Thursday, 24 September 2015

Chelsea FC Fans Forum 24/08/2015 Minutes



CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB

SUPPORTERS’ CONSULTATIVE FORUM/ HOSPITALITY FORUM 2015/16

JOINT MEETING MINUTES




Meeting held in the Hollins Suite, Chelsea FC at 6.15pm on Monday 24th August 2015.


Attendees Club title/ group represented

Alexander, Chris Club Finance and Operations Director

Atkins, Steve Club Head of Communications and Public Affairs

Austin, Michael Champions

Barrett, Michael 16-21’s

Beattie, Julian Chelsea Supporters Trust

Buck, Bruce Club Chairman

Crowson, Luke Captain’s

Dwyer, Kevin Home ST holder

Eldridge, Andy Chelsea Supporters Club

Fearon, Guy Canalettos

Hamilton, Nicholas Clarke

Hayden, Lisa Disabled

Herring, Alan Over 65’s

Higgins, Debbie Club Head of Hospitality

Hill, Jeremy Drake

Johnstone, David CFCUK

Last, Nick UK branch

Overstall, Keith Club Head of Security

Phelps, Mary Centenary

Regan, Andy Independent Chairman

Silver, Dan Chelsea Football Fancast

Smith, Graham Club Head of Ticketing/ Head of Supporters’ Liaison

Trapp, Goran Bonetti

Trenter, Peter Chelsea Supporters Group

Winton, Natalie Family stand



Apologies for absence

Derry, Alan Manager’s

Doherty, Tim UK branch

Gerrard, Carol Away season ticket ST holder

Grant, Patricia Harris

Hillers, Karl Overseas supporters branch

Levy, Eddie Ossie’s

Neal, Matthew CFCNet

O’Connor, Chris Hollins

Samms, Derrick Executive Club

Strange, Ruth Member



ARRANGEMENTS FOR UEFA AWAY MATCH TICKET COLLECTION

The Chairman welcomed supporters to the first joint main Forum and Hospitality Forum meeting. Attendees introduced themselves.

The Club went through the ticketing purchase process. Tickets are purchased on the website as normal with declaration forms having to be emailed or posted to the Club or handed in at the box office window. Once the declaration form is received and the transaction takes place the Club will then send a voucher to the lead individual in that booking. I.e. if the lead person buys for three people they then receive three vouchers showing names of those being purchased for.

At the collection point each individual presents their voucher and passport in order to collect a match ticket. The lead purchaser can’t collect a match ticket for other fans.

The Club was asked whether an individual could provide other identification instead of a passport, I.e. a driving licence. The Club confirmed only a passport would be accepted.

The Club summarised the pre-match reconnaissance visits that occur. These have always been extensive but now there will be additional staff involved due to the ticket collection process. The Club knows the collection location has to be convenient and open for a good range of time. The intention is for the collection point to remain open from 10am on match day until kick-off. It may also be open on the evening before a match. Staff involved in this process will include Graham Smith and all experienced members of the box office staff. Policing the area and transport links are also important.

Other clubs have similar schemes which work well.

The Club knows that location is key. For Instance if the location is too near the ground then fans may mill around before kick off. So six windows as collection points at the stadium would not be ideal for instance. The Club will endeavour to make it an efficient and friendly process for all involved. Hopefully fans will not leave it until the last minute and will be encouraged to collect tickets early.

The Club may go through the selling process for tickets and then announce later where the collection point will be. Communication with travelling fans will be extensive. Those travelling will be emailed with full details of the location.

The Club confirmed its intention to operate the scheme for all European matches this season. One supporter raised the issue that at a previous match where such a scheme existed some years ago, those purchasing tickets together couldn't sit together. The Club said it would only allocate seats once all declaration forms for that group are processed so those fans can sit together, unless it's a group who submit their declaration forms at the end and there aren't tickets left together. Disabled supporters will also be given information regarding their ticket collection in advance including a map.

The Club confirmed that the declaration form will not be needed for fans travelling with Thomas Cook and tickets will be handed out on the plane as usual for those fans. Thomas Cook collects supporter information when packages are purchased anyway so there is no need for an extra check.

The Club was asked what arrangements will be in place for those delayed in travelling on match day.

The Club will take account of how most fans are likely to travel and has the option of placing the ticket collection point at a transport hub such as near an airport or train station.

One supporter commented that all it takes is a delay in travelling on the day and a fan is even less likely to see the match than previously as they have to collect a ticket first. The Club confirmed that all general admission tickets will be handed out at the ticket collection point in the away city/town. The Club is not planning to take uncollected tickets to the stadium at kick-off. There are two phone numbers available. One is the emergency number and the other is for ticket collection. The Club is aware that there may be travel delays and if the fan phones in then the Club will try and assist, within reason.

Some supporters added their voice to concerns regarding delays in travel. Also if there is a match away in Europe near to the UK, such as Paris, it was previously possible to work for the day before travelling. This procedure will make it harder to travel last minute.

The Club commented that, as was stated at meetings last season, it recognises this is not an ideal process for everyone but given the circumstances it is the best the Club can introduce. Supporters will need to adapt to the system as well. As the system progresses after the first matches, then the process can be reviewed.

The Club has spoken to other clubs with similar schemes such as Manchester United and PSG. It can certainly be made to work.

One supporter asked how the new system would impact on the European away ticket scheme. If a supporter can’t collect the match ticket through no fault of their own, due to delayed travel for instance, then they will be off the away scheme if they miss another match. The Club confirmed about 500 are on the European away scheme and some may choose not to be on the away scheme any more due to this. However the numbers on the scheme are similar to last season and the new collection system was announced prior this season.

One supporter commented that the system seemed to be a response to events in Paris regarding a few fans last season. The Club said this would not be an entire solution as to what happened in Paris. This meeting is not here to decide whether the scheme will be introduced but rather to discuss the mechanism as to how it will be carried out.

The Club confirmed that if two tickets are purchased under one name then two declarations will have to be provided, for instance if booked through one season ticket holder. The individuals must therefore collect the tickets.
One supporter stated that he presumed the Club’s concern is that the purchaser is not the individual attending the match. The Club was asked whether another solution would be for the purchaser to provide proof of travel such as flight tickets in the names of the ticket holders. It would be a sizeable investment for the purchaser to waste travel tickets if they are not attending the match. This is not an entire failsafe process but would be a pretty good guarantee.

The Club replied it had considered this. However for a big match in particular a supporter could pay a £30 airfare and then resell their match ticket for a sizeable amount. The Club added it wants the reassurance that the correct supporters are entering the ground.
The Club was asked whether it would be possible to meet supporters who are delayed in travelling to the ground in order to give them their match tickets and supporters noted the Club had unofficially been helpful in practice with such issues in the past. The Club responded that it is not safe for staff to stand outside turnstiles handing out tickets. A supporter added that it is not always easy to walk round the outside of the stadium before a match, making the logistics difficult as well. The Club added that there has to be certainty in the process so fans know exactly where they are meant to be to collect the tickets. Also if a large number arrive late for a match then it will be logistically very difficult to meet them all by the stadium.
The Club reiterated this is a new process and it is doing its best to introduce a fair and logical system. This is not being introduced as a knee-jerk reaction but after growing concerns about supporters in our away matches in Europe for some time. Tickets are passed around outside a stadium and the Club is ultimately responsible under UEFA rules for our away fans. Paris was only one element that contributed to this decision. Ticket touting has been a particular concern.

One supporter expressed concern that this would not alleviate the problem. One factor is that police at away grounds sometimes want all away fans in the ground rather than milling about outside, regardless of whether they have a match ticket. One supporter commented that the introduction of such a scheme last season could have resulted in more genuine fans obtaining tickets to the Maribor match.

There are tried and tested procedures that other clubs have used successfully. Chelsea staff, stewards and security will run the process. The Club confirmed that the procedure would apply to general admission tickets which includes hospitality fans. The only ones not included will be the small VIP category which includes players’ family tickets, directors’ tickets and sponsors.

The Club doesn't anticipate problems from home fans. Other clubs with similar systems have not had problems in this regard. It will be made clear to local police that this is not to be used as an opportunity to round up Chelsea fans and take them to the ground. The fans are still welcome to travel to the ground as they choose and when they choose.

PSG fans collected their tickets at the Hammersmith Apollo which worked well.

It was confirmed by the Club that rules for the away scheme haven’t changed. If a supporter misses two matches by not collecting tickets he or she will be removed from the scheme. The Club confirmed that it would consider an individual situation if a fan is genuinely delayed due to travel through no fault of their own and can’t collect a ticket. Some away matches may be sold on loyalty points anyway. The Club confirmed it doesn’t control prices at away grounds.

Further to a request the Chairman will circulate correspondence between the Chelsea Supporters Trust and Manchester United fans regarding potential problems with the system.

The Club will review the process after each match and take account of supporters’ views. Feedback is requested.

One supporter requested that the away club applies the seating numbers that are on the tickets. The Club said it can’t control this but does bring this to UEFA’s attention. Police in Paris pushed our fans into the upper tier last season but the Club confirmed it had lost the appeal regarding the entry problems for away fans there. One supporter commented that it took some fans over an hour to get in and only two members of staff seemed to be carrying out checks.

It was suggested that the Club make use of CCTV in identifying individuals when they collect their tickets if that person then causes problems in the stadium later. The Club responded that it does not want a heavy-handed atmosphere to the collection process.

The Club confirmed it doesn’t consider there to be data protection issues with the process as no data is collected at the ticket collection point. Any data regarding our away fans is not shared with the home club and only with the UK authorities when required. It confirmed it would not accept photocopies of passports or other ID. If some don’t want to carry their passport to the match, they need to collect their ticket early so they have time to leave the passport back at their accommodation.

The Club was reminded that for the Bruges match away twenty years ago some supporters were rounded up straight away and either held or deported, irrespective of how they had travelled to the match. The Club said it doesn’t anticipate such problems.

The Club confirmed it would welcome feedback from the two forums as to how the process has worked.

The Club reiterated that it wants to make the process as fan-friendly as possible but considers that it is an important process to implement not least given UEFA requirements. It was confirmed that the idea of wristbands won’t be implemented as this would involve more staff having to monitor fans as they arrive at the stadium.

The Chairman thanked fans for attending at short notice regarding this issue.

(The meeting ended at 7.15pm.)


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