CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB FANS’ FORUM
2022-23, 2nd MEETING MINUTES
Meeting held in the Tambling Suite/ Teams at 6.30pm on Wednesday 7th December 2022
Attendees Club title/ group represented
Barrett, Neil UK supporters club
Broadbent, Dean Hospitality
Coady, Debs Chelsea Supporters Trust (“CST”)
Craig, Toby Club Director of Corporate Affairs
Daine, Nav Regional Manager for Retail Operations at Levy
Finkelstein, Daniel Club Director
Fortag, Zack 16-21s
Glick, Tom Club President of Business
Goodbrand, Christine Female
Kingsmore, Paul Club Director of Operations
Kirke, Xander Chelsea Pride
Middleton, Pamela UK away scheme
O’Donoghue, Rory Observer
Regan, Andy Forum Chairman
Shaw, Michelle Chelsea Supporters Group (“CSG”)
Smith, Graham Club Head of Ticketing and Supporter Liaison
Wittich, Margaret Chelsea Supporters Club (“CSC”)
Wolff, Brian Overseas supporters club
Woodcock, Steve Member
Apologies for absence
Beckwith, Gary 65 and over
Brown, Peter LGBTQI+
Evans, Kerrie Chelsea Women Supporters Group
Fatah, Kozhin Ethnically and culturally diverse
Lewis, John Access
Rosso, Dominic CST
Stewart, Shaun Family
Swyer, Craig Home season ticket (“ST”)
Warner, Mark UEFA away scheme
(Action points are underlined.)
The Forum Chairman welcomed new attendees to the meeting – Debs, Toby, Tom, Michelle and Steve.
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
There were no changes to the minutes. Matters arising were as follows:
Shed Upper screen
The Club will install this.
Squad photo opportunity by the West Stand
This will be looked at when perimeter rebranding takes place which is likely to be in the close season.
One fan per seat rule when standing
The Club reminds stewards before each match and will continue to monitor occurrences.
PA volume around the ground
This has been adjusted after the last meeting and there has been no feedback since. We are looking at whether the PA system is fit for purpose in the longer term.
Lighting around the West Stand exit
This is also being reviewed in the close season.
Matthew Harding Upper seat stickers
These have been restuck if peeling.
Pricing of cup games in tiers 2 and 3 of Westview
In the Champions League, tiers 1 and 2 have group matches included; tier 3 is £70 per match. For the knock-out rounds, tickets are £125 for tier 1, £95 for tier 2 and £75 for tier 3. Match by match tickets are £240.
Breakdown per stand of ST holders by gender and adult/ child split
The Club is considering the proposal and will introduce this if concluded it’s beneficial.
Member/ ST tickets per away match
There are just under 800 on the UK away scheme, hospitality receives 20% and supporters’ clubs receive 150 tickets if the allocation is at least 1,500. Sponsors, stewards, mascots, directors and owners receive 35. The rest go to ST holders and members.
Loyalty point timing
This is now explained on the website.
Clothing and marketing
This will be discussed at the marketing meeting.
Broadcast of academy games
Transmission of under-18 matches can take place at the same time as Premier League matches.
Attendance figures in the programme
These had to be removed due to lack of space given the increased number of substitutes. The Club statistician includes a list of recent attendances in the stats section.
5th Stand app
The new version of the app has resolved the need for two pages to be open for audio.
Face in the crowd
Marketing is looking to better engage fans on a match day. “Face in the crowd” has challenges but we are planning to include initiatives like this for the second half of the season.
In response to a question, the Club said it intends to provide these more promptly
TICKETING AGENDA ITEMS
The Club said the intention is to take away proposals for consideration for next season.
It was raised that loyalty isn’t rewarded at present and a three season consideration of loyalty would better reward fans. Also a smaller allocation to corporate fans and members would be welcome.
Away ticket ratio
It was proposed by a supporter that the split be changed to 70/30. Another representative supported this. It was raised by another that it’s very difficult for members to get tickets as it is so that split would be too high.
A representative commented that there is a knock-on effect for any change so fewer member tickets would increase incentives for fans to buy tickets for points to try and secure an ST. The Club said it doesn’t sell all matches on a loyalty point basis, or have a rolling basis for loyalty over more than a season, as otherwise access would become a closed shop. So around half the matches are sold on points and the other are first come first served. We are one of the few top level clubs to sell to members. The fairest way would be to go to ballot but there is no perfect system.
A supporter said he’d had a response from 30-40 fans on social media that they don’t want balloting and the Club added that the Forum last year didn’t want it. A representative said the situation is worse for acquiring tickets this season and some complaint they have been sold membership under false pretences. Westview has made the situation worse. The Club responded that it didn’t expand membership a few years ago for just that reason. A decade or so ago we were deciding whether to take 1,500 or 3,000 away tickets per match. Lots of matches went on general sale with the exception of a few big teams prior to that. Demand since £30 away tickets have come in has grown massively and all clubs are experiencing that. We currently have 89,000 members.
A representative suggested profit on membership is at least 95% and asked if that plays a part in keeping some tickets for members. The Club responded that a lot of fans have membership just to have a link to the Club or to obtain the online discount to the megastore and access to video content. Others from abroad have membership to come to one match a season so it’s not really a driving factor. We want to ensure tickets don’t end up on the black market. There are already tickets supposedly obtainable online for the last game of the season even though they don’t go on sale until six weeks before. We don’t know the exact number of members who buy at least one ticket per season.
Under ticket exchange rules, an ST holder can’t buy a ticket in addition to their own. We don’t give loyalty points for ticket exchange sales as the ST holder wouldn’t sell if they lost their points.
A lot of members renew each season. In response to a question to incentivise renewing, the Club said that if it sells solely on points, access to tickets would become a closed shop such as at Liverpool and Manchester United. No discount is offered on members’ tickets.
A representative said loyalty points have become an industry. The Club said we have our mixed system of sales and the alternatives are loyalty only or first come first served only. However an away supporter could join to try and get a ticket for their match if big matches aren’t sold on loyalty at all.
Away tickets for supporters’ clubs
It was raised that for Brentford away, sales were on loyalty points but some supporters’ club attendees didn’t have any points. The Club said supporters’ clubs only get tickets if we have a 1,500+ allocation and, if we increased to 2,000, Brentford would come into that category. Supporters’ clubs get 500 home tickets and their members can obtain tickets with fewer points than other members but that’s not a lot of tickets. A supporters’ club representative said there are 32 platinum clubs of which 20 are international and he had polled 2/3 of those. All polled responded that getting rid of supporters’ clubs tickets would be disastrous for their membership numbers. Only 2.5% of members from those clubs polled obtain at least one ticket per season and on average those clubs have one ticket per match. It wouldn’t get rid of the problem of supply versus demand.
A representative responded that a number of supporters didn’t have points for Brentford yet attended whilst other members couldn’t get tickets. An increase to 2,000 wouldn’t be onerous to cover that match. Another commented that platinum clubs probably only average 10 tickets per game so those club members who get tickets would probably be attending anyway. UK clubs tend to have their own loyalty scheme internally so a member can’t request a Manchester United ticket without going to a lot of lower profile matches. Those tickets apart, fans have to log on to try and purchase, like all other members. Clubs only get 150 tickets even if there are 3,000 or 4,000 tickets. The Club said the 1,500 minimum came in when Bournemouth was promoted. Most matches see supporters’ club tickets being sold out. If 150 aren’t requested, they go back into the general pot.
The Club clarified that if a stadium has a 30,000 or more capacity, the away club receives 3,000 and if less than 30,000 it’s a fixed 10% allocation.
A supporters’ club representative said some of the language regarding overseas clubs isn’t welcome. Fans have to buy their memberships and affiliate to a club; there are deadlines that are often very tight for purchasing and we don’t get the full allocation requested at times. Overseas fans are committed to the Club as well and changes would be unwelcome. The equaliser that makes everyone the same would be removed.
Another representative said away matches should be a 70/30 or 80/ 20 split.
Loyalty points awarded for cup tickets
It was raised that prices are cheaper than for league games and some buy for loyalty points so the number of points should be lower with each ticket. The Club said the reason we give 1, 3 or 5 points is to try and create a points gap between fans to assist with loyalty point sales.
Some may be collecting points by purchasing but we could deal with that by rewarding points only if a ticket is scanned on entry but then points wouldn’t be allocated until a match is played and not when the ticket is sold. Some fans may be waved in if there’s a turnstile or ticket issue on the night and their points wouldn’t count. The 5 point offer is the key one. We could look at away matches and cup games being 1 or 2 points.
The Club responded to a question by stating we used to go to general sale for at least one Champions League group game per season or a less attractive cup opponent but this has changed since covid and we don’t now. Zenit sold out last season, as did Zagreb this year.
Away scheme for Wembley matches
In response to a proposal the Club said the UK away scheme will continue to get priority having gone to every UK away game. They sign at the start of the season to guarantee they will attend 19 away league matches. It’s only 800 supporters. Likewise those on the UEFA away scheme have priority for European finals.
Away ticket split vote
The Forum voted as follows:
60/40 – 0
70/30 – 9
80/20 – 0.
A representative said although balloting may not be the answer, loyalty points are becoming an industry in themselves. The Forum voted as follows:
Balloting – 2
Not balloting – 8.
Loyalty points vote
A representative said some form of loyalty reward should play a part. It used to be possible to commit to every Champions League game and possibly cup games. There could be an ST to include domestic cup matches. The Club said this doesn’t happen as some ST holders don’t go to cup games and if the ticket wasn’t available but they don’t turn up, it can’t be released to a member. These aren’t on ticket exchange.
The Forum voted as follows:
Current system to include some loyalty point tickets – 8
First come first served – 1.
European away match procedure
The Club was asked why we need to continue with the current system given a ticket can be printed with the right individual’s name on it and be distributed in the UK. The Club said procedures have proven robust in ensuring the right attendees. During sanctions we were unable to have a ticket collection point, which led to a number of issues.
A supporter said those buying for that area shouldn’t be able to downgrade. The Club will check that new ST holders in that area aren’t allowed to do so. Last season was an exception for those already with STs there.
It was raised that they sell out very quickly. It’s changed a lot this season. One supporter didn’t receive a message as to whether a particular ticket had been sold or not. The Club said it has made a lot of changes and will check the lack of a sales message. We have moved to more visual views from lists and are selling just over 1,000 per game on the exchange. You can move easily between the sales and purchase areas. We are going to introduce ST holders listing tickets prior to the exchange opening for a match so there will be tickets on offer straightaway. One ST holder confirmed sales can happen instantly.
Ticket office opening times pre-season
The Club was asked if the ticket office could open for an initial two weeks to deal with renewals and responded that front of house is closed for sales in advance. We can manage emails and phone calls much quicker and purchasing is only online.
New ticketing app/ forwarding home tickets and eticket trials
The Club confirmed it has changed providers and a new app is being worked on to incorporate food and drink as well as ticketing. Hospitality will have ticket forwarding rolled out first and we are working closely on security aspects with the intention to roll it out for general admission fans next season.
The Club was asked about Everton and Manchester City trials for away fans and responded that data sharing agreements are needed as the home club controls the process. Communication between home and away clubs would have to be very good if there’s an issue with a ticket. We don’t want to be behind the curve but have to ensure security works. As regards digital away tickets, it’s faster for a tout to sell them. We have looked at the process more closely recently and have to make it difficult for a tout, but continuing with only paper tickets isn’t practical. In response to a question that a common Premier League app would deal with this, the Club responded that clubs use different apps. he Premier League is allowing the clubs to deal with it.
Prevention of touting
The Club said it has a department that works on touting and we stop memberships and STs if required. We are probably the most proactive of any Premier League club and problems are rife since the pandemic. Touting is organised crime and not the sale of an individual ticket that’s going spare. We started an initiative with other top six clubs at the time and now have injunctions against 11 individuals. Some have been jailed for breaking the injunction and selling tickets in the area and one person had assets seized. There have been custodial sentences handed down too.
We have two main methods on a match day – staff announcing tout prevention measures at the tube station and we also have covert members of staff targeting sales. We do test purchases and use cameras for evidence in court. We never let touted tickets into the stadium and have to turn away fans for this reason. An away fan in a home end is usually due to a tout selling a ticket bought on membership. We are trying to drive the process down. We can manage digital tickets to some extent and want to avoid the easy transfer of these.
We know who every ticket is assigned to for away matches too. Those sold on Stub Hub aren’t real tickets as there’s no validation. The Club uses a lot of methods to track down the sellers. We publicise which organisations are selling validly. On Google, a seller can pay to have their ticket sales come up first. A representative said Google is working on a new marketing tactic, Content IP. The Club added that sales are often from overseas territories which adds another challenge.
On sale times
The Club said in response to a request that it is happy to have a vote on this. There is a trade off as no time suits everyone. If we sold in the evening we would have to update loyalty points for other tickets sold during that day which is not a quick process to implement.
The Forum voted as follows:
10 am sales – 4
7am sales – 3.
Number of tickets available
In response to a question the Club said it can consider announcing the exact number of tickets available for each section of support.
NON-TICKETING AGENDA ITEMS
Transport to away games
In response to a question, the Club confirms it provides travel where it can offer competitive prices and make suitable arrangements. We have £10 return prices for coaches but it’s hard to book trains. We are arranging travel to Dortmund but couldn’t do so for the Champions League group stages.
The Club was asked if it’s looking at that site again. It responded that it is in the very early stages and hasn’t looked at any plan in detail yet.
Kick off time on coronation day
A representative asked if the Premier League could make an early decision for the day of the coronation as we have Bournemouth away then, which is popular. The Club said it’s waiting for an update from the Premier League and expects an announcement well in advance.
Bag drop for midweek matches
The Club confirmed that A4 bags are fine. We previously had a bag drop area but found it was continually being abused and numbers were going up substantially. The number of fans bringing oversize bags has gone down dramatically since we stopped that. We’ve instructed staff to have some flexibility with bag size but bags can’t be too big. The problem has reduced. If a laptop is A4 size then it can be brought into the ground. The issue isn’t whether a bag is transparent as we can check what’s in it. The rule is the same for hospitality.
Match day information
A supporter raised the lack of information about our substitutes or the away team before the Arsenal and Manchester United matches. The Club will speak to the supporter concerned but is not aware of an issue.
Ground layout: singing section, away fans
A supporter said she had been asked to suggest fans lead singing at the front of stands. Another said that, to create a singing area, we would have to move ST holders. Fans are entitled not to sing if they want. Older fans may not want to sing in particular. We also have to recruit fans to move into that section which wouldn’t be popular.
The Club said it wants our atmosphere to be more intimidating for away clubs. We allowed Zagreb to bring in drums but had complaints from some of our fans. We would like more noise though as it makes Stamford Bridge special. There is a singing section in the Shed Upper but, when created, the worry was that fans would put their name down just to get an ST. We could have it in part of the Shed Lower but some wouldn’t want to move to that area if they have an ST. Rail seating should improve the atmosphere too.
A supporter suggested that keeping it in mind for a new stadium may be the best solution. The Club said it gave 60 seats in the Shed Upper for a singing area but singing declined in some other areas. It didn’t work having a singing area against Spurs at Wembley.
It was suggested that away fans be moved as they are too prominently positioned in the ground. The Club said they would have to go to Matthew Harding Lower or West Lower as the rules are for a block to touch pitch level. East Lower isn’t big enough as the area would need to hold 3,000.
A supporter said that if new fans knew the words of songs it would be useful; bad language doesn’t help. The Club said it published cleaner song lyrics on the website at one point but took them down as we received a lot of criticism. The language and tone of some songs don’t lend themselves to being publicised. The Matthew Harding atmosphere has improved a lot since rail seating was introduced. An overseas representative said having a songbook a decade ago in their club wasn’t popular. The Club added that it can’t stop fans singing about teams we’re not playing.
Creche/ nursery/ soft play area
The Club hwas asked if there are any plans for this to encourage family attendance. It responded we had one once but it was closed about 15 years ago as it wasn’t used much. We do have a sensory room though, which is popular. We don’t receive requests for creche facilities.
Profiting from tickets/ players’ shirts
It was raised there are requests for shirts at women’s matches as well now with the same people repeatedly doing so and selling them straightaway. The Club said it has dealt with this when it’s arisen with other fans and requested details to investigate. The supporter added that at Bournemouth the shirts were stretched ready to sign. It happens at Cobham too with request signs. Another suggested that players be asked not to sign them. The Club said it’s a difficult balance because if players never stop to sign then they appear arrogant. You can ban large signs but smaller ones are allowed generally. We would be unpopular if we entirely ban those with signs requesting shirts.
Away end at Kingsmeadow
The Club said we do have one but the league doesn’t generally encourage away ends for women’s matches. We are thinking of moving our away end to the North Stand next year. Emma wanted Manchester United fans segregated for that match at Kingsmeadow. We are fully behind the logic of an away end.
Website information re academy women
The Club said the communications department is addressing this.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Fans’ Forum link on the website
The Club said the email is fixed.
Manchester United away
The Club confirmed there is no reason we won’t receive our full allocation. We supported them in their request for a full allocation here and it wasn’t our decision to reduce this.
There will be an agenda request sent out.
The Club confirmed that hospitality tickets are resold to hospitality members only.
Transmission of youth team games
In response to a question, the Club will look into possible transmission problems once they receive more details.
The Club was asked if there are plans for a sensory room at Kingsmeadow too. The Club will look into this as it is reviewing facilities there anyway.
Further to a request, minutes from the last meeting will be circulated.
Website email links
A supporter said they haven’t received any emails but the Club confirmed the links are working. Some representatives said they’ve received emails.
In response to a question, the Club commented that it is taking part in a Premier League Fan Engagement Programme and we aim to publish our plan in January. We hope to move to a shadow board around then.
Supporter Liaison Officer (“SLO”)
Graham will be stepping down after 12 years in the role. There are a lot of changes coming up and the role is better split from Graham’s responsibilities as ticketing manager. Graham was thanked for his immense contribution to fan engagement and to the Forum specifically. He will continue to attend at least some meetings.
Daniel will probably be the Director in charge of fan engagement and we will most likely need a full time SLO going forward. It is intended the new SLO appointment will be made soon
The meeting finished at 8.10pm.