Fans' Forum minutes: 12/12/09
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CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB SUPPORTERS CONSULTATIVE FORUM 2009/10 SEASON
Meeting held at the Lord Attenborough Suite, Chelsea F.C. Hotel, at 10.30am on Saturday 12th December 2009.
Attendees Group Represented/ Club Role
- Alexander, Chris Chelsea FC Finance and Operations Director
- Anastasi, Joe Non-UK branches
- Ashwell, Ed Chelsea FC Head of Security
- Atkins, Steve Chelsea FC Head of Communications and Public Affairs
- Auger, Cliff Chelsea Supporters Group
- Bell, Marc Members
- Boorer, Carl Exec members/ box holders
- Bowen-Jones, Will Members
- Bussey, Liz Over 60 age group
- Cook, Sophie 16-21 age group
- Gerrard, Carol Home/ away season ticket holders
- Gourlay, Ron Chelsea FC Chief Executive
- Jarvis, Kevin Family section
- Johnstone, Dave CFCUK
- Kemp, Pete Chelsea Supporters Club
- Mantle, Darren CFCnet
- McGeever, Timothy James Disabled section
- Neat, Mike Non-UK branches
- Newby, David Chelsea FC Marketing Manager
- Parsons, Veronica Branches
- Regan, Andy Electoral Reform Services, Chair
- Shaw, Michelle Season ticket holders
- Smith, Graham Chelsea FC Head of Ticketing
- Talbot, Robert Members
Apologies for absence
- Cohen, Michael Season ticket holders
(Action points are in bold and underlined.)
Club: There have been a few changes since the last meeting. Peter and Simon have moved on. Chris Alexander is both Finance Director and runs the operational side now. He is Graham’s manager. Ed Ashwell is here for questions on security today. Steve Atkins has been with us for a couple of years and will head the external/ PR side. Simon’s former role has been divided and Emma Wilkinson will manage the editorial side. There are no new faces coming in and all changes have been internal. Everyone therefore knows the Club well and can continue projects started in recent years.
Chair: As Ed cannot stay long due to matchday duties, we will take this topic first.
2.1 Cup Final Parade
Club: We can cover the action point from the last meeting concerning whether insurance should be sought against winning the FA Cup in order to pay for a cancelled parade at the last moment. The insurance premium is likely to be prohibitive. We once had a cup final parade even though we lost and had a poor attendance. The other option is to cancel a parade the night before. Police, barriers and infrastructure have to be paid for. Politically, if we pay insurance against winning we look bad. The Daily Mail ran a story a few years ago when we planned for a final long in advance and were branded arrogant.
A victory parade for a Champions League (“UCL”) win would be a huge event though. We could plan for a general end of season parade. The only logical date seems to be the day after the UCL Final, to be played on a Saturday this year. The parade would run whether we are in the final or not.
Fans: What about fans who are still in Madrid, should we reach the final?
Club: This is the only date we could arrange, as players will disappear for World Cup duty on the Monday.
Club to consider setting end of season parade date.
Club: Please can we focus comments in this discussion according to stadium concerns, issues outside the stadium, and away matches.
2.2 Standing at Matches
Fans: At the recent atmosphere sub-committee meeting, we told Ed Ashwell about concerns that fans are unfairly ejected from the Matthew Harding and Shed End for persistent standing.
Club: Fans know they shouldn’t stand during the match but if 7,000 do, we can’t do much. We therefore focus on persistent offenders. It is no excuse to say others around you are doing it.
Fans: Do you receive complaints from fans about others standing? Could you provide warnings first?
Club: We know some fans want to stand, but we get complaints from those who are not well, can’t stand or concerning children who can’t see the pitch. We do give warnings first.
Fans: There seemed to be a clampdown by the Club a few years ago but touts are back in numbers.
Club: There was a change in legislation two years ago and the power of arrest has been restricted. Prior to that anyone could make an arrest for touting. If someone can prove their identity the police can prosecute but not arrest.
There is a large amount of money involved in this business. A lot of tickets come from our members and season-ticket (“ST”) holders. Sometimes we identify touts or their runners and don’t sell to them. So far after 12 games we have suspended 960 memberships. Many of these are fake identities with the sole aim of touting. Once suspended, the member stays suspended. If there is a minor breach by a member we may suspend them for one or two months.
Fans: Can fans be notified they are suspended by letter or email?
Club: Genuine fans are on the phone to us straight away. We can’t write or email to fake individuals/ addresses.
Fans: It is unfair that some innocent fans of whom we are aware only find out they are suspended when they try and buy tickets next time.
Club: This Forum is about general issues not individuals. Why should we write to those who have infringed the rules?
Fans: There is an argument for not helping them. (Other): One Spanish Chelsea fan gave his ticket for the Barcelona match away and was suspended, which seems unfair.
Club: We have a lot of Greek and Cypriot fans and we don’t assume they support Appoel. Likewise we don’t make assumptions about our Spanish fans.
Fans: Fans groups receive complaints about unfair suspensions. Some were suspended and nearly lost out on Cup Final tickets but are genuine fans. Viagogo helps but you could still be left with a ticket on a match day and not be allowed to sell at cost price which seems wrong. An established appeal procedure would help and should be publicised.
Club to consider introduction of an appeal process for suspended memberships/ STs.
Fans: Could the Club put more resources into tackling genuine touts?
Club: We pay the police for this sometimes, although it costs £58 per hour for a constable.
Fans: Supporters clubs sometimes have a spare ticket which they are left with.
Club: We have a 48-hour refund policy. Fans with a genuine spare ticket on a match day may be approached by someone claiming to be a genuine fan, but they may be a tout. We have people on site in plain clothes looking for such instances..
Fans: If the person we give/ sell the ticket to enters the ground with us, they are a genuine fan.
2.4 Travel Announcements
Fans: After the Appoel game there was an incorrect announcement that Fulham Broadway station was closed. Lack of communication caused fans to go to other stations unnecessarily.
Club to review match day communication with TFL.
2.5 UCL Away Matches
Fans: There have been problems in Spain recently.
Club: We have had problems in many countries as to how our fans are treated. Our perception is that at the stadium the policing seemed okay but we know there were problems elsewhere. Details have been passed to the central football policing unit. We want to be diplomatic in addressing complaints with the Spanish as we may have two more journeys there this season.
Fans: The message has to be strong to avoid further problems in the future.
Club: We have taken in all reports from fans. These problems happen at UCL matches. The last thing we want is a bigger problem next time. You have to trust the Club and police to deal with it. We have spoken to UEFA about it.
Fans: Keeping fans in for an hour after a match with no refreshments or toilets doesn’t help.
Club: Fans are kept in for varying amounts of time, including an hour at Lazio. Facilities are promised to our fans beforehand but sometimes not provided on the night.
Fans: There should be a UEFA standard.
Club: Certainly some stadia around Europe would be closed down here. Some problems stem from the reputation of English fans in previous decades, we have to understand that.
Fans: It would help if fans were provided with information, including details on what to expect, before UCL away matches
Club: This is already provided.
2.6 Away Fans at the Bridge
Fans: Why do we allocate more tickets for away fans than we have to according to Premier League (“FAPL”) rules and other competition rules? The Porto match had empty seats.
Club: This is down to segregation. Due to the configuration of the away area we wouldn’t be able to sell tickets if they are unsold by the away team. We have to give the away side 1,500, 3,000 or 6,000 seats. We also lose capacity due to the TV vans and cables for UCL matches.
Fans: Can we buy some more land behind the Matthew Harding Stand for the TV equipment and vans? Can the vans be sited some distance away?
Club: We looked into all options for buying land and can’t do it We would have to knock down buildings for that land behind the Matthew Harding Stand. The vans have to be hard-wired to the equipment in the ground. We looked at Fulham Road for a possible site for the vans. We also looked at car parks in the adjacent estates, but they wouldn’t let us use them in return for consideration, and the cables would have to go over walls. We have signed off for this season on what we are providing, in accordance with the rules of the competition.
2.7 Ticket Personalisation
Fans: In some countries your name is printed on the ticket. Would this deter touts?
Club: We could do that but fans would need an extra piece of ID to prove their identity, and that would delay access to the stadium.
3) Minutes of the Last Meeting
3.1 Changes to the Minutes
Chair: Some issues were raised by email. The minutes should have stated there are roof leaks in the Shed End, instead of referring to the East Stand. Special charter trains could not stop at additional stations regardless of demand. Coaches, however, could make additional stops if demand is there. The minutes were correct in stating that the brass band played in the stadium.
Fans: Some of us thought the wording in the minutes did not adequately cover the discussion on possible access areas to the ground. For instance the walkway option was not reported. Also, is it possible to state who has made each comment at the meeting?
Club: That is not possible with the minutes being recorded. There can only be one set of official minutes.
Fans: Supporter groups can carry on doing our own reports in that case to stress who has asked particular questions. There could be a minutes secretary. It would also help if the minutes stress where there is a particular consensus.
Chair: There can be a minutes secretary if the Forum wants. It is hard to report a consensus when we don’t stop for votes on every issue during the meeting.
Fans: Could the walkway have been mentioned in the minutes? A lot of fans want to know why it is not a feasible option for the Club.
Chair: That is accepted.
Chair/ Club to review format of the minutes.
3.2 East Stand Lift and General Cleanliness.
Club: This is monitored regularly and certainly every match day.
3.3 Matchday Announcements: naming referee pre-match, showing line-ups on the large screens at half-time, speed of displaying other match scores at UCL matches
Club: The first two points have been acted on, but we have no control of our screens on UCL nights. We are also partly dependent on sponsors having their allotted time on the screens.
Fans: What is the policy on replaying incidents on the large screens?
Club: We are not allowed to show anything controversial. The content should be fairly standard. We had some problems with the screens, in particular for the Manchester United match. They are over a decade old and will need replacing soon. We now show the game live on the TVs in the stadium.
3.4 East Stand Roof Leak
Club: This has been fixed.
3.5 Environment Sub-committee Report
Fans: A meeting was held with the Club. Thanks to the Club for their initiatives. We are trying to sign up as many as possible for the pledge on the Club website. More Bridge Kids are signing up than adults. The other significant initiative is on liftshares, with the key message that fans save money as well as helping the environment. Veronica can provide details to the Forum. Fans circulate requests for non-smokers, other women only, where you start your journey from etc. We also want to work with TFL.
Simon Taylor is involved now. The Club are considering how to publicise the scheme better, with a possible Green promotion at matches. Fans can only benefit if they know the scheme exists. The scheme could have a huge impact given the number of fans who attend matches.
100% of waste at Chelsea is recycled now, so the Club is leading the way.
Chair: For those attending their first meeting, please do get involved in the atmosphere and environment sub-committees if you are interested.
3.6 Chelsea v Spurs Pre-Match Hospitality
Club: There were many Chelsea players hosting events at the Club that day, including Ron Harris, Clive Walker and Jason Cundy. These other events were sold out which is why the David Ginola event was still advertised. That was a one-off.
3.7 Winnings from Bookmakers
Club: We contacted 188 and have both East and West pay out points now.
Fans: There have been some queries about these.
Club: Please pass them to Graham.
3.8 Fan Tours of Cobham.
Club: We are still considering this. There are not many requests for such a tour.
Fans: Will there be another Forum visit there, especially when the players are training? About 8-10 current Forum members have not visited.
Club: We could have a Forum meeting there if the logistics worked. We will arrange a visit this season for those who haven’t been.
3.9 Atmosphere Sub-committee
Club: This occurred recently and covered touting, suspensions, turnstiles, hooks for flags, Shed End flags and stewarding, amongst other things.
Fans: Chris Gleeson attended on Thursday and much discussion centred on banners. Some in the Matthew Harding Stand are not fully hooked on. Many banners are now kept in the stadium permanently. We hope to keep one of the large flags for the Shed Upper for the rest of the season.
Some supporter clubs have publicised the opportunity of keeping banners in the stadium.
Club: Some are in the East Stand and we lose the visual impact for TV there to some extent. Some supporter clubs have been fast off the mark but others have not responded quickly.
Fans: One steward at the end of a game told us to remove banners or they would be taken down. Firstly, this was impolite, but also this contradicts what we had been told. Darren had a pass for access in the ground to assist with banners so the stewards should have been more helpful.
Club to review instructions to stewards regarding banners.
Fans: Would the Club consider a mosaic? It could be made from recyclable material. The back of each card could publicise the atmosphere campaign, as well as instructions of when the card should be raised.
Club: We would have to ensure they are not thrown on the pitch.
Club to consider mosaic.
Chair: Thanks to all who submitted issues; we will try and group topics for discussion. The Club considers all views raised but will not make decisions before next season’s policy is released.
4.1 Ticket Prices
Club: We note the economic climate and know it is one of the key points for fans. We can’t action everything so need to focus on what most fans really want.
Fans: CFCUK thank the Club for keeping ticket prices static for most fans in recent years. Can corporate fans pay more? A lot of fans are prepared to pay a small increase on their ST, such as £10, to help fund the 16-21 year old ST.
(Other:) Many corporate fans run their own business, however, and would find it hard to pay more at present.
4.2 Season Tickets for 16-21 Year Olds
Fans: We have addressed past criticism by proposing measures to fund this proposal, such as moving away fans to increase revenue. Another option is to charge for special trains.
Club: We will review this in detail later. Finance is one aspect and there are operational issues.
4.3 Travel Policy to Away Games
Fans: It is generous of the Club but the emphasis only need be on providing return trains to London, rather than providing free travel. Payment of £10 would be fine.
More advance warning for train availability would assist. This would have helped with Sunderland away. Even a tentative announcement helps, and fans can choose whether to wait for a further announcement or buy their own tickets regardless elsewhere.
Club: We announce as soon as we have information. We earmark with Thomas Cook and confirm once the train line has confirmed.
Fans: A liftshare for away matches would work sometimes. For instance the Birmingham Boxing Day match has an unhelpful kick-off time. The first National Express coach from London arrives ten minutes before kick-off. The liftshare would be perfect for this.
Club: TV channels pay a lot of money so largely set kick-off times. We will review all options for charging on trains and clarify in the policy.
Fans: Could the Club publicise why it is sometimes impossible to arrange trains. Also if there are trains, full information on journey times helps fans decide whether to travel with the Club.
Club: We usually can run trains and only failed to for one match last season. Cliff asked why the Blackburn train was late coming back. Thomas Cook confirmed it was the only way we can get a line back and that’s the first time in three years that we have had such a problem. The train to Blackburn was not overbooked. The original broke down and the replacement had one carriage fewer. We publicise train times as soon as we know them. As we use special lines for our trains, they take longer than normal services sometimes.
4.4 ST Seats: methods of payment
Club: We have looked at our competitors. Liverpool automatically charge a credit card as we used to; Manchester United use their bank partner. We can’t use the credit card method, although it’s the easiest, as we are Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (“PCIDSS”) compliant so cannot hold card details. Direct debit doesn’t provide time for cup games if a direct debit fails to go through. Liverpool are not PCIBSS compliant as far as we know. The consumer has to be protected under the scheme we use.
Fans: How does it work with away FAPL games?
Club: We know how many away games there will be in the FAPL and when.
Fans: Some fans say they are too busy at work to book their own seat for home matches.
Club: We try and advertise 28 days before and make the log-in and purchase process as easy as possible. Even then we can’t guarantee a fan their seat for every cup match, due to away fan positioning and TV cameras. This is why we stopped the mini-ST. We are still considering it for next season. We built in the “seventh day” purchase window for ST holders who have not bought their own seat to buy a different one instead, prior to member sales. We will continue to advertise availability prominently by email.
4.5 ST Cards
Fans: Can your ST card be credited if you pay for a match ticket online? Alternatively can paper tickets be printed at home? These measures could reduce touting and printing/ postage costs for the Club.
Club: There are still fake gift cards sold so touting would not disappear. We can upload onto a card. If an ST holder is moved for a cup game they still need a paper record. Home-printing is an option we are considering.
Fans: It may be easier to introduce for corporate fans initially.
Club: That is true, as corporate fans don’t move from match to match.
4.6 ST Holder Relocation
Fans: This was discussed at the atmosphere sub-committee. Fans may want to relocate to sit with family or friends.
Club: It is difficult in practice. Fans pay a lot of money for their ST and may not want to sit in the seat we can offer, so would rather remain where they are. We assist those who want to move due to a disability or other medical grounds. When we offered the move to the Shed End, 5,000 applied but under 1,000 took up the offer as they didn’t like the seat available. We could provide a two week period to request a move at the end of the season.
Fans: Sometimes an ST holder who moves near you has been given a better seat than yours.
Club: We would have chaos if all 25,000 asked to move. If an ST holder waits to see if a better seat is free during the summer, they would miss their own deadline for renewal.
Fans: How do you issue new STs in the family section?
Club: Members build up loyalty points in that area. They are offered available STs.
Fans: Can existing ST holders elsewhere in the stadium who want to start bringing a child apply for the family area? Can family members who don’t sit together relocate next to each other?
Club: We will consider that.
Fans: Can fans choose a particular seat from what is available, as at the theatre?
Club: We know who sits where but can’t open this to the public fully. Fans can phone up or turn up at the box office if they want particular seats. Online we want to process seat purchases fast and in large volumes so don’t provide that option..
4.7 ST Renewal Date
Fans: If we get to the UCL final we have substantial payments at the same time. A later renewal date in June would avoid that.
4.8 Poor Views at Away Grounds for Away ST Holders
Club: The complaint used to be about blocks, but is now about avoiding front or back rows.
Fans: Both issues are still a problem. Can the Club take account of better views at away grounds?
Club: We can’t assume we will always sell out the full allocation. At Birmingham for instance we are told in what order to sell the seats.
Fans: Could we stipulate on the away ST form whether you want to sit at the back or front? For some matches such as Fulham away we should know which the best seats are. At Fulham an away ST holder had a ticket behind a pillar. Can we decide our own order of sales? (Other:) Alternatively, it doesn’t matter where you sit; these proposals are difficult to administer. Fans don’t stick to their seats anyway in UCL away games anyway.
Club: We would expect an away team at Stamford Bridge to sell tickets in the order we specify. Hospitality tickets are in the same block. We do have plans of the away ends and ensure tickets are not sold in a part of the away end that we can’t otherwise sell. We have the option of taking extra away seats for matches after the initial allocation and only do so if we can sell them, not because they have better views. We don’t always sell out full allocations at away grounds.
We don’t sell restricted view tickets to the away ST holders. If they are not officially restricted view, we wouldn’t know what the view is like.
4.9 60:40 Split for Away Matches
Club: By way of background, it used to be the case that 500 tickets went to members and the rest to ST holders. This changed to a 50:50 split, then altered to 60:40 a year ago in favour of ST holders. These figures do not include those in the away ST scheme.
Fans: We have 25,000 ST holders so this split seems unfair. Over 90% of ST holders did not receive a ticket for the Emirates last week. (Other:) If you are a Chelsea fan you should want to go to all matches and not just the glamorous ones.
Club: It is only the big matches that tend to attract such criticism. Either ratio of splitting the ticket allocation has worked for us. We opened the away ST scheme again this year. We only offer 1,200 away STs each year but the scheme is not sold out. We have about 1,000 in the scheme, of which 200 are members and 800 ST holders.
Fans: Could the split change for the bigger matches in favour of ST holders? (Other:) A higher proportion of members than ST holders miss out on tickets. Members should have some opportunity to get big match tickets such as cup finals, perhaps 5% of tickets being sold to them on a loyalty basis.
Club: It was discussed previously at the Forum and a decision made that ST holders should have priority for the big games. We have also taken about 3,000 members into the home ST scheme in the last few years, as about 1,000 STs are freed up each year. So members do get a chance for big match tickets in that way.
Fans: ST holders should get priority as they lay out money at the start of the season. Would more away match tickets going to ST holders reduce touting?
Club: Not particularly, as everyone has a paper ticket.
Vote: Does the Forum want to continue with the current 60:40 split for away tickets?
In favour: 11 Against: 3 Abstention: 3
4.10 Loyalty Points
Fans: The Club got the points wrong for Porto and Blackburn. The Blackburn match offered significant points for a £10 ticket. Some bought tickets for that reason and didn’t turn up to the match.
Club: We followed the policy that was discussed and agreed at a previous Forum. Originally the system was for league games, then we added 5 points for home cup matches for all competitions. We then added the equivalent number of points for each type of away match. We make no money from selling away tickets anyway so points are offered to encourage support. An alternative to lowering the number of points for Blackburn was to double the ticket price.
Fans: Bolton and QPR in the Carling Cup were awarded 8 loyalty points whilst Blackburn was 5 points. There shouldn’t be more points for a home match than an away match, due to the relative difficulty of getting to an away match. (Other:) There is as much loyalty in attending Portsmouth at home, as any other match. Otherwise we are rewarding those who have the money and time to travel abroad for instance. This should be reflected in the points allocated.
Club: We want to encourage ticket sales and have used loyalty points to do so. The number of tickets sold directly links to atmosphere so we want full stadia. That’s why we dropped cup game prices. We would rather play in full stadia and get less revenue. We would not sell out cup games if they were charged at FAPL prices - we would get 30-35,000. The work in improving atmosphere is brilliant and points are a direct influence. Loyalty points are driven by selling tickets, filling stadia and rewarding loyalty. We will look at this issue again.
4.11 Loyalty Rewards
Fans: Can we reward fans with purchases of other products as well as tickets such as beer, betting vouchers, Megastore products etc.
Club: We are looking into a loyalty scheme across activities. We are planning two years ahead.
Fans: Is a fan more likely to get a ticket for a big match if they stay in the hotel therefore?
Club: In that scenario it’s more a benefit they could get at the hotel.
Fans: Could you multiply the loyalty points of a fan by the number of matches they go to?
Club: This may not go down well. We could work out who did not go to Blackburn but bought a ticket.
Fans: Why do fans who buy on Viagogo not get the loyalty points transferred to them?
Club: We want members to buy their tickets from us ideally. This proposal could take sales away from us. If we took the points away from a seller, Viagogo use would reduce.
4.12 Corporate Hospitality Tickets
Fans: Why do away fans get 10% of hospitality tickets? These are touted.
Club: It is the same ratio as away fans to home fans throughout the stadium. A lot of tickets advertised by touts don’t actually exist; people pay for them and try to collect them.
4.13 £50 Deposit for UCL Away ST Scheme
Fans: We would like to question the deposit. Why are fans in the scheme not guaranteed a semi-final or final ticket? Some fans pay for away matches just to get the loyalty points.
Club: We tried the deposit scheme and it has made no difference. We know some fans pay and collect them but don’t use them. We don’t guarantee latter stage tickets as these go to ST holders only. The problem is being drawn with a team with a small capacity in the later stages.
Fans: If we get to the final, could the £50 be used towards a ticket? The other problem is that those people are taking up the ticket of a genuine fan who does want to go. It is unfair to be penalised for missing one away match. Could the Club announce that you don’t have to go to an away match with a smaller capacity, to ensure fans who want to go can get tickets.
Club: We always check away club facilities. Sometimes we say we will bring 2,500 and only bring 1,000 so a fair percentage don’t turn up sometimes.
Fans: Could the Club give a time limit for fans to collect tickets. If they don’t the fan doesn’t get a refund.
Club: You could not get away with that as it’s double-selling the same ticket.
Fans: It was not right to charge the £50 deposit without telling fans they were not guaranteed semi-final and final tickets.
Club: We take the point but sent out the terms and conditions and only one person dropped out.
4.14 Sales Methods for Major Matches
Club: At present 5% are sold at the box office and 95% online. We don’t have many sales at the box office these days as we stagger sales according to loyalty points. When tickets are guaranteed for those with a certain number of points, those fans tend to purchase online.
Fans: Fans may not have confidence in the online system. Box office collection should be 10%.
4.15 Wembley Tickets
Fans: There is no choice online to pick upper or lower tier for the same price band.
Club: We could provide that choice for those purchasing at the box office.
5) Any Other Business
5.1 Stadium Entrance
Fans: More turnstiles have been introduced in some parts of the ground but there is still a bottleneck between the West Stand and Matthew Harding. Also, signage for the various West Stand gates was not clear for the Apoel match.
Club: We have more stewards on duty to assist when more tickets are sold on general sale. Chris has done work on this: We are aware of Tuesday night’s game (Apoel) and there was no major problem. There was a massive last five minute walk-up though, with bigger queues at the West Stand than the Matthew Harding but these had cleared ten minutes after kick-off. We cannot get everyone in if they turn up five minutes before kick-off.
Fans: You won’t change habits completely.
Club: We try both to educate fans and improve turnstile flow. The latter is a problem in the East Stand in particular. We can’t change the configuration straight away but are working on it. Fans got used to the new card system after half a dozen games so changes do start to have an effect.
Fans: Can you send offers in the ground to supporter clubs to promote as well?
Club: We can do that on your behalf if the fan indicates they want to be contacted about offers.
5.2 Stadium Naming Rights
Fans: Has the name been decided on?
Club: We wanted to be upfront with our fans about any negotiations we have in the future rather than rumours coming out. This is a potentially good revenue stream and fits into football marketing generally. We are competing with clubs with much larger stadia and have to explore options to maximise revenue. We have to be self-sufficient and are aiming for two to three years, rather than rely on the owner. We have matchday, commercial and broadcasting revenue, the latter being dependent on success. Matchday is fixed. We therefore need to look to expand commercial revenue. There are brands that we would and would not consider so it has to be the right fit in protecting our heritage etc. The alternative to maximising commercial revenue is increasing matchday tickets.
Fans: If we do get sponsorship in this way can the fans get a direct benefit? Can fans be consulted on a proposed name change?
Club: We don’t take the largest amount on offer. They have to add to the Club in our plans as well and there should be benefits for their products, which fits with our loyalty points plan. For instance there could be a benefit to our fans in using Samsung products.
Fans: The Club’s finances would not need boosting as much on the commercial side if we didn’t pay certain players such as Hernan Crespo and Andrei Shevchenko far more than other clubs seemed to. We are still breaking our own wage structure.
Club: The market drives the price but lots of those deals were a few years ago and the structure is tighter now. Wage structures at other clubs will be similar to ours.
5.3 Beer in the Stadium
Fans: If we had a better range of beer we may get fans in quicker.
Catering to be addressed at the next meeting.
5.4 Club Magazine
Fans: Two issues: one magazine sent to a member was ripped open. Why do members and ST holders get separate packs without an option to receive or purchase the other pack?
Club: We will check the ripped magazine. It is a Club decision for members and ST holders to be offered separate packages.
5.5 Samsung Television Reception
Fans: Despite Samsung sponsorship, TV reception is terrible in the ground. The speakers are too loud in the Shed End.
Club: TV quality is nothing to do with the tuning and servicing. At the last Board meeting we agreed to IPTV around the stadium and that will be rolled out and in place by next season. Samsung complained about the reception as well.
Club to check volume of speakers in the Shed End.
5.6 Captain’s Bar and Manager’s Bar
Fans: A new brochure came out a few years ago about changes in these areas. A lot of those changes didn’t happen. There are low ceilings and when packed, it is boiling in there.
Club to check heating/ air conditioning in Captain’s Bar and Manager’s Bar.
6) Ticketing (continued)
6.1 Season Tickets for 16-21 Year Olds (continued)
Club: We find the existing concessions on offer are abused at present as adults buy or use tickets intended for juniors and, to a lesser extent, over 65s.
Fans: Fans could have an ID card to show as well. How do other clubs deal with it?
Club: That would be a major challenge two minutes before kick-off. Other clubs are probably not as bothered as they don’t sell out as much.
Fans: At Wembley they don’t check. What are stewards there for if they don’t check?
Club: Stewards are there to get you out if there is an emergency. We don’t want aggressive stewarding but we deal with aggressive fans sometimes. We are concerned this proposal would be abused if implemented and lead to confrontation, especially if fans have been drinking. There could be a high level of abuse of such a scheme, especially for midweek games. We’re not saying we won’t implement it but we have to consider how it would be monitored and whether we rely on trust.
Fans: If you have kids who can’t attend, can those tickets be upgraded for adults to use?
Club: Any system would be abused as it can’t be controlled in full.
Fans: If it was in one part of one stand it could be monitored better.
Club: There could be a separate entrance.
Fans: You know the dates of birth of existing ST holders presumably. Why would someone pass on their ST in the 16-21 year old area? (Other:) There seems to be some abuse at present in the family area. A card could be disabled when someone reaches 21.
Club: Tickets are passed on. Disabling the card is not the problem. We will consider it though.
Fans: If an area is set aside for 16-21year old STs. would they sit away from their parents?
Club: It would all depend on what area we could arrange for them.
Fans: Maybe it’s easier to give 16-21 year olds bigger discounts in the Megastore instead.
Club to consider all ticketing issues for next season’s ticketing policy.
(The meeting finished at 1.25pm.)
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