Chelsea Customer Charter and Copenhagen.
Judging by the amount of complaints that the CSG and our colleagues at cfcuk receive from disgruntled supporters, ranging from broken seats and leaking roofs in the stadium to membership and season ticket problems, there is no clear complaint or appeal process available for them to raise concerns with the club. It is 12 years since the Government appointed Football Task Force Report proposed that every club should adopt a customer charter.
Chelsea FC do indeed have a customer charter (not a lot of people know that!), but to access it you will have to trawl the official website “Club” section and you will find it below items about Club Personnel, the training ground, the club crèche and the hooligan hotline! Within the customer charter should be found clear and concise instructions on how to contact the club if you have a complaint or problem that needs to be sorted out. To be fair there are phone numbers and email addresses on the site but they are tucked away in section 8 of the document whereas page 1 is given over to Chelsea’s vision of “being recognised internationally, by 2014, as the world’s number one football club”
Following on in the customer service section of the charter a website address is given for the Independent Football Commission for supporters to contact if they are not satisfied with the club’s handling of their complaint. The IFC ceased to exist in 2008 and was replaced by the Independent Football Ombudsman!! It should come as no surprise that the charter is so far out of date because in Section 5 there is a reference to Peter Kenyon as the club’s Chief Executive!
The Football Supporters Federation (FSF) have recently published a report regarding football clubs customers charters and unfortunately for all Chelsea supporters our club finished 5th from bottom in the Premier League table of charters. Spurs were top (by a long way) and Arsenal 2nd.
There was a general perception from the FSF that the vast majority of clubs were paying little more than lip service to their supporters and many adopted a “we’re right, you’re wrong approach.” The report certainly adds fuel to the fire of the argument that clubs do not care who sits in the seats at the stadiums, as long as someone does!
With the fairly recent appointment of a Supporters Liaison Officer at Chelsea there was broad hope that this would help fans with any grievance procedure. However without any specific contact details for this office and the role being shared with the immense job of ticketing issues is this, once again, just lip service to the supporters?
It should also be mentioned that within the “Club” section of the official website there is mention of the ground regulations. To access these regulations you need to request a copy from the club. Surely such an important document pertaining to what you can or cannot do within Stamford Bridge should be readily accessible to all?
The recent Champions League game against Copenhagen proved what many supporters feared when the ticket prices were announced, that the game would not sell out. Despite the best endeavours of Chelsea FC, with radio adverts, increased loyalty points,
Fulham Broadway shopping centre posters and lots of giveaway tickets to “worthy groups” the attendance was still some way short of capacity. Perhaps the club will learn a lesson for next season and wait to see who the opposition is for such games before announcing that they will charge Category A prices?
The supporters game against Copenhagen on the afternoon of the CL game proved to be a great event and praise should go to the representative of cfcuk who organised the game, although his managerial record of played 2 lost 2 needs some scrutiny! The “He’s getting sacked in the morning” chants that rang around the Royal Hospital grounds did not make it to the TV coverage that accompanied the match!
Speaking to some of the Copenhagen fans it become apparent how well organised they are. Their Independent Supporters Group have offices within the stadium over there, have over 16000 members, organise their own travel for away domestic and Euro games (they brought 2 plane loads over for the Chelsea game), receive 100 free season tickets from the club and 50 for each away game and organise impressive pre match banner displays for many of their home games.
Collections are made around the stadium after every home game to help finance a lot of these initiatives. We can but dream!
Cliff Auger CSG Juvenile Rep