CHELSEA DISABLED SUPPORTERS
2nd ADDITIONAL MEETING MINUTES, 2017-18 SEASON
1905 Club, Stamford Bridge Stadium
Monday 19th February 2018, 4.30pm
Attendees Group represented/ role
Berry, Richard CFC Legal
Carey, Steven Ambulant season ticket (“ST”) holder
Collins, Eamon CFC Disability Liaison and Supporters Club Supervisor
Flatau, Bob Assistant Facilities Manager and Disabled Officer
Gray, Jamie CFC Head of Facilities
Hayden, Lisa Non-ambulant ST holder
Law, Matthew Honorary committee member
Piggott, Diane CFC Disabled Liaison Officer and Supporters’ Clubs Manager
Powell, Mick Ambulant match supporter member
Regan, Andy Forum Chairman
Smith, Graham CFC Head of Ticketing and Head of Supporters’ Liaison
Cornwall-Jones, Linsay Non-ambulant Rota supporter member
Hayes, Tim Non-ambulant match supporter member
Morse, Barry Ambulant Rota supporter member
Action points are underlined.
The Forum Chairman and the Club thanked fans for attending at short notice. The Club wants to update the committee regarding its interaction with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”) and work proposed around the stadium including communicating with current ST holders, as well as proposed changes to its disabled ticketing policy. The Club thanked Steve Carey for the email he sent and is happy to consider the points raised.
As regards the EHRC view of the Club’s current ticketing arrangements for disabled supporters, this can probably best be described as a mixed bag. Interaction with supporters to cater for specific conditions in and around the stadium is considered very good but the EHRC does have concerns in relation to certain practices. This includes the Rota system which only exists for disabled fans at present and the Club’s current policy to not offer away STs to disabled supporters. The EHRC have highlighted that the Rota system could be criticised for reducing access to tickets and not providing an equal opportunity for supporters to accrue loyalty points in the same way that match members can. As regards away STs, the Club may have been well intentioned regarding the abolition of these as there were few places available in some away grounds, but those conditions may not now apply as many clubs have more spaces now.
The current proposal is to abolish the Rota system from next season. Those members currently on the rota will be offered match membership. Coupled with the additional spaces available, the Club is hopeful that there will not be a negative impact on the ability of previous Rota members to obtain tickets.
A representative asked about the discrepancy in the current system whereby in the match scheme supporters pay for their tickets but for the Rota system there is no payment. There will now be a straightforward choice of paying or not attending at all.
The Club commented that from the time we leave Stamford Bridge to move to a temporary stadium, it is proposed that all STs would be charged (whether disabled or non-disabled) but they will remain free at Stamford Bridge until then. The Club proposes to make the new wheelchair positions that will be available at Stamford Bridge for match members and not to offer them as new STs. In effect, current STs will be ring-fenced. The Club highlighted that these are delicate issues to manage.
In response to a question, the Club confirmed it is not the EHRC’s view that the Club must make a change to its current policy of offering free STs to disabled supporters. The EHRC does not oppose favourable arrangements being in place for disabled supporters. The Club was also asked whether there would be a general disabled concession and replied that it is not part of the current proposal, however, this is something the Club is happy to consider further.
Representatives commented that there are concessions offered to disabled people at other entertainment venues. Other clubs including Manchester United, Stoke and Liverpool all offer reduced price entry for disabled fans, as just a sample of clubs contacted. Concern was expressed that we could move from being the cheapest club for some disabled fans to one of the most expensive. The Club responded that ring-fencing existing STs before we move out temporarily is an attempt to assist fans in this regard.
A representative commented that, once we move, the cost will be significant when tickets are charged for. The Club stated that there are other cross-sections of society that may have low income but we only have concessions based on age at present, and not on financial circumstance. The reasoning going forwards is to treat all supporters equally unless we can identify legitimate policy reasons for adjustment to that.
The Club was asked why the decision has been made in advance to charge once we leave and responded that the decision is made in principle regardless of where we play in the next few years.
A representative commented that some disabled fans may have jobs or income that enable them to pay for tickets relatively easily, but others will find paying £800 to £1,000 a season impossible. Some disabled fans have to find hundreds for care and although the Club may fill all these extra places, it will be pushing out fans who can’t pay. That representative would be happy to pay if fans are mean-tested. At present the Club is setting the benchmark in standards for the disabled and that will disappear. There could be a major change in attendees as many can’t afford it. It will appear to fans that the Club is trying to recoup the loss of non-disabled seats by charging disabled fans.
The Club commented that the amount charged for disabled fans will not come close to covering the loss of non-disabled seats in either ticket cost or works carried out.
The Club was asked about consultation in relation to proposed changes and confirmed that the EHRC suggested that the Club should consult with all its disabled supporters (rather than just the CDSA). The Club would like the committee’s view on how best to
achieve this as it wants wider supporter input in a constructive way. There are just over 100 ST holders and approximately 700 members. There is a survey out soon anyway so the Club would like to use that to be ready for next season. Forms go to print at the end of March for next season so the Club would appreciate input regarding those questions from CDSA members by the end of the week.
A representative repeated the point about the Club no longer being the benchmark for disabled fans. The Club responded that the experience for fans will be very different. This season we will have new places at the back of the East Lower and in the West Lower. 60 non-disabled ST holders have already been moved out from the East Lower. The East Lower will be open for the Spurs game and the Club would like to invite Lisa and Matthew plus someone else they can suggest to try the area, as there will be three available spaces then. The committee will be shown the facility as well, in addition to the sensory room. We then build up to 10 and eventually 15 disabled places. The existing West Lower positions will be higher up too.
The Club reiterated that this meeting should remain confidential as the Club will personally want to inform those supporters who are moving, rather than hearing it from other fans. The press release last week was the first communication planned on this, and was released in conjunction with the EHRC. The Club needs to manage the whole process sensitively.
A representative commented that a few days after the last meeting they were contacted about the story as it had been leaked somehow. The Club responded it was a surprise to them too and that there is major sensitivity regarding ST holders who have been in their position for many years and must now move.
The Club commented that the 108 places have been filled three times this season and, as we will have 219 places next season, there will be a major drive over the summer to contact appropriate organisations to publicise ticket availability.
The Club was asked if it was possible to have staggered price rises in due course and responded this will also be considered. A representative added that the biggest decision now is whether concessions will be included.
The meeting finished at 5.05pm. .