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Women Fans Forum Minutes


2023-24, 1st MEETING MINUTES

Meeting held in the directors’ lounge at Kingsmeadow at 6.30pm on Wednesday 14th February 2024

Attendees                                  ​​​​Club title/ group represented

Andrews, Faye                            Kingsmeadow season ticket (“ST”) holder

Bates, Chester                            Chelsea Women Supporters Group

Brand, Michelle                           Chelsea Supporters Group

Bromfield, Gillian                         Chelsea Supporters Trust

Hayyez, Nick                               65 or over

Howe, Elliott                                Club Chelsea Women Marketing Manager

Kelly, Elaine                                Overseas

Kingsman, Simon                        Kingsmeadow Supporters Group

Knox, Saffra                                Female

Metzger, Cashel                          Ethnically and culturally diverse

Quinlan, Jacqueline                     Away ticket

Rattigan, Linda                            Chelsea Pride

Regan, Andy                               ​​​Forum Chair

Rodrigues, Stan                          WSL Stamford Bridge package

Shahrestani, Nadia                      Club Chelsea Women Head of Stadium Revenue

Smith, Cat                                   Club Head of Supporter Relations

Sokeyo, Naomi                            Family

Thomas, Steve                            Club Global Fan Engagement Manager

Weymes-McElderry, Sophie         LGBTQI+

Wittich, Margaret                         Chelsea Supporters Club

Apologies for absence

Al-Kudcy, Zarah                          Club Chelsea Women Commercial Director

Brown, Tracy                              Fan Advisory Board                    

Grant, Patricia                             Club Chelsea

Harris, David                               Access

MacKay, Holly                             16-21 year old

(Action points are underlined.)

The Chair welcomed representatives to the first meeting of the season.  Attendees introduced themselves.  

The Chair added that this is the latest forum alongside other forums which focus on specific aspects of the fan base.  We also have the Fan Advisory Board which focuses more on strategic goals of the Club.

There will be published minutes and we request that any other aspects of the discussion not included in the minutes remain confidential.  As a reminder if you join online please make sure you are the only one who can hear the conversation. 

Congratulations for the competitive place winners – we had a total of 126 applications which shows a good level of interest  


Club introduction: key contacts in the Women’s set up and purpose of the Forum

Nadia said she’s been in the role since July and hopefully Zarah (Director of Commercial) can join us next time.  It’s important that the off-field team works well with Emma and Paul too.  There are core values in place for Chelsea Women so sometimes you will see specific partnerships with the women’s team, and not with the men’s and vice versa.  

The Club has always invested in the team to try and maximize the chance of on-field success.  Nadia is looking at maximizing revenue for non-match days and match days at both Kingsmeadow and Stamford Bridge.  Our attendances have gone up substantially this season.  We also have Carly Telford who combines the marketing and commercial side with her understanding of the game as an ex-player.  Other roles in the business increasingly have a focus on the women’s game.  Elliott is very involved for instance and listening to you as representatives will really help.  More staff are now completely dedicated to this project.

We are likely to work to a break even figure for the first time this season and only had our first profitable match here a few months ago which was the first game of the season.  Other clubs have the same challenge. At Kingsmeadow, West Ham and Brighton saw attendances of over 4,000.

Improved fan experience

The Club said we can split the discussion between our two venues.  Steve is more involved in the Stamford Bridge games.  Feedback from a fans’ call in the summer included a request to invest more in Stamford Bridge matches as there is a more basic “bells and whistle” approach here that fans like.  It’s certainly not a matter of ignoring Kingsmeadow however.

The Club added that it brought in a third party to help with atmosphere at the last Stamford Bridge league match, including a pitch side DJ and give aways, as well as the player arrival aspect.  The forthcoming Arsenal match allows the opportunity for pyrotechnics and other new aspects.  A more interactive light show was a possibility which can’t take place at present.  A representative said the DJ was great in encouraging the atmosphere.  Player arrival worked well too.  

The Club said feedback from players was really positive for that Manchester United match, with the result helping too!  It was the closest to a Kingsmeadow atmosphere we’ve had there apart from Lyons in extra time.  A representative said it helped to have away fans in good numbers too. 

The Club said it received a 9.6 out of 10 approval rating from its survey after that match, with the DJ particularly praised.  We know toilets are an ongoing issue there from feedback.  There are specific zones around the perimeter where we could have toilets.  Evacuation of the stadium has to be in 8 minutes. 

It was raised by fans that there was a problem with toilet use here for a recent cup game and that requesting player autographs at the end of the matches is great but impedes the exit from the terrace.  Stewards are inconsistent in managing this and some fans were stopped from coming down from the West Stand after a recent match.  It’s a balance between interacting with the players and exiting from the stadium. 

There used to be more fan events here pre-covid such as taking over the 5 a side pitches and Q & As with players.  Perhaps players not in the match day squad could meet fans in the bar?  It would also increase takings in the bar.  As long as it’s well organized it should be secure and a great experience.  It’s like the signings in the Megastore for players in the past.  Another club has similar events.  Some players were happy to sign autographs and pose for photos before the final at Selhurst Park last season but that was more due to fortunate timing.  The Club will consider this.  It could also be revenue generating if there is a small charge.

It was raised that the North Stand should be involved too and not just the West Stand.  Players could move round in a rota for each match.  The Club said there’s no change in directive internally.  The performance team decides on appearances for players not in the team.

A representative said perhaps roping off the food kiosk area between West and South Stands would help.  As long as players circulate around the stands that should work.  Another said those in the West Stand can’t get out there anyway.  Perhaps it’s possible to cordon off an area?  The Club will look into this.

It was suggested by a representative that the Club provides player cards for signing as we used to do.  Ex players used to hand them out at Stamford Bridge.  The Club will consider this.

Stadium developments

The Club said there is no long-term decision about Stamford Bridge but there is a feasibility study of what can be done at Kingsmeadow.  The Club would love to host European matches here and have discussed with UEFA as to what is needed.  It may be that European matches aren’t ready for Stamford Bridge as crowd sizes are generally not huge, certainly for the group stage.  Work here involves floodlights, VAR, LED and hospitality facilities and we hope to have an update in a few weeks.  A representative agreed that the atmosphere for them (the players) at Stamford Bridge is not great at the Bridge and we are probably running at a loss there.  The Club added the cost of potential work at Kingsmeadow is in the millions but has to be managed in a way that does not eat into capacity.  External architects and engineers are looking at this. 

The Club said UEFA changes were announced late in the day for this season.  It added that standing here for European matches depends on the category level.  We are a category 2 stadium which means we need at least 1,500 seats for European matches.  However, Ajax is selling well after one day and should easily outsell the Lyons game.  We are hoping for 30,000 and to at least fill the lower bowl.  Real Madrid was our best group attendance at just over 11,000 which is the best there has been in England.  This season we only announce the number of those attending, not sales.

At present there is no guarantee of getting straight into the group stage by winning our league.  We want a long-term plan for the future here.  In response to a question the Club said it’s a council decision regarding lighting and the car park but we are aware of the issues.  A representative said that having toilets in sufficient quality and quantity is an important issue.  Another said that for a men’s game at the Bridge the queue was 25 minutes for the female toilets.  It was also commented that using the toilets for a family at the Bridge can take a very long time.  The Club is aware of those issues and we change them over where we can, such as in the East Stand, but we are limited by the stadium design.

There was a request for another screen or better positioning at Kingsmeadow as you can’t see it from the North Stand.  As regards replays the Club said it is largely reliant on the broadcasters.  Infinite Athlete plays a part in replays at Stamford Bridge according to a representative.  The Club will look at this.

It was commented that there is a clock alongside the pitch at St James’ Park.  The Club said we don’t have digital boards here at present.  There are technical issues regarding showing replays at present but that’s part of the feasibility study.

A representative said that player recognition is still key in promoting the women’s team.  Another said women’s games weren’t broadcast at all for a long time.  It was suggested that players are shown on the screen to help with this during the game.  The Club said we are looking at such capability here but at Stamford Bridge it’s certainly possible.  This will be considered for Kingsmeadow.  

Growth in fan base

The Club commented that WSL attendances here have been very strong.  We peaked at 4,000 last season and averaged around 2,000 with one league match down to 916.  We would sell 3,500 tickets and have far fewer attend.  Now those who purchase actually turn up.  Only Everton and Leicester have been less than 4,000.  We have four games here in 12 days and even got 3,000 for Palace in the cup.  We will publicize attendances.  Emma’s last game at Kingsmeadow is very likely to be sold out.

In response to a question the Club said the ticket exchange for women’s matches is being tested and the intention is to launch it.

As regards Stamford Bridge, Spurs and Liverpool attendances were disappointing to some extent but we have sold 122,000 tickets already in comparison to 100,000 in total last season.  For Spurs we sold 17,000 and 15,000 attended, for Liverpool we sold 15,500 and 13,500 attended.  For Manchester United we sold 24,000 and 20,500 attended.  Without Real Madrid that week we would have expected it to be higher.  We are gaining new attendees to the women’s game who keep returning which is positive. 

The Club said it is increasing the marketable audience including promotion on more forms of media and more generic brand promotion.  We are also pushing the story-telling aspect regarding our players in trying to reach new audiences.  Player personalities are taking centre stage and not just the Lionesses as we have a very diverse squad.  In response to the fact that there is less video content than there used to be, the Club said we now have the staff to work on this.  We have moved more to storytelling. 

It was raised that via TikTok and Instagram we receive a lot of publicity.  The Club said we have almost 100,000 followers on TikTok and that only started on 20th January.  There is a lot of video content on there as the resources are easier to organize that.  We have over 78 million non-Chelsea followers watching content linked to our teams so you can also see a lot on other channels, such as Sam Kerr’s back flips on Sky yesterday.  A representative said having TikTok and Instagram is likely to appeal to younger fans.

The Club was asked about no longer having player flags here and there used to be far more posters in the area advertising matches.  The Club will check. 

The Club was also asked about more branding for the Women’s team at the stadium entrance.  Another said the Academy has to be recognized in that as well.  

In response to a question the Club said we are not an international stadium at Stamford Bridge so can’t host a Lioness match.  We weren’t used for international matches during the Wembley rebuild either.

Commercial partners

The Club said our partners all help grow, a good example is the subsidized away travel, which is sponsored by Lindahls.  We are talking to them about Manchester United travel for the final WSL game of the season.  Skoda are a women’s-only partner – their first football link up.  This is what helps us grow.  As we have said not all Club commercial partners may be right for the women’s game.  Lego has been a women’s-only partnership.  More partners will appear given the growing reach of the women’s game. Infinite Athlete also has plans specifically for the women’s game.

We can look at this topic next time with Zarah.

Ticketing and pricing/ sales process

The Club said it’s not in a position to discuss ticket pricing for next season.  It was commented that a payment plan for the women’s game would benefit.   The Club confirmed this will be in place for next season.

It was raised that there was an advert to purchase tickets for the Arsenal match and only later was a two for one cost advertised, which is unfair.  The Club responded that wasn’t ideal and it was the opposite way round for the Ajax match.  A representative said it’s also unfair for ST holders who have already forked out.

Some fans have been told they can’t get a refund for the Arsenal match whereas ST package holders should have that option.  It will deter fans from purchasing a package otherwise.  The Club said the broadcast window for that weekend was the problem but it’s a unique scenario.  We were drawn away for the Champions League on the Tuesday so couldn’t play on the Sunday before and Fulham are at home on the Saturday.  We had to move to a Friday therefore.  The Club will review the refund policy for such a scenario.

It was raised that, for one game, tickets were on sale at the same time as a men’s game which is almost impossible to coordinate when purchasing.  The Club said it tries as far as possible to avoid such a situation.  It added in response to a question that choosing a specific seat is in the development stage.

A representative said that, for a league game here, the Club had sold that fan’s ST seat to someone else.  Another said that happened to them for a cup game.  The Club will look into these.

The Club was asked why sales sometimes give row 1 seats when purchasing early at Stamford Bridge, particularly for the package.  Ticket allocation could be later on so early purchasers get better seats.  The Club will check.

A representative said he looked into the ST package at other clubs.  At Bristol City a men’s ST holder gets a discount for their women’s team and there are catering price reductions too.  Cup games are not included here and the PR aspects aren’t great.  Additional discounts would be welcome.  The Club confirmed ST holders for the women’s game receive the Megastore discount and is looking at loyalty generally throughout the teams.  Membership is common to the men’s and women’s team at present.

A representative said pricing decisions were announced very late last season, allowing a short amount of time to decide on renewal.  This was particularly a problem given the price increases.  As the women’s game attracts families, the cost really mounts up.  The VIP ST at Spurs was £100 with discounts on top.  It can be a sizable cost here.  The Club responded that it was aware decisions were announced late.  At Kingsmeadow our most expensive STs were £49 for adults and £5 for children.  A representative said the increase was very big, allowing for the fact they arguably used to be underpriced.  Incremental increases would have been justified as the increase was from £50 to £200.  The Club said our prices are just to break even now and the number of ST holders at Kingsmeadow has increased from 900 to 1,750 with games being sold out more regularly.  The Fan Advisory Board is looking at prices generally.

It was suggested a family ST could be considered.

It was raised that you could only purchase a standing ST here and not a seat.  The Club said it decided to limit sales at 1,750 and we have to hold back some seats each match for the other club, Club sponsors or the WSL.  The renewal rate in the North and West Stands explains why this happened.  It could happen again as only two stands have seating.  The Club said it can sometimes release seats nearer a match day hence they will appear on general sale.

We will try and have another meeting in the next couple of months to cover other points raised for this meeting.

Emma’s departure

The Club said this is the most immediate issue and welcomes suggestions from fans which can be sent by email to  An event at Stamford Bridge for Emma is a possibility.  We would like fans to contribute to what they want to see as a farewell.  One suggested that dedications in a book from fans would be an idea.  The Club welcomes suggestions by email.

The meeting finished at 8.10pm.





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