Trust View on City Membership Scheme
The Supporters Trust welcomes the introduction of Bristol City's new Membership Scheme (see www.bcfc.co.uk) on the basis that it will enable the club to reward loyal fans for attendance. The Trust is, however, disappointed by the price of the scheme and by the fact that a number of tangible benefits proposed by the Trust for inclusion in the scheme have been omitted.
The football club sent the Trust an early draft of the proposed scheme at the start of April. We are grateful to the club for seeking our views and for including other supporter groups, such as the FCF, in the consultation process used in developing the scheme. Some of the benefits included in the scheme announced today are a direct result of this exchange of ideas and views, e.g. CATS membership, free entry to reserve games and family membership.
The Trust attended two lengthy meetings with the club to discuss the scheme and put together two substantial documents suggesting further benefits, looking at whether the scheme presented value for money for various categories of fan (e.g. exiles) and discussing in detail how loyalty points might be awarded and used. Indeed, we stressed that in our view the scheme had to be promoted as a ‘loyalty scheme’ rather than a ‘membership scheme’, as not being rewarded for loyalty when it comes to big-match ticket allocation is, we believe, what fans find most unacceptable.
We proposed that if the scheme was simply to provide a mechanism for rewarding loyalty that the card should be free. With additional benefits incorporated, however, we felt that £10 would widely be perceived as offering good value and that even at £15 it might be widely accepted. Unfortunately the club has chosen not to incorporate some of the more tangible benefits and to price the scheme at double the level we recommended.
Some of the features proposed by the Trust, or proposed by others and supported by the Trust, that have not been incorporated in the scheme include:
- No debit card charges
- Credit card charges cut to 1.5% from 5%
- Postage for online sales cut to 50p
- 0871 number scrapped
- £3 differential between members and non-members matchday prices
- 5% club shop discount
- £2 Trust membership discount
- Pay on the day access to all home areas of the ground
- Starter points for members of supporter organisations
We also proposed that family membership should be priced at £20 (two adults and 2 U16s). The club has chosen to set this price at £40.
Given that we felt that £15 was on the cusp of what was an acceptable price for this scheme with the inclusion of the benefits listed above, we feel that £20 without these benefits will prove to be too much for many supporters.
We applaud the introduction of a loyalty scheme and we understand that the club sees this as the first step in its development. We therefore call on the club to add in many of the omitted benefits as soon as possible in order that the scheme represents better value for money. The Trust will, of course, be pleased to continue to provide constructive input in growing the scheme going forward and hopefully, in time, the list of benefits will make it seem a great buy!