CHELSEA DISABLED SUPPORTERS
ADDITIONAL MEETING MINUTES, 2017-18 SEASON
1905 Club, Stamford Bridge Stadium
Monday 8th January 2018, 4.00pm
Attendees Group represented/ role
Berry, Richard CFC Legal
Collins, Eamon CFC Disability Liaison and Supporters Club Supervisor
Flatau, Bob Assistant Facilities Manager and Disabled Officer
Hayden, Lisa Non-ambulant season ticket (“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
Carey, Steven Ambulant ST holder
Cornwall-Jones, Linsay Non-ambulant Rota supporter member
Hayes, Tim Non-ambulant match supporter member
Morse, Barry Ambulant Rota supporter member
Proposed improvement of facilities for disabled supporters
The Club informed the CDSA that it has been in dialogue with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”) regarding disabled access provision, including facilities and ticketing.
The Club intends to implement improvements in quantity and quality of disabled access provision. These details are not finalised yet and we are in discussions with the local council with the intention of having them signed off. Some changes are intended to take place relatively soon.
The quality of view for many is not sufficient at present and we are introducing far better and more varied seat views within the stadium for wheelchair using supporters. At present there are 107 wheelchair positions and we aim to increase this number to 219 by the start of next season. This includes extending wheelchair areas which are already in use, with more spaces allocated in the front of the East Stand and all the front of the West Stand being wheelchair accessible. The West Stand will also have a riser to improve the quality of view.
The Club has identified opportunities in other areas such as the back of the East Lower with thirty new wheelchair spaces planned. These will be introduced initially in the north end then in the south end over the summer. All projects are subject to and dependent on health and safety sign off.
The Club also intends to extend wheelchair provision in the away section, with a new platform at the back of the Lower tier in the Shed End providing fifteen new wheelchair spaces. We also aim to introduce new spaces in hospitality areas.
We have told the EHRC that we intend to implement these projects once they are signed off by the Local Authority.
The projects in the East and West Lower tiers are earmarked for later in this season, with a target completion date of the end of March 2018. We will need to manage the situation regarding non-disabled ST holders who will be displaced by the process.
The Club welcomes feedback from the committee regarding all these proposals.
A representative asked if health and safety can be guaranteed for fans who won’t be at pitch level. The Club responded that these are prime considerations as well as stewarding. There is already a lift in the Matthew Harding Stand where disabled positions are in place and there are two in the hospitality areas. At the back of the East Lower there is a ramp going to the concourse and we are working on the access and evacuation route for the back of the Shed End. The majority of wheelchair positions already have excellent access and egress; we have experts looking at what additional facilities may be needed.
At present if a disabled hospitality fan attends, they can use the pre-match facilities but have to watch the match from pitch side. We intend to improve this by adding a flexible option in the hospitality tier for disabled supporters.
The Club added that there is a marketing strategy in place aimed at ensuring we can fill all these places and increase awareness regarding our new disability facilities.
The Club informed the CDSA that the EHRC had scrutinised its ticketing arrangements for disabled supporters, including the Rota system, pricing, STs and points accumulation for tickets.
The Club informed the CDSA that it was considering the variation in the cost of admission between disabled and non-disabled fans and whether disabled season tickets should be charged at the equivalent price to non-disabled fans in each area of the stadium.
The Club informed the CDSA that particular concerns had been raised over the Rota system and the lack of access to away season tickets for disabled supporters (and whether these arrangements result in less favourable treatment of disabled supporters).
The Club indicated that it is considering abolishing the Rota scheme from next season and reinstating away season tickets for disabled supporters. This all mirrors the policy for non-disabled fans. Precise wording is to be finalised but these are our proposals. The Club appreciates that some aspects may not mirror the non-disabled policy exactly but generally we want to align the two procedures.
A representative raised the fact that, if the proposal to begin charging for disabled season tickets was implemented, disabled fans would have to move from paying nothing to paying many hundreds of pounds in one jump. Another stated that many of the new places may be left empty if insufficient numbers of disabled fans are prepared to pay.
The Club was asked what other clubs do in this area. The Club responded that it is aware Manchester United is the only other Premier League club that currently doesn’t charge disabled supporters.
A representative added that a significant proportion of disabled fans will be unemployed, on benefits or on low incomes and they would, if the proposal is implemented, now have to pay a substantial amount to watch their team.
The Club acknowledged concerns but responded that, in accordance with Premier League rules, we provide the option of a payment plan for all fans.
The Club added that there are many non-disabled fans who are unemployed or on low incomes and we would need to assess individual circumstances for everyone, which becomes unworkable. Just as some non-disabled fans opt for membership if they can’t afford to attend every match, this option will be open to all fans. Reductions for the 65 or over category or the junior category would also apply to those with disabilities.
The Club added that some with STs may choose not to continue in that capacity so there could be changes. Also, Rota members may have the option of having STs or membership. The Club hasn’t decided on the split of STs and members yet but current ST holders who want to renew could certainly retain their STs when we move towards our current target of 219 places. We are using external access experts to learn from the best examples at other clubs.
A representative speculated as to how many current disabled attendees would want the same facilities and watch for free or pay and have the enhanced facilities.
The Club added that it envisages having additional meetings to look at these proposals as they develop, even though proposals may be controversial.
The Forum chairman suggested that we prepare full minutes for this meeting which are shared with all members of the CDSA committee, but only on a confidential basis and they are not to be shared with anyone else or publicised in any way given that the projects are still proposals and have not been formally approved. This was agreed by the meeting.
Changing Places toilet
The Club showed the committee pictures of the permanent East Stand facilities, which are in addition to the Mobiloo currently by the Millennium Hotel but may be relocated to the south west area of the stadium.
The meeting finished at 4.50pm. .