Much has been said about the lack of young supporters at this club these days. I speak to many people, who go on about the 80’s where everywhere you looked, teenagers would be there wearing Blue and White.
Now obviously in those days it was much easier for groups of teenagers to get up and go to watch the team they love with a group of mates, due to the fact you could just pay at the gate. But is that really a valid reason to stop youngsters following Chelsea in the way in which they want? I and I am sure many others want to be able to have the same opportunities as the older generation. We want to be able to go to a game with a group of people and be able to sing our hearts out for this club. Some people might not realise, but it is these young fans that will grow up to be the future voices of the club, and the way the club, and if you like football is going, passion and atmosphere will be a thing of the past.
Why the decline?
Since the days of paying at the gate, and the inflation of money in football, much has changed. Football has become an expensive sport to follow. It is even expensive for many adults to follow yet alone young fans. I hear and know of many Chelsea fans who have over the last ten years ripped up their season ticket due to the fact it is far too expensive. That aside, if you are a young Chelsea fan, and you’re most likely not earning, ok you maybe in a part time job, you are still not going to be able pull in the money needed to watch Chelsea. If you are like me, and 16 from a working class family, you will have realised that being able to pull together the £33 pound needed to sit in a singing area (in this case the shed) is impossible unless you are from a rich background.
At the moment I get my tickets in the east lower, but I have to be honest and say that I am quite frankly getting fed up with it. The reason I go to football is not just for the entertainment on the pitch but, the sheer passion of being able to get behind this club. Many of the older generations say the reason they became a Chelsea fan is because they were hooked by the CHELSEA ROAR that echoed round the ground. The problem is the young fans can not enjoy a day out at Chelsea how we would like. This sadly the case for many young Chelsea fans, and the fact they cannot get behind Chelsea is enough to stop them from going to Chelsea all together, and instead they get their Saturday entertainment watching lower league football. This truth can be reflected in the statistic released by the club saying that only something like 3% of season ticket holders at Chelsea are of the young generation. No surprise to me really.
THE PAST IS THE PAST AND IT CAN’T CHANGE… OR CAN IT? IS THERE HOPE FOR THE YOUNG GENERATION?
Now it was the club, who released that statistic out of the blue without any pressure from fans, so perhaps they are willing to listen? We can only find out. Now much has been made of teams like Fulham and Wigan’s poor support but I tell you something, in 20 years time they could both well be well supported sides. The reason for this is because they offer special deals for kids, which in the long term can only benefit the club. On category C games you can get in for a fiver at Fulham. Now I am not suggesting the club should do something like this as their atmospheres are still shocking but I am going to suggest something much different. Now mentioning the 80’s again, I’m always told of how the shed was very much a community. How you knew everyone in the Shed well is there any reason why we cannot create a sort of young community?
We are starting to see how well the ‘Return to the Shed is going’ so why can’t something similar be set up as a replica if you like of club shed, but aimed at the younger generation. I was thinking along the lines of creating a youth group at Chelsea. This group can go to home games together, and sing their hearts out plus giving the Shed and Matthew Harding a run for their money. Now the area where this ground should be is up for discussion. The majority of the Matthew Harding is season ticket so that is a no. The shed upper is pretty much season ticket. West Upper and lower is majority season ticket and so is the East Lower. That leaves only two places able to hold a large block of fans, the east Upper and Shed lower.
I was thinking the East Upper south side seems the best option, because the shed already makes noise and it would be good to have another part of the ground making noise. The idea of being able to go to games with like minded young fans who have for so long been restricted to family sections or even worse not going to Chelsea excites me! In the long term what would happen is the ‘east youth’ would be a feeder to the places like the Shed and Matthew Harding and once youngsters get older and start earning they can move.
I have asked CFCnet, the CSG, cfcuk, VitalChelsea and others to sponsor and help get this going, as well as hopefully using facebook and MySpace. It will not happen overnight but I would like to think that we can have a test of it towards the end of the season.
Here is a summary of the ‘east youth’s’ objectives:
- Create a East Stand Group for mainly ages 13-24.
- Share thoughts and ideas online.
- Meet up and start a community of young fans.
Overall, create something which can help the younger generation enjoy their day out more and feel a sense of belonging at Chelsea.
With the help from the atmosphere and fans forum reps lobby, we would like the club to introduce reduced student and junior tickets and a student season ticket that is reasonably priced for students in the chosen area.
Transfer younger fans from other parts of the ground who want to get behind the team and who cannot afford Shed Prices.
If your keen and want to help get this going send me an email with your ideas and how you want to help.
UP THE CHELSEA!