Tag Archives: statement

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.

FA Cup Ticket Price Protest

We are The Shed and the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust are planning a visual protest at The FA Cup Final to show our disgust at the ticket prices. 

When The Chairman of The FA is presented on the pitch, shortly after ‘Abide with Me’, to shake hands with dignitaries and officials, we urge all supporters turn their backs on the pitch until he has left the pitch.

We urge supporters of both teams to take part and spread the word, to help create a powerful visual protest against FA Cup Final ticket prices and show that collectively we can collaborate, make a point and take action.

This year has seen a substantial increase in ticket prices compared with last season’s final, with the largest allocation of tickets (category 2) increasing in price by 35%.

We urge all those attending the game to take part and help get the message across to The FA that, as football supporters, we are against blatant profiteering at the expense of the supporters and treating us contemptuously as cash cows.

We have had enough and it needs to stop.

FA Cup Final Ticket Pricing

Chelsea Supporters will be looking forward to the FA Cup Final on May 19th; a competition in which we have been very privileged to be at the conclusion of many times over the last 20 years.

However, while the team may have fought long and hard to get there, the supporters have had to dip their hands in their pockets repeatedly during an arduous season, arguably an even greater commitment.

Coupled with season ticket renewals in the middle of May to the tune of (on average) £800, the prospect of paying up to £145 for a FA Cup Final ticket is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

While we certainly do not hope that this is Chelsea’s last visit to a FA Cup Final for the foreseeable future, this must be the last time the FA gets away with such extortionate ticket prices.

In April, the FA met with Supporters’ Trusts from all four semi-finalists and agreed a number of concessions for the Final including reductions in prices for concessionary tickets; a commitment to review the pricing of tickets behind the goals and introducing an accessibly priced family area going forward and keeping future ticket prices in line with inflation.

However, we believe that this is too little, too late and does not go far enough.

The FA Cup Final remains a very special occasion for football supporters, as a chance to see their team triumph in the most historic club competition in football. While demand always exceeds supply; no supporter able to go should be priced out of the Final.

The FA’s specious argument that the pricing reflects the fact that it is one of the most prestigious events in the sporting calendar and that every penny of profit is reinvested in to the grass roots of the game is subterfuge for blatantly profiteering from the very people whose interests they should serve: the loyal supporters who support the game week in, week out.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, together with the other Supporters’ Trusts, vows to keep the pressure on the FA by any means possible, until the FA agree to change their pricing policy and make ticket prices affordable to the long suffering and ordinary supporter.

We have been taken advantage of for long enough and it’s time for this to stop.

David Chidgey, Chairman, Chelsea Supporters’ Trust

FA RESPONDS TO FAN REPS CALLS OVER CUP PRICING

Following the meeting last week between senior FA executives and fan representatives from the teams competing in this season’s FA Cup semi-finals regarding ticket pricing for the semi-finals and final, the FA has confirmed a number of changes to its previous approach.

  • Concessionary tickets will now be charged at £25 off the full adult rate for categories A and B for this year’s final. Concessions for categories C and D remain at £10 off the full adult rate.
  • The FA has committed to review the price bandings behind the goals in Level 1 of Wembley stadium, in collaboration with fan representatives, for the 2018-19 semi-finals and final in recognition of the contribution fans in those areas make to the spectacle and atmosphere.
  • There is a commitment to evaluate the feasibility of introducing a more accessibly priced family area for the 2018-19 semi-finals and final.
  • The FA has committed to keep prices in line with inflation until 2021.

The movement on concessions for this year’s final is to be welcomed, as is the commitment to address the wider issues we raised ahead of next year’s competition. We are obviously disappointed that the other decisions taken for this year’s competition will stand, meaning fans face significantly higher costs. And while the pledge to keep future price increases below RPI until 2021 is progress, we still believe tickets are priced too high and that ticket price inflation has been too steep. The FA’s income from sponsorship and broadcasting linked to the FA Cup will increase significantly from 2018-19 and we expect to see some of that invested in loyal fans whose support is vital for the spectacle that those sponsors and broadcasters are investing in.

Football ticket pricing is not an ordinary competitive market. It is a monopoly and the FA, as the game’s regulatory body, should be setting an example by rewarding fans’ loyalty.

What we are encouraged by is the FA’s acknowledgement that this year’s decisions should not have been taken without proper consultation with supporters. And so we welcome the commitment to discuss pricing for subsequent competitions properly with supporter groups.

The test of that commitment will come as discussions play out. The FA now has the chance to set the standard for genuine consultation that enhances the reputation of the FA Cup, a competition fans continue to hold dear.

Chelsea Supporters’ Trust

Manchester United Supporters’ Trust

Southampton Fan Groups

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust