Fans' Forum minutes: 14/11/10
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CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB: SUPPORTERS’ CONSULTATIVE FORUM, 20010/11 SEASON
Meeting held at the Lord Attenborough Suite, Chelsea FC Hotel, 11.30am, Sunday 14th November 2010. . Attendees
- Acott, Graham - season ticket (“ST”) holder
- Alexander, Chris - Club Finance and Operations Director
- Anastasi, Joe - non-UK branch
- Atkins, Steve - Club Head of Communications and Public Affairs
- Brown, Francis - 16–21 age group
- Bussey, Liz - over 60 age group
- Fiorellino, Trizia - Chelsea Supporters Group
- Gordon-Brown, Patrick - Chelsea Supporters Club
- Gourlay, Ron - Club Chief Executive
- Jenkins, Simon - home/ away ST holder
- Johnstone, Dave - CFCUK
- Krendel, Paul - exec members/ box holders
- Marriott, Bryan - family section
- McGeever, Timothy James - disabled section
- Neat, Mike - non-UK branch
- Newby, David - Club Marketing Manager
- Parsons, Veronica - branch
- Regan, Andy - Electoral Reform Services (Chair)
- Sampson, Peter - CFCnet
- Shaw, Martin - member
- Smith, Graham - Club Head of Ticketing/ Head of Supporters’ Liaison (“HSL”)
- Wright, Frank - ST holder
Apologies for absence
- Bell, Marc - member
- Talbot, Robert – member
(Action points are underlined.)
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
There were no changes to the minutes. Replies to previous action points were as follows:
Chelsea Digital Media (“CDM”) – request for fans’ feedback: The Club would like six Forum representatives to meet with CDM prior to a live show on a Friday or before a midweek game. The Chair will request nominations separately.
Packages of recorded matches to be sold to the public: CDM are in discussions with the Football League who are processing their archives. CDM are working towards the best deal for fans and subscribers.
Chelsea TV on cable: New Chelsea TV Online should provide access to Sky for the bulk of content. CDM will continue to monitor the possibility of a deal with Virgin.
Simulcast: This is in operation and can be accessed by all Chelsea TV subscribers.
List of overseas broadcasters for Chelsea TV: This will be circulated after the meeting.
TVs in the Shed End: These are set up at the start of the season but are not replaced if broken during the season. Problems only arise when the channel is switched so the Club briefs stewards not to change the channel. Since the new system was introduced early this year the reception has been excellent.
Captain’s armband: UEFA provide an armband but sometimes John Terry brings his own.
Players acknowledging support at the end of matches: The Club has addressed this by speaking to the players and hopefully there is an improvement. Fans were not impressed at the lack of appreciation from the players at Liverpool though. This issue matters to fans having spent substantial sums following the team, and it is disappointing that players should have to be reminded.
Mascots: The Club will set out clear guidance soon. It won’t change the system for those already on it.
Stadium opening times: The stadium is now open two and a half hours prior to kick-off rather than two hours before. Jimmy’s and Dixon’s are affected.
Renaming of Jimmy’s: Singha are keen on using this area but are happy to incorporate the existing name in any renaming proposal.
Peter Osgood statue: The Club will consider the introduction of lighting for the statue as it can’t be seen clearly at night. Forum members appreciated representing fans at the opening.
Cobham visit: Fans would appreciate as much advance warning as possible for this.
TICKETING FOR SEASON 2011-12
Ticket prices: The Club said it has not made a decision on this for next season and this meeting would be useful to assess the financial priorities of fans.
Fans stressed that the financial climate is poor and many fans are still struggling to afford matches as they are not on high salaries. There is a huge amount of money going into football and fans often feel they are the last priority. The VAT increase alone could result in a steep increase for fans. Prices should either be maintained or at worst only increased at the minimum possible. It is clear that away fans are staying away due to our prices.
Fans stated that the best solution is to have the ground full every week and for instance the prices for Champions League (“UCL”) knock-out matches are high if we don’t have a big draw. It’s acknowledged that the Club is not making a profit or breaking even yet, but no one should invest in football and expect a profit. If there is an increase in capacity the Club would have to offer a spread of ticket prices anyway. One fan suggested that, as a reward for loyalty, free travel to an away match could be provided for each ST holder renewing.
The Club responded by saying that they froze prices for some years and are very sensitive to the economic environment. It is anticipated by the Club that the VAT increase will be incorporated into new ticket prices just as the reduction was incorporated previously.
The Club acknowledged that a full ground is ideal for every match and it is largely achieving that. The immediate challenge is UEFA’s financial fair play rules and the Club can’t rely on Roman’s spending so it has to find other solutions. The Club was very successful last season and intends to maintain that success on the pitch. The Club is competing with a revenue for other clubs of £30 million more due to stadium capacity so it has to look at all options. There are still no stadium naming rights to announce and the Club wants to ensure it makes the best deal. No decision has been made. The Club considers that every club in the country would love to be in its position overall.
Some fans considered that given the desire to maintain the success of the team, it is preferable to sell the naming rights rather than increase prices.
Lower prices for 16-21 year olds: Some fans may accept a small increase in prices in return for a reduced price for STs for 16-21 year olds.
The Club would like to know if there is a general willingness for fans to accept higher ticket prices in order to introduce the 16-21 year old reductions. Administratively it may be difficult but it could possibly introduce a phased increase between the ages of 16 and 21. Not all clubs offer concessions for these ages and it tends to be offered by clubs who don’t sell out regularly. Also we would have to offer the same concessions to away clubs and the risk is that this offer would be abused by home or away supporters. It would be difficult to police as fans enter the ground. It wouldn’t work just to exclude the Shed End from this offer with the intention of not offering this concession to away fans.
Ron Gourlay made suggestions to the Premier League (“FAPL”) to have a set price for away fans around the country but this was not well received. Clubs just want to maximise their revenue when the big teams come to their ground. The Club suggested that it could try and cap the number of concessionary tickets available for that age group in the away section here. We would need reciprocal arrangements with the other club to limit the number. Alternatively the FAPL may help with this. Concessions would be available on a home basis anywhere in the stadium in principle so once a fan reaches 21, that fan can stay in the same seat.
Fans stated that they would appreciate this being introduced to show that the Club is serious about encouraging younger fans. Fans said that they want the Club representing fans as well as other aspects of the Club when discussing issues with the FAPL. They pointed out that away scheme members who are 16 don’t necessarily get concessions at away grounds. We could have a reciprocal ban on the concessions for those teams’ fans at Stamford Bridge.
The Club said that they would consider this but can’t make a decision in isolation.
Inclusion of a fixed number of cup matches in the ST: One fan stated that this used to exist and it would make the administration for tickets easier for the Club and fans.
The Club responded that many fans, up to 1,500-2,000, have to move for UCL home matches. However some fans are moved to poorer seats and could have waited for the reservation period to end and claimed a better seat. Also we would have to reimburse fans if we don’t have the domestic home cup match. The Club is considering a mini ST for the UCL anyway next year.
One fan said that the current arrangement for domestic cup matches works well as the stadium is usually full and we use those matches to attract younger fans. The mini ST would work well for instance where we have a dead match to play, as we do with Zilina.
Electronic tickets for all home matches: The Club is aware of the technology available which could in theory cover cup matches. However fans often move seats for a cup match so we would need a large number of hand-held ticket scanners at turnstiles to deal with this. The Club is looking at home printing for match tickets as an option but the concern is that touts could try and sell fake tickets. We have had gift vouchers from the shop sold by touts as STs. The Club has spoken to other clubs concerning the way they have introduced these options. The O2 have the same problem with touts concerning home printed tickets.
Upgrade an ST from a child ticket for evening matches: Fans are more likely to try and purchase a concession ticket then go and upgrade at the ticket office if they don’t get in with the child ticket. With the current system if a fan doesn’t get in they’ve lost their ticket. Concession tickets are sold at Viagogo though.
Away ST seat positions: The Club received more complaints for Liverpool than any other away game. From next season there will be options on the application form for: front, middle, back or no preference. There will be no guarantees though, just the Club’s best efforts.
Away match ticket split: At present this is at a 60:40 ratio in favour of ST holders. The Club is using loyalty points for sales of Spurs tickets this season. This will be enshrined in the official policy for next season. Fans welcomed this, and agreed to continue with the current ratio split of tickets.
UCL prices: Fans requested more reciprocal deals to keep prices low. The Club replied that prices are submitted by clubs in advance but will look into the issue.
UCL away scheme: Next season fans will be allowed to miss a match and not lose their ST.
UCL away scheme transfers: The Club considered that the travel policy has been successful for some years and doesn’t want to risk jeopardising this record. Non UCL away scheme ST holders have a chance to buy tickets anyway.
Travel information for UCL away matches: Fans considered that the travel information provided to the Club appears unnecessary. The amount of paperwork is unfair for fans to complete and it’s not possible to email information. Information can be Photoshop’d anyway. Other clubs don’t ask fans to provide this. It can be hard to coordinate travel information for a group travelling together.
In reply the Club said that this information is provided to the other club to tell them how our fans are travelling. The Club reiterated that fans can reserve a ticket then confirm their travel plans before collecting the ticket. There are enough tickets to satisfy demand for virtually every away UCL match. The Club is looking at the possibility of introducing an online system for fans to provide information but there is no reason that fans can’t provide information by post for now. Generally the fact that fans must provide information ensures that only those travelling will collect tickets so there are no wasted tickets when others want to go to games.
Fans said that corporate fans do not all travel by Thomas Cook and don’t have to provide their details at present. The Club replied that it can consider introducing the same system for them.
Fans said that the Club did well to encourage Russian supporter clubs to attend the Spartak Moscow match. The Club confirmed that Russian fan clubs also provided their travel details.
Travel options at lower prices: Fans requested that this be reviewed for the disabled section. It is safer for fans to travel with a police escort on the official trips. However travel is the same cost as for non-disabled fans. The Club replied that this has been discussed with the disabled supporters group. It is not possible to offer a discount for travel prices due to anti-discrimination laws. Ticket prices are often reduced anyway.
Train travel: Fans proposed that if the Club is benefiting from the revenue from TV matches played at difficult times for fans, the fans should receive the benefit by way of cheaper travel for that specific match. The Club said that it is guaranteed a certain amount of money from TV matches with a possible adjustment during the season. That money is accounted for in the finances. The Club has already earmarked the Bolton match to assist fans.
Fans asked why there is not a direct link on the ticket purchase online page straight through to purchase a train ticket. Fans suggested that sales for train tickets should be better publicised generally. The Club replied that a link for train travel is on the confirmation page for a ticket sale. The Club questioned whether a fixed policy of subsidising travel is sufficiently beneficial for fans, given the other financial requests from fans. It noted that few other clubs offer subsidised travel. The options with Virgin trains are better than the various services we used to use.
Fans agreed that travel needs better publicity generally and said that travel by coach may prove more popular not least as there are more potential collection/ drop-off stops. The Club confirmed that club coaches tend to be sold out.
Ticket touts: Fans suggested that undercover purchases will help identify ticket touts. The Club confirmed that it carries this out. At the back of the home match ticket is an advert for a website page to inform the Club about touts. We use a window at the ticket office to take the details of tickets purchased from touts. We have a team of people working on this. Our security team works with the police but the problem is that the seller on the streets is just the runner. We track back to the ST holder or member and suspend 2,000 members per year. The worst match for touted tickets by far this season was Arsenal.
Fans said there appears to be a particular problem with UCL matches. The Club said it stopped a batch of tickets being sent to away fans in the home area; that away fans are not allowed in if caught at the home entrances; and that away fans are ejected if in the wrong areas.
Senior concessions: The Club confirmed that the age for senior concessions is now 65 in accordance with legislation. The Chair confirmed that the relevant representative age for the Forum will be changed from over 60 to over 65.
ST moves: Some fans want to move seats but may not be aware how this works. The Club confirmed that at the close season after next, ST moves may be allowed. Name changes are allowed at every close season anyway if a fan knows of a particular seat that will be spare. The fan can contact the Club to take over that seat and should provide the Club with written confirmation from the outgoing ST holder.
General sale of away match tickets: Fans said that ticket sales were only from Monday to Wednesday for Blackburn and asked if this could have been extended. The Club said this is in accordance with the four week sale policy and that Blackburn sold tickets on the day anyway.
Reserve games at Stamford Bridge: Fans asked why there is a charge when there wasn’t a charge at Brentford. The Club confirmed that the prices were £5 and £3 and sales closed at 5pm. The reason was to ensure that ticket sale numbers are confirmed to ensure adequate policing and stewards. With crowds of 7,000 Fulham Road has to be closed. The Club said that the twin aims for playing matches here are to give younger players the chance to play at the stadium, and to give younger fans the chance to come to matches. Fans proposed that the reason for regulating numbers be better publicised.
Conclusion: The Club will consider all the ticketing issues raised for the ticketing policy for next season.
In particular the Club noted that the main issues appeared to be: Ticket prices; 16-21 year old STs; whether subsidisation of travel should continue; administration of UCL away match travel details.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Flag theft: Fans reported that a banner belonging to Peter Trenter was stolen from the home area at the Spartak Moscow match. This has now been displayed in Russia. The Club will investigate this.
Marseilles away match: The Club confirmed that we will be taking our allocation. The Club is fully aware of the problems there for fans previously. Fans said that Marseilles tried to separate Liverpool spotters from the rest of their fans. If Marseilles can’t reasonably ensure the safety of visiting fans they shouldn’t be in the competition. Many of the problems were with the police last time. The consulate should be contactable for 24 hours for the match there. Is the Club aware of travel plans from the stadium regarding buses to the city centre? One fan suggested that such travel should not be compulsory for fans staying near the stadium. However it is acknowledged that for safety reasons most fans should be transported from the stadium area as soon as possible after the match.
The Club replied that David Bernard and the security team have been there twice and the UEFA security inspector will be there for two days before the game. The British consulate is very aware of the potential issues. Fans on the away scheme that choose not to travel will not have their scheme membership cancelled. The Marseilles club can’t account for how the French police act. Keith from security is dealing with security plans there. The Club will ensure that relevant security information is publicised.
Supporters’ matches: Fans thanked David Newby, Graham Smith, Peter Trenter and Cliff Auger for organising the summer tournament. More publicity in the programme would have been appreciated, in particular regarding the contribution of Micky Crossen and Powerday.
Fans said that there was a friendly between Club fans and Spartak Moscow fans played at the Royal Hospital which went well. The consulate and the Russians were happy with it. It was requested that the Club encourage more of these matches in the future, such as assisting with kit provision. Champions League Weekly publicised the match. The Club will consider assisting and publicising further friendlies with UCL opponents.
The meeting finished at 1.30pm.
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