The minutes from the recent Fans Forum can be found here:
CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB FANS FORUM
2023-24, 1st MEETING MINUTES
Meeting held in the 1905 Club at 6.30pm on Wednesday 27thSeptember 2023
AttendeesClub title/ group represented
Auger, CliffChelsea Supporters Trust (“CST”)
Beerman, ClaytonHome season ticket (“ST”)
Craig, Toby Club Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Daine, NavRegional Manager for Retail Operations at Levy
Davis, MarrianeChelsea Women Supporters Group
Elmes, GeorgeUK supporters club
Finkelstein, DanielClub Director
Goodwin, ChristopherClub ESG Manager
Kasic, AllisonOverseas supporters club
Kirke, XanderChelsea Pride
Middleton, PamelaUK away scheme
Mills, Charlie65 and over
Regan, Andy Forum Chairman
Smith, CatClub Head of Supporter Relations
Wittich, MargaretChelsea Supporters Club (“CSC”)
Apologies for absence
Beckwith, GaryFan Advisory Board liaison
Fatah, KozhinEthnically and culturally diverse
Shaw, Michelle CSG
Warner, MarkUEFA away scheme
(Action points are underlined.)
The Chairman welcomed representatives to the first meeting of the season, adding that meetings are recorded and minutes with action points will be circulated.. Attendees introduced themselves
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
There were no changes to the minutes. Matters arising from the last full meeting were as follows:
Black and gold stripe tops on Fanatics.com
The Club has no further news on this despite having investigated. All Nike kit in the Megastore should be available at selected online retailers and vice versa.
The Club confirmed that music was changed towards the end of last season. The Liquidator was back and another song was tried for a few games. We know there is an issue with volume in some parts of the stadium but the PA system is old so we are constantly adjusting it. Representatives said the Matthew Harding Upper has continuing problems.
Fans standing in their ticketed position
The Club said stewards have been reminded about this. A representative said the situation has improved in the Matthew Harding Lower.
No to Hate campaign
The Club works with the Access Forum, Level Playing Fields and other key stakeholders to include all forms of discrimination. Our Club Equality action plan refers to hidden disabilities and we work with the FA and Football League diversity code so non-visual disabilities are already included there. We will make sure it’s more explicit this season.
Language on Facebook
The Club notes the bad language on social media at times. It works with an agency moderating our digital channels, identifying and deleting hateful and discriminatory comments. We work with players regarding comments aimed at individuals. The Club takes this issue very seriously and bad behaviour can lead to bans. We work with the police and authorities too. Our online media policy is on the website and that’s the best place to report issues. We will continue to publicise this.
The Club was asked to consider a new approach to the toxic comments that follow its online announcements about Pride or minority religions. The Club will review the removal of comments under specific posts. The Club confirmed there is a fan subgroup assisting with the development of the App and it wants to involve supporters in making such decisions about policies.
A representative raised the issue of a broken lift and also there being no voice in the lifts announcing which floor you’re arriving at. The Club will investigate.
King’s coronation day
The match against Bournemouth was not moved from coronation day.
The Club has continued to review this and it’s a key initiative for our Fan Advisory Board, two of whom will start a sub-group in which other fans can get involved
Stadium changes/ update
The Club said that over the summer there is still no certainty about significant stadium development. Smaller measures have been introduced though. There are free sanitaryproducts in female and access toilets, including at Cobham. We have more content on the LED screens to assist fans,including maps and quizzes. We use them to promote CST work as well. In the East Upper we have introduced padded seats but have lost some GA seats, due to both Premier League regulations for larger broadcast facilities and new hospitality spaces. We have new hospitality seats in some areas including the dugout. The Tea Bar has been refurbished and any ST holder can utilise that room from 2 ½ hours before kick off.
As regards catering we are working on the pre-ordering App and fans are welcome to help with testing.
The Club refurbished some lifts and is aware of the Matthew Harding issue there which can be due to overcrowding. A steward helps regulate lift numbers and the Club ensures an assertive steward is positioned there.
A representative welcomed big lettering on the East Stand. Another commented that it’s hard to see the new font on the screens inside the stadium. The time was wrong on the screen yesterday. The Club will investigate the font and inaccurate time issues.
The Club will look to update on Kingsmeadow changes later in the season. A representative said women’s trophies are listed now, which is an improvement.
The Club will check the rails in the Matthew Harding Upperfurther to a complaint.
It was raised that more information on the bigger issues regarding stadium redevelopment would be welcome, not least regarding Earl’s Court rumours. It should be a given that fans are consulted and have an input into major decisions. The Club responded there have been no major developments. Stamford Bridge remains our focus, but all options are being considered and reviewed. It was raised that a year has been wasted as regards consultation on such a big issue. The Club responded that we are in a process to acquire the adjacent land which is owned by the Stoll Foundation, which is awaiting approval.
Overall CPO and not the Club will have the final say on any redevelopment plans. Once we have developed a plan we will put it to them. Consultation will be important. The situation remains that Stamford Bridge is our preferred site but we would have to move out for a long time.
The Club said there is clearly a long way to go and differences of opinion. Fans would have to agree to a move under the CPO charter. We are not being secretive but are just not in a position to announce next stages.
It was repeated that supporter input for wherever we build would be very useful for the Club. From a GA point of view fans would want to assist with the planning. With the old plans,for instance, you could walk right around the concourse. The Club said it would definitely look at the best of other stadia but we aren’t there yet. Our only change is potential Stoll acquisition.
The Chairman commented that all our discussions should stay confidential until the final minutes come out.
Fan Advisory Board update
The Club said that unfortunately Gary can’t attend today but will provide updates in the future and can take issues back to the FAB as well. Meetings for the FAB will be at least quarterly.
At the first meeting, ticketing was the main topic. The CST had released their survey with about 3,000 respondents. Cost, access and availability, transfer of ticketing, administration of ticketing and the future of ticketing were some of the topics. There was a sense of frustration about touting and resellers. The Club is reviewing its plans as to how it manages this issue and how to better publicise initiatives such as the number of bans imposed. At a home match before Christmas about 200 randomly chosen members will have to collect tickets and a number of ST holders may have to prove their identity. That will provide interesting information. There will be work on away games and at our next meeting Graham will discuss ticketing.
It was raised that online reseller offers for tickets are numerous and buying some of those tickets may be useful to identify the original seller. The Club said only a small proportion of those tickets are on sale because someone can’t attend.
The CST asked for its survey to be shared with the Forum before our next meeting.
It was raised whether points are the reason some buy tickets and don’t attend. The Chairman suggested that should be raised at the ticketing meeting.
The Club added that it welcomes evidence about touting from fans via the website. Gary can be contacted via the website directly: https://www.chelseafc.com/en/supporter-relations and his email will be publicised to this group.
Dugout club/ team bench move
The Club was asked what the club is and why it is so expensive. Another commented that a young supporter sitting in that area was disappointed that he’s now sitting near the away bench. The Club will consider whether fans can apply to move at the end of the season due to this. The dugout area was not part of the GA allocation previously. It’s a new product and there is hospitality along with the seat. In response to a question the Club said if we can’t sell hospitality seats, they are sometimes sold as GA seats but this is not the case for the dugout.
Away fans positioning and behaviour
A representative commented there is still a lot of misogyny in the Shed End. The Club welcomes further information on this. Information provided on a match day is particularly useful.
A representative said that if there are arguments between home and away fans then the home fans tend to get thrown out. At Stamford Bridge away fans have the best seats. At many grounds in Europe there is some sort of screen dividingfans and that would be welcome here. Another rejected this idea suggesting that stewarding of the area is more important.
Another said there are two issues – the first being the Shed Lower/ away fan interaction and that perspex screens are not the answer. Away fan positioning could be changed though.with them being on three levels. They used to be in the East Lower. Newcastle is the only club that doesn’t follow Premier League rules. Also those in the Shed Upper have to move for every cup game.
The Club said there are no plans to move away fans but we keep the issue in mind. We will look at security again further to a request to ensure fans are kept apart.
Chris introduced the Club’s programme, adding that many clubs have an Environmental, Social and Governance presence now. This focuses on climate change and sustainability, interacting with schools and local authorities over all our sites as well as mandatary carbon reporting and compliance. We look to introduce improvements for the business and the planet as well as improving our reputation in these areas.
Football makes up 0.3% of the world’s emissions so the game generally has a big responsibility. We want to be a leader in improving this area.
Climate issues have already been factors in matches. Reading FC highlights climate issues on their shirts. At Chelsea we have an increased risk of annual flooding by the middle of the century. In PL sustainability rankings we are behind a number of clubs and having an older stadium doesn’t help. Sky has a green football weekend for clubs and fans to get involved in these issues. We know there is an appetite amongst our fanbase regarding this issue.
We have had our first sustainability working group meeting. All electricity is renewable and we are looking to make carbon savings. We want to simplify and explain the language regarding climate issues. We have saved 3.5 million cups from landfill from our PL matches alone by working with Levy. There is a PL head of sustainability too.
With carbon reporting we have to assess climate issues including drought/ water sustainability for the future. We are looking for a zero target carbon level and want to work with fans, players and partners. Our working document is intended to make us a force for good.
It would be good to hear how fans can get engaged in that. It was raised by a representative that a CSR initiative was started over a decade ago and wasn’t really followed up. For instance screens and lights are on at night. The Club responded that we have a system for all TV screens to go off after matches. Lights are on movement sensors so it’s probably only due to security sweeps if they are on at night.
The Club wants to develop a programme with fans to help spread this knowledge.
It was raised that communal travel to matches helps the environment. The Club said that fan travel is a major contributor to the footprint and we want to look at the balance between expenditure and carbon footprint. As regards coach travel, the subsidy originally came from PL money but the Club sustained the spend once that ran out. We have a sponsor for women’s away match coaches to travel for £15. That will start for the Manchester City game and we want to grow our women’s team away fanbase.
The presentation slides and Chris’ contact details will be circulated.
Loyalty points for women’s team
Two representatives suggested this could be introduced in order to encourage larger attendances. Demand will grow for home matches and this will provide an incentive. The Club said our ticketing and marketing teams are looking at possibly introducing this.
Loyalty points for men’s away matches
It was raised that away matches are hard to get tickets for with loyalty points proving too much of an incentive.
This will be discussed at the ticketing meeting.
Virtual waiting room
The Club said it was aware of Bots being used to attempt the purchase of tickets. We are working hard to close these down and have to constantly counter new technology.
It was raised that it takes a long time to improve the volume problems. Sometimes only away fans hear messages so it must be possible to control differing volume levels around the ground. The Club said it’s an old system We keep making adjustments to the volume levels.
Further to a query, the Club confirmed there were website announcements about local travel issues before yesterday’s game. These are made on the big screens where relevant.
A representative said they would check with the transport police why we were playing on the same night as Brentford and Fulham.
A representative said it’s crucial that fan input is listened togenerally. The Club said we have our formal meetings on which supporter groups have permanent places. Cat is happy to be contacted about issues or topics. She is based in the Tea Bar at most home matches and attends most away matches. The Fan Engagement policy will be published on the website and will review fan engagement last season. Thewebsite will have a new supporter relations hub to include the FAB and fan initiatives to show we are responding to fan feedback. The Chairman added this is one of many fan committees at the Club including not just the FAB but also the Access, hospitality and supporters’ clubs forums.
Marketing of the Academy
A representative said we clearly value the Academy but there are no live games or highlights shown, no photographer and that match reports are basic. The 5th Stand tells you about upcoming games at least. Fans don’t get to see the substantial number of great goals being scored at that level. Players from the Academy have been on the first team bench but won’t be known by fans.
Manchester City and Crystal Palace charge for a monthly package which includes their Academy games. Spurs charge an annual package.
At Kingsmeadow we could produce a free or low price team sheet. The scoreboard could show the teams too as there are seldom names on shirts.
Also free tickets could be given to the local community to encourage contact with the Club.
The Club requested a list of these proposals to consider.
Fan memorial day
It was suggested that for one match a year we remember all fans who have died with photos shown on the screens. The programme could be utilised too. Lots of clubs already do this. The idea was welcomed by the Club and representatives. The Club will review how this could work.
Coach travel/ away travel for men’s matches
It was suggested that one coach should be provided, even if not at a reduced price. Likewise the Club should consider providing transport when it’s not possible to return to Londonby public transport on the day, such as the Liverpool and Manchester United games.
The question of sponsorship for the coaches was raised. The Club said the views of fans were represented when the decision was made but each season only a small number of fans use the facility. We are unlikely to review that decision. Coaches charging £5 each way aren’t a good budget proposition. A representative commented that communal travel is better for the environment. Another said the coaches were an unnecessary subsidy though.
The Club said coaches to Bournemouth only had 34 on board though admittedly with a smaller than usual away allocation. A representative said there is an accessibility issue too, having the certainty of door to door travel. The Club said an away ticket and travel could be £40 but we don’t provide that price of package for home matches.
It was raised that if not enough fans book a coach, it’s cancelled with a week to go which isn’t fair. The Club said only about 100-120 individuals use the facility in total throughout each season. The cost was about £250,000 for that relatively small number of fans to benefit.
In response to a question, the Club said it would love to find sponsorship for coach provision and knows there would be a lot of goodwill from fans. The fact we have a women’s team coach sponsor may help attract a men’s sponsor. We have reached out to all existing sponsor partners already.
It was raised that the Club had previously looked at a possible international travel partner. The Club said Thomas Cook Sport went out of business but they were being undercut by fans travelling by themselves for cheaper prices. The Club may review this again in the future.
A representative asked when the app would be ready as it hasn’t been introduced yet. The Club said it’s trying to implement it quickly as it’s a priority.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Brighton Carabao match
Representatives said they didn’t receive tickets electronicallyfor yesterday’s game and another forthcoming match. The Club will look into this.
It was raised that stewards were not helpful for supporters who looked in difficulty when finding their seats. Many of the attendees may not be regulars. Stewards were not proactive. The Club was asked if the ticket number could identify the nearest entrance rather than automatically by block and will investigate both these issues.
It was raised that vaping is annoying for fans. The Club confirmed it’s banned in the stadium.
The Club was congratulated by representatives on its float at the Pride parade.
The Club was asked if meetings could return to a matchday and responded that having staff attend on a matchday is difficult. The Chairman added there used to be location problems for matchday meetings too.
Women’s Super League
The Club was asked if it would consider events celebrating trophy wins. The men’s team used to have parades. One responded that an event such as an open day at the Bridge for such celebrations would be welcome. The Club will consider these proposals should the team continue to be successful.
Over the Line
The CST informed the Forum that this initiative to assist men’s mental health has now been enhanced further to assistance from the Club. There is a hub at the Tea Bar including MIND counsellors. The Club provides a quiet area to speak to them. We have had two events so far and will be there for the Arsenal game. The Trust has been proactive in publicising this too.
The CST said there used to be a proactive disabled fans association and this is being reintroduced. We have had significant positive feedback and the Club has been helpful. We are having an open meeting after the Brentford match at 3pm in the Tea Bar for anyone who may be interested. The CST considers there is also a positive education issue from reintroducing such an association.
The meeting finished at 8.15pm.