The meeting took place last night and involved ourselves, Capital Canaries, Forces2Canaries, Proud Canaries, Barclay End Norwich and Along Come Norwich along with various Club staff including Ben Kensell and Head of Ticketing Danny Casey.
Ben made it clear that he accepted that the process had been badly handled and that consultation should have been wider and much earlier. He also accepted that the new scheme needed to evolve but that it was virtually impossible to find something that everyone was happy with, citing the fact that there were many elements of the old scheme that had been heavily criticised, such as the disproportionate advantage given to home season ticket holders in obtaining away tickets as a result of the automatic application of 1000 loyalty points.
It was clear from the discussion around the table that even within such a small group there were plenty of areas of disagreement which would be hugely magnified over the fan base as a whole, but there was a robust discussion with various ideas put forward although Ben made it clear that as the only self-funding club in the Premier League it was vital that City generated as much income as possible and that any change to the new scheme would need to produce the same level of income as it was already in the budget.
He also said that the burden had been disproportionately laid on away tickets as the Club was reluctant to risk upsetting the 20K plus who have home season tickets by increasing their costs even by £10 per year ( this was in response to a suggestion that the cost of away memberships be reduced and a small increase in season ticket prices be implemented to make up the shortfall).
The Club have sold 6000 away memberships and the expectation is that at most grounds our allocation will be 3000 which raises the spectre of lots of unhappy people who want to go to marquee games like the new stadia at West Ham and Spurs or easy to get to London games like Chelsea and Arsenal and it was put to the Club that the initial furore would almost certainly be repeated as these key points.
One area that all present agreed on was the need to do more to encourage children (the next generation of fans) and families and Ben will discuss this with the board and get back to us.
It was also agreed that the consultation process which starts now and will culminate in agreement on arrangements for the 2020/21 in January had to involve individual fans as well as fan groups due to the wide range of opinions. Even within our own groups it was evident that there were wide ranging views and we don not pretend to have all the answers or to speak for everyone.
To conclude it was never going to be the case that much would change this year with so many people, despite their misgivings, having bought into the membership scheme, but what we (the fanbase generally, not just the supporter groups) can do is make sure that the next iteration of the scheme is more widely acceptable and that will require a willingness to engage positively. The Club have without question made a hash of this although there is no doubt that the system needed to change. However to change it so radically with minimal consultation was a major error which the Club accept.
That provides a starting point for a move towards something better, but our research into the schemes used at the other Premier League clubs shows that none are universally liked. That, however, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be striving for something that satisfies more people and we will continue to do that.