Meeting held at 10 am - the Red Zone Saturday 26th April 2009

Attendees 
Beattie, John – Arsenal F.C
Borthwick, Ian – Family Enclosure
Brent, Graham – Club Level
Brindle, Mark – Arsenal Supporters Club Branch
Campbell, Sue – Arsenal F.C
Clifford, David – Gold Member
Docherty, Amanda – Arsenal F.C
Ford, Adrian – Arsenal F.C
Frost, Ben – AISA Representative
Gazidis, Ivan – Arsenal F.C
Grainger, Nicola – Silver Member
Lee, Jon – 20:20
Manek, Ameesh – Ethnic Minority Representative
Miles, David – Arsenal F.C.
Miller, Raymond – Red Member
Osipiuk, Rob – Silver Member
O’Brien, Michael - Arsenal F.C
Pattison, Dave – Red Member
Roberts, Elliot – Electoral Reform Services (Chair)
Smith, Jill – Arsenal F.C.
Thater, Rosie – 16 – 21 Year Old Representative
Worsell, Ivan - Arsenal F.C.  

Apologies
Hayward, Richard – Gay Supporters Representative
Harrold, Ian – Arsenal Supporters Club Branch
Irwin, John – Gold Member

Matters arising from the last meeting
Arsenalisation of the stadium is covered below.
Update on Junior Gunners ticketing is covered below.

Stadium Policy

To create a greater atmosphere at the Man. United Champions League game here, will the club consider giving fans flags/scarves to wave?

We have ordered 60,000 flags and we’ll have them in good time for the match – it should create a terrific atmosphere. In terms of atmosphere, we’ve learned form our and other games we’ve seen that fans arriving early for Champion’s League games about half an hour before the game helps build up the atmosphere. We’re aware that the restrictions on the sale of alcohol for Champion’s League games means fans come through the turnstiles at the last minute, but the more fans we have in before the game, the more intimidating the atmosphere for the opposition. We’ll have the stadium open at least an hour before the game. 

The policy on National Flags will be reviewed at the end of the season.

Can the club explain the ticketing policy for the Youth Cup Matches – for a recent match it was disappointing to see the ability to buy tickets for the final shut an hour before the game and we should have had more fans there than actually attended.

We did push it through all the channels we could. We have to be cautious of selling too many tickets on the day of game as this leads to uncertainty about the level of attendance and required staff numbers, in terms of police, catering staff, stewards etc. We are also moving away from a cash-based system and we’re not allowed to let people into the stadium via them making a charitable donation. From our experience and experience at other clubs, most people who turn up on the day do within an hour from kick-off and you then can potentially have massive queues building up which could pose problems and lead to complaints from local residents. For the game against Liverpool on May 22nd, we will look to see if we can tweak membership lead up times. Our aim is to maximise attendance at every game that is played at the stadium and we’ll look at ways to try to do so. We have promoted these games via our community program in the past and have sold tickets at £1. However, when tickets are given away, it is hard again to gauge how many will turn up.

Ticketing

Can the club confirm their policy of ticket allocation for Champion’s League/F.A Cup semi-finals and finals and if it’s going to be reviewed in the future?

The general thrust of the policy is that the more away games fans go to, the more likely they are to get a ticket for games such as these, although for the 2006 Champions League final, there was a ballot for the tail end of the allocation for those with few away credits – for this game we had 21,000 tickets. The threshold of away credits required for this seasons’ final – if we get there – will in all probability need to be raised as our allocation of tickets. There will be about 19,000 tickets available for the 2 teams who get to the final and we have nearly double the number of season ticket holders that we had for the 2006 final – we will have a lot of disappointed fans. The capacity at Rome is about 60,000 so about 22,000 tickets are not available to fans of the 2 teams playing. Some of these tickets are allocated under contractual arrangements, but we received a letter last week from UEFA stating that every club who doesn’t reach the final is able to buy tickets – we don’t agree with this and believe that as many tickets as possible should be available to the fans of the 2 teams. We drastically reduced staff and player allocation for the semi-final against Chelsea.

We have to have sold all our ticket allocation by the 17th May, so we will be having a meeting next week to determine what the threshold is. This doesn’t give us a lot of time as we won’t know if we will be going until after the game against Man.United on 5th May.

Can the club expand on their cannon-club position?

As promised, after the last forum, we had a meeting internally and can confirm that it is still there. For Cannon-club members there are now 2 categories, those who can continue to purchase tickets and stay in the family enclosure and those who don’t want to go into the family enclosure can buy tickets as Silver members. We’re also look at providing not additional and not just ticketing benefits to being a Cannon Club member. We will be expanding the size of the family enclosure for certain fixtures next season into the upper tier, which will lead up to an additional two blocks of seats for fans who fall under this category, including OAP’s.

When does the club level renewal process start?

Information was sent out to club level members about a week ago so most, if not all should have received their renewal information by now, including details on the multi-year deal and how to renew on-line. We’ve had a positive response thus far and we also have a very strong waiting list.  

For General Admission – now we know how many cup games we’ll be having next season, can you give a base-line figure for season ticket renewal behind the goal?

As you can imagine, there are a number of permutations in relation to renewal prices for general admission season tickets, based on factors such as opting out of some cup games, location etc – we are aiming to communicate renewal information by about the 10th May. Additional Cup games above the 26 game season-ticket are offered to season ticket holders at a discounted price. The V.A.T on these will be at 15%, even though it’s due to go back up in January 2010. There will undoubtedly be some non-renewals for next season, but we do offer other membership categories, if appropriate, for these people.

AISA had an email about someone who was banned from club level – can you let us know what happened?

We don’t comment on specific cases, but there may be other circumstances as to why he was given a 3 year banning order.

Upper Tier tickets at Wembley for the F.A Cup semi-final are considerably cheaper than the Emirates

Their lower tier tickets are move expensive than their upper tier ones and some of the seats at the back of the upper tier are a considerable distance away from the pitch, both in terms of height and distance.

Current Shareholding Situation

There has been some activity recently – Danny Fiszman has now reduced his holding from 24% to16% and sold these shares to Stan Kroenke. As stated these are private decisions and we’re not privy to the reasons behind them, however the Board feels that both of them have similar business philosophies and the overall number of shares on the Board hasn’t changed. If any one individual was to own over 30% of all shares available, then they need to be in a position to be able to make a bid for all the remaining shares in the club. This offer has to be at market value and other shareholders are under no obligation to sell their holdings.

The communication around the share dealing was very good on the website and other media channels.

IWe’re conscious that these can be sensitive topics and we did take account of the views expressed at the previous forums. There are regulations surrounding these issues and individual shareholders have a right to privacy.

Any more news on the Property Development?

We’re reaching the point of completion on the development, with work now focused on the Gardens – as has been stated previously, the financing around this project is ring-fenced and there is no recourse to the football club. However, if and when the development does make a profit, that will be available to the club. Whilst the timing and value of the profit from the project is not yet confirmed, we still believe that the club will benefit financially from it.

Composition of the Forum

E-mail addresses will be in place from next season so that fans can more effectively communicate with forum representatives and raise topics for discussion formally – the forum will also have additional publicity in future. With this communication channel in place, we won’t need 2 representatives of Red, Silver & Gold members in future and these seats will be replaced by a dedicated RedAction position, A Shareholder position and one other to be determined.

Current members can re-stand next year and if no other person comes forward then it would make good sense to allow the person to take the place next year. I’ll re-draft the forum rules for next season, to also include the issue of non-attendance.

Arsenalisation of the Stadium

We’ve had previous discussions about this topic and since the last forum, as well as incorporating some suggestions from those discussions, we’ve also asked Arsenal staff for their feedback. We are looking to work on the lower concourse in the summer and take the discussions from today to incorporate into the design. We’ll arrange a further meeting for forum members (see below) to finalise the decisions as to what we put in place.

[Jon Lee of 20:20] We’ve worked with Arsenal for a number of years, including working on the design incorporated into the Diamond Club area and the Armoury area. There is a great opportunity in the concourse areas to bring the heritage and history of Arsenal to life. There are 5/6 large Red walls that cold be modernized and reflect the history of Arsenal – these are concrete and are quite rough in terms of surface, so lend themselves to being painted or tiled. There is also a material that can be “air-dried” on which is very durable and if we go down the legends route this will have a better finish than being painted on. We are also suggesting a tiled area. In the area where people put their drinks, we could put Arsenal “source” figures i.e. facts and figures from Arsenal’s history e.g. the 49 game unbeaten run. Some of the designs are quite modern, to reflect an editorial edge.

There are also some steel beams around the stadium and these are perfect for putting on motifs or dates from Arsenal’s history – with this material Gold seems to work quite well. We’ve also come up with some ideas for the ceilings and pillars around the concourses as well as something to “welcome” away fans.

As there is a lot of work involved with this, we are going to do it in two stages – at the end of this season and the end of next season. From our previous discussions, you suggested that you liked the red walls to have Arsenal, block paints and having legends embedded in the stories of Arsenal. We talked about moments and games that I think we agreed on. In terms of the Red Walls, what ideas does the forum have?

The 1930’s crest
Lyrics from supporters songs
Famous quotes from our history, including famous commentary that relates to the moments – bringing them to life.
It would be good for fans if there were different designs across the stadium and not too much replication in different parts of the ground as it would be good for each area to have its own identity.
In terms of moments, there are many to choose from e.g. the invincibles, Arsène Wenger’s first double, the first F.A cup win in 1930 and so on – we will need to have some sort of vote on this to ensure we get feedback from all groups of fans - we obviously don’t want to fill every space now as no doubt we will have other ones hopefully in the not too distant future.
Flags of Nations of the world shown on a map that can also represent different teams we have played or where our players have come form.
The debenture boxes at Wimbledon (tennis) are a good example of how pictures and quotes can work well together.

In terms of representing those moments, a headline or piece of text that encapsulates would work well – if we were to paint these, this means we would be able to change them over time. We appreciate that some moments can only effectively be represented pictorially. Another idea that staff have come up with is a wall where players past and present sign it and write their comments about the club or messages to the fans. We have some Red walls at our offices in Highbury House and we have one wall with managers from our history, another with copies of covers of match day programmes, another with a time-line from the move from Highbury. We’re also looking to referring to the different concourses as North, South, East & West - which will obviously be geographically correct! This has some overlap with Highbury – what we’ve seen in the past is that new names can take a long time to bed and in and be grasped by fans in terms of their chanting.

In terms of the bulk-heads –are there any specific ideas you would like incorporated?

The “warning” colours of yellow and black need a bit of work – it would be good to see a sample of that showing “Victory through Harmony” We’ve got achievements and honours inside the ground – the one thing that won’t change is our progression through various stadiums – this may work for this area. You could also have managerial terms of office up there – it’s unlikely that previous managers will come up against us again.

The pillars lend themselves to having graphic representations of legends – these could be previous players.

The pillars are colour coded, which to some extent may limit what we can do with these. We’re also looking at Arsenalising the concessions stands as they currently just state food and drink.

We’ll circulate these and other ideas and get 20:20 to incorporate these into some new designs and take a look at them when they’re ready. If amenable to everyone, we’ll get together again and have a separate meeting to specifically look at these. We’re hoping to have a mid-June sign-off for everything to be in place for the start of next season. We’ll get everyone together prior to the Youth game on Friday 22nd May – we’ll circulate details.

To help costs, we don’t mind coming in to paint!

A.O.B

Any developments with motifs on seats?

We’d like to thank both Emirates and Nike in allowing us to be able to be the only big club that will only have our cannon motif on seats without sponsor identification. In terms of the shrine, we’re hoping that this will be up and ready for the start of the new season.

As we’re now well underway with the Arsenalisation of the stadium ,some fans will see this as less of a priority – a lot of people were looking at it as a focal point, but with the shrine etc there will now be others.

How does the club feel the montage footage prior to games is working?

It has gone down quite well although we appreciate it is a work in progress and we need to re-visit what visuals and sounds are used just before and as the players walk onto the pitch, It’s an important part of creating the right atmosphere and connecting the fans with the players. There are volume restrictions in terms of how loud the stadium music can be – we’ll have another look at that. For mid-week games especially there is an issue of how far in advance of kick-off fans are seated, but part of the reason a majority of fans are not seated half an hour before kick off is the great facilities we have in the stadium.

We are close to confirming the opposition for the Emirates trophy.

The meeting finished at 11.55am

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 22 May 2009