Tag Archives: statement

Time for UEFA to take action on managing the Champions League and Europa League finals

The fan experience at UEFA finals must be improved, say fan groups of last year’s four finalists.

Ahead of tomorrow’s draw in Monaco for the Champions League and Europa League 2019/20 tournaments, supporters of last season’s four finalists are calling for changes in how UEFA manage the finals. ​

A joint statement by Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, Spirit of Shankly and Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust reads:

Reaching a UEFA Champions League or Europa League final should be a wonderful experience for a club’s supporters. Instead, they can face a struggle just to attend the match. ​Problems range from inadequate numbers of tickets being awarded to the finalists through to all-but-impossible travel arrangements. Too often fans who had supported their clubs in every round up to the final were left out of pocket or not able to attend the final at all. 

We have drawn up a six-point action plan to improve the supporter experience. It has been referred to the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) and Football Supporters Europe (FSE). We now call on UEFA to engage in meaningful dialogue with supporters and address these points.

1. Allocation: 80% of tickets should be made available to the two competing finalists. with the remaining 20% for sponsors, the football family, key stakeholders and small general sale.
 
2. Capacity: only stadiums with large capacities should be selected to ensure maximum ticket availability. We suggest 60,000 or greater for the Europa League final; 75,000 for the Champions League final.
 
3. Affordability: ticket pricing for the final to be fair and affordable. There should be a stretch pricing policy allowing choice for fans. 
 
4. Accessibility: the final venue must have the highest standards for accessibility for people with disabilities, including travel access to the stadium; sufficient food, drink and washroom facilities; and have not been subject to a UEFA charge for the treatment of fans for at least 24 months prior to the final.
 
5. Infrastructure: the location of the final venue to be a city with excellent transport links, including the capacity to deal with additional charter flights, and ideally good rail links to nearby cities and airports; bed-space capacity to deal with the large number of visitors.
 
6. Equality: the host country must abide by a human-rights and equality policy that ensures no discrimination or denial of right of entry is applied to any player or supporter travelling to the final.

Tomorrow’s much hyped draw will involve everybody from the football family except the very people without whom there would be no European Football – its supporters. We call upon UEFA to strengthen its dialogue with fans and request that they start by engaging with groups like ourselves to discuss the proposals we have put forward to improve arrangements for fans at the final stage of the Champions and Europa Leagues.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust
Chelsea Supporters’ Trust
Spirit of Shankly, Liverpool Supporters’ Trust 

CST Statement on Supporter Bans

The news that Chelsea have banned one supporter for life and five others for between one and two years for behavior relating to the abuse of Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge last December, whilst understandable is disappointing.

The Crown Prosecution Service stated in April that there was not enough evidence to prove racist abuse or public order offences. However, the Club have taken an alternative view, without the burden of proof needed to establish whether any criminal offences had occurred.

Abusive behaviour is abhorrent, whether in the febrile atmosphere of a football match or in society as a whole and racism is unequivocally no subject for semantics or ‘whataboutism’. The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust will always support the Club in taking action where racist abuse is proven.

However, the crux of this matter is that the Club are entitled to enforce any disciplinary action they deem fit if a supporter breaches their ticketing terms and conditions. Simply put, the club are not a public body and they can enact whatever policies they like in respect of supporters’ behaviour.

While we respect the Club’s right to do this, we do find their procedures troubling.

In the interests of fairness and natural justice, we believe there needs to be consistency and transparency around the Club’s banning procedures. Currently it seems that the Club are acting as ‘Judge and Jury’. When a supporter’s ability to support their team is at stake or worse, their employment and reputation, we believe it would be more equitable to use independent arbitration in the appeals process or an appeals committee independent from the Club.

Football, like society has changed. Clearly some behaviour is simply unacceptable at football in the modern age with violence and racist and abusive behaviour top of the list. Given what is potentially at stake for supporters, we believe the Club should make their policies relating to unacceptable behaviour and breaching conditions of ticket use far more accessible and visible than they currently are.

It would seem sensible for supporters to acquaint themselves with exactly what the club considers to be behaviour that would put you in breach of their conditions and lead to a ban. The Club’s policy document can be downloaded here.

We will continue to support the Club taking action against racist and abusive behaviour from both Chelsea supporters and supporters of all clubs, but we will also challenge the Club when we believe that their procedures and rationale for banning supporters is unfair.

CST Statement on European Super League discussions

Chelsea Supporters Trust, in common with other Premier League Trusts and supporter organisations, have deep concerns about stories of a possible UEFA European Super League which have received media coverage in recent weeks.  

As a result the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust sent a letter (click here to read the letter) to Chelsea FC expressing our opposition to the idea of a European Super League being discussed by the European Club Association. The full statement by the United Football Supporters Organisation can be read here (http://www.fsf.org.uk/blog/view/six-reasons-to-oppose-a-european-super-league), outlining our opposition in detail.

CST board members met with Chelsea executives Bruce Buck and Graham Smith to discuss the matter. They confirmed the club position, and that of the Premier League, which is one of opposition to the idea, as reported in the media.  The club is working with other Premier League clubs to counter the idea, which they see as detrimental to both Premier League and European domestic football in a wider context.  

The parties will continue dialogue on the issue going forward.

The Europa League Final in Baku

The Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal on May 29th is presenting unprecedented challenges to supporters who wish to be there in the hope of witnessing Chelsea winning another European trophy.

It is clear that, whilst a pleasant place to visit for a group stage match, Baku is a totally unsuitable location for a major European final. The combination of cost, complexity in regard to travel arrangements and time off work has massively reduced the travelling support, including those who loyally and ordinarily go to all home, away and European matches.

None of this is the fault of the people of Baku. The blame lies predominantly with UEFA who, yet again, re-affirm their contempt for match going supporters.

Due to UEFA’s choice of Baku, the supporters who do manage to make the trip face a late finish of the game (potentially after 01.30 if it goes to extra-time and penalties) causing potential problems for travelling supporters returning to hotels or travel hubs. But before supporters get this far, the issues faced in actually getting there are insurmountable for many.

These issues are exacerbated by the inadequacy of airports in terms of handling large numbers of extra flights, the lack of direct flights and high cost of indirect ones and the complexity of journeys from Tbilisi or Kiev by overnight train or minibus for example.

With the difficulties supporters face in getting to Baku, it might not seem unreasonable that UEFA have only allocated 6,000 tickets to both Chelsea and Arsenal out of a capacity of 68,000. However, this is potentially a worrying trend for future seasons. UEFA notoriously provide an inadequate allocation for supporters in finals, instead favouring the ‘UEFA family’ and may use the understandable but likely unsold allocation by both clubs as a barometer for future allocations.

In addition, the political situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia means that Arsenal player and Armenia Captain, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, feels unsafe to visit the country and now misses out on the chance to play in the biggest game of his career. There have also been reported cases of supporters of Armenian extraction who have been refused a visa to enter Azerbaijan. Choosing a location where there are issues with political conflicts and human rights abuses makes a mockery of UEFA’s claims of inclusivity.

On the subject of inclusivity, UEFA and the stadium’s provision of facilities for disabled supporters is inadequate. The sightlines for some of the wheelchair spaces in the stadium are compromised by poor pitch visibility. In Baku itself, there is limited accommodation and infrastructure accessible to disabled supporters. Awarding a final to a City and Stadium which cannot adequately provide for disabled supporters due to poor views and inaccessibility is a damning indictment of UEFA’s #equalgame campaign.  

Rather than arrogantly pushing back on recent criticism, once both English clubs had reached the Quarter Finals, surely a round table discussion between UEFA, Azerbaijan and the two clubs on details, logistics and airline capacity should have taken place. Better still, a fall-back venue could and should have been identified.

We are extremely disappointed that Chelsea FC have been unable or unwilling to help Chelsea supporters overcome the travel, expense and logistics in order for them to support the team in a European final. This, in spite of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust’s suggestions as to how the club could offer material help to supporters wishing to go to Baku.

We suggested providing a subsidy for travelling supporters, having calculated the negligible financial impact on the club given the revenue earned from the competition this season. This is pertinent when considering that Chelsea FC’s travel partner, Thomas Cook, is charging an extortionate £979 for the official package for the day trip to Baku. Furthermore, the late notice of the UK airport to be used for both departure and return means it is hard for travellers to plan.

The price for Thomas Cook’s package is more expensive than most season tickets, and again it is disappointing that the club did not feel they could offer supporters an extension for season ticket renewals, as they have done before when Chelsea supporters faced additional expense due to the club’s participation in a European final. Tottenham Hotspur for example have extended their season ticket renewals to help supporters cash flow.

Chelsea is the only club of the four English European finalists insisting all of their supporters collect their tickets from a designated ticket pick-up location, even though tickets are clearly freely available. To compound things, supporters cannot take advantage of the free travel in Baku until they have their match ticket. Surely Chelsea could have re-thought their policy in lieu of the exceptional circumstances of the trip to Baku?

The lack of a statement from Chelsea FC is also disappointing. Arsenal FC, issued a statement expressing frustration and disappointment on behalf of their supporters; acknowledging the unsuitability of the venue, the challenges faced by supporters travelling to Baku and the need to ensure more care by UEFA in future venue selection. While this may not make any difference to UEFA’s immediate decision making, at the very least it sent out a message to their supporters that they were concerned about the difficulties they face and were on their side.

A similar statement from Chelsea would have engendered some much-needed goodwill from the supporters.

And, given the large numbers of Chelsea supporters who are extremely disappointed in not being able to get to Baku to support the team, we believe that Chelsea FC have missed a great opportunity to benefit from another gesture of goodwill by facilitating a ‘live broadcast’ or ‘beam back’ of the match, at Stamford Bridge or another suitable venue.  

This would have been very well received and while never able to replace the experience of being in Baku, it might have mitigated some of the disappointment.

Joint Statement from Arsenal Supporters Trust and Chelsea Supporters Trust on the Europa League Final in Baku

Having reached the Europa League final on May 29th, loyal supporters of both Arsenal and Chelsea should be looking forward to seeing their teams compete in a European final, always a great occasion.

Sadly, many have already decided that the cost and logistical difficulty of reaching the designated venue, Baku, means that they cannot attend. Baku is one of the most inaccessible cities in Europe from the UK, with few direct flights from any western European destination. Fans who have been to 40+ games this season, loyal supporters by any definition, are unable to attend the climax of their club’s season, a dreadful reward for their season-long commitment.

Flight prices are exorbitant, and many supporters will have to use ingenuity and a combination of flights then taxis and trains from neighbouring countries to reach the city. Hotel prices have also, inevitably, ballooned, not helped by the fact the UEFA and sponsors have pre-booked much of the available accommodation.

For those determined to attend, allocations of under 6,000 tickets for each club seem laughable, given the stadium capacity of some 68,000. The cost and complexity, plus extended time off work, has put many loyal supporters off going but, regardless, the allocation for competing clubs should clearly be far higher.

Baku airport cannot cope with high volumes of air traffic, making it unsuitable to host a final where thousands of supporters would fly in. Rather than use this as a reason to not award the game to Baku, UEFA have stated that the ticket allocations are so small precisely because of these capacity issues!

Rather than subsidising travel as a gesture of thanks for their support, which the clubs could certainly afford, both Arsenal and Chelsea are complicit in fleecing fans with the outrageous £979 day trips both clubs are operating, through ‘official partner’ Thomas Cook.

Enough is enough. As independent supporter organisations at Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC we call for supporter dialogue with UEFA with a view to implementing the following principles for European finals in future seasons:

  • ​A cap on ticket pricing
  • An allocation of tickets to the two competing clubs that reflects the importance of those supporters to the spectacle and atmosphere
  • Consumer protection measures to at least stop the practice of repricing existing deals and cancelling pre-booked hotel rooms
  • Selection of locations for UEFA finals that have the transport and accommodation infrastructure to cope with an influx of overseas supporters
  • Flexibility over the choice of final location at least until the quarter final results are known.

No Charges Against Chelsea Supporter Accused Of Racially Abusing Raheem Sterling

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust notes that the Chelsea supporter who was vilified by the media for allegedly racially abusing Raheem Sterling when Chelsea played Man City last December, will not be prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service due to a lack of evidence of any racial abuse.

We are clearly very disappointed that the speed with which both the club and the media pre-judged the supporter led to his season ticket being withdrawn and in addition, the loss of his job due to the ensuing media frenzy based on unproven allegations.

We will be lobbying the club to ask for the reinstatement of the supporter’s season ticket as well as the three other supporters whose season tickets were withdrawn at that time.

Statement on Chelsea Ticket Prices Announcement

Chelsea have announced their ticket prices for next season covering season ticket prices, concessions, general ticket prices and prices for cup competitions.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust welcome Chelsea FC freezing season ticket prices (remaining at 2011/12 prices and meaning that prices have not risen for 12 out of the past 14 seasons) and also maintaining the discounted prices for Cup competitions.

However, we are very disappointed with the price increases for members and general admission in all adult categories for Premier League games. This will see an increase from £47 to £50 for members for a Category B match in the Shed or Matthew Harding Lower (cheapest tickets) and an increase from £56 to £60 for Category AA matches. 

Similarly prices for general admission tickets will increase from  from £52 to £55  for a Category B match in the Shed or Matthew Harding Lower (cheapest tickets) and an increase from £61 to £65 for Category AA matches. This represents an increase of between 5.5% to 7%. 

The price increases for match day tickets for members and general admission appears to be particularly unfair on supporters who are unable to afford the financial commitment that a season ticket entails, especially at a time when personal finances may be constrained due to the wider economic conditions.

Since credit and debit card surcharges were banned in January 2018, we presume that the £2 fee being charged for each transaction is to cover booking or admin fees for all forms of payment. However, we will seek clarification from the Club as to what this fee covers as it does seem unduly excessive.

The Club’s commitment to offer subsidised travel and continued support for the away ticket price cap, as per the Premier League guidelines is also very welcome, especially considering the expense and difficulty with travel costs often as a result of rescheduled kick off times faced by our away support.

However, any price increase must be viewed as disappointing when considering the vast amount of revenue received by Chelsea from the lucrative Broadcast deals negotiated by the Premier League. This is particularly irritating when considering the huge amount of inconvenience placed upon match going supporters due to the constant rescheduling and movement of matches to unpopular time slots.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust is currently conducting it’s annual survey of Chelsea supporters and it includes a section on Ticket Pricing and Kick Off times. If you would like to express your view on any issues regarding ticket prices we urge you to complete the survey here

The results of the survey are presented to the Club.

 

 

Statement on FA Cup Late Kick Off Time

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust is extremely disappointed to hear that the 4th Round FA Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday or Luton Town has been scheduled for 18.00 on Sunday 27th January, due to the match being televised live by the BBC.

While the FA Cup may be losing its appeal among some clubs and supporters, this is definitely not the case at Chelsea where FA Cup matches sell out match after match, year after year.

However, we wonder how long this exceptional support will continue when the FA, in thrall to the Broadcasters, has sold the soul of football’s most prestigious tournament and in doing so shows nothing but contempt for supporters with inconvenient kick off times and the inherent transport difficulties and costs that ensue.

A 6.00 pm kick-off on a Sunday evening will be particularly hard on Sheffield Wednesday supporters, should they beat Luton Town in the replay, with travel back up to Yorkshire late on a Sunday night especially difficult. But it’s not just the away supporters who will find it difficult, whether from Sheffield or Luton.

Many Chelsea supporters also travel long distances to watch Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge. For reasonably priced FA Cup ties, many supporters take their young children, possibly for their first match.  With a kick off time of 6.00 pm those plans may now change and many kids will now be disappointed. At a time when the clubs and the game should be doing everything they can to encourage the next generation to attend football matches, it seems obtuse to deny access through a late kick off time to the very same people.

Presumably they’ll be able to watch it on TV, which is where the game seems to be heading; a game no longer for supporters watching in stadiums, but for those in the comfort of their armchair.

Supporters have already expressed frustration and anger at the lack of traditional 3.00 pm kick off times and the number of early, late or Friday night kick offs, due to broadcast demands in this season’s FA Cup. This follows on from the extortionate ticket prices charged by the FA for the Semi-Finals and FA Cup Final last season, a point we made vociferously at the time.

If the FA Cup wishes to retain its pre-eminence as the most loved tournament in football, then the FA would do well to heed the concerns of the very people who make it what it is and ultimately who it serves: The Supporters.

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea FC Statement by Bruce Buck

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust welcomes the clear and unambiguous open letter published by Bruce Buck, Chairman of Chelsea FC, today.

The Trust wholeheartedly supports the club’s stance and confirms its commitment to working with Chelsea FC to promote inclusion and eradicate all forms of discrimination.

The full statement by Bruce Buck can be read here

Chelsea v Man City – Chelsea Supporters’ Trust Statement

Chelsea Supporters Trust logoThe Chelsea Supporters’ Trust notes that the Club and the Metropolitan Police are investigating a specific incident that occurred during Saturday’s match against Manchester City.

The Trust condemns all racist abuse whether it is aimed at players or supporters. There is no place for it in the game.

Clearly due process needs to be followed and we will comment further after the conclusion of the investigation in to the incident.