The Chelsea Supporters Group have been having dialogue with other Chelsea supporters and, members of the Football Supporters Federation (FSF), with regards to trying to address the issue of games being changed to midweek by the FA and TV companies, with no regard to travelling fans and, how it affects those who travel to these games.
Here is a short synopsis of the recent ‘telecom meeting’:
Here are the notes of a telecom meeting that Chelsea Away Season Ticket Holder Tim Rolls, had with Jon Keen of the FSF earlier today (20/01) to discuss the issue of midweek away games in the Premier League. Jon was supportive of our frustrations and gave some useful steers, as well as specific advice.
He also said that a few other Chelsea supporters had contacted the FSF about this issue in recent days. He said that four PL midweek away games in under nine weeks (five if you include Fulham) was unprecedented in his experience.
Short Term / Chelsea Specific Actions
i) Jon was surprised that the Away ST scheme doesn’t give holders an ‘opt out’ for 1-2 games a season. He was pretty sure that some other clubs who have a similar scheme do this and suggested the appropriate people might like to raise this at the next Chelsea Forum.
ii) Jon agreed that pressure should continue to be applied to Chelsea to get subsidised coach/train travel to midweek away games, especially those rearranged from original dates. I explained the feeling that trains were not sufficiently publicised by the club and then promptly cancelled (e.g. Wigan, Bolton).
iii) If, as Paul & I suggest, we have some sort of protest at the Blackpool game (and I hope we do) Jon advised against having one large banner, which Blackpool would not allow to be displayed especially if it criticised Sky and/or the PL. He talked about a series of A3/A4 sheets, each with a letter on, to be raised whenever the cameras would be on a particular area. Smaller, home-made banners, strategically placed (e.g. corner flag) I guess we might get away with. If anyone copied on this note is planning to go (which I am) can they let me know. I think it worth stressing that any protest would not be aimed at Chelsea (or Blackpool!) but at the PL and Sky.
He is going to put me in touch with Blackpool fans who may be able to take photos from the other side of the ground. He supported us leaf-letting before the game etc.
Long Term / Wider Issues
i) The FSF meet the PL twice a year. The issue of midweek away games will be raised as part of a wider match scheduling discussion. The FSF have previously asked the PL whether away fans could get reimbursement from them if a game was rearranged at TV’s request with less than six weeks notice, but they refused.
ii) Tomorrow (Friday) Jon is going to put an edited version of the note Paul and I sent him onto the FSF website, and send it to a few potentially sympathetic journalists he knows. He asked for a contact name and I gave mine (hope that is OK).
I said to Jon that I would write up brief notes of the call, circulate to fellow Chelsea fans who had expressed an interest and copy him in (which I will do). I will also keep him informed as we progress.