Arsenal Football Club Supporters consultative Forum 2006/2007 Season
Meeting held at Noon, The Red Zone Sunday April 29th 2007
Attendees (in alphabetical order):
BOWLES, Mick — Arsenal Supporters Club
DOCHERTY, Amanda — Arsenal F.C.
EDELMAN, Keith — Arsenal F.C
ELLIS, Paul — Arsenal Supporters Club — Norfolk
FORD Adrian — Arsenal F.C
GOODWIN, Steve — AISA Representative
GOSNELL, Peter — Disabled Supporter Representative
HALFPENNY, Mark — Silver Member
LASER, Ronald — Club Level Representative
MEARS, Janet — Over 60 year old Representative
MILES, David — Arsenal F.C.
MIRZOIAN, Olga — 16-21 yr Old Representative
O’BRIEN, Michael — Arsenal F.C
RANDS, Neil — Gold Member
ROBERTS, Elliot — Electoral Reform Services (Independent Chair)
SENIOR, Philippa — Family Enclosure Representative
SMITH, Jill — Arsenal F.C
STANZER, Philip — Gold Member
TANGO, Lee — Red Member
GOULDING, Peggy — Arsenal Supporters Club — St Thomas’s Road
COXHEAD, Stephen — Red Member
DOWD, Chris — Silver Member
NOORGAARD, Henrik — Overseas Supporters Club
Minutes of the last meeting: - No matters arising.
Will the proposed buy-back scheme only apply to Gold / Season ticket holders and how will the system work?
It will apply to anybody who has a ticket and is for whatever reason, not able to go to a particular game. We were approached by a company who offered us money to run this scheme, but the board decided that we would administer it internally as we didn’t think it is fair for those we want to buy the ticket to pay an extra 20-40% for it — which is what this company was proposing. We will only charge a 10% administration fee for those who want to sell their ticket(s) and tickets will be on sale at face value.
The ticket buy-back scheme will work on-line. Once a particular game is sold out, any tickets put up on the buy-back scheme will go up for sale and then if it’s sold it’s sold. You card will be de-activated and whoever buys the ticket will have their card activates — we have a large number of red members and this system means we will hopefully be able to offer even more tickets to these members.
As you may have seen we recently announced a price freeze for tickets next year. We are honest in stating that prices will probably rise in line with inflation in the year after that, as to freeze them for a few years and then increase them by 10% + makes it very hard for fans to budget around this.
In other Leagues in Europe, some teams negotiate their own TV rights — is this something that Arsenal are considering?
The Premiership has been very successful in negotiating TV rights across the world and we believe as a Club that we have more access to TV money when it is negotiated as one Product. There have been debates in the past about the disparity in money surrounding big and relatively small clubs in the premiership, but the ratio of TV money over time has been narrowing. The numerical differential is going up, but the ratio is going down when international TV rights are factored in, as these are allocated evenly across the board. The domestic contract is to an extent determined by the number of times you are shown on TV. This will become more complicated next year as domestic TV rights have now been sold to two broadcasters.
Has there been any progress in the reciprocation of away ticket prices?
There is an on-going debate within the Premiership about this but it hasn’t come to any conclusion as yet.
There are only 25,000 tickets available for each team in the FA cup final. — what is Arsenal’s view on this?
As a Club, we have been arguing for some time that a contract needs to be in place with the F.A in relation to the Cup Final. As more teams get to the FA Cup final and realise the points we are making, we hope that we can take this debate forward over time. The ticket prices for the semi-final were in our opinion high and will be quite expensive overall for the final. We have always stated that we believe more tickets should be available for the fans of the teams in the Cup final and as in previous years, we have returned our Club allocation of 18 tickets back to the FA. At Wembley there are 15,000 Club level seats and 4,000 box seats and a further 20,000 are allocated to football clubs and regional sectors of the FA, which leaves about 25,000 each for the two sets of fans.
The future of Arsenal following the recent resignation of David Dein
A lot of Arsenal fans are worried and unsure about the future of Arsenal FC following recent events — can the Club give an update on the current situation?
The major shareholders and the Board are committed to and love this Club and manage and run it on this basis. There are other types of club ownership, as can be seen at Manchester United and Chelsea for example We feel our model currently works well and we have one of the largest turnovers in the Premier League.
Some of the language used recently by the Chairman was thought to be inappropriate by a large number of fans — bearing in mind the multi-national nature of all aspects of the Club.
With events like the resignation of David Dein, there is always a crescendo of media interest and speculation and after the announcement of irreconcilable differences leading to the departure, media channels then try to build angles and unsubstantiated stories around that. The Chairman received a call at his home from a reporter and is adamant that he didn’t use the phrase “his sort” in that impromptu interview. Once this is printed and then replicated in other media, it then takes on a life of its own and is very hard to repudiate. The manager talked about the relationship he had with David Dein and we felt that that should be aired as he had been an important part of this Club.
Fans want to know that the Club is in good hands and I think the move from Highbury to Emirates Stadium whilst still maintaining financial stability demonstrates that. We all recognise as a club the contribution that David Dein has made to the club, but we also point out all the great work that the Board have done in taking this club forward. The evidence speaks for itself and we hopefully feel that this puts all the media speculation and coverage into some context. In our current situation, we are not sure that Kroenke can bring anything extra to the Club — he can’t increase our gate receipts, for example but we have a duty to listen to what he may have to say..
How far can Arsenal’s current Board just say no to any potential take-over bid?
The coverage in the sports sections of newspapers has been inaccurate. In terms of City Regulations, any individual can make a bid without holding any shares. Once someone gets to 30% ownership, they have to make a bid. He currently owns 12.2% and the Board, who own 45.4% have entered into an agreement not to sell any of their shares for at least 12 months.. At 51% you get control of the Board. The current Board is comfortable with its position. Danny Fiszman has recently sold a small amount of his shares, but his commitment to this club is undiminished and the sale was for personal reasons. As he and other Board members don’t have a high profile, it is easier for stories and speculation around his motives to be aired.
If you look at the clubs who have won trophies over the last few years: Manchester United and Chelsea — they have both had benefactors who have provided large sums of money — how do we compete with this?
If you take Manchester United they have no access to additional money other than what they have internally generated e.g. increased ticket prices and some of this will be a return for their investors. Historically, they have been the only club that has paid dividends to shareholders. Chelsea, as we all know are a completely different story
Whilst we understand and support the structure that Arsenal have implemented in internally developing young players or bringing young players in, are we in a position to compete at the top end of the transfer market in buying already established world-class players?
Apart from one request, the Board has never turned down a transfer request from Arsène Wenger and his approach has always been to incrementally build and add to the squad, as opposed to blitzing the transfer market. We haven’t necessarily bought players when they were already world-class but if you look at our team now, a lot of them have developed into world-class players whilst being at Arsenal. We may not have bought the headline expensive players, but we have bought a lot of players over the years, most of which have been successful at this Club. Arsène has been developing a team and you don’t need to look too far to see how buying very expensive players into a team doesn’t always work. In terms of players at the Club, who we bring in and who we release is down entirely to the manager and we will hope to be able to say yes to every request for players that he puts in. We don’t measure success buy how much we spend on the transfer market. Our revenue generation is not far behind that of Manchester United — Chelsea are obviously in a different league at the moment, but we do have money available for the manager if he identifies and wants to go out and buy new players — we have consistently reiterated this, including in the recent letter sent out to Shareholders.
In terms of the period of change that the Club is experiencing, can you confirm that the supporting role David Dein played in the contractual side of the player relationship with the Club will continue in the same vein?
David Miles [Company Secretary] has also previously been involved with this and has recently concluded negotiations with several players and contract extensions. Arsène will identify someone to continue this role in the Summer.
You’ve stated that you (Keith Edelman) and Peter Hill-Wood have requested a meeting with Stan Kroenke — what will be the agenda for this meeting?
He said he would like to meet with us and we hope to have something arranged soon. We essentially want to find out what his plans are. We’ve met him once previously but were not made aware of his intentions.
In the Summer — it would be good to see some interviews at Arsenal.com with players and Arsène, showing their commitment to the Club.
Of course we will do that, but as you all know, during the Summer all kinds of stories and speculation circulate in the press and other media. Until contracts are signed, it is very hard to counteract these — it is the nature of the environment we’re in.. However, we have to remember that players are away for some periods during the Summer. The media is vast and we need to be selective in what stories we repudiate. So there will be rumours around and we will try our best to answer
How are we progressing on the Anthem?
We still believe that this should be fan led to a large extent. We did experiment with the tune “one day” about 5/6 times and this was played before the teams came out but we all know it didn’t work very well. We will look at it again over the summer and when we’ve come up with something we will bring it back to test and see what the reaction to it is. This is something that different fans have different opinions on and we’ll keep trying until we find the right one. The chanting of the names of players as they are announced over the tannoy has worked extremely well, especially before big games.
Any Other Business
Does the Club feel they can work with fans (e.g. RedAction) to help improve the atmosphere and what can be done to have more silver availability in the Red Section?
As we’ve already discussed, we have tried several things and some like the calling of players’ names have gone down very well. We will keep trying with the Anthem, working in conjunction with RedAction and other supporter groups. Overall RedAction has been positive although we have occasionally had complaints about standing. It’s been our first year at the new stadium and fans and staff are now getting a feel for what works and what doesn’t work. We’ll continue to work with your groups to try and find what works best. We’ll look at the silver availability in that section for next season.
Can the Club confirm what the away strip next season will be?
The new away strip will be revealed next week and we can state that it is built around the contribution Herbert Chapman made to the Club. It will commemorate the history and tradition of Arsenal and we feel that you will grow to like it over time. White will be the base colour of the shirt. We know it is slightly radical but it does represent our tradition.
How will the Club be remembering Alan Ball today?
There will be a large article in today’s programme, as well as a minute of applause to commemorate his life and his contribution to the Club.
There are a few outstanding vacancies on the forum for next season, which will be advertised in the Chelsea programme.
We want to thank those forum members who are stepping down today — We do try and work hard with fans to make sure that everybody’s experience is positive and this forum is one of the main ways that we strive to achieve that.
A presentation was made to those forum members stepping down and the meeting finished at 1.40pm.