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Q and A with Michael Bolingbroke and Karl Evans (Venue Director) at the Branch Secretaries Bi-Annual meeting at OT - on Away fans in Tier 3 etc

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  • Q and A with Michael Bolingbroke and Karl Evans (Venue Director) at the Branch Secretaries Bi-Annual meeting at OT - on Away fans in Tier 3 etc

    Q and A with Michael Bolingbroke, Sam Kheller (Ticket Office) and Karl Evans (Venue Director) at the Branch Secretaries Bi-Annual meeting at OT

    which took place before the Norwich home game.

    thanks to A for this.

    Q Would the club consider its own official website app?

    A (MB)- It's strange that we don't have an official app and it's something we are currently developing. What we want is for the app to be world beating, it needs to be robust and we want it to be be better than what other clubs have got.
    We have just bought the full rights to MUTV from Sky and we are looking to change our digital strategy.

    Q - We are experiencing an increase in away allocations being cut, are any discussions taking place over this?

    A (KE) - We are starting to turn a corner on this. We write to each club ahead of the season asking if they will be making any reductions and if they have any issues with our supporters.
    We offer to speak to the Safety Advisory groups who give each club and to the local councils.
    We have offered and suggested ways that we can help, through the sending out of letters with the match tickets and making offers to use our own stewards in away ends.
    The problem that we have is that its very hard to defend the actions of some of our supporter behaviour, although this is sometimes over exaggerated.
    This is something we will continue to discuss with our fans forum.
    We are continuously looking for the full allocations for our supporters. We will also be taking action against our own supporters. We know the tricks that individuals come up with, things such as hiding tickets and saying ticket stubs are lost when challenged or when people are in the wrong seats.
    (Bit of abuse from some of the floor puts an end to this question)

    Q - Why couldn't branches get an increased allocation for the Real Madrid game?

    A (KE) - We have a loss of seats in the stadium for Champions league games. for the later stages there is a bigger demand for press facilities and this takes away more seats.
    We have to move season ticket holders into other areas and this all reduces the number of seats that we can sell to member ballots.

    Q - How many away tickets go to sponsors, are more sponsors meaning more tickets?

    (Again, abuse from members on the floor shouting that sponsors get all away tickets, this last for a few minutes as others get involved).

    A (KE) - Extra sponsors does not mean extra away tickets for them. Less than 10% of away allocations go to sponsors, club staff, players etc. Not all sponsorship deals come with a guarantee of tickets and not all sponsors ask for them.

    (More abuse from people on the floor barracking over the away allocations)

    MB- The issue isn't with sponsors, the main issue is with clubs cutting our away allocations through their Safety Advisory groups.
    The biggest issue in preventing our full allocation is by not blocking aisles, stay within the seated areas, do not migrate away from where you seat actually is.
    We are looking at measures to control fan behaviour to ensure we get future full allocations.
    (Again cut short by barracking from the floor)

    Q - Will away fans be moving to tier 3?

    A (MB) - We tried to move away fans and had a plan to put them into tier 3. We initially trialled this with a European team (Valencia) a couple of seasons ago and that was a success.
    We worked with the police and the authorities and then trialled it last season for the Aston Villa game. This was again a success.
    We then said to the police that we wanted the full allocations to be up there and that we wanted all clubs supporters up there.
    The police agreed to this, however they said that there were 3 clubs fans that they didn't want up there, the high risk clubs. The felt that the rake and gradient of the stand wasn't designed for standing and that fans could be pushed over in a domino effect. They also feared that some fans may throw objects down over the tiers, which would land on tiers 2 and tier 1 below.
    They suggested putting netting at the front and also suggested placing the European style netting over the away section up there. We didn't want to do that and we didn't want to be the first English club to do that.
    They also felt that there was a security risk where tier 3 exits the stadium into supporters exiting from the other tiers.
    The authorities were happy for us to do this but not for the high risk games. We wanted this to be done for all clubs and we couldn't do it for some and not others.

    Michael Bolingbroke then asks for the lights to be put on in the room. He asks for a show of hands for those who would want the way fans moved to tier 3.
    This was a pretty even split, with slightly more people favouring the away fans not moving up there.

    Question shouted from the floor - Why do we get treated different, we get put anywhere, other clubs fans stand and don't get punished.

    A (MB) - Our issues with reduced allocations is not down to standing, standing isn't the issue. The main Safety Advisory group (SAG) reason is migration of fans away from their designated seat.
    This results in aisles being blocked and some supporters not attempting to go to their designated seats.
    The SAG have provided video evidence to prove this and we cant argue against it, we can see what's happening.

    Q - The club use ticketmaster to sell tickets, yet this service is slow?

    A (SK) - We know the system can be slow and that there can occasionally be bugs, we realise that this isn't perfect, but no system is.
    We will continue to look at this and work with ticketmaster.
    Next season we will be making it self service for branches so that they can buy tickets on line and pick their seats. members info can then all be updated on line.
    In future we will look into ways that members can transfer tickets between members and that should be on line for 2014/15.

    Q - How are away ticket allocations split up?

    (shouting from individuals on the floor basically stops the question from being answered).
    A (KE) We are working with the fans forum on this, looking at ways to improve chances. the fans forum sub committee are meeting tomorrow morning to present their proposal.
    MB - The sub committee has worked really well on this and this is something we will be looking to do more of with the fans forum on other issues.

    Q - The fans gathering at the players entrance after the game makes it difficult to exit the area, can this be looked into?
    A (KE) - We don't have an issue with this and no major reports or complaints have been made. We don't want to deny fans the opportunity to see players.

    Q - Can family Stand ST holders opt out of midweek games such as Aston Villa and City on a Monday night?
    A - We have no plans to change this. Juniors can upgrade their tickets for cup games.

    Q - Middlesbrough reduced prices for their cup games, could we reduce prices for cup games?

    A (KE) - We couldn't do this based on opposition. It's a continuous debate, especially for the Carling Cup games and we will continue to debate this.
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