Fans' Forum minutes: 20/09/09
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CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB SUPPORTERS CONSULTATIVE FORUM 2009/10 SEASON
Meeting held at the Lord Attenborough Suite, Chelsea F.C. Hotel, at 11.30am on Sunday 20th September 2009.
ATTENDEES/ group represented
- Anastasi, Joe (non-UK branch)
- Auger, Cliff (Chelsea Supporters Group)
- Bell, Marc (member)
- Bowen-Jones, Will (member)
- Bussey, Liz (over 60 age group)
- Cohen, Michael (season ticket holder)
- Gerrard, Carol (home/ away season ticket holder)
- Gourlay, Ron (Chelsea F.C. Chief Operating Officer)
- Greenberg, Simon (Chelsea F.C. Communications Director)
- Johnstone, Dave (CFCUK)
- Kemp, Pete (Chelsea Supporters Club)
- Mantle, Darren (CFCnet)
- McGeever, Timothy James (disabled section)
- Neat, Mike (non-UK branch)
- Newby, David (Chelsea F.C. Marketing Manager)
- Parsons, Veronica (branch)
- Regan, Andy (Electoral Reform Services, Chair)
- Shaw, Michelle (season ticket holder)
- Smith, Graham (Chelsea F.C. Head of Ticketing)
Apologies for absence
- Boorer, Carl (exec member/ box holder)
- Cook, Sophie (16 - 21 age group)
- Jarvis, Kevin (family section)
- Kenyon, Peter (Chelsea F.C. Chief Executive)
- Talbot, Robert (member)
(Action points are in bold and underlined.)
Chair welcomed new members to the Forum and informed them about the sub-committees currently running: environment and atmosphere. All introduced themselves.
2) MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING (ACCURACY/ MATTERS ARISING)
2.1 Changes to the Minutes
No changes to the minutes.
2.2. Club magazine
Club: As regards matters arising, there was a request for fans to choose online how many copies of the Club magazine are wanted for their family. This was introduced late on and didn’t cover everyone. Fans can update during the season. Please email Graham if you want the Club to make the alteration for you.
3) STADIUM/ ATMOSPHERE SUB-COMMITTEE
Fans: At the Burnley game we wanted to unfurl a banner that complied with safety issues yet we were not allowed to do so by stewards. It was thought easier to display it at the Shed End for that match.
Club: According to Ed Ashwell (Head of Security) the standard procedure was not followed so it was not allowed. Please ensure positioning of such flags is cleared with Ed for today’s match.
Fans: There have been complaints about over zealous stewarding generally in the Shed Lower and Matthew Harding (“MH”) Lower. One banner was overhanging slightly but instead of rectifying the problem, stewards removed all banners at that part of the stadium.
Club: We have a new proposal for banners in the ground. We will write to all supporter clubs, and fanzines/ supporter groups if they are interested, to invite them to provide a banner for the middle tier around the stadium. We will provide exact specifications and can then affix them permanently. We appeared to have agreement from UEFA for their games as well but they have changed their minds. Also we would need to cover them up for Carling Cup games where we give the whole Shed End to opposition fans. However the flags can remain for all other matches and this should provide more colour in the ground.
Chris Gleeson (Head of Facilities at the Club) will provide specifications.
Fans: The banners could wrap over the top when not in use for a match. What if fans want to bring a banner to a specific match only?
Club: The wrap over system sounds okay. We recommend that fans provide banners permanently.
3.2 Atmosphere sub-committee
Club: Would it be advantageous not to continue the sub-committee if the same issues can be brought to the Forum meetings anyway?
Fans: A pre-Forum meeting would be useful as they are with officials who wouldn’t have time to attend meetings on a match day.
Club: We will continue sub-committee meetings a week before each Forum in that case.
Fans: It would be useful to discuss this in detail.
Club: If we arrange for Ed to attend at the start of a meeting, that fits in with his match-day duties.
Security to be discussed at the start of the next meeting if possible.
3.4 East Stand
Fans: The lift there is still very dirty on match days. Also there is bird mess that has been in one part of the Stand for the past two seasons. Cleanliness in the MH Stand is a lot better now.
Club: The lift is primarily for rubbish to be transported but is cleaned weekly. Please provide full details. A full check takes place of the whole stadium prior to each match.
Club to monitor East Stand for lift and general cleanliness.
3.5 Access to MH Stand and Shed End
Fans: The system seemed to be bedding down last season but the readers have been moved which has led to long queues. Stewards are getting in the way so fans are not able to enter when the green light is showing and the system gets blocked temporarily.
Club: The problem previously was that stewards couldn’t see what was happening to help fans who were stuck. In testing, we didn’t think there would be any effect in slowing down access by moving the readers. We had c.1,300 people who couldn’t operate the readers per match and got stuck. We are trying to speed up the process.
About 50% of fans still arrive really late and we do want fans to change their habits to help us and themselves by arriving earlier. Queues for the Porto home match started at 7.20 but we are also fully aware that travel is not easy for fans, especially at night games. Against Hull less than half the total crowd figure was inside the stadium 15 minutes before kick-off, and there was no other match to watch on television so clearly fans expect to be able to get in late.
The East Stand system seems to be working fine and the readers are the same distance from the entrance to the stand as elsewhere. The average time of ten seconds has now been halved to get in.
We have the minimum number of stewards that we need so we train them to be helpful and useful rather than in the way.
Fans: Sometimes it just takes time for fans to get used to new systems so it will hopefully bed down. Supporter clubs are happy to stress to their members that they should arrive early. Did the cheaper beer offers help with this last season?
Club: It didn’t have much effect. All clubs would love to get fans in earlier.
Fans: Please would the announcer start giving the name of the referee before each match. Also, please would you reshow the team line-ups at half time. Scores at other matches are flashed up too quickly during our UEFA games. Please could these be shown at a slower rate as they are impossible to read.
Club to announce referee name pre-match, consider showing line-ups on the screen at half-time and speak to UEFA about speed of displaying other match scores.
3.7 East Stand Roofing
Fans: There have been complaints about the roof there leaking during the Porto match.
Club: All email complaints of such a nature are forwarded to Chris to deal with.
Club to investigate possible roof leaks in the East Stand.
3.8 Redevelopment/ Stadium Move
Club: Some fans wanted an update. There are no plans to move but we are still linked by the press to every possible site going in London! There are likewise no plans to increase our capacity at the Bridge although we have looked at options. We stated in our last accounts that the stadium debate is on hold for two years due to the economic situation.
With some of the options we could increase by 15,000 but would only get a licence for c.7,000 due to the exit times required for the stadium so this would be pointless.
Fans: We could introduce a walkway to West Brompton to ease congestion. Surely no fans on the Forum would want to move from the Bridge.
However a lack of expansion means we can’t get other matches such as bidding to be a World Cup venue.
Club: When we had a straw poll previously at the Forum, only about one third would be happy to move to an appropriate alternative location within c. 5 miles, should one exist.
Fans: Why is capacity now about 41,000 rather than c. 42,000? Why is there a gap for UEFA matches?
Club: We have made security changes, and also we don’t count restricted view seats. We lost a small number by moving the away fans and needing a segregation gap.
For UEFA matches we lost quite a lot of seats for the latter stages in the MH Lower for outside broadcasts and photographers. Also the boards are higher for UEFA matches.
3.9 General Sale
Fans: How often do matches go to general sale?
Club: Last season very few games went on general sale. Even for Burnley we were down to 600-800 and it is usually the early games of the season that require it. Spurs went to general sale due to the match date changing a lot due to our Cup run.
Fans: The Club has led the way on this but we can encourage fans to do more.
Club: It is a complex area. The lift scheme is ready to be launched and Simon Taylor (Head of CSR at the Club) will deal with that. The proposal on our website will link to the official website for this initiative. We have had c.400 environmental pledges and would like more. Firstly all the environmental sub-committee members must sign up!
We have improved the percentage of computers switched off at night at the stadium by 66%. Staircases and offices now have lights automatically switching off and we will carry this out elsewhere at the Club.
Our carrier bags are all recyclable. 100% of our waste is now recycled. No waste now goes to landfill.
We are doing a National Geographic environment magazine link-up. Bridge Kids website is getting a higher percentage of pledges than the rest of the fan base. When Simon Taylor returns we will do more to publicise potential match-day environmental improvements.
Environment to be revisited as a Forum topic later in the season. Sub-committee meeting to take place.
Fans: Can we make the ticket process more environmentally friendly? Membership cards could be loaded with ticket details.
Club: We are looking into that but fans would need to remember their seat details. We are also considering fans printing their own tickets at home which would really help at present during the postal strike. Fans often like having tickets for memorabilia reasons.
Chair: Further to the meeting with Thomas Cook (“TC”) in summer 2008, replies were provided at the first Forum of last season to the issues raised. These are available for any Forum member who wants to see them.
Fans: Please could you explain why Stoke was subsidised and Sunderland wasn’t? The Club should be congratulated on helping with travel at matches though.
Club: This was a late decision. Stoke was already pencilled in for being subsidised to help our fans support the team. We look at the opposition and the stadium. Our support at Stoke was superb. Our view about Sunderland was that it wouldn’t make any difference regarding the number we were likely to take anyway there as it was midweek. Sometimes we can’t arrange a train back at night for fans. We also laid on transport to and from the stadium at Stoke.
Fans: The special train to Stoke improved from 3½ hours last year to 1½ hours this year. Stoke should publicise the fact that so few buses go back to the station though.
What is happening about Wigan away?
Club: We are taking 3,900 to Wigan and the game is almost sold out. We are trying to pinpoint the games that will help most fans.
We now use Virgin Trains when at all possible. Trains don’t stop at other locations to pick up fans but we would need to be certain of demand to look into this.
Fans: Footballgroundguide.com is useful for stadium information as well.
Fans: Can the Club look at more coaches for fans from round the country?
Club: We thought that TC may be able to look at minibuses for some areas. There would have to be sufficient demand for the service. We still stop at Newport Pagnell. Costs would go up with more stops.
Fans: At least five unofficial Chelsea coaches at Stoke parked at local non-league grounds and we had food laid on for us to buy. This worked well and also ties in with the environment.
Club: Club coaches still park at the official parking places to minimise difficulties and distances from the ground for our fans.
5.3 Trips to Europe
Fans: Why is the trip to Cyprus over £400? And why is it advertised as a two night trip when we fly there during the first night?
Club: This is sold out now. We are always looking at providing the best value for trips with TC. We have been told there are no day trips by the independent travel agents and TC couldn’t do them. We have been told that Chelsea Travel have cancelled their shorter trips. We didn’t know at the time that no one else was offering them.
5.4 Travel to Home Matches
Fans: Announcements regarding tube problems shouldn’t be made during the match if at all possible.
Club: We often get information very late during a match and try to avoid dramatic moments in matches to make announcements.
6) SUPPORTERS TOURNAMENT
Fans: This was held at Cobham on 12th July. Many thanks to the Club for hosting it and especially to David Newby. We had to draw teams for the tournament as we were oversubscribed. Even an Italian team came over for it and there was a report in La Gazetta dello Sport! We even had a referee from Holland for the tournament. The tournament was won by Chelsea Supporters Group.
Various players turned up to help including Gary Chivers. There was a prize draw for Help a London Child and £150 was raised. One child won a coaching course through Chelsea in the Community.
We would love to continue this as an annual event.
Club: We can certainly agree for this to take place next year. If more than eight teams want to take part though it is important that other teams not involved this year can play, perhaps apart from the holders.
Fans: On a similar subject, there will be an international fans tournament in Ukraine around the time of the World Cup. Please could fan groups publicise this so we can put a Chelsea team together.
7) TOPICS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON
Fans: It would be useful to discuss merchandising even without discussing the pricing aspects. Also, a discussion of all media aspects.
Club: We will try and bring along Richard Milham (Head of Global Merchandising) for the relevant discussion. We outsource our online sales which is common to all the top clubs.
Chair: This will occupy most if not all of the next meeting. I will send out a request for all points to be raised with me directly in advance and I can collate them for the Club to address.
8) ANY OTHER BUSINESS
8.1 Season Ticket Renewal
Fans: Please can we ensure that season ticket renewals do not clash with a possible UEFA Champions League final.
Club: We can address this at the next meeting.
8.2 FA Cup Final Parade
Fans: Please can we insure against winning the FA Cup in order to cover the cost of a parade? Without a parade there was a sense of anti-climax for fans after the match as there was no focus for celebrations.
Club: There are cost implications of any option though so no cost issue can be seen in isolation.
Club to consider insuring against winning FA Cup to pay for a parade.
(Fans voted as follows on whether the Club should hold a parade if the cost is c.£250,000:
In favour: 9 members Against: 2 members Abstention: 2 members.)
Fans: Also, as there was no parade, the Cup could have been paraded before the first home match of the season.
8.3 Vic Flaherty
Fans: A collection for Vic, who sadly passed away recently, was held on the match day train last week. It was very gratefully received by his family who asked for it to go to the cancer charity that Woody from Madness is involved with.
8.4 Community Shield Programme
Fans: Why was it not on sale in the Club shop?
Club: It was. Richard can go through all those merchandising aspects when he attends.
8.5 Brass Band
Club: What are fans’ views of the brass band?
Fans: Fine as entertainment but their positioning isn’t good in the stadium. You can’t hear them in the Shed End.
8.6 50/50 Prize Draw
Club: 50% goes to the former players’ trust. We would welcome feedback.
Fans: The principle is good but the sellers are not conspicuous enough. There seem to be more sellers at the West Stand entrance.
8.7 Attendance at Forums
Chair: I would suggest that a Forum member loses their place if they miss two meetings consecutively without providing a valid reason for either.
8.8 Email Contact Via the Website
Chair: Are Forum members receiving their emails okay via the website? Are the numbers of emails manageable?
Fans: All fine with this.
8.9 Supporter Clubs
Fans: Please would you thank Vanessa and Diane for doing a great job with our ticketing requests. They are really helpful and polite.
8.10 Chelsea Pensioners
Fans: We are undertaking a reciprocal event with Pensioners having a tour of the ground and some fans having a tour of the Royal Hospital in exchange.
8.11 Hospitality Package
Fans: Why does hospitality today involve meeting David Ginola and no Chelsea player?
Club to check why Chelsea players not involved for today’s pre-match hospitality.
8.12 Loyalty Points
Fans: Why are there more points being offered for QPR at home than some European away matches?
Club: We will consider this for future matches.
8.13 European ST Tickets
Fans: Why was the announcement that ST holders are not guaranteed semi-final and final tickets provided late?
Club: The timing was dependent on the Club firstly wanting to send a letter to fans to say they are on the European ST scheme and to clarify the rules regarding the £50 deposit.
8.14 Peter Osgood Statue
Club: It has been commissioned but will take 12 - 18 months from July. It will go in front of the West Stand.
Fans: Fans have been told that there are limited prices on offer and that fans have to go to a particular point to collect their winnings.
Club to address where fans can collect winnings.
Club: The range of prices is due to the fact that they are not the bookmakers’ standard shops and therefore there are fewer services. There will also be two new cash points in the ground.
8.16 QPR Tickets
Fans: Why were ticket sales stopped early when fans may have wanted to pay for couriers or collect from the ground?
Club: We are still getting post from ten days ago and have had many problems during the strikes. There will be 6,000 QPR fans around the collection area so we don’t want the complications on the night. We also have special delivery problems at the moment.
8.17 Virgin Media
Fans: Chelsea TV cannot be accessed online through Virgin Media. United, Liverpool and Arsenal can get theirs in the UK.
Club: We have contractual agreements with Sky, Chelsea TV and also the Level 3 online video partner. The latter contract comes to an end in 2011 however. We are a Sky subscription service and can’t speak for other clubs’ arrangements. We can look at this in further detail in the media discussion.
Fans: Can tours of Cobham be arranged for fans? It provides fans a chance to see the facilities and can also bring in revenue for the Club.
Club: We wouldn’t want players watched during training all the time but otherwise we can look at it.
Club to consider fan tours of Cobham.
(The meeting finished at 1.50pm.)
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