Fans' Forum minutes: 09/05/10
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CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB: SUPPORTERS’ CONSULTATIVE FORUM, 2009/10 SEASON
Meeting held at the Lord Attenborough Suite, Chelsea FC Hotel, at 11.00am on Sunday 9th May 2010.
- Alexander, Chris - Club Finance and Operations Director
- Anastasi, Joe - non-UK branch
- Atkins, Steve - Club Head of Communications and Public Affairs
- Auger, Cliff - Chelsea Supporters Group
- Bell, Marc - member
- Bowen-Jones, Will - member
- Bussey, Liz - over 60 age group
- Cook, Sophie - 16–21 age group
- Gerrard, Carol - home/ away season ticket (“ST”) holder
- Johnstone, Dave - CFCUK
- Kemp, Pete - Chelsea Supporters Club
- Mantle, Darren - CFCnet
- McGeever, Timothy James - disabled section
- Newby, David - Club Marketing Manager
- Parsons, Veronica - branch
- Regan, Andy - Electoral Reform Services (Chair)
- Shaw, Michelle - ST holder
- Smith, Graham - Club Head of Ticketing/ Head of Supporters’ Liaison (“HSL”)
- Talbot, Robert - member
Apologies for absence
- Boorer, Carl - exec members/ box holders
- Gourlay, Ron - Club Chief Executive
- Jarvis, Kevin - family section
- Neat, Mike - non-UK branch
(Action points are underlined.)
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
There are no changes to the minutes. Replies to previous action points are as follows:
End of season parade: This will be on 16th May if we win the Premier League (“FAPL”) today.
Minutes of the last atmosphere and environment sub-committees: These will be circulated.
Publicity for the Forum on the website: The Club will carry this out for next season via Emma Wilkinson by introducing a dedicated page. We will not have a running tally of decisions influenced by the Forum as this can be misleading e.g. by not including matters under review by the Club.
CFCUK Magazine: The deadline for publication is Monday at 6pm if the Club wants to contribute. On the subject of publicity, Ron Gourlay will be giving interviews tomorrow so CFCUK can have an interview.
Suspended memberships: Details of the appeal process have been circulated. It was questioned as to whether the process works as stated. One banned supporter tried to contact the Club on several occasions to appeal by email but received no reply. This can be taken up with Ed Ashwell.
Recycling Plant: A Forum visit will take place on 19th May.
Adverts running in the ground on Monday 8th May: There was an event running at the time which explains why the boards were on.
Forum minutes: The format has been revamped.
Supporter roadshows: These will be held by the Club next season.
Financial information requested: The Deloitte report has been circulated to the Forum.
Spackman Entrance: The name is being reviewed further to criticism received, but any change will not take place next season.
Peter Osgood statue: This will be a block sculpture with a stone base, over life size, placed in the alcove by the Millennium reception in the West Stand. Peter’s name will be on the front of the sculpture and include a description. The Club hopes to unveil it in the summer. The sculptor is Phillip Jackson.
Guest/ overview: We are joined by Adam Hateley, General Manager of Levy Restaurants at Chelsea FC (part of Compass Group UK & Ireland). Adam works for the sports, leisure and hospitality area who are rebranding at present. Levy Restaurants act under the name “FMC”. Compass purchased a US brand which is being rolled out in the UK.
Compass has worked with the Club since 2004 and welcome constructive feedback. Over the close season we have the opportunity to revamp products and services for the Club.
The Strikers’ Bar in the Matthew Harding (“MH”) Stand has problems. We are maximising space and have the 188 betting stand there. We can introduce a mobile unit to take up that space once betting has ceased. Stand-alone carts will be used instead increasingly. We have to work with health and safety so have to be cautious as to where we place mobile units.
Ordinary beer on draught can be considered. Heineken is our sole brand at present though. We are looking at changing the lager provision for next season and are awaiting a decision. There is a limit to how many types of lager we can serve as we have c4-5,000 pints to serve at half-time and have to deal with this volume very fast. More brands may lead to more wastage as some pints are pre-poured.
In the away section we are considering other beers due to the number of northern fans who attend.
The express beer token system seems popular. Fans buy a pre-match £10 voucher for three beers which speeds up the serving process. On the West Upper kiosk we have two new mobile bars to deal with this and will be token-only next season. That will take pressure away from the cash bars. We intend to improve publicity for this by working with the marketing team.
Food options: The range of vegetarian and healthy food can be reviewed. There is potentially a conflicting message between the food and drink provided, and the healthy living image that the Club often promotes.
The Club can introduce for instance wraps at some kiosks but again we have to avoid wasted food if they don’t sell in sufficient numbers. Please provide feedback from what works in other grounds too. We are introducing paninis for European matches.
We decide to place products in different parts of the stadium largely due to facilities at each point and if a product works we try and roll it out. The Club emails ticket purchasers with catering information along with other match-day information.
We are looking at a range of pies for next season from Shires, as we consider them the best on the market. We have tried various pie options. Due to the volume we buy we can try different types – the lamb pies have been popular so far. Vegetarian pies have not been that popular to date. Pies have to be held in a hot cupboard for 15 – 20 minutes so the products have to be suitable to stand until they are eaten; some pie types don’t taste good with this cooking method. The Forum is welcome to assist with pie tasting.
Local Sourcing: We source locally where possible and try to use products from within a 50- mile radius. In the West Lower we have the hog roast in a baguette which is locally produced. We have to import some products, such as hot dogs from the US and Netherlands. We have pots of locally-sourced ice cream for the executive areas so were hoping for good weather today. We can try that for the family areas as well.
Small local producers have to cope with large demand for their products in a short space of time. We are happy to consider local micro-brewers if that sits comfortably with branding.
At Cobham we work with the players to provide what they want on a local basis including sausages, cheese and ice cream.
Sit-down meals on match days: We used to have Drakes and Purple for pre-match meals. Unfortunately the Club don’t have those facilities free now so can’t offer a meal apart from at the hotel.
Roll-out locations: This is largely decided based on equipment hence the big advantage of the West Stand for some products.
Hospitality: We have a team of chefs to produce special meals so if we can’t get the right pies on the market we can consider producing them for fans in-house.
Wines: The Club can consider introducing a rosé as well as the white and red.
Club to check why an open bag of buns was left out in the MH Lower yesterday.
We welcome Mark McCall from the Leadership Factor who will present the results.
The results presented are summarised in the attached “Executive Summary” and are broken down in far more detail for Club officials. For the corporate results we break down results to the various corporate areas. Overall results for the satisfaction levels since 2005 are as follows:
Year Non-corporate areas Corporate areas 2005 64.7% 71.2% 2006 64.5% 72.6% 2007 64.9% 73.0% 2008 67.4% 72.8% 2009 68.0% 72.7% 2010 69.3% 74.2%
Fans have the chance to add their comments when completing the survey.
FAPL ticket prices: It looks to supporters as if there is dissatisfaction with these prices yet the Club has increased these prices for next season.
Booking fees: Another area of dissatisfaction is the booking fee. The Club does not make any profit from using recorded delivery for despatch. This is a method of distribution dictated by the FA for Wembley matches.
For our own booking fee, there is time and resources involved in ticket despatch and our charge of £1.50 is set for next season. Competitors use Ticketmaster and their charges are higher. Arsenal charge a ticket fee and a transaction fee.
The option to print at home may not have much of an impact on what we charge. There are software issues if we follow this method. Arsenal have started rolling it out. Our security people are concerned as to how it is introduced, as touts can sell photocopies on the street in effect. The Club is looking at how the paperless option can be work.
For credit card sales there is a set fee per ticket. Every club has their own way of charging. For debit card sales we still have to cover our costs and bank charges.
Turnstile access: Some fans are concerned with turnstile access to the MH Lower. It would help if the ticket reader stays red until the fan can go through. The Club has tried moving the readers at some points and are monitoring how that affects the system. We are not planning to reduce the number of stewards next season as we need to assist fans entering the stadium. Where we cancel an ST card for a match due to a sale to Viagogo, this now shows up on the reader. Not all fans walk forward when the green light goes on though.
We are planning additional turnstiles next season. There are two new ones in the MH Lower. We are changing the configuration for the away section next in order to reduce congestion. There is a significant cost for changing more turnstiles around the ground that the Club is considering. We don’t think we need further turnstiles so it won’t change from the total of 105.
The Club has tried early bird offers but fans tend to turn up later if they are confident they can get in quicker so the problem moves to nearer kick-off! The Champions League (“UCL”) ruling to ban beer sales here may deter fans from arriving early and this ban does not appear to happen in some other European countries albeit sometimes with the sale of non-alcohol lager.
Safety in the stadium: Strangely this shows up in the survey results as a factor that influences a fan’s positive view of the match day experience. You would expect the assumption of safety to be a given. However safety can mean a range of aspects including concerns about terrorist threats, stewarding, segregation from away fans. The satisfaction level with stewarding has improved this season.
Access to tickets: Corporate fans highlight this issue as an issue of dissatisfaction as they would like a priority system for additional home tickets with their STs when available. For away matches they receive 10% of the allocation which mirrors their proportion in the stadium. They have their own system for allocation of away match tickets based on which matches they want to go to but of course may not get tickets. If they are caught touting they are treated as any other fan.
CHELSEA IN THE MEDIA
How does the Club react to the way we are treated in opinion pieces in the media? We know some journalists will not give the Club a fair hearing at any stage whilst others are sometimes positive but criticise occasionally. We have an independent press and we don’t think it would help if we ban individual journalists.
We speak to the individual journalist in question when possible and also speak to their sports editor. Where there are defamatory pieces written ultimately we can take legal action. We only take legal action when we are certain we can win. Our aim is to improve our relationship with the media so we want to continue that trend.
There is so much pressure to generate sales that accuracy is not as important as sensationalism and rumour. There is also a 24-hour media now so journalists cannot stop providing new stories when print deadlines end. So many of those around a club who don’t know the inside story instead like to speculate so this adds to the rumours that circulate. As long as there is accuracy from journalists we are quite happy with any opinion given.
We invited journalists to a night with Carlo and Ray recently and that went really well. Some of those journalists seem more positive now. Over time, Ron, Bruce and Carlo will sit down with journalists and the sports editors to give their views so access can make a difference. Carlo has certainly had a positive effect in this regard and attractive football helps.
Interviews by foreign players in their own language are often mistranslated or misconstrued. For instance Florent Malouda said he had to battle with great players like Frank Lampard for a place, which was a fair comment. This was mistranslated as saying that Frank gets preferential treatment.
Chelsea TV: Gigi presents well and defends the Club strongly. Chelsea TV check with the Club whether a particular story should be referred to when that journalist appears on a programme. If there is legal action under way we can’t mention that story.
The Club will consider showing more old games. We know Carlo has asked for them.
The Club will check if fan volume can be increased for matches shown on Chelsea TV.
It would be helpful for fans if Chelsea TV could be shown on cable. The Club will look into this.
Cas Knight will be invited to attend a Forum meeting next season.
The Club has released its first membership package including Chelsea TV. We will consider more publicity for supporter clubs on there as well. Supporter club awards coverage can feature.
One supporter club wants to publicise further Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives locally. The Club would be happy to help.
We are now down to 13 teams for the tournament. Originally we planned for an 8 team tournament but the Club is happy to have all participate. One of the 13 may well pull out anyway. There may be limited changing space but teams are happy to adjust accordingly. The teams are a mixture of supporter clubs and fanzines with one overseas team entering. Not many of the other Premiership clubs appear to organise such an event.
Participants last year found that some of the ex-Club players didn’t appear to want to be there as coaches. Fans will let the Club know which players were most helpful and should be reinvited.
It is difficult for fans to advise the Club on travel arrangements and prices before knowing the dates and times of fixtures for next season. When the Club laid on transport for Everton away last season that was a really helpful gesture.
The cost for hiring a train appears to fans to be c£25,000 so can the Club set aside some funds to help fans on a more regular basis?
On the whole supporters are happy that the Club got most decisions right this season. The decision to subsidise Stoke perhaps wasn’t necessary if money saved could be used elsewhere. When the fixtures are announced next season the Club will consult as to priority transport fixtures. We then release information on each match as we go, even if it’s before tickets are available. However the Club does not want to offer a tentative list publicly as we may need to alter the schedule later in the season and this can send a confusing message. The Club will arrange travel for upto five matches next season and will try to be more consistent in pricing. When details are announced for a match the Club will state whether coaches are also provided.
Some fans would be happy to pay at least £20 for each journey and don’t expect something for nothing. More important is the scheduling and ensuring that transport is possible for all matches.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Season tickets for 16-21 year olds: Some on the Forum cannot understand why these have not been introduced. The cost would be for 1,350 in that age group who are already ST holders to pay half price resulting in a cost of c. £472,500 for the Club in one season. 16 year olds are not considered a guardian to look after younger children and cannot fight for their country; 16 year olds have a minimum wage of £3.64 with 18 year olds having a minimum wage of £4.92, both to be introduced later in the year. A lot of 16 year olds are still at school and that represents a massive rise for parents to pay. The atmosphere would also benefit directly from having more 16-21 year olds in the ground as opposed to them being priced out. Many of those responding to the survey were 45 + in age and our fan base is getting older together. A younger generation of fans will be priced out. At Fulham they are gaining young supporters due to 16-21 year olds being priced out here.
In reply the Club are still looking at the issue in detail. We would have to find that half a million from somewhere else to help balance the books. There is an element of concern that some will try and obtain or use these STs who are above the age of 21. The main concern is financial though as we want to grow revenue where we can. It may be aired at the board meeting again next year. We are hampered by our stadium size. The policy regarding a 16 year old not being a guardian is the legal position. The Club knows that the family stand sells out first so those moving out will be replaced by new fans anyway. If the family stand age limit is extended to 18 then it takes away the chance for some to move into that area at a younger age.
Fans also suggest that 16-18 year old STs can be considered instead. ST prices increased by c40% under Ken Bates one season, and the overall rise is massive in recent decades. Club officials don’t need executive cars to attend the FA Cup draw so savings could be made elsewhere. An extra £7.5 million per club will come from TV revenue next season. Naming rights will also bring in more revenue but how will that directly help fans?
Reduced prices for students: The Club are ending the concession for student members next season. This is for operational reasons.
Reductions for 16-21 year olds at away matches: The Club has only adult, junior and senior charges for our own season tickets. The problem that we have for away matches is that different clubs offer different concessions. For instance some clubs offer under 9 concessions, some offer 16-18 year old concessions etc. It is therefore very difficult to apply these various reductions although we acknowledge that those buying on an individual away match basis will gain in a way that those buying the away season ticket will not.
Away match general sale: The Club is happy to consider more general sale away matches where tickets have not sold out as long as there are not security concerns for that match. This cannot be offered with UCL matches.
Travel plans for UCL matches: The Club asks for information from fans as the police require it to be provided. Such information also helps the Club to know where and when our fans are travelling. Email information from fans is sufficient and fans can buy their tickets at the last minute as we know that it can take time to make travel arrangements.
Large screens in the stadium: A new screen will go in at the south end of the ground. It is likely that the screen in the north end will be repaired for next season.
Shed End speakers: These have been checked and the volume level is consistent.
Welcome banner: Club to consider a welcome banner at the entrance to Stamford Bridge.
Anti-racism banner: Club to consider updating the anti-racism banner in the stadium.
Season-ticket seat moves: Officially there are no moves but the Club can consider a move in isolated instances. The Club is unsure why one caller to the Club requesting such a move was told that the decision for ST holders not to move was taken in conjunction with the Forum.
Fans’ Forum changes: Many thanks for the contributions over the past two years from the following who have completed their terms – Michelle, Carol, Will, Kevin, Sophie, Joe, Veronica, Darren, Pete and Cliff.
The advert for new places on the Forum are in today’s programme and will be on the website.
The meeting finished at 1.30pm.
|Fans' Forum minutes|