Meeting Minutes, Arsenal Football Club Supporters’ Forum, 28th April 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
Red Member Representative – Connor Kielty
REDaction Member – Tony Bernhard-Grout
Shareholder Representative – Lesley Williams
60 and Over Representative – John Christie
Ivan Gazidis (IG) provided an overview of the season so far. The FA Cup apart, he said we had had a disappointing run since the last meeting in February. We have had a lot of injuries but need to work out the reasons why we have come up short in some games. That said, we still have an opportunity to finish the league strongly and positively and are all looking forward to the FA Cup Final on May 17th.
IG explained that we are making a lot of investments in youth development, data analytics, sports science, athletic development and our scouting to discover the best young players. Significant investments will also be made in facilities at the youth academy at Hale End and Colney.
A paper was submitted on behalf of supporters’ groups detailing a number of questions around the Club’s ticketing policies.
IG said we are trying to strike the right balance between ticket prices and the rightful demands that we compete to sign and retain the best players in a dramatically inflationary player market. He said ticket prices have gone up by an average of just over 1% over the eight seasons at Emirates Stadium with only two across the board increases in that time. In the same period, the Retail Price Index rose by 26%. At the same time the Club has increased investment in player wages by 72%.
IG explained that revenue gained from the increase in ticket prices is invested across the Club.
Mick Padfield Arsenal Supporters Club (MP)- What percentage of the wage bill is funded by ticket prices?
IG explained there are three basic sources of revenue - commercial, broadcast and ticket sales. We held ticket revenue flat for six out of the nine years. It is not possible to say what percentage is used since money raised is fungible.
Steve Cooper (SC) AST - In the context of £140m cash reserves, do the club’s Board believe that the extra £2.7m generated from the ticket increase will even be spent?
IG said the money will be spent on developments that are being worked on across the Club, be it for Youth development or towards purchasing a new squad player or to put into our facilities The club is self-funded and we are always trying to spend in a balanced way
SC - Why was the ticket increase announcement made when it was?
Communicatons Director Mark Gonnella (MG) explained that the announcement went out when it did to let fans know as soon as the decision had been made and to give as much notice as possible. This will be the approach in future as appropriate.
SC - Will Arsenal consider removing the additional surcharge costs for games played beyond the 26 covered by the Gold general admission season ticket in the same way that Club Level already encompasses all games?
Ticketing & Services Director Ivan Worsell (IW) explained that club and box are very different products to general admission. Some years you will have more games and some years you will have fewer games. IG added that there is a system in place for categorising the games and this needs to be consistent.
SC- Can a ‘Premier League only’ season ticket be put in place consisting of 19 games?
Head of Marketing Charles Allen (CA) explained this was not being considered. He stressed that we provide fans with opportunities to sell on tickets and we are constantly working on raising the awareness of this amongst our fans. MG asked the Forum if this is something that they would be able to help with to drive awareness of our ticket transfer service so that more fans can get money back on their tickets if they are unable to attend games.
IW explained usage of Ticket Exchange has increased by 60% this season and nearly 50,000 tickets have gone through the system. Continuous development is in place and everyone is working for the stadium to be full. Ticket donation, front end development and mobile and tablet development are amongst the initiatives. Developing a seat utilisation system is on the list for the future but the changes to ticket exchange and ticket transfer have to be in place first.
SC - Can the excellent Young Guns scheme also cover Category A games?
CA explained the Young Guns initiative is another way to make the stadium accessible and affordable for our younger fans as these are our supporters and season ticket holders of the future. The primary objective when discussing the Young Guns Enclosure was to hit the £10 price bracket for tickets. It is easier to discount B and C games rather than A games. We need to raise awareness in the local area so we can reach our capacity.
SC- What process is used when deciding who will receive Cup Final tickets?
IW explained that the ballot is run by a third party company. It is done on an individual basis and the Club doesn’t have a say on who gets a ticket as it is a random ballot to make it fair to all fans.
SC - How regularly will the Club be changing its shirt as part of the PUMA deal?
CA explained that no announcement can be made until the PUMA contract starts in July. He pointed out that we are the only Premier League Club who does not change its kit every season and we had actually received complaints this season from fans who wanted a new shirt.
Conor Kielty (CK), Red Member - Is there a specific length of time before a red member can become a silver member and is there a way a red member can check how much longer they have to wait or where they are on the list to progress?
CA informed the group that you become a silver member if you get to the top of the red membership list and a space opens up for silver membership.
CK - Will there be members’ 5-a side competition this summer at the Emirates?
CA explained this will not be happening this year.
Daren Nathan (DN), Family Enclosure Representative (not present at meeting) - Why is the Family Enclosure unable to use Ticket Exchange and will this change?
MG said this is a highly complex technology change which would be looked at in the future.
Lesley Williams (LW), Shareholder Representative - How is the lottery going? Are there any plans to have ticket stations at the ground as to use as credit cards incurs a surcharge?
MG informed the group that the lottery is going really well. A lot of money has been going towards the Arsenal Foundation and there have been a lot of Arsenal winners. There are no plans to sell at the ground at present and when looking at credit card surcharges these are beyond our control as they are charged by the individual card providers.
LW - When will the issue of printing coming off name plaques/stones on Armoury Square be resolved?
CA explained that we do have a general maintenance programme for Armoury Square. We are aware that it needs to be improved and we are in the process of making these improvements.
LW - Would it be possible for the speaker system be improved as the sound quality is not great?
MG said checks are done by sound experts but we will look into this further.
Tony Bernhard-Grout (T BG), REDaction - Did the Club have any success in discovering the culprits who set off flares at the Liverpool and two Everton games and if so what was their punishment?
MG said a lot of work is done to detect flares and other banned objects on match days. One of the culprits has been caught and the matter is with the Police.
Date of next meeting
TBC – this will be in September.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 12 May 2014