Colchester United Chairman Robbie Cowling has made the following statement concerning match attendance during the 2020/21 season.
My statements are coming thick and fast at the moment.
I normally update you on a number of club matters and so far, most of them have been less than positive during the pandemic.
So it’s quite refreshing to be updating you on our truly positive plans to re-open the stadium on matchdays and to explain how you can buy tickets to attend those matches.
Finding a safe and viable solution has been far from easy and it may take you a couple of reads of this statement before you fully understand what we have put in place.
Our solution is extremely robust and first and foremost, it will make visiting the stadium safe. I don’t believe any part of it is more complicated that it needs to be.
What became clear to us was that given the circumstances, our standard ticketing products were all unsuitable.
Therefore we have devised a new product that is specifically designed to be more flexible so that it can cope with the demands of the Covid-19 restrictions which may change at any time and with very short notice.
We have also made some dramatic changes to the stadium to make sure that we can comply with the regulations that have been laid down by the various governing bodies.
Therefore, to help you decide if you want to attend a game, I will start by providing a quick explanation as to what you can expect to find if you do come to a game this season.
One major difference for the foreseeable is that no away fans will be allowed to attend the stadium. This means all sections of the stadium can be used for Colchester United supporters.
The following image shows a birds-eye view of the stadium.
The areas shaded in green are areas we have created outside of the North, East and South stands to expand the limited space we have in the concourses, and the white areas inside them are social distancing boxes where you will be able to stand with other members of your bubble.
As it currently stands, football fans can’t drink alcohol in sight of the pitch so anyone who wants to enjoy a beer will not be able to do so from the safety and comfort of their seat.
Hopefully, that rule will be relaxed whilst away fans are not going to matches because your seat will be the best place to remain if we are to ensure we don’t contribute to any future rises in infections.
Although season tickets are normally transferable, these are not normal times and to comply with the track and trace rules, all tickets this year must be used by the person they are issued to.
Please note that all attendees must have photo-id on them at all times when they are attending a game.
Before every game, attendees will receive clear instructions on when to arrive, where to enter and how to use the stadium once they are inside.
Entrance to the stadium will be via the appropriate corner gates marked as ‘Entrances’ on the above plan - not the usual turnstiles.
Fans will be given allocated times to arrive at the stadium and they will need to queue at a relevant scanning station, where a staff member in PPE and wearing a body cam will scan their match ticket using a hand held device.
They may also need to check an attendee’s temperature and if the attendee has a high temperature then they and those they travelled in with will be denied access to the game.
Visitors to the stadium must adhere to the Government’s Covid-19 policies and in particular the needs for social distancing.
It is the visitor’s responsibility to ensure that they are familiar with the latest guidelines.
Once you are in the stadium, there will be ample signage providing directions to the various areas you need to reach such as your seat, toilets, the kiosks and where you can consume food and drink.
In the concourses, the fire doors will be open allowing the attendees to stand in the large pen that we will have created outside and these will have social distancing boxes of varying sizes marked out to allow the bubbles to stay together with safe corridors between them.
To ensure social distancing rules are adhered to whilst you watch the games, we will only allow fans to be seated in every other row and each bubble will have a 2 seat gap between them.
The following drawing shows how S1 would look with no fans. Only the rows with the grey numbered seats are usable. The blacked out seats will not be in use and the blue boxes represent steps which will be put into the place to allow fans to leave S1 without brushing past anyone from another bubble.
Because of the 2 seat gap we have to place between bubbles, we will clearly be able to sell more tickets if people attend in larger bubbles.
Therefore, we have made it simple to join an existing bubble when you buy a ticket. However, it will be your choice if you join a bubble and you will be responsible for ensuring you are adhering to the guidelines when joining a bubble.
So let’s continue by describing the products and when they will go on sale.
As I mentioned above, our standard ticketing products are all unsuitable and we have devised a new product that is specifically designed to be more flexible so that it can cope with the demands of the Covid-19 restrictions which may change at any time and with very short notice.
For this season, we can’t guarantee anyone will be able to buy a seat in their historic section of the stadium let alone the specific seat they may have sat in from the very first match at the JobServe Stadium.
In fact, it is possible that each fan could be allocated different seats game on game. This has not been introduced to annoy anyone. We appreciate some of you are creatures of habit and as soon as we can return everyone to their normal matchday rituals the better.
But for this season, it is what it is, and I would ask you all to be understanding during this difficult period.
The Covid-19 specific product will be known as a CUFC Match Permit and will only be available online unless you have a disability, in which case you will need to call the ticket office on 01206 755161 to buy your permit, or you want to buy a seat in an area reserved for the match-day hospitality packages, in which case you will need to call our sales team on 01206 752020.
Those who buy Match Permits are not issued with a physical permit but details of their permit will be displayed on their dashboard when they log in to their account on www.colutickets.com.
This product is designed to send permit holders their match tickets 24 hours before each fixture to allow for the possibility of Covid-19 restrictions forcing us to deny anyone access from specific games.
Should access be denied, we will provide alternative streamed access to the fixture via iFollow plus a partial refund to a Privilege card where required.
Exiting the stadium will also be staggered, but this will be managed on the day of a game by an announcer using the public address system.
The three versions of Match Permits we have designed are as follows:
CUFC Seasonal Match Permit
The Seasonal Match Permits will be available between the 7th September 2020 and the 4th October 2020 and will provides access (when permitted) to all 22 home league matches from the 3rd October 2020 for the 2020/21 season. We already know that the home game against Bolton on the 19th of September is going to be played behind closed doors so anyone wanting to watch this game will need to buy an iFollow Match Pass.
The permits will be priced using the 2019/20 Early Bird price for each section as a base price and then applying a 7.5% discount. To help you calulate how much it could cost, use the Early Bird Table by clicking HERE.
The sale of the Seasonal Match Permits will be prioritised as follows:
On Monday 7th September, they will be available to last season’s Season Ticket/Annual Subscription holders who will be able to buy 2 permits per season ticket.
On Thursday 10th September, they will be available to anyone with Match Credits who will be able to buy 1 permit per season ticket.
On Saturday 12th September, they will be available to anyone with at least £50 loaded on a Privilege Card who will be able to buy 1 permit per season ticket.
On Monday 14th September, they will be available on General Sale.
If access to the stadium is denied to any of the games in the 2020/21 season, an alternative streamed access to that fixture will be provided via iFollow and a partial refund will be allocated to a Privilege Card if appropriate.
To purchase your Seasonal Match Permit from September 7th, go to colutickets.com.
CUFC Multi-Match Permit
The Multi-Match Permits will go on sale from October 5th and will provide access to successive home league matches. The purchaser will have the option of purchasing all of the remaining home league fixtures or the next 5, 10 or 15. For example; if there are 19 games remaining, they can select 19, 15, 10 or 5.
The permits will be priced using the 2019/20 Early Bird price for each section as a base price. The cost of the Permit will be calculated by multiplying the Early Bird Price by the number of games selected and then applying the following discount:
1. If 5 or less games selected, 0% discount.
2. If between 10 and 6 games selected, 2.5% discount.
3. If between 15 and 11 games selected, 5% discount.
4. If more than 16 games selected, 7.5% discount.
For example, if an Adult fan purchases a CUFC Match Permit for all remaining games to sit in S1 in the South Stand and there are 21 home games remaining then they will pay £301.09 ((21 x £15.50) x 92.5%).
If access is denied to a fixture during the permit holder’s match sequence, then they will be granted access to the next home fixture at the end of their batch of games. If that is not possible because all of the fixtures for the season have been exhausted, then a refund will be allocated to a Privilege Card for the value of the denied fixtures.
To purchase your Multi-Match Permit from October 5th, go to colutickets.com.
CUFC Match Permit
The Single-Match Permits will also go on sale from October 5th. For League matches, the Single-Match Permits will be priced using the 2019/20 Advance price for each section.
For Cup matches, the prices will be those we agree with the opposition but similar to previous years for similar competitions. Unlike previous seasons, when we made all future fixtures available online, we will be limited to releasing them gradually.
If access is denied to a fixture, a refund will be allocated to a Privilege Card for the value of the denied fixture.
To purchase your Match Permit from October 5th, go to colutickets.com.
I know I’m hitting you with a lot of information and very little time but please don’t purchase before you understand this bit.
As I mentioned above, the bubble sizes are really important to us because the bigger the bubbles the less seats we have to lose to create spaces between the bubbles. We have made it easy for fans to create or join a bubble when they purchase a permit because many of you will want to purchase separately but sit together as a bubble.
Therefore, it’s vital that you know the exact name of the bubble you want to create/join when you make your purchase. We do generate bubble names when a bubble is being created but these are not exactly memorable so we have also allowed them to be edited to allow for more memorable names.
Please agree a bubble name with those that you are going to sit with and share the name between the group before you all go on to purchase.
Match Permits In General
All Match Permit sales are to be made online apart from those being purchased by disabled fans who will need to call the ticket office and those buying hospitality packages who need to call the sales office.
Every CUFC Match Permit holder will be given a priority number which will relate to the order they are purchased in. Using the priority number may come in to effect if there is a situation where the number of fans that are allowed to physically attend is less than the number of Permits sold. For example, we may sell 2,000 Match permits but have to restrict attendees for the very first game we host to just 1,000. We still don’t know these things.
Once we start hosting games, Permit Holders will be notified 48 hours prior to a fixture whether they can attend the game or not. This will have been decided by the restrictions imposed at that time and the Permit holder’s priority. If they can attend, then the following two stage process will be required before the tickets are sent to them:
An email message that contains a link to a Covid-19 notice and a questionnaire which they must complete. The notice will inform them of the current rules and guidelines for the stadium and the questionnaire will ask them questions that relate to their suitability for attending a game. For example, it will ask if they have had certain symptoms that are known to indicate they may have the coronavirus. They will need to acknowledge the notice and pass the questionnaire to progress to stage two.
An email message with their Print@Home match ticket attached and a document that will provide clear instructions on how to arrive at the stadium, use the stadium and leave the stadium. The scanners we will be using will be able to scan the tickets from a smart phone so there is no need to print the ticket if you can use this method as an alternative.
The actual seat that the fan is allocated will be done on a match by match basis and the fan might find themselves in a different seat for every game. If for any reason we have to move them to another section, and the price for a seat in that section is priced lower than what they have paid, then we will top-up a Privilege Card with the difference.
If the Permit holder is denied access to the stadium due to Covid-19 restrictions, they will be provided with an email notice explaining why they could not attend and the message will contain a method of accessing the live iFollow stream free of charge. They will also receive a top-up to a Privilege Card that is equal to the difference between the cost of their ticket and the cost of iFollow.
If the Permit holder was allowed to attend but fails stage one of the process above, then they will be sent an email notice explaining why they could not attend and the message will contain a method of accessing the live iFollow stream free of charge.
If you want buy an iFollow pass to watch any of the games, you can do so as follows:
Click HERE to access iFollow subscriptions.
Click the 'Check Availability' button at bottom of 'Match Video Pass' column.
Click 'Subscribe' for each particular match.
If you have an account already, fill in 'Payment Details' then confirm.
If you haven't already got an iFollow account, you will have to register before filling in payment details.
Please Note: If you are U18, you will need someone who is over 18 to register an account.
I must thank my staff and in particular my IT team for producing a brilliant solution to a difficult set of circumstances. Many issues were unresolved as we developed this solution and some issues still remain unresolved. For example, we only found out yesterday that free iFollow access won’t be possible if season tickets are purchased after October 4th and we still don’t know when we will be opening the stadium to supporters.
We appreciate things are not perfect and we have waited as long as we could to create an offering that is the best it can be with the position as it currently is. Your support has never been more important to Colchester United.
It’s imperative that we start to get some money into the club, so please be as supportive as you can be. I appreciate times are not easy for any of us but getting the stadium open and fans inside will feel like a massive step towards better times.
Up the U’s