The latest atmosphere committee meeting was held at Stamford Bridge on Friday, July 25th. Present were representatives from several supporters’ organisations and three senior management officials of Chelsea F.C.
The meeting was opened with questions relating to stewarding issues at Stamford Bridge and the perception of away fans being treated more leniently than home fans particularly as far as standing is concerned. The club official responsible for stewarding quoted a number of statistics showing that a greater number of away fans than home fans were ejected from Stamford Bridge for bad behaviour and in the case of Liverpool there was a huge amount more of away fans!
Details of all away fans that are ejected are always sent to the relevant clubs for their attention. With the aim of preventing any public disorder it was very difficult for the stewards to get large groups of away fans to remain seated if they were adamant about standing during the game. With the threat of confiscation of season tickets or memberships the club have more power to deal with home fans that persistently stand during matches.
The local licensing authority have to be satisfied that Chelsea are doing all they can to stop persistent standing on a large scale amongst home supporters although it was admitted that Chelsea fans are not particularly high in the table of clubs whose fans stand on a regular basis. The ultimate sanction the authority has is to reduce capacity in certain parts of the ground and it was said that they also would have to recommend a reduction in the away fans allocation if a particular clubs fans were persistent standers.
The subject of banners was then discussed and various ideas were raised as to how the banners could be held in place at the front of the MH and Shed Upper stands. It was agreed that one or two ideas would be trialled at the opening games of the new season. There was also a suggestion that banners may be stored within the stands to assist the people that put them out.
Ground acoustics, particularly in the Matthew Harding Lower, were then discussed, with the fans detailing about how the noise from the MHL does not always carry out to the rest of the stadium. The club have an acoustics engineer working with them now and hopefully any ideas that he may come out with can be implemented in the future to enhance the noise from the MHL. They have greed to keep us informed about this.
A number of ticketing issues were then spoken about. Amongst these was the hope that the next “Shed 100” games could be the Aston Villa or Sunderland games and again we would be kept informed. The Shed Upper is now 99% season ticket holders and the only games there would be significant ticket availability in there would be the ones when the away teams take the smaller allocation.
It is envisaged for next season’s domestic cup games when the away team take up the entire Shed End the West Lower south end will become a singing area. To access tickets for particular blocks in the West Lower it was recommended that supporters book them on the phone.
It was asked if the club could do anything about warning potential ticket holders in the MHL that they were likely to be in a “lively area” and this might prevent them from complaining if they did not like it. The club felt this may be construed as them supporting standing, so was unlikely!
It was appreciated that season ticket holders and members could now buy extra away match tickets after an initial selling period and this should be well publicised.
The subject of trains for away matches was then raised and the club said they would look into it. With the Wigan game in mind it was hoped that we would receive news in the next few days.
A letter was then passed to the club for John Terry. Within the letter it was asked if JT could assist in asking the family and friends of the players that sit in the Shed Upper if they could move to another part of the ground. It was hoped then that the entire Shed End, apart of course from the away fans, is given to singing Chelsea fans. Unfortunately if this does happen it will not be until after Christmas as the players tickets had already been allocated up till then.
The Club Shed page on the official Chelsea website was also on the agenda, and it was hoped that further developments would happen with it and regular contributions, ideas and up dates would be added.
The next meeting will be in October, although some outstanding items will be discussed in the meantime. As usual if any of you have any suggestions relating to the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge or at away games please let us know by emailing our support liaison Dazz, on [email protected]
The atmosphere committee is made up of representatives from various Chelsea groups and organisations, and works with Chelsea FC to try and improve the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge.