Meeting held in the Centenary Hall, Chelsea FC at 9.30am on Sunday 13th May 2012
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING/ MATTERS ARISING
There were no changes to the minutes. As regards action points from the last meeting not covered elsewhere in today’s agenda:
Ejections at the Arsenal home match
The Club confirmed there were 11 ejections for that match and the number varies between 5 and 20 per match typically. The Club doesn’t see the need to issue stronger warnings to ST holders given the number of ejections from home areas. ST holders should all know they are responsible for their tickets.
Analysis of match-going fan base
One representative asked if the Club could publicise an analysis of demographics after every home match. The Club responded that the figures are pretty static across matches. For general sales tickets this is difficult to do. The Club is fully aware that the bulk of tickets are sold to adults and wants to encourage more children to attend. We have a lower proportion of children attending than other clubs due to stadium capacity constraints.
The Club will consider providing a breakdown of attendance statistics on a match by match basis.
Napoli away match
The Club is still discussing the matter with UEFA further to submitting a report. The Club is grateful for feedback from fans and isn’t entirely happy with the response from UEFA to date.
Player autographs in the family stand
The Club commented that there was some misunderstanding and the stewards had tried to stop autographs being given in the car park only. There is no problem in fans asking for autographs in the family stand.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY
Mark McCall presented the findings. This is the eighth annual survey and ran from 9th February to 2nd March. The same twenty questions were asked as previously. Just under 4,500 answered the survey, up from 3,000 previously. The greater number helps with analysing issues in different areas.
Fewer under 24s and more from older groups replied. The gender split is similar to previously with just over 85% male. The most popular areas for respondents were the West Lower and the Matthew Harding Lower. The family stand had a sizable percentage response as well. Overall about 55% were members and 45% ST holders, similar to last year.
This year saw a reduction over all with the index dropping from 70.1% to 69.6%. This was still the second highest satisfaction figure in the eight years of the survey. The survey took place against a background of disappointing results on the pitch and scores dropped to under 69% for satisfaction during the period of these results. The early respondent figures were 70.1%.
Factors that mattered most included availability of tickets, ease of access and departure from the ground, health and safety. Issues that could enhance the results include atmosphere.
Lower scores were given for the price of Premiership (“FAPL”) tickets which was just over 5 and was the lowest score it’s received in the eight years. Price of tickets for cup matches has dropped from 7.7 to 6.7 and is perhaps the biggest reason for the overall drop in satisfaction. Ease of access to the stadium has generally improved and the ticket office satisfaction level has increased. The two lowest areas over all were the Matthew Harding Lower and Upper. The highest satisfaction scores are East Lower and West Upper. The Matthew Harding is usually the lowest scoring and seems to have problems with ease of access. This is a significant area for improvement as requested by respondents.
The Club’s approach to booking fees and prices show relatively high percentages of dissatisfaction as do the choice, and price, of food and drink. There are significant differences of opinions for food and drink though. There has been a rise from 12% to 25% dissatisfaction for cup ticket prices. Fans expressed a desire for improvements in the price of tickets, including cup tickets, as well as booking fees.
There is a mixed opinion about the atmosphere at matches. Atmosphere benchmarks at slightly lower than at other clubs. This has dropped slightly on a year on year basis. Food and drink also benchmarks slightly lower than at other clubs.
In response to a question, Mark commented that ease of turnstile access in other areas of the ground is higher than at other clubs, as are safety and stewarding, and ease of ordering tickets. These areas have all improved substantially over recent years of the survey.
Away fans don’t get surveyed at the Bridge.
A large number are invited to complete the survey: all ST holders and members whose email address is held by the Club. The Club will confirm how many requests were sent out.
The age profile of respondents has increased which may be due to older people being more computer-literate. The male/female ratio of respondents was in line with the ratio in the database.
The Club confirmed that the figure of over 12,000 respondents referred to in the programme relates to a different survey.
One representative commented that fans should be encouraged to complete the survey as, for instance regarding cup tickets, the Club has acted on survey results.
One representative commented that in his opinion food and drink have improved in quality despite the survey results.
The response was just over 200 which is enough to be reliable. Most were from Champions, Centenary and Executive areas as previously. The male/female split was 86/14. The satisfaction index overall is at its highest level of 76.9, up about 1.5 per year.
The level of respect and helpfulness by staff, as well as stewarding, are considered the most important issues by respondents. Core givens are the view and type of seat. Almost all scores have increased and most notably friendliness of staff, and fans taking their seats quickly at the start of each half. Speed of bar and table service, and access to bars, are lower scorers at just over 6. Access to hospitality tickets also shows lower satisfaction.
By location, lower scores tend to be in Canalettos and Centenary with top scores in Drakes for instance. Toilet facilities and speed of bar service are mentioned for Canalettos with the former complained about by half the respondents from that area. The hospitality representative commented that those issues have improved since the survey.
Recommendations include speed of half time bar service especially in Centenary. Quality of food scores range with Champions scores lowest. Seating by the start of each half has improved but is still an issue in particular in Ossies and Canalettos. Tambling is very good on speed of service and match atmosphere with Executive very good on level of respect and seating available.
Over all about half the respondents state that the Club’s hospitality is better than at other clubs, up from 29% last year. Match view and safety scored 9 out of 10.
The Club stated that the contract with 188Bet is about to end and negotiations are under way at present. As 3G access improves then more fans can bet in that way which will take pressure off the booths. Up to date odds can also be offered. The emphasis on service in the ground could switch to pay outs. Printed sheets will be needed for odds for the foreseeable future but once the technology is in place the need for these can be reviewed.
The Club will invite the representative from the betting partner to address the Forum next season.
The representative from Chelsea Football Fancast commented that its links with 188Bet have been very advantageous regarding access to players for interviews and prizes provided for competitions. The Club added that 188Bet appears to interact well with fans and in trying to capture a wider audience. The Club welcomes further feedback from the Forum in making its decision.
The Club has decided to continue with Viagogo but is aware that some fans have concerns. It has moved its centre of operations away from the UK. In response to a question, the Club was aware that some Champions League (“UCL”) tickets were on sale at vastly inflated prices. Viagogo’s response was that they are allowed to do so in other jurisdictions. The Club has made clear that its allocation can’t be sold for inflated prices.
One representative said that the association doesn’t appear to reflect well on the Club and Arsenal runs its own service for instance. The Club responded that a good level of service is provided to fans. ST holders have fed back that the service is useful. It is an option in the future to run the service in-house but at present as long as the rules with Viagogo are clear then the Club is happy to continue. Viagogo dominates the UK market at present.
The Club added that a lot of potential customers on Viagogo require a faster process for obtaining membership in order to then buy tickets. This has implications for data management issues at the Club for the way in which membership details are saved.
One representative asked why ticket sellers can’t lose their loyalty points for that match and purchasers gain the loyalty points. The Club responded that it is aware that a small number list all their ST for the season. The Club wants to control the process regarding loyalty points as the Club may be selling tickets as well so there should be an incentive to purchase tickets from the Club rather than from Viagogo. The service does not make significant funds for the Club but the decision to continue with Viagogo involved a large amount of discussion internally. Viagogo is fully aware of the standards required and the Club guarantees that it will deal strongly with breaches.
Approximately 300 to 350 seats per game and over 6,000 for the season are sold on Viagogo. The numbers involve make it uncommercial to bring such a system in-house at present.
One representative commented that loyalty should involve attending matches rather than just purchasing tickets.
The Club commented that tickets on sale at Viagogo in the Chelsea half of the ground for Munich are not those sold by the Club.
The Club will arrange for Emma Wilkinson, Head of Communications with responsibility for external media, to attend a future Forum.
One representative asked why Paper View was dropped. The Club responded that a review is on-going and a programme which replicates Paper View may appear. The editors wanted to freshen up programmes and include the FA Youth Cup run.
The Club stated that at a previous Forum we discussed its relationship with national media as regards unfair Club-related stories. The Club raises issues when reporting is unreasonable by the media and there are a range of sanctions that can be utilised.
The Club was asked why the media appear to be against us. The Club responded that we are very much in the spotlight and there is intense interest on all facets of the Club including second guessing the owner and those around him. We are one of the biggest clubs in the world and transfer policy and signings are scrutinised closely.
On balance we are in a healthy position with the media although certain journalists may be biased against us. Journalists are allowed as much reasonable access as possible. Our owner is not vocal but the board speaks on his behalf. Players and the manager are accessible. We can’t have the media acting in a void. The Club is comfortable with fair criticism.
One representative asked if Tommy Langley could be reinstated on Chelsea TV, especially as Craig Burley is not favourable towards the Club, including in his ESPN appearances. The Club commented that supporter input would be welcomed. The Club responded that personnel is an issue for the review.
SUPPORTER COMMUNICATIONS AND THE FORUM
The Club commented that as there have been so many big matches recently it has not had a chance to review the issue and is aware that there will be uncertainty as to whether Forum members will continue in their positions.
The Club welcomes feedback from Forum members by email and will announce its intentions over the summer.
Some representatives commented that it is difficult to have a discussion and react to proposals as a group by email.
The Club commented that the Forum will continue in some format. The Club has to assess what the aims and objectives are for the future. The Club can communicate directly with supporters on major issues now as shown by the response to this year’s survey and the 12,000 that responded to the subsequent survey. The Club will run its ideas by some of its members. The Club has changed dramatically as shown by the shift in emphasis from Forum issues three years ago to those discussed recently including more international issues. This is likely to be the way forward. Issues regarding pricing in the context of Financial Fair Play regulations are likely to be prominent.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
One representative commented that internet access can be poor. The Club commented that the issue is being reviewed in an attempt to provide a long term solution by next season although some areas such as the hotel rooms have access already. Some networks may get better reception than others at present and there have been small upgrades recently. Match days present particular problems. The Club is looking at boosting 3G phone access in particular. It’s a complex issue.
One representative stated that moving from 3G to 2G can get a better reception at present on match days.
UCL Final tickets
One representative asked how the Club splits its allocation between ST holders, corporates, sponsors etc. The Club responded that for confidentiality reasons it is not prepared to release details of the split. There is huge demand including 25,000 ST holders, 5,000 hospitality attendees, players, staff, 70,000 members, contractual sponsors.
One representative commented that it was unreasonable not to provide such details. The Club responded that all those attending are Chelsea supporters and the Club has done all it can to ensure this. The Club is aware that a very large number of tickets go to what is termed the “football family” and from the start of the competition it is known what the split of tickets for the final is likely to be. It is very frustrating for the Club as well.
One representative asked if it was fair that some of our members with 115 points don’t receive tickets, yet an ST holder with 63 loyalty points or less may get one and others can buy on Viagogo. The Club responded that there is immense pressure to divide the allocation and the Club will look at the Viagogo issue outside the Forum.
One representative asked how many in the UCL away scheme did not want the highest price tickets. The Club responded that next season the system will be different and those with the highest points including members of the UCL away scheme will be able to log in and change their choice of ticket price. The highest price tickets weren’t popular with those on the scheme. Surprisingly the €310 tickets went soon after to other supporters though. The Club’s policy will continue for the European away scheme if we are in the Europa League.
Loyalty points system
In response to emails received, the Club confirmed that the present system will continue whereby loyalty is calculated afresh each season. The Club also confirmed that loyalty points per match are added in a minimum of 48 hours after purchase with the initial points for ST holders added at the start of each season.
The Club commented that it has made a statement and can’t add much more. It is a sealed bid process and the Club estimates that there are 6 to 8 bids in total. We can’t be sure as we are the only publicly announced bid. The number of bidders will probably never be announced publicly. The timescale for a decision is not certain either.
The Club will not definitely leave Stamford Bridge but Battersea is within the 3 mile parameter envisaged last year. This is a serious bid but no final decisions have been made. The Club is restricted in its comments but wanted fans to know what we are doing. More information will be released along with the CPO board regarding the possibilities at Stamford Bridge in due course. The Club has announced that it does not intend to make a proposal to the CPO at the forthcoming EGM.
If the Club moves to Battersea then the bigger capacity should allow more families and corporate hospitality. The design of having a single tier stand at one end shows that the Club listens to supporters. All opportunities must be looked at including more broadcasting revenue from social media.
Minute’s silence at FA Cup semi-final
The Club said it is still looking at the issue of those who spoilt the minute’s silence and will make a comment in due course. The Club has recently announced that it has identified some who have shown bad behaviour in other incidents.
The Club confirmed it has replied to the individual who questioned how to get OAP discounts when forced to move seats for UCL home matches.
Thomas Cook packages
The Club commented that a decision was made to advertise packages early for the UCL final as the packages were already paid for. Most who applied for the packages managed to get tickets.
One representative asked about the impact of the deal on CSR. The Club commented that the two most popular sports of football and motor racing are being brought together. There are business to business opportunities. The database is the attraction for sponsors. There are similarities as regards age and demographics for the two sports. The deal provides a powerful approach to the commercial market place.
Chelsea is the number one recognised club in China in social media. The Japanese driver wearing a Chelsea shirt will have a big impact. CSR will work with this. Sergio Perez, Sauber’s South American driver, will help our access to that market. Hopefully there will be opportunities in Korea in the future. Sauber has an amazing youth development process which has produced world champions. They are a very respected team.
We are carrying out projects with Sauber which we couldn’t carry out with Ferrari or McLaren. Supporters will see the benefits in the coming years – it has caught the imagination of fans around the world. We wanted to be in place before Monaco and it is coincidence that the partnership was launched with the race in Barcelona!
Two more tie ups will be announced this week and another one will follow. The Club will keep being innovative. We have one of the largest data warehouses in football. The Formula One race locations cover about half the world’s population and we will become an even more attractive proposition for sponsors.
The changes in Formula One rules this season make races more competitive. Sauber may have been number six at the start of the season but will be higher by the close.
The whole deal contributes towards keeping our seat prices competitive for matches. Viewing figures in Japan and Mexico will be huge. It’s a three year deal. There will be blue pitches in Japan and the opportunity to bring Formula One to the blue pitch project.
Representatives expressed their enthusiasm for the deal, in particular seeing the Chelsea logo on the cars. The Club thanked representatives for their support for the Club’s commercial enterprises.
The Club has not been able to arrange a trip to Cobham due to the number of matches recently but may be able to do so over the summer or next season.
The Club confirmed that there are signs in the stadium stating that if we are successful in Munich the parade will be on Sunday afternoon. The players have to leave for international duty thereafter which is why timing is so tight. The Club recognises that some supporters may not be back in time from Munich. The FA Cup will be paraded today on the pitch.
The Chairman thanked all Forum members for their contributions during their terms to date.