|FANS REPORT 2006 / 2007
Welcome to Arsenal Football Club’s Fans Report. This annual report is our way of relaying some examples of the positive work that is carried out at the Club each season.
We are particularly proud of the relationship that we have with our supporters and in this report you will hopefully find out the type of activity that you, as an Arsenal fan, can expect from the Club and how we will always do our utmost to act in the very best interests of all of our supporters.
Official Opening of Emirates Stadium
His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh officially opened Emirates Stadium on 26th October 2006. The opening included The Duke of Edinburgh meeting with Arsène Wenger and the players, as well as the Royal Party observing a coaching session on the pitch with a group of children. The event was also an opportunity for members of the general public and Arsenal supporters to meet The Duke of Edinburgh.
Also, the Club donated 60,000 red, white and orange T-shirts to celebrate the opening of Emirates Stadium. They were given to all supporters who attended the first fixture at the stadium, Arsenal v Ajax - Dennis Bergkamp testimonial, July 2006.
Charity of the Season – Willow Foundation
The Club raised over £200,000 over the course of the season for the Willow Foundation, a charity co-founded by Arsenal legend Bob Wilson and his wife Megs after the loss of their daughter Anna to cancer in 1999. Fundraising events and initiatives saw a matchday dedicated to the charity which included a donation from every matchday programme sold. Arsenal and the Willow Foundation also arranged a Charity Ball, complete with an auction, with all monies raised going to the charity. Impact Art was another initiative which saw Arsenal stars and other personalities using their sport to create a piece of art. All pieces were auctioned, again with all monies raised going to the Willow Foundation.
Local Community and Transport Communication
In anticipation of the opening of Emirates Stadium the Club embarked on a comprehensive communications campaign to its supporters to ensure a smooth transition from Highbury. Regular features appeared in the Matchday programme and on Arsenal.com, together with specific information accompanying ticket and membership collateral, detailing the most efficient transport methods and routes to Emirates Stadium.
A specific transport communication brochure was also produced for the local community to explain changes to the local transport infrastructure in order to reduce any disruption caused and to provide a point of contact at the Club for residents.
The Club’s transport consultants initiated a series of research programmes on matchdays to gain feedback from supporters travelling to Emirates Stadium. Questionnaires and surveys appeared in selected matchday programmes and on Arsenal.com, and face-to-face interviews also took place with supporters at Emirates Stadium on matchdays. The results of this research will be communicated by the end of 2007 and future strategies will be based around these results.
Local residents have also been notified of international (ie non-Arsenal) fixtures taking place, together with the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament. Information leaflets were distributed to approximately 3,000 local residents together with information being posted on a dedicated ‘local residents’ section on Arsenal.com. Local residents have also had the opportunity to enter exclusive competitions to win tickets for these ‘non-Arsenal’ matches.
The Club is proud to be working towards achieving the Intermediate Level of the Racial Equality Standard, awarded by the anti-racism organisation Kick It Out, after achieving the Preliminary Level in March 2006. As part of this, Arsenal has its own initiative named ‘Arsenal For Everyone’ which aims to celebrate diversity in all forms here at the Club. A decision was taken at Arsenal to shift the focus from ‘Anti Racism’ specifically to a theme of general diversity within this initiative. The ‘World on our Doorstep’ campaign was held earlier this year, whereby Islington school children celebrated the diverse cultures and nationalities which make up the borough in which they live. In addition, an ethnic minorities supporter representative post has been added to our supporters forum group to start in the forthcoming season. Furthermore, several ticketing initiatives have been operated to try and give under-represented groups the opportunity to attend matches at Emirates Stadium.
During the past twelve months the Disability Liaison Team (DLT) have arranged Disability Awareness Training for Heads of Department which will in time be cascaded down to other staff. The DLT helped arrange for a wheelchair accessible coach to be made available for disabled supporters travelling to the Carling Cup Final in Cardiff in February 2007, and, in May 2007 arranged a pitch side presentation to members of the Arsenal on the Move Group - a group of disabled supporters who voluntarily gave their time to attend regular meetings with officials from the Club, local authority and developers from the initial stages of planning for Emirates stadium, thereby ensuring the stadium is one of the most accessible venues in the Country. DLT staff also arranged for Christmas and End of Season social evenings for disabled supporters.
Double Club Expansion
Last season the Club’s award winning education programme – the ‘Arsenal Double Club’ celebrated a year’s success of teaching science as well as expansion in other areas; design and technology modules have also been added to the programme. Previously teaching French and German, a Spanish module has now been launched in to the ‘Arsenal Double Club’. May 2007 saw Ambassadors from France, Spain and Germany join Arsène Wenger at Emirates Stadium in celebration of Arsenal’s language modules, highlighting the work and the progress the initiative has made this year.
Arsenal has continued a strong working relationship with REDaction during the first season at Emirates. During the building of the stadium Arsenal agreed to the formation of a “Singing Section” in the stadium, consisting of 550 seats in Block 6 of the lower tier. This has become known as the REDsection, and has continually provided a vibrant atmosphere throughout the many exciting games at Emirates.
The Club have worked with REDaction to make European nights especially vibrant, and showed a continued commitment to this by donating over 700 scarves to the REDsection. Arsenal has also helped REDaction to make noise on the road, when following the team all over Europe by allowing for group away ticket applications to be made. While working alongside the Box Office credit system, this allows likeminded people to join together to create a better atmosphere and get new songs going. For further details on this please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The club have helped with charity drives by donating items to be auctioned and raffles. Last season REDaction were able to raise approximately £2000 for the Willow Foundation, Arsenal’s charity of the season.
Arsenal Official Supporters’ Clubs
Groups of supporters with 50 or more fans can become officially recognised Supporters Clubs. Through this, they agree to offer a particular range and quality of services to their members and receive additional benefits from Arsenal. The Club currently has 24 Supporters Clubs in the UK, 37 in Ireland and 49 overseas.
In May 2007 many of the officially recognised Supporters Clubs were given the opportunity to play on the hallowed Emirates turf. All Supporters Clubs were asked and 27 from all corners of the world jumped at the chance. The 5 a-side competition featured four groups and games were played over six minute duration. The tournament was played in a fantastic spirit and despite the awful weather; great fun was had by all.
Charitable / Community Assistance
The Club offers support to Charities, Schools and Fundraising Organisations by sending out memorabilia which have been signed by the team. Last season over 1500 items were distributed to deserving causes. These included signed shirts, signed team photographs and signed team pennants. The Club also donates 60 match tickets each game through its wide range of community projects.
Arsenal Membership Scheme
The Arsenal membership now has over 180,000 Club members. As a result of this, the Club has surpassed Benfica’s 2006 Guinness Book of World Records entry of 161,000 paid club members. In our first season at Emirates Stadium not a single game went to general sale. Joining Red level membership is the best way for current non members to secure tickets for Arsenal games at Emirates Stadium. Over 120,000 tickets were purchased by red level members in 2006/07. Over 5,000 tickets were made available to red level members at over 60% of our league games. The Family Enclosure area now holds 4,000 members and continues to provide opportunities for adult members to attend fixtures when accompanying at least one Junior Gunner.
The Junior Gunners membership reached 30,000 members in season 2006/07. Being a Junior Gunner brings fantastic opportunities for our young supporters. Only Junior Gunners can become club mascots and ballboy / girls at the club. The Club held the Junior Gunner’s ballboy / girl trials over the summer on the pitch at the Emirates, giving over 100 Junior Gunner’s the opportunity to test their catching skills on the hallow turf.
Islington Primary Schools Attendance Programme
In 2005/06 Islington Primary Schools came bottom in a National league table of children’s attendance. As part of subsequent drive to address the problems the Club teamed up with the education department, CEA@Islington, and came up with an innovative scheme to support and encourage pupils to raise their levels of attendance. A number of incentives were provided by the Club such as match tickets, Emirates Stadium tours, prizes and a sticker book reward system. The pilot scheme was successful and is due to be rolled out across all Islington Primary schools during this academic year.
Arsenal Sport & Learning Programme
In sharing the concern for pupil’s attendance levels, the Club has also been actively trying to re engage young people that have dropped out of education. The Arsenal Sport & Learning Programme has successfully worked with over 80 Year 11 pupils during the past five years that have become disengaged with mainstream education. It offers a full time alternative to school and uses sport and the attraction of Arsenal as way of building pathways back to study. From the 12 students that were part of last year’s group; 10 achieved 1 GCSE and 8 of these students achieved 2 GCSE’s in Maths and English; along with a host of other qualifications including City & Guilds, IT, Citizenship and First Aid.
Barclays Spaces for Sports
As well as the significant regeneration in Islington that has been brought about with the stadium relocation, the Club has also been able to help lever funding for a number of football facilities in the Borough of Islington. The Barclays Spaces for Sports funding (£600,000) has seen the facility at Rosemary Gardens transformed from an under used casual recreational space to a unique artificial football pitch. The facility will also be used as a second site to house the successful Arsenal Kickz project.
Dennis Bergkamp Pitch
The Arsenal Kickz programme at Elthorne Park began in September 2006. Very quickly young people attending the project began to engage in the football activities that are delivered four nights a week. To complement the Kickz programme, Arsenal in the Community directed £60,000 (kindly donated by Dennis Bergkamp from his testimonial held at the Emirates Stadium) which will be used to provide an artificial football pitch in the middle of the park. This funding has been a catalyst for a further £60,000 from Islington Council which will enable some much needed regeneration to the wider Elthorne Park area. The work is due to begin in September 2007.
The Arsenal Positive Futures programme has developed a number of significant local partnerships such as the link with Islington’s primary housing manager, Homes for Islington (HFI). Recognising the positive impact that the estates football programme was having on local young people attending the football sessions, HFI began to invest in the project; firstly by upgrading two caged kick about areas with the latest third generation artificial surfaces, then by adding an office base on one of the estates for Arsenal Positive Futures staff and also by converting a community facility into a homework/IT classroom for the project.
Ex-Professional & Celebrity XI
The Club’s charity team continue to raise money for good causes. They always have a heavy fixture schedule that boasted in excess of 30 games last season. The team has raised around £2m since it began in 1992.
The Club continued its international brand development with several grassroots initiatives. The Club has over a dozen international soccer schools, each of which offer subsidised coaching for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Club has been particularly active in South East Asia in raising the standard of local football. In Thailand and Vietnam, partnerships with professional clubs BEC Tero Sasana and Ho Anh Gia Li respectively have significantly improved these clubs results. Long-term, the Club has invested in building academies in both countries. A high-profile talent show on Thai TV also gave the opportunity for several thousand children to be coached by Club representatives.