Fans' Forum minutes: 05/01/06
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CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB SUPPORTERS CONSULTATIVE FORUM 2005/ 2006 SEASON
Meeting held at the Lord Attenborough Suite, Chelsea F.C. Hotel, at 11.30am on Sunday, 5th January 2006.
ATTENDEES/ group represented
- Bacchus, Gary (blueandwhitearmy.net)
- Barnett, Neil (Chelsea F.C.)
- Bromfield, Gillian (season ticket holder)
- Coleman, John (family section)
- Essex, Roger (branch)
- Fiorellino, Trizia (Chelsea Supporters Group)
- Goodliff, Ryan (16 - 21 age group)
- Gourlay, Ron (Chelsea F.C. Commercial Director
- Greenberg, Simon (Chelsea F.C. Communications Director)
- Hazard, Kevin (season ticket holder)
- Hine, Tom (member)
- Kenyon, Peter (Chelsea F.C. Chief Executive)
- Mann, Roger (branch)
- Michael, Richard (member)
- Michaelson, Bob (exec member/ box holder)
- Monasingh, Marc (member)
- Newby, David (Chelsea F.C. Marketing Manager)
- O’Callaghan, Terry (branch)
- Paul, Dennis (over 60 age group)
- Pickering, Trevor (Chelsea Supporters Club)
- Polk, Jamie (disabled section)
- Walters, Jez (cfc.net)
- Weller, Jim (season ticket holder)
(Action points are in bold and underlined.)
Chair: Apologies from Peter who is running late. Of the supporters, apologies from Ryan, Gary and Jim.Welcome to Neil Barnett, who is joining us for the first time.
Welcome to Trizia from the CSG, and Trevor from CSC, both of whom are attending their first meetings. Also welcome to Kraig who is standing in for Gary for today from blueandwhitearmy.net.
CHANGES TO THE MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING/ MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTES
(No changes to the previous minutes.)
Club: On the action points from the last meeting:
- East Stand review is confidential, but Simon Arthur proposes to distribute this to the Forum on his return; - Two officials from Compass will be invited for the fourth Forum of the season; - More stewards have been sent to check for smoking in toilets in the stadium; - IT has been asked to set up to an email address at the Club to deal with complaints. This can then be publicised asap; - Ticketing aspects can be covered later. - We held our first atmosphere sub-committee meeting which went well. We are due to hold another.
Chair: Gary has requested that I mention that Dave Johnstone will be representing blueandwhitearmy.net at the next one in his place.ERS has also set up the email for fans to write to the Forum. The Club will publicise this imminently.
Fans: We also want to progress the meeting between the Club and supporters clubs.When is the new survey going out to fans?
Club: As regards the disability admission costs, we have had a meeting this week with Jamie and Phil Downs, who is Chairman of National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS). NADS has a definition of the disabled that is not as wide as those who are registered disabled, e.g. diabetics. We agreed to put together a consultation group for wide-ranging discussions on Club policy for the disabled. It is being sent out at the moment, with a close date of early March.
It is likely that those with auxiliary aids (those who need assistance facilities) will probably be able to bring helpers for free, subject to consultation. As a reminder, the reasoning for having to review this is that we feel we were not given accurate information on the Disabilities Act in the first place. We are now happy to review this.
NADS will hopefully endorse the document, and are prepared to act as arbiters in the event of a dispute.
Fans: Is it true that no disabled places were available for the match at Anderlecht?
Club: We are not aware of this but will check if there were any disability places for the match at Anderlecht. The general supporter facilities there were not good anyway. We were disappointed that for the Anderlecht away match, we had 1,400 tickets to get rid of but didn’t sell 50 of them.
On other action points, we have made no decision on whether to issue text alerts for ticket sales in the future.
Fans: There were a lot of fans who couldn’t get tickets for Anderlecht away though. The whole process seemed to go really badly, and in the end apparently 70 fans without tickets were arrested.
There are fans who applied to join the ticket scheme for this year and didn’t get tickets, yet we are being told there were tickets left. With very short notice there were a few tickets being sold by the Club. One eleven year old was given a ticket by himself for the match, though he has an adult season ticket.
Club: We had three ballots in total. The first two were as agreed at the last Forum, then we had to have another ballot as there were still tickets left. The biggest problem that occurred, apart from the tight timing, is that the “group” factor wasn’t calculated, namely that fans want to travel with others abroad. It was too late to change the system once we had initiated the first ballot.
We were still working on this at the final weekend before the match. The reason for the timing is that we were told on four occasions by Anderlecht that the tickets would arise with us imminently. We won’t sell them until we receive them as, for instance, we were told there would be temporary seating and that didn’t occur.
We can certainly ensure that children are not picked for tickets by themselves in future.
Fans: Yet this also happened with the Liverpool match. It was chaotic there, and we seem to have constant problems.
Unfortunately a number of people got a letter saying that they hadn’t got a ticket, but got an email saying that they had got one.
Also, is it true that 500 Betis tickets were not collected? Surely those fans should have been removed from the list for all-match tickets. The circumstances change for every game, we understand that.
Maybe there should be more loyalty involved in the overseas ticket allocation to our fans. This could be a major problem if we get a team with a small capacity in the semi-final of the ECL, for instance.
Club: We put a huge amount of effort into getting this right. The main thing is that we understand what went wrong and try and rectify it. We have tried lots of different systems and admit we haven’t found the right one. The Forum approved the existing policy and it was agreed unanimously. As soon as a policy is decided, we publicise it.
We thought it would be unfair to take those people off the list for all matches, as they have paid for their tickets in advance. We also feel we can’t post out tickets, and we don’t even trust registered post with them. Some overseas clubs will not issue duplicates if they are lost.
We know some fans told us they knew they were unsuccessful in the ballots before they had taken place! We don’t want to write-off loyalty counting from this match for next season, as we would have this scenario every season.
Fans: For the Liverpool home match coming up, escort tickets were not issued with the disability places. The message from the Club was that they should be picked up today, which is obviously too late.
Club: We will look into the home ECL disability carer ticket distribution policy.
Fans: One fan at Anderlecht paid extra for a better view seat. That person wasn’t allowed to sit in that area, so couldn’t our stewards watch out for this?
Club: Our stewards have no powers within other stadiums, just as those for other clubs have no involvement at our ground. We will bring up with UEFA the inconsistencies that we find.
We will look at the issue of ECL away ticket allocation. It is unlikely to happen again this season so we have time to get it right.
Fans: For the new domestic League match policy (28 day buying period) we would like to see a fairer distribution of tickets. Putting an extra 3 tickets for season ticket holders and 4 for members is not fair and leads to other members not getting a ticket.
Club: We want to communicate our policies better. There has been so much inconsistency with ticket purchases this season. The Newcastle match was sold out really fast, whilst we have had to go to general sale with many home matches this season. We don’t want to have general sale again if possible, as that encourages ticket touts. Perhaps the Newcastle match just needs to be included in the “one ticket only” policy.
We have also suspended 500 members this season already for touting. The total is now c. 3,500 in all. There are still checks on the applications. We need software to cleanse the data - in the past the same person could have had a lot of memberships. We can perhaps look at the photos more closely. We might have had fans of other clubs getting membership with us to have a better chance of getting tickets for their team at the Bridge.
Middlesbrough is sold out (two days ago), we still had 295 left for Wigan yesterday. Wigan took the full away tickets, with Middlesbrough only bringing about 750.
Fans: Some season ticket holders may also want the chance to go with other friends. Members should have some priority though.
Supporter clubs only get one ticket per person, so is it fair for others who are not members or season ticket holders to get more? It also encourages touting.
Maybe the answer will be to have a ballot for the big matches amongst members.
We would ask the Club to review pricing as a factor in the problem as well (next meeting).
Club: We are growing from 40,000 members to just under 70,000 now to about 90-100,000 next year. We might have to have a capping system for ticket applications from members, but we welcome membership increasing in some form.
Our shirts are also selling throughout the country in huge numbers now.
A ballot will not be popular, we feel.
In the future it will be harder for members to get a ticket. However, for matches such as West Brom and Sunderland, 8,000 were sold on general sale and only 2,000 went to members. Some of these 2,000 may have gone to members who bought upto four each anyway. It’s a difficult balance.
We will consider members getting one ticket each 28 days before the match, with season ticket holders then able to buy three more and members able to buy three more, both a week later.
On a different action point from last time, we are looking at having a better carol concert (with better player support this year) and possibly other family activities for the centenary year. The adult concert will not take place now.
Fans: Can we have a meet the players event for children? There could be a queuing system for autographs.
Club: We think 4-5,000 may turn up for it. This is not to say it won’t happen, but it has to be very efficiently organised.
The Club proposed a structure for the discussion, which was approved:
Pricing Structure for 2006/07 Season
Club: The aim for today is to hear ideas from the Forum for next season, which can be considered when the Board decides on policy in the next month or two.
Fans: What percentage of members don’t get to matches? We could introduce different tiers of membership.Is there going to be a price increase?
Club: Overall yes, given that we posted losses of £140 million last week. However, the details are yet to be decided.
Fans: Can we re-introduce categorisation of games? It seems to help ticket sales when playing less attractive opposition.
Club: We have taken the view that there should be a single pricing policy on the basis that fans want to see Chelsea first and foremost.
To put it in context, we have filled most of our games. The West Brom match had certain unusual aspects, and pricing had not been publicised clearly for some of the European home matches. In 75% of games we have had to go to general sale though, so with four tickets per member this doesn’t make a difference to avoiding general sale. We have already agreed to go to two tickets per member for next season.
The away team attendances have been poor, nearer 17,000 to the 23,000 anticipated.We are looking at that, with different levels of affiliation. There are probably a lot of the members who are only interested in the big games.
Fans: The new packaging looks very good - almost too grand for the contents!
Club: We wanted a better standard for our members, given the price members pay. Growth of membership is the cornerstone of our expansion policy.
Fans: There is still inconsistency as to which supporter club members have received the magazine (details to be passed to the Club).
Is family membership possible? The cost of four family members all paying for, and receiving, four magazines, seems unfair. Some supporter clubs have a family membership structure. Membership could also encourage ticket purchase for the smaller games only.
Club: Yes, we are looking into family and other packages to acknowledge growth of membership around the world.
We will bring our proposals for membership to a later Forum.
Fans: Will there be a loyalty scheme for tickets at big matches?
Club: We’ve considered this. One of the problems is that a member can buy tickets for other members. Therefore the latter wouldn’t register for loyalty points, which seems unfair. If it is brought in we will need a fair system. The individual fan would need to tell us who s/he is buying them for.
Fans: Maybe the ticket holder, if a member, could tell the Club after the match.
Club: That would be very complicated logistically.
Fans: The other risk is that some fans wouldn’t bother getting membership next season with the existing policy, as friends who are can get them anyway. In addition, can members have a price discount on tickets? The general point is that members aren’t getting financial benefits at the moment in supporting the Club, and are generally not feeling valued.
Club: We have written to lapsed members recently, to find out why they have stopped. That has included a few thousand former members.
We will also conduct another survey in January for members (which will be reported on at the last Forum this season again). We need to find out what all members want, not just a small handful.
Fans: There are major problems getting family tickets for home matches, which deters fans from getting membership for their children. These tickets seem to go really quickly. A further concern for that area is that there may only be one child allowed with one adult.
Club: We have nearly 1,000 tickets for children in the family area and have made it a good family atmosphere, including X Boxes for children and less swearing etc. We think this is a good arrangement.
Fans: There have been many complaints about the East Stand, many centred around stewarding and signage. Maybe the turnstiles could be redesigned, generally there are major over-crowding problems. Some fans don’t want to move their season tickets to the West Stand from the East.
The teamcard also contributes largely to the problem of access.
The layout doesn’t help, with bars, and betting stands there. Stewarding is particularly poor in directing crowds and ensuring there are no queue-jumpers, and some stewards don’t speak English. It takes a huge amount of time to get in to the ground. The lift looks dangerous there, the toilets leak.
Club: Facilities have to be right. We have commissioned a report about East Stand access, and were told that unless we spend about £10 million on access it can’t be radically improved.
An electronic copy of the report on East Stand access will be provided to the Forum.
All our stewards definitely do speak English. We have spent £28,000 on the goods lift in the East Stand. We are working on new signage to alter gate access. We will keep card access, and won’t be altering the configuration of the turnstiles, though extra turnstiles are possible.
Fans: This is a major concern and doesn’t sound as if much is being done to improve it. Do entry cards have to be handed to stewards to input, as they seem slow about it?
Also, catering quality is poor there.
Maybe there should be a board in the toilets to say when they were last cleaned and inspected.
Club: We have to get the facilities right, and broken seats or leaking toilets should be reported to stewards. However, we won’t be spending a huge amount in completely configurating the stand, which could also mean a reduced capacity. There is an inherent design fault at present.
We accept that the stewarding levels have to be right there. We need to continue with stewards entering the cards, even though there were 493 overrides last time.
We are happy to look at catering again at a future Forum (ideally the next one). Catering space can only really be increased in the West Stand. We also have new caterers this season (Compass). They will be measured by the customer survey. Budweiser are looking at plastic bottles of lager for stadiums.
We already have the toilets cleaned during a match. Unfortunately problems will then arise at busy times, and inevitably dryers for instance can’t be fixed during a match. Again, please ask fans to either tell a steward at the time or tell the Club later in writing about individual problems.
Fans: As to other specific problems, please can you fix the roof on the wraparound of the Matthew Harding Stand, as it leaks.
Another common complaint concerns smoking. Many fans are smoking in the toilets and nothing much seems to be done to stop them.
Most TVs in the concourse of the Matthew Harding Stand don’t seem to work.
The PA in the East Upper is too loud, whilst the West Stand is too quiet, according to some fans.
Club: We will send in special stewards to the toilets who can deal with evicting fans who break stadium rules. We will also check all the TVs, and check on the PA levels.
In time, Samsung will install new TVs everywhere.
Fans: Is it true that fans can’t get into Drakes anymore? It means that income is lost to the ground.
Club: Drakes is a revenue issue, and we needed new facilities for the corporates. It didn’t make that much money in its previous guise. Purples was converted, so Drakes became a corporate area. Fans: The East Stand Lower was called the best seats in the house by the Club, which is inaccurate. You have to sit at least five rows back to have a decent view.
One fan bought a ticket with a restrictive view in the ground. There was £1 off and a terrible view.
Why can’t the clock go beyond 90 minutes?
Can the Club publicise how complaints about facilities can be made?
Club: The ES Lower is the best facility to put family groupings. We also had to find a solution based around the new location of away fans. There is no pleasing all fans on this, as there is bound to be less banter between Matthew Harding fans and away fans with their new location. There is no perfect solution to the away fans positioning, and the family stand. We have to make the best of what we have.
We have dealt with the restricted view policy, and made amendments.
There is an FAPL ruling on the 90 minute issue.
Simon Arthur goes around the ground during the match to check that the process is working well, but the Club is reliant on fans giving them information on specific problems.
We will publicise the complaint procedure on the website.
Club: The Megastore is not being moved, but we are looking at certain internal changes there. We will bring that back to the Forum when plans are further down the line.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Fans: Why can’t we have an away season ticket available for members? Only 700 tickets were available at Arsenal for non-away season ticket holders. Membership would be encouraged if this is implemented as well.
Club: We divide tickets by percentage according to corporates, and non-corporates. We always take our full allocation now as well.
Fans: Publicity about away ticket allocations and how they are distributed is still lacking.
What is happening with away Cup games for away season ticket holders?
Club: Publicity about away allocations should be place by the end of the month. We will come back on the away Cup game situation.
We will also strive for consistency in the message about tickets, as we know it is frustrating that there can be different messages.
Fans: How can fans query their ticketing purchases without waiting on the phone or writing?
There was talk after the Charlton away match that away season ticket holders should get better views. Yet that is not the case, and the situation has not improved at all. Spurs apparently write to every other FAPL club to ascertain the best views in the away end at each ground - we could do the same.
The other problem with categorisation is whether a team is popular here or not.
Fans: Our prices are too high, and higher than other Premiership clubs. As champions we should not have such difficulties in selling tickets.
Club: You also need to remember that as we are successful we have far more home games than most other clubs, so there is bound to be more pressure on fans. We are not concerned about the number of tickets sold/ full houses at present as this is not a problem, but it would be administratively useful to sell out matches faster.
Fans: There is widely-held perception that longer-term fans are being ignored. A flat policy on League tickets and high prices are not a good combination.
Club: Yet demand is unpredictable. We would have thought that all 23,500 season ticket holders would want to go to the Barcelona home match, but 2,500 chose not to take up their tickets. It can’t just be pricing in deciding this.
We could always have more season tickets in the ground, they are easy to sell. We do want to leave places in the ground for members though.
We would also say that other clubs are not necessarily cheaper. At Spurs, category A games are £38 to £70. Where they do have lower category matches, they have the same problems with selling all tickets, including away sections. London prices are going to be more expensive than elsewhere. We want respect at away grounds and hence fans from other clubs to come here.
Fans: Some can’t afford to pay more than their season tickets for any additional games.
Even though some clubs charge too much outside London for their own clubs, some fan groups, such as Bolton, advised their fans not to travel to Chelsea due to the prices.
The prices are too high for our fans though.
Club: We accept that our pricing is at the top end of the market. We are happy to listen to where fans think increases can be made - we look at each aspect of the stadium separately.
Fans: Season tickets had cup games taken away a couple of years ago. Yet prices went through the roof. Was that taken into consideration afterwards? There is certainly an acknowledged factor that we have the best team in the country and that comes at a cost. But long-term regular fans who will keep coming are finding it really difficult to pay the prices here. It looks like these fans who are the lifeblood of the Club are being pushed out.
East Stand season tickets still went up when cup games were removed. In effect this was a 20% increase taking all into account. There is a whole missing generation of fans between 16 and their 20’s who cannot afford to go. The perception of the Club is that they don’t care as long as short-term fans turn up.
There also needs to be encouragement of new fans though, which is acknowledged.
Club: We certainly don’t want to force long-term existing fans away. The price structure has been here for years, long before the current management of the Club.
Members’ tickets outside the family area are £48 and £60. Cup games at far cheaper prices don’t sell out always though even with lower prices.
Fans: Fans will just continue to be more selective. Cup games are on top of season ticket expenditure, and are often mid-week games.
Our average attendance never topped 20,000 for years up to a decade ago, so we have had a massive change.
Categorisation would help the situation though. Sales are bound to be more attractive than at present for the smaller games. Season ticket holders certainly shouldn’t be asked to subsidise lower prices elsewhere.
Another possibility is that to go to a big game you have to buy a ticket for a smaller game.
Club: That last point would be considered “bundling” and wouldn’t be accepted by competition authorities.
Fans: CFCNet gets a range of opinions on categories, but our main request is for a loyalty system.
Do we make or lose money by discounting cup tickets? Presumably the higher attendances make up for it?
Club: Cup ticket revenue would depend on the trade off between the two. However, we also see it as an opportunity to introduce new fans to the Club.
Fans: Do fans spend more on merchandising if ticket prices are lower?
Club: That depends overwhelmingly on the time of the match. 3 o’clock kick-offs on a Saturday are generally the best, with 4 o’clocks on Sunday the worst. Revenue for European nights is based on the opposition, and their national culture.
Fans: Therefore presumably we could keep European group game prices lower and make the money back from merchandising.
Club: German fans don’t spend much, Greek fans too, for instance.
For the Anderlecht match, only 50% of season ticket holders bought tickets, so if they had bought them, we would have had a full house.
Fans: This is likely to be a problem in the future as we are doing well consistently and getting through the group stages. Hence they will be less attractive generally, apart from the really big teams at the group stage.
Some fans came to the area to watch the Anderlecht match on TV near the ground but couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the entrance fee.
Club: There were specific issues with the Anderlecht match pricing that we publicised afterwards. We are happy to look at all other proposals for European matches.
Over all, we have no major change to the ground configuration, and like the idea of discounted cup tickets. Those apart, we are happy to look at the other issues.
Fans: For the Everton cup game, fans were told that Chelsea had refused to lower the prices for the away game. Their stewards were saying that - are they allowed to?
Club: The rule is that a home club must get permission from the away club to lower prices for cup games. We are hoping for a full house for the Everton home match. Some clubs are cooperative with our policy here and some are not.
It was not our fault that lower prices could not be charged at Everton. We wouldn’t want to strain relations with other clubs though. We are certainly happy to help out other clubs with their concession policy.
It’s difficult to see how we could do more for domestic cup matches.
Fans: Can the policy of discounted tickets for cup games be encouraged through the FA? The Club should be applauded for having this policy.
Club: Concessionary prices have been noted at the Attendance Working Group.
Fans: Can prices for home matches at least be held constant for some areas of the ground?
Club: It would be unfair to decide where that should happen.
VOTE: FANS IN FAVOUR OF A BANDING SYSTEM FOR TICKET PRICES IN HOME LEAGUE MATCHES: 14 IN FAVOUR, 2 ABSTENTIONS, 2 AGAINST (ALL VOTES OUT OF 18).
Club: To set expectations, prices over all staying the same would in practice mean a 3% reduction due to inflation. It is unrealistic to say that banding will have an overall reduction in prices, but we are happy to consider banding. We budget for selling out every game, but also don’t assume many cup games.
Fans: If England wins the World Cup demand may increase even more, another factor to bear in mind.
What would be the sensitivity between ticket prices and % of revenue from ticketing?
Club: Very sensitive! But we are happy to keep the principle of discounted tickets for cup games.
Income for the Huddersfield game was about 60% of that for Anderlecht. So there is quite a swing on revenue implications.
Fans: If banding is brought in, then loyalty is being penalised if not introduced for the big matches, so it needs to be incorporated too.
Club: We could also consider general sale tickets being more expensive than for member purchases.
Fans: This would be very popular. We want to give tangible benefits to regular fans.
VOTE: FANS IN FAVOUR OF GENERAL SALE PRICES BEING MORE EXPENSIVE THAN FOR MEMBERS/ SEASON TICKET HOLDERS? IN FAVOUR - 18.
Fans: Will there be a higher than inflation increase in corporate/ executive areas?
Club: We look at each aspect separately, as we’ve said. There was a large increase last year, of which we are aware. Corporate seats usually sell out. There are different levels of corporate packages so we divide those when we set prices. Corporates bring in c.65-70% of our revenue with 20% of the seats.
Club: The current concessions are for children and OAPs. We are happy to review this if that is requested.
Fans: We would like a concession in addition for 16-21 year olds. At present parents are having to find a massive increase for their children when they reach 16. We are also losing a new generation of support potentially - very few teenagers can come. That age group contribute a lot to the atmosphere by singing as well.
At West Ham there is a system of concessions for that age, and at other clubs. Approximately one third of clubs offer such concessions. Some clubs base it on age, others on full-time education.
Club: Some clubs such as Blackburn and Charlton provide such offers, as they can’t easily fill their grounds. But if we introduce something, we are displacing someone else.
Fans: It wouldn’t be displacing as it’s just an alternative market, especially as 75% of matches go on general sale. We could add concessions for some games only. Maybe season tickets could reflect this age group as well as members’ tickets.
Club: We want to avoid having more season tickets. Not many don’t renew each season.
Fans: If a game is slow to sell out, surely younger members could have concessions anywhere in the ground. If you buy later, you take the risk of missing out altogether.
Club: We wouldn’t want to change policy during sales for a match. It’s not fair on those who have already bought tickets for it. We also wouldn’t want a different basis for concessions from match to match - it’s too complicated for fans or the Club.
If we based the policy on 16-21, we would then need to decide whether the criteria is being in full-time education or not.
VOTE: FANS IN FAVOUR OF A 16-21 YEAR OLD CONCESSION BEING INTRODUCED? IN FAVOUR - 18.
VOTE: FANS IN FAVOUR OF A 16-21 YEAR OLD CONCESSION BEING AVAILABLE: a) ON AN AGE BASIS ONLY? IN FAVOUR - 12 b) ON A PROOF OF FULL-TIME EDUCATION BASIS? IN FAVOUR - 6.
Fans: You would need to register at the beginning of the season for members, and then the number available for members per match would need to be publicised.
Club: If we adopt this, as we are planning an expanded family area, we may have to include 16-21 year old concession seats in that area as well. About 6% of seats currently go to OAP and children concessions at present.
Fans: For the recent Charlton home match, why were concessionary away tickets allowed for some areas whereas Chelsea fans couldn’t have concessionary tickets for equivalent seats?
Club: That wasn’t the case - any concessions were in equivalent seats as for Chelsea fans.
Unreserved Seating Area
Fans: It was advocated in order for friends to sit together, hopefully to help the atmosphere. Hopefully they would get into the ground earlier as well. This could be for season tickets or members. Old Trafford has such an area.
Club: At Old Trafford it was introduced when there was a new stand, so there was no displacement.
We know that here we would have to displace say 500 fans. As half the stadium is season ticket holders, there is no way around that, and those fans are unlikely to be happy with the policy. We are not convinced it would be popular.
Fans: Some of us would not be happy if we had to move our season tickets, though we also want an improved atmosphere. This is probably representative of many fans!
You could identify a block of seats, then write to the season ticket holders there, and canvass them for their opinion.
West Lower probably would be the best location.
These are becoming more popular at other grounds by default, as away fans can pay on the door at some grounds now, such as Aston Villa and Sunderland. Does this present a security problem?
Club: There may be, but it is the responsibility for the home clubs for making that secure.
Fans: Although the Club officially takes the full allocation of away tickets for League matches, more tickets were offered to the Club for the Aston Villa match. We were offered 1,200 extra tickets afterwards, which makes the Fans Forum look bad for passing on the message of taking a full allocation.
Club: We can take a full allocation on a sale and return basis. With the extra 1,200, we would have had to pay for them up front, and we weren’t confident of selling all the extras. For Everton, 6,000 tickets were offered for the Cup which again we didn’t think we could sell.
We have taken a full allocation for League matches - 3,000 or 10%, whichever is the higher. We took 2,940 for Villa, and only sold 2,491.
Fans: This leads to bad publicity for everyone involved, and confused the fans. The website said the Club had sold out for Villa.
Club to write to all season ticket holders in the area identified, in order to canvass them for their opinion on unreserved seating there.
Club to look into the Villa situation and report back.
Online Ticket Purchase
Club: We have a new system for trialling at the beginning of March. We can’t deal with mass demand at present. We can take 160 applications at the same time at present. The new system can do 24,500 transactions (two tickets) per hour, so for a big match they will go within minutes. Newcastle sold out in an hour and a half when everything worked for instance.
The system crashed for Barcelona. Some 2,000 applied for this, and once the credit card details were forwarded for checking, the connection was lost. 40% of Barcelona tickets sold were on the Call Centre.
In the new system you will know where you are in the queue, and whether you are likely to get a ticket or not. We propose to get this right and have internet sales only. It seems wrong to ask fans to queue, certainly.
We know we have to communicate what will be possible on this.
Fans: For Barcelona, a loyalty system would have helped with the demand, and ensured that regular members could go. A loyalty system was used for the Arsenal match so well last season, and this would have been a perfect opportunity to use it this season.
We welcome the new system, but there must an opportunity to buy through other methods.
Club: On match day the Call Centre is a useful back-up. A large number of people want to come and queue still, which seems unnecessary.
We will reissue pin numbers for the new internet system in due course.
Fans: Some fans don’t have computers, are not confident of using the internet, or have access issues such as not being allowed to use the internet at work for booking football tickets.
It would be useful to have a queuing system for the phones as well.
Can’t the season ticket card be used instead of paper tickets?
Club: For the Barcelona match, we had over 800 credit cards rejected. We therefore can’t assume that payment will be correct for the season, and we can’t issue electronic tickets that cover the season for every match.
It is the individual’s responsibility not the Club’s to ensure that such credit card details are okay throughout the season. We phoned everyone this season but we can’t do that again. We will further publicise this.
Fans: It would be useful to have a note on the ST renewal form saying that if your card is due to run out during the season, you must inform the Club of your new number or you will not be sold further tickets after the expiry date.
Fans: The Club Charter says that there is a policy for loyalty to be considered where demand exceeds supply. Why didn’t this happen for Barcelona?
CFCNet have had more criticism of the Club on this issue than any other recently.
Club: We are not under an obligation to do this. Loyalty can also be difficult to measure, and also it’s not always easy to work out when it’s needed.
Having said that, if the way we managed the Arsenal game last season was popular, we will certainly review that.
Fans: But the principle is popular with members who turn up a lot - it seems only fair. Independent group feedback is overwhelmingly that it should have been used for the Charlton League match as well last season, and in some other matches. There will always be complaints, but as long as it’s publicised in advance we are confident it will be widely welcomed - each match would have its own points system.
It also helps sell the less glamorous games to help fans accumulate loyalty points.
Chair: Is this generally a popular option for the Forum?
(FANS SEEMED UNANIMOUS IN SUPPORTING THIS.)
Club: If implemented, we would have to decide whether any criteria cross over amongst all competitions.
Fans: Chelsea TV said Champions League games would be distributed through loyalty.
Club: That comment was implying the arrangements if we get to the Final.
Fans: But that would be unfair if not made clear at the start of the season.
Loyalty must only be based on spending on match tickets, no other criteria. Points must be general - in other words e.g. you need 30 points in total, irrespective of which matches they have been accumulated at. Such a system used to be in place.
Club: We would have to accept that there would be criticism. We wouldn’t want to introduce criteria for matches played this season in the League, but will consider it for next season.
Fans: Linked to loyalty, away season ticket holders weren’t sent tickets for Everton automatically - CSG have had a huge response on this. Previously, the CSG raised the fact that the tick box for cup games was omitted on the renewal form at the start of the season. We were told all fans would be contacted, but it hasn’t happened.
The vast majority of this group would want to go to all cup matches - we produced a report on it.
Club: If not done at a certain time, it would be too late, for instance for the Everton match. The report was inaccurate in many ways - fans had two days to book them, not one day. We did indeed advertise in the Charlton programme, and elsewhere. We also sent an email to our database.
Fans: The email said they were going to season ticket holders at that time - there was no mention of when spare tickets would be sold.
Why can’t ticket applications be taken before?
Club: We had so little time. We don’t sell tickets until we get them, which was the Saturday morning by the time they were audited. We go through the whole batch first as we’ve had problems in not doing that before.
The turnover was very fast - the complaint seems to be that opportunities for members were not clearly publicised.
Club: We have a meeting planned for late February to consider the policy - the draft version has already been sent out, to include the pricing structure for next season.
Other Ticketing Issues
Fans: Allocation of tickets - what is the system going to be? Members must have priority.
Club: For top matches, after ST holders, members get a chance to buy one ticket. In the second week, ST holders can buy three more, then members can buy three more.
Fans: For credit cards, can’t the Club state which match the payment is being made for? Re credit card charges, can we look at reducing the cost for bulk purchases? Also, can the Club address the length of time that corporates have to decide whether to take up their tickets?
On away ticket allocation, there is no improvement for positioning of away season ticket holder seats.
Club: On that last point, we were told by the FAPL that we must sell them in the order that we are told to sell them by the home club. The reason is that if the away area doesn’t sell out, we can return whole blocks for re-sale.
Fans: This is unfair for away season ticket holders - it means we are likely to get them at one side - many of which will not be best positions.
Club: We have a directive we have to follow.
Fans: For a group of home ST holders who don’t sit in the specific seat they are allocated, can that group reregister with the correct seats that they want?
Club: We can discuss this afterwards.
The Club will come back to the Forum with our decisions on ticketing issues for next season when they are ready.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Fans: For Barcelona away, it was implied in Club communications that there are enough tickets for the away European season ticket holders - is that correct?
It would also be nice if we are not in the gods at Barcelona - but it’s unlikely we could change that!
Club: There are certainly enough tickets for that grouping.
Club: For online ticketing queries only, please use: Websales@chelseafc.com If something goes wrong technically to the whole site, we will obviously not be able to answer every email fast, but generally we do respond quickly.
The away match view problem should not arise, so please provide specific details.
Chair: The Forum may want to think about having an email address for the Forum to be contacted directly by other fans. However, you would need to decide who receives this, who replies (if at all) and whether it is being replied to as an individual or on behalf of the Forum.
Club: We are happy to have that here, or alternatively to have the address at Electoral Reform (ERS). ERS can decide who is in the best position to take the matter forward from the Forum.
Fans: We certainly want to be more accessible, as there has been criticism that we have not been.
ERS to set up an email address, and decide to whom emails should be forwarded. There will be an automatic reply to say that they will not necessarily receive a personal reply, but their query will be passed on to the most appropriate member of the Forum to look into. That individual can then decide how to approach the issue. An address will be provided for those not on email as well.
Club: We are still considering the format of supporter club commonality on their websites. We are planning another supporter club event for this season.
Also, we will decide on an individual Forum basis whether to have a TV debate on each issue. Although publicity is important for the Forum, it has to be relatively popular TV as well. Organisationally it can be difficult every time as well.
Fans: With new members of the Forum joining, we would appreciate reiterating current policy that Forum members should not be linked with specific comments when reports are made to their groups.
It is important to stand by our convictions though. The minutes should still show where there is a difference of opinion. If a particular group want it minuted that they have a particular view, they should be allowed to.
Chair: There is no problem with an individual requesting that they or their group are mentioned. All major differences are covered in the minutes. It would be impossible to attribute comments to individuals accurately in the minutes anyway when they are recorded and transcribed later.
Fans: There has been a negative atmosphere directed towards the Club at this meeting on the whole, which is a bit unfair to them.
Club: We are happy to be questioned in detail on any issue that arises within the remit, and don’t feel victimised!
(The meeting finished at 1.35pm.)
|Fans' Forum minutes|