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7 STARS SPORTS BAR UPDATE

25 July 2016

Following changes to the 7 Stars Sports Bar entry policy, Paul Barber has provided the following background on why and how this decision was made.


Following changes to the 7 Stars Sports Bar entry policy, Paul Barber has provided the following background on why and how this decision was made.

Unfortunately, it is not viable for us to continue to run the 7 Stars Sports Bar as a free-to-access stadium facility. Very few football clubs offer fans free access to lounges of this quality but we were happy to provide free access for quite a long period to see if we could make it work.

   

. Alongside our executive management team, I have a responsibility to reduce this deficit and, in particular, to reduce the burden on Tony.Tony Bloom is funding losses in excess of £1.5m per monthLooking at the club's wider finances, our latest accounts will show that our chairman

   

In addition to a very poor financial return from the sports bar, access to the 7 Stars has at times also created tensions between our own supporters, with some families with young children disputing the validity of other families with older children using it on days when they couldn't get in, whilst others resented all adult groups using the facility. Often stewards have borne the brunt of these frustrations with the current entrance policy, amongst other issues.

   

We clearly don't want confrontations between fans or with our staff, and certainly not at the entrance to family facility within the family area of our stadium. This was obviously never envisaged when we conceived the idea of a family sports bar.

   

In reality, Seven Stars worked for a relatively small number of people, with less than 0.7% of our matchday attendance able to access the bar. It didn't work for many other supporters. Also, there is no evidence to suggest that it helped to encourage a younger fan base to the stadium in the way, or anywhere near the level, we'd hoped which is a shame.

   

For a family bar, the ratio of adults to children was too often disproportionately in favour of adults; despite this, food and beverage sales were low and, understandably, consumption of soft drinks was high. This meant that the average spend per head was the lowest in the stadium.

   

With the club only receiving a percentage of bar and catering revenue but carrying all costs (except catering staff), it meant the club simply couldn't recover its own initial investment or generate a reasonable ongoing return without significant change to the way the bar operates.

   

To have continued with a facility that wasn't paying its way would have meant 99.3% of fans - and the chairman - subsidising the very small minority of fans who were benefiting. As as a club we don't consider such a scenario to be fair or reasonable. We also have to consider that nearly 3,000 1901 Club members pay for their right to use a similar lounge facility.


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So, our executive team discussed at length the various options for 7 Stars, and reached a conclusion that the best way forward is to offer the bar as a members' area. This decision was then presented to the club's board securing the support and approval of the directors.

   

Moving forward, guaranteed access to the lounge will be to members only, with a seasonal fee of £250 per membership. This will be payable either in one lump-sum or by Direct Debit installments, and further information on this will be announced next week.

   

Members will benefit from the following:

   

- Lounge access available from 12pm until 7.30pm on Saturday matches (before and after the match), and from 5pm until 11pm for midweek fixtures

- Big screens showing all Premier League and EFL fixtures during opening hours, plus selected other sporting events

- Lounge host, will hold pre-match Q&A with an ex-Albion player and members' quiz, with matchday spot prizes

- Free pool and football table, with matchday competitions for members

- Pay bar serving a wide range of alcoholic and soft drinks, hot drinks, and a kiosk-style bar menu

- Complimentary matchday programme

- Relaxed dress code, allowing trainers and replica shirts to be worn

- Ability to retain their regular season ticket anywhere in the stadium and have access to the lounge

   

In addition, and subject to availability, we will be making available a small number of matchday memberships with a £12 per game entry fee, enabling members to bring guests or other supporters to sample the lounge as they wish at different points in the season. Matchday memberships must be purchased in advance online or from the ticket office (there will be no sales on the door of the 7 Stars).


I appreciate that our decision won't appeal to all, especially those who benefited from the facility free of charge for close to two and a half years, but we are looking at other ways to improve the family offering within the fanzone and family stand to encourage fans to arrive early and stay later (in all weathers).

   

For adults we will continue to offer free entry, on a first-come, first-served basis, into Dick's Bar, pre and post match.


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