Arsenal Football Club Supporters Consultative Forum 2005/2006 Season
Meeting held at Emirates Stadium, at 12.30am on Saturday January 14th 2006.

Attendees (in alphabetical order):
ARMITT, Lee - Gold Member
BOWLES Mick - Arsenal Supporters Club Branch,
BUDDLE, Rita - Over 60 year old Representative
COXHEAD, Stephen - Red Member
DOCHERTY, Amanda - Arsenal F.C
DOWD, Chris - Silver Member
EDELMAN, Keith - Managing Director, Arsenal F.C.
FORD, Adrian - Arsenal F.C
GOODWIN, Steve - AISA Representative
GOULDING, Peggy - Arsenal Supporters Club - St Thomas’s Road
HALFPENNY, Mark - Silver Member
MILES, David - Arsenal F.C.
MIRZOIAN, Olga - 16-21 yr Old Representative
NORGAARD, Henrik - Arsenal Supporters Club - Overseas
O’BRIEN, Michael - Arsenal F.C.
PATRICK, Martin - Executive Suite / Private Box Member
PYMAN, Steve - Family Enclosure
RANDS, Neil - Gold Member
ROBERTS, Elliot - Electoral Reform Services (Independent Chair)
SANDZER, Philip - Gold Member
SMITH, Jill - Arsenal F.C
WALKER, Sophia - Silver Member

Apologies for absence:
Allan Mabert
Simon Withey

[At about 11am, forum members were taken on a guided tour of the new Emirates Stadium, which lasted approximately an hour and a half. Members were shown all the different levels of the stadium (lower Terrace, Club level etc) as well as taken inside the changing rooms and press room]

Can you give us an overview of what’s happening with the buildings around the stadium?

We have a couple of pieces of land at the South side of the stadium where we will be having a couple of developments. We also will be having a partly-residential, partly-commercial development on Queensland Road - we will outsource this work to a developer. We are also planning to work on Highbury Square ourselves, in conjunction with SRM. That development is due soon after we get our licences for the Emirates stadium and is likely to be finished in Summer 2010.

The first use of the player’s names is when the stadium is less than half full - this has a negligible impact. Also the music played when the players walk out drowns out any chanting that goes on. We also need to develop some new chants as a few are now not applicable / appropriate.

It is used to build up the atmosphere prior to the players coming out on the pitch. We’ve started liaising with fans on creating an anthem and chants and we’ll be developing this rapidly before the end of the season. We’ll arrange a room and get fans involved with this.

Fans that start chants are sometimes asked by other fans to keep quiet. - Which is disappointing - can the club help with this?

It’s a difficult balance for us to manage as we can’t tell fans what to do in the stadium apart from coming down strongly on unacceptable behaviour. We are always trying out new things to build the correct atmosphere. We can encourage fans and try out things, but ultimately, it has to come from the fans themselves. Hopefully the meeting referred to above will help in this - we’ll try and get Paul Burrell (the stadium announcer) involved as well.

Sometimes tickets go on sale the same day that Arsenal are playing away games in Europe - obviously making it harder to buy tickets over the phone - can this be avoided?

For the 2 last Premier League games at Highbury there will be a period of time during which fans can apply for tickets, not just the one day. For next season, we think it’s wise to keep the same 2 months in advance system for the sale of home tickets as fans are accustomed to this and can plan in advance. To move dates around for certain games will confuse matters. Tickets can always be applied for by post and we would recommend that fans use this method, with a cover note, if they’re away with the Club on an ‘onsale’ date.

In the Arsenal shop before Christmas, a number of items were unavailable as they had sold out - how did this happen?

We bought a certain amount (more of the Nike stock than we have in previous years) but we obviously got more demand for certain products than we expected and turnaround times for certain products, especially in the run up to Christmas, are longer than for products we directly produce ourselves. We had our biggest year last year in terms of turnover but we apologise to fans for the stock issues for some of the products we sell.

It’s still possible to buy tickets at grossly inflated prices for certain games (e.g. £600 for a Wigan ticket) - how does the club try and put a stop to this?

If it comes to our attention that these tickets are actually available (some of them turn out not to be available) then we get the police involved and also get help from the Premier league in closing down these websites. We have someone who regularly checks these sites and our ultimate sanction is to cancel the membership of the person who is trying to sell these tickets. At the new stadium, with the electronic ticketing we are introducing, this will no longer be an issue.

There were problems with the on-line ticketing system for purchasing Liverpool tickets - do we know what happened?

We want ticket purchasing to be as streamlined as possible - which is why we provide on-line ticketing - it is much more streamlined for the fans and you don’t have to keep re-dialling all the time. We have tested the rigours of the system and were satisfied, but for the Liverpool game, demand was unprecedented and brought the system down for a while. We’ve had discussions with Ticketmaster - who provide the front end technology - and we can assure supporters that this issue is receiving their full attention.

Bearing in mind the issue above, we are now looking to put credits information and away ticket sales on-line from the start of season 2006/2007. We will also be advertising in the Wigan Carling Cup programme about how fans can get tickets for the final game at Highbury - against Wigan. This information will also be put on the website.

There is still an issue about buying concession tickets on-line and we are again working with Ticketmaster on this - you are able to buy concession tickets over the phone. For the general issue of ticketing, we are stretched to full capacity at the moment as we are arranging season tickets / electronic tickets etc for the Emirates stadium, so we ask you to bear with us on these teething issues you’re currently experiencing. Ultimately, ticket purchasing and electronic access will be a lot easier in the future. We’ll also make sure that people can drop off postal applications for tickets and therefore avoid queuing at the box office.

After the recent Doncaster and Wigan away games, only a few of the players came to the Arsenal fans to applaud them.

We’ll have a chat with Thierry Henry about this and we will also talk to some of the younger players who played in these games. We will reiterate the importance of the players applauding our fans in the future.

Thank-you for the tour today and for all your hard work you’ve put in to make sure this new stadium works - we’re really excited about it.

[Round of Applause]

The forum finished at 1.10pm.

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 24 Jul 2008