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Brisa Attendance Improvement Proposal


Scotty
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As you may be aware, BRISA have arranged to meet with John Williams and Tom Finn on Thursday specifically to discuss ways of improving attendances at Ewood.

BRISA have put together a proposal document outlining the reasons we think attendances have declined in recent years, and then recommending some ideas and schemes that could improve the situation.

The proposal can be seen here:

BRISA Attendance Improvement Proposal - Draft v0.2

BRISA Attendance Improvement Proposal - Draft v0.2 (PDF Version)

It still needs a little polishing, particularly at the end, but that will be done between now and Thursday. What it really needs though is your constructive comments. Do you agree with the document's contents? Can you think of any other ideas that should be in there?

If you don't have the time, or inclanation, to read the whole proposal (it's 29 pages long) then can I ask you to concentrate on section 4. that's the recommendations section, the most important bit if you like.

We will endeavour to include in the proposal any comments we receive between now and Thursday, but don't worry if you don't get the time to read the doc between now and then. If we receive enough useful feedback we can always produce a version 2 of the proposal and submit it to the club at a later date.

I'm sorry that this has been delayed (there are various reasons for this that I won't bore you with) and I'm sorry there isn't much time for you to get your comments to us, but hopefully you can all have a look and let us know what you think.

PS: If a mod could pin this it would be nice. thumbs-up.gif

Edited by Scotty
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Lot of good work there. A few points imo.......

1. Less banging on about cheaper tickets. The club will hardly want to hear that and cheaper tickets to date have done sod all in the way of attracting more fans, Saturdays FA cup tie v QPR was proof of that.

There is a sales concept which should be heeded and that advises against 'under-selling' a good product. Ultimately it devalues that product! Beware.

2. Another adage from the world of sales is that 'the hardest customer to attract is the one that you have just lost'. Take every effort to look after current supprter base.

3. I like the flexible ticket/internet stuff. It needs developing. One big change since the glory days is the number of people now on the 4 days on 4 days off shift system. There are lots, and by and large most of those people seem to prefer it. Problem is that many know they will miss some games and so choose not to buy a ST, this in turn leads to less commitment and a gradual 'weaning off' of the BRFC nipple. Any ticket policy imo needs to address the requirements of that fan.

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On first viewing, this looks to be a brilliant document. It's well researched, very well presented, and doesn't miss anything. Great kudos to Scotty and whoever else has been involved in putting it together.

This bit is a comment, not a criticism. There are a number of suggestions in there which the club will have already tried and / or discussed. Some of the suggestions are clearly not practical - or at best are aspirational.

What is important is that JW and TF have to reply to every proposal in this document, and they know they have to reply openly and honestly.

Ewood Blues, North Lancs, and all the other existing organisations serve a purpose for Rovers fans whether they are members or not, but it's mainly travel and quiz nights.

I think that through this initiative and this document, BRISA is making a really important footprint, is doing something that none of the existing groups do, and for the first time BRFC are legitimately and openly being required to provide answers to the questions we all want to ask.

Can't wait to see the results - well done guys.

Edited by Tris
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This bit is a comment, not a criticism.  There are a number of suggestions in there which the club will have already tried and / or discussed.  Some of the suggestions are clearly not practical - or at best are aspirational.

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I'd say that we are prepared for this. But at the moment the average person does not know that these things have been tried and what we'd be looking for would be for is the club to say 'yea we've tried this, but it didn't work for reasons a, b, c so therefore we didn't continue.'

At least the wider public would know what Rovers are trying to do and why.

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That looks excellent. Pleased to see mentions of the both the database and the lack of young adult tickets. Amazed to hear that Rovers may not employ a PR officer.

Good work fellas - if only the similar university report i have spent the last six hours on looked and sounded so good sad.giftinykit.gif

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From the team picture, even the Academy employs its own PR officer so I'm sure the club does. Unfortunately, PR is only as good as the media its going into and that is distinctly second rate.

Superb pieece of work. I agree that the Asian support issue needs to be addressed separately. Here is my tuppence worth:

- the big issue is the decline from 26,000+ average gate to 19,000 average gate this season in three seasons of Premiership football- I don't subscribe to the view it will recover appreciably in the second half of the season as there are too many televised games and odd kick-off times. If we were going to get a kick start to this season's gates rising it would come Wednesday night: Man U at home in a Cup semi-final!!!

- there is a sub-issue that Kidd's reign got rid of a lot of support that had been acquired by King Kenny but the first two seasons in the Prem seemed to have brought that back. However, the dips in Rovers' form and entertainment value (don't forget Rovers were pathetically unentertaining in addition to only winning 5 home games during two back-to-back seasons), have meant that the 5,000 fans who deserted with relegation have deserted again. In short, we have gone from a base support of 7,000 in the '80s to 17,000 in the '90s/'00s but there is another 5,000 to be had which goes if the entertainment isn't good enough. How do we get that back.

- I used to go on the Blackburn End when it was standing. I could pick my spot so there was zero chance of trouble but be close enough to enjoy the atmosphere and join in the singing. I have been on the Blackburn End once since it went all seater- I just did not like being stuck in one seat next to God knows what. I'm not being snobby- the Chavs thread elsewhere on here says it all for me. I go to a football match to be entertained, not watching a drunk in case he throws up over me. Obviously the regulars can pick their seat and the Blackburn End is fine but the first time supporter is taking one big lottery ticket in terms of where they are sitting and with whom, from being deafened by the drummers to being with Grade A Chavs.

- Therefore I always go in the JW upper and that is from where the comfortable socio-economic group ABs have gone missing. They don't buy season tickets any more because they have busy lives which cannot fit around all the different kick-off times plus as it has become more deserted, that area it has become less pleasant to be in accelerating the decline. I know that the sort of season-ticket holding family groups I used to be surrounded with when I had a season ticket in the JW Upper don't go any more.

- The point about Stadium catering etc. is a good one. This is 2006, there are thousands of good examples of how to serve/shift large numbers of people in small amounts of time without employing armies of staff. Just a matter of good practise but I do think the bar areas etc are terrible (even though they are better than most grounds) if you compare Ewood with spending £32 on a seat at the opera or theatre (that is the price range competition we are in- that has to be the benchmark for facilities). Perhaps more relevant, the best multiplex cinemas should show the Rovers the level they should be aiming at behind the scenes for the non-corporate customer.

- Parking is a BIG bug bear. All the places I used to park are now residents only. That adds getting on for an hour to going to Ewood which when that is detracting from the time I would otherwise be spending with aged parents is for me frequently the difference between going and not going when I am in Lancashire. Sprinting from where I used to park to Ewood was OK, running a mile is not on at my age!

- Marketing drive aimed at other areas. Driving over from the Fylde on matchdays used to be a solid cavalcade of Rovers scarfs- not any more. That is the largest area of under-footballed population closest to Rovers, go for it in addition to the drive in Lancaster/Morecambe.

- TV has made a mess of things but there's nothing to be done about that. However, live illegal TV coverage of games should be stamped out in all bars around Blackburn- that alone I am sure would put 500 to 1,000 straight back onto the gates.

Edited by philipl
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Thanks for the positive comments so far. BRISA are also of the view that we Press Release the document after the meeting with John and Tom.

Please keep the comments flowing and thanks inparticular to Scotty for his work on this.

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It seems a fine document in principle, however, on reading it I got the impression it was written by a committee (not sure if this is correct or not).

Why I say this is that the style seems to change everyso often from factual business like presentation, to value judgements, to relaxed social converstaional writing. Did the same person really write the indepth analytical bits as the "that's the moaning out of the way" line?

Whilst I might be barking up the wrong tree with the authorship, I do think the clash of styles and/or tone of the document undermines a degree of professionalism in the document. At points to me it reads as a transcribe of a round the table discussion and not a unified piece.

Another potential flaw are some of the contradictions in the piece. One page complains about the drummer and other ideas being geared up to the younger audience, another grudingly acknowledges that Taylor has helped increase child attendances, and a third says we should have Quid a Kid every week. Are the three comments consistent?

I appreciate that preparing a document to cover the breadth of BRISAs agenda is nigh on impossible, especially the various members own views - for example, I'm surprised to learn that as a BRISA member I fully support StandUpSitDown, which was news to me as I thought I didn't - but maybe a little more internal consistency is required in proposals going to the club?

Sorry for being appearing overtly critical, but as I say the fundamental elements of the document seem fine, it's just that certain things seem to jar to me.

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1.  Less banging on about cheaper tickets. 

There is a sales concept which should be heeded and that advises against 'under-selling' a good product.  Ultimately it devalues that product!  Beware.

I think thats a very valid point, but as BRISA is still developing, so are many of its ideas. That said, football is expensive, and the powers that be need to see that many of its supporters have price as their primary concern. It may be the reason that fans are driven away, but discounting the tickets doesnt seem to attract them back.

I'm sure that many of the points in the document will be addressed by the club by saying "we already do that". Many of these points will already have been brought up through other avenues, and will have been ruled out, but if we can just get 1 or 2 ideas such as flextickets to stick then thats a start.

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Therefore I always go in the JW upper and that is from where the comfortable socio-economic group ABs have gone missing. They don't buy season tickets any more because they have busy lives which cannot fit around all the different kick-off times plus as it has become more deserted, that area it has become less pleasant to be in accelerating the decline. I know that the sort of season-ticket holding family groups I used to be surrounded with when I had a season ticket in the JW Upper don't go any more.

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2 good points re:parking and not being able to move away from embarrassing / aggravating / uncouth beurks in all seater stadia. The latter must put lots of decent people with youngsters off. I go to fewer away games because of this but I'm happy with my ST position. Maybe many casual supporters who do not but ST's have been put off for the same reason.

But the above para is the most imp imo. The need to identify the target market is paramount in this initiative. I have touched on this once before where given that Jack Walker is a 10 for example, the loyal fans who go home and away every game for decades are 9, the people that select between 10 and 15 home games a season are 5, and the ones who only but tickets when we are at the top of the Prem in April are 1.

The above is not accurate I know just an example, but maybe if the categories were given more substance then information can be gleaned from it as to which section of support has drifted away most and which section should command the greatest effort in being enticed back.

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2 good points re:parking and not being able to move away from embarrassing / aggravating / uncouth beurks in all seater stadia.  The latter must put lots of decent people with youngsters off.  I go to fewer away games because of this but I'm happy with my ST position. Maybe many casual supporters who do not but ST's have been put off for the same reason.

But the above para is the most imp imo.  The need to identify the target market is paramount in this initiative.  I have touched on this once before where given that Jack Walker is a 10 for example,  the loyal fans who go home and away every game for decades are 9, the people that select between 10 and 15 home games a season are 5, and the ones who only but tickets when we are at the top of the Prem in April are 1. 

The above is not accurate I know just an example, but maybe if the categories were given more substance then information can be gleaned from it as to which section of support has drifted away most and which section should command the greatest effort in being enticed back.

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I strongly support the quote about the JW and the AB's.

I go in the JW, I like it, great view, and I don't have to worry about the cost. It used to be full of better-off folk who would often bring large family groups.

many are middle age professionals, solicitors architects etc but in the last 2 to 3 years have stopped coming and have subsequently been attracted elsewhere such as golf; this is a fact and I know a great many who have just stopped altogether after years and years of watching the Blues.

I realise that we have to focus on the schools and kids etc but we must not forget those who have disposable income who will spend good money on the Rovers. It is this group that will probably be interested in a match bundle type ticket where they pay for say 10 or 12 matches per season.

I expect this post may be a little controversial but we also need to focus at the higher value fans. Just look at the empty Exec Boxes every week to see where we also have major problems.

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do rovers still do the school trips?

obviously this will be a money spinning loss but the attendences will rise and thats what they want.

i remember in the 90's they done quite a few, 10 schools of 100 kids and thats 1000 more faces.

because its a school trip, there will be a huge disscount for them, but if rovers play well and the kids haven't experienced the magical feeling of watching your local club and the atmo, word of mouth spreads and they will keep coming back. thumbs-up.gif

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a good peice of work and as person who has had to write a number of reports. it was easy to read.

for me there are two main points.

parking, its a pain, the club needs to have a park and ride system to make it simple for fans from around the area to attend.

tickets. Could not the club have a system that for a lump sum you can attend four or five games of which there can be picked in advange of the games being played. ie £60 for four games and then when the fans pick them the seats are booked. A bit like a season ticket, but on a much smaller scale.

This means that fans who cannot or who do not want to attend all the homes games can still get a good deal over four to five games and the club still gets a lump sum up front.

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Well done to all concerned, a good read.

'Blackburn as a town has little to really be proud of, but the football club is the exception. It should be the heart of the community.' - I think in that one sentence the nail has been hit firmly on the head.

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POINT 2 Is an important point for me and quiet a few other - please can you add this?? let me know scotty

1 - Ideas to boost sales –

* Buy 3 adult tickets, get another free?

Can we create our own categories for tickets? If so, there should be 3 groups:

Category A – Top 6 clubs from previous season (6)

Category B – 7th – 14th from previous season (8)

Category C – 15th – Newly promoted (6)

2 - Issue that needs addressing

Season tickets for Young Adults (I too fall in this category, for this last season anyway)

16-21?? This good enough. I think there should be two categories here.

16-19 – Students (with proof of student card)

19 – 24 – Young Adults (with proof by providing birth certificate)

I know quiet a few people who have season tickets this year that are turning 22 and next season wont be eligible for the Young adult ticket next season.

Current price @ 21 in Blackburn end = £225

Price @ 22 in Blackburn end = £410

So if the price’s stay the same il be expected to pay an extra £185. That is almost double what I pay now! Now I know there is a direct debit scheme, that’s good and I understand that the club have to define adult at some point, but @ 21 some people are only just leaving university or college and can only be in part time work.

Yes people could move from the Blackburn end to the outer areas of say the CIS stand but that’s not what people want to do and most people are not willing to do this. Now im probably daft enough to pay the extra as iv been a season ticket holder for 10 years and not in part time work but I know a lot of people who are not going to pay that extra and IF the club fail to address it then they are going to lose more season ticket holders.

3 – With regards to an easier way of paying? How about a rovers ‘store’ card? Where all your ticket purchases go onto your account and you pay x amount of the balance each month – exactly like a store card & you receive a small amount of interest on top of any outstanding purchase that is say 2 months old??

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Here goes:

Historic drop in attendences.

- If the average crowd the season after winning the Championship was "only" 27,700 with Shearer et al on board then it's probably unrealistic to expect to achieve that sort of figure in the forseeable future. A figure of 24-25,000 would be a more realistic medium term target whilst we are outside the very top bracket.

As such the average figure of over 26,000 at one stage of the Souness reign was a remarkable achievement. A lot of supporters get unnecessarily hung up about our attendances but even in the current dip we have to remember that our level of support per head of population is far greater than the big City clubs, and we have come from average gates of 7-8000 around 1990.

- This is a personal view but I'm sick of hearing the Chairman/supporters moaning about crowds dropping after we finished 6th/ got in the UEFA Cup etc. We got in that enviable position through a lot of skill and hard work and then reacted by selling our two of our best and "sexiest" players in Dunn and Duff who were also players the fans could truly identify with having come through the ranks. You can argue until the cows come home about whether this SHOULD happen and that you're there to support the team and not an individual player etc. but to me it's an indisputable fact. Crowds suffered and never recovered as their replacements failed to either perform or capture the hearts of the fans. That's gone now and is old history but the relevance for now is that I would expect a similar negative reaction if we achieved a similar lofty position this season and promptly sold say Bellamy and MGP.

Asian Support

- Ever changing demographics mean it is in many ways disingenuous to have a debate about attendance issues concerning Blackburn Rovers without considering the impact of the Asian community. This is the single most important challenge facing the Rovers management. Starkly the Club has 2 choices

1) Attract far more support from that section of the Community or if not

2) The Club will have to draw in support from a wider geographical area.

Interestingly the Asian representative on the Fans Forum claims there is still a perception (wrongly IMO) amongst the Asian community that it would be intimidating for them to attend a match at Ewood. This would seem to be at complete odds with the view that the atmosphere at Ewood is now too "nice" and family orientated.

National Issues

In many cases these are self evident (players wages v behaviour, Sky, silly kick off times etc) and in theory should be less of a concern because they affect all clubs equally. However they impact on us far greater as a club because we have a smaller fan base. Therefore whilst the City Clubs probably have a similar percentage turnover of disaffected fans not renewing tickets every year they will in the short to medium term have far more "mugs" willing to take the absentee's place than us. Eventually even they will start to suffer.

FSF comments about price

Presumably these are aimed at Premiership clubs as a whole rather than Rovers who generally can I think do no more about reducing prices.

It is against Premiership regulations to charge away fans more than home fans for the same type of seat. Can anyone quote an actual example of this happening? A legitimate loophole is to have a bona fide membership scheme and charge members less.

Category A games

With attendances having dropped steeply it seems to me the whole rationale of categorising games and pricing them accordingly is now redundant. This is undoubtedly a legitimate way of increasing revenue where the game would sell out anyway. However with the ground a third empty for some games and nowhere near selling out for the "big" games there is no valid reason in terms of increasing attendances why prices should increase. The current thinking is presumably to maximise revenue from the away support, a strategy I have always argued that is counterproductive to building long term home support at Ewood.

"Bussing in" fans from elsewhere

As I understand it the club tried this for a period, mainly from Lancaster University, and the surrounding area with limited success. This doesn't mean to say that it shouldn't be tried again over different areas with greater persistence. As mentioned above the club have to get their support from within the town with the obvious implications that entails or look further afield. Charlton apparently bus in several thousand fans from the Kent area for every home game.

Marketing/PR

Sadly most of the bad PR emanating from the Club over the last few seasons has come from within from the then chief executive John Williams and previous manager Graeme Souness. Whether it be constant messages about survival being the aim, the cups not mattering, the manager rather being at dinner with his wife than playing in the UEFA Cup, or the manager leaking to the press in season ticket renewal week that there was no money to spend, the general effect of the vibe coming out of Ewood was to turn off the supporter. New manager Mark Hughes is absolutely first class with his approach and PR but it will take some time to win back people lost over the last couple of seasons.

Another aspect of marketing is that the club shop is now awful in terms of stocking a varied range of Blackburn Rovers merchandise.

Good point about the LET. Perhaps the club and the paper could promote a slot advertising ticket offers on a set page on a certain day so fans know exactly when and where to look.

Use of existing spaces/facilities.

The club have already missed the boat in terms of developing the Riverside with a Hotel attached. Since Uncle Jack drew up the initial plans, three hotels have since been built near J4 of the M65, one at the Fernhurst and one each by Travel Inn and Travel Lodge demonstrating the need was there initially. Redevelopment of the Riverside would involve the Trustees in some capital expenditure but the club need to look at building it with suitable leisure facilities incorporated as a potential opportunity to get more young people used to going down to Ewood on a regular basis.

Ticketing

Promotion of ticket offers is currently very poor. Discussion took place at the beginning of December at the last Fans Forum as to potential incentives for the Portsmouth game. It was stressed by several members that whatever was done it had to be done quickly and publicised well in good time for Christmas. Christmas came and went and I think I saw one ad about the kids for a quid incentive two or three days before the game.

I agree entirely we are still panicking far too much about that one off Man City game all those years ago. I noticed the other night in the LET that anyone with a "ticket history" can purchase tickets for the ManUre game. In many ways I feel we are trying to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted. When we could have filled the ground with floating Rovers fans for big games in seasons gone by we made it as difficult as possible for them and took the easy option of giving one third of the ground up to away fans. With large parts of the ground (including away sections) now empty, there's no real case for any restrictions at all.

BUT if we are to persist with the "ticket history" policy the term itself is a bit misleading and needs clarifying to the wider public. If infers you need an extensive history of buying tickets whereas in reality as I understand it you only need to have been to ONE previous game! I'm convinced most floating fans still don't realise this!

-Pay as you go tickets

What a great idea! Don't let this one drop! Could it be run as well as/in conjunction with a cash only turnstile? (Possibly even a limited number of cheaper seats on a first come first served basis) We need to make it easier for people to attend on a spur of the moment basis.

Rolling season tickets

A must for me. Might reduce drop offs and would minmise monthly payments for those paying on a DD basis.

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Excellent document people, well done and good luck.

Reading the peice gave me an idea re. tickets.

Would it not be possible for the club to sell vouchers for next season's season ticket NOW. They could be available in denominations of say£10. This would give supporters a flying start in purchasing a ST, also, those who have bought vouchers would feel obliged to buy a ST whatever the performance of the team.

Does that make sense? blink.gifhuh.gif

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Excellent document people, well done and good luck.

Reading the peice gave me an idea re. tickets.

Would it not be possible for the club to sell vouchers for next season's season ticket NOW. They could be available in denominations of say£10. This would give supporters a flying start in purchasing a ST, also, those who have bought vouchers would feel obliged to buy a ST whatever the performance of the team.

Does that make sense? blink.gif  huh.gif

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A rolling season ticket on permanent DD would have a similar effect TD. People would hopefully already have always paid for part of it, (or even not know exactly where they stand tongue.gif ) thereby reducing any incentive to give it up.

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