Supporter liaison updates
We are very much looking forward to welcoming back our supporters for the start of our 2022/23 season in the Premier League. We’ve all missed our matchdays and know everyone will be right behind the team as we start our new campaign.
The start of the season will see some small changes across a number of areas that may relate to your matchday experience. As a result, we have decided to cover everything in one supporter communication.
We are, of course, delighted to be back in the top flight and are looking forward to starting the season on Saturday against Aston Villa (3pm kick-off). With promotion comes some new PL Rules we need to adhere to, as well as a general focus on fan behaviour and fan engagement that will potentially bring other rules being adopted by clubs. There are a number of rule changes in respect of team matters, such as the change in the number of substitutes and trainer benches, as well as rules relating to broadcast which were also agreed last week. The latter focuses mainly on infrastructure and we are working through those over the next few weeks.
You may have seen the joint press release from the Premier League, EFL and FA last week on this subject, which references the deterioration in supporter behaviour across football seen last season. Please take the time to read this if you haven’t already. It sets the tone for how clubs are expected to approach unacceptable behaviour and, inevitably, there will be other measures to come in the first part of the season.
As well as implementing the requirement to support prosecutions and implement bans, clubs will need to demonstrate the measures they are taking to tackle these issues.
What are we doing at home matches?
Education is always our first route and you will see that pre-match emails, big screen and other club comms will feature relevant messaging in relation to pitch incursions and the possession or use of pyrotechnics in particular.
We had already made the decision to enhance our CCTV technology in areas where we experienced an increase in anti-social behaviour last season. The new system mirrors that already installed in the visiting fans area where it has proved to be invaluable in recording incidents and identifying perpetrators. Increased police numbers and deployment will also be a standard as we start this new season, and the club has re-structured its safety team so that we now have two Deputy Safety Officers reporting to the Safety Officer (previously one in post) to give a broader senior leadership function on matchdays.
Of course we want to maintain the welcoming and friendly atmosphere we have at Vitality Stadium but already, before the season proper has started, we have had to issue two short bans, one for aggressive behaviour and one for refusal to show a ticket when requested to by a steward. We know that it is a very small minority of our supporters who have resorted to this type of behaviour and it is so unfortunate that their attitude can mar the reputation of the vast majority of our fans and the club. We genuinely hope we can work together to remove this anti-social behaviour from our matchdays and enjoy supporting our team together.
What will happen at away matches?
The Premier League has introduced a new rule for this season whereby each club must send a Visiting Travel Support Team to every away League match. This group will comprise stewards, a stewarding supervisor and a club representative. They will work under the direction of the away club’s safety team in the visiting supporters area with specific duties around the management of our supporters. This has happened on an ad hoc basis in the past and is generally seen as a positive move. Obviously, this team will have operational limits as it is not our match operation, but we hope our travelling supporters see the benefit of having familiar faces and an additional source of information at away grounds.
Permitted age changes
As a PL rule, supporters under the age of 16 will not be allowed to attend away League matches without an accompanying adult. Also, it is now a ticketing rule at home matches that young fans need to be 14 years or over (previously 13 years) to attend a home match without an adult. The club made this change to move more in line with other clubs.
We have had two different ticketing issues over the past few weeks. The first was a timing issue for the on-sale and an interim solution was put in place for the next on-sale with our supplier now saying that this issue has been rectified. The second difficulty was a payment issue that was an across board problem with all clubs using this system. The decision was taken to remove Liverpool/Wolves from sale and this was publicised to supporters. The supplier resolved the issue within 24 hours and the game was back on sale at that point. We apologise to those supporters who were inconvenienced by these incidents and we very much appreciate that issues are very frustrating for both supporters and the ticketing team, especially as they have been completely beyond their control.
With effect from the Arsenal match on 20th August, the Junior Cherries ticket ballot is back! This allows a JC and parent/guardian with zero Cherries Points to apply to attend a Premier League match. For further information on how to apply, click here.
Away ticket allocations
As a result of our Premier League status, we have returned to only the first tranche of tickets being on a sale and return basis, with any further blocks requested being on the basis that any unsold tickets in that block have to be paid for by the club. Getting this right is not an exact science but we will continue to try to make it work as best as is possible for everyone.
Season ticket re-sale
Inevitably the demand for seats will be beyond capacity and therefore the ticketing team have worked with our supplier to deliver a season ticket re-sale function. This will sit within our own system and details of how to both sell on and buy season ticket seats for an individual match will be communicated to supporters in due course.
Disability Liaison Update
As we look forward to welcoming you all back to Vitality Stadium to start the 2022/23 season we would like to update you on accessible facilities around home and away matchdays.
We would like to highlight to all wheelchair users that there is facility to book spaces on our raised accessible platforms in the Main Stand, East Stand central and, for manual wheelchair users, East Stand block 16. To apply for a place on any of the above platforms please send in your request, detailing which platform you would like to apply for, to [email protected] two weeks prior the relevant matchday. This will then be processed by the accessibility team who will respond with further details a minimum of one week before the game.
We are delighted to have introduced sensory seating to our accessible offer at Vitality Stadium. Four sensory seats have been added to East Stand platform. These seats provide a calmer matchday experience for neurodiverse supporters. Located on the East Stand platform, they are away from the general bustle of the crowd and a separate entrance through the DC Lounge provides an easier entrance and exit route into the seats, as well as a quiet space to use during the match if needed. Anyone using these seats will be provided with a sensory pack to further enhance their matchday experience. We will review this option after three months and, if there is demand, look to install sensory seating elsewhere.
In addition, we have introduced accessible seating into the Ted MacDougal South Stand in block 28 rows G and H. The seats are located close to the stairs to provide easy entrance and exit routes to the seats. Seats are also located at the end of an aisle to allow for easy access. Accessible seating can be accessed by supporters with hidden disabilities, mobility difficulties and long or short-term health conditions. Accessible seating can be applied for by emailing [email protected].
Disabled supporters may be affected by the changes to availability in parking at Avonbourne Academy until 5th September and are advised to attend around 75 minutes before kick-off if hoping to park at the stadium. For accessible parking on a matchday the following process is in place; on arrival at the Vitality Stadium (via Kings Park Drive) you will be greeted by stewards at the entrance of both car parks who will enquire as to your requirement with regard to a wider space, if available, and direct you accordingly. There will be no charge to Blue Badge holders (although evidence will be required on arrival). The club’s policy is to reserve spaces for the use of disabled supporters for as long as possible, but it is important to note that there is no guarantee of matchday parking based on being a Blue Badge holder, nor the availability of an accessible parking space (wider). Access from both main and south stand car park to the stadium is step-free.
Over the summer we have installed a new accessible toilet in the 1910 bar, this will provide an additional facility for supporters using the 1910 bar on a matchday and will be utilised by guests visiting for conferencing and events. Additionally, we have installed raised toilet seats in one toilet per cubicle around the stadium, improving facilities for ambulant disabled supporters.
At the start of this season, we will be trialling VIP lanes in the North Stand concourses and these will combine the accessible low-level counter with the fast lane collection point. Low level counters and the hearing loop will remain in this lane and disabled supporters will have priority use, to be managed by concourse staff. If this is successful, we will look to roll this out around the stadium. Any feedback from disabled supporters in the North Stand would be appreciated and can be sent to [email protected].
The club will continue to provide an accessible minibus to away games where possible and, if feasible, a second accessible vehicle will be provided. Places on the accessible minibus are allocated on application to [email protected].
With the removal of the final Covid-19 protocols we are again able to offer full mascot packages and revert to our Junior Cherries mascot ballot. The Fans’ Champion is also set to return as well as a young fans penalty shoot-out to augment the adult-focused half-time fun.
We would like to remind supporters that afcbTV Live is no longer in operation, following the club’s promotion to the Premier League.
There will be free audio commentary from BBC Radio Solent available on afcb.co.uk for every Premier League game.
Following periods of lockdown, the Community Sports Trust now have all their projects back up and running and this seems a good time to update you on our summer community programme.
Summer Soccer Camps
Summer Soccer Camps are being delivered across the area at Slades Park, The Blandford School and Purbeck Sports Centre throughout the six-week school holidays. All-day sessions are open to boys and girls aged 7-14 years old, with morning Minikickers sessions for 4-6 year olds.
HAF – Holiday Activity Fund
Working in partnership with BCP and Dorset Councils, the Community Sports Trust are offering free holiday activities to young people who have access to free school meals and/or pupil premium. These BCP Council sessions are five-days in duration and run for three out of six weeks of the holidays, based at The Branksome Centre in Poole. The young people will take part in multi-sport sessions daily and will also be provided with a hot meal every day for lunch. Working with Dorset Council, we offer three two-day sessions throughout August at The Blandford School.
New for Summer 2022, there are also opportunities for young adults aged 16-25 years old with any form of SEND need to take part in these sessions. The Active Holidays and SEND sessions will include multi-sport sessions and all those in attendance will receive a hot meal every day for lunch.
National Citizenship Service (NCS)
Throughout the summer months, the Community Sports Trust will be working with EFL Trust to offer the National Citizenship programme. The two-week programme consists of an activity week, where the young people take part in different outdoor activities, such as paddleboarding and high ropes, along with some workshops, which look at confidence building and teaching money management, and public speaking techniques. The second week is a social action week, where the young people plan, prepare and delivery a project in benefit to a charity or organisation within their local community. The programme is aimed at 16–17-year-olds, and the Trust will engage over 160 young people from this age group this summer. The programme is already halfway through, with two groups having completed the programme, most recently the groups raised over £600 which they spent on food donations for Hope for Food and through a sponsored walk, another group raised over £300 for Oceans to Earth.
The Community Sports Trust delivers 150 sessions a week to 4,500 local people. All projects promote four themes of education, participation, health, and inclusion. Future updates will include more about the year long work the Trust and Club undertake in the community.
Girls and Women’s Team
Pre-season is underway for the AFC Bournemouth Girls and Women’s teams. The four youth age groups; under-10, under-12, under-14 and under-16 have finished their recruiting and have started training as they prepare for the new season. The youngest two age groups will play their football in the Hampshire Girls Youth Leagues, whilst the under-14 and 16 girls will represent AFC Bournemouth in the Junior Premier League. The Women’s teams have been training and playing their pre-season games, ready for the new FA Women’s National League season, which gets underway in late August. The Women’s first team will also travel to Devon for a three-day training camp. Matches will be played at Ringwood Town FC on Sunday’s at 2pm.