Meeting with the football club – September 2023

Following the previous meeting in July, members of the Supporters Club & Trust alongside SLO Jerry Tocknell met with the football club on Wednesday 13 September 2023 as part of a continued regular dialogue.

Representing the Supporters Club & Trust was Chair Stu Rogers, James Nicholls & Mark Newman. Representing the football club was Head of Communications Dave Barton. CEO Phil Alexander gave his apologies.

Actions confirmed from the last meeting included 30% increases to disabled parking being reversed and confirmation that the away kit will be available within the next 2 weeks*

Kits and training wear 
Again we discussed replacing the robin crest with the bird. Feelings are still running high amongst supporters about both the lack of communication, the generic image replacing the badge and the actual design. We suggested that utilising a focus group of supporters in the development of the design would have helped the Club foresee supporters’ views and concerns ahead of release. Last season’s 3rd kit sold out. A request was made for the sales figures for the current kit.

Reciprocal away ticket prices 
We previously requested that reciprocal away ticket pricing be considered, especially for the Leeds fixture at Elland Road. Leeds recently charged Sheffield Wednesday fans £47 for an adult ticket. The football club are in negotiations with Leeds about this. It is a complex issue. As laid down by EFL guidelines, the same price applied to away fans must also be applied to home fans in similar/opposite stands. We wait to hear.

Fees on away tickets and coach travel
We had previously raised the issue of fees for away match and coach travel, that they should be per transaction and not per ticket. The football club has raised this with Bristol Sport, who are responsible for issuing tickets on behalf of the football club, as a matter of concern and we await a response.

Both of the recent surveys for the men’s and women’s teams supporters identified issues with the cost, quality and choices available for food and drink at Ashton Gate. In addition, it now costs £2.90 for a bottle of water, making it quite expensive, especially for families in addition to other matchday costs. Once again, this is a Bristol Sport provided service and we have asked for this to be raised directly with them.

Match commentary
An exiled supporter advised that following a recent update, the RobinsTV app no longer has the facility to play audio commentaries, for which fans pay £40 a season. This is something that can only really be tested on matchdays. In addition, the person involved will be put in touch directly with the football club to try and resolve this issue.

Rewards scheme
It was noted that the loyalty programme has a large dependency on retail, some not accessible to all ages. There is also a sense that there is little engagement in it, so some statistics on this would be helpful to prove/disprove. Charlie Lincoln, Group Head of Marketing & Ticketing, has been invited to the next monthly Supporters Club & Trust meeting to understand this better.

The theme running through what we hear regularly about digital ticketing, catering, loyalty schemes, car parking, engagement with exiles and Ashton Gate becoming cashless is that they are not always very inclusive. There are some really good initiatives that fans love and engage with, so all credit to those. However, it seems to be that some of the most basic elements of being a Bristol City fan like ticketing, kits, accessibility, eating & drinking cause the most upset and frustration. Just as importantly, the provision of these services are effectively outsourced to Bristol Sport, which includes the complete management of the stadium. So, the decision-making is controlled by a whole different board of directors, through which the football club has seemingly less and less influence.

More follow up meetings are planned, albeit getting to the bottom of these issues and influencing change could be an arduous process.

*The away kit was eventually announced & released on Thursday 14 September 2023

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