Meeting held at 2.15pm Saturday 24th April 2010 at Highbury House
Barrett, John - Silver Member Representative
Beale, Richard - Arsenal Supporters Club Representative
Brent, Graham - Club Level
Case, Max - 16-21 yr Old Representative
Docherty, Amanda - Arsenal F.C
Fox, Tom - Arsenal F.C
Futerman, David - Shareholder Representative
Gazidis, Ivan - Arsenal F.C
Bernhard-Grout, Tony - AISA Representative
Hayes, Stephen - Family Enclosure Representative
Herlihy, Raymond - RedAction Representative
Miller, Raymond - Red Member
O'Brien, Michael - Arsenal F.C
Perry, Mike - Over 60 Year-Old Representative
Roberts, Elliot - Electoral Reform Services (Chair)
Saving, Trevor - Arsenal F.C
Smith, Jill - Arsenal F.C.
Szabala, Jan - Arsenal Supporters Club Representative
Thater, John - Gold Member Representative
Worsell, Ivan - Arsenal F.C
Manek, Ameesh - Ethnic Minority Representative
Hayward, Richard - Gay Supporters Representative
Harrold, Ian - Arsenal Supporters Club Representative
[Members convened at 1pm to go on a guided tour of Highbury Square]
How did forum members find the Delaware North (caterers) presentations?
Very interesting - they talked through that no matter how much contingency you have, there was one occasion where it was so cold that they run out of hot water. We talked with them about the pricing of products and how some products e.g. 2 bagels for £9 did seem overpriced.
We have a fairly complicated contractual agreement with Delaware North and have on-going discussions about our relationship and how we can mutually achieve the ends that we both have in mind. They have experience of providing this service all across the world and they are regarded as best in class - that's not to say that we don't liaise with them and raise any issues or concerns that fans may have and it's good that members of this forum have been able to talk with them directly. Their model is based around the numbers coming through the stadium and the propensity of fans to buy food - this model is always changing and they do try out new products and new price points so that fans felt they've had an enjoyable time at the stadium
The Arsenalisation of the Upper Concourse
As fans are probably aware, we've pretty much completed our work on the lower concourses, the only area outstanding is the red panelling on the inner circle - we did initially talk about a time-line but we've decided to go down the pictorial route of having previous managers, crests, as well as having quotes from players.
In terms of the upper concourse, the design company 20:20 have taken a look to see what space and materials they will be working with. We initially thought that we may be more constrained in this area but there is actually more space than we thought that can be used. We're looking to replicate some of what's already in or planned for the lower concourse e.g. crests and ensure that we use the ideas that already work in the lower concourse, but we are willing to look at some new ideas to apply to the upper concourse. There are 27 red walls that we can use, as well as 35 white ones and a number of beams, so there are opportunities to try something different. We don't want to overcrowd the area but there are also some opportunities in doing something with the glass.
We're also looking at important games or goals from our history and representing these in some way as opposed to individual players, especially as we now have player representation on large cores on the external perimeters of the stadium. In the lower tiers we've depicted our greatest moments and in terms of the upper tier we're looking at putting these choices to some sort of vote. We could replicate the moments in relation to our history e.g. Bergkamp signing for us and put these in the upper concourse level as well.
You can also have important moments from games (not necessarily just goals) e.g saves or last gasp tackles e.g. Seaman's semi final save. We could also represent the success of our other teams e.g. our Youth Team (e.g. in the family enclosure area) or our Women's team. There are things that all fans would like represented at all levels e.g. our unbeaten run.
It is easy and relatively cost effective to replicate what we already have in the lower tier, but we would also like to try out new things to give a different point of interest for fans. We're fortunate in that we have such a deep and broad history that there is a lot of moments and events that we can depict. There are some things that have proved successful and perhaps should also be displayed in the upper tier e.g. the programme wall and crests and we're looking to take the best from the lower tier to the upper tier.
Other ideas would be representations of shirts at Highbury, and a key player from that time with playing statistics about them. You could also have a collage of fans photos from over the years - e.g fans first visit to Highbury or the Emirates.
We can also represent our global fan base and overseas supporters clubs and the global background of our players e.g. photos of fans at various wonders of the world.
One idea that staff came up with is life-size "Panini sticker" representations of key players over the years. What we should also factor in is that we'll be celebrating our 125th anniversary soon and some of these ideas could be incorporated into the events we'll have around that and there are different ways we can use photographs of our history to represent this and maybe have a competition around it. There is a danger of using current players in that if they move on and negatively impact on us in the future - I'm sure we can all think of examples. It's better to choose things that are fixed in history.
We do have an Arsenal in Europe wall in the lower tier but we will look at how we represent the global nature of both our players and fans. We're currently focusing on the upper tier but we're aware that there are further things we can do on the exterior of the stadium and this will be an on-going iterative process.
In terms of moving this forward, we'll have another internal discussion over the next week and feed in the ideas discussed today and if possible we can meet up again before the end of May to progress this further.
How are the plans for the 125th anniversary progressing?
We want to mark this anniversary in the right way - we're going through a big strategic review of the club and the celebrations around the anniversary are a very good way to communicate the outcome of the review. The events around the last year of Highbury was a recognition of all our past achievements and we've gone through a lot of changes over the last few years, not least the stadium move - the forthcoming anniversary is a way to also look at the future and we're looking at different ways to incorporate this.
The club have to be wary that it will be a true celebration and not just seen as another way to milk fans via merchandise. Some examples of ways to celebrate it would be to try and arrange a home fixture on the anniversary date, or kick-off at 1.25pm, or as near as possible to it, or spend £125 million on new players!
We want to approach this in a very joined-up way across a lot of different things and events - we're aware that other clubs have produced shirts only worn for 1 game with a special crest on it - we're looking to commemorate it in a more substantive and forward looking way and are wanting fans to embrace it properly. There are many different ways of celebrating it, but we want to link it in to other ideas for the future that we're developing.
The price of tickets for away games in the champions league are set by the club we are playing and they cannot charge any more or less than they would for their own fans. In terms of locations of our fans, this is again set by the club we're playing and their decisions are usually based around security within and outside the stadium.
What's the eligibility criteria in terms of getting tickets for champions league games? There are some Red members who've built up a large number of away credits and attended a number of home games and then there are relatively inactive silver members who then get priority on purchasing these tickets.
There are different benefits associated with the different categories of membership. There are 3 key areas in terms of membership category and ticket eligibility. Platinium and Gold members have paid for their season tickets in advance and rightly have access to certain other tickets. The Silver membership category is a legacy of the old ticket registration scheme and they've been ring-fenced in terms of ticketing eligibility above the Red member category. There are priority groups within these 2 schemes, but generally Red membership is a lot larger than Silver members and we accept that the availability to buy tickets at this level is less than Silver members. We have over 200,000 fans across the different categories. We're internally looking at these different affinity benefits across the categories to make them an even more compelling offer. On average, about 1,500 Red members move up to the Silver category each season.
It doesn't seem fair that you effectively have dormant silver members who spark into life at the business end of the season when there are large numbers of red members who try to go to every game they can and then struggle to get tickets to the important games.
As part of our strategic review will be looking at all levels of membership, and membership benefits, all these types of scenarios will be taken into consideration during this process. We know that on the margins there are some people who share season tickets or may have a season ticket but are still also a silver member - we have marketing objectives and we're always looking at developing new relationships with current and potential fans. The one thing we try to avoid is people obtaining a season ticket and then selling it on at grossly inflated prices.
If Arsenal continue to play a weakened side in the FA Cup, will Arsenal offer reduced prices for the games in the same way as they do for the Carling Cup?
We take the FA cup very seriously and we have very strong sides playing in this competition - we normally play to full houses with our current pricing structure so we don't see the reason to reduce these prices. Arsène has a very definite policy of bringing on and developing our younger players for the Carling Cup and this is reflected for the price of tickets for these games as well as the fact as they're not included as a season ticket game. The wider point is that it's very rare we have what most people would regard as our strongest team playing in any 1 particular game so it's hard to draw boundaries in relation to this - the general point is that it's an avowed policy that we don't look to play our strongest team for Carling Cup games, therefore these are priced in the way they are.
There are other examples where we may not always field our strongest available team e.g. if we've a game after already qualifing for the Champions League knock-out games but when you make a commitment, you make a commitment.
What leverage do the clubs have over kick-off times and why is the game against Blackburn at 5pm on a Bank holiday?
For Saturday and Sunday televised kick-off times, we have very little say on when the game kicks-off. Unusually for this bank holiday kick-off, Sky approached us and asked us what kick-off time we wanted - we had a look at the travel services available that day and what engineering works were taking place and the best kick-off time for our fans, after factoring this in was 5pm. The only guideline broadcasters are asked to work to is to have at least 72 hours between games - which, due to our European commitments, is one of the reasons we don't tend to be asked for the Monday night slot.
The lighting in the North East Corner and the steps nearby to cross the bridge are not very good and it has caused problems at night games in the past - can this be looked at?
Honeywell the engineers have stated that the lighting in that area does meet Council Health & Safety requirements, but we will of course have another look at this - unfortunately, we haven't had any night games since but when we do we will investigate.
In terms of the location of away fans, in most other new stadia they are placed in the upper tier, but at ours they're placed in the corner lower tier (and above for bigger opposition)
That decision was taken following discussions with the Police, Health & Safety considerations, as well as the design, configuration and size of our stadium.
What is the official charity for Arsenal next season?
We haven't made a formal decision as yet but we do continue to do work with charities who we've officially supported in the past, e.g. the Willow Foundation & Treehouse. It is our policy to look for a new charity to start official work with each season.Copyright 2015 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