Most fans, 84%, see the Premier League as the priority, but opinion is more divided on domestic cup competitions. While 46% were happy with the team’s approach to them, a significant 30% were not. And in the big debate around how important winning a trophy was, 81% said it was either extremely important or very important to them.
We asked for views on ENIC’s running of the Club, and 63% said they felt it had improved over the last year. We received hundreds of individual comments on this subject, and we’ve forwarded them all on to the Club.
Positive themes included commitment shown with the new stadium, ‘The Lane The Finale’ having a positive effect, building a team that’s competing at the top, world-class training facilities, hiring Mauricio Pochettino, and Daniel Levy’s business acumen.
More critical themes included needing more investment in the playing side, a lack of transparency over Season Ticket pricing and concerns over the long-term impact on the relationship between Club and Fans this was causing, the lack of silverware, “Director’s wages draining the Club” and not seeing proper financial backing from ENIC – “it all seems fan-funded”.
Satisfaction with Club communication runs at 50% of our survey, so there’s clearly room for improvement there. Again, we have sent fans’ comments on to the Club to digest. Only 18% of our survey were aware the Club has a Supporter Liaison Officer, and 71% would like to see an annual meeting at which the Club reports back to fans.
We also asked questions about national game issues. Support for legislation to reform the way the game is run and for supporter representation on club boards runs at roughly the same level as previous years, 51% and 73% respectively. Both figures represent a slight drop, however, possibly a product of disillusion about whether these long-supported aims will ever be achieved. There’s work for us to do here.
On VAR, 67% said they had little or no confidence in it improving fans’ experience the game. On the mid-season break the game has decided to introduce from 2019-20, 51% were in favour, with 24% against.
Opinion is divided on moving the Fifth Round of the FA Cup to a midweek slot and abolishing replays, with 49% approving, 28% disapproving and 22% remaining neutral. There was greater unanimity on the pricing of FA Cup semi-finals and the Final. Some 81% said the prices (£115 behind the goals and £145 at the sides for the Final) were excessive, with a further 14% saying they were too high, totalling a whopping 95%.
On the proposed sale of Wembley Stadium, currently under discussion, opinion was also fairly evenly divided. 45% thought the FA owning Wembley was important or very important. But 36% said it was not at all important.
We wanted to find out what fans thought about the latest attempt by the so-called ‘top six clubs’ to get a bigger slice of the overseas TV deal money – a measure the Clubs voted for recently. Just under half, 47%, disapproved, with 37% agreeing. Asked to respond to a number of statements about the deal, the most popular response, chosen by 33% of those who replied, was: “I want my club to do well but I worry about lack of competition if the top clubs get more TV money”. As in so many cases, football has to think harder about balancing short-term gain with long-term health.
Finally, we found 89% of THST members were either satisfied or very satisfied with the work of the Trust over the last year. Bearing in mind the struggle over ticket pricing at the new stadium, we think this is very positive.
Fans’ choice of priorities for our work this coming season were ticket pricing, atmosphere, fan/club relationship, fixture rescheduling and safe standing.
3 August 2018