Last Saturday saw the first Fans Forum meeting of the season held at Stamford Bridge. The main discussion points for the meeting were to be the atmosphere, any ticketing issues, and of course a welcome to the new members of the forum.

We managed to cover the main topics and a lot of others too, as well as setting some of the main agenda points for the remainder of the season.

Once the new members of the Forum had done their introductions we went straight into the main topics for the remainder of the season. Whilst these will be covered, it is by no means a closed list and we will be able to add agenda items at a later date should we wish to do so. The topics are; Chelsea TV & Media, away travel issues, community issues, CSR and also Junior Ticketing, although this will also be covered in the third meeting of the season which is traditionally where we discuss the ticketing policy for the following season.

Next up was anything that arose from the previous forum meeting, held towards the end of last season. There was a change to the composition of the forum made, in that one of the three supporters clubs now representatives now needed to be an overseas member, so we now have someone representing those of you not from the UK but affiliated to the club.

The subject of loyalty points was discussed and something I’d been asked to raise was that of points awarded to those using Viagogo. The clubs stance on this was that it wouldn’t be possible, firstly because Viagogo is in essence, a separate operation from the club and also because the ticket in question will have already had points awarded for it. It’s not thought to be much of an issue as only 200 or so a week are traded via the Viagogo exchange.

The Beam-Back of last season’s cup final was discussed, with all those who attended giving the club praise for the day and for organising it. I think anyone that was there will agree that it was a fantastic day out, and for some, the best atmosphere at the Bridge all season! We heard that they sold 6000 tickets for the event and that they were at capacity, and couldn’t have taken many more in the ground. We also were told that a LOT of alcohol was sold that day, which didn’t come as surprise to some!

I again raised the question of a supporters tournament being held at Cobham in the summer, and although we’ve obviously missed the chance this year, I’m confident we should be able to arrange something for next season. I will be following this up with the club and doing all I can to see this through, as I feel it will not only be a great event and a chance for many to be involved, but also something that could become an annual event, and build on the successful and enjoyable day many of us had at the CFCnet Vs BAWA match there last year.

The away allocation was raised, because some felt their seats weren’t the best in the away allocation when distributed. It’s felt that the away season ticket holders should get the best seats but this isn’t always the case. Logistically it’s a difficult one as at some grounds filling front to back is best, where others it’s back to front and at others the middle is the best section. The club have liaised with every other club, as they do at the beginning of every season, and will further check with those affected to see if it can be improved in any way.

Another point raised at the last meeting was that the club would consider having an email address for the Fans Forum. Previously this hadn’t worked well as it was met with all sorts of emails, ranging from autograph requests to lost property notifications, nothing to do with the forum, and as such it was discontinued. I raised the possibility of having a page on the Official Site, where you could select your representative, such as a Member, or a Season Ticket Holder, then contact them via an online form. This would negate the need for any published email addresses, and allow those representatives who didn’t want their information made public to do so. I’ll be following this up with the club and we will try to have something implemented within the near future.

The first main point on the agenda was anything related to any ticketing issues. Last season, the first meeting was held in October, by which time many issues with the new ticketing system and other things had caused a lot of bad feeling. This year we wanted to meet earlier to ensure we would be able to get any issues resolved as early in the season as possible.

One of the major gripes was one that I seem to hear all the time, however no matter what improvements are made, people still complain, and that’s about the publication of ticketing information. There has been a massive improvement in this area, the official site is carrying more information that ever, Chelsea TV will be pushing information out daily and the scoreboards, although unable to show the info on Saturday due to technical issues, also publish the information too. They are looking into a text alert service.

If you can’t find what you need, call the box office. They have waiting times of less than 30 seconds on the majority of calls, so if ever you need to know if tickets are still on sale, or when they are going on sale, just call 08719 841905.

Some people asked me about the commitment from the club to take maximum allocation at away games, and the club said they hadn’t committed to this, but were making decisions on a game to game basis depending on time, distance and TV coverage for example. They will not be taking full allocation for Bolton.

The split between season ticket holders and members for away games was also discussed, to see how it was working and being received. The overall feeling is that it’s not great, and as such the club will be changing the way they are sold to members, giving them less time to buy so that any unsold go straight back into the pool for ST holders. It’s thought that this will be fairer all around.

Overseas supporters’ club member had some issues with where they are now sat, the way they buy tickets and indeed with their affiliation with the club as a whole, and we’re assured that this area is being re-jigged as I type, to be better for all those involved.

Atmosphere was the next main agenda item and the one that I promised would be my main challenge when I first found I would be replacing Jez on the forum. Firstly I congratulated all involved for their efforts thus far with the Shed Campaign and related initiatives.

We feel the campaign improved atmosphere steadily towards the backend of last season. All major supporters organisations continue to back the initiatives, as do the club, who are fully committed to helping where possible, especially with publicity. There are also now 16-21 y/o concessions available to engage the younger fans in the campaign too The atmosphere committee met twice during the summer and a document outlining our objectives has been adopted by both Club and fans group reps as a blueprint for future success. We have also arranged another meeting with senior club officials for the day of the Blackburn Rovers match.

Some issues that were raised were that, apparently some banners were removed from the MH stand last week; the club will speak to stewards to remind them of what is, and isn’t allowed. It was also mentioned that our maximum capacity is now 41,761 as we’ve had to remove a few seats for various reasons such as legislation and UEFA and the Premier League wanting a little more for their money.

I re-raised the issue of unreserved seating, as someone had asked me to on Chelsea TV, and even thought I knew what the answer would be, I asked. This time I suggested the West Lower, as it had been unreserved before, but again the club reiterated that their hands are tied by the Police due to crowd control issues, and the all encompassing H&S legislation. So, sadly this one looks like it will never see the light of day.

We then came on to any other business and first up was that of touting. There is a lot going on behind the scenes at Chelsea with regards to finding those who are touting their tickets and ensuring they can’t do it any more. Without wanting to say too much about they are going about it, they did say that more is happening than many would think and that they will find those responsible.

Another thing raised was that of anti-Semitic chanting by some of our supporters. There were reports of this on the way to Reading by a few very well known supporters. The club takes a strong stance against this sort of behaviour and knows the individuals involved. They will be monitoring the people involved and taking any action they can against them. Around 25 people pre match are ejected for various reasons and those found to be chanting anything racist, homophobic or ant-Semitic will receive life bans.

Next up was the Chelsea FC website. I produced a report for the club on the website and Asian websites based on feedback from our members and various other sources of information. The club appreciated the reports and had agreed with some of it, and disagreed with other parts. They were pleased to note that most were happy with the content and recognised that the archives were rubbish. They are also looking at ways to make their pictures more apparent as this is something that is sorely missed. You can view the reports sent to the club here; Site Report and Asian Site Report.

We talked about the stadium upgrades and what has happened at the Bridge. There is now much better directional signage, the hotels are now completely upgraded, the Shed bar is now the Blues bar and a restaurant, Marco’s, has also opened on site. The MHU and MHL have had their facilities upgraded as have those in the West Lower. There are ongoing upgrades around the stadium and the next big projects are an IT upgrade as well as Stadium Access.

Finally, we were told the club is noticing slower than normal sales for the 5.15pm match against Blackburn Rovers, this is the first time we’ve kicked off at this time on a Saturday and indeed is a test to see how a match at this time impacts London. They are considering offering extra loyalty points for this match. It’ll be the day of the Shed 100 and a great opportunity to get behind the team, get a ticket and get down there!

The official minutes of the meeting can be found here in PDF Format and here in Word Format.

If you wish to contact CFCnet about any issues, you can email me on tobybrown@cfcnet.co.uk, you can email Pete Bull (Ticketing Representative) on petebull@cfcnet.co.uk, and of course you can email Jerry Kendik (Atmosphere Representative) on jerrykendik@cfcnet.co.uk.