M.U.S.T statement re current relationship with Club

28 03 2017

“The first decade of the Glazer ownership of Manchester United saw a sustained period of under-investment in the team which came home to roost following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. The on-field decline since then was avoidable, and the responsibility sits squarely with the owners of the club in the period from 2005-13 as it was made necessary by the cost of their takeover being placed upon the Club.
 
“But the past is the past. Now we believe the focus must be on maintaining the present level of investment in the playing side and expanding the stadium so that Manchester United remains one of the biggest clubs in world football. Today, the club works better with its supporters than it did a few years ago. Under supporter pressure, ticket prices have stabilised and the club now works harder to engage with supporters groups on the day-to-day issues affecting fans. But there is still much more to do.
 
“Our priority and purpose has always been to fight for, and protect the club in the best interests of the fans, and the execution of that strategy has seen a shift from early day protests to a robust but co-operative relationship - something we were keen to bring about - and have now achieved at the instigation of the Club itself”. 
 
“Ultimately, we remain of the view that a significant proportion of a football clubs shares should sit in supporters hands. Football clubs are social and community institutions as much as they are private ones, and a significant proportion of supporter ownership ensures their interests are taken properly into account, and the club as a whole takes a sufficiently long-term view over decision-making. We believe that this represents the best ownership model for Manchester United and football clubs the length and breadth of the country.”
 
"However that is a longer term objective and in the meantime the improvement in relations with Club management has brought many small but incremental benefits, particularly for matchgoing fans. We expect the more co-operative relationship to continue to yield further benefits so it makes sense to pursue this while still retaining our watchdog role and our long term goal to give fans a significant ownership stake."

Notes:

1. MUFC COVERING COST OF RUSSIAN VISAS FOR OUR FANS FOLLOWING M.U.S.T REQUEST

2. TICKETING STATEMENT FROM M.U.S.T

3. M.U.S.T FOLLOW-UP MEETING WITH MUFC RE DEVELOPMENT AT OLD TRAFFORD TO EXPAND DISABLED FACILITIES

4. CLARIFICATION RE MUST CONSULTATION ON DISABLED SECTION EXPANSION

5. M.U.S.T RESPONSE TO ANNOUNCEMENT OF REDEVELOPMENT AT OLD TRAFFORD TO EXPAND DISABLED FACILITIES

6. SOME RECENT ACTIVITY BY M.U.S.T ON BEHALF OF MATCH GOING FANS

7. M.U.S.T STATEMENT RE: FANS’ FORUM RETURN

8. MUFC TICKETING & MEMBERSHIP SANCTIONS AND M.U.S.T’S ROLE IN RECOMMENDING REFORMS

9. M.U.S.T MEETING WITH MUFC

10. M.U.S.T TO MEET MANCHESTER UNITED TO DISCUSS FANS’ AWAY TICKETING CONCERNS

11. MUST END OF SEASON REPORT 2015/16

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Red’s asked to sign Big Lily in charity quest

09 03 2017

Read about how you can back fellow reds on a huge fundraising campaign for Unicef on the link below.

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MUFC covering cost of Russian visas for our fans following M.U.S.T request

28 02 2017

Manchester United has agreed to cover the cost of Russian visas for our fans who are travelling to Rostov following a request from M.U.S.T.


Rostov v Manchester United FC


M.U.S.T contacted the Club after hearing concerns from fans over the additional costs of this trip (plus short notice and security issues) so we're grateful that they have agreed to reimburse up to £118 to travelling supporters who provide appropriate documentation. It's another good example of how M.U.S.T can work with the MUFC to get a better deal for our fans.

The Club advise that after the game, supporters will need to send a copy of their passport photo page, the stamped passport page and Russian visa by Thursday 16th March in order to receive a credit for attending the game.

If you also send the receipt from the purchase of your visa (up to a maximum of £118.20 per person attending the game) the Club will contact fans to arrange a refund.

Tickets will cost approximately £30.


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Ticketing statement from M.U.S.T

07 02 2017

M.U.S.T welcomes Manchester United adopting some of our proposals on 2017-18 ticketing improvements. After a series of meetings with senior officials on issues such as youth ticketing, home cup ticket prices and booking fees, we are glad there has been a shift in the right direction on all of these issues.

The club has not adopted all measures M.U.S.T proposed and nor has it gone as far as we would have liked on home cup tickets where we called for the removal of the automatic home cup ticket scheme (ACS) in its entirety. However, after almost continual annual prices rises for many years, we welcome the period of price freezing now being extended and improved so that there is also a number of small reductions.

M.U.S.T. - the Manchester United Supporters Trust

 

The provision of, in theory, very large numbers of youth season tickets corrects the club's previous stance that restricted youth season tickets to only the Family Stand and top of the North Stand. While we called for youth tickets in all areas, we accept the entire second tier of the stadium, apart from the Stretford End, is a significant step in the right direction. This is especially good news for those who will suddenly see tickets they already pay for dropping by 50 per cent in price, as well as for those who buy season tickets for their children in future. We are aware supporters with seats in non-eligible areas will face a decision of whether to stay in their current seats and pay full price or move to the second tier to obtain discounts.

A reduction in EFL home cup pricing, which now means two cup competitions have been reduced (in years that we have been in the Europa League), is a small step in the right direction too. We remain committed to seeing more movement in this area and the ultimate removal of the ACS in its entirety. Our own survey, carried out in September 2015, shows 66 per cent of supporters want the ACS to be scrapped and we continue to make those representations to the club.

Booking fees are punitive and unfair on supporters. We welcomed the club removing these on away tickets initially following our request, and are glad to see this has now also been extended to members too.

Areas that the club has not progressed with despite our calls include a home ticket exchange system. We remain committed to this. We are, however, glad that the club has responded to our call for an away ticket exchange system so that fans openly swapping swap tickets at face value will not be punished.

As well as the measures that have been announced for next season, M.U.S.T has also worked with the club on the following in recent seasons:
- more flexibility for season tickets being loaned to friends and family, which is no longer prohibited
- removal of booking fees and discounts on away tickets, now replaced by the £30 price cap
- better work fighting for larger allocations at away games, more transparency in away ballots and higher percentage of tickets given to season ticket holders
- changes to away game collections so that fans not collecting on the day no longer face bans, and the replacement of this system with an away exchange system from next season
- ensuring 2,000 season tickets holders with all home cup vouchers denied FA Cup final tickets last season ended up being allocated seats
- working on logistical solutions such as free coaches to Wembley for last season's FA Cup semi final and final, various support with travel at European away games and liaison on ticket collection points
- pushing for goodwill measures to be offered to fans who travelled to China for the cancelled match in Beijing. Those supporters later received ticket refunds and signed shirts
- individual casework helping significant numbers of fans facing bans or other problems, such as relocations at Old Trafford (notably when we found solutions for those unhappy about J Stand singing section being introduced)

While we welcome the above developments and are glad that dialogue has led to outcomes listed above, we also note there is a long way to go and many other issues to resolve.

At this present time, the new disabled section is particularly pertinent with supporters facing price rises when they are moved to more expensive seats as a result of the stadium reconfiguration. Along with other groups also engaged on this issue, we continue to press the club to engage with fans affected, consult earlier and in more detail in future when such issues arise, and to improve the goodwill packages offered to supporters, as these packages are not sufficient at present.

We welcome feedback from our members and would especially point season tickets holders towards our season ticket holder group, which can be found at
http://action.joinmust.org/page/s/season-ticket-holders


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M.U.S.T follow-up meeting with MUFC re development at Old Trafford to expand disabled facilities

01 02 2017

M.U.S.T had a follow-up meeting this morning with Manchester United (Director of Venue, Director of Communications and Head of Ticketing and Membership) regarding the plans for the disabled section expansion and the impact on existing Season Ticket Holders. Essentially we wanted to clarify a number of issues affecting these supporters and push for the best possible outcome. 
 
These were the main questions/areas raised:
 
1. Why wasn't there consultation with potentially affected ST holders prior to the announcement?
2. Will they release further details of the options considered and the reason for the eventual choice for location of the expansion of the disabled section?
3. Will they put a request to the board to agree to guarantee that no supporter will end up out of pocket as a result of compulsory relocation?
4. Individual cases - we raised a number of individual cases where supporters had suffered unusual hardship and we were able to progress these and will follow up on others. For example one case involved a supporter who was being asked to move but his wife next to him was not!
 
Finally we reiterated our request that the club initiates a consultation on wider stadium redevelopment including examining options which could:
a. Provide an alternative option of a superior (view & facilities) disabled platform running around the stadium at the upper Tier 1 / lower Tier 2 level
b. Reclaim the ends behind the goals as vocal popular ends with a view to installing rail seats (safe standing) at accessible prices if that is what supporters want
c. Expand stadium capacity to the largest in Europe 
 
We will follow-up with further details and answers where appropriate in the next few days.
 
We should reiterate that while we don't claim to represent all supporters we make efforts to consult as much as possible and so we encourage all Season Ticket Holders to register in our ST Group to allow us to do this. We have approximately 20k registered but if you know someone who hasn't registered yet please direct them to this webpage:
http://bit.ly/MUFCST


M.U.S.T Season Ticket Holders Group


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Clarification re MUST consultation on disabled section expansion

01 02 2017

It has been drawn to our attention that some fans mistakenly believed that M.U.S.T had been involved in consultation with the Club prior to the decision on the location of the expanded disabled facilities. (In at least one example, which we have asked the club to investigate, a supporter informed us he'd been told this by his appointed representative in the Ticket Office!).

We wish to make it clear that this is absolutely incorrect and that we were involved in no such consultation whatsoever prior to the decision.

Had we been consulted we would have ensured that we, in turn, extended that consultation to Season Ticket Holders so their views could be best represented. Of course we are now involved in detailed dialogue with the club so we do want to encourage all Season Ticket Holders to register via the ST Group so they have an opportunity to participate in future. We have approximately 20k registered but if you know a Season Ticket Holder who hasn't registered yet please direct them to this webpage:
http://bit.ly/MUFCST


M.U.S.T Season Ticket Holders Group

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M.U.S.T response to announcement of redevelopment at Old Trafford to expand disabled facilities

24 01 2017

In response to the announcement today (see below) regarding the expansion of the disabled facilities at Old Trafford and the subsequent impact on fans in existing seats and also the reduction in overall capacity of the stadium, M.U.S.T issued the following statement:

While we welcome the expansion of disabled facilities to comply with the Accessible Stadia guide / Premier League ‘pledge’ we note with concern the impact that this will have on supporters in existing seats who will be required to relocate to make way for the expanded disabled section.

OT redevelopment for disabled expansion


We have already expressed our view to the Club that no supporter who is compulsorily relocated should suffer any financial loss as a result and we urge the Club to extend the 1 year price freeze they have proposed. We believe it is reasonable to offer a price match guarantee to all relocated fans until such point that they have been offered seating at the equivalent price point to that which applied prior to their relocation.

We will also be making a strenuous argument for general expansion of stadium capacity. We believe Manchester United should adopt an ambitious approach which not only reclaims the capacity lost during this process but ultimately takes Old Trafford's capacity to the largest in Europe. Manchester United and our fans deserve no less. Furthermore we hope this redevelopment will provide a perfect opportunity to conduct a trial of Rail Seating ("safe standing") and this is something we'll be raising with the club as well.

Having said the above we do appreciate the efforts the Club has gone to in other respects, to find the best short term solution to a very difficult challenge which effectively left them 'between a rock and a hard place'. The phased approach over three years does make sense, as do the reversible facilities, both short term and long term. We also note the extensive exploration of alternative solutions which the Club undertook and the resources they are putting into dealing with what will be a huge upheaval for some supporters.

Many fans who will be affected have already expressed concern to us. In the first instance we advise them to contact the Club via their designated "account manager" (or wait until they receive their call) but we will gather feedback over the coming days and any M.U.S.T members who want us to personally represent them can get in touch after 1st February so that we can assist them.

Any supporter who feels they have been unable to gain a satisfactory response from the Club by the end of this week is welcome to email the M.U.S.T rep on the Fans' Forum so that he can take up issues at (or following) the meeting on 1st February. We'd suggest that only those fans affected by plans for next season do so at this stage as there will be plenty of time later to deal with those impacted in subsequent seasons. Our Fans' Forum rep - Ian Stirling - can be contacted via fansgroup.forum@manutd.co.uk - note this is an official club email address.

NOTES:
MUFC announcement: http://bit.ly/OT-accessibility

MANCHESTER UNITED CONFIRMS STADIUM ACCESSIBILITY PLANS

• Structural changes complete in August 2017 
• Move will affect 2,600 Season Ticket holders
• Relocation of affected fans phased over 3 years

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Some recent activity by M.U.S.T on behalf of match going fans

27 11 2016

We know we've often not communicated very effectively what we've been working on for match going fans in the past but we intend to improve in this area as well as better consultation with supporters, official branches and other groups. This is a brief, but by no means comprehensive, summary listing of some of the activities M.U.S.T has been involved in recently. 


Home ticketing: 

- While M.U.S.T has not succeeded in reducing home pricing overall we have lobbied hard for, at minimum, ticket prices to be frozen and have successfully pushed for some tickets to be discounted (e.g. Europa League). We also persuaded the Club to allow more flexibility in lending Season Tickets to friends and family - a practice which used to be prohibited in the rules

- M.U.S.T intervened when fans contacted us about forced relocations (e.g. Singing Section and new TV cameras) and we ensured supporters had better outcomes wherever possible - e.g. those supporters who wished to, were able to remain elsewhere in the North East corner despite the singing section or else chose to accept compensation and move. It was a far from perfect outcome but a lot better than that offered prior to our intervention

- M.U.S.T continues to push hard for more discounted youth season tickets to be made available in other parts of the ground and we believe we have every chance of succeeding on this for next season. We are also lobbying to extend the youth ticket upper age range to above 16 years old


Personalised autographed shirt hand signed by Eric CantonaOrder here: http://bit.ly/Cantona2016-12

 

Domestic aways:

- M.U.S.T pushed the Club to remove away booking fees and to also discount tickets by £5 last season when many other clubs did not use the Premier League away fund to subsidise ticket prices. This discount has now been replaced by the current £30 cap which M.U.S.T played a crucial role in securing as a leading member of the Premier League Trusts group. 

- M.U.S.T has constantly warned the Club that season ticket holders should receive a fairer deal in ballots and this has helped lead to a situation where success rates for standard pot season ticket holders have increased significantly. We continue to monitor this

- M.U.S.T has pushed for increased transparency meaning the Club now publishes a full breakdown of each ballot, how tickets were allocated and success rates. We have also sought information on where returns/ cancelled tickets end up and have received feedback from supporters that random callbacks they receive have drastically increased

- M.U.S.T has reviewed the current collections system with the Club (note that this system was not approved by M.U.S.T - this has been misunderstood by some) and has submitted proposals for improvements while seeking further views from supporters. The Club has accepted in principle that an away ticket exchange (between qualifying ST holders) can be put in place from next season as a result. The Club has also listened to our feedback on bans from non-collections and has agreed that a supporter not collecting a ticket should not immediately receive a 12 month ban as has been the case to date this season

- M.U.S.T has listened to extremely mixed views on this season's away collections varying from those who want checks to end immediately to those who are seeing increased success rates and are happy to see large numbers of touts banned. Finding solutions which please everyone is extremely difficult but we will continue to listen and look to seek compromises which benefit genuine United fans and our much valued, and envied, away support culture

- The Club has committed to working with M.U.S.T to look at new away ticketing processes to ensure longer term loyalty is rewarded. The delay on this is because the Club maintain they need to know who is attending games first (rather than applying) to know who to reward. M.U.S.T will consult widely with fans.

- M.U.S.T intervened when almost 2000 supporters on maximum home credits did not receive FA Cup Final tickets last season. After a period of negotiation, with various solutions suggested by M.U.S.T, all these fans were offered tickets to the match

- M.U.S.T has successfully asked the Club to lay on free coaches to games such as the semi-final and final at Wembley last season.

MUST continues to have regular dialogue with officials at all Premier League opponent clubs before and after each away game to push for higher ticket allocations. This work has also led to United officials becoming much more proactively involved with some valuable allocation gains.


European aways:

- for the last year, for every game after Bruges away, questions and concerns about each fixture have been submitted to the Club by M.U.S.T in advance of their planning visits. A few examples of what this has led to:

  • buses and/or trains being laid on for virtually every fixture
  • a biometric visa machine being made available at Old Trafford ahead of the fixture in Moscow
  • more convenient collection points

- M.U.S.T lobbied the Club regarding the resentment caused by Thomas Cook Sports overriding the credits system for European aways and their ballots now follow the independent travel ballot/credit system.

- M.U.S.T has urged the Club not to impose collection systems where they may be too inconvenient or dangerous; including at Anfield and Moscow as examples.

- After speaking to many regular Euro away fans, M.U.S.T lobbied the Club to change the credit system so it now takes into account matches attended over a rolling last three seasons rather than just one.


Pre-season and friendlies

MUST made representations to the club after the game in China was canceled after fans had traveled. The club offered those fans signed shirts and tickets to a home game of their choice. A small gesture but a good one given it was outside MUFC control.

 

Case work:

- M.U.S.T receives a lot of communication about individual fan concerns which we seek to represent them on (a shame they don’t all choose to join as full members first as it is resource intensive work and membership fee funding helps) 

- last summer alone we spoke to the Club about more than 100 relocation requests for season ticket holders and and more than 90% were resolved successfully

- M.U.S.T (often with special expert help via the FSF) has helped many supporters with banning appeals and have managed to get a lot reversed where they were considered unduly harsh or outright mistakes. We remain committed to improving the official MUFC Ticketing & Membership Sanctions document which we know many fans have issues with and we are consulting supporters on this through surveys


Safe Standing (Rail Seats)

- M.U.S.T have worked on the Safe Standing campaign since it’s inception in the late 90s being members of the FSF team as well as campaigning independently at Club, local and national level with Government, safety groups, Premier League and media . It’s fair to say that no other club fan group has done more on this.

- We have engaged with the Club over the last two years on the case for safe standing. Our advice along with demonstrations we have facilitated for Board Members and senior Club officials at Old Trafford (with the Safe Standing Roadshow), Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and Celtic has helped to position them as strong advocates for change as soon as is possible within the political climate.

- We have lobbied the Premier League on this issue at meetings with Richard Scudamore over several years and most recently got assurances, in direct response to our question, that they would consider approaching Government on Safe Standing if member clubs asked them to. That resulted in it appearing on the agenda of the PL AGM and is now being actively explored by the PL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty’s Plenty - but Thirty’s not bad 

M.U.S.T provide a strong presence and a leading role in both the FSF and Supporters Direct PL Trust networks that have collectively secured major gains for supporters in the last two years notably away tickets capped at £30. We now need to work to ensure allocations are not cut and indeed ideally we can secure larger away allocations in future.

 

Structured Dialogue between clubs and fan groups 

M.U.S.T has also taken a leading role in engaging with government to introduce mandatory structured dialogue between Club boards and supporter groups on key strategic and financial issues. We were twice invited to present evidence to the Government Expert Working Group on Supporter Ownership and Engagement and we continue to pursue this through the extensive network of supporters we've built up within Westminster - MPs, Lords, Civil Servants, media, lobbyists etc

We continue to advocate for reform of Football Club ownership and governance with specific proposals on independent directors on Football Club boards and all directors having a legal obligation to put the long term interests of the Football Club before that of the shareholders in the event of a conflcit of interests. We are also continuing to argue for protection of minority (fan/trust) shareholders as well as other mechanisms which will encourage supporter participation in owenership and reduce the chance of majority owners exploiting football clubs for their own benefit.

 

Other national campaigns

Other national campaigns include lower tier away sections at all grounds from next season, improved youth ticket pricing for away fans as well as home,  engaging train companies on services for supporters and a new dialogue established with Sky on kick off times


JOIN US, SUPPORT US

So we have lots to do and only limited resources. However we can be far more effective with the backing of supporters. If you want to help firstly please join as a full member and then, if you are able to, please consider donating your time, expertise or financial support to help power your supporters' Trust


 

 
 
 

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M.U.S.T statement re: Fans’ Forum return

27 11 2016

On Thursday (24/11/16) M.U.S.T was represented at the Manchester United Fans’ Forum meeting for the first time in over a decade following our expulsion in the aftermath of the 2005 takeover of the club. Whilst we do still have concerns about the way the Fans’ Forum is structured we nevertheless recognise that this is a significant public milestone in relations with the Club. Of course our objection remains undiminished to a hostile takeover which placed massive debts on the Club with immense subsequent, and ongoing, costs as well as the compulsory purchase of the shares of thousands of Manchester United supporters.

However it would be illogical to let that prevent us working with the Club where there is an opportunity to do so in the interests of fans and Club and this is what our members have told us consistently in surveys. Therefore we welcome this as a positive step forward.

Throughout the period since 2005 we maintained channels of communication with senior figures within the Club but it was only more recently that dialogue with Manchester United board members resumed when Executive Vice Chairman, Ed Woodward, took over from David Gill.

 

During the last two years we have contributed on a variety of issues, particularly those affecting match going fans, a sample of which we have detailed here. Whilst we have consulted fans extensively, particularly via our United Voice survey, we recognise that participation levels have not been as high as we’d like to see. This is understandable given there was little public acknowledgement from the Club with regard to these discussions so supporters may be forgiven for feeling that MUST would have little influence.

This challenge was particularly great for official (MUSC) Supporters Club Branches who may, understandably, have been concerned that their engagement with M.U.S.T might impact negatively on their relationship with the Club. Fortunately that concern can now be set aside so, while many branches did remain engaged with M.U.S.T, we now hope that participation of other branches in our consultation will grow significantly and we will be making a special effort to reach out to them over the rest of the season.

Personalised autographed shirt hand signed by Eric CantonaOrder here: http://bit.ly/Cantona2016-12


Of course M.U.S.T does not, and never has, claimed to represent all Manchester United supporters. However we are the biggest supporters trust in the world and the only democratic MUFC fans group recognised by Supporters Direct, The FSF, The Premier League, Government, media and indeed the Club itself. Clearly the greater support and more members (both free e-members and full paid members) we have, the more influence we have and the better we can represent the views of fans so we’d encourage all supporters to join us and help provide a stronger and more representative voice for Manchester United fans than we’ve ever had before.

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MUFC Ticketing & Membership Sanctions and M.U.S.T’s role in recommending reforms

23 11 2016

Given there has been some misunderstanding about M.U.S.T's role with respect to the recently published MUFC Ticketing & Membership Sanctions Document, and also the recent away ticket checks, it is worth providing some clarification. The document can be downloaded here.

Download the MUFC Ticketing and Membership Sanctions Document here

M.U.S.T has been lobbying the Club for some time to be more transparent about the penalties that apply to supporters who contravene rules affecting match going fans. It's worth noting that this did not cover the recent rules and sanctions affecting away ticket checks which we are now also consulting supporters and branches on. When that consultation is complete we will be going back to the Club with those views.
 
Our role on Ticketing & Membership Sanctions did not at any point involve developing new rules or penalties but rather asking the Club to publish their existing policies so that M.U.S.T and all fans were fully aware of the current state of play. 
 
During that process M.U.S.T did raise concerns about many of the sanctions in terms of severity and appropriateness but in the end, of course, it is the Club's decision whether it accepts those points. However we do no see that as the end of the exercise by any means and clearly the more support we have from match going fans and branches, the more influence we can have. Now we do have a published sanctions document it is possible for us to consult with supporters and then feedback views to the club with regard to how fans feel these rules and sanctions should be reformed. That process has already started with a new survey being opened to match going supporters ahead of the West Ham game this weekend.
 
Furthermore, having helped hundreds of individual fans over recent years, M.U.S.T also pushed for a formal appeals procedure with a panel to sit regularly to consider these appeals. That appeals panel is now operating and, at our request, the club has agreed in principle to take on additional independent panel members so we are now seeking supporter views on who might be best placed to serve in that role.
 
Amanda Jacks, Case Worker for the FSF, (who have a representative as an independent panel member) recently praised M.U.S.T's work in developing these more transparent procedures and the consultation we are now undertaking to draw up proposals for reforms. Fans at all clubs are often critical of their own fan groups but it's fair to say that M.U.S.T is perceived as a leading fan group by other groups at the national level
 
She said "We've worked with many fans' organisations and the FSF views M.U.S.T's approach as a case study for fan groups at other clubs who are trying to address similar issues with opaque or Draconian sanctions and appeals systems." 
 
"I'm aware that the new appeals process is likely to be received with a degree of cynicism but I can assure supporters that each case is given proper and thorough consideration.   Whatever its flaws, at least fans know exactly where they stand which is a vast improvement on an arbitrary process that doesn't offer the opportunity for a case by case panel adjudication.  We'd encourage supporters to participate in M.U.S.T's consultation survey."

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