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ArabFORUM XVIII
Question 1

Are there any spaces available for disabled fans in the away section of Tannadice? I ask this because there were several disabled away fans and their able-bodied companions in The Shed at the recent Livingston and Dunfermline games and the able-bodied fans were getting right on my nerves at the Dunfermline game especially after their team scored.

We're in the process of rebuilding a disabled section for away fans, in the area between the Fair Play and the Shed. This will be completed in time for the start of the season.

Question 2

Why is the club now releasing 2 home strips this season? As a loyal Arab I try and buy every top but two in one season is a scandal. I also think that our sponsor should be changed as being sponsored by a convenience store is embarrassing.

If this was true Iíd understand your point but it isnít.

In response to overwhelming demand, we released a special cup top. Almost 4000 have been sold. The only other top being released is the new away top which has been known about since last year and the release cycle of which is detailed in the supporters' charter. The existing home top remains for a second year, as promised. I'm struggling to see any 'scandal' here, I have to say.

As far as the sponsorship is concerned, you really do Morning Noon & Night a disservice. The company paid a record sponsorship amount to the Club at a time when the Club needed it most. Not only that, they paid the two year amount up front. To put this onto context this sum is around SIX times the amount being mentioned recently with regard to another local team's annual shirt sponsorship aspirations. They have also paid additional amounts for us reaching cup semi finals, final and qualifying for Europe. I doubt if we could attract anything remotely like this from any other potential sponsor these days. And to be blunt, Dundee United get far more out of this than MNN do. Instead of criticising them, we should be very grateful indeed.

Question 3

We had a great day at Hampden and Iím sure youíll agree that the occasion was made much more colourful by the proliferation of flags being waved by United supporters. Why are flags on sticks allowed at Hampden and not at Tannadice? Donít use the police as an excuse because presumably Hampden comes under police jurisdiction as well.

Weíve received a lot of mail on this subject.

Ground safety regulations, upon which our safety certificate depends, bans ďsticksĒ from football stadia. We are under instructions not to allow flags on sticks by the local authorities, including Tayside Police.

While I cannot speak for the authorities who are responsible for safety at Hampden, I did raise the subject of flags at a pre cup final organisational meeting. The police commander in charge was of the view that flags are generally sold on canes, not sticks, and as such were not prohibited under ground safety regulations.

To be honest, I donít really want to get into a debate over the difference between a stick and a cane but we will be approaching Tayside police on this matter before the start of the season.

Question 4

A great day out at Hampden was spoiled by having a few ďwell disguisedĒ Celtic fans beside us. How could this happen and what are the club going to do about the so called United supporters who sold their tickets to the highest bidder on eBay?

To be honest I've not heard of any widespread problems with regard to Celtic fans in the United end - despite much speculation to the contrary. It is almost inevitable however that there will always be the odd pocket or two.

One problem is that the SFA retain a substantial number of tickets in both ends to distribute to member clubs. We, or they, have little control over who gets these tickets. I'm not saying for one minute that they would all find themselves in the hands of Celtic fans, but it is of course a real possibility that many did. The sponsors, Tennent's, also distribute tickets.

Any United supporter found to have sold their tickets in this way will be removed from our database. It is against eBay policy to sell football tickets by auction and it is also against the terms and conditions of sale on the ticket. Those fans that we contacted about this did not react well to our request, leaving us with no option.

Question 5

What are United going to do about our hooligan support? The thirty fans arrested in Glasgow for rioting are a disgrace to the Club. Also, when will fans learn to temper their bad language at games, especially in front of children?

Let's see what the police report says. At the time of writing this, to my knowledge, they have not yet been in touch with the Club. I have to say that I find it difficult to believe that 30 genuine Dundee United fans would be happier being located in the Gorbals less than half an hour before kick off, rather than being inside Hampden.

I take your point about bad language. We all get carried away with the heat of the moment sometimes and, it has to be said, a football game generates considerable passion and excitement. It would be naive to expect impeccable manners in these conditions. However continual bad language in front of young children is not something we can condone.

Question 6

I will be taking out a season ticket this year for the first time in a number of years, and want to take along my two year old. Can I get a family ticket and is she too young to attend games?

We don't have a family ticket as such as we deliberately keep prices so low there's no real justification or need to reduce them further. Under the Early Bird scheme, Adult prices are as low as £210 and Under 8 price is only £30. In the George Fox Prime (which would be the recommended area for family groupings, the cost of an adult and child ticket would be £265 (£235 + £30) .

I've seen kids as young as 2 at games. Not sure if they're really taking it all in but at £30 for the whole season I suppose itís not too much to write off if they miss a few games.

Question 7

Why did Tannadice, not Dens, get picked for the Junior Cup Final, and did we make any money out of it?

Don't think there's any particular reason other than the fact that we had been asked if were willing to stage it last year, agreed, then it went to Firhill. This year, with two local teams involved, we were asked again.

Not a significant money spinner really, just expenses and a modest percentage of the gate.

Question 8

I visited the club shop the day before the cup final and was shocked to note that many goods were not priced. The staff were all too busy to stop and ask and the club must have lost sales as a result. Could this not have been better organised?

It was simply because the staff were completely overwhelmed that day with unprecedented volumes of customers.

It had been very busy all week but the staff had coped very well with no major problems. However on the Friday it was absolute bedlam. Queues out the door most of the day and the shelves just couldn't be stacked quickly enough. If you were there in the afternoon you might have noticed that several of the Directors and other staff were roped in just to move stock from the stores. In these circumstances something had to give and it was, unfortunately, the time to price the individual items as they were removed from the boxes.

Please accept our apologies.

Question 9

Now that the cup final is over can I get all the cup final merchandise thatís left for free?

Er, no.

Question 10

What pre season games have been arranged and when do we play the first games in Europe?

I'm afraid I don't have any complete details of pre season yet but as soon as I do, it will be available on the website and weekly newsletter.

As far as UEFA is concerned this information has already been included in the weekly enewsletter, some weeks ago. The draw is made on July 29th, with games scheduled for the 11th and 25th August.

I'd recommend that you subscribe to our free weekly enewsletter, ArabNeWS, which is sent out overnight every Thursday night. Over 6500 United fans now receive the newsletter - the best in Scotland according to the SPL - and it keeps you up to date with all things United. Might not be quite so comprehensive during the close season but should still be of interest. You can subscribe from the home page on the web site (top right hand corner).

Question 11

Sorry for being so ignorant - why Dundee United called Arabs?

Itís actually Dundee United supporters - NOT the team - who are nicknamed Arabs. For a full explanation check out the Dundee United A-Z on the website (under The Club drop down menu). Just go to A for Arabs.

Question 12

I heard that the cup final strip was going to be the ĎArabTRUSTí sponsored youth strip but it couldnít be produced in time. Why was this, I think it would have been great. Can I buy one anyway?

At the time we did consider the youth strip as a quick fix solution for the cup top as, contrary to what youíve heard, it could have been manufactured very quickly indeed as it was already supplied by TFG. However, while some liked it, others did not and a new design was requested. This delayed matters slightly but not as much as initially feared.

The new top is, I think, an excellent product and fitted the bill perfectly. Obviously supporters must have thought so too as itís sold very well indeed.

Like you, I rather like the ĎArabTRUSTí youth top which is quite different for a Dundee United shirt design. Unfortunately, despite many enquiries, we cannot sell replica tops which do not carry the logo of the main club sponsors. This is standard practice.

Question 13

I am disappointed to see that the club website does not appear to comply with web accessibility standards. The standards in the UK are taken from the W3C's WAI WCAG. I am sure you will be aware of the Disability Discrimination Act which states in its latest amendments that websites should be accessible to disabled users (particularly where you
provide a service). Please take this message in the spirit it is intended (constructive criticism).


Iím afraid Iím not qualified to comment with any degree of authority on this but took the advice of our website provider who are one of Scotlandís leading companies in this field.

Based on their advice, I would comment as follows.
There are many different accessibility standards in use across the net, and the one specified by you has three levels of compliance. Ideally, if money is no object to the development of the site then we would strive for Level 3 compliance. Unfortunately, tight budgets do not allow this and the site is therefore developed to a minimum of Level 1 compliance. In an ideal world we would strive for Level 3 and full compliance but we have to strike a balance based on affordability and demand.

I am aware that these issues are never quite black and white and that the variable content of the site can, from time to time, interfere with accessibility.

I would have been happier responding to you directly to ensure that we had understood your particular problem, but as you chose to send in your mail anonymously this has not been possible. However please feel free to contact us again and we will be happy to arrange a meeting if necessary to gauge what practical improvements can be made, within any budget restrictions.

Our website provider, Avian Communications, would also be willing to hold a forum for those with difficulty reading the site where their views could be used to make the site more accessible.

Question 14

Is it possible to have the live coverage reinstated for the home games on the screens adjacent to the catering facilities (east stand lower)?

Iíve made enquiries and have been told that this will be fixed by the start of the season.

Question 15

I sent in a postal application for family section cup final tickets right at the start Ė before the sales periods were even announced Ė and was disappointed to eventually receive a phone call advising that no family tickets were left. I was offered tickets at £35 each which I accepted. I was absolutely disgusted to learn subsequently that a friend, who had applied after me, had received family section tickets and that someone else had received £30 tickets. Surely, tickets should have been allocated on a first come, first served basis. As I had gone to considerable expense in attending the semi final and two home games to get the necessary stubs and vouchers, I demand an explanation, an apology and compensation for my considerable outlay.

There could in fact be a number of explanations for this but without being aware of the exact circumstances it is difficult to say precisely how this occurred. One possible area of misunderstanding however could be in respect of your assertion that first come, first served should have been applied. This was not in fact the case at all. It was always made clear that season ticket holders (voucher 28) would be given priority before anyone else and only after that period, did non season ticket holders of stubs and vouchers from the two home games receive attention.

The applications were therefore sorted on receipt into the various categories of prioritisation and only thereafter were sorted into date order. By the time we started to process the non season ticket holder applications (the Monday) only a very few family section tickets were left. These went very quickly. I can only assume that there were no family section tickets left when your order was being attended to.

Unless an order indicated that alternative tickets were acceptable and unless authority was given to alter a credit card amount, these orders were set aside as being unable to be processed. However, we decided that the very least we should do was try to contact the unsuccessful applicants and offer them alternative tickets. This was a hugely time consuming activity involving quite literally hundreds of telephone calls and took a considerable number of man hours. Again, I can only assume at the time of contacting you we only had £35 tickets available. The original batch of £25 tickets sold out quickly and the SFA only released the final section of £30 Section Q tickets after they were satisfied that all other tickets had been sold. It may have been possible to delay contacting you until further tickets had been received but this might have resulted in you receiving no tickets at all as we were not guaranteed to receive any more. Indeed we very nearly were not allocated the final batch.

Subsequent to this we have received a small number of returns from time to time and if your friend is a non season ticket holder and applied well after you it may be that he simply landed lucky and his application coincided with tickets being returned.

While I think I understand your final point I do find it difficult to agree with your argument that a Dundee United fan would consider that attending a home game at Tannadice was an additional or avoidable cost to be compensated for.

I am afraid therefore I am not in a position to offer any compensation but if you do not wish these tickets it may be possible for you to return them to the Shop and see if any cheaper tickets have been handed back recently. If so, we will be happy to arrange a swap and an appropriate refund.

Question 16

I obtained cup final tickets as soon as they went on sale but was very disappointed to note that they did run in consecutive number and our party were therefore not all seated together. Surely this wasnít too much to ask for?

I believe that a small number of tickets were issued in this way. The tickets were sold from books sent to us by the SFA but, unknown to us, some tickets had already been removed for their own purposes. This explains why some of your party were not seated together. As soon as this situation was brought to our attention we made sure that further groups were not affected in this way. If you had informed us of the situation before the final we would have done all we could to rectify matters.

Question 17

I have been a loyal season ticket holder for years and was disappointed that my cup final ticket was immediately behind the goal and in one of the lower rows. Surely season ticket holders like myself should have been given better seats?

I apologise if your enjoyment of the cup final was spoiled due to this; it was certainly not deliberate on our part. The whole ticket allocation procedure was a massive administrative task and tickets had, more or less, to be distributed as and when they became available. To try and pick and choose which seats were more appropriate for individual applicants would simply not have been possible. This would have been further complicated anyway as the SFA only released a few sections at a time and there would have been no guarantee that better seats could have been provided, if indeed we were able to do so.

Question 18

Iíd just like to say well done to everyone at the Club for giving us all such a wonderful end of season day out at Hampden. I know the result didnít go our way but what a tremendous occasion and what a fantastic support. The Club should be congratulated for making sure we got as many tickets as we did and for allocating them as fairly as possible. Iím proud to be a supporter of this club. Give yourselves a pat on the back for a change!

We received many, many similar mails to this one. Probably outweighed any complaints this month! Thanks to all those who wrote in similar fashion. It makes a nice change and is much appreciated.

Question 19

I appreciate that finances are tight, but will the club perhaps revamp the Jerry Kerr Stand i.e. put in new plastic seats and/or renew the fabrication on the roof? Also, what about building a new stand to replace the Shed?

We've actually spent quite a bit of money on the Jerry Kerr Stand over the last couple of years. Essential and well overdue maintenance only perhaps, but it was still unbudgeted expenditure. This involved various outstanding H&S requirements and replacing damaged seats.

This sort of expenditure was symptomatic of the requirement to spend further unbudgeted funds on other essential maintenance work which had not been undertaken for some considerable years. For example, the playing surface required major renovation after being allowed to fall into disrepair and the floodlights had not been maintained properly meaning that they would have failed the SFA licensing requirements. The Club was also set to fail a Health & Safety inspection, requiring a major project and expense to put right.

I estimate that a sum well over six figures has been spent on essential repair/maintenance/H&S work that really should have not been necessary, since the new Board took over. All this at a time when financially, this could be ill afforded.

The Jerry Kerr Stand, while admittedly not state of the art, is subject to an annual safety inspection and has been passed fit for the purposes intended. The rest of the stadium, including the Shed, is fully SPL compliant and does not require further capital expenditure.

So, to answer your question I don't think that any additional funds will be found to undertake non essential work, such as you describe, at this stage anyway.

Question 20

Iím sure that this will be one of a thousand messages about the ICT game but I was positively bursting with pride standing beside thousands of other Arabs in Inverness. The fans backing of the Team is what has been a poor league season has been nothing short of magnificent. Player Of The Season for DUFC?......How about the
fans? Now thereís a novel thought........


You obviously don't read the weekly enewsletter. The fans WERE awarded the Player of the Year award at the recent official end of season Club Dinner. See below.

At the Clubís Annual Dinner last Friday, Dundee United Chairman Eddie Thompson broke from tradition and presented, for the first time, a Special Player of the Year Award to Ė the Dundee United Supporters! It is believed that this is the first time that supporters of any club have been presented with a Player of the Year Award and was in recognition of their loyal, dedicated and enthusiastic performance in what has been, so far, a disappointing season.

In his remarks, Mr Thompson said, ďThere is another player of the year that has not yet been mentioned.

"This player of the year has given us unstinting, enthusiastic, loyal, dedicated and inspiring performances all season. This player of the year suffers the disappointments, never hides and always comes back for more. This player of the year is too often overlooked but plays an absolutely vital role in encouraging his team to that last ounce of effort or extra yard of pace in crucial games. This player of the year travels through wind, rain and snow to Gretna and gets home at 4am in the morning before heading out to work again. This player of the year deserves a cup final appearance more than anyone else here tonight. I am, of course, talking about our twelfth man this year Ė our Player of the Year Special Award goes to the Dundee United Supporters.Ē

Question 21

Please settle an argument. Who played in the no 6 shirt in the same team as Olafsson, Winters, Dykstra etc?

Erik Pedersen.

Question 22

I was disgusted that the players did not acknowledge the fans at the end of the Dunfermline game. Not only is this customary at the end of every home game, this was the last home game of the season and the fans have given them their loyal support through thick and thin this season.

While I understand your point, I do think there were mitigating circumstances yesterday, donít you? They were simply devastated after losing such an important game in such a cruel, late manner.

Iím absolutely certain that no slight was intended.

Question 23

As a Dunfermline supporter I am writing to complain about the time to get in to Tannadice at yesterdayís game. The queues were enormous. You knew we were bringing over 3000 fans, why did we not get more room allocated to us?

In actual fact, the away support was just under 2700 Ė well within the capacity of the Fair Play and Jerry Kerr Stands. The problem seemed to stem from the fact that most Dunfermline fans insisted on queuing to get into the Fair Play Stand, even when it was obvious that this was going to be full before kick off. Our stewards tried to direct those queuing down to the Jerry Kerr Stand where turnstiles were open with no queues but were largely unsuccessful until the Fair Play turnstiles were closed. This then caused a rush with subsequent queuing and resultant delays.

The Pars fans were great and clearly enjoyed their day. They certainly enjoyed their evening when I got home that night (he says through gritted teeth). Iím pleased for the Parsí fans that the team stayed up; we hope to welcome you all back to Tannadice again next season.

Question 24

I am writing to complain about the Dundee United inspired SPL conspiracy to make sure United remain in the SPL at the expense of Dunfermline Athletic. As well as trying to ensure that the Pars plastic pitch is ripped up, the SPL Board is falling over backwards to relegate the Pars. Firstly, Rangers, (Unitedís cohorts on the plastic pitch) contrived to drop points unexpectedly at home against, surprise, surprise, their co-conspirators, Dundee United. Then the SPL fixed the remaining fixtures to give United three home games while the Pars only got two! This isnít the first time this has happened either.

Oh dear. Not just a chip on the shoulder, the whole fish supper is up there I think (and maybe even a pickled egg as well!).

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