The latest NUFC Fans Forum meeting took place on Wednesday 21 October and nine days later the minutes have been published.
No explanation as to the delay by the club in revealing what went on at the meeting but here are the highlights of the meeting that we have picked out.
Amongst the subjects covered are expanding St James Park, delay in state of the art training facilities, away tickets, safe standing and ticket prices.
NUFC Fans Forum selected questions and answers:
Question – “There used to a be a rule where if an attendance fell below the stadium average, Sky would make up the difference. Is that still in place?”
Club reply – The club stated that this was no longer in place but explained how part of the money generated from TV rights is distributed to clubs in line with how often they are broadcast live.
Question – “Currently, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham are due to overtake us when it comes to stadium capacity. Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal are ahead of us. Why were plans proposed to extend the Gallowgate End scrapped in the past and will any planned development behind Gallowgate hinder the potential to expand the stadium in future?
Club reply – The club referred to similar questions in previous Fans Forum meetings in May 2014 and October 2014 during which the history of the land and its sale were discussed. The club’s view has not changed.
Question sent to Taylor Payne: “Recently, the Chelsea game saw a ticket price reduction from last season for the public but not for members. The attendance then fell 4,000 short of last season. Public price reductions will worsen the situation where in some places, a season ticket costs more than single tickets. Almost every other club in the Premier League publishes its pricing brand for the whole season alongside season ticket prices. Why do Newcastle not do this and allow supporters to make an informed choice on which tickets suit them?”
Club reply – (Stephen Tickle (ST)) stated that most season ticket holders are on longer-term price-freeze deals, with others on one-year deals. The club uses a price matrix to ensure season ticket holders always make a saving and receive the best possible value in relation to single match ticket prices.
ST stated that the club doesn’t confirm single match prices for all home fixtures in advance because specific fixtures can be changed between categories depending on demand. For example, if a fixture is switched to a Sunday, it may move down to the next cheaper category as fewer tickets may be sold if it is broadcast live domestically.
While Chelsea ticket prices may have fallen slightly, that will be offset in other games throughout the season using the pricing matrix. The emphasis remains on giving season ticket holders the best value.
New club website
Question – “The club mentioned it may look to make nufcTV free for fans. Have you pursued that?”
Club reply – The club confirmed it is part of a wider review of its digital strategy which would also encompass a new website, which would potentially be up and running in 12 months’ time. Further announcements would be made as it progresses.
Question – “What percentage of away tickets actually go to supporters?”
Club reply – ST stated that usually 95-96 per cent of away tickets go to fans. Of the remaining tickets, the vast majority is allocated to players for friends and family. A smaller allocation is made available to sponsors.
Question – “Why can’t fans buy away tickets if they are not season ticket holders?”
Club reply – The club’s policy over the past 5-6 years has been to prioritise season ticket holders then members, with most away games selling out to those groups before a general sale period would be possible. This also enables the club to trace tickets to individuals should incidents occur. The club doesn’t envisage a change in that policy.
Question – “Is there an update on safe standing from the Premier League? If they wanted to trial it, would we be a club that wanted to pioneer it?”
Club reply – LM confirmed safe standing had been discussed in previous Forums, both in January 2014 and July 2015. SS stated that the legislation hadn’t changed so the club – and other clubs – wouldn’t commit to trials.
New state of the art training ground facilities
Question – “Are there any updates on the club’s new training facility?”
Club reply – The club took the original decision to delay construction for two reasons. Firstly, its league position at a time when it was required to sign contracts for work to start in May 2015 and, thereafter, to minimise disruption in the first season of a new head coach.
The plans have since been revisited to see if any enhancements can be made and that is on going. The club is committed to upgrading its training facilities at the most appropriate time.