Meeting held at the Lord Attenborough Suite, Chelsea FC Hotel, 10.30am, Saturday 9th April 2011

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
  • Bussey, Liz – over 60 age group
  • Coffey, Patrick – member
  • 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
  • McCall, Mark – Leadership Factor (guest)
  • Milham, Richard – Club Head of Global Merchandise
  • 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
  • Wright, Frank – ST holder

Apologies for absence

  • Brown, Francis – 16–21 age group
  • McGeever, Timothy James – disabled section
  • Micallef, Chris – non-UK branch
  • Talbot, Robert – member

(Action points are underlined.)

The Chair welcomed Patrick Coffey, Richard Milham and Mark McCall to the meeting.

MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
There were no changes to the minutes. Replies to previous action points were as follows:

Confiscation of bottle tops:  The Club stated that there is still concern that a bottle will be used as a missile and the policy will not change next season.

Access to lifts on a match day:  The Club said that passes are only provided via applications made to the disabled section.  Passes can be provided for the long-term or on a match by match basis.

Champions League (“UCL”) travel information forms:  This will be announced as part of next season’s ticketing policy.

Breakdown of ejected fans between UCL and Premier League (“FAPL”) matches:  In the UCL, including the Manchester United match, 50 away fans and 18 home fans have been ejected.  89 away fans and 75 home fans have been ejected in the FAPL.  Two disabled fans had to be ejected at the midweek match.

Shed End catering during matches:  The Club said that catering outlets are closed ten minutes before kick off and open five minutes before half time.  They are all closed for the second half.  All Shed Upper outlets sell alcohol.

One way exit system at the Shed End:  Access from both sides is closed before a game but access will not be closed after matches. Such issues are kept under review.

Policy for programme sales in the event of a postponed match:  The Club now has a policy of selling the programmes regardless.

Supporters’ tournament:  This will be held at Cobham on Sunday 10th July.

Stars on a Stool events:  The Club said that original packages were £15 including a pie and one drink;  now the package costs £35 including a more substantial meal and three drinks. All proceeds go to the Chelsea Foundation.  Fans said that this was still expensive and part of the original idea for the cheaper events was to bridge the gap as there is no general supporter access at the training ground.

The Club will review whether this package can be altered e.g. not all-inclusive packages.

Operation of the large screens:  The Club confirmed that both are working fine.  One was replaced last summer.  In response to a fan’s question, the Club confirmed that TV screens in the concourses are usually switched off at the start of the second half.

Wall between West Stand and Shed End:  The Club will consider mural designs. Fans suggested that supporters generally can vote on their favourite option.

Vote on favourite mural option to take place in the summer.

Away match tickets:  Fans raised complaints about the ratio of ST and members’ tickets for Old Trafford in the UCL.  The ST allocation sold out quickly whilst tickets for members were advertised as being available potentially to those with no loyalty points.  Some members probably bought tickets for ST holders who were unsuccessful in buying tickets originally.

The Club confirmed UCL rules that 5% of the allocation goes to the away team, hence we got 3,700 tickets.  Both ST and members’ tickets are sold over a four day period and the Club expected both sets to sell out on the second day.  This is the first time such a discrepancy in sales has arisen and the Club will monitor closely what the pattern of sales is for the forthcoming FAPL game at Manchester United.  Under current rules, ST holders receive all tickets as a priority for semi-finals so the problem would not arise if we progress to the next round.

Fans said that towards the end of the sales period for members’ tickets for this match, fans’ message boards received comments about the fact that tickets weren’t selling, which may have encouraged the last tickets to be snapped up.  One fan suggested that the Easter break may account for members’ tickets not being sold fast as many members may be away, whereas ST holders are more likely to schedule their holidays away from match dates.

Options suggested by fans included:

  • If members’ tickets go to those with too low a level of points, they revert to being sold to ST holders;
  • If members’ tickets are not sold within a particular timescale they revert to ST holders;
  • Better reward long-term loyalty;
  • The 60-40 split (in favour of ST holders) only applies to the group stage of the UCL;
  • A review of the 60-40 split.

The Club pointed out that the Forum voted previously to retain the split of 60/40 for next season. In the light of the above comments, fans voted on the following basis:

60-40 split for next season: 4 in favour
70-30 split for next season: 10 in favour

with 1 abstention.

One fan asked if this vote would be binding.  The Chair replied that the Forum can only make recommendations but on this issue the Club has always implemented the Forum’s recommendations in the past.  The Club said that fans are over-reacting to this one match and that the new recommended policy is not fair to members.  A lot of time was spent in previous meetings in formulating this policy and it would be wrong to make changes without looking at the effects of a policy on all matches.  The Club would rather keep the 60-40 split for now with the power to intervene if such a scenario happens again (e.g. members’ tickets sell very slowly).

One fan said that the split was only introduced originally to prevent ST holders picking the best matches.

Fans decided to re-vote, with the following results:

60-40 split for next season with the Club utilising an override if required:  11 in favour

70-30 split for next season: 0 in favour

with 4 abstentions.

The Club confirmed that travel information forms are not needed for the Manchester United UCL match as it is in the UK.

Sales of UCL home match tickets:
The Club said that, as regards the lost seats for UCL home matches, UEFA require 2,000 sq ft for outside broadcast units in the Matthew Harding Stand.  The allocation for outside broadcasting gets higher for later rounds in the competition.  Sometimes the seats are reallocated to the Club at a later date if a particular country chooses not take up their spaces.  It is one of the drawbacks in not having a new stadium.  The Club could consider branding on the netting to make that area of the stadium look better.  The Club has looked at all possibilities to minimise the number of seats lost.

The number of seats allocated for away fans is calculated as a proportion of a full stadium, so proportionately becomes higher in the latter stages of the competition. The Club could have given 2,000 tickets only to Manchester United at Stamford Bridge but decided to give them 3,000 as we can’t segregate at the 2,000 seat mark.  Alternatively 1,000 seats remain empty.  The Club is already disappointed that it loses a proportion of the capacity for UCL matches.

FANS’ SATISFACTION SURVEY
Mark McCall presented the results of the survey.  The Club requested that Forum members only publicise information from the executive summary.  Forum members are welcome to see more in-depth figures.  The Club would not want to advertise the full results to other clubs.

Comments on the issues raised in the presentation were as follows:

One fan questioned how the virtual waiting area works for ticket purchases.  The Club confirmed that a virtual purchaser does not move from the waiting area based on how long they have already waited.  The Club does not want to introduce a formalised queuing system as fans would join the queue hours or even days before tickets go on sale.  The Club tries to ensure that fans are prioritised for purchases according to the loyalty points policy anyway.

Recommended priorities for the Club next season as stated by the Leadership Factor include booking fees, availability of tickets and atmosphere.  The Club said that availability is slightly surprising.  This may be a communication issue as for most matches members should not have a problem obtaining tickets.  As regards booking fees, one fan suggested that booking fees be charged per transaction and not per ticket.

The Club would like atmosphere to be discussed early next season. Some interesting ideas were proposed in the comments section.

The Club has also addressed entry times for the stadium recently.

MERCHANDISING
Richard Milham introduced the topic.

One fan asked why goods cost more at the Megastore than elsewhere.  The Club replied that the online partner is Kitbag, a global company, whose buying power is much greater and who can therefore negotiate better prices.  The Club can’t set a price for goods.  One fan pointed out that certain high street outlets also have this buying power now.

The Club stated that licensing by the Club is carried out according to a code of conduct.  Adidas obviously have high standards.

One fan asked what supporter input there is for new products.  The Club said there are substantial supporter comments received but the Club must also consider market trends.

In answer to a question about the relatively small size of women’s clothing, the Club said that the best selling size used to be large and now is extra large.  The Club is aware that there may need to be a further size introduced.  Shirts come out of different factories so there is inconsistent sizing produced.

One fan asked whether the Club can consider a bespoke range of clothing at higher prices but with better quality.  The Club replied that past sales figures suggest it would not be very popular.  Products with Boss, Sergio Tacchini and Lacoste were not successful.  Thereafter there were deals with Armani and now Dolce & Gabbana.  The Club is therefore reliant on its partners.  The Club found that subtle merchandising doesn’t sell at present and there is currently a “big and bold” trend for the Club crest/ slogans etc.  Rugby shirts don’t sell well at present.

The Club has to order large quantities of each product these days so it has to be sure that a particular product will sell.  Price seems to be the main driver at present according to feedback received.

One fan asked why the contract with Toffs ended.  Toffs have a statement on their website about it.  The Club said that it has either used Score Draw or Toffs previously and for commercial reasons the Toffs deal ended.  The Club is happy with the quality of the Score Draw products.

One fan asked about use of the word “Chelsea” and suggested it is unfair to stop badge producers from using the name.  Badge collecting is a long-standing tradition amongst a number of supporters.  The Club responded that it has a trademark which has to be protected.

The Club does not produce a sizable range of badges and is happy to reconsider whether more should be offered. The Club will speak to various sources about this, and can also consider whether sales points for badges could be on the concourses or other points in the stadium.

The Club said that it is probably the leading club to prevent counterfeit versions of its products being sold in Asia.  One fan asked why UK fans have to pay more than Asian fans for products.  The Club responded that the range of products is different around the world e.g. sizes are different.  Price differentiation is practiced by all businesses for different markets.

The Club said that it also cannot compete on price for DVDs with sellers such as Amazon or Play.com due to their relative buying power.

One fan asked if the Club is preventing flag manufacturers from using the name “Chelsea”.  The Club said that it has prevented use of the Club crest but not the word “Chelsea” to date.

Fans asked about the kits for next season.  The Club said that the only change in the tone of blue was in 1997.  Otherwise it’s reflex blue (pantone 025).  The colour looks as if it changes due to the type of material used at different times.

The new kit will be launched this week.  Fans differ as to whether they want any red in the home kit.  The Club expects the new home shirt to be the most popular yet.  It’s produced by Adidas and will be available on 12th May.

As regards the away kit, standard yellow didn’t sell well last time.  The best seller was “electricity yellow” and in particular kids loved it.

Overall, the Club is involved in considering different colours and designs for new strips.  Adidas do not handle this process in isolation.

FURTHER TICKETING ISSUES
Thomas Cook advert for the Manchester United UCL matches

The Club spoke to Thomas Cook yesterday and asked it to make clear in future that away match tickets are only available based on loyalty points.

One fan asked how many tickets are sold by Thomas Cook for home matches.  There is a concern that away fans can buy tickets in Chelsea areas.  The Club stated that if this is proved then the Club will take away its right to sell tickets.  This has not been a problem before and Thomas Cook is responsible for the tickets it sells.  The Club discusses the procedure with Thomas Cook in detail at the start of each season.

Match day collection of tickets
One fan asked why there is a time limit for ticket collection two hours prior to kick off.  The Club said that only those trying to collect tickets for matches on future days are not allowed to do so within two hours of a kick off time, i.e. the rule is intended to help those who never received a ticket or need a duplicate for the match about to be played, who then have access until kick off.

The Club will consider relaxing the rule for those collecting UCL away tickets.

However there is a concern that too many windows will be used for this and prevent fans collecting tickets for the match that day.  There is already some space lost in front of the ticket office due to the disability queue now introduced.  The Club can use collection machines when required.

Viagogo
The Club said there is a new contract in place with them.  Sales have increased.  Fans can withdraw tickets from Viagogo if those tickets don’t sell and the fan changes their mind about selling it.  The sale price reflects the original ticket price.

As regards Olympic tickets, the policy is unclear regarding resale prices.  One fan said that for gigs or West Ham ST holders, buyer and seller can agree their own prices.  The Club said it could only monitor its own sale arrangements.

The Club said that the new ticketing policy would be announced on Thursday.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Flags for the Manchester United UCL home match

One fan asked why these were not provided.  The Club replied that some fans indicated that they don’t want them for every match.  The players like them being displayed.

Safe standing
One fan asked why there is inconsistency with stewarding between home and away fans.  Also, what is the position with the safe standing campaign as publicised recently?  The Club said that the campaign has been rejected by the FAPL.  Safe standing won’t happen as attendances would have to be cut due to health & safety which would have major repercussions on turnover.  The authorities are strongly opposed to it.  There is a system for seats to tip up so an area can be used for standing or sitting, but the desire for change does not exist at present.

The Club added that clubs will steward or police standing in different ways in different stadia.  There is an attempt at Chelsea to be consistent.

Racist chanting
One fan asked if Spurs fans will be policed for any use of the word “yids” when Spurs play at Stamford Bridge.  The Club replied that the policy is consistent amongst all matches here.  The Club added that it was not happy with the kick-off time.  The Club appealed against this but the appeal was rejected.

Stadium naming rights
One fan quoted a newspaper report that the Club was asking too high a price.  The Club replied that it announced its intention to find a suitable sponsor in an attempt to be more transparent.  Chelsea has to compete with stadia with far higher capacities and therefore has to make up a shortfall of perhaps £50 million on that basis.  Fans made clear their desire to protect the name of Stamford Bridge.  That involves complex negotiations.  The Club does not have to settle for any deal for the sake of UEFA’s financial rules, and a deal has to be with the right partner.

Stadium move
Fans asked if there are talks to have a stadium elsewhere and in particular at Scrubbs Lane.  The property industry suggests there may be some truth in this rumour.  The Club responded that it has looked at developing the stadium and that appears difficult.  There are still egress problems with any development here.

The Club would consider an alternative site, as has been stated before, but it would have to be the right deal for the Club.  The owners of sites such as Earl’s Court may have contacted the media directly to try and prompt a deal with the Club.

The Chief Executive is not aware of any move to Scrubbs Lane.  One fan said that a move to Scrubbs Lane would be unpopular.  The association with this area is very strong.  Another fan said the Club has to keep an open mind on a move.

Peter Osgood Statue
The Club is still considering how best to light the statue.

Next season’s forum
The Chair thanked those members who have completed their two years on the Forum:  BobTalbot, Liz Bussey, Timothy McGeever, Mike Neat, Veronica Parsons and Dave Johnstone.  Chris Micallef will be contacted to find out if he can continue.

For next season, the over-60 position will become an over-65 position as discussed earlier in the season.  Current Forum members can now restand after four years rather than the two years cited previously, in order that new fans can join the Forum and new views are heard at meetings.  Vacancies will be advertised in the programme and on the website.  Forum members/ fan groups are requested to publicise the vacancies.