Following the previous meeting in September, members of the Supporters Club & Trust alongside SLO Jerry Tocknell met with the football club in October & November 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 Chief Operating Officer Tom Rawcliffe & Head of Communications Dave Barton . Bristol Sport Group CEO Gavin Marshall was in attendance in the November meeting.
Booking fees on away tickets and travel
The SC&T highlighted that fees were introduced under the radar for away match and coach tickets. The main issue is that these are per ticket and not per transaction, adding considerable cost overall for fans who travel regularly. The football club do not make a profit on coach travel and is considered very good value compared to other clubs. Bristol Sport looked at other Championship clubs and set the fees accordingly. The fees for coach travel have subsequently been dropped.
Action: Benchmarking on fees to take place before next season.
A recent fans survey highlighted the cost and quality of food at Ashton Gate, considering that no food or drinks are allowed to be brought in. A particular example being £2.90 for a bottle of water. Bristol Sport considers that the range and choice of food is very good, however, concedes that the price for water needs to be looked at. The longer-term solution lies in more refillable water stations.
A welcome initiative driven by the SLO to secure reciprocal ticket arrangements with Leeds meaning supporters paid £30 instead of £47 for the game at Elland Road. The same has been repeated for the game at Watford on Boxing Day. Future games are being considered.
Digital tickets and queues
Some fans are still struggling with the forwarding of season tickets that seems to not be getting resolved. The SLO added that there is a block on forwarding season tickets within three hours of kick off. This is because if it is forwarded within this period, the ticket could technically be used twice. Due to safeguarding issues, no child’s season ticket in the family section can be upgraded without contacting the club.
Action: Charlie Lincoln attended the SC&T monthly meeting in October to talk about the Rewards Scheme and digital tickets (separate minutes available HERE).
There were unusually large queues at the turnstiles for the recent women’s match against Arsenal at the end of October. It was felt that as many of those attending were visiting Ashton Gate for the first time and that they were unaware of the ability to use any turnstile. It was acknowledged that additional turnstiles in the central areas could have been opened earlier to resolve this problem.
Action: This had already been noted and will be rectified for the next expected large attendance against Manchester United Women at the end of November.
Match day audio visual
Quality of public address system in the Dolman Stand was raised. Advised that there is a separate system for safety announcements that will override the normal system.
Action: Work has now started to scope PA requirements across the whole stadium and consider better use of the large screens in an emergency.
There has clearly still been ongoing issues with Robins TV and also audio commentary on the app.
Action: Ongoing collation of issues by SC&T. Service has improved lately.
It was previously possible for an exile to order a City shirt with a chosen name and number on the back, but this service was no longer available. This is because online orders are dispatched by Huboo’s automated distribution centre and they do not currently have the ability to provide this service. Whereas in the past these orders would have gone through the club’s own shop where this was possible.
Action: This is being looked into, but was not able to give a definite time scale at present
In relation to how matchday finances are split, the COO recognised that it would need a much more in depth discussion and suggested that a call solely to discuss this issue be set up in the future to answer questions relating to this.
Action: Plan to find a mutually agreeable date for a 30 minute online session
Pre-match entertainment at Women’s games needs to be aimed at a different demographic of fan base as they have a higher number of female and child supporters in attendance at women’s games compared to the men’s fixtures. The club had already introduced a female matchday announcer, who has received much positive feedback already, and that any musical acts would be booked to reflect the different demographic fanbase attending in the future.
The next home-based one (Fans Forum) to be at the Hen & Chicken as planned. It would be possible to resurrect the away Q&A’s aimed more for exiles, with an offer of help from a fan in the North-West to help organise this. All agreed that the line up for this needed to be right and that having the club owners represented has always proved successful in the past.
Action: Determine availability for an away game in the New Year.
Some of the recent images used for the half-season ticket sales did not appear very diverse. We all recognised that this in the main reflects our fanbase and that more initiatives; like free tickets distributed to a local mosque; should be encouraged to be more inclusive.
As always, the SC&T offered to be a sounding board for future initiatives before they launched to view things through the eyes of supporters. They appreciated the forewarning of upcoming announcements that allowed them to be more proactive and less reactive.
The COO thanked everyone for attending and all on the call agreed that communication could be improved and that all those in attendance would be working towards improving this going forward. It was recognised the importance of these meeting happening on a regular basis and the COO added that if applicable he would invite other stakeholders along to attend should there be a specific item for someone else’s specific area to answer.