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Statement on season cards 2018/19

Statement from Jon Lansdown, chairman of Bristol Sport and vice-chairman of Bristol City FC.

Following on from the joint Supporters Club & Trust/FAN meeting last Wednesday, we agreed to take away and review three key items; the renewal deadline, disabled pricing and the new loyalty scheme. We have now had a chance to digest and debate the key points raised from the interaction that we have had with fans, which has prompted robust internal debate and consideration.

Whilst it is correct that pricing and long-term strategy has to be led by Bristol City FC and Bristol Sport together, it would be wrong for us to not listen and consider other options when presented with the strength of feeling that has been evident. I would hope that this is recognised as a strong signal from us that we do value supporters’ views.

The strategy behind the pricing structure for the 2018/19 campaign was in recognition that we are one of the lower priced clubs in the Sky Bet Championship, with a brand new rebuilt stadium and facilities better than many in the Premier League. The 2018/19 prices still place us as one of the best value clubs in the division.

We accept the price rises have meant that some fans have raised concerns over being priced out of traditional seats and the deadline for purchase. Prices have been largely frozen for the past few years, while the £50 Under-12 season card – with a free replica shirt – has helped grow our younger fanbase.

We also appreciate that many of you sat in specific locations with family or friends in the old Ashton Gate and this has very much been part of the matchday enjoyment. We want Ashton Gate to be welcoming to families and to encourage the younger generation of supporters. That is the thinking behind us investing in a new Family Area in the upper Lansdown Stand, where kids have lots of fun before, during and after the game in the specially adapted concourse, whilst enjoying some of the best views on offer. We want to encourage families to use this dedicated space and that is why we have set the pricing to attract parents and children up here.

We have invested nearly £50m in the rebuild project and it has resulted in the city finally having a stadium it can be proud of. The rebuild has also provided the local area with a huge economic boost, with more than 1,000 local people securing work at the stadium on matchdays. It has been a spark for economic regeneration in an area of the city which has traditionally been overlooked.

With reference to the expressed desire for an extension to the renewal deadline, we accept it would be beneficial for all supporters to have at least one pay day within the season card renewal window so we have agreed to extend it until midday on Thursday, March 29th.

There is also the Pay Monthly* scheme – which remains available throughout the advanced sales period, with the first payment not due until May 1st, followed by nine further monthly payments.

Subsequently, the special seat move window will run exclusively on the phone lines from midday until 8pm on March 29th. Members will then get the chance to purchase, before general sale begins at 10am on Wednesday, April 4th. The advanced sales period will still end on April 13th.

On the subject of disabled pricing, I want to take this opportunity to explain the rationale behind the changes we have made. The majority of Championship clubs have moved to offer disabled supporters pricing in line with the age categories for all supporters, in-keeping with guidelines set out by Level Playing Field. This is something Bristol City FC already offered for matchday tickets and now we have applied the same pricing structure for season cards.

We acknowledge that for some disabled supporters this has caused great difficulty.  We should have considered this more fully and communicated it better. With this in mind we have now agreed to phase in the pricing over the next three seasons.

For the 2018/19 season disabled (adult) fans will be able to purchase a season card with a 15 per cent discount off the Advanced full adult price. Any disabled adult who has already purchased/renewed will be contacted by Supporter Services for a 15 per cent refund.

For the 2019/20 season adult disabled supporters will be entitled to a ten per cent discount on the equivalent adult price and for the 2020/21 campaign a five per cent discount will apply. The following year will see disabled pricing brought in line with full adults and current matchday pricing.

I would like to underline that Supporter Services will continue to work with every individual disabled supporter to meet their specific needs and ensure that they enjoy the best matchday experience possible. Following the significant investment, Ashton Gate has some of the best disabled supporter facilities in the country. We will strive to continually improve these, as well as working hard in the community to support disability programmes and promote sporting inclusion for all.

Finally, with regards to the introduction of our new loyalty scheme we will be announcing full details over the summer, ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. However, I think it’s important to clarify now that season card holders will be entitled to a ten per cent discount on all food and beverages purchased in the concourse, coffee shop and hospitality areas, alongside earning loyalty in other areas, including the Store at Ashton Gate.

You will also still benefit from £5 off for CATS travel in 2018/19, away and cup ticket priority, two £10 guest tickets, free entry to Under-23 matches and a free ticket for selected Bristol Rugby fixtures.

Thanks to all of our supporters who have already renewed their seat for the 2018/19 campaign and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, where we can cheer on the team against Ipswich Town. Your support will play a huge part over the remaining nine regular season games, so enjoy them and let’s see where they can take us together.

Jon Lansdown

* £25 fee applies (max of four season cards per Pay Monthly application)