Manchester United Fans Forum Minutes

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Friday 27 February 2015

Premier Suite, South Stand

Forum Members

Brian Airley Over 65s Representative David Blackledge Season Ticket Holder Phil Downs MUDSA Representative

Peter Evans Branch Representative (Cardiff & South Vale Branch) Colin Howard Branch Representative (Bridgwater & SW Branch) Josh Llewellyn Season Ticket Holder

Joanne McDonnell Manchester/Salford/Trafford resident ST Holder Ruairi McMenanin 16-21 Representative

Roger Muckle Executive Club Representative Marc O'Day Official Member

William Prestwich Official Member Philip Reynolds Season Ticket Holder

Lindsay Roe Branch Representative (Nottingham Branch) Alan Thomas Official Member

Andy Whitehead Family Stand Representative

Club and Foundation Officials

John Alexander Club Secretary

Richard Arnold Group Managing Director David French Director of Venue

Sam Kelleher Head of Ticketing and Membership Operations John Shiels CEO, Manchester United Foundation

Guy Smith Director of Venue Operations Stephanie Toman Corporate PR Manager Philip Townsend Director of Communications

Topic

Speaker

1. Apologies

All Forum members were present.

2. Minutes of the

last meeting

The minutes were agreed.

3. Away Game/

Loyalty Pot

Validation

update

DF/SK

DF explained that the Club’s number one priority in examining away tickets is to increase our away ticket allocations. Secondarily, the Club wants to make sure that as many tickets as possible from those allocations are available to

supporters. And thirdly, the aim is to review the allocation of away tickets and ensure that the process is fully transparent.

To this end, the validation process is pivotal, and as a result of our efforts to-date, coupled with improved behaviour, we have so far this season seen

allocation increases from 6 clubs, e.g. for Spurs and West Ham (Spurs: 1,946 to 2,647 – an increase of 36%; WHU: 1,983 to 2,240 – an increase of 13%). The feedback about visiting supporter behaviour from West Ham and Spurs was very positive and we are hopeful of further increases next season. The Club will continue (where possible) to send its own stewards and Safety Officer to assist.

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Additionally, because of the validation process, the Loyalty Pot has now been reduced from 945 to 789, making more tickets available to other Season Ticket holders.

We have also halved the number of away tickets allocated internally to players etc., therefore, on average, c96% of away match tickets are available to the different supporter pots.

Ticket validation process

SK outlined more detail on the Loyalty Pot validation exercise. The process began towards the end of the 2013/14 season, at which time, 945 Season Ticket holders were in the Loyalty Pot (LP).

The initial request was for LP members to come to the ticket office with photo ID in a 4-month window before the end of that season. A total of 106 people failed to do this and were therefore removed from the LP. The Club was surprised by the number who dropped out (more than 11%) and so committed to extending the validation process throughout this season.

This season (including WHU away), we have played 12 PL away games:

 632 (75%) have collected at an away game: o 554 (88%) collected at the 1st request

o 65 (10%) collected at the 2nd request

o 13 (2%) collected at the 3rd request

 50 (8%) of people failed to collect after 3 requests, and have been removed from the LP.

 157 people are still pending validation.

As of today’s date, the Loyalty Pot = 789

 Given that 128 people / 15% of those in the LP at the start of this season have failed to collect on the first attempt, we believe that ongoing validation is still required. Therefore, the exercise of collecting tickets at away games must continue through to next season.

 As mentioned in the October Fans’ Forum, we are also currently reviewing how validation processes could & should be undertaken for Executive Club Members (and their guests).

 We are also reviewing what process could & should be implemented for the Standard Pot.

 By the Fans’ Forum in May, we will be in a position to confirm plans for the validation processes for both ST & Executive Club Members next season.

 As a result, we propose to defer Away Game Sub-Committee meetings, until we have completed all ‘validation exercises’, and have a clearer picture as to who is applying vs. actually attending away games.

4. Match/ Score

Updates within

Stadium

JA

JA explained that, following feedback from the Forum, the Club has increased the number of times the teams are announced and displayed during the pre-match period, particularly in the time closer to kick-off; as this is when the majority of supporters are in the seating area.

Additionally, the teams are re-run on the scoreboard approximately five minutes into the game for the benefit of late-comers.

Half time/latest scores from other Premier League games and local matches taking place are now also displayed.

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If any substitutions are made during half time, this information is announced and displayed on the scoreboard. The teams are re-run on the scoreboard

approximately five minutes in to the second half for the benefit of any supporters late returning from the concourses.

At the end of the game full time/latest scores from other Premier League games and local matches are announced and displayed.

Members were encouraged to gather feedback and report it to the Club, if fans like the changes or feel that further changes are necessary.

5. MU Foundation

Update

JS

JS reported on the Player Day, which was held on 23rd February, with every member of the First Team squad visiting one of the 10 Hub Schools in which the Foundation works throughout the year. JS explained that through these schools, the Foundation works with over 3,500 children every week and has established a lasting presence in the communities that need most support.

The Red Heart United legends game against Bayern Munich will be staged on 14th June 2015 at Old Trafford. The away leg finished 3-3 last August and the event is a significant fundraiser for the Foundation with all profits going to the charity.

The Foundation has become the first football club organisation to create a leadership programme specifically aimed at girls.

6. MUDSA Update

PD

PD explained that MUDSA is already preparing for next season, including the assessment of lift passes and seasonal blue badge parking. Other significant projects include:

 Preparation for the content of the 2015/16 disabled supporters handbook (PD distributed copies of the 2014/15 edition to members)

 Revising Contact Centre training material around the handling of general MUDSA calls, in conjunction with contact centre senior staff to improve the service to fans

 Arranging the implementation of a new MUDSA telephone number which will sit on the same incoming/outgoing system currently used in the contact centre.

PD hosted FC Barcelona’s Disability Liaison Officer on Tuesday 24th February. He had requested to visit our facilities due to his specific focus on updating the Nou Camp. The key issue was how to integrate new facilities in an older stadium, which had been successfully managed at Old Trafford.

PD reported that the disabled assistance buggy from Car Park N3 to the stadium has been a success.

7.

Members’

Questions

(raised in the December Forum) a. Removal of banners from SAF Stand

RA

Q: Why have banners from outside of the Sir Alex Ferguson 2nd Tier been

removed / Will the Sir Alex banners be displayed again?

The Sir Alex banners were severely damaged during the winter weather– now that we are approaching the end of winter, we are in the process of reviewing replacement designs and the banner schedule.

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b. Issues with Loyalty Pot collections at Arsenal

SK

Q: We heard there were issues with some people’s ID at the Arsenal game, resulting in them not getting their ticket. Can you please investigate?

The only issues that occurred on the day of the game were supporters with either no ID or people attempting to collect using other peoples ID. Only one supporter raised a concern with the ID process and this was resolved at the collection point. There were no issues around people having grown beards for ‘Movember’.

c. Travel insurance

for supporters

DF

Q: What happened to the travel insurance policy that used to be part of the Membership scheme?

Until 2005, Official Members and Season Ticket holders were provided insurance, as part of the product (up to c£10k). After a review, this product benefit was removed in favour of other items/ initiatives.

DF committed to surveying our fan base (Official Members and Season Ticket holders), to establish what level of interest there is in terms of an insurance product, and then will review accordingly.

d. Possible meeting to be held at AON Training Complex

PT

Q: Will a future meeting be hosted at the AON Training Complex?

Our aim is to hold the final forum of the season at the Aon Training Complex. Transport for members will be provided from Old Trafford, departing Old Trafford at 1pm.

e. Allocation of tickets for a possible FA Cup semi final or final

SK

Q: Please could you explain how FA Cup semi-final & Final tickets would be allocated if we progress. Specifically, will unsuccessful away game applications have any bearing on FA Cup ticket allocation?

Applications are generally restricted to STHs who have purchased all home cup games. We haven’t previously taken away game applications into consideration. We do not intend changing this policy. But will not publish exact information until we know if we have qualified, and who we are playing.

8.

Members’

Questions

(New Questions/ Updates Requested) f. Loyalty Pot collection issues

SK

Q: In terms of the Loyalty Pot collections at away grounds:

1. If a supporter gets attacked or injured by away supporters as a direct result of this policy, is MUFC insured for a damages claim? What precautions are put in place by the Ticket Office to ensure this does not happen?

2. Why isn’t a contact number provided so that if there are travel delays or tickets go missing, some contingency plan can be put in place?

3. Why were the staff late at the West Ham away game?

4. What is being done in future to ensure our loyal fans are not in any way impacted in such a manner?

1) The safety and well-being of visiting supporters is the responsibility of the home club, and every Premier League club is required to have insurance to cover all visitors to their stadium.

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In addition, we liaise with each ticket office in advance to ensure that the environment for ticket collections is safe and secure. There have been no reports of any intimidation this season, and no reported injuries. For games where we expect there may be an intimidating atmosphere (such as Liverpool and Manchester City), we do not conduct Loyalty Pot checks at the away ground 2) The contact number is 0161 868 8000 which is open any hours that LP ticket collections will take place. MU staff are not present at every game, if a supporter is travelling late they can contact us for guidance, as they would if they were running late to collect a duplicate ticket.

3) WHU had misplaced the tickets, however they were recovered at around 3pm (an hour before the game kicked off). Unfortunately some supporters were kept waiting for up to 25 minutes.

To ensure this doesn't happen for any other games, our Ticket Office staff now speak to the relevant ticket office on the morning of each away game to ensure they have everything in place.

4) Loyalty Pot supporters will only be asked to collect their ticket once this season. The Club does not think this is too onerous, considering the privileged success rates Loyalty Pot members receive in ballots.

g. Friday night TV

fixtures

JA

Q: Why are FA Cup games being played on Friday nights? Additionally, I have heard the new TV deal will involve teams playing Premier League games on a Friday evening. What is being done by the Club to challenge these inconvenient kick off times for match going fans?

The FA decided that the television packages they sold would include Friday night games. In return, the BBC has put a huge effort into raising the profile of the competition, to try to go some way towards restoring the Cup’s appeal. United games are always attractive to television companies because of the viewing figures they achieve. In the FA Cup, unlike the Premier League, there is no maximum to the number of times an individual team can be shown in any season, so every game we play tends to be picked for TV coverage.

There is provision in the new package for up to 10 PL games to be shown live on TV in a season. The maximum number of times that a club can appear on a Friday night will be four, (just as there is a maximum for the other slots for the domestic TV rights packages). In reality, games are played on every night of the week, so it is hard to distinguish one night from another in terms of the relative inconvenience.

h. Special delivery

charge

SK

Q: £6.15 price of special delivery on away tickets (particularly Preston away) - Why is the cost so high (I would expect it to be around £3 based on size of letter and type of delivery, as well as the fact that normal postage is covered by the current booking fee)?

The price of Royal Mail Special Delivery is £6.40 and we reduced this to £6.15 for Preston, taking in to consideration that a booking fee is also applied to tickets. We will review these prices for next season and will attempt to secure a better deal from Royal Mail for Special Deliveries.

i. How are fixtures

picked for TV?

JA

Q: How are fixtures picked for TV listings and what involvement does MU have in the selection process. Why aren’t more of MU matches on TV?

(abbreviated)

As part of the Premier League shareholders' agreement, there is a maximum number of appearances any individual club can make on live TV games shown in England (currently 28). The process for selecting games involves discussions between the TV companies and the League, the League and the clubs, and the clubs and the police. Factors like Champions/ Europa League commitments are also taken into account. Every appearance on live TV in the UK results in a

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payment for the participating clubs, meaning that the more times we feature on live UK TV, the more revenue the Club receives. There is a minimum number of appearances as well and the way the rights money is carved up means that the Premier League is the most redistributive league in Europe among its members.

j. Putting ‘Football Club’ back on the MU crest

RA

Q: At a forum meeting last season the question of us getting the

Manchester United Football Club brand back on the crest was raised. Ed Woodward said at the time that there were ongoing discussions around this. Could we have an update please?

This is an ongoing process and involves investigating a huge number of international licensing deals. Whatever happens, it will not be a quick process but members of the Forum can be assured that we will keep them updated when there is progress.

k. Shirt sizes in

XXXXL

DF

Q: Why are replica shirts not made in Size XXXXL?

This question has previously been raised, and at the time, when discussed with Nike, it came down to a commercial decision (lack of demand). However, we will discuss with Adidas, and also undertake a fan survey to understand the demand for additional sizes, and if the demand is there, the Club will look to directly provide a service. l. Number of available tickets in away game ballots

SK

Q: There is a concern amongst those that regularly attend away games that the number of tickets available has reduced and members are having less success in the ballot. Is this due to the increased number of sponsors that we have to accommodate?

There has been no change to the way we allocate tickets or the percentages available to each pot.

In the October Forum we were happy to advise that the number of tickets allocated internally for away games was at an all-time low. Since then, this number has almost halved again, currently ~4% of tickets are allocated internally.

These figures include all sponsor and player tickets issued.

m. Poor spelling on Streford End signage

GS

Q: It has bothered me for some years now that down at the Stretford End outside the stadium, near the team coach/player car park and actually by the bins under that corner of the stand - there are permanent display signs about the stadium. One of them describes accommodation at the Stretford End but accommodating has only one ‘m’.

(abbreviated)

Apologies and thanks for bringing this to our attention. We have reviewed and will correct.

n. Acoustics within

the Stretford End

DF

Q: An official recently commented that the Stretford End where I am & the new singing section would be better to coordinate our singing. The issue is that we at the Stretford End can rarely hear supporters at the other end. I was amazed when I trialled the singing section last season & I couldn't hear the Stretford End as I know just how much noise we make!

Are there any changes that could be made at the Stretford End to project the sound better? I read this week that one club has dotted singers around the crowd all over the ground to try to encourage singing. Just a few thoughts as I think the vocal support is extremely important for the players & the atmosphere in the ground. Being part of our away crowd is usually amazing. We are so vocal.

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This was covered in May’s Forum last season, however, the key extract is that “the propagation characteristics of the upper tier seating is affected by the roof line and further studies would need to be undertaken to determine if we can improve the sound projection from these areas by installing different roof lining materials”

As mentioned previously, we are now measuring the sound levels at every home Premier League game, and we will arrange for the further studies to take place.

o. Lack of card payment options at kiosks

GS

Q: An increasing number of people are complaining about the lack of card payments at the food and drinks kiosk. With contactless payments becoming more common, and a quick method of paying, are the team looking into this?

One kiosk in each of SAF Stand Tier 1 and East Stand Tier 2 accept card payment. To be able to do this across the stadium we need to upgrade our till system and software - this is in hand and should be in place for next season. The longer term aim is to have card payment available at each kiosk.

p. Issue of drinking and smoking inside Stadium

GS

Q: A fan was sitting in the SAF stand (quite near to the stewards) not only drinking beer in a cup, but also smoking (one instance was when Burnley scored, and often very clearly standing up whilst smoking).

That is disappointing to hear. We will make sure the stewards are briefed to be more vigilant. If you have a more specific seat location that would be helpful. Please also be aware of the anonymous matchday texting service (60442) to report any behavioural issues- this goes straight through to the stadium control room. q. Complaint regarding standing at Villa Park

SK

Q: An Issue was raised with a complaint sent to Customer Care about Villa Park where supporters had no choice but to stand to see the action. Supporter unhappy with our response and wants to know why we haven't acted on his behalf and raised the issue with Aston Villa. (abbreviated)

I have spoken to our Customer Care team and said that we should have raised this with Villa on behalf of the impacted supporters. Please pass on our

apologies.

We have since raised this with staff at Villa Park and are waiting for an official response.

r. Issue with the ticket price printed on Cambridge (A) tickets

SK

Q: What was the issue with some Cambridge tickets being sold at £21 but the tickets themselves stated £19? A supporter is also unhappy with the response they received through the contact centre and will be looking to complain to Cambridge United and the FA. (abbreviated)

We were unaware of this issue. We have since checked and Cambridge have confirmed that 297 tickets had the incorrect price of £19 printed instead of £21. We will also review the complaint with the individual supporter regarding the response they received from our contact centre. In future we will contact any affected supporters should this issue arise again.

9. Any other

Business

a. Tour

RA

The number one priority for any tour is preparing the team for the season ahead. The Manager is currently working through his thoughts and as soon as he has decided, we will announce the destination and arrangements.

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b. FA Cup

semi-final allocation

JA

Any potential semi-final allocation would be for the FA to decide, once the quarter finals have been played.

c. Disabled parking

SK

Staff in the Contact Centre are undergoing training to improve both their

understanding of the facilities available at the ground and the needs of fans who may need to use such spaces.

The Club is currently investigating the number and location of its spaces available to fans with disabilities.

d. Number of away

apps

SK

There are on average 9-17k applications for domestic Premier League away games

10. Date of next

meeting

The next meeting will be held at the Aon Training Complex on Friday 1st May 2015.

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