An update from our supporter liaison officer, Liz Finney, who speaks on the latest talking points at AFC Bournemouth.
Season ticket renewals
Our season ticket renewal process is now underway, and you will have received the renewal forms with our Different Paths, Same Journey theme, using a cross-section of Cherries supporters to aptly illustrate the character of our club.
Many more of you are moving to renewing online and certainly this was the very first season that I have arrived at work on the first day of renewals and not seen a queue outside the ticket office.
For those of you who have not yet renewed, our very own Steve Fletcher can talk you through the online process. Just click here to view the video guide.
The ticketing team have also put together some FAQs so if you are unsure about anything season-ticket related, try clicking here to see if your question is answered. If not, please feel free to telephone the team on 0344 5756 1910.
As before, we are not intending to issue any new season tickets and seats that are not renewed will be made available for general sale, giving more people the chance to attend games.
We are regularly asked to transfer season ticket seats if a supporter is no longer able to attend or has passed away. It is really difficult sometimes to say no in such cases, but we do need to be consistent and fair in adhering to the policy.
Ticketing focus group
We would like to invite supporters to apply to be part of a focus group aimed at working together to improve our club’s ticketing service and procedures.
If you would like to be part of this group, just click here to email Dan Clarke and give the reason why you would like to be involved.
We will look to put together a mix of supporters and hopefully together we will be able to deal with any concerns, share ideas and implement some improvements. The closing date to apply to join will be Sunday 9th June.
Community Sports Trust
Half-term has been very busy for the community team, with a full schedule of sessions every day. If you are not already involved, check the website to see if there are any sessions that you might want to be part of going forward.
Steve Cuss and his coaches recently ran a series of sessions on the pitch here at Vitality Stadium, ranging from Premier League Kicks to Primary Stars, as well as girls and women’s football. There were also a host of Junior Cherries sessions too.
All of the participants got to play on the Premier League pitch, with family or friends looking on. For us, it was lovely to see such a wide range of our local community taking part and having a great time, with the feedback since backing it up. A big thank you to Steve and his team, and of course the stewards and other staff that helped make the events run smoothly.
If you or your child take part in any of the Community Sports Trust sessions, we hope you will have received a survey sent out via email. It would greatly assist the Trust if you can complete the form and return it as soon as possible. You can just click here to download the form.
I popped into the AFC Bournemouth girls teams’ presentation night this week at Vitality Stadium and it was so pleasing to see the 1910 Bar full of girls in their Cherries kits. It was also great to listen to the achievements of each age group:
Hampshire Girls League Cup winners
Dorset Mini Soccer Tournament winners
Hampshire League Cup runners up
Hampshire County League winners
Hampshire County Cup winners
Hampshire League Cup winners
Hampshire County League winners
Hampshire County Cup winners
Hampshire League winners
These are fantastic achievements and well done to all the girls involved, as well as their coaches. Trophies aside, the girls are all excellent ambassadors for female football and we are so proud of how well they represent the club.
I know too that the Trust would want us to thank Bournemouth University for their sponsorship of the girls’ teams, which is just another facet to our ongoing partnership with the university.
Reporting matchday incidents
Unacceptable or discriminatory language and behaviour is far from rife at Vitality Stadium but, unfortunately, it does happen. We know that you will want the club will take action to eliminate this aspect from our matchdays, but we do need your help to do so effectively.
Responses from the club’s recent supporter survey told us that there was a high awareness of the club’s reporting procedure (75% STHs and 56% match purchasers) which is good news. From over 1000 responders, over 100 incidents of discriminatory language or behaviour were witnessed or experienced but only 1% of responders reported an incident.
We took this to our last Equality Focus Group meeting to explore what the barriers to reporting incidents might be. Happily, they also had a good level of awareness of the reporting procedure and where it can be found.
Feedback from the group suggested a worry of being seen reporting another fan and any repercussions this might bring. The easily recognisable Kick It Out reporting page was cited here.
Another view was that you might hear a comment and let it pass as a one-off. As ever with this group, they came up with some good suggestions as to how we might make the reported incidents text number more easily accessible.
These included putting the mobile number on season ticket cards and paper tickets, a crowd-facing pitch board for the South Stand, where the screen is not visible, and putting a notice of the procedure up on toilet cubicle doors so a supporter can report an incident with privacy.
These are all good suggestions and we will incorporate them going forward. To read the full notes of the Equality Focus Group meeting, please click here.
Of course, if you have any ideas on how we can tackle these issues, please do let me know via email.
In the meantime, the club will continue to work with you, its matchday safety team and Dorset Police to eradicate any form of discrimination from our matchdays or any area of engagement there may be.
As a club, we don’t tend to blow our own trumpet as it were but some of our work around equality has drawn attention and so I thought you might like to hear about it.
Our Everyone Together campaign has been very well received. Starting with images around the ground and individual programme pieces, the campaign then moved to producing two videos featuring Louise and Adam and these have had tens of thousands of views.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at these films, you can do so now by clicking here to watch Adam’s and here for Louise’s. More videos also featuring our supporters will follow and we are looking forward to sharing with you the experiences or challenges of other Cherries fans.
The campaign has been nominated for the Hampshire FA Equality Champion Award and in addition Ben Abberstein, our equality partnerships executive, was asked to do a presentation on Everyone Together at the Premier League National Safeguarding Conference last week, attended by both league and club representatives. By all accounts, Ben’s presentation was really well received and commended.
The sensory packs that we piloted and then introduced have also piqued the interest of many clubs who have been in contact to ask us to share with them and of course we have been happy to do so.
Designed to assist those supporters who have sensory needs, the packs include noise-cancelling ear defenders, a soft football for stress situations, a dry-wipe concourse menu and pen and an autism awareness card that will let staff know that the carrier has non-visible support requirements.
Equally, the matchday access card, born of our Equality Focus Group, has also been taken up by a number of other clubs. This card is issued to supporters on application who may require an enhanced level of assistance or access. It can be shown to matchday club staff to demonstrate this need, without having to verbally explain a situation or impairment and is not limited to those supporters who have a disability.
Once again, representatives of each of the club and the Cherries Trust boards met before the end of the season. It was a good meeting with the Cherries Trust putting a series of questions to Neill Blake and Jeff Mostyn. Notes of the meeting will shortly be released for review.
The Cherries Trust and the club also put on a Junior Fans Forum held at Vitality Stadium on 7th May. The panel consisted of Anthony White, goalkeeping coach, Dinesh Gilella, from our under-21s squad, and Mark Travers, who was fresh from his excellent performance against Tottenham the previous Saturday.
The group of young fans put the panel through their paces with some really probing and varied questions before having the chance to get autographs and have a group photo. All agreed, it was a great success and it is something we will be sure to repeat in the future.
For now, I hope you have an enjoyable summer and, before we know it, we will be back hosting our first pre-season friendlies and then anticipating the 2019/20 Premier League season. In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch with any feedback or ideas.
Up the Cherries!