Meeting Minutes, Arsenal Football Club Supporters’ Forum,  2nd February 2014 

Supporters’ Forum membership 2013/2014
AISA Representative – Daniel McCloskey
Arsenal Supporters Club – Domestic – Mick Padfield
Arsenal Supporters Club – Domestic – Paul Ellis
Arsenal Supporters Club – Overseas – Angel Georgiev
AST Member – Stephen Cooper
Club Level Representative - Mick Coppock
Disabled Supporter Representative – David Barnett
Gay Supporters Representative – Stewart Selby
Gold Member Representative – Peter Brown
Red Member Representative – Connor Kielty
REDaction Member – Paul Lawrence
Shareholder Representative – Lesley Williams
16 – 21 Year Old Representative – Elliot Guthrie
60 and Over Representative – John Christie

Arsenal FC (Chair) - Mark Gonnella
Arsenal FC - Ivan Gazidis
Arsenal FC - Charles Allen
Arsenal FC - Sue Campbell
Arsenal FC - Jill Smith
Arsenal FC - Andy Exley

Ivan Gazidis (IG) provided an overview of the season so far. Team performance is strong and the squad is well placed to compete. He said the squad was very focussed with a strong ethos and urged supporters to stay behind the team in the final months of the season.

In terms of new player additions, IG stressed that had we been able to bring in a top class player or players in the January window in a position of need we would have done it. However no available players were identified who could add to our current squad apart from Kim Kallstrom who was signed on loan to provide reinforcement in central midfield. He said Kim’s back injury was identified during medical checks before he was signed and the Club decided to proceed with the loan as he will be available for the important final stages of the season.

IG also stated that significant progress was being made off the field. We have appointed Andries Jonker as the new head of the Academy and plans are being developed to improve facilities at Hale End and London Colney. In addition, investment is being made in scouting, physiotherapy, analytics and athletic development programmes.

He said commercial momentum was strong with the recent announcement of the PUMA partnership and other secondary partnerships confirmed in recent times.

Overall this left IG feeling very optimistic about the end of this season and the seasons ahead.

Development of Matchday Programme

Programme editor Andy Exley (AE) provided an overview of the development of the programme through the decades. As he begins development of the programme for next season he requested members of the Forum to put forward ideas on:

  1. What features would you like in the programme?
  2. How would you enhance existing elements of the Programme?
  3. What ideas do you have to help the programme continue to innovate?

AE also explained the programme deadlines for publication and it was noted that the iPad version of the programme has been a great success.

Questions

Steve Cooper -AST Asked if further investment would be made in ticket exchange to allow it to work closer to kick off and through an on-line app. He also asked about home credits for fans.

Head of Marketing Charles Allen (CA) detailed the work that had been put in place, enabling supporters to make their seats available, up until 10am on day of midweek match and 3pm on Friday of weekend match.  Additional functionality includes:

  • Season tickets setting up to 10 people, not necessarily members, who could use the Season ticket
  • Fan to fan sales.
  • Cash back within days rather than a deduction being made from the following year’s Season ticket.

He said there had been phenomenal growth in usage of ticket exchange since the start of the season.

Home credits were still a problem from a technical point of view as there was no way of knowing who was using the ticket.  However, this was constantly being monitored to see if there was a way it could be introduced.

Mick Coppock – Club Level Asked why the Club seems to feel that Away Fans are more important than Home Fans? They receive reduced priced away tickets, were sent a £10 Christmas voucher and also have priority should we ever reach a Cup Final again. How about something for the Home Fans, especially those who have been going for over 40 years?

CA explained the away scheme initiative was designed to recognise their loyalty and said that we were looking at home fan initiatives.

Mick Padfield – Domestic Supporters Clubs queried why Arsenal’s away European Travel was expensive and detailed information he had on how the one night trip to Bayern could have been made available at a lower cost. 

Head of Travel. Events and Supporter Liaison Sue Campbell (SC) advised that this was not an area where Arsenal sought to make a profit and that travel was provided to assist supporters wishing to be on an official trip. The current provider had been identified after extensive market research,

Connor Kielty, Red Member Asked whether there are plans to open up academies in Ireland and the rest of the UK or even Summer Schools? He also asked about our scouting networks and links with clubs in Ireland.

IG gave a comprehensive report on the current situation regarding Youth Development.  He said that it was an exciting time with the appointment of Andries Jonker. His background identified him as the right man to move the Club forward and he will be looking at all aspects of our youth selection and development activities.  IG congratulated Liam Brady on the amazing work he had done whilst Head of the Academy and said that he would remain with the Club as an Ambassador.

Paul Ellis – Domestic Arsenal Supporters Clubs queried why the Tottenham FA Cup Match had not been Category B and whether the Club would consider removing cup credits from season tickets in future.

IG explained that having decided last season to make all the matches Category B, this had caused some upset when the Swansea FA Cup match was a category B game, while the corresponding Premier League match was Category C.  This season, therefore, in response to fan concerns, the club moved to categorise FA Cup matches based on the opposition. The Tottenham FA Cup game had therefore been categorised Category A (as for the corresponding Premier League game) and the Coventry game Category C.  However, in recognition of the exceptional number of Category A matches scheduled in quick succession in February, it had been decided Liverpool would be Category B.  IG said there were no current plans to remove cup credits from the season ticket.

Steve Cooper (AST) With big increases due in TV revenues and sponsorship revenue in future years, will the Club commit to at the very least freezing prices following this year’s very unpopular 3% rise?

IG stated that we would not be reversing the price increase for next season. He pointed out this was only the third across the board increase in nine seasons at Emirates Stadium. He said it is a difficult balance to strike but stressed the importance of maintaining income to be able to invest effectively in the retention and recruitment of players with the ability to help us continue competing at the top of the game.

Steve Cooper (AST) Will Arsenal join with the views of Arsenal Supporter Groups and call for the Government to review the policies relating to Safe Standing?

IG said that a significant amount of work would need to be done to establish a clear picture on the issue of whether “safe standing” could be safely implemented in the English game and this could only be conducted by the government and governing bodies of the game, not by individual clubs. Whilst it was simple to say that it was safe to stand behind a barrier, the subject was much more complex and many other safety aspects had to be taken into account.  At the present time it seemed highly unlikely that the Government would review this policy.

Steve Cooper (AST) Can the club confirm Paddy Power account applications being sent out from @Arsenal do not go to under 18 year olds?

Mark Gonnella (MG) said the Club is compliant with existing policies and legislation but noted this is an industry-wide issue. Ultimately no-one under 18 would be able to make a successful application for an account as proof of age is required as part of the application process.

Mick Coppock, Club Level  Can Club Level Members just pay a non-refundable deposit (£250 ?) to confirm their intention to renew and then pay the balance by 1st June and therefore enjoy the benefits of Gold Members, who do not have to pay in full until June. At present, Club Level Members have to pay by April, which is totally unfair and unnecessary. Renewals usually start in February and for those who want (and can afford) to pay so early, can the club offer a discount, rather than a tour with a player?

MG explained it is essential to conduct the Club Level renewals process when we do, to ensure that we have sufficient time to plan a seat move process and resell any unsold seats to new fans and businesses on the Club Level waiting list. We will continue to look at operational viability to delay this process, but we do not anticipate any great change in when we conduct the Club Level renewal process.  MG said he would refer the discount suggestion to the appropriate team.

Daniel McCloskey, AISA Representative

At the recent Arsenal v Liverpool game on Saturday 2 November there were a few Liverpool supporters who had obtained tickets from Arsenal members in the North Bank Upper. When Aaron Ramsey scored the second goal there was some trouble between Liverpool and Arsenal fans. I believe the stewards removed the Liverpool fans. What is Arsenal’s policy and approach to those members that sell their match tickets to away supporters and can result in trouble between supporters? 

MG Any fan found selling on ticket for profit has membership removed. This is the same for selling to away fans, although sometimes we do remove for three games if circumstances are such that it was a genuine goodwill gesture for instance. MG committed to clarify if retrospective action is taken.

Daniel McCloskey, AISA Representative

It is frustrating when a ticket holder (if they have not been to a game before at the Emirates) tries to locate his or her seat on a Row, as there are no seat ranges marked next to the row they are due to sit at. They can ask stewards for assistance but generally people forget which side left or right they are sitting at. This means that that ticket holder has to ask the person sitting in the first or second seat in that row what seat number this is? Can Arsenal stadium, at the start of next season have the range of seat numbers allocated to each row as you walk up or down so as to improve access to spectators?

MG said that John Beattie had looked into stencilling the numbers on the steps but there was no paint strong enough at the present time and it would soon disappear.  In that case it was asked if the numbers could be put up at the entry to each bay showing how the seat numbers went to the left and the right of the gangway, which was in use at many other clubs.  MG said this would be investigated.

AOB

Stewart Selby - Gay Supporters Rep updated the group on the progress of the Gay Gooners supporters group, stating they now have 125 members.

Date of next meeting

Newcastle – 26.04.14

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 3 Mar 2014