The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) has criticised the club for its decision to remove the full coach subsidy for domestic away travel.
Chelsea announced on Monday that they had “made the difficult decision to remove the coach subsidy for domestic away travel”. Coaches will still be provided for selected games for both the men’s and women’s teams, with the cost of coach travel announced when tickets go on sale.
The first coach offered was for Chelsea’s trip to Bournemouth on September 17. This would have cost £29 ($36) per person, however, the CST agreed to subsidise this game for anyone who wants to travel, making the fare £10.
Chelsea added that “it was not financially sustainable to continue to offer subsidised coach travel” and that from their away fixture against Burnley, supporters will be advised of the coach cost when it goes on sale.
CST said the “appalling decision will force those who rely on the service to pay significantly more to travel to away fixtures”.
The decision comes just weeks after Chelsea broke the British transfer record after signing Moises Caicedo from Brighton & Hove Albion for £115m. That beat the record they broke initially when they bought Enzo Fernandez in the January transfer window from Benfica for £106m.
Despite recouping around £270m this summer by selling players such as Kai Havertz, Mount and Mateo Kovacic, the west London club have spent more than £900m in three transfer windows since the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital takeover.
The CST statement read: “Despite representations from The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) and coach users, Chelsea FC has unfortunately decided that maintaining the £10 subsidy is not ‘financially sustainable.’ It is important to note that this decision was made in the same year that the club broke the transfer record twice. It is widely rumoured that the coach subsidy budget was approximately 250k.
“Earlier this month, The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust met with club officials in response to online rumours that the coach subsidy would be removed for the 2023-24 season. Chelsea FC clarified that at the time a decision had not been made but confirmed that they were evaluating the subsidy budget.
“During the meeting, The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust made representations to the club. The Trust stated that removing the subsidy entirely would adversely impact the following user groups (not exhaustive): Young supporters, supporters who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters, people who are unable to drive due to cost or medical conditions, supporters who are ambulant disabled, supporters who require to be dropped off very close to the stadium, vulnerable supporters, supporters who rely on this affordable mode of transport to support the club.”
In addition to consulting with the fan advisory board, Chelsea also canvassed views from supporters’ groups and coach users, who were encouraged to contact the club via supporters’ groups and share their thoughts.
“The overwhelming majority of respondents who rely on the service communicated to the club that the coach subsidy must remain in some way and that removing it entirely would outprice supporters and would have disastrous consequences,” The CST statement added.
“Despite the significant feedback from the CST and coach users, the club has subsequently decided that maintaining the subsidy is not financially sustainable. On Friday, the CST again met with the club to communicate that at a time when they should be taking active steps to make football affordable for more people, the decision to remove the subsidy in full is totally unacceptable. This decision also contradicts the commitment to inclusivity that the club guaranteed during takeover discussions held last Spring.
“It appears that during a cost-of-living crisis, Chelsea FC are happy to increase the financial burden on many supporters by penny-pinching.”
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