Trust Statement regarding the proposed Stamford Bridge Redevelopment

Statement regarding the proposed Stamford Bridge Redevelopment

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust representative was pleased to attend the recent Fans Forum meeting which focussed on the proposed redevelopment of Stamford Bridge.

Questions regarding plans for the much heralded redevelopment of Stamford Bridge were put to members of the Club’s Board and the design team responsible for the redevelopment of the new stadium.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust are delighted that the plans for the new stadium seem to be progressing well and that there were satisfactory responses to many of the concerns and issues that supporters have raised.

However, the recent issues with the transition of West Ham United from the Boleyn Ground to the London Stadium serve as a timely reminder about potential problems when moving stadium and increasing capacity.

It appears that many of the issues West Ham are facing might have been resolved had dialogue been held with supporters before the move. It should be noted that West Ham are one of the only Premier League clubs who do not have a Supporters’ Trust.

We firmly believe that consulting with Chelsea supporters and their representatives prior to the re-development of Stamford Bridge (and temporary move whilst this happens) will result in potential problems being avoided.

For this reason and acting on our mandate,  the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust will continue to press the Club to introduce ‘Safe Standing’ areas within the new stadium so that those who wish to stand whilst attending Chelsea matches at Stamford Bridge are able to do so.

The ‘rail seating’ system advocated by the ‘Safe Standing campaign’ has, this season, been introduced by Celtic Football Club at their Parkhead ground and has proved, beyond any doubt, that it is indeed a safe way of enabling supporters to stand whilst enjoying top-flight professional football matches. It is something that is undeniably beneficial to the atmosphere at games and we are disappointed that the Club’s safety team currently believe that it is not safe when the evidence would suggest otherwise.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust will look to host the ‘Safe Standing’ roadshow again this season in the hope that as many supporters as possible can be informed as to the benefits and viability of safe standing.

In addition, we will continue to press for like-minded supporters to be located together, as far as is practicable, to both enhance the atmosphere and to avoid the problems relating to re-location that West Ham fans have faced which has led to confrontations between their own supporters.

Chelsea Supporters’ Trust will also continue to campaign for equitable and affordable pricing to be introduced at the rebuilt Stamford Bridge which will ensure that different categories of supporters such as children, young adults up to the age of 25-years of age and those of a pensionable age are able to attend matches without being excluded by prohibitively expensive ticket prices.

The above statement can be downloaded as a PDF here.

The full minutes of the Fans’ Forum meeting of 12 September 2016 can be downloaded as a PDF here or can be found on the club’s web site.

CST Motions & Mandate 2016-17

During the election process of the Chelsea Supporters Trust the Board submit to the membership a number of issues which arose in the 2015/16 season and/or were raised in a review of the results of the June 2016 membership survey.

The background to a number of these issues, and details of progress in the past twelve months, can be found in the 2015/16 Chelsea Supporters Trust Annual Report.

photo-21The membership then vote on each motion and they become the stated policy of the board for the next 12 months and provide us with a mandate to work towards achieving these aims on behalf of the membership.

These are the motions which were all successfully passed in the recent CST elections.

Approval of 2015/16 Accounts and Use of Independent Examiner The Chelsea Supporters Trust accounts for the year ended 31/5/16 are approved. Provided revenue remains below £100,000 p.a., in line with accepted practise the Chelsea Supporters Trust Board should continue to appoint an independent examiner at the end of each financial year, rather than an auditor.

Chelsea Supporters Trust Affiliations

The Chelsea Supporters Trust should continue to affiliate to Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation, work with these organisations as appropriate to further the interests of Chelsea supporters, and football supporters in general and take part in national and local campaigns as deemed appropriate.

Stamford Bridge Redevelopment

The Chelsea Supporters Trust Board notes with approval the continued clear desire of the club owner for Chelsea to remain at Stamford Bridge, and the work that has taken place towards achieving this. The CST board is mandated to continue to work with the appointed consultants, the club and other relevant stakeholders to help ensure supporter opinion is properly and openly taken into account with regard to issues such as facilities and ticket pricing as the process moves forward.

Future of Chelsea Pitch Owners

Regardless of the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea Supporters Trust board believes that the retention of the CPO in its current role is an essential safeguard for Chelsea supporters with regard to the long-term future of Stamford Bridge. It is mandated to continue to work with the CPO board, and other appropriate bodies, towards fulfilling this aim.

Temporary Stadium

Regardless of when Chelsea move to a temporary stadium, to which location and for whatever duration, the Chelsea Supporters Trust board believes that such a move presents significant opportunities with regard to the implementation an attractive ticket pricing structure, including the opportunity to attract significant numbers of young supporters. Given this, it is mandated to press the club for such a structure to be implemented.

Atmosphere Concerns and Safe Standing

The Chelsea Supporters Trust board is mandated to continue to work with the club and other supporters groups looking to improve the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, as appropriate. The results of the Safe Standing survey carried out among Chelsea supporters in 2014 indicated overwhelming support for Safe Standing. The Board is mandated to continue to campaign for standing sections to be introduced as part of the Stamford Bridge redevelopment and at other football stadia, as part of the wider national ‘Safe Standing’ campaign co-ordinated by the Football Supporters Federation.

Ticketing / Supporter Issues

The £30 cap on away Premier League tickets shows what can be done by concerted campaigning, especially in the light of the extra TV money received by Premier League clubs. The Chelsea Supporters Trust board is mandated to pursue the issue of fair ticket pricing and ticket allocation as well as matters including, but not limited to, rearranged fixtures, away fan travel and stewarding/policing, through whichever channels they deem appropriate. These channels include, but are not necessarily limited to, Chelsea FC, the 4 Premier League, the Football Association, relevant television companies, other Supporters Trusts, the Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Direct.

Kick-Off Times

The number of Premier League games rearranged to suit the television companies, and the short notice given for such rearrangements, causes both inconvenience and cost to matchgoing supporters. The Chelsea Supporters Trust board is mandated to work with other supporters trusts and appropriate bodies to push the TV companies and Premier League for more notice to be given for such rearrangements, for published deadlines to be strictly adhered to and, where appropriate for supporters to be compensated for the extra cost.

Membership of Safety Advisory Group

The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) is a statutory council-led committee set up under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975. The Chelsea SAG has representation from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Metropolitan Police Service. British Transport Police, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, London Ambulance Service, St John’s Ambulance Service, the Sports Ground Safety Authority and the club. It meets twice a year to discuss relevant issues with regard to Chelsea Football Club. After representations to the local council in late 2015, the Chelsea Supporters Trust now have the opportunity to review the SAG agenda, submit items for discussion and review the meeting minutes. The Chelsea Supporters Trust board believe that, though this is progress, there is no valid reason whatsoever why full membership should not be granted and are mandated to push for this.

Ticket Touting

The Chelsea Supporters Trust board is mandated to use its involvement with the Safety Advisory Group with a view to reducing the activities of ticket touts in the Fulham Broadway area before Chelsea home games and to participate in campaigns designed to achieve this. It is also mandated to work with organisations represented on the SAG to assist in educating potentially vulnerable groups in the perils of purchasing tickets in this way, or through using unofficial on-line ticketing organisations.

Stakeholder Engagement

The Chelsea Supporters Trust Board has made some progress since its inception in terms of building relationships with relevant stakeholders at a local and national level. The board is mandated to build on this work and to develop relevant effective working relationships with Chelsea FC, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Andy Slaughter (MP for Hammersmith), Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police, Premier League, Football Association, relevant broadcasting organisations, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and other bodies as deemed appropriate. Where deemed to be more effective (e.g. with the Premier League, FA, broadcasting organisations and DCMS), these relationships are to be built working in conjunction with other supporters trusts or other appropriate organisations.

Football In The Community

The Chelsea Supporters Trust Board is mandated to participate in and support appropriate activities designed to promote football, Chelsea FC and its supporters in the community local 5 to Chelsea FC. This could, for example, take the form of charitable work or through supporting specific supporter based campaigns as they arise.

Club Heritage

Building on the Brompton Cemetery Chelsea Graves project, the Chelsea Supporters Trust Board is mandated to work with the club, club historian Rick Glanvill and other appropriate bodies/individuals to identify appropriate projects to reflect and enhance the club’s heritage.

CST Annual Membership Renewal date

To simplify administration and enable a more effective renewal process, the Chelsea Supporters Trust board recommends that there is a single annual renewal date for memberships. To implement this, the board recommends that the next renewal date for those whose memberships were current on 31 May 2016 is set to 1 June 2017 and annually thereafter. Those making automatic payments via Paypal can either continue payment on anniversary date of joining or adjust their payments to be made on 1 June.

Supporters Club Ticket Allocations

The Chelsea Supporters Trust board has had representations from supporters clubs in the UK and abroad with regard to the perceived unfairness of the ticket allocation by the club to different categories of supporters club. They are mandated to work with affiliates, and other supporters clubs, to identify a potential fairer solution and present it to the club

Agreed Purchase of  Kingsmeadow from AFC Wimbledon

The Trust should liaise with Chelsea Football Club to ensure that an open and transparent dialogue is conducted with Kingstonian FC in preparation (and for the aftermath) of the agreed purchase of Kingsmeadow from AFC Wimbledon.

Chelsea Supporters Trust Annual Report

This is the annual report on the Trust’s activities for the last year as presented by the Chairman at the recent AGM.

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Business Review and Future Developments

Annual Accounts

The CST board feel that the surplus currently held (£6,060 as at 31/5/16) should be maintained, in case there should be a need for a ‘fighting fund’ or similar unplanned contingency requirement. The amount held in surplus is reviewed regularly by the CST board and, if appropriate, changes made to the membership fee structure.

CST Membership

The CST has a direct c8,000 reach through individual memberships and affiliations, plus 12,100 Twitter followers and 9,400 Facebook followers (figures correct as at 9/8/16).

Progress on Motions Passed at 2015 AGM

Stamford Bridge Redevelopment

The future of Stamford Bridge is the most significant issue facing Chelsea supporters and the clear wish of the majority of CST members is for the club to stay at their spiritual home. It was therefore of great interest for supporters to be able to see, last summer, the exhibition showing outline redevelopment plans, which if implemented will certainly make a 60,000 capacity Stamford Bridge one of the great football stadia of Europe.

model-of-future-stamford-bridgeThe lack of any further announcement with regard to the stadium redevelopment, which is currently subject to the local authority planning permission process, is clearly a frustration for supporters but it is probably understandable that the Club hold back until there is something definite to say. It is to be hoped that the project team are able to update supporters with regard to progress in the near future.

Ongoing supporter input as the plans, designs, facilities and pricing structures firm up is essential, to ensure that the final stadium design meets, as far as is possible, the needs of supporters and, crucially, allows a greater proportion of younger supporters to affordably attend games.

Closely related to the planned redevelopment is the proposed move to a temporary stadium while Stamford Bridge is rebuilt. The location, timing and duration of such a move is the subject of much speculation in the media and among supporters and, again, it is to be hoped that news regarding such a move can be given to supporters in the near future.

Tottenham’s attractive pricing for their Champions League games at Wembley provides an interesting benchmark for Chelsea, regardless of their temporary home, and, again, supporter input into pricing and seat allocation decisions can only be beneficial.

A list of concerns and suggestions with regard to such a temporary move were sent to the Club during the season and we will look to work with the club to address supporters’ concerns about any temporary absence including travel, cost, ticketing and atmosphere’.

Future of Chelsea Pitch Owners

The CST board, and (from motions overwhelmingly passed at previous AGM’s) our membership, has always believed that CPO is an essential long-term safeguard for Chelsea supporters with regard to the stadium, regardless of the Stamford Bridge redevelopment.

cst-cpo-share-presentationWe will continue to work with relevant parties to help ensure this is the case. We are in regular contact with CPO Chair Charles Rose and will continue to offer help and support to the CPO board as appropriate.

Atmosphere Concerns and Safe Standing

Concerted efforts by a number of groups and individuals, including the CST, continued to improve the atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge last season, and their efforts are welcomed.

IMG_0139 (Large)CST board members continued to meet with senior Club executives on a number of occasions to discuss this specific issue. The work done by groups like Shed End Atmosphere in trying to create a vibrant atmosphere in the ground, and produce banner displays, is to be commended.

Ticket Pricing and Availability

Ticket prices at Stamford Bridge were frozen for another year, which is welcome, but the big news this year was the introduction of the £30 cap on away PL tickets from 2016/17.

This is testament to the hard work over a number of years by the Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Trusts across the Premier League. It ends the argument that supporters from different clubs working collectively together can achieve little or nothing to coordinate mutual interests.

Of course, just because away ticket prices have been reduced does not mean that campaigning will stop, as a statement we issued following the ticket price announcement made clear. Given the enormous sums of TV money pouring into Premier League club coffers there are clearly opportunities for clubs to reduce home ticket prices, incentivise young supporters and so on. We will continue to raise these issues with the Club and also work with other appropriate groups on a Premier League-wide basis.

The Chelsea subsidy of away travel outside London continued in 2015/16 and the announcement of a continuation of the scheme in 2016/17 is to be welcomed. From discussions with other PL Supporters Trusts it is clear that a number of other PL clubs have ended subsidised travel, and other away supporter initiatives, following the announcement of the £30 cap. There are also concerns that at some clubs concessionary prices have risen, to partly offset the revenue loss caused by the cap, and that at some grounds away allocations could be reduced. The CST, in conjunction with other PL Trusts, is keeping a close eye on this issue.

Membership of Hammersmith and Fulham Safety Advisory Group

The Met Police, Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Chelsea FC, British Transport Police, London Fire Brigade etc. meet twice a year as the Chelsea Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to discuss safety issues relating to Stamford Bridge. It is clearly counter-productive that supporter input is not sought.

Following last year’s AGM motion we approached the Council and, following a meeting with the SAG chair and officers, we now have input to the SAG agenda and receive feedback after meetings. This is progress, and we have made a number of valid points which were discussed at SAG’s, but the longer term objective is to gain full SAG membership and the CST board will continue to work towards this.

Ticket Touting

One issue that continues to frustrate is street ticket touting. Little progress seems to have been made over the past twelve months and it is important that the CST are more effective in ensuring the SAG proactively address the issue.

Stakeholder Engagement

Over the past year CST board member dialogue with senior Club executives has continued. As well as a number of meetings relating to atmosphere, referenced above, there have been a series of wider discussions and, critically, a presentation of the results of the annual CST members survey.

The CST continue to work with other Premier League Trusts on developing engagement at a senior level in the FA and Premier League. We had representation at a meeting held between senior Premier League executives, the Football Supporters Federation and a supporter representative from each PL club in July. Issues discussed included ticket pricing, kick-off times and safe standing. It is planned that such meetings take place twice-yearly. It is to be hoped that effective dialogue and positive initiatives will result.

Ad Hoc Issues

 European Away Ticket Collection Process

The Club introduced a new collection process for European away tickets which excited much comment from travelling supporters. A CST board member organised a survey among travelling Chelsea supporters regarding the process at the Porto away game and passed the results to the Club.

Kick Off Times

The CST probably get more ongoing complaints with regard to the late announcement of matches rescheduled for television, and the problems caused by matches kicking off at inappropriate times, than almost any other issue.

The financial and logistical problems caused to home and away supporters by delayed announcements, and the number of matches it is impossible for away supporters to travel home on public transport from, is a cause of frustration for supporters across the Premier League.

We have complained to the Premier League on a regular basis about announcement delays. A board member led on the issue at the meeting with Premier League executives (see above) and will be actively involved in further stakeholder discussions on the issue.

Chelsea Graves in Brompton Cemetery

IMG_0639 (Large)Following liaison with Friends of Brompton Cemetery, Chelsea official historian Rick Glanvill and the Club, the CST have organised three clear-ups of graves in Brompton Cemetery relating to Chelsea FC. The graves of four club founders (Messrs Janes, Kirby, Maltby and Mears) have been cleared and tidied up and are now easily accessible.

Thank you to the CST members who have given up their spare time to help carry out this work. We plan to build on this initiative in the coming season, both in terms of other Chelsea graves and other community activity.

Communication and Dialogue with Members

In line with their stated practise, the CST held an Annual General Meeting and three Special General Meetings in 2015/16.

Location again became an issue, but a successful SGM was held at the Chelsea Pensioner in May. We hope that this venue can be used in future.

IMG_0764 (Large)Guest at that May SGM was well-known Chelsea journalist Dan Levene, who did a lively Q&A session on a range of Chelsea issues. Dan also ran a Chelsea quiz at the 2015 AGM, and given the success of this event a followup is being held this year.

In November we held an SGM Q&A with three experts on policing and stewarding issues at football matches. This SGM was held immediately after the launch of ‘Chelsea – The Complete Record’ by Paul Dutton and Rick Glanvill, giving attendees an unexpected and welcome chance to meet Bobby Tambling.

As in 2014/15 one of the SGM’s was held virtually (a Virtual General Meeting) in February, with members again accessing and interacting with the meeting through the internet. The level of interaction and quality of questions was again pleasing.

The AGM and SGMs are broadcast live via the internet and also made available via a podcast, meaning members from across the globe unable to attend in person have the chance to participate and/or listen.

CST newsletters are e-mailed to members on a monthly basis, designed to keep them informed on a range of issues, on issues relating to Chelsea but also more widely. It is always a judgement as to how many members e-mails to send, as there is potentially a law of diminishing returns, but survey feedback indicates that monthly newsletters are about right.

The CST website is regularly updated with current news items and has just had a redesign/refresh. The CST has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, as these are clearly key tools in terms of getting important messages out quickly, to our membership and beyond.

We must not forget, however, that many supporters do not use social media, hence the continued need for newsletters and, where appropriate, member e-mails.

Our fourth annual members survey was conducted over the summer, and results will be presented to members later this year. The Club, media and the wider supporter base will also receive relevant highlights.

Board members have also represented the CST position on various issues on the Chelsea Fancast, London Is Blue podcast, the Chelsea Fans Channel and other supporter-led communication channels.

Building and operating effective member dialogue processes in a world where face-to-face interaction is increasingly replaced by virtual engagement is an ongoing challenge, but essential if the CST are to truly identify and effectively represent the wishes of its members.

Media Coverage

CST board members continue to have a regular media presence and are regularly asked for comment and opinion by a wide range of media, on a range of issues, both relating to Chelsea and wider football matters.

The results of the 2015 annual members survey again received wide coverage, as did statements on key issues affecting Chelsea supporters and the CST last season, and campaigns held with other Trusts and organisations the CST took part in. We have always tried to put over our views in a considered and rational manner and will continue to do so.

Summary

2016/17 is likely to be a pivotal and challenging year. Progress will hopefully be made with regard to the details regarding the Stamford Bridge development and the resultant temporary move, and it is imperative that supporter input on issues around facilities and ticketing is an integral part of the process in the years ahead.

A key challenge for the new CST Board is to work effectively with the Club and other stakeholders to help ensure such input is relevant, properly represents members views and is fully taken into account.

Chelsea Supporters’ Trust Election Results

The results of the recent Chelsea Supporters Trust Board election and the voting on each CST Motion, as proposed in the AGM of 13th have now been released.

CSTAGM13.8.16-8 (Medium)The vote for the new Board was an ‘affirmative vote’ with 9 members standing for election or re-election. Each member required 50% of the vote to be elected.

We are delighted that each member standing received well over 90% and the following have been duly elected: Cliff Auger; David Chidgey; Debs Coady; Charles Jackson; David Johnstone; Celia Mindelsohn; Chris Rayburn; Dan Silver; Richard Weekes.

We trust the membership will extend a warm welcome to new Board members Dan Silver and Chris Rayburn and to the returning Board members as well.

The first meeting of the new Board was held on Thursday September 1st and with Tim Rolls standing down as Chair of the Trust, the new board’s first task was to elect a new Chair and a new Treasurer.

We are delighted to announce that David Chidgey was elected by the Board to be the new Chairman of the Chelsea Supporters Trust. Charles Jackson was elected as Treasurer and Paul Jeffrey will remain in position as Secretary.

In addition, we have now received the results of the voting for the Motions from the Board.

In short these are as follows (votes in favour in brackets): Approval of 2015/16 accounts (98.96%); CST Affiliations (99.48%); Stamford Bridge Redevelopment (100%); Future of Chelsea Pitch Owners (98.45%); Temporary Stadium (98.96%); Atmosphere Concerns and Safe Standing (96.89%); Ticket Pricing and Availability (100%); Kick-Off Times (97.40 %); Membership of Safety Advisory Group (99.48%); Ticket Touting (98.96%); Stakeholder Engagement (100%); Football in the Community (98.95%); Club Heritage (99.48%); CST Annual Membership Renewal Date (98.95%); Supporters Club Ticket Allocations (98.94%).

IMG_4031As you can see every Motion proposed by the Board has been backed positively and bar a percentage point or two unanimously!

This gives the new Board a very strong mandate from the membership going forward on the supporter issues that affect them most.

The Board are currently working on a new ‘working group’ structure to ensure that our work on these motions is expedited as effectively as possible over the next year. We will also be announcing a date for the first SGM of the season very soon.

To all of our members who took part in the AGM, the election of the Board and for voting on the Motions, many thanks. This democratic process is exactly what sets the Chelsea Supporters Trust apart in that we are answerable to the membership and we work on the issues mandated by the membership.