Arsenal Football Club Supporters Consultative Forum 2005/2006 Season
Meeting held at the Club Museum, Arsenal F.C, at 10 am on Sunday 2nd October 2005.

Attendees (in alphabetical order):
ARMITT, Lee - Gold Member
BOWLES Mick - Arsenal Supporters Club Branch,
BUDDLE, Rita - Over 60 year old Representative
BURRELL, Paul - Stadium Announcer
CAMPBELL, Sue - Arsenal F.C
COXHEAD, Stephen - Red Member
DOCHERTY, Amanda - Arsenal F.C
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
KNIGHTS, Steven - Head of Technology - Arsenal.com
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
RANDS, Neil - Gold Member
ROBERTS, Elliot - Electoral Reform Services (Independent Chair)
SANDZER, Philip - Gold Member
SMITH, Jill - Arsenal F.C
WALKER, Sophia - Silver Member
WITHEY, Simon - Arsenal Supporters Club - Norfolk
WORSELL, Ivan - Arsenal F.C

Apologies:
Chris Dowd
Mark Halfpenny

Minutes of the Last Meeting:
Approved

Travel

There has been some disruption for Supporters Club coaches - what are the arrangements for next season?

There will be occasional disruption this season due to on-going work at Emirates Stadium. There will be parking facilities for next season, although we are not able to disclose where they are as yet.

Will Arsenal be providing any travel facilities for the boxing-day match to Charlton?

We will be providing a coach from Highbury for fans to Travel to Charlton. We will be selling tickets in due course.

Are there any arrangements for a park-and ride scheme and free travel for the new stadium?

Unofficially, a lot of fans park at Cockfosters station at the end of the Piccadilly line, as it's not too far from the stadium and has quite a large car park. However, as a lot of people do it and with it also being close to the M25, it does take quite a bit of time to get out.  In terms of an official site in North London, there aren't many options available on a Saturday afternoon, but we are still looking. Being based in North London means we don't have the same park-and-ride options available to some other clubs.

We've had discussions with Islington Council in terms of free travel, but the complexity of the potential arrangements surrounding this means it's highly unlikely that anything will come to pass. We are trying to persuade fans to come to the new stadium via the Victoria Line (Highbury & Islington & Finsbury Park), as this has more spare capacity than the Piccadilly line, especially as the costs involved in opening Drayton Park specifically for our games on the weekend are prohibitive. We do have a good relationship with TFL in trying to keep line and station closures to a minimum on match days, but ultimately it is their decision.

Ticketing

When buying tickets on-line, it has been stated that they aren't any booking fees for buying tickets this way, whereas in fact there are.

We currently use ticketmaster, a 3rd party ticket sales outlet for our on-line sales of match tickets and whatever technology or outlet you use, there will always be a service charge related to transactions. We will look into the charges for Junior Gunners and family enclosure ticket purchases which you refer to. We need to bear in mind that Ticketmaster use the same technology across all ticket sales and is probably geared more towards large, standardised ticket sales.

We are looking into bringing more of our on-line ticket sales operations in house, to give a more tailored service to our supporters. We have been trialing and volume testing this system and we're hoping to roll out the on-line booking service in Mid-November. This process will continue to expand in the future, including the internalisation of the sale of away tickets and the ability for members to view, via the membership site, the away credits that they have accrued.

This will enable supporters to identify if they qualify to apply for certain away match tickets. Longer term, we hope to be able to provide some virtual reality views from different areas and zones of the stadium, giving on-line ticket purchasers an idea of what the view is like for particular tickets

Will there be a facility to see a view from a particular seat?

There is technology available for this, but it only really works for people on broadband connections and there probably aren't enough people on this connection to currently make it viable.

There was an advert in the Sun on Friday 30th September, from an agency advertising tickets for Arsenal games - how are they doing this?

These same agencies are also advertising tickets for Emirates Stadium, even when there are none available - they are using this approach as a way to build up their client base as well as to offer other products to them. This year, the police have arrested and convicted 10 ticket touts and we've been working closely with the police on this. There are touts on the street offering tickets but they then usually take people to a central contact, which suggests that they are now getting their hands on fewer and fewer tickets - It will be more difficult to tout tickets at Emirates Sadium as it will have electronic access.

Will the ticketing arrangements for non Members be the same at the new stadium?

It will be the same. We currently have about 130,000 members on our books and we expect to have extra 15,000-20,000 members at Red membership level - therefore there will probably be fewer tickets available on a general sale basis.

What are the arrangements for away tickets next season?

We will still be using the credits system and with our on-line ticketing system outlined earlier, this should hopefully make it run smoothly. Box holders do have some rights in purchasing tickets but we are not expecting a huge take up as many will be corporate clients.

What about seating for champions league games?

UEFA have specified what seats will be needed by them for Champions League games and we are contractually obliged to abide by their choices. The season ticket prices for the seats in specific areas will be discounted, as these people will not be able to take up those seats for Champions League games.

General

As it's the last season at Highbury - will supporters clubs be able to submit more than 1 team for the end of season 5-a-side tournament?

As you can imagine, there will be a lot of demands at Highbury towards the end of the season. Last year, 20 clubs submitted teams for the tournament and we would expect more clubs will want to submit teams this year, as it is the last season at Highbury.

There are financial considerations to take into account which means it's in our interest to close the stadium down as early as we can, but that is unlikely to happen before mid July, so there should be more time for events to take place - we will try to allow as many teams as possible to enter.

A letter dated 28th July to supporters offering an Arsenal Credit Card was signed off as the champions, was this not a bit inaccurate?

It was a mistake by the company that offer the Credit Card and we apologise for any misunderstanding.

A supporters group called Red Action has been liaising with the Club about Themed days to improve the atmosphere - one idea put forward has been a Dennis Berkcamp themed day.

As far as the Club is concerned, this is something that needs to be decided by fans and this forum as to what ideas get moved forward - we are happy to get involved in this. However, for things like this to work, we need more people to get involved in the organisation and distribution side of things - like orange t-shirts to get as many fans involved as possible on the day. We don't yet know when it is going to take place as we haven't finalised arrangements for the end of this season and the beginning of next season, but if forum members can come back with some other ideas and possible help then that will be great.

Atmosphere at the stadium

As we know there have sometimes been problems with atmosphere at Highbury - what thoughts/ideas have been put forward to create a more intimidating atmosphere at the new stadium?

We have been working in conjunction with Red Action and have designated an area of about 550 seats in Emirates Stadium for Red Action registered members to help create the atmosphere (provided they've passed the singing test!). It's worked at Portsmouth and we hope it will work in Emirates Stadium. We know that both fans and the Club have to have an input, some schemes we've tried haven't been that successful (e.g. leaving flags at seats) but we will hopefully have an anthem for the team to walk out to by the end of the season.

We will try and create a flow of information amongst fans, by giving advance notice on things like the anthem or other strategies and try to build up the groundswell of support for them. We have also had discussions with Sanctuary records regarding maybe bringing out a CD of Arsenal songs. The atmosphere at away games is usually better as fans are all in one group, which is why we think the designated area in Emirates Stadium will work. Part of the problem at Highbury is that there isn't that turnover of fans, due to lack of available tickets.

One thing that has worked is where the first name of the player is announced and then the crowd shout the surname - this works well at Bayern Munich.

We will be looking to try ideas like this over the Christmas period, where we have home games against Chelsea and Manchester United. We also have traditions at Arsenal, like welcoming the away fans and we will continue with these to maintain sportsmanship at the club. The Club will give some lead on this but also the build up to the new stadium also means that ideas will organically come from the bottom up. We will also trial things like having a drummer in the stands to see how it works. With the jumbotron, we have commercial obligations in the run-up to kick off and we also think that the pre-match interview with Arsène Wenger works well, but we also know that sometimes it can't be heard very well.

We need to create an intimidating atmosphere at our ground, we can feel the atmosphere, especially at away games in the Champions League, where the atmosphere is electric for the home team.

We will have new opportunities at the new stadium as we can create 2 different types of atmosphere, one inside the stadium and one in the concourse - fans can then choose where they want to be. We need to look at the crucial time during the 15 minutes in the run up to kick off.

Commercial

Is the Demolition DVD of the 7-0 win against Everton only available by signing up to a new magazine subscription?

We've taken the view that as a stand alone product it wouldn't support itself - it lends itself more to be used as a promotional tool.

Is there a reason why the full versions of penalty shootouts are not shown on the end of season DVD/Video?

It's mainly an editorial decision to show the highlights of the penalties, however, on this years' output, it showed all the penalties from the F.A Cup final against Manchester United. We want to keep the format fast moving and it is ultimately a highlights package. We will look into the possibility of adding it as a 'DVD extra'.

There is a big jump in the price of a replica kit from my 4 year old son to my 8 year old daughter - why is this?

We obtain the kit from our suppliers NIKE and then we add our margin on top of that. We don't change the margins across the range and effectively cross-subsidise for different ages and groups. Similar products without the Arsenal branding are the crux of the issue, in that there is a premium to pay to obtain official Arsenal merchandise. The structure is that NIKE give us an amount of money each year and we then have to buy the kit from them and based on expected demand, they price accordingly. The margin we apply is lower than products we source from other suppliers. Some retailers are selling shirts cheaper than us, but our after sales service is better and they are using our branded products to entice people into the shop and then buy other goods. Some clubs do sell markedly cheaper shirts - a 2nd string version of the official version but it's not something we support.

Weren't there problems with some of the new shirts selling out?

We did sell out of the XXL size - in the previous year we sold 600 of this size and we ordered a lot more than that, unfortunately our fans are getting bigger! In total we ordered 50,000 shirts over 2 drops.

Arsenal.com - Overview and Survey

Stephen Knights informed the forum that a complete re-design of the Arsenal.com website is forthcoming. Some members might have already seen the new look on the membership section of the site.

About 200-250 disabled supporters are taking part in a survey to check the member website's accessibility, prior to it being rolled out to the full website. Arsenal.com would also like to get feedback from able-bodied members of the site to see if the proposed new layout also works for them. Stephen asked the forum if they would like to help by sending him contact details of at least 5 committed supporters who would be willing to participate in a survey - he confirmed that all information provided will be treated with the strictest confidence. Forum members agreed to help.

A.O.B.

Are Arsenal disappointed about the report in the Sunday Mirror that there will be no seats under £30 in the new stadium.

It is disappointing as it's an inaccurate quote. For Tier B games, some tickets are under £30 and this Tier applies to 12 of the 19 home premiership games we have. We are keeping prices the same next year as they are this year. On the general issue of ticket pricing, it is very difficult to have 1,000 very cheap tickets, as it is hard to means test who should be eligible to receive them.

Will the Family section at the Emirates stadium be next to the away fan section?

No. Away fans will be in the S.E corner of the stadium, with the family enclosure being in the S.W. corner Even in FA Cup games, there will be a section of home support between the away fans and the family enclosure.

The meeting closed 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 24 Jul 2008