Join the NUFC Trust

The Trust exists to provide a way for the fans to get their voices heard by Newcastle United FC. We’re not a protest group, we want to develop formal links between supporters and the Club and to be a positive influence on supporter issues.

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Premier League Supporters Meeting 2019

Last week, the Premier League met with fan groups from its member clubs at the Hyatt Regency Churchill Hotel in London. I was lucky enough to represent the Newcastle United Supporters Trust at this event and can provide mostly positive feedback from my experience. I’ve had better coffee, mind.

The meeting started with a discussion on the progress of implementing a video assistant referee (VAR) system in top-flight matches. While the Premier League has already decided that VAR will be in use from the start of next season, its director of policy Bill Bush explained that the reasoning behind not introducing it sooner, i.e. this season following its use at the World Cup, was that the division wanted more “extensive” testing. Bush said that the challenge of operating VAR across multiple matches happening at the same time – he highlighted that this challenge did not exist to the same degree at the World Cup – would require some “fine tuning”. On Saturdays, the Premier League’s busiest day for fixtures, Bush noted that “clear standards” would have to be in place so as not to use VAR “excessively” and disrupt the flow from kick-off through to full-time too much. Essentially, he suggested, that stoppages for the sake of stoppages were to be avoided.

While the consensus of the fan groups present on the day was in favour of VAR, some consideration was given to whether the technology would cause a distinction between the experience for fans watching the match on TV versus those in the stadium. Bush said that the Premier League were taking this into account and drafting legislation which would possibly require VAR decisions to be explained, in detail, over a PA system.

The conversation in Marylebone then took a political turn, moving onto the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. The Premier League, which is the workplace for many high-earning and highly taxed EU nationals, is apparently in the process of floating a “football-specific” immigration policy to the Home Office. The sentiment from fans around the table on the day was that foreign players had enhanced the league, and therefore the league should do what it can to maintain access to the best footballing talent in the world, irrespective of nationality.

Structured dialogue, i.e. regular meetings between fan groups and senior members of their clubs’ staff, was also on the agenda. The Premier League is reviewing its policy on the regularity with which clubs are mandated to “brief” fans on club-related news. There is also some talk of making forum events have “at least one director present”. The Premier League would like to see supporter liaison roles elevated in their importance.

It was at this point I suggested that the director attendance stipulation should be extended to owners. Bush responded that this would be at the individual owner’s discretion, but acknowledged the “concerns of certain clubs”. I highlighted that Newcastle had previously delayed and cancelled forum meetings. Bush suggested that the league would look into punishing clubs which did not fulfil their responsibilities in fan engagement.

Safe standing was also discussed on the day. All fan groups represented were in favour of this being introduced. Bush explained that, as with VAR, it is a case of carrying out the necessary checks before committing to something. The safety reviews are ongoing and will require external, government-level support from the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS).

On fan behaviour and recent pitch incursions, Bush made it clear that the Premier League is “against collective punishment” and would rather focus on individual bans and sanctions. Relating to the scenes during out 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, fellow Newcastle fan and chief executive of the United Football Supporters’ Organisation Kevin Miles noted the need “for a distinction between enthusiasm for a last-minute goal and a genuine intent to do harm”. Bush agreed that cases should be treated on an individual basis with context taken into account.

Travel for away games was also discussed. Progressive ticketing policies are being floated by the Premier League, in conjunction with DCMS, to various rail companies, including train tickets which are aligned to the fixture, rather than the intended date of travel. This would, in theory, mean that if fixtures were moved because of TV scheduling decisions, fans would at least not have to buy another ticket. There was also talk, Bush revealed, about a football supporters’ rail card, but rail companies were less receptive to this idea, as there are already many different concession arrangements in place.

I pointed out that travel for away fans, especially those of clubs far away from other clubs, was made more difficult when fixtures were re-arranged with little notice. I used Newcastle as an example, naturally, and drew attention to our 18 consecutive away fixtures on Monday nights. Bush asked whether I was sure if this was the case. Kevin Miles, as well as the representatives of several other northern clubs present, assured him that it was.

I said that I appreciated that some fixtures would become inconvenient travel situations, because of where Newcastle is, but asked whether more could be done to ensure that one-sided travelling did not persist. Newcastle fans are happy to follow their team to difficult destinations, so long as fans of other clubs are doing the same. The Liverpool and Everton delegates, in particular, were very supportive of this point. The Liverpool delegate noted that Liverpool’s mid-week or Monday night fixtures tend to be half at home and half away. He said that the same should be true of Newcastle’s.

Finally, the conversation moved onto Kick it Out’s anti-racism initiatives, particularly those aimed at making sure that grounds were more welcoming to fans from ethnic minority backgrounds. Kick it Out has produced guidance on how to report racism in the stands and is encouraging clubs to actively reach out to groups who might support them on TV but not feel comfortable attending the ground in person. The Premier League is lending its name to these initiatives and encourages fans groups to do similar work.

Overall, I’d class the meeting as a success insofar as important issues were raised and I got to say my piece about away day inconveniences. I’m encouraged by the progress made on VAR and structured dialogue. While it is unlikely Mike Ashley will turn up at the next fans forum event, it is nice to know that the Premier League agrees that these should be held more often and not unscrupulously re-arranged.

Watch Rohan discuss the meeting:

Rohan discusses the Premier League Supporters Meeting

You can also view the minutes posted by the Football Supporters Federation (FSF):

http://www.fsf.org.uk/assets/Downloads/News/2019/PL-supporters-meeting-march-2019.pdf

Bournemouth (a) – setting the record straight

Anyone reading the variety of reports of Newcastle fans’ behaviour in several different publications would feel justified in thinking the worst. I was there and I thought it was important to put a few of the accusations to bed and give some perspective from the point of view of someone that saw it all (or at least most of it).

I travelled down to Bournemouth at the weekend and like the vast majority of travelling Mags was in jubilant spirits for the day. There is something special amongst the fanbase when we’ve made a really long journey that’s hard to put into words unless you’ve experienced it first-hand. It’s something I recommend you all do.

It’s been difficult to read many of the reports in the media from the weekend and I’ve become increasingly annoyed as the accusations have grown, so here’s another perspective on the behaviour of some of our fans.

Let me start with half time. I stupidly decided to go down to the concourse before the end of the first half to buy a few beers. On the very overcrowded concourse there was a buoyant and happy atmosphere with some of the usual signing. We all heard a sound come from the stand but it took until we saw confirmation from the TVs that Newcastle had scored. The concourse erupted into celebrations. Some fans took it slightly too far and banged the metal above the bar.

At this point I was stood right at the front. It was the banging that caused the staff to decide to shut the bar. And that sparked a reaction amongst the fans to try and stop the shutters coming down. Plenty of fans had paid for drinks they hadn’t received, and it seemed pretty unfair that they were going to close the bar for a bit of banging and joyful singing when Newcastle had just scored.

I didn’t see any flares nor any smoke and I’m certain that the shutters weren’t coming down as an automatic reaction to smoke. Anyone that saw the concourse would be shocked if their counters had such technology installed. I certainly didn’t see any staff being pulled over the bar or being assaulted. I’m not saying that neither of those things definitely didn’t happen but I was in a pretty good position to see everything and didn’t notice either.

However, there was at least two instances I saw that were completely out of order. One of our fans, and I use that word begrudgingly, threw something at catering staff behind the bar and it hit them in the face.

Another idiot got behind the bar and looked to steal something. It wasn’t, as has been described, a case of him handing stuff back over the bar to a gleefully accepting crowd.

Both of these instances are despicable behaviour that were widely and loudly criticised by most of those in attendance. There is no defence to this kind of behaviour and instances like this shame our fan base.

Whilst there were a few isolated instances of unacceptable behaviour, to paint the large group of fans on the concourse as a drunken, criminal mob is hugely exaggerated at best and an outright smearing lie at worst.

Roll on 94 minutes and Matt Richie scored a quite beautiful equaliser. Lots of fans, myself included, moved towards the front to celebrate as is natural in such circumstances. It’s not clever to charge towards a small area as a crowd. It is not criminal. It was difficult to see clearly what happened in the melee but that’s exactly what it was. A chaotic mess of jubilant mags who were celebrating wildly in a small space with only a knee-high barrier between us and the playing area perimeter.

Common sense and perspective could and should have been used and fans calmly ushered back. But football fans have often been treated as criminals in the first instance as a matter of course and after recent events, heavy handed policing and stewarding prevailed. It looks likely to have a lasting impact on an unlucky few who ended up over the knee-high barrier. Anyone amongst that celebration knows that it could have been any one of us that ended up on the grass there and that none of us had the remotest criminal intent. I’d speculate that those that did end up on the grass didn’t intend to be there and were forced over.

One of those arrested has since been released without charge after CCTV showed he was pulled over by a steward. He was then detained for more than 20 hours before being released. This is unacceptable. That steward has probably shown more intent out of anyone to get Newcastle fans onto the pitch.

To support the lads facing prosecution for celebrating the winner on Saturday please donate here

https://www.gofundme.com/legal-fees-for-mags-arrested-at-bournemouth

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Helping the supporters arrested at Bournemouth

Seven fans in the away end didn’t get home after Saturday. That night they were arrested for entering the field of play after the equaliser. 

Fans shouldn’t enter the field of play.    The law against entering the field of play is there rightly to protect players and officials.  We’ve seen incidents in recent weeks in Birmingham and Edinburgh of those laws being broken and the people involved rightly facing prosecution.  What happened on Saturday with fans of Newcastle United isn’t that.

We are launching a campaign to support those fans.

Having spoken to most of the families of the arrested  fans – there was no intention to commit a criminal act.  No players were harmed. No home supporters taunted.

Fans surged forwards at one of  the smallest grounds ever to host Premier League football and for a matter of seconds were on the pitch. 

We would like to support these fans who are facing banning orders and potential criminal records by raising contributions for their basic legal fees  and basic travel costs as the hearings will take place in Dorset.

If any of the families or individuals feel unable to accept the fees or their charges are dropped before they have to travel or pay for legal expenses, then this money will be donated to charity and the charity of choice paid with a proof of public payment.

Please donate if you can:

https://www.gofundme.com/manage/legal-fees-for-mags-arrested-at-bournemouth/edit/story

Board

Newcastle United Supporters Trust

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International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day let’s hear from one of NUST’s newest Board members, Linda Bush on why she joined the Board, and why International Women’s Day is as relevant as ever.

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Premier League agrees to continue £30 away tickets cap

The Trust are delighted to hear the news that Premier League clubs have agreed to continue the £30 away tickets cap today having worked alongside other supporters Trusts and the Premier League on the campaign for cheaper away tickets.

Away fans are an integral part of any match day, the effort, time and commitment away fans show supporting their team often hundreds of miles away is again being listened to.

The cap of £30 was originally introduced in 2017/17 season and we hope away fan attendances will remain at the high levels seen in recent years.

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Minutes of Annual General Meeting

Minutes of Annual General Meeting, 6.00pm 30th January 2019. Held at Lit and Phil, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Border Members Present: Peter Fanning (Chair), Alex Hurst (AH), Colin Whittle (CW), Anthony Armstrong (AA), Simon Campbell (SC), Michael Carling (MC), Chris Johnson (CJ), Paul Brown King (PBK),

PF opened the AGM and thanked members for their attendance. He informed members that he was stepping down from the role of Chair following the AGM, with the role to be taken up by AH.

1.0 Apologies

Apologies were received from Board members Norman Watson (NW), Mal Mclean (MMc) and Wallace Wilson (WW).

2.0 Chairman’s report

PF presented his report on the activities of the trust over the past 12 months and in particular concentrated upon NUST involvement with the Magpie Group/FSF and Supporters Direct and their merger/relationship with the club and the Fans Forum/ NUST proposed rule change /relationship with NUFC Fan Foodbank /relationship with NUFC Foundation.

Kevin Miles (CEO of FSF) was invited to explain to members the details of the FSF/Supporters Direct merger and provided details of the organisation and the services the FSF provides to fans on a wide range of supporter issues.

CW outlined the continued involvement of NUST in relation to the NUFC Fans Foodbank initiative which was now into its second year. Collections continued on a match day and were complemented by a number of funding initiatives through the year.

AH was introduced to members as the incoming Chair and talked to members about potential plans he hoped to introduce following his appointment as Chair.

3.0 Treasurer’s report

CW outlined the NUST accounts, and confirmed the financial position of the Trust.

4.0 Re-appointment of auditors

PF addressed the members and proposed that S.M Lowery, who had audited the Trust accounts for some years, be re-appointed. The proposal was approved.

5.0 Amendment to Rules

CW outlined to members the history of the NUST rules and how they were ‘model rules’ agreed by Supporters Direct with the FCA and adopted by Supporters Trusts incl NUST. The rules had been subsequently updated following a change in legislation and a revised set to be adopted by Supporters Trusts had been agreed between the FCA and Supporters Direct. A copy of the revised rules were distributed to members highlighting the changes, together with an explanatory note prepared by NW. The proposal to adopt the new revised set of Rules was approved.

6.0 Any Other Business

PF invited members to raise any other business. No matters were raised.

Peter Fanning

Chair

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Notice of Annual General Meeting

Newcastle United Supporters Society Limited
Registration Number: 30721R

When:
6.00pm, 30th January 2019

Where:
The Lit and Phil Society, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 1SE

Trust board members:
Chairman; Peter Fanning, Norman Watson, Alex Hurst, Simon Campbell, Michael Carling, Anthony Armstrong, Mal McLean, Paul Brown-King, Colin Whittle, Chris Johnson.

Agenda:
Apologies
Chair’s report
Treasurer’s report
Re-appointment of Auditors
Amendments to Rules
Any other business

The Annual General Meeting is open to all shareholding members* of the Newcastle United Supporters Society Limited (trading as Newcastle United Supporters Trust).

Proof of identity is provided prior to entrance.

*Must be aged 16 or over, and a paid up to date member.

NUST Board

foodbank

NATIONAL FANS FOODBANK CONFERENCE

Following the first annual Fans Supporting Foodbanks conference arranged by the Football Supporters Federation in Newcastle last year, it was the turn of Merseyside based Supporter Foodbanks, a combination of Everton’s Blue Union and Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly, to host this year’s conference in the grand setting of St George’s Hall, Liverpool. Given our involvement in NUFC Fans Foodbanks NUST representative Colin Whittle attended the event with Bill Corcoran.

Hosted by Ian Byrne from Spirit of Shankly and Dave Kelly from Blue Union the day began with a passionate introduction from Liverpool Councillor Jane Corbett who we knew from her visit to last year’s conference in Newcastle. She was followed by a number of speakers talking about local initiatives being supported by fans and the background behind those initiatives. It was clear from the many passionate speeches made that there has been a ‘major buy in’ from the local community –supporters working together for the benefit of their communities.

Liverpool Chief Executive Peter Moore and former player Jamie Carragher both spoke well-it was pleasing to see a high profile ex player have a part to play- as did Red Neighbours representative Forbes Duff and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Chester MP Chris Matheson. Donna Scully from Solicitors Carpenters also spoke about her own firm’s involvement.

The afternoon session involved fan representatives speaking about fan initiatives at their own clubs. Contributions from Celtic, Huddersfield, Merseyside, Sunderland and our own Bill Corcoran, speaking with his usual passion about NUFC Fans Foodbank, were just some of the contributions to the afternoon session.

A well organised conference-our hosts continue to be a source of inspiration no doubt about that, and a lot to learn about other fan group’s initiatives, it’s just a shame that Foodbanks are necessary in this day and age.

What the conference demonstrated more than anything was the power of football fans working together and the overall power for good we can bring to our local communities. An undoubted positive force after years of unjust criticism in certain quarters.

To finish the day off and as a gesture of thanks NUFC Fans Foodbank contributed to our hosts a framed Fans Foodbank poster signed by Rafa.

There was plenty of time to reflect on what had been a thoughtful and inspirational day during the train journey back home, but speaking from the NUST perspective we’d like to thank every single person who has contributed in any way to our own NUFC Fans Foodbank……magnificent support for those in need within our own community.

NUST

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THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN!

In another of a series of articles from NUST members, Phil Hornsby sets out his views on the current situation at NUFC.

These are difficult times being a Newcastle United Supporter. I have supported the club for over 40 years and in my view what as a supporter group we are facing at present, compares equally unfavourably with any of the low times in my past experience.

However, we have always found a way forward and I believe we are now doing so again.

I saw my first Newcastle United Game on the 20th March 1970, a 3-1 win against Stoke. However, it was not until the second half of the 1976/77 Season that I started going regularly. We finished 5th and qualified for Europe. The following season we were relegated. Sounds familiar!

My time of supporting Newcastle I will divide into 3 distinct periods:

1977-1990: The club was run by a board of directors who consisted of local businessmen and solicitors whose positions were largely inherited having been passed onto them by their fathers. The chairmen over this period of time were Lord Westwood, Bob Rutherford, Stan Seymour Jnr and Gordon McKeag.

1990-2007: Hall/ Shepherd era

2007-the not too distant future: Mike Ashley

I am going to reflect on these three periods of time and discuss how Newcastle United’s evolution since 1977 within the context of the changes in football and society, mean that as a supporter group and as part of the Magpie Group, I believe we can be confident of being part of the catalyst for effective change in how our club is run.

1977-1990: Lord Westwood et al

There are clear parallels to be drawn with the current situation. The Ashley era is increasingly becoming a painful reminder to supporters of my generation of what supporting Newcastle was like for those first thirteen years.

On the field, the team suffered two relegations. Much of the time was spent meandering in the old second division, going nowhere. Of course there were false dawns, the biggest of which was the two seasons when Kevin Keegan played for the team and led us to promotion. This opportunity was squandered with the manager, Arthur Cox leaving before we kicked off back in the First Division after a dispute with the board about his contract.

We had 3 outstanding players around which a successful team could have been built: Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne. All were sold and not adequately replaced.

The quality of managers, Arthur Cox aside were middling to poor.

Supporters today complain, rightly, about the neglect at the ground. However St James Park like many other grounds at this time, was a disgrace. Stories about the state of the toilets in the Gallowgate End told by those of us who experienced them are the stuff of legends, but true!  The old Leazes End was demolished and replaced by a high wall with a bit of terracing in front. This was because after the planned redevelopment started the money ran out. Following the Bradford City Fire, priority had to be given to demolishing and rebuilding the West Stand, which became the Milburn Stand. Those of us who sat in that old West Stand can only think there but for the grace of God, goodness knows what those enforcing modern day fire regulations would have made of it.

In summary this was a time of austerity and lack of ambition. Like today, supporters knew the potential that existed and were frustrated by the direction the board of directors took the club in. These were local men who undoubtedly supported the team. However, they had largely inherited their positions at the club. To coin a phrase, Newcastle United was “The Family Silver” and maintaining their control was more important than meeting the aspirations of supporters and they were unwilling to sanction the investment required to make us competitive in the First Division.

However, supporters were unable or unwilling to ever effectively take any positive action due to the difficulties in communication as compared to the present day, and a stoical attitude of acceptance. Speaking personally, it is a desire not to allow the club to regress to this type of situation for the long term again which is a significant motivation now.

1990-2007: John Hall/ Freddy Shepherd Era

The original Magpie Group led by John Hall and Freddy Shepherd understood the potential and had the financial resources to tempt stubborn but greedy men to part with their shares and sell their inheritance.

The achievements of our football team over this period are well known. Although there were disappointing times under the managerial reigns of Dalglish, Gullitt, Souness and Roeder ( although we did reach the FA Cup Final twice), it is the periods when the team was under the guidance of Keegan and Robson that are best remembered; we competed at the business end of the Premier League and European Football was a regularity.

Although there is controversy about their legacy and their stewardship, of course they sold up to Mike Ashley making a huge amount of money, it is the positive aspects of their legacy I am focusing on this article.

This was the time when the club realised its potential both on and off the field. Aside from the achievements of the team, sell out crowds became commonplace, commercial revenues were a significant source of income and we now have a stadium of which we can be proud, “ The cathedral on the hill”. Whether we like it or not, this coincided with Sky televising the Premier League and the exposure they provided significantly increased our profile.

The memory of this period I view as being very significant in the perception of our club today and why to quote Oliver Holt , he regards us as “ a top six club”. It is still relatively recent and a very significant driver in our efforts at this time.

2007-Present Day: Mike Ashley

I do not need to chronicle the misery of this period, other than to say it is increasingly becoming a mirror of my earlier years supporting the club.

The Times are a Changin!

Times have changed and this is the reason why I believe we can be optimistic. The world is a smaller place. Between 1977 and 1990, the travails of Newcastle United were of little interest to the national media, who being based in London and Manchester focused on the fortunes of the clubs in those regions. The misery of the Newcastle supporters were of little consequence.

Up until Rafa Benitez became our manager, I think it would be fair to describe the attitude of the vast majority of Newcastle Supporters, including myself under the Ashley Regime as again having become stoical. We accepted the indignities inflicted upon us with little protest other than a shrug of the shoulders and looking forward to the next false dawn.

Rafa aware of the recent history of the club knew its potential, has reawakened the club with all parts connected apart the owner. Links have been re-established in the community and in some cases expanded.

Rafa has been the catalyst but what else has happened. Social Media now exists at a level enabling much easier communication. This has been fully utilised by ourselves in coming together to work towards effective change. John Gibson once described trying to organise Newcastle Supporters as like “trying to herd cats!” I think we have put this one to bed.

Our efforts have been recognised in both the local but more importantly the national media.  We have had Ian Wright on BBC 5 Live and Jake Humphries on BT Sport not holding back in their criticism of the regime. Sky seems to be taking a more balanced approach with contributions from Steve Howey, Jamie Carragher and the Custis Brothers. ( I do wonder if this reflects a change in attitude, so instead of broadcasting cushy interviews between Ashley and Craigy, they are now distinctly unimpressed that given the large sums of money the club have received from Sky, this has not been reflected in investment in the team, and consequently the televised product has been diminished).

Apart from the excellent reporting of George Caulkin, Luke Edwards, Mark Douglas and other local Journalists we have support from influential national journalists such as Henry Winter, Oliver Holt and David Conn.

I must mention the contributions of Dennis Wise, Richard Keys and Andy Gray amongst others. I have enjoyed listening to their opinions. Why? It reflects how out of touch Ashley is that he chooses to uses these type of discredited individuals to argue his case. The saying, “When you are in a hole stop digging” could not be more appropriate. Their utterings only add strength to our cause.  

Newcastle is now recognised nationally as a vibrant thriving city whose profile has significantly grown. Our football club is an institution within the city whose progress at the start of the century reflected the development that was taking place making Newcastle a very significant social, cultural and economic centre. Ashley’s lack of respect for the club is seen increasingly at national level as an insult to the city.

We are winning the argument and as our situation is now becoming one increasingly discussed in the national media, this in turn is increasing the focus on Sports Direct, and the unethical way he runs this business. Ashley’s discomfort must be increasing daily.

If we continue our efforts the pressure from all sources on him will continue to increase and he will sell eventually. We can only hope the damage inflicted beforehand is minimised.

We have momentum, let’s keep it going!


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Who are we?

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust is not a protest group, but a positive force for change.

We seek to benefit our football club and its supporters by channeling the passion of its loyal supporters into a forward-thinking non-profit organisation that is a legally constituted, democratic, not-for-profit Supporters Trust.

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) seeks to benefit both the Football Club and its supporters by channeling the passion of Newcastle supporters into a forward-thinking organisation that is a legally constituted, democratic, not-for-profit Supporters Trust of Newcastle United.

Contact Us

PO Box 621

Newcastle Upon Tyne

NE5 9AD

info@nufctrust.co.uk

@nufctrust

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