Chelsea Football Club (CFC) has today announced that it will remove the full coach subsidy for away domestic travel.
The appalling decision will force those who rely on the service to pay significantly more to travel to away fixtures.
Despite representations from The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) and coach users, CFC has unfortunately decided that maintaining the £10 subsidy is not “financially sustainable.”
It is important to note that this decision was made in the same year that the club broke the transfer record twice. It is widely rumoured that the coach subsidy budget was approximately 250k.
Earlier this month, The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust met with club officials in response to online rumours that the coach subsidy would be removed for the 23/24 season. CFC clarified that at the time a decision had not been made but confirmed that they were evaluating the subsidy budget.
During the meeting, The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust made representations to the club. The Trust stated that removing the subsidy entirely would adversely impact the following user groups [not exhaustive]:
- Young supporters
- Supporters who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters
- People who are unable to drive due to cost or medical conditions
- Supporters who are ambulant disabled
- Supporters who require to be dropped off very close to the stadium
- Vulnerable supporters
- Supporters who rely on this affordable mode of transport to support the club
In addition, the club received feedback from coach users themselves. The overwhelming majority of respondents who rely on the service communicated to the club that the coach subsidy must remain in some way and that removing it entirely would outprice supporters and would have disastrous consequences.
Despite the significant feedback from the CST and coach users, the club has subsequently decided that maintaining the subsidy is not financially sustainable.
On Friday, the CST again met with the club to communicate that at a time when they should be taking active steps to make football affordable for more people, the decision to remove the subsidy in full is totally unacceptable. This decision also contradicts the commitment to inclusivity that the club guaranteed during takeover discussions held last Spring.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has therefore decided to part-fund the cost of the upcoming away travel to Bournemouth on this one occasion. The Trust will subsidise the cost from the quoted £29 £10 to highlight the appalling decision and to give the club additional time to fully reassess the feedback received from user groups.
It appears that during a cost-of-living crisis, Chelsea FC are happy to increase the financial burden on many supporters by penny-pinching.