who that year’s donations were in memory of?
|This is being discussed and may be administered by the Foundation. Projects to support will be discussed as will having a plaque somewhere in the ground.|
|Fair game index||
Great news on this. What are we planning to do to retain our ranking?
|The Club is pleased to be acknowledged for the way it operates and intends to continue doing the good work it’s already been doing.|
Do we have any specific plans for expanding the fan base this season? One-off offers for games etc?
School Vouchers worked very well last season and will continue.
Annual Kids for a Quid match will be Port Vale in September.
Additional plans are being discussed around this – news will follow.
Agree broad timing and then fix date
|Next meeting: 18.30 on 7 September|
|Supporters Club Door:||
CUSP was advised after the meeting that the Club’s Safety Advisory Group and the Sports Ground Safety Authority had requested at the July SAG Meeting that the door between the NRE and Supporters Club be closed during games effective 22/07/23.
The primary reason was due to the Supporters Club not being within the legal footprint of the stadium which breached the Green Guide and the EFL’s Ground Regulations in relation to readmittance and security.