Arsenal Football Club Supporters Consultative Forum 2005/2006 Season
Meeting held in the Red-Zone room at Arsenal F.C, at 11.15 am on Saturday 26th November 2005.

Attendees (in alphabetical order):
ARMITT, Lee - Gold Member
BOWLES Mick - Arsenal Supporters Club Branch,
BUDDLE, Rita - Over 60 year old Representative
CAMPBELL, Sue - Arsenal F.C
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
MABERT, Allan - Disabled Supporter (Roger Salmon, Helper, was also in attendance)
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
ROBERTS, Elliot - Electoral Reform Services (Independent Chair)
SANDZER, Philip - Gold Member
SMITH, Jill - Arsenal F.C
WALKER, Sophia - Silver Member

Apologies for absence:
Neil Rands
Simon Withey

Matters arising from the last meeting:

Did the on-line ticketing system arrive in Mid-November, including the ability to view credit points and buy away match tickets?

Ivan is not here today, so we’re not sure where we are on that - we will get back to you on the matter. The ability to purchase away match tickets is due to occur later down the line. The club are also happy for the Dennis Bergkamp day to go ahead and the provisional date for this is the 15th April.

Farewell to Highbury

What plans do the club have in terms of auctioning items from Highbury stadium? - Will supporters clubs be able to obtain items for auction?

The club will be organising an auction and we are looking to hold this a week after we get our licence for the new stadium, which we will hopefully get in the 3rd week of July. The full details of the Auction process haven’t yet been finalised, but we’re thinking of offering every season ticket holder the opportunity to acquire their seat from Highbury. About 5,000 items have been identified by Bache Treharne as being valid items for auction, however English Heritage have to confirm with us whether or not certain lots can be auctioned. It’s unlikely that we will give auction items to supporters clubs. There will be the opportunity to bid for items on-line and supporters interested in wanting further information can register at highburyauction.com, where they will then receive regular updates. Proceeds from selected auction items will be given to the Arsenal Charity of the Season.

What is the status for the closing ceremony to mark the end of our Highbury era after the Wigan game?

We are making plans to have a closing ceremony immediately after the Wigan Athletic match on the 7th May. It will last about an hour or so and one of our plans is to bring back as many old faces as possible to the ceremony. Details of ticket arrangements for this fixture will be advertised early in the New Year.

Emirates Stadium / Ticketing

It’s been recently publicised that the club will now be having the museum in the new stadium - can you give us more information?

We’ve now allocated some space for the Museum in the basement of the Northern Triangle at Emirates. At ground level of this section we will have the Red Zone area. We are going to invest a considerable amount of money in the Museum to bring the technology used there up-to-date e.g. touch screens and rolling film footage. It will open most days of the week, including match days and it will be accessed from outside the stadium for tours etc.

Can you give us an update on the number of season tickets available at Emirates and what the current take-up is?

We will have an extra 13,000 general admission season tickets. On top of the 22,000 we have at Highbury the club-level and box level tickets will also be season tickets. Out of the 13,000 extra season tickets, half of these have to be offered to Islington residents; approximately 4,500 will be allocated in this way. So we should have about 8,500 to allocate to people on top of the season ticket waiting list. We’ve had several letters of complaint in relation to the central seats, as some Bond holders have chosen seats in this area. We had always made it clear that this is one of the advantages of being a debenture holder.

As the new Wembley stadium will have greater capacity for Cup Finals than the Millennium stadium, will these extra tickets be available for fans of the teams competing in the final?

We think we’ll have more season ticket holders than tickets available for Cup Finals so we will probably have to run a ballot to allocate those tickets - club level season ticket holders will get no preferential treatment in this. We believe that as many tickets as possible should be available to the fans of the teams who are competing in the final.

The Premier League clubs have to abide the rules the F.A set. The current arrangement at Cardiff is that about 1,000 seats go to Corporate Sponsors, 23,000 go to F.A associations - with these getting distributed as the associations see fit - and the rest divided by the 2 competing clubs. At Wembley, 17,000 will be allocated to F.A Club members, with at least 23,000 going to F.A associations - this doesn’t leave many more than Cardiff for the 2 competing clubs. It may be an idea to arrange a campaign about ticket allocation near the time, but we have to bear in mind that the majority of associations are unlikely to vote for change. As a matter of principle, we as a club never accept our allocation of tickets for a Cup Final when we’re not competing in it.

Are the club considering building a hotel at Emirates Stadium? - this might be particularly useful for overseas fans.

The club will not be running a hotel, but there may well be a hotel relatively close to the stadium as part of the re-development of the area. We wouldn’t be able to set up a contract in terms of guaranteed occupancy/rates, due to the variability of demand over a period of time, but we may be able to develop preferential rates at this hotel. Within our travel club, we have already negotiated preferential rates in hotels across London and the more these are taken up, the better negotiating position we will have in the future.

Can you give us more information on the development of a supporters’ restaurant/bar.

The North Bridge office block will contain a supporters’ restaurant, as well as a retail outlet. The restaurant will be available for general admission fans and will be located on the top floor. We hope this will provide a self-service carvery type meal on match days with 2 sittings prior to a match. We may also have a kiosk open in the South West corner, serving coffees etc, this may be opens outside match-days - probably in the summer months only.

General Questions

Is there a reason as to why there hasn’t been an announcement as to which theme will apply to which match day?

Initially it was our intention to allocate all of the themes for the entire season in advance.  However, to ensure that former players were able to return for the appropriate themes, we decided to only announce themes in the previous match programme in order to stop the themes chopping and changing.  In addition, we have a series of themes such as the 1913 Day that we would like to coincide with the unveiling of the Arsenal tube mural.  We have only recently received final confirmation as to when this will be unveiled so therefore it would have been futile to have set a date until this information was known.  However, sometimes events take over. Wenger day came around on the first home match after Thierry Henry broke the goal scoring record, so we rolled out our plan for that one at the last minute. [Fans agreed that was one of the best presentations to take place at Highbury for quite a long time] We also had footage etc on the website shortly after he broke the record, as well as a live web-chat with Thierry.

Was Thierry happy with the accolades/events after he broke the record? (The happier he is, the more likely he is to stay!)

He was very pleased. He was also happy that his friend Ian Wright was available to do the presentation that marked him breaking the goal-scoring record at Arsenal.

He did an interview in the supporters club magazine at the start of the season, which included a discussion about atmosphere, where he mentioned fans leaving early - can he do that more?

Thierry is like the manager, if you ask him a question, he will answer it honestly.  He was asked about the atmosphere at Highbury and he gave an example (Bayern Munich match last season) of supporters leaving the stadium before the end of the match when the team had everything to play for.  As professionals, the players will give their all to the end regardless whether supporters leave the ground or not but of course, they want the fans to stay until the end of the match as they value their support and it helps to raise their game. We’ll put something in a future programme highlighting critical goals that have been scored in the last few minutes of a match. We are looking to name the 4 corner bars and restaurants: we have some ideas but we would like suggestions and themes from the forum, so please have a think about this and contact us with your ideas

Also we will be publicising in the Reading and Ajax programs that we will be trialing the new announcement ideas when going through the team list at the Chelsea game (we may even trial it at the Reading Carling Cup game).

Is there any feedback from the Travel Survey that was in the Everton program?

We haven’t done all the number crunching required as yet from the data received and we’ve included another survey in the programme for today’s game. Once we’ve fully processed this information, we’ll publish the figures.

If O2 were to be taken over, how would this impact on the sponsorship deal with the club?

O2 have been taken over and there has been no change in the sponsorship deal. If they did want to terminate the contract early, there are penalty clauses within the contract that would kick in. The Emirates deal is a fixed term contract and as it’s essentially a quasi-governmental organisation, we don’t see any risks with them.

We are still seeing the same touts hanging around outside the ground on Match days - how is this happening?

Between 20 and 25 people have been caught by the police this season - one of the problems is that they are only fined and then they are back there a couple of weeks later - this is an issue for the magistrates. We have put in place bans on a number of people from being within a certain distance from the stadium. We’ve caught more people than in previous years and we know that next year, the problem will be greatly reduced by the electronic ticketing system. You will only be able to get in with this so this makes it a lot less transferable than an ordinary ticket. We can also sometimes trace who has been transferring tickets and then cancel memberships to all people at the same address. The Premier League have also been able to completely shut down several websites that were selling tickets over the internet, as they were infringing the copyrights of numerous clubs by using current crests.

We would like to thank the club for providing coaches for the game at Sunderland. You can’t currently buy any concession tickets on Ticketmaster and you’re not informed until you’re at the purchasing stage - can this be changed?

We’ll look into that - you can get concession tickets directly from the club.

Tickets sold to West Stand gold Members for the Reading game were asked to return these and then told we would be need to go somewhere else - why did this happen?

Reading are entitled to 15% of the tickets for the Carling Cup game. - We were unsure as to the level of demand for this game from our side - Reading sold out their allocation within a few hours, whereas we didn’t sell out our allocation even after advertising to Red Members. If tickets were to go on general sale, Reading fans may then get tickets all around the stadium, so we decided to allocate Reading a thousand extra tickets in West Lower R&S, which necessitated us moving about 150 Arsenal fans who had already bought tickets for this area. We thought this was the lesser of 2 evils. We’ll change our approach for similar games in the future.

Michael Bowles bought a similar shirt to the Arsenal Replica shirt in terms of style and quality to the forum, for price comparison.We accept that Nike use similar templates for various garments that they produce and that this product is similar to the replica Shirt. We have reminded them that they have to be careful when producing items. In terms of junior replica kits, Nike choose cut-off points for various sizes of shirt, but this is not an exact science as it’s also partly determined by volumes of sales for each size and the varying unit cost involved in producing these. We apply our standard margin across all sizes. As part of our sponsorship deal, we are committed to buying the merchandise directly from Nike. Other retailers have the luxury of discounting high-profile products and dramatically cut their margins on these to get people into their store. However, we do not have this luxury and concentrate on adding value to the customer relationship (such as the open day at Highbury for this year’s shirt launch), which other retailers are not able to offer.

How is the electronic season-ticket access trial working in the North Bank?

We had one week where we had a few teething problems but overall it’s working very well. People are still learning how the system works and are standing around, unaware that they can enter the stadium. Once people get used to the system it will prove more effective than the current ticketing arrangements. People are informed where they need to go prior to them arriving at the stadium and we will be colour coding the various zones at the new stadium.

Will there be electronic advertising boards at the new stadium?

Yes there will be. For Champions League games, we will be using their static boards - our electronic boards will be the same dimensions as these so we will hopefully not lose any capacity because of this.

Will there be the 20,000; 40,000 and 60,000 games at the Emirates stadium?

We will not be having these - we will however be having a training day and one match - the training day will hopefully be early-mid July, with the game open to spectators in the 3rd week in July.

There was an article in the Independent on Sunday of 20th November, where Arsenal came 6th in a survey of fans people would least like to travel with on public transport- what is the clubs’ view on this?

The issue with surveys like this is that the methodology is not always great. For example, there are stadiums such as Wigan where there are no train services near the stadium, whereas we have over 30,000 fans travelling to our games by tube - London clubs are at an in-built disadvantage with this as a much higher percentage and number travel to games by Tube and Train. A better way of measuring fans behaviour is how many fans are evicted from grounds - we tend to come out best on this.

Based on the positive feedback about the Membership pack this season, we are likely to use a similar formula for the pack next season. We intend to include some footage of the first event at Emirates Stadium so the packs may not be distributed until late September.

The vast majority of fans would be happy with that, as long as they are informed in advance.

We will be having discounts for members in the club shop for every Thursday in December and we also raised nearly £20,000 from the auction of box sets.

[The meeting finished at 12.45pm]

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