Fans' initiatives and East End meeting - Report
A diverse group of 20+ fans representing all stands around Ashton Gate met with Football Club officials to discuss ongoing fans' initiatives and making best use of the East End. Doug Harman (Group Managing Director), Keith Draisey (Head of Operations) and David Lloyd (Matchday announcer and Fans Liaison) engaged fans in conversation for nearly two hours on topics pre-notified to the club in a document titled "Making Bristol City unique for its noise and passion" (see PDF).
The session took place at Bar BS3 rather than holding the meeting at the Football Club. Stuart Rogers, Chair of the Supporters Trust explained "It was a good gesture for club officials to come and meet fans on their own patch so to speak. Generally, pubs are the fans' headquarters and where we are known to do our best work!"
It was generally acknowledged that the East End has brought about a positive influence to the match day atmosphere at Ashton Gate and the Club would like to work with fans to further enhance this and efforts made by all fans in all stands. Of the 1250 season card holders from last season in the East End, 997 have renewed so far.
There was general discussion about all aspects of the East End including segregation, use of the megaphone, ticket swaps and new ways to display flags. The discussion even strayed into the unacceptable use of aggressive swearing around young children. One key issue of contention with fans had been that away fans were given what they saw as preferential treatment because home fans invariably ended up moved in to a corner. The club has agreed to look at how away tickets are allocated.
The Club accepted that Red & White nights originated as a fans’ initiative but they had gradually become Club-led. Now we were back full circle as fans are pushing to organise their own R&W nights again. The general relaxation of “bubble matches” had been a success last season and the Club is open-minded about continuing the relaxation this season, with the possible exception of one home game.
|Fans’s Liaison David Lloyd said: "It was an excellent meeting, with everyone being given the opportunity to have their say. We were more than happy to take on board most of the suggestions made on the night, and hope that their implementation will make the East End an even more vibrant and passionate place to be next season".
Following consultation, the Club has agreed to the following:
- The club has agreed that advance tickets and POTD in the East End will be considered on a match by match basis, with the assumption being that they will be allowed for the vast majority of games, starting with the Barnsley match (this relaxation is subject to review in the event of any crowd behaviour problems).
These tickets will be restricted to adult members only. Season Card holders will be allowed to buy under 16 tickets on a match by match basis, but only if the child is a junior member.
Memberships cannot be taken out on the day of the game. There will be an upper limit to sales, and POTD tickets will need to be purchased from the main ticket office or the office in the Williams Stand.
- The possibility of making away fans sit in allocated seats to be considered. The club will investigate the feasibility of 2,000 away supporters fitting into blocks B, C and D, without displacing home fans into G & H.
- Flags can be laid out at the rear of the stand. The netting will be adjusted, as long as seats are not stood on and broken. They could be left permanently in position.
- The ticketing system has now been configured to allow transfers between stands. The club has indicated that these cannot take place on a matchday, so will need to be done in advance. As suggested in the fans' proposal to the club, there will be a £5 administration fee. If moving to a lower priced seat, there will be no refund of the difference.
- The megaphone relies on having a sensible person in control. As long as the person and type of megaphone are identified to the club in advance, it can return on a trial basis.
- Whilst the club will consider most initiatives with an open mind, it is a definite "no" for any smoke devices or flares. The club has made this decision following consultation with the Safety Advisory Group.
- An agreed line of communication will be set up for agreeing match day activities, including early access for flag days and other initiatives.
- A proposal for some graffiti art on the walls of the East End is already being considered.