WHUISA Committee Member, John Ratomski attended the latest Primier League supporters meeting, his notes are below:
Notes from FSF PL Fans Group meeting Thursday 8th February 2018
Mechanics Centre, 103 Princess Street, Manchester.
About 30 in attendance, the meeting lasted about 2 hours. Attending also was Deborah Dilworth from Supporters Direct. The only clubs not represented were Watford, West Brom and Bournemouth from what I could tell. Some of the more local clubs brought 2-3 members.
The agenda covered 8 points as follows:
1. VAR. There was a long debate including the experiences of Anfield recently. Generally fans in attendance so far are unhappy with the downtime, and the system is still flawed. Apparently, it has been used in about 600 games world-wide so far, and not gone down well. They already use it in the Bundesliga and the A League. We will see it at the World Cup this year. The FSF have asked us to seek comments from our members.
2. Restricted views. Plenty of discussion about this, we were asked by FSF to share images on social media to embarrass clubs, and force clubs to reduce prices in such seats even more. Away game examples discussed at Everton, Liverpool and Huddersfield. The rep from Burnley when visiting Goodison had a steel post in front of his seat. He complained to the club, who replied, after a very long delay, that as long as he could see both goals it was not a restricted view seat so would not offer a partial refund. Another rep, not sure which club, went to a game at Huddersfield, complained about the view to the club and received a full refund for his seat and the 4 others he was with. When booking tickets at Derby County, they show the seating plan, and FSF believe more clubs should offer this. They will take this further with the PL.
3. Structured dialogue – club by club. I briefed the group on WHUISA, reminding them that we are new to the table and would welcome suggestions and advice in order to catch up to their club engagement levels. I asked the FSF to consider a ‘sharing of best practise’ for other clubs to use. I mentioned about the march next month, which some were aware of. There was no open debate on our situation, and Angela Smith, who chairs Stoke Supporters Council was surprised at the lack of goodwill shown by our owners and some from other clubs. The Stoke group meets with the club 4-5 times a year, and the club engages well with supporters. eg no ticket price increases for the last 10 years, free coach travel for away games etc (look at this link from their last meeting http://www.stokecityfc.com/news/supporters-council-meeting-minutes-19).
4. Broadcast deal and associated tasks. The new TV deal is expected to be announced in the next 48 hours. There was a debate about away travel costs, relating to games changed at short notice, and if the transport companies would honour prices for rearranged games: this action is on-going. I raised the issue of the City in the City scheme about obtaining reduced travel fares, but nobody else wanted to engage further. (I will still push this one on our behalf but with 6 out of 11 home games so far being night time games we can’t get much of an argument in our favour at present, as longer distance later trains are non-existent). There is work being done on obtaining reduced match ticket costs for 18-22 year olds. FSF are waiting to see if the £30 away match ticket pricing cap will remain next season. We discussed the effect of a future winter break would mean more mid-week games.
5. Safe standing update. It seems that the PL wants to see safe standing areas introduced. The FSF supports this and offers to make and supply banners if we need them. Katrina reported that Spurs are fitting 5000 rail seats in their new stadium; unsure if this will include away fans. The SOS have been invited by Celtic to sample the Parkhead experience.
6. KO times. There was a report by Tim from the Arsenal group. There have been meetings with several bodies, but all agree it will have a negative effect on fans. It was noted the 6 week notice period for TV games was not being kept.
7. Next PL meeting. 20th March. Venue TBC.
8. AOB. Not much time for this as time was running out, but MUST commented aver the price war they had with Seville (?) over ticket costs. We discussed the varied approaches by clubs re security and ask that clubs easily identify on their website any prohibited items.
End of meeting about 9pm.