First Fans’ Forum of 19/20 held by Raul and Vinai

The first Fans’ Forum of the season was held in the Highbury Suite at Emirates Stadium this week.

Head of football Raul Sanllehi, managing director Vinai Venkatesham and other club representatives joined forum members for a two-hour discussion on Thursday evening.

We are proud that our Fans’ Forum is represented by a huge cross-section of our supporters, which gives fans and the club the opportunity to discuss many Arsenal and football-related topics on a regular basis.

The Fans’ Forum is represented by members from the following groups: 16-21 year-olds; Arsenal Supporters’ Club – Domestic; Arsenal Supporters’ Club – International; Women's Representative; Disabled supporters; Gold Members; Red Members; AISA; Club Level; Family Enclosure; Over 60 year-olds; LGBT supporters; RedAction; AST and Away Scheme Members.

During the forum, Raul explained the approach behind the summer transfer window and stated that everyone at the club was confident our squad is stronger than last season, with our key ambition this season to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. He pointed out that while acknowledging the need to improve performances in certain moments, we have lost only one game so far this season and have Alex Lacazette, Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney all returning to full fitness soon. He reinforced the importance to our strategy of developing young players which is being seen on the pitch and said everybody at the club was optimistic we will have a good season.

Vinai updated on our position regarding safe standing. He outlined that the club was doing detailed work to be ready if the government were to change legislation to permit safe standing. Our internal analysis has highlighted challenges finding a suitable area of the lower tier to create a safe standing area, without creating capacity loss due to sightline issues and segregation requirements. He explained that we have now instructed an external study by stadium experts to look into the topic in more detail and provide a third party view, the results of which will be brought back to the Fans’ Forum for further discussion.

Ticketing & services director Ivan Worsell explained to the forum some of the steps we are taking to combat ticket touting which is an increasing problem for all clubs. This includes using sophisticated technology to identify rogue buying patterns, dedicated resource at the club working on this matter and mystery shopping. He said the club has a zero tolerance policy and any Arsenal member found to be selling on their ticket will have their membership cancelled. Ivan also gave an update on work being done on our Ticket Exchange service. This includes updating technology to allow Ticket Exchange to stay open up until three hours before kick-off which will launch later this calendar year. Work is also underway with Apple on creating mobile tickets.

Other items discussed included the impact on supporters travelling to the UEFA Europa League Final in Baku last May; what initiatives the club has to offer young people employment opportunities; and also a discussion on our inter-faith programmes.

The full minutes from the Fans’ Forum are published below...

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