Supporter liaison officer Liz Finney gives an update of fan matters at Vitality Stadium ahead of the new season.
PREMIER LEAGUE 2019/20 IS HERE
It's finally here, I'm sure we're all in agreement that we can't wait for our fifth Premier League season!
While there have been no major works this close season, IT have been busy with new PL technical requirements. We have had the LED perimeter boards upgraded and we are nearly there with a proposal for a new big screen installation in the north-east corner.
Weight loadings and sight lines have to be investigated further but, if these are manageable, we are ready to proceed with a hopeful completion date in September and we will keep you updated on this.
The 1910 Bar and Colmar Construction Ted MacDougall (south) Stand's burger bars have had an upgrade as has our stadium wayfinding signage. There have been some increases in food and beverage pricing – beer and pies for example have risen by 50p. The pies have been outsourced but I can vouch for the continued quality as the beef pie forms an important part of my matchday routine and they remain really good value in my opinion. There is now also a vegan pie available.
Unfortunately, beer isn’t part of my working day but this is the first price increase in this area for three seasons while costs have increased year on year. Our pie & pint offer is now £7 but the time restriction is lifted (previously half an hour before kick-off) so you can take advantage any time when inside the ground - and a chocolate bar has also been added to the offer.
Additionally, we have extended our concourse Swipestation pre-order system to around the ground – see details of how to reduce your queue time here. All our new kits are launched, in-store and looking good. The promotions around the our kit and training wear were great and I know that those videos including fans were very popular.
The club has four new charity partners for the new season, details of which can be viewed here. The charities voted for this season are all very people-centric and this gives us good opportunities to really get involved with these local organisations and hopefully make a tangible difference.
Cherry Bear again has a new furry friend in Fidget the Cat, from the Junior Cherries charity Autism Wessex, and he is quite a character. The Cherries Community Fund continues to be a force for good in our locality and a matchday feature. Please do continue to give your support by purchasing a Cherries Community Draw ticket, or several if you are able to.
And finally, football! A summer of signings and a good test of the squad in our pre-season friendlies. Now for the real thing, with our fifth Premier League season starting this Saturday at 3pm with our opener against Sheffield United.
As you will probably be aware, the 2019/20 season sees the introduction of VAR across all our first team competitive games.
A message will appear on the big screen if a decision is being reviewed by VAR and will also be announced by Mike Botto. Similarly, the decision will be communicated in the same way. Currently, the big screen will also show, in most cases, short video footage of the incident in question.
Discriminatory language and behaviour is also a focus for action across football and the Premier League aims to expand its No to Racism initiative launched last season during the coming campaign.
The club’s supporter survey included questions relating to our supporters’ experience of witnessing discriminatory language and behaviour. The number of experiences of witnessing discriminatory language/behaviour was 100 whereas the number of these reported was just 2%.
We took this to our supporter equality group to discuss and they gave us some really useful feedback. Our message is always to speak to a steward on the day but the reporting incidents confidential text line is there too on matchdays if this is not possible.
At the group's suggestion, the reporting number is on your season ticket and match ticket. In addition, we have taken on board their suggestion to have the number displayed in the toilet cubicles where there is some privacy.
For reference here, the number is 07968 980580. It was used at a friendly game last weekend and we were able to deal with a matter on the day.
Working Group - Our first ticketing working group met on Wednesday this week with our head of ticketing, Dan Clarke heading up the meeting and responding to the group’s questions. A range of topics were covered from away ticketing, accessibility at away grounds, season ticket resales and empty seats, as well as engagement with new and young fans, to name just a few. The notes will be agreed with the group and then published as soon after as possible so look out for these.
Twickets - As many of you will know Twickets provides the opportunity to sell your season ticket on to another supporter with home points. As well as giving you some return value, the scheme will mean that an empty seat in the stadium can be used and another supporter can get to watch live Premier League football at Vitality Stadium.
The scheme assures that seats are not given or sold to an away fan which would have repercussions for the season ticket holder. Please do click on this link for more information about the scheme whether you are a season ticket holder who may potentially miss a game or two or a potential Cherries Points holder who would like to attend more games.
Junior Cherries renewals are coming up and we hope and we aim, as we have done each year, to increase our membership. Value remains key to this and at just £7.50 to join and unlock discounted tickets, a great £2.50 meal deal plus exclusive offers and events there is a good incentive to join up.
Also important is the opportunity to access a Premier League game at Vitality Stadium through the Junior Cherries match ticket ballot which has seen approaching 4,000 members and their parent/guardian coming to a game and gaining that all important first Cherries Home Point.
This allows subsequent access to the 11am Friday returns online ticket sale which has seen many Junior Cherries become regular attendees at home matches and bodes well for our future fan base.
Despite this, we don’t always have full-take up on the seats available for the ballot which seems crazy and it is something we will actively address this season. So if you have a Junior Cherries member in the family with zero points, or know one, please make sure they apply – they stand a really good chance of gaining entry to a game and moving up the points ladder.
This is another great experience that we sometimes struggle to allocate. Through our equality initiative Everyone, Together our season ticket launch and ticket communications as well as our kit/merchandise promotions, we have a running theme of real supporters. The Fans’ Champion is aimed at celebrating our loyal fans too by giving a supporter a once in a lifetime, memory making matchday experience.
So if you know a Cherries supporter you think would deserve this treat, please email [email protected] with details of why you want to nominate them.
Just to finish, we always welcome you feedback or suggestions so please get contact if you have any suggestions.