CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB FANS FORUM/ SUPPORTERS’ GROUPS
2021-22, 3rd MEETING MINUTES
Meeting held in 1905 Suite / Teams attendees at 6.30pm on Monday 21st March 2022
Attendees Club title/ group represented
Atkins, Steve Club Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Auger, Cliff Chelsea Supporters Trust (“CST”)
Barrett, Neil UK supporters club
Beckwith, Gary 65 and over
Broadbent, Dean Hospitality
Brown, Tracy Fans’ representative to the board
Buck, Bruce Club Chairman
Courage, Jason Access Forum
Daine, Nav Regional Manager for Retail Operations at Levy
Dixon, Martin Member
Evans, Kerrie Chelsea Women Supporters Group
Fortag, Zack 16-21s
Granovskaia, Marina Club Director
Greig, Lesley Female
Hamblin, Rob Club Head of Legal
Hayden, Lisa Access Forum
Laurence, Guy Club Chief Executive Officer
Norton, Noel UEFA away scheme
Ohene-Djan, Josephine Access Forum
Regan, Andy Forum chairman
Robinson, Adam UK away scheme
Shaw, Michelle Chelsea Supporters Group (“CSG”)
Sigurdsson, Gudjon Access Forum
Smith, Graham Club Head of Ticketing and Supporter Liaison
Smith, Polly LGBT
Swyer, Craig Home season ticket (“ST”)
Twelvetree, Gary Club Director of Marketing
Vincent, David Access Forum
Wade, Harry Access Forum
Wittich, Margaret CSC
Wolff, Brian Overseas supporters club
Woods, Robert Access Forum
Apologies for absence
Beard, Neil Fans’ representative to the board
Hayre, Amritpal Singh BAME
Lewis, John Access representative
Peel, Connor Access Forum
Stewart, Shaun Family
(Action points are underlined.)
The Forum chairman welcomed attendees from the Fans Forum, supporters’ groups and the Access Forum for this combined meeting. Attendees were reminded that the discussion is confidential and only the minutes constitute the official record of the meeting.
MINUTES OF THE LAST FANS’ FORUM MEETING
There were no changes to the last minutes. Matters arising were as follows:
Benchmark of administration fees
The Club has examples that can be made available if supporters request to see them.
Contact email address for queries
The Club has made this more prominent on the website.
Away ticket allocation split
The Club will add information to the FAQs, I.e., the 60/40 ST/ member split.
The Club is happy to consider proposals.
The Club will make clear in the policy for next season that the reservation period is for ST holders only.
West Stand crowd behaviour
The Club has not yet received details about the altercation in that stand.
Ex-players on the pitch
The Club said that once Premier League Covid red zone restrictions are lifted the issue will be revisited.
MINUTES OF THE LAST SUPPORTERS’ GROUPS MEETING
Changes to the minutes – CSG wished to emphasise that the issue of balloting would be after away ST holders receive their allocation.
Matters arising were as follows:
Covid checks at Gate 7
The Club said checks were carried out at the time.
Seat number signage on rows/entering the stadium
The Club considers signage to be sufficient but will continue to monitor this.
Block numbers on tickets
The Club said this was regarding the Matthew Harding Upper. It had asked for feedback from stewards who said they are unaware of an issue. Again, this will be monitored.
Conflicting kick off times for men and women first teams
The Club has spoken and written to the WSL and we are awaiting feedback.
Email opt out procedures
The Club said the most recent transaction is the one that will apply to the supporter’s chosen option. It is looking at a single sign on and preference centre to assist supporters.
Peter Bonetti memorial event
The Club had revisited arrangements and the event went well.
Error message during purchasing
The Club investigated the issues and FAQs were updated.
Away match ticket balloting
The Club said that supporters’ groups have provided their two reports on the issue and is considering the contents.
The Club said the booking fee helps fund investment into platforms and systems such as access control as well as ongoing costs. The fee only covers a small amount of the investment and costs. Other venues such as cinemas, sporting venues, theatres etc charge higher fees. This explanation will go on the website.
The Club won’t be demonstrating it today but can do so at a later date.
Finance payments for Westview
The Club said this isn’t available for Club Chelsea areas.
Purchasing tickets for points
The Club hasn’t received further information from the representative who raised it.
Publicising tout sites
The Club said that security has updated the website and continue to update this.
The Club Chairman gave a recap of recent developments related to UK Government sanctions and the Government licence under which the Club is currently operating.
Ticket communication/ new ticketing system
The Club was asked about publicising on sale ticket dates when the current situation improves, and fans receiving information generally. The Club repeated that opt outs happen for all Club communications if the supporter doesn’t opt in. It will improve communication about that aspect. It complies with the law in respect of the system now implemented. We send emails to members about home games generally and to ST holders too when selling a match from scratch, such as a cup tie. Unless a supporter is on a scheme, we don’t send emails about away games. Tickets always go on sale 28 days in advance for away matches and six weeks in advance for home matches.
A representative asked if tickets will be sent to one or more individuals if more than one is purchased with the new system. The Club said that during next season an individual can log in to collect their ticket. For now, they will go to one person if requested. For reservations, they will go to the individual, for instance if we can sell Real Madrid tickets.
Away matches – supporter surveys/ away scheme
A representative commented that some fans were told there wouldn’t be an away scheme next season which would not be popular. The Club responded there is an away scheme next season.
As regards the ticketing reports by the supporter groups, a representative commented they have been submitted and it was hoped to present the results to the Club but appreciated this is not an opportune time.
A representative said that one supporter was disappointed with the introduction of safe standing and wanted to move if the trial continues. The Club said it is possible to move next season and was possible earlier this season, but not now. It will try and move fans together on request, depending on availability. The renewal form will state that we expect to continue with safe standing and supporters should consider that in deciding their seat location.
The Club confirmed that if an ST holder moves from Westview, the seat they take will be a member seat and there will be 1,000 new ST holder places in Westview so fewer member places overall. The number of ST holders will increase from 22,000 to 23,000 in the stadium.
Fan behaviour/ stadium security
It was raised that there was a nasty atmosphere between home and away support when coming out of the stadium after the Leeds match. Behaviour generally appears to be getting worse, such as items being thrown or pitch invasions. For fans who remember problems in the 1970s and 1980s, hooliganism started with small incidents then grew. The Club responded there is a 55% increase in behaviour problems across the league since the pandemic, according to the Premier League. We have bolstered security coming out of the ground. Running on the pitch may have been a TikTok trend which has lessened, but those acting in that way will be penalised.
A representative said she was pushed over at the Newcastle match. The Club added that it prepares carefully for matches and for Middlesbrough, we received details in writing of how our disabled supporters would be protected.
The Club was asked why away fans can’t come out at other exits apart from the main entrance for all matches and responded that away fans only leave by other exits when they have the whole Shed End for cup games.
In response to a question, the Club confirmed there is a detailed plan in place in the event a supporter is taken seriously ill during a match. The Director of Operations assesses the situation, but it is rare to stop a match. The Club advises supporters to get the attention of a steward if such an incident happens. A fan was extremely ill at the Manchester United match and is very grateful to the Club for its actions.
It was raised by a representative that feedback was received complaining about the rationale of introducing safe standing in the Shed Upper, given it prevents children and some others having a clear view. The Club said the reason is that the Shed Upper is given to away fans in its entirety on occasion, and the safety authorities insisted on all or none of that end having safe standing. Alternatively, we couldn’t have sold seating if the stand was split. The authorities didn’t permit a mixture of standing and seating directly next to each other.
Online megastore orders/ customer service
A representative said sometimes orders aren’t responded to for a week or two. An incorrectly delivered item sent overseas was complained about and the supporter had to contact customer services to ask the online megastore to respond. Email is the only practical option if there is no member of staff available to assist.
The Club said it’s aware of the issue and is looking to hold another marketing meeting next season.
A representative said he had sent in suggestions, including ST renewals being rewarded, thank you letters and email birthday cards. The Club said its records don’t go back to when supporters may have started attending and it can’t send out automatic messages wishing a company happy birthday.
The Club will look at the list in detail. The issue regarding implementation in some cases is purely practical.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Pricing for next season
The Club said it usually publishes this in April and the policy will be announced in due course.
A representative said he lives in Chicago, supports the Cubs and has already emailed Bruce about this issue. The Chicago supporters club meets near Wrigley Field and there is near universal disdain from hundreds of fans there towards the Ricketts family taking over Chelsea. Wrigley Field was redeveloped so there are similar issues.
The family has made comments and expressed views that threaten everything the Club has been committed to, including not paying a living wage and offensive comments regarding equality. There is also a threat to important institutions such as the Trust and the CPO. It’s hoped the Club will consider these issues. The Club said it notes the comments.
Renaming of stands
The Club was asked about possible renaming of stands further to the Peter Bonetti memorial event and responded it’s not something that is being considered at present.
Away sections for women’s matches
The Club responded to a question that there is no appetite to introduce this from other clubs, but the issue has nevertheless been raised. We are the only ground to sell out regularly. The authorities like the fact that fans can mix. Another representative said the atmosphere at the West Ham away match was very hostile which is unusual for women’s matches. A steward had to intervene.
The Club was congratulated on the revamped bar including more seats being introduced.
A representative commented that there has been an onslaught by the media against the Club recently. The Club has done so much good in the past 19 years such as not furloughing staff and using the hotel for NHS staff during the pandemic.
Change of membership
The Forum chairman thanked Martin, Adam, Noel, Shaun, Polly, Amrit and Lesley who are completing their two-year terms and will be standing down this summer.
The leadership team was thanked by the Forum for the substantial success the Club has enjoyed over the past 19 years.
The meeting finished at 7.55pm.