Hull City – Ticketing Model Vote

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As all Hull City supporters will be aware of by now, on Thursday 9th May, the Club announced details of a ticketing model vote with the potential option of a ticket model including concessionary ticket prices for Junior & Senior fans based on the previous 2010/11 model plus an increase to reflect inflation etc.

It must also be noted that a member of the Club’s ‘Management’ contacted our Secretary prior to the 4pm release of the Club announcement to give a forewarning and seek an initial reaction to what was being proposed.
However, as is now almost customary under the current owners and ‘senior management’ of the Club, once again the choice between ‘option A’ and ‘option B’ is not a straight forward one, and once details of the proposed options were reviewed in detail it was apparent that they could potentially generate major inconvenience to a number of supporters, (i.e. those located in the North Stand), whilst appearing to ignore consideration to others, (i.e. disabled fans).

Following feedback from a number of Trust members and regular supporters, on Friday afternoon Hull City Supporters Trust, (HCST), issued a statement on social media channels and to local radio and written media outlets to express some concerns that it was felt needed clarity from the Club in relation to the ticketing options proposed.

A more detailed letter was sent to members of Club much later that evening, which included an offer to help & support the Club in publicising the need for Hull City fans to use their vote in the poll once clarity on the issues raised was received. The letter sent to the Club is attached. (we have redacted personal information)

It was very disappointing therefore that within 9 hours of the e-mailed letter being sent, it was completely rejected by a member of ‘Club Management’. Whether the content of the letter was discussed with other members of the Club’s hierarchy is something only the Club can confirm. There is no indication from the author of the e-mailed response that it was ‘private and confidential’ so we are happy to share it (see attached) . (we have again redacted personal information).

Despite our best efforts to raise what are surely key concerns on behalf of many Hull City supporters, the Club continue to refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue with HCST and apparently ignore the legitimate concerns of the fans. We have attempted to engage with another supporter’s organisation to enquire if they are prepared to raise the concerns on our behalf to try and stimulate a formal response from the Club.

Our advice therefore to our members and the wider Hull City fan base is to make a personal decision on whether to submit a vote in the poll announced by the Club and consider which option would be best for themselves and other supporters in the short-medium term.

Finally, whilst we welcome the Club owners announcing an opportunity for concessionary pricing to be reconsidered as a viable option for supporters in an attempt to ‘build some bridges’ with the fans prior to any potential sales to future owners, it is disappointing that such an offer in its current format is potentially disruptive to many fans, whilst ignoring the needs of others.

We do not anticipate making any further statement on this ballot prior to its deadline of 9pm on Tuesday 28th May

Hull City Supporters Trust

Copy of Letter:

10th May 2019

Pricing Model Vote

Dear (xxxx),

I hope you are both well?

(xxxx), may I start by thanking you for taking the time to call me yesterday to discuss the communication to fans from Ehab Allam regarding the proposed vote on pricing models prior to its release and allowing me to share some initial thoughts.

As you I’m sure will have expected, this was a subject that was debated extensively by the Hull City Supporters Trust (HCST) board members last night and throughout today, which has also seen a number of our members contacting us during this time to seek clarity on some information and queries important to them.

We genuinely welcome the move by Ehab and the Club to face into the issue of concessionary pricing for membership and matchday ticket pricing and acknowledge that after a much-publicised stand-off and period of stalemate that this is an attempt to redress the situation.

However, you may be aware that we issued a holding statement to our members and local media earlier today, with the main points raised as follows:

  1. We are very disappointed that lapsed members, (i.e. the fans whom Ehab indicates he wishes to build bridges with), are excluded from the voting process. Our analogy is that this is the equivalent of a major supermarket asking regular shoppers how to entice back shoppers who have taken their custom elsewhere in recent years. Surely understanding the opinion of supporters/ex-membership card holders as to what could be done to encourage to return to the K.Com stadium on matchdays is vital? We therefore respectfully request that the vote is expanded to enable supporters with a customer number on the Club ticketing database to participate in this vote and potentially expand the opinion pool for the voting process.
  2. Option B states that it returns prices to the 2010/11 model. However, there is no mention of ticket pricing for Disabled fans which can only lead to a conclusion the proposal is not a full replication of the model named and that Disabled fans are effectively excluded from voting? We acknowledge, (particularly through your extensive activity on your personal Twitter account xxxx), that the Club are citing an alignment with the EFL recommended ‘Level Playing Field’ guidelines and suggesting disabled supporters contact (xxxx) directly with their own proposals, but this could be seen as emphasising the omission of disabled fans from the main voting process? We respectfully request that clearly defined concessionary pricing for disabled fans, (and any associated consideration for their assistants), is added to the Plan B pricing model
  3. Plan B states that home fans currently members within the North stand will be relocated. There is no explanation provided for this decision and based on feedback received and comments posted on numerous social media sites, it seems to be a divisive move. The current location of ‘visiting supporters’ in the North-East corner of the ground satisfies the minimum requirements of ticket allocations for the competitions Hull City compete in and works well with the design of the stadium. We therefore call upon the club to give the reasons behind this decision or remove it from the conditions attached to Plan B pricing model.
  4. Reference is made to the Upper West Stand. What will be the criteria for this part of the stadium to re-opened, (i.e. ticket sales in excess of a determined level?) and will all maintenance and cleaning work be carried out prior to re-opening. Please advise
  5. Members of the Founder 500 Club, (who are long standing supporters seated in section W5 in the West Stand), previously had Senior Citizen concessions taken away and were expected to pay corporate prices. Will the Club be reverting to the previous pricing model, (plus inflation etc), that was in place in 2010/11 in the Plan B pricing model for Founder 500 Club members? Please advise.
  6. The Department of Digital Culture Media & Sport, (DCMS), have issued guidance notes on ‘meaningful dialogue’ between Football Clubs and its Supporters. The performance of Clubs on these guidelines are monitored by both the Premier League and English Football League (EFL). Hull City partly meet these guidelines through their Supporters Committee, (SC), however HCST are not aware that the voting poll announced yesterday, (May 9th), on the possible re-introduction of a concessionary ticket model was discussed at the most recent SC meeting, even though it was a topic extensively debated and continually rejected by the Club in a number of previous SC meetings. Can the Club please offer an explanation as to why a potential change in direction by the Club on a concessionary ticket model was not discussed at the last SC meeting?
  7. With regards to ‘Young Adults’ proposed pricing on the Plan B pricing model, we feel that this should not replicate the Seniors 65+ pricing based on the fact that ‘Young Adults’ are unlikely to have the same level of disposable income available to them as Senior 65+ fans and therefore respectfully request that the ‘Young Adult’ prices are reduced by approximately 10% to reflect this, (which may further entice the large student population in the city and surrounding areas to return to supporting the Club on matchdays)
  8. We would also like clarification on how the vote process will be transparent.
    • How are votes collected and combined across all voting formats?
    • Who is monitoring the process to ensure impartiality?
    • Will the vote cast be fully published?
    • Will the club appoint an independent scrutiny officer?

I’d like to take this opportunity to confirm that no stage last year did HCST openly call for a ‘boycott’ of the 2nd ballot organised by the Club, but did suggest to our members and the wider fan base that voting should not be undertaken until the result of the first ballot was declared by the Club which as you are aware still remains undeclared to this day.

To summarise, as a Trust Board, we are keen to encourage our members and the wider Hull City fan base to get involved and submit their votes in the process announced by the Club this week, as we believe the Club are offering a genuine opportunity for a concessionary ticketing model to return, that we are aware is the primary reason why a large number of previous season ticket holders/membership card holders no longer attend home matches. (We also presume that this has also been highlighted as a common issue to current membership card holders that had the opportunity to feedback to Club staff during the recent rounds of courtesy calls?)

We also embrace the timing of the communication and ticketing model voting opportunity declared by the Club yesterday, as it falls nicely onto the back of the terrific launch of the book ‘Decade’ by Richard Gardham that was officially launched last Saturday at Mr Chu’s restaurant on St Andrews Quay and attended by numerous supporters, ex-players and indeed current Club employees. The whole evening enraptured the affection and powerful bond between supporters and the Club, which has been strained in recent years for a number of reasons but is clearly still evident and awaiting a return.

It has been well documented that relationships between HCST and the Club have been ‘difficult’ over the past 12 months, but on behalf of the Board, I respectfully request that you give consideration to and also a response to the points that we raise above on behalf of our members and the wider fan base, to enable them all to make a more informed decision on which ticketing model option appeals to them more which in turn will allow HCST to openly support the Club request for all members to submit their vote and hopefully see an increase in matchday attendances, a more positive atmosphere generated by the fans to better support the team, and ultimately a more enjoyable matchday experience for all supporters.

With the voting deadline issued by the Club stated as being Tuesday 28th May at 9am, may I respectfully request that we receive a response to our questions above no later than Friday 17th May at 5pm, which will give enough time for supporters to consider your responses and for HCST as a leading supporters organisation to encourage all of our members and the wider fan base to submit their votes by the deadline above.

As always, I am available on (xxxxx) should you wish to discuss

Please be assured of our best intentions

Yours sincerely

Richard Mathers
Secretary
Hull City Supporters Trust

Email response from Hull City

From: xxxx xxxx@hulltigers.com
To: secretary@hullcityst.com
Date: 11 May 2019 at 09:47
Subject: Re: Ticket Model Vote

Thanks Richard.

As mentioned before, the Club will not be responding formally to any HCST comms for the reasons outlined in our letter. The Club’s position on this remains, and our stand on this has been further discussed with Andy at the EFL recently FYI.
Sent from my iPhone

On 11 May 2019, at 00:50, ” secretary@hullcityst.com” < secretary@hullcityst.com> wrote:
Dear xxxx,

Please find attached a letter raising some feedback and queries by our Board on behalf of our members and the wider fan base.
I would be most grateful if you would review the content objectively and offer the courtesy of a response as requested.
Kind regards
Richard

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