This is one of the main areas of our work. We set our stall out to represent supporter views to the Club’s decision makers in a forthright and cooperative manner. Our approach has always been to highlight any areas of concern and always propose a solution.
We have been consistent on the transparency of Ticket fees also producing helpful guidance through a ban appeal policy and procedure. Independent and restriction free travel to matches is a principle we uphold, so we worked with the Club, Swansea City and relevant police forces to stop the practice of “Bubble matches”. Working alongside other supporter groups we have been involved in the re-opening of the East End and sorting out issues around the use of flags and associated acceptable wording and graphics.
We continue to represent supporter views to outside decision makers and media where necessary. As well as numerous radio and television interviews, we work with the local press to inform the wider fan base. We are not afraid to challenge. Good examples include questioning who was actually running our football club. When season ticket prices rose by up to 99% for children, pensioners and the disabled, we got involved too. Still baffled and still angry, board members joined the peaceful protest before the next home game displaying banners saying, “Love the game, hate the business” and “Fans, not customers”.
To encourage the Club to continually review its supporter liaison strategy we produced this guidance and lobbied hard to bring in a full-time SLO. We think they did well with that one!
One of our goals is to encourage wider supporter involvement in the Club from the Boardroom down, including an elected supporters’ representative with voting powers on the Board of Bristol City Football Club. We haven’t fully achieved that yet. However, we urged the Club to continue meaningful supporter involvement at every stage of stadium build or re-development, in a manner that reflects the Club’s heritage. To be fair, they accepted our help and worked with us on various surveys, petitioning of Bristol City Council and demonstrations . Club & Trust officials attended board meetings of Ashton Gate Ltd and worked with other supporter groups on where best in the ground to position so called “singing sections”.
To help bridge the gap between the terraces and the boardroom, we initiated and ran a series of very successful Ask the Chairman sessions in pubs at away games up and down the country with Steve Lansdown. These have been at Derby, Rotherham, Crewe, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Norwich, Bradford and Nottingham Forest, with us helping the Club organise their first one of these at Preston.
We are pressing ahead with our legal claim against the West Midlands Police on behalf of fans who in our view were wrongly subjected to a section 35 dispersal notice before the away game at Birmingham City on 12 September 2015. A judge has been assigned to the case and we expect a case management hearing court date in September 2019.
We see the bigger picture for football fans, so seek to bring best practice from national fans’ initiatives where appropriate. We just so happen to be a driving force for one of them in the shape of safe standing, having been the first ground to install rail seats, albeit for demonstration purposes.