The new season is almost upon us and for those in European competitions, supporters will be looking at their potential opponents. Not just to weigh up the opposition, but also to work out any potential and no doubt costly travel arrangements.
The likelihood is that at least one English team will be drawn against a Russian team, which will mean the cost and inconvenience of a visa application.
With the requirement to now attend the Russian Visa centre in person for Biometric collection, (not ideal for any supporters, especially those based outside of London as the two centres are in London & Edinburgh) not only is the cost a major issue, but for most supporters an extra day’s leave from work is required.
Spirit of Shankly, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, Manchester City’s 1894 group, Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Everton’s Supporters’ Trust and Blue Union call upon UEFA and their respective clubs to work with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to ensure that a supporters’ ticket is sufficient as a visa should any English teams be drawn in Russia.
It is evident that this is more than a possibility due to the relaxation of the requirements for the Confederations Cup that was hosted in Russia earlier this year. With a valid match ticket supporters were able to apply for a fan ID, which in effect became their visa. We see no reason why this cannot be applied for UEFA competitions.
Similarly, we call for the British Government to apply the same sense for Russian fans visiting England.
Each Supporters’ Trust/Group will be lobbying their relevant club to ensure this happens.
Warm congratulations to all Chelsea supporters for their support in a season that exceeded many of our expectations in winning the League for the 6th time, tinged with disappointment at failing to do the ‘Double’ by losing the FA Cup final to Arsenal. For many it has been a season to remember and somewhat better than last season, to say the least. Thanks must go to Antonio Conte and the players for the entertainment they have given us this season and for the hope of more success and trophies to come.
The Board would also like to say thank you and farewell to John Terry who took his final bow at the end of this season. His has been a remarkable career the like of which we are unlikely to see again. JT, thanks for the memories and for the support you have given to the Trust and many Chelsea supporters.
And so to business…
On Wednesday 14th June 2017 the much anticipated Premier league fixtures for the coming season were announced, but at what cost for travelling fans?
CST board member Tim Rolls along with other team’s Trust board members Kat Law of THST, Anna Burgess of Spirit of Shankly, and Amanda Jacks FSF Caseworker, a working group set up under the auspices of the Football Supporters Federation, have worked tirelessly for many months compiling analysis of the fixtures as evidence of the difficulties match going fans face.
“Packed stadiums and a vibrant atmosphere are key parts of the ‘product’ the Premier League sells to broadcasters. But anti-social kick-off times, midweek journeys the length of the country when no public transport is available and short notice rearrangements for TV purposes are making it increasingly difficult for fans to get to games.”
On behalf of the CST, Tim also works tirelessly along with other team’s Trust boards on a range of issues that affect our members, including TV fixtures, plus many other topics as part of the Premier League structured dialogue meetings. We are grateful to Tim for his important contribution to our work.
We have received the following key messages and advice from the Metropolitan Police Football Unit ahead of both FA Cup semi finals this weekend:
Saturdays game is a sell out with 90,000 supporters travelling to Wembley for a 5.15pm kick off. The majority of tickets have gone to Tottenham and Chelsea but there is a proportion that are reserved for corporate boxes, sponsors and the FA football family. Sundays game is also a sell out with a kick off scheduled for 3pm. I have attached a list of pubs that have been allocated to each club. Chelsea have been allocated the West of the stadium and Tottenham the East. For Sundays game, Arsenal are in the East and Manchester City in the West. Please note that Moore Spice which is traditionally in the East has been allocated to Manchester City as the coach park containing a large number of Manchester City coaches is situated immediately next to the venue.
The Wembley Safety Officer has asked me to advise supporters that flags must not exceed 2.5 metres and must not cause obstruction or annoyance to other fans. They must of course meet the required fire safety standards and fans should have the appropriate certificates with them should they be required. He has asked me to remind supporters that Wembley is an all seater stadium and persistent standing could lead to ejection form the stadium. Please be mindful that this is not Wembley Stadium being difficult but is a requirement under the Safety Regulations.
There will be a full search programme at the Stadium following the recent events in Germany and elsewhere. Most supporters will already be aware that security and searching at football grounds has increased this season. Wembley is no different but due to the large numbers of fans attending, searching may take longer. Please do not turn up at the last minute and expect to walk straight into the stadium. It probably wouldn’t happen at your own stadium so there is a very good chance it won’t happen at Wembley!
If there is anything that supporters consider suspicious then please report it to either police or stewards. There is never a bad call and if something is highlighted to us in good faith then you will never be criticised.
I know that this may sound repetitive but please advise your supporters not to bring flares and smoke devices to Wembley or surrounding areas. Supporters found in possession of flares/smoke devices will be arrested and banning Orders will be applied for. I appreciate that this sounds as though police are being Killjoys but there is a real risk that surrounds igniting flares and smoke devices off in confined spaces. Apart from the obvious fire issues, many devices contain harmful substances that may affect other supporters around you. Igniting devices in confined spaces causes panic amongst some supporters so please leave the flares behind and let everyone enjoy the day.
The Police Commander – Ch Supt Jon Williams hopes that all supporters have a fantastic day. He will however deal with criminality and Anti-social behaviour in a positive way so that those law abiding fans who want to travel to the game do not have to tolerate the bad behaviour of the minority. Wembley Stadium prides itself on organising events for the whole family and the MPS will be supporting stewards who have to deal with supporters intent on spoiling the day for others.
Those supporters who are drunk are likely to be refused entry into the stadium. I’m not going to lecture supporters on what they can and cannot do in terms of the amount of alcohol they drink but all we ask is for fans to drink responsibly and accept that, if they overdo things then they may be refused entry to the Stadium.
There are likely to be ticket touts in operation around the area of the stadium. Please do not buy tickets from these people as it is very likely that they will be forgeries. Wembley Stadium will not facilitate any supporters who have bought tickets from touts and subsequently find that they are fakes. Supporters should report any tout activity to police who will deal accordingly.
To my knowledge there are no planned works on the rail network over the weekend. Supporters travelling across London on Sunday should be aware that the London Marathon is taking place on the same day so tubes and trains are likely to be busier than normal across central London. There will also be some road closures especially south of the river throughout the day.
Finally, Wembley Stadium, MPS and BTP hope that all supporters have a brilliant and trouble free day. If there are any issues that will affect supporters travelling to Wembley on either Saturday or Sunday we will make every effort to get information to them as soon as possible through our respective Twitter accounts. Please follow @MPSFOOTBALLUNIT for any updates throughout the weekend.
Many Chelsea fans, and the wider football community, will have read about the case of an autistic lad, a passionate Chelsea supporter, who was recently caught in possession of two flares on his way to see Chelsea play at West Ham. More of the background to the story can be found here.
David Hislop QC, acting for the young lad, has asked us to pass on his thanks, as the next stage of the process continues….
Good Sense Prevails
The support from Chelsea fans all around the world in answer to a plea for assistance by an autistic Chelsea fan who faced a Football Banning Order was immense. Hundreds of emails, over two thousand tweets. Together with that support, the support of the Chelsea Supporters Trust and the Football Supporters Federation the court today was persuaded to conditionally discharge our young fan for six months and the Police and Crown Prosecution Service were further persuaded to withdraw their application for a Football Banning Order on the basis of a voluntary agreement to counselling from the Football Supporters Federation and an agreement to supervision at future matches. Our fan and family are overwhelmed by the support from the Chelsea supporters community. A special thank you.
The battle now continues to deal with the ban the CFC have imposed pending further investigation and representations. We hope that ‘good sense’ continues to prevail.
The final Fans’ Forum meeting of the season will take place on Wednesday 19 April 2017. It is a general meeting and all topics are open for discussion, bearing in mind that on-pitch subjects do not fall under the Forum’s remit.
In summer 2015 a chance rereading of the Albert Sewell book ‘Chelsea Champions!’ led official Chelsea historian Rick Glanvill to discover that Whitley had specifically requested to be buried at Brompton Cemetery and, with the help of the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, Jack’s grave was ‘unearthed’.
Sadly, at the moment it is a common grave with no stone to acknowledge Jack’s presence and his long association with the club just across the railway line.
As he is the only occupant of the grave, we aim to obtain the relevant permissions and place a ledger (or flat slab) with a suitable inscription on, repaying the commitment Jack showed to Stamford Bridge and Chelsea Football Club.
To do this we need to raise around £5,500, and that is where the great Chelsea family comes in.
The aim of this crowdfunding project is to raise enough money to erect a memorial marking the final resting place of one of Chelsea Football Club’s most loyal servants, Jack Whitley. He is the only Chelsea footballer we know to have been buried in the cemetery next door to Stamford Bridge.
Jack served the club loyally and with distinction from the age of 29 to 61, as first-choice goalkeeper (1907-1914), then as first team trainer (1914-1939).
He had died at Tring in Hertfordshire on 5 July 1955, a few months after the club won the league title for the first time in 1955, aged 77.
As well as chipping in what you can afford yourself, please help make every Chelsea supporter you know aware of the crowdfunding exercise.
Where is Jack’s grave located, and what is there to see at the moment?
Jack’s grave is just off the main path, east of the new Brompton Cemetery visitor centre, close to the north wall. We believe it could become a place of pilgrimage for match-going fans and the perfect place for supporters to begin the tour of the many Chelsea FC-related graves in this beautiful and historic cemetery. The grave is currently marked by nothing except grass, carefully tended by the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust Cemetery Clean-Up Group.
Are you actually entitled to erect a headstone on his grave?
The grave is a common one – not privately owned and paid for. Luckily Jack is the only occupant of this particular plot, so with the correct permissions obtained and an appropriate memorial selected we can go ahead and set a stone on Jack’s grave.
Why did the family not erect a headstone?
Footballers were nothing like as well paid in 1955 as they are now. It is unknown whether Jack’s widow Winifred was unable to afford the expense of a private burial plot and a marker for the burial, or Jack preferred a simple interment in a common grave.
We have attempted to research his family history and find close living relatives, but none has been confirmed to date. We would love to track down next of kin. We know that Jack married twice: firstly to Ellen ‘Nellie’ Edwards in 1897; secondly, in 1942, to Winifred Jessica Farrington. He had at least three children from the first marriage:
Nellie (1902-1983), Ruby (1915-2002) and another child who died young. Nellie married twice (first to tennis star Donald Butcher, then Chelsea footballer Albert Thain) but does not appear to have had children.
Ruby also married twice, to Sidney Upton, then Leslie Keeble, and likewise appears not to have had children. Perhaps someone reading this knew the Whitley family, or their descendants, and can shed more light? If so, we would love to hear from you: email@example.com.
How would marking Jack’s grave benefit supporters?
Happily, marking Jack’s grave will add a significant, easily accessible new reference point to the self-guided Chelsea FC Brompton Cemetery tour, which already includes many founding directors as well as former manager Bobby Campbell. Chelsea and Royal Parks co-produced a booklet ‘Final Whistle: The Chelsea Football Club Trail at Brompton Cemetery’ (http://www.chelseafc.com/the-club/history/style/brompton-cemetery-trail.html) in 2009, which will need updating.
Why does Jack deserve a memorial?
Primarily because Jack Whitley is unique – the ONLY Chelsea footballer we know of buried at Brompton Cemetery. He also played a major role throughout the club’s early years.
Firstly, he played 138 times for the Pensioners between his debut on 23 September 1907 and his last match on 4 April 1914, keeping 39 clean sheets, including our first ever in the top flight, on his debut. He was the first goalkeeper to establish himself for longer than one season, and helped Chelsea win promotion to the First Division in 1912.
When his time between the posts came to an end in 1914 he became our first team trainer. Apart from responsibility for the players’ training regime and fitness, he attended to their injuries on match days. Generations of supporters fondly recalled the sight of Jack galloping onto the pitch to attend the fallen with a wet sponge, the tails of his tweed jacket flapping as he ran.
As a well-respected figure throughout the game he also played a part in negotiating some of the great transfers signings of the day, and was part sergeant-major, part father figure to the squad. He served Chelsea for 32 years, from 1907 to May 1939, when incoming manager Billy Birrell let all the coaching staff go.
It is a rare and wonderful sign of his undimmed affection for the club that when he died in Hertfordshire, just a few months after the Pensioners’ longed-for first league championship win in 1955, he left specific instructions to his wife Winifred that he should be buried next to his beloved Stamford Bridge.
We believe an unmarked grave does not do justice to a man who had Chelsea in his heart for so many decades.
What kind of grave marker are you proposing?
There are regulations and conventions that must be adhered to. We have consulted various monumental masons who work closely with Brompton Cemetery and the most suitable memorial will be a subtle, ledger (flat slab) memorial.
We propose an inscription along the following lines:
In affectionate memory of
JOHN ‘JACK’ WHITLEY
11 Apr 1908 – 5 Jul 1955
Loyal servant of Chelsea FC for 32 years
Goalkeeper and first team trainer
Who asked to be buried
next to his beloved Stamford Bridge.
Funded by Chelsea FC supporters 2017
How much do you need to raise?
There are three main expenses:
Administration fee to place 5’ by 2’ ledger on plot (Royal Parks).
5’ by 2’ ledger, plus inscription and setting (local monumental mason).
50-year lease on plot (Brompton Cemetery).
The total comes to £5,500.
Any donations above this will be given go towards the Cemetery Clean-Up Group, who tend all the Chelsea FC-related graves at Brompton and many elsewhere, and a new edition of the ‘Final Whistle’ cemetery tour booklet.
Why doesn’t Chelsea FC just pay for it?
We have not asked them to. With support from the club, Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has led the way in keeping the Chelsea FC-related graves free of overgrowth and in good condition.
We feel it would be nice to make this another fan-led project, and that this should be noted in the inscription. We know of no next of kin to Jack, so it falls to us, the great Chelsea family, to do right by him. Of course we welcome donations from anyone.
– 11 Apr 1878 • John Whitley, known as Jack, is born at Seacombe, Cheshire, England
– Aug 1907 • Signs for Chelsea from Leeds City aged 29, having played for the Pensioners’ secretary-manager David Calderhead at Lincoln City.
– 23 Sep 1907 • As goalkeeper, helps Chelsea to the club’s first ever top flight victory at home to Newcastle – and keeps a clean sheet on his debut.
– 1907-1914 • First-choice goalie and almost ever-present for first three seasons until the arrival of Jim Molyneux in 1910. Makes a total of 138 appearances for the Pensioners: 39 of them without conceding a goal.
– 1912 • Plays 26 of 38 games as the Londoners are promoted back to Division One.
– 1914 • Joins backroom staff as first team trainer aged 36, attending to the injured, assisting in transfer negotiations, and becoming father figure to generations of Stamford Bridge players.
– 1929 • Travels with rest of Chelsea team on the ground-breaking tour of Argentina, Brazil and Ururguay as trainer and emergency goalkeeper.
– May 1939 • New manager Billy Birrell dispenses with his services as trainer, ending 32-year association with Chelsea FC.
– 5 Jul 1955 • Jack dies at Tring, Hertfordshire, aged 77, but has specifically requested to be interred next to his beloved Stamford Bridge.
– 11 Jul 1955 • Buried at the north end of Brompton Cemetery in a common, unmarked grave.
In November, Tim Rolls representing the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, along with representatives of Spirit of Shankly, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’Trust and the Football Supporters’ Federation met with senior Executives from Sky Sports to discuss the impact of the rescheduling of Premier League matches for broadcast on match going fans, particularly away supporters. A further meeting was held on 22 February, with comment to follow.
Ongoing dialogue surrounding the scheduling of Premier League fixtures for TV took place at the latest meeting between supporter groups and representatives from Sky Sports.
The meetings were set up to give consideration to supporter groups and the impact on fans, particularly travelling fans, of fixture schedule changes when making TV selections, while at the same time outlining the requirements and considerations that have to be taken into account from a broadcast perspective.
Sky Sports is always mindful of the impact of their selections, taking this into consideration where possible on TV picks to minimise the impact on fans. The company also recognises that its customers and match-going fans are one and the same.
Fan reps now a have a greater understanding of the complexities of fixture scheduling, particularly the various contractual obligations broadcasters must meet.
Kat Law from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, said: “We were encouraged by Sky’s enthusiasm to continue to build a working relationship with supporter representatives and the desire, from the top of the organisation, to consider travelling supporters when scheduling matches for live coverage.”
Gary Hughes, Sky Sports Head of Football, said: “We welcome this conversation with supporters about travelling to away matches and understanding the issues they face. It has also been helpful to outline the process we go through to select live fixtures, and the contractual obligations that ensure every club and every ground is featured regularly across the various slots we can schedule matches in. We have listened to the feedback, will continue to do so and widen this dialogue in future.”
While broadcasters have an influence on the match schedule throughout the season, the ultimate responsibility for fixture scheduling rests with the Premier League, and supporter groups are renewing the call for representatives from the Premier League to engage in these discussions as positively as Sky have done.
The supporter reps will now seek meetings with the Premier League, BT Sport, the train operators and individual clubs as they look for a joined-up approach to ensuring fixture rescheduling for broadcast purposes has minimal impact on travelling fans in the future.
Representatives of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust recently attended a briefing meeting at the ‘London’ stadium ahead of our Premier League fixture on Monday evening 6th March 2017, following the well publicised events of our League Cup game there back in October 2016. We were joined by staff of West Ham United and Chelsea FC , LS185 (responsible for stewarding), Police including the Matchday Commander, and supporter reps of West Ham.
We were generally satisfied that many actions have been implemented by WHU, LS185 and the Police to ensure that most of the issues seen in the previous game are unlikely to reoccur.