With a lighter then usual agenda, this meeting was expected to be more relaxed and possibly shorter then previous ones, this didn’t prove to be the case.

The Key Points were:
• F.A will offer Cup Final duplicate tickets
• No on pitch F.A Cup Final beamback
• No parade after the F.A Cup Final
• Re-vote in favour to scrap idea of unreserved seating.
• Ways to counterbalance the loss of revenue on 16-18 Season Tickets
• Environmental policy to go live this month
• Reserves potentially playing at Stamford Bridge next season
• UEFA looking into rough treatment by Barcelona stewards

Unreserved Seating
At the last Fans Forum meeting, Ron Gourlay agreed that next season we would trial unreserved seating for League Cup Home matches, excluding against the big sides. However, at a Premier League meeting two days later, there was a negative reaction with not a single Health and Safety advisor backing the idea, and new concerns for us to consider were brought up. We also found out that we’d now lose 1000 seats in the MHL, and not 10% like we’d previously thought.

It was felt that there was a good chance of people moving about at half time to sit with mates, resulting in potential problems with others coming back to find their seat taken. Another point was that as the away team shares the revenue they’d have to agree to losing some of their revenue too for the vacated seats, or else prices in the unreserved area would have to be increased to cover this.

Some fans also said that it would rob fans of the chance to see their team. To me that concern is void, we often don’t sell out before tickets go on General Sale, even Aston Villa when we won 4-0 was still on sale the day before the match.

Not sure how come no club backed it, for the last three home matches of the season, Blackburn are trialling an unreserved seating area at Ewood Park

Anyway, unreserved seating was voted on again, with just four members still supporting the idea, eight were against it and five members abstained.

Ticketing
The club announced that they are looking at a ticketing system that puts you in a queue, currently it is random. It was also raised that at 7am if there’s a wait for tickets then people may have to stop trying because they might need to leave for work soon, risking tickets being sold out by the time they get there. This lead to a suggestion of tickets going on sale in the evening instead, when the majority of people are home, although this didn’t receive much support. Some felt that normally someone else can still try and order them.

The 16-18 year old Season Ticket issue was raised again, this was due to other suggestions of ways to subsidise it. Amongst these were
– A slight increase in regular ST prices, a figure of £10-£15 was arbitrarily touted.
– To discontinue the free flags as most fans have got a handful of them by now, and would possibly bring them to matches if the club announced in advance that flags wouldn’t be handed out and encouraged us to bring our own.
– Stop making the trains free, a break even figure should be identified and implemented, or an amount slightly below the break even figure, but the club could severely reduce their losses when making them free or £10.

It was asked that if we reached Rome, could the club postpone the Season Ticket renewal date until mid June, the club wanted it to be kept in May so agreed that had we of got there it would be put back a week (The last payday of the month).

F.A Cup Final
Many forum members raised the point that a lot of fans were out in Barcelona when tickets went on sale and were very unhappy about the dates of sale, and that extending the deadline until 11pm was not good enough as many fans were still out the country or would rather pick up their tickets in person. We asked if tickets could have gone on sale a few days later or even gone into early the following week.

The club gave two main reasons for their decision, that had we have reached the Champions League final, the turnaround and supplying UEFA of the details they required was a big ask, so they wanted as little else to occupy themselves with at the time. Also, the F.A will give out duplicates this season as long as tickets have been sent via recorded delivery there is no risk of ordering online.

I asked whether we could have an on pitch beamback and this was rejected, despite it’s success two years ago. The club said that they would have events in function rooms instead, but even if there was high demand they would not do a beamback.

It was asked if we’d have a parade should we win the F.A Cup, as we are the only club to have ever not had a parade after winning it, the club said that due to the high costs that this was too much of a risk, as should we lose it’d have to be cancelled the night before at a large cost. Had we of reached the Champions League final they would have booked a parade, as the cost of potentially cancelling it on the Thursday was a far less implication. (the costs given were well into the six figures).

A member of the forum suggested getting it insured, to significantly reduce the hit should we have to cancel it, hopefully this can be looked at in future.

Environmental Forum
There will be pictures of players doing their bit to be green to help promote the idea, it was suggested at a previous sub-environmental forum to have a patron for it, Peter Bonnetti was suggested due to wearing green, and can link it with saving.

The idea of the policy is not to try and enforce a large amount of changes, but small things that all fans can do to play their part. We are the only Football Club in Boris Johnson’s Green 500 scheme (A scheme to encourage 500 London companies to reduce their carbon footprint).  A lot of businesses can only make internal measures and try and encourage employees to become greener, Chelsea can reach out to a worldwide fanbase.

Every company in the Green 500 is required to have launched their campaign by the end of this month, so expect to here something soon. 

As I attend the Environmental Sub-Forum meetings, any suggestions you would like me to raise can be e-mailed to  darrenmantle@cfcnet.co.uk

The Football
Reserves – we were asked if we’d like matches to move from Griffin Park to Stamford Bridge, all but one person voted in favour of the switch, the one objector gave the reason that it gives a smaller club extra money. It was stressed that moving venue was far from set in stone, but had been raised at an internal meeting and the club decided to gauge from us if there’d be objections.

I asked if the club could shed light on why Frank Arneson was now on the board, as he seemingly didn’t successfully fulfil his previous role of bringing through youngsters, I also felt that having to answer to more people on the board might undermine a new manager.

It was explained that Arneson is now accountable for his actions, that it isn’t the main board but rather a football board that sit below the PLC board, and that as the new manager would also be on this board (As were Grant, Scolari and Hiddink) they’d be working together.

Di Santo and Stoch playing in the first team this season was also brought up by the club, although I didn’t like the answer provided, conversation moved on I didn’t get to air why, although for what it was worth I mentioned it to Simon Greenberg afterwards that personally I was unhappy that when we were 3-0 up against Portsmouth, Di Santo wasn’t brought on, and when we needed something from the Liverpool and Tottenham home games he was, and not for long. Although Di Santo is always on the bench rarely gets a run out, he is barely a fringe player.

Misc
The club are in talks with UEFA about the rough treatment of our fans by stewards in Barcelona.

The new kit is meant to enhance players performance, and every season there will be a new kit, the reaction of the fans suggested that the design could have been better, although the important thing is it increases players performances.

The green light has been given for the banners in the MHU to be permanently hung next season, I believe it also applied to the Osgood one in the Shed End, and hopefully both Shed banners can be permanently hung too. When away fans take the 1,500 allocation the rest of the Shed banners will be on display, but not when they take 3000 as it would leave less room for other peoples flags. Extra hooks will also be fitted this summer to prevent banners blowing up.

If you are a member of Club CFCnet, you can discuss any aspect of this article of the Fans Forum here. [ ClubCFCnet ]