Supporter liaison officer Liz Finney gives an update on a range of matters in the run-up to Christmas at Vitality Stadium.
Rainbow Laces Themed Match
Our game against Liverpool on Saturday is our designated Rainbow Laces match which looks to football to show support to our LGBT fans and the local LGBT community.
Last year, we launched our rainbow crest pin badge, which was really well received. For this game, we are relaunching the pin badge in relation to being an LGBT Ally. I think the video featuring Eddie and first-team players explains exactly what this means and this can be viewed below.
Earlier this year, you, our supporters, told us that homophobia, transphobia and biphobia were the most witnessed forms of discriminatory behaviour at Vitality Stadium and I am sure that you will want to work with us to change this. Becoming an Ally can be one way to do this as it means you will be open-minded and inclusive, listen, support and be willing to talk or speak up if you experience LGBT discrimination, or any other discriminatory language or behaviour. Please always report any incident to a steward or text the confidential number shown on your ticket or displayed around the ground.
Other AFC Bournemouth team members, staff, our chairman and management have all become Allies and we hope that you too will show your support for the principle that everyone should be able to be themselves and feel welcomed at our club. Club staff will be out and about distributing the free rainbow pin badges on Saturday and we hope for some photo opportunities with our supporters with the AFC Bournemouth Allies boards on the day.
The Premier League have shown their support by supplying Rainbow Laces items for the match and they, together with Coca-Cola and the LGBT Charity, Stonewall, will set up a rainbow welcome mat for supporters outside the stadium. In addition, we have pre-match photos with Proud Cherries and Liverpool fan representatives, dedicated flag bearers and colourful stewards.
The Junior Cherries Christmas party has been announced and the attendees will be receiving their invitations any time now.
Look out for the winning Christmas card, picked as ever by Eddie and Jason and arriving on doormats in time for Christmas, with some lucky Junior Cherries chosen by our players to receive a special gift.
Our second Junior Cherries Masterclass is also happening in December, looking at the role that team/player analysis plays in guiding the performance of the team and individual players.
We are already planning our next Masterclass in the series so look out for this after Christmas.
The Junior Cherries ticket ballot continues to deliver live Premier League action to young fans who have zero points and, even better, with Junior Cherries tickets priced from just £6. Add the amazing Junior Cherries meal deal to your matchday at just £2.50 and you have really good value.
Junior Cherries membership is just £7.50 and delivers so much to our young fans. Click here to find out more.
Away travel and platform use for our wheelchair using supporters
We will directly survey this group but I wanted to use this SLO update to advertise this fact.
The club provides an accessible minibus to away games and an additional vehicle where there is demand and this is possible. Places are allocated on application to [email protected].
There has been some discussion as to whether those supporters using this facility might prefer not to have a separate away travel experience but be accommodated on a coach that has been adapted to carry a small number of wheelchairs as well as general seating. We feel there are pros and cons to each option and we would like to ask our supporters what their view is on this in light of the club hopefully being able to source a suitable coach – initial talks are encouraging in this respect.
In addition, it has been suggested that the opportunity to apply for a space on one of our accessible platforms in either the East Stand or Main Stand is not widely known and again, this seems a good opportunity to put this out to supporters. Emailing [email protected] will note your interest and put you on the list for a space with a personal assistant if required. This too will be sent out to relevant supporters in the near future to ensure everyone who wants to take advantage of this facility is aware they can apply.
Second Big Screen Update
I am really pleased to advise that the steels to support the new screen are going to be put in place over the next week or two. The screen will be located in the north-west corner of the ground and so give full visibility to our South Stand supporters and improved to others around the ground. The aim is to have the screen in place for our game on 21st December and the contractors are working towards this target and are very quietly confident.
Plans are also progressing on improvements to the PA system, due to be in place by the end of February.
The ticketing team have asked me to remind supporters that personal assistants need to enter the ground at the same time/location as their associated disabled supporter. We have tracked entry over a few games in this respect and where there are discrepancies going forward, the club will be in contact with the relevant disabled supporter.
We have as ever a busy Christmas fixture schedule and we do appreciate that not all season ticket holders will potentially be able to make all matches over the festive period due to family and/or travel arrangements. We would urge season ticket holders to make use of our Twickets re-sale facility to avoid seats being left empty where another supporter could attend. For more information on Twickets please click here.
We welcome a new chair to the Trust in Mark Dean together with some new Trust board members and look forward to working with them going forward.
As is now tradition, we will put on the big screens on Boxing Day the names of those past players, staff and supporters who have passed away during 2019 and we would ask you to join us in remembrance of those who have meant much to us, and to whom the club has in turn been important.
As said above, December is particularly challenging in terms of the number of matches and because of this the team probably need your support through this busy period more than most. There is no doubt that a noisy, encouraging Cherries support can only help and encourage the players so please do get right behind the team in the coming weeks.
It remains for me to wish all supporters a very Merry Christmas and the very best for 2020.