The third Fans Forum meeting of the season was held at Stamford Bridge before the Huddersfield FA cup match, with the main item on the agenda being the formulation of ticket policy for the 2008/09 season.

First up were matters arising from the previous meeting. The fans forum contact form on the Chelsea FC website is working well, although some are spamming it with the usual request for shirts, autographs and Viagra, a good number of them were genuine enquiries and so we will be continuing with it for now.

We heard how some supporters on the away ST scheme have benefited from their involvement with the club by ensuring they had good seats at away matches, for every game. We also heard how the club is now advertising games to the overseas members so they are aware of purchasing methods.

There is a report to be released about incidents in Valencia and the heavy handedness of the Spanish stewards and police, a situation that’s repeated with most teams in Spain, surely time for UEFA to intervene too?

The pre-match and half-time videos that are shown in the ground have been so popular that club has received numerous requests to distribute them, however they cannot do so as they do not own the licenses to distribute all of the audio, or videos.

Gates 5-7 have now improved in terms of stewarding and entry, we’d like to hear from anyone using those gates who think otherwise, or indeed to tell us if it is better! There will also be new turnstiles in place for next season, using swipe cards as the entry method.

When we moved onto ticketing, we ran through the policy and discussed points that needed to be raised as we came to them. First up was the 90%/10% split in internet and box office sales, it was asked if it could be changed to 75%/25% for cup finals.

The Carling Cup came into discussion with many registering their annoyance at how Tottenham sold their allocation, getting to chose areas whilst Chelsea did not. Chelsea decided to sell them in their method to ensure they were all out, Tottenham had a massive manual process in place to do this, which cost them many man hours and meant many tickets didn’t arrive until a few days before the game. Chelsea’s method also meant that only nine people ended up with non-delivery or any issues, whereas Tottenham were inundated.

From next season you should be able to specify a different delivery address for tickets so that they no-longer always need to go to the card holders billing address, I know this will help quite a few of you out as it’s been emailed in about this one.

Up came the issue of the split for away games. As you know, the away season ticket holders get their pick, and then what’s left over gets divided up 50%/50% between home ST’s and members. With 22,000 season ticket holders and over 70,000 members, not everyone can be served. Members are obviously happy with this and ST’s not so happy.

A vote showed as many wanted to change it to 60/40 or more as to keep it at 50/50. It’s been the most constantly argued issue relating to ticketing since I joined, and I hope we may have an answer. I asked after the vote if we could consider a new method for away games. An Arsenal fan came on our boards and told us how they did it, and so I suggested we copy it to an extent.

In principle, you would pay an extra £10 on your membership for the right to go to away games. Season ticket holders would get the right, free. This way if only 10,000 members sign up for the away scheme, then the split could be 65%/35% as it’s more proportional to the numbers who will try to get tickets.

You would also receive an away ‘credit’ for each away match you attend, this way when the Arsenal, United and Tottenham games come around, those with most away credits would get first choice on the tickets.

A vote on this implementation by way of a show of hands indicated 12 in favour, which is a first for the Fans Forum on this issue, so hopefully the club will take it onwards and maybe use some of it.

There are many members who won’t go to games, but only get the membership to associate with the club, so we could see a lesser membership for associate members too, giving a three tier membership should they use both the associate and lesser one too.

We discussed the youth side and there were strong calls for allowing a 16-21 season tickets, especially to those coming out of the family stand. We’ve raised this issue a few times at the forum and each time it hasn’t happened. With the club recognising their supporters’ age demographics are the oldest in the league, and rising, I hope that they finally realise that action in this area is long overdue.

We were also asked our opinion of changing the selling time for tickets, so bringing down the one week selling time to say, 4-5 days meaning that the tickets would sell quicker and groups wouldn’t have to wait so long to see if any were left over.

Loyalty was of course raised and again Viagogo was discussed, again it was insisted they couldn’t juggle the loyalty points around. Whilst this is in place and open to abuse, we will continue to press for it to be changed. They were also asked to consider an extended loyalty period of more than a year, so those going for 3 years or more would get more rights to games than those joining up now. Thomas Cook points should also all now have been added to everyone using TC to get to away games.

We came onto ST’s moves and were again told that 4000 moved last season, mostly to the shed end. The club will be willing to consider move request but must remember, 20,000 people can’t sit front row, middle! 2500 new ST’s were taken on this season and you can also now transfer your season tickets to family and friends. Renewal forms will go out at the end of April.

We discussed the ticketing system and again said we need to be able to chose blocks, or seats if possible, however again we don’t look like making much progress in this area. We also were told that the holding area on the ticketing system is exactly that, not a queue, hence why a queue number can’t be shown. We were also told the buying process in most cases takes an average of three mins, whereas most other clubs takes seven.

The club have said they will be looking at putting on more trains to away games, although not cost effective to the club, it does get people off the road and as well as helping supporters to games, also helps cut the clubs carbon emissions too.

I then asked that a report by the atmosphere committee be considered before formulating the policy for next season, this report has gone to the board and beyond, and hopefully we should see some progress in these areas soon.

I circulated several reports before the Fans Forum to club and all on the forum, these reports were compiled from feedback and polls in our forums and so hopefully your input on our boards and via email will help the club in making the right decisions with this policy. You can download each of the reports at the bottom of this write-up; we hope to publish the atmosphere documentation for you in the not too distant future.

I must stress that no decisions on the policy were made at the meeting, however all feedback and issues are taken into consideration and we should know what the results of those decisions are once the policy is out.

Finally, before we were about to go onto AOB something happened that I and I suspect many of the others on the forum will remember for a long time. One of the representatives had a seizure and collapsed during the meeting, and if it wasn’t for the timely intervention of one of the club directors and one of the forum members to give immediate first aid, it’s possible that the person in question may not have survived.

Out of respect to all involved, I won’t mention names here but I’m extremely happy to say that the after a brief stint in hospital, the representative in question is well on the road to recovery and we here at CFCnet all wish him the very best.

Fans Forum Minutes – Minutes 3rd Meeting 07/08.
Ticketing Policy – Feedback Overview.
Ticketing System & Box Office Report.
Away Ticketing Policy Report.
Chelsea FC Media Report.
Online Megastore Report.

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