Fans Forum / Safe Standing Debate – Thursday 18th January
Cross Keys – 7pm
Towards the end of 2017 we began a concerted effort to elevate this campaign towards a greater focus on what happens inside the ground. Displays and flags aside there is a very simple need to become more consistent in the level of support we can offer. A game like Arsenal highlights how fantastic it can be but we realise that nights like that one are always going to be more conducive for a spirited atmosphere. Yet if we could try and recreate that sort of noise regularly to some extent it would make a real difference.
We were back in A Block for the first time in a while and what showed was that everyone in there wanted to sing. A mix of Main Stand regulars, Lower Bridgford exiles and some non-season ticket holders all contributing to a terrific atmosphere across the ground. Combined with the vast amount of people we have spoken with who have expressed a strong desire to see a better atmosphere at Forest we see lots of potential to try and do something. Quite what that is we don’t know yet but we feel strongly that this should be something that we all have a say in.
In our recent newsletter we asked subscribers to complete a small questionnaire. This will precede a more comprehensive survey that we aim to issue to the wider fanbase at a later date. We have had a strong response and will take the opportunity to thank all those who took the couple of minutes to complete it. If you are signed up to the newsletter then please still send us your answers. If you are not signed up then please visit www.forzagaribaldi.com/sign-up and join. We’ll get it to you ASAP. We’ve included a summary of some of the key points you raised below.
The next step of this interaction is to hold an open debate which will take place on the evening of 18th January in the upstairs function room of the Cross Keys pub in Nottingham. Unfortunately this will clash with the Supporters Trust AGM which is being held nearby at the Ice Arena but at the time of organising we had no idea. It’s unfortunate but our date is fairly fixed as we have a special guest joining us who can only make this date (more on this below). Ours is a very small gathering – the venue holds 40-50 people and we don’t see this as taking away from the work of the Trust.
The objective of this evening is to allow any Forest fan to engage in a debate about the atmosphere and anything related to it. We want ideas on how to improve it, what we can do and also we’d like to recruit some help. We’ve said a thousand times already but FG is not a closed group – you are free to get as involved as you like. It won’t sustain itself without more input. This evening is an opportunity to contribute in a number of ways, whether it is ideas or physical help.
We have a number of things planned over the remainder of the season and beyond and this is a chance to get a bit of an insight and to help us shape these ideas.
One of the questions in the aforementioned survey was regarding the prospect of safe standing being installed which was met with a positive response, while some felt they needed to understand the proposals more before supporting it. We are realistic in that it won’t be on the agenda in the immediate future at NFFC and there are far bigger priorities at this time. We won’t be beating on the door of the club with this but we would like to be part of the ongoing push to see a return to some form of standing in football grounds.
Greg (part of FG) has been at the forefront of the national campaign to call for its introduction and will be making the case for it on the evening. We are also delighted that Jon Darch – the leader of the safe standing initiative – will be joining us and will be demonstrating the advantages of the system. Jon is a big Bristol City fan and will be at Derby the following night to see his team so has kindly agreed to join us on the Thursday. You may have seen various advances with safe standing in recent times – Jon has been instrumental in this and it’s brilliant that he is giving up his time to come and talk to Forest fans.
It should be stressed that this is a debate – it will not be a sales pitch for safe standing and we will be considering the alternative viewpoint too. Irrespective of individual views it should be an interesting session and one we hope you’ll be interested in joining us for.
We aren’t expecting some big turnout for this. Heading out on a cold Thursday night in January might not be a huge draw we know! But if you would like to attend then we would really appreciate you coming along. There is no expectation of those in attendance, you can sit and listen or you can contribute to the discussion. It will be an informal night, a good natured debate over a few beers.
We will commence at 7pm and it will probably be a couple of hours in duration. To give us an idea on numbers we ask that you register your attendance with us – please send us a direct (private) message on Twitter / Facebook. Or you can send us an e-mail to ForzaGaribaldi@hotmail.com. Where possible please confirm numbers you will be coming along with. As it stands there will not be a guest list and you will be free to turn up on the door. If that changes we will advise.
We think this will be a good night and another example of supporters taking a role in improving the club. Any ideas / suggestions can be used in any further dialogue with the club.
Hope to see you there. Any queries or thoughts please let us know.
The survey only represents a tiny proportion of the fanbase and shouldn’t be seen as reflecting the views of all supporters. Some of the principle themes and core ideas that were raised:
- Fans want to be more vocal at games but, for a number of reasons, feel they are unable to do so as much as they would like. Reasons given include sitting in a quieter part of the stadium with relatives or due to long standing attachment to that seat, not having those around them willing to sing, not being able to get close enough to groups of singers.
- While atmosphere and performance on the pitch are linked, more can be done from the stands to improve the performance. Fans want to be more pro-active and not wait for the players to inspire them.
- The current atmosphere at Forest home games is not good enough. We asked participants to score it out of 10 and on average it scored a 5. Many pointed out that it isn’t any worse than other grounds in the league as some saw it as better than most.
- When asked about how the atmosphere could be improved many brilliant suggestions were made. Safe standing and a greater repertoire of songs was mentioned but the same suggestion was made repeatedly: To create a more recognised vocal section where fans locate themselves with the intent to sing. Interestingly many in Lower Bridgford felt frustrated that they couldn’t do more from where they are.
There will be an opportunity to discuss these and put further ideas forward on 18th January. Please be sure to confirm your attendance as mentioned above.