Fans' Forum minutes: 02/05/09
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CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB SUPPORTERS CONSULTATIVE FORUM 2008/09 SEASON
Meeting held at the Lord Attenborough Suite, Chelsea F.C. Hotel, at 10.30am on Saturday, 2nd May 2009.
ATTENDEES/ group represented
- Auger, Cliff (Chelsea Supporters Group)
- Bowen-Jones, Will (member)
- Cook, Sophie (16 - 21 age group)
- Gerrard, Carol (home & away season ticket holder)
- Goldston, Geoff (over 60 age group)
- Gourlay, Ron (Chelsea F.C. Chief Operating Officer)
- Greenberg, Simon (Chelsea F.C. Communications Director)
- Jarvis, Kevin (family section)
- Johnstone, Dave (CFCUK)
- Kemp, Pete (Chelsea Supporters Club)
- Law, Matthew (disabled section)
- Lister, Simon (member)
- Mantle, Darren (CFCnet)
- Newby, David (Chelsea F.C. Marketing Manager)
- Parsons, Veronica (branch)
- Phelps, Mary (exec member/ box holder)
- Regan, Andy (Electoral Reform Services, Chair)
- Shaw, Michelle (season ticket holder)
- Smith, Graham (Chelsea F.C. Head of Ticketing)
- Smith, Ian (member)
- Sporle, Lee (non-UK branch)
- Whalley, Elizabeth (season ticket holder)
Apologies for absence
- Anastasi, Joe (non-UK branch)
- Beard, Neil (CFCUK)
- Kenyon, Peter (Chelsea F.C. Chief Executive)
- Walters, Jez (CFCnet)
(Action points are in bold and underlined.)
1) ACCURACY/ MATTERS ARISING FROM THE LAST MINUTES
(There were no changes to the minutes.)
Chair: Members of the Forum have asked me to reiterate their thanks to the Club for arranging the Cobham trip.
There are several action points to report back on from the last meeting.
1.2 Unreserved seating
Club: We said we would try and introduce unreserved seating to home Carling Cup matches. There was a Premier League (“FAPL”) meeting two days after the last Forum and unreserved seating will not be allowed at FAPL matches. Not one club supported the idea. The report from that meeting is available if you want to see it.
There are major problems with its introduction. If we used the Matthew Harding Stand, we would lose 1,056 seats. We have had a lot of correspondence against the idea either on safety grounds or because fans don’t want to move their season ticket (“ST”) seat. Every safety officer at other clubs said no. We would need to double stewarding and put up extra barriers. There may be confrontations as fans would be entitled to move seats at half time. We were surprised that it would involve so many difficulties. We are therefore leaning towards not doing it.
We split revenue for Carling Cup matches with the opposing team. If capacity goes down, the opposition may therefore want price rises.
Fans: Although there may be opposition to this idea, the Club could take the lead on it.
Supporter clubs may not be in favour of it if their allocation is reduced.
Maybe we could introduce it for Carling Cup matches that are less popular as the price would only increase for tickets on general sale.
(Fans voted as follows on the proposal to introduce unreserved seating on a trial basis:
In favour: 4 members Against: 8 members Abstention: 5 members.)
1.3 Website ticketing information and procedure for purchasing tickets online
Club: We will be reviewing this anyway at the end of the season, including the holding page.
Fans: Is there any benefit of being on the website to buy tickets online in the morning before it opens at 7am? Could the tickets go on sale earlier in the morning, or in the evening instead?
Club: There is no advantage to being on the page before it opens. The policy regarding times is now set for next season. Forum members had the chance to discuss the policy for next season at the last meeting and didn’t raise the issue of opening times for website sales.
As regards the 5% sales at the ticket office for Cup Final tickets this week, we knew that allocation would have gone before the Friday and therefore advertised this fact.
1.4 2009-10 ticketing policy
Fans: The proposal of STs for 16-21 year olds also included a vote on a compromise of STs for 16-18 year olds. This was not highlighted in the statement from the Club.
Club: From a communication point of view, maybe we should have mentioned the 16-18 year old ST option.
Generally, we need to reiterate that this body is consultative only so just because an idea is voted on here does not lead to automatic implementation.
As regards why we didn’t introduce it, finance played the largest part in the decision. We would also have to manage channelling fan entry to the stadium including stewarding on every gate. We are happy for this to be reviewed for the season after but there are likely to be financial implications for other seats. We have frozen prices this season, and spent a lot on scarves/ flags at matches, as well as travel subsidisation.
Fans: A lot of fans are struggling financially and this measure would have helped as STs double when a child reaches 16. Some fans may be happy to pay more to subsidise this. Fans tend to be in full time education or earning relatively little at that age. We have the lowest percentage of 16-21 year old ST holders in the FAPL, on figures you have provided.
Club: We are sympathetic to that but have to prioritise. We could propose a price increase elsewhere to subsidise it in future and are happy to consider this for season 2010-11. We know the importance of younger fans to the future of the Club. However, the survey suggests it is not a top priority.
Fans: We can consult fans groups about this early next season in preparation for the ticketing debate here. Alternatively, you could reduce the provision of flags for Champions League (“UCL”) matches, or travel could be subsidised to a lesser extent. The main request regarding transport is provision of trains rather than free travel.
Should ticketing decisions be made earlier next season as we were told in the second meeting that some decisions would be too late to consider for implementation for next season.
Club: We will take that on board.
Forum to discuss ticketing issues at the second meeting of next season to help ensure sufficient time for implementation in 2010-11.
Fans: Why has a £50 deposit on the away European scheme been introduced?
Club: This is designed as an incentive to ensure all those on the scheme pick up their tickets, as some people don’t. The whole point of the scheme is for those who go to all the matches. It’s not fair on those who genuinely want to go to a particular match but can’t get a ticket. Alternatively, we review having the scheme at all, as sometimes as many as 150 tickets are not collected, or we remove those from the scheme who don’t pick up ticket as it’s often the same people each time. They’re probably only waiting to see if we get to the Final or go to the big matches. The £50 is refunded for those who do go to all.
Fans: Would the Club consider delaying the cut-off point for ST renewals for next season if we get to the UCL Final? This delay was introduced last season. Fans also have the FA Cup Final to pay for. Can we have a June date every year anyway?
Club: The close date is May for cash flow reasons. We have already announced the timing for this season and have built in an extra week. If we get to the UCL Final we will allow an extra week, but not for direct debits.
Fans: Is there any major change to the ticketing policy for next season that has not been publicised?
Fans: Is the paper direct debit form for cup matches next season being reconsidered?
Club: We are trying to introduce a paperless version.
Fans: Which away games are sold on a loyalty points basis?
Club: All the major games, and we reserve the right to add to these during the season.
1.5 Unsold tickets for away matches on general sale
Club: We will trial this but we don’t expect it to apply to many matches.
1.6 Fans’ banners stored at Stamford Bridge
Club: We will try and have them fixed so they wrap over for matches where we’re allowed to show them, E.g. non-UCL matches. We are trying to get our banners to Wembley as well and are checking with the FA.
Fans: Thanks for the flag now on the wall between the West Stand and Shed End.
2) CLUB’S ANNUAL SURVEY
Chair: Welcome to David Thomason from The Leadership Factor.
(David Thomason presented the executive summary, as attached at the end of the minutes. Questions on the summary from the Forum are as follows.)
Fans: How did you decide importance of the issues in the first place? Have the issues changed at all? Do you conduct any face-to-face interviews to gauge the reaction of fans to the issues?
Guest: We had a group of fans rate the importance of about 70 issues initially. The only changes have been the removal of a redundant issue such as smoking, as the stadium is entirely a no-smoking zone. We only go by the written results that should be representative given the number who respond to the survey.
Fans: Are results narrowed down any further? To what extent are improvements implemented by the Club then communicated to fans? Supporter clubs would be happy to publicise to our members at the appropriate time of year that they may receive the survey and to stress the importance of completing it.
Guest: We provide results in detail to the Club according to areas of the ground, E.g. there may be more access concerns in the East Stand than in the Shed End.
Club: We get a list of recommendations based on the survey and do try and tackle them, then communicate improvements to fans. We don’t attempt to focus on all the issues at the same time as that won’t work. As regards the corporate survey, a lot of upgrading work took place in the corporate areas a few years ago then nothing recently, so it’s not surprising that we saw a good increase in satisfaction at the time of upgrading, but less so since. We have introduced a price freeze for the corporate areas though, which will hopefully show in next season’s satisfaction level for the corporate fans.
Simon Hunter can provide further background detail if required.
3) ENVIRONMENT POLICY
Club: As an update, we are planning a consumer launch including a pledge page soon. Some fans like the idea of having a player representative so we are thinking of Peter Cech and Peter Bonetti representing different eras. Different players will get involved in different ways though.
We are being realistic with this so there will not be a revolutionary approach. However we think we can introduce important changes gradually. We are looking to publicise car sharing to a greater degree. Carol has questioned the wording we used in publicising the e-magazine and we can take that on board.
Fans: Can the Club ensure that the lights are off in the offices at night? Do our players take trains to events? On the online ST renewal there is an option for all or none to have e-magazines, which is not ideal.
Club: The lights are on a timer and it may be that security are checking areas at that time. Our players do take trains to events sometimes.
Club to review the online ST renewal to ensure there is an option for the exact number of paper magazines required.
4) CUP FINAL ARRANGEMENTS
Club: There has been some criticism of selling FA Cup Final tickets this week whilst some of our fans are in Barcelona. If we qualify for the UCL Final, we will be given seven days to sell out due to timing for the Final. We have to provide 19,000 sets of names, addresses and dates of birth, and would release those records daily to UEFA. Fans must also provide travel details.
There will be two levels of entry in Rome. The first is simply card recognition whereas the second is each barcode showing up all the details for that person so they can be asked to confirm their details at the turnstile. We will need to ensure that each individual knows which his/ her ticket is in that case.
This is all logistically difficult and we wanted the FA Cup tickets out of the way in case we do reach Rome. We can’t risk being late with any of these sales. For your information, ticket prices for Rome if we qualify would be 70 - 200 Euros.
Fans: The problem was to some extent perception; a lot of our most loyal fans thought they were being treated badly. Some fans were in Barcelona for a number of days and their plans were altered due to the timing of sales. It would have helped if the Club had said they would announce details of FA Cup Final sales on a particular date.
Club: Anyone who could purchase a ticket until the end of Thursday was guaranteed a ticket. No one missed out. We couldn’t guarantee when the details would be ready. Arsenal changed their FA Cup semi-final ticketing announcement twice. We would rather only provide information when we are sure about it.
Fans: Can you get duplicates for the FA Cup Final? What are the arrangements for showing a beam back of the FA Cup Final at Stamford Bridge? What is the position with additional tickets for the FA Cup Final being made available?
Club: As long as we send FA Cup Final tickets by special delivery, Wembley will provide duplicates, as entry to the stadium is bar-coded.
We are looking at a beam back but it won’t be on the pitch. We would use the bars or other indoor facilities only.
If we get more tickets for the FA Cup Final we will release them firstly to ST holders who have missed out, rather than members.
5) ANY OTHER BUSINESS
5.1 Forum selection process
Chair: We say goodbye and thank you for the contributions of Liz, Ian, Matthew, Geoff, Simon, Mary and Lee who are coming to the end of their two-year terms. The advert for their replacements will be going in the Barcelona and Blackburn programmes, with a close date of 12th June. As ever with those leaving the Forum, we request that you wait a year if you want to reapply. Dave Johnstone will be replacing Neil as the CFCUK representative from next season.
Fans: From those of us leaving, thank you to the Club for consulting with us over the past two years.
5.2 Reserve matches
Club: Does the Forum want reserve matches played at Stamford Bridge next season? We are confident extra matches would not harm the pitch. It would be good for the reserves themselves and provide more fans with a chance to get to the ground.
Fans: We generally welcome this, although there is a concern that it takes revenue from Brentford all whichever other ground we choose to play at.
(Fans voted as follows on the proposal to play reserve matches at Stamford Bridge:
In favour: 16 members Against: 1 member.)
5.3 Football Board
Fans: Why is Frank Arnesen now on the Board? He seems to have had little impact in producing first team players and his appointment may be a threat to a new manager.
Club: We have a separate football Board to the main Board. It makes sense for him to be accountable as the football Board concerns football policy throughout the Club. We don’t perceive his appointment as a threat to the first team manager. He’s not on the Club Board. Di Santo and Stoch have made their first team debuts this season.
5.4 West Stand boxes
Fans: Why are there empty boxes? Can’t they be offered to schoolchildren?
Club: They are all sold and for the sole use of the owners. We therefore have no leeway without the consent of those who have paid for them.
5.5 Supporters tournament
Fans: As a reminder, the supporters’ tournament will be on 12th July with further details to follow. We may need to draw names if we are oversubscribed for the eight team places.
5.6 European travel/ Thomas Cook
Fans: There was a leaflet offer for a recent European game to undercut away travel by 25%. This seems an illegal operation so please can the Club publicise this organisation and other similar ones.
We had a meeting with Thomas Cook pre-season; please can we have a follow-up meeting.
Club: Ed Ashwell is looking into the first issue and we can repeat that Thomas Cook provide the only official packages.
We will have a meeting as a follow-up on Thomas Cook next season. Please pass your feedback to Simon Hunter on travel issues.
Thomas Cook follow-up issues to be discussed in the first meeting of next season.
5.7 Barcelona stewards
Fans: Is the Club aware of the violence carried out by the Barcelona stewards?
Club: We are looking into this. We have top UEFA personnel here on Wednesday so can pass on details directly.
5.8 Home shirt
Fans: Why was this changed for successive years? Can the fans get more involved in choosing the new kit?
Club: The Club Charter was changed last year and we now change the kit each season, though there are in effect few changes to the design of the home strip. It would be very difficult to please all fans on the design. The players have an influence: this garment includes the under layers that they used to wear separately. They will wear it against Blackburn.
5.9 Champions League Final
Fans: If we get to Rome, will Peter Kenyon go up to collect a medal again?
Club: We think the procedure has changed and only the manager would go up.
(The meeting finished at 1.15pm.)
Chelsea Football Club - Fans and Corporate Fans Satisfaction Survey Results 2008/09
We have recently undertaken our annual satisfaction survey with both Fans and Corporate Fans. To undertake the surveys we have again used The Leadership Factor, an independent research company who specialise in satisfaction surveys across a wide range of leisure and business sectors.
The surveys cover the ‘match day experience’ of Fans and Corporate Fans, with the questions determined by groups of Chelsea Fans and Corporate Fans. Levels of satisfaction are compared from one season to the next. Each requirement listed in the questionnaires is measured on a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 means ‘very dissatisfied’ and 10 means ‘very satisfied’. This enables us to record an overall Satisfaction Index for both Fans and Corporate Fans that can be compared each season.
3. CORPORATE FANS SURVEY SEASON 2008/09
1200 Corporate Fans were emailed a web survey link to the questionnaire 209 completed questionnaires were returned (a response rate of 17.4%). · Overall Satisfaction Index 2008/09 is 72.7% (down from 72.8% in 2007/08)
Areas of Satisfaction · Availability of match day programme · Match view from corporate areas · Safety · Friendliness of staff · Type of seating · Cleanliness of dining and bar areas
Areas of Dissatisfaction (unchanged) · Value for money of season ticket price · Access to non-corporate match tickets · Speed of table/bar service at half time · Fans to be seated at start of game/ second half · Match atmosphere in corporate areas
Recommended ‘priorities for improvement’: (Areas for improvement 2009) · Value for money of season ticket price · Speed of table/bar service at half time · Fans to be seated at start of game/ second half · Quality of the food
4. FANS SURVEY SEASON 2008/09
20000 Fans were emailed a web survey link to the questionnaire 3410 completed questionnaires were returned (a response rate of 17.1%). · Overall Satisfaction Index 2008/09 is 68.0% (up from 67.4% in 2007/08)
Main areas of Satisfaction
· The match day programme · Price of cup match tickets · Safety at the stadium · Ease of exiting the stadium
Main areas of Dissatisfaction (remain unchanged)
· Club approach to booking fees · Price of food and drink · Price of Premiership tickets · Quality of food and drink · Frequency of tube trains before and after match
Recommended ‘priorities for improvement’: (Areas for improvement during 2009) · Club approach to booking fees · Price of Premiership Match tickets · Price of Food and Drink
Other suggested areas for improvement: · Ease of turnstile access to the stadium (West Stand) · Ease of exiting the stadium (East Stand Upper) · Toilet facilities (East Stand Upper)
DT April 2009
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