“This could be a great opportunity for a reach out from the board to the regular fans”: AISA members give their views on the return of fans to football

Building on last month’s Project Restart survey, we circulated a follow up survey on 14 July asking our members for their views on the return of fans to the Stadium next season. We now know that Season 2020/21 will KO on Saturday 12 September but with the likelihood that fans will not return in person until October and then in very reduced numbers. 

We received 135 responses and we will share the results, detailed below, along with your comments and suggestions with the club and use them to inform discussions about season 2020/21.  We will also share the results with the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA). 

So, this is what we asked, and what 135 of you answered:  (Note: total percentages may be more than 100% due to rounding.)

  1. What Arsenal memberships do you currently hold?                    

  •             Platinum                       4%

  •             Gold                            62%

  •             Silver                           20%

  •             Red                              10%                                                        

  •             Junior Gunner            4%

Clearly lots of members hold more than 1 membership (as well as Away Ticket memberships & Women’s’ STs) with the vast majority holding Gold and/or Silver.

2. Do you intend to renew your membership/s for season 2020/21?          

            Yes – all                       81%

            Yes – some                 11%

            No                                 4%

            Undecided                  3%

A vast majority indicated they would renew with many commentating that they didn’t want to lose their memberships and with them the chance of attending matches at the Emirates. 

As one member put it, ‘I have to renew. Once a Gooner, Always A Gooner’          

However, there were a few members who have decided not to renew due to changes in personal circumstances including financial and CV-19 related reasons.

3. The Club has made the decision to keep membership costs the same for the forthcoming season. What is your opinion on this?       

            Agree                           65%

            Disagree                      18%

            No Opinion                  17%

Almost two-thirds of you agree with the decision to keep membership costs the same for 2020/21 (i.e. not to increase) but others commented that the benefits of membership will not be the same as 2019/20 so the cost should be reduced. 

4. Assuming that when supporters are allowed to return to the Emirates Stadium there will be a reduced capacity how should the club manage this?

            Ballot of ST holders (akin to allocation of Cup Final tickets)                   22%

            Priority for ST holders with long service                                                        36%

            Priority for members of the Away Scheme                                                   12%

            Systematic allocation by seat number                                                         24%

            No opinion                                                                                                              6%

Season ticket holders having priority to a reduced capacity stadium received just over a third of votes but a number of members emphasised the need for ST/members to be asked by the Club whether they wish to return under current circumstances.  

5. What facilities would you expect to be available to supporters attending games at the Emirates?  (results for Q5 & Q6 given as number of votes received and % in favour)

     One way systems to enter/exit                                          110 votes        81% 

     Clear signposting inside to ensure social distancing  114 votes        84%            

      Hand sanitiser at various entry / exit points                   120 votes      89%

      Food /drink kiosks but possibly reduced in number      48 votes      36%

      Entertainment on the big screens                                      44 votes      33%

6. What facilities would you expect to be available on the podium outside the Emirates?   

       One-way systems to enter/exit                                         108 votes        80%

       Clear signposting inside to ensure social distancing   105 votes        78%

Members seem to accept that facilities will be different on the return to the Stadium, in particular the need for clear signposting, hand sanitisers & possibly one-way entry/exit points but are less concerned whether there are food/drink kiosks and entertainments on the big screens being open/available. 

Other suggestions included more informed stewards with mandate to enforce the safety arrangements; the wearing of face masks; temperature checks; timed entry & exit for ticket holders; no alcohol on sale.

7. As things stand with the lockdown being gradually lifted, are you intending to return to the Emirates Stadium when permitted?         

           Yes                                         74%

            No                                          19%

            Unsure/undecided              7%

Almost three-quarters of responders do intend to return but those who are undecided or not intending stated that there reasons are due to CV-19 issues (households that are shielding/isolating/transport concerns, etc).

8. How should Season Ticket (ST) holders who choose not to return to matches at the Emirates in Season 2020/21 be treated?          

Given a one-season ‘holiday’ without losing their ST: The seat will be sold on a match-by-match basis but no charge for retaining the ST.                           59%                                

Given a one-season ‘holiday’ without losing the ST: The seat will be sold on a match-by-match basis but a nominal fee charged for retaining the ST                                                                        34%

Not given a one-season ‘holiday’ & only be credited / refunded for matches that the club does not allow them to attend/do not take place (as is the case currently)                                                            7%

While not a surprising outcome to this one there were a few comments that if you don’t renew a ST then you should lose it. 

9. In the light of the economic downturn caused by the CV-19 pandemic how do you think the club should react to the financial difficulties that face many Arsenal fans?

    Reduce the price of match day tickets for everyone           39%                            

    Create a new concessionary rate for match day tickets    18%                              

    Consider new ways for ST holders to spread the cost of payments over a longer period                43%         

Some suggested introducing a concessionary rate for pensioners and offering free tickets to U18s

10. If the club make home games free to view how should they do this?

    Via Arsenal.com  (free to all members)                                              58%

    Issue match day TV passes to ST holders for all home games     42%

There were a number of comments that games should be made available to all members/ST holders free of charge or for perhaps a nominal fee on Arsenal.com  

11. In terms of change for next season, assuming that it takes place in full or in part while the current health emergency continues, what single change from the list below do you think is most important for Arsenal to introduce?       

     Home games free to view on TV to all ST holders                                  35%

     Home games free to view for all Silver members AND ST Holders     28%

     Ballot of members for each game for those that wish to attend. (Assuming a limited attendance)                                                                                           37%                                                                                

Members are fairly even split on this one which is not unexpected and might suggest Arsenal look at all of these options.

AISA and its members realise that this is a difficult time for the Club and while there is support and understanding from fans as shown by the following comments:   

“We have had a season ticket for nearly 30 years and have been Gooners since virtually birth so the club is in our blood and we will support it”

“I will continue to support the club and the best way to do that is from renewing my ticket”  “The Club needs to be seen as considerate to fans and balanced in its allocation of tickets. However the Club is also a business that needs to generate revenue. This will make decisions finely balanced.

But there is also a strong feeling that the Club needs to recognise the fragility of the situation facing their supporters, as others have commented:

 “…the club needs to recognise that many people won’t want to go to a match until they feel it’ll be safe to do so. Hopefully they’ll take a sensible and flexible approach to the situation and follow some of the suggestions above. However, if they don’t some long term supporters like me will walk away for good.”

“The club must realise, that this situation, has led to an ‘attitude change’ amongst a lot of fans…due to the random K.O times and lacklustre performances coupled with a perceived lack of engagement from the club, I feel that they should incentivise the fans with value propositions to entice us back, otherwise this could be the tipping point for people not to bother. Obviously we will all continue to go, because it’s ‘in our blood’, but this could be a great opportunity for a reach out from the board to the regular fans.’

This is certainly something we agree with and we will be putting the results of this survey to Arsenal FC and sharing our findings with other supporters groups.

Jo Denham (one of AISA’s two FSA representatives)

If you would like to get involved with AISA and find out more about how we campaign on behalf of our members (and all Arsenal fans) have a look around our website at www.aisa.org. You will find details of how to become a member, see the events we run (even in lockdown) , and read about the history of the club we all love. If you are already a member and would like to get more involved, you might consider joining the committee – we always welcome new faces!

 
 

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