The Away Supporters Initiative commits Premier League clubs to spending £200,000 per club, per season on improving the match-day experience for fans travelling to away matches. Clubs have chosen to spend this money in different ways but where best practice has been observed, the money has been allocated in consultation with the fans.
The dispute that has now broken out between the Club and the Loyal Supporters Club is therefore regrettable as it perhaps could have been avoided if the Club had stuck to its original plans to hold a special ‘fans representatives meeting’ to which the LSA should expect to be invited at the start of this season to discuss how the money could be best spent.
As a supporters trust, QPR1st’s primary role is to ensure that the Club is run in the best interests of the fans and we believe that this includes establishing a constructive dialogue with the LSA as a well established and popular fans group. We do not know if it is too late to review how the funds are being spent this season but assuming that we stay in the Premier League and avoid relegation, we hope that consultation with supporters about how the money is to be spent next season takes place.
The Away Fans Fund Initiative
The Away Fans Fund Initiative came from money raised by the new TV deal which the Premier League asked Clubs to spend on improving the away fan experience both in terms of their own away fans and those visiting them. £200,000 was ring-fenced but this was intended to represent the minimum that clubs were meant to spend and they were encouraged to top up the fund from their own resources.
Below is some of the ways it is understood Clubs spent the money in the first season it was set up- mostly on subsided travel or improvements in facilities for away fans at their own stadiums. Some made reciprocal deals with other Clubs whilst Newcastle offered disabled fans free away travel. Liverpool and Manchester United are examples of clubs who spent the money based on consultation with fans groups.
QPR was of course not in the premier league at the time so this is the first season in which it has had to allocate the funds.
Arsenal= fans received a £2.50 discount on every remaining away Premier League match ticket. The club also provided away supporters with a £10 refreshments voucher at an away fixture and invested in the away end at the EmiratesAston Vila offered travelling supporters free coach travel for ten games this season.
Cardiff City subsided 30 coaches for Norwich City away so fans only had to pay £5.
Chelsea subsided travel for at least 10 away games this season including long trips to Everton, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Sunderland.
Crystal Palace and Swansea City dida reciprocal deal which meant ‘any adult ticket can be purchased at half-price with every full-price junior ticket’. The Jacks also promised to provide a free hot meal for every travelling fan at Southampton on October 6.
Fulham provided four free coaches at every Premier League away game. The club also handed out free away tickets to junior season ticket holders and members.
Hull offered free travel to away games and had nearly 30 coaches going to Everton on Saturday 19th October. The club also offered free travel to Spurs (league and cup), Southampton, Arsenal, and Swansea City.
Liverpool reduced away ticket prices by £2-£4, dependent on the opposition. The decision was taken after consultation with the club’s Supporters’ Committee.
Manchester City Half-price tickets were on onoffer to season-ticket holders at selected away games. Games wer chosen if a considerable travelling distance is involved. Work was also taken to improve the away stand at the Etihad
Manchester United consulted the Fans’ Forum and knocked £4 off the price of every away ticket bought by a United fan, starting with the Fulham game on November 2.
Newcastle United funded disabled away fan travel for the remainder of the season.
Norwich City offered ‘double discount’ for trips to both Manchester clubs. The club also laid on 25 free coaches for the trip to Hull City and offered half price tickets for Stoke City away.
Stoke City offered free coach travel to away fans for all Premier League fixtures.
Sunderland offered away tickets at certain fixtures by £10 and improved the concourse, signage and bar areas for travelling fans. The Black Cats also produced 40,000 guidebooks for visiting fans with things to see and do while in the area.
Spurs offered subsidised travel to all 14 top-flight games outside of the London area. They also refurbished areas used to accommodate visiting fans at the Lane.
West Bromwich Albion provided free coach travel for 2,000 West Brom fans at a yet-to-be-confirmed fixture. Discounted ticket offers for selected games were also made available to away fans visiting the Hawthorns. Away fans also benefited from the reduced food and drink prices in the concourses at the Hawthorns