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Thursday, June 05, 2008

QPR Fans Meeting Minutes...


QPR supporters from a variety of groups and websites met in Hammersmith at the weekend to discuss the recent rises in season ticket prices.

Saturday 31st May 2008
Venue: Edwards Bar, Hammersmith


Attendees:
LSA - John Reid (Chair), Mark Dunbar, Steve Collins, Stephen Robertson, Micky Fitzgerald, Nathan Thompson, Luke Peppard, Bill Cox
FoQPR – Vic Stevenson, Spencer Schwartz
WATRBs – Peter Davies, Mayur Tailor
QPR 1st – Tracy Stent, Neil Jackson
OSC – Karen Hampshire
OSC & Disabled Supporters representative - Bev
AKUTRs – Dave Anderson
QPRdotorg (unofficial observer) – Alison Burgess

Apologies
Indyrs.co.uk, QPR Rivals, LoftforWords, QPRnet.com, QPRfansnet.com, Pat Harrison, Stephen Dedridge

Summary

The main focus of the meeting was to discuss the season ticket pricing structure for the 2008/09 season, in reaction to concerns voiced by many QPR supporters about the sheer scale of the increases. Meeting opened at 6.40pm following a minutes silence in memory of Paul Gooch who sadly passed away on 4th May.

John asked for comments from each of the supporters group on what the season ticket price increases meant both individually and collectively to the supporters. A selection of comments and observations are summarised below…

* Many supporters will simply not be able to afford the price increases next season
* Those who can afford the price increases are concerned that this is just the start
* Some can afford the increases, but will have to make some other sacrifices to do so
* The club have misread the worsening economic situation with inflation busting prices
* In all previous meetings with Ali Russell, there was a complete failure to correspond what the plans were
* The club must have known what the scale of increases were, but only spoke of c. 5-10% increase outside of the new Platinum area
* Some had even been informed that there might be some price reductions in certain areas
* Prices in the Hammersmith End at Craven Cottage range from £299 - £499 for Premiership football
* Many Rangers fans are shocked that the new owners are testing their loyalty to this degree
* Shambolic treatment for those who have supported the club through recent bad times
* Anger over the timing of the announcement and the June 6 deadline is too close
* Most would have understood if the high prices applied only to new applicants
* Priced out fans who have to move to a cheaper section will no longer be sitting with those they’ve sat with for many years
* As a result the great atmosphere could deteriorate
* A new QPR brand is being created, and the club is testing the brand loyalty of its existing customers
* The reason for meeting each group individually was queried – divide & conquer?
* All Rangers supporters want success, but not at any price
* There is not much trust for the board at present, due to the approach – not just the actual price hikes
* The Club risks losing its family-club image that has takes years to build up due to the rising costs for families
* The manner and timing of the communication has lead to mistrust of the board and in particular, Ali Russell
* We have been priced as if we are already the new brand, without actually having achieved anything
* The club need to change its perspective of the supporters. Currently they are perceived as taking liberties
* The owners exist in an entirely different class system and wish to have exclusivity. This is best exemplified in the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum banding – almost a class system in itself
* Areas such as the Loftus Road upper should not be Gold band
* We’re being asked to buy into the dream, but whose dream are we buying into?
* What benefits will we see in areas such as the Loftus Road Upper, or are we paying more and not seeing a direct improvement in terms of the facilities

Concerns were also raised over the new disabled supporters seating arrangements, the disappearance of Jude the Cat, renaming QPR to “London Rangers” and secret talks over ground sharing with Fulham; although the main thrust was fixed on the concerns with the new pricing structure and the manner in which this had been communicated.

Minuted items
Again, the decision was taken to go back around the group, in order to establish what our collective approach should be. These are summarised below and have not yet been agreed at this stage.

* Produce a statement from the group for other supporters / the club / press (interest already from Radio 5 Live)
* Negotiate free cup matches
* Demonstration suggested – holding up red cards at the first home game
* Press for early bird discount in the form of a refund for those who have already paid
* Agree price capping for subsequent seasons (Chelsea have introduced a three year price freeze)
* Care needs to be taken if we believe this is personal
* Might need to consider working with the club on some concessions, or focus on 2009/10
* Introduce a family scheme to reduce prices at some of those hardest hit
* Improve monthly payment terms & conditions (18.5% APR)

Next steps:
* Form a smaller task force to recommend next steps
* Agree strategy for approaching the club
* Both of the above to be concurred with the rest of the group before implementation

- Meeting closed at 8pm -

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