Our season ticket renewal survey conducted in the second and third weeks of July has been completed by just under 700 people which we believe represents about 8% of season ticket holders. The survey was completed by fans who read the CAS Trust website, our twitter page or subscribe to Charlton Life. (46% were members of CAS Trust). It can therefore be argued that respondents were largely people whose level of interest in CAFC is higher than the average. It should of course be noted that, with three weeks to go to the start of the season, the actual renewal percentage can only go up.
How many people have renewed?
The headline outcome is that 82% of supporters who have held a season ticket in the last three years have renewed their ticket for next season.
73% of total respondents had held a season ticket for ten years or more and, not surprisingly, the percentage of these fans renewing is higher - at 87%. These are committed long-term supporters whose renewal might almost be expected to be automatic.
The percentage of renewals drops in line with the length of holding a season ticket. Those who have had a season ticket for 3-10 years have renewed at 73%. Of those who have had one for 1-2 years, only 56% have renewed.
What are the reasons for not renewing?
There are three main types of reason for not renewing: (a) personal circumstances; (b) pragmatism; (c) dissatisfaction with the club.
Of long-term season ticket holders (over 10 years) who have not renewed, 31% give personal reasons (work; family; finances etc). 7% took the pragmatic view that they could renew in the next few weeks or pay on the day for selected games. By far the majority (62%) expressed dissatisfaction with the club. There were comments such as: "Lack of ambition"; "turnover of players and managers leads to lack of affinity"; feel detached and disengaged";
When considering all season ticket-holding respondents who have not renewed, the issue of disillusion with the club is not so important. Only 42% gave such reasons with 50% citing personal circumstances.
What could the club do to persuade non-renewers?
The majority of respondents skipped this question or answered in the negative. The only really noticeable trend in the responses was from people who said they would renew if the squad was strengthened and more ambition and clarity of vision shown by the owner.
What factors influence the decision to renew or not?
The most important factors strongly influencing the decision to renew or not were the pragmatic reasons of availability to attend games (53%) and price (42%). Only 30% cited the quality of the team and 17% the performance last season as important factors. It is interesting to note that direction of the club (38%) and stability of the club (33%) were deemed more important than performance on the pitch.
How many games do you expect to attend next season ?
Of the 18% (113 people) who have not renewed:
20% expect to attend over fifteen games
60% expect to attend between five and fourteen
20% expect to attend less than five games
How many games would you attend at The Olympic Stadium to see West Ham in the Premier League if Charlton were still in The Championship?
There was a resounding show of loyalty about this with 89% saying they would not attend any West Ham games at the Olympic Stadium. 9% would attend between 1-4 games. Less than 1% said they would attend more than 10 games. While this is encouraging, the real concern about cheap football at The Olympic Stadium largely concerns Charlton's potential fans rather then current supporters.
How concerned are you about difficulties Charlton will face to grow their supporter base in the light of West Ham's move to The Olympic Stadium?
There is not at present a great deal of concern about this among our respondents. 17.5% were very concerned; 38% fairly concerned; 30% not very concerned; 14% not at all concerned.
An 82% renewal rate seems a healthy figure given that changes of circumstances will always force some people to change their behaviours. The club have said that sales are up on this time last year so there must also be an encouraging number of new season ticket purchasers.
All those people not renewing expect to attend some games, although the 20% who will see less than five games could be said to be almost lost by the club.
If we can take our sample as representative it would appear that about 1500 people have not yet renewed for the forthcoming season. About half of these will have chosen not to renew because of their personal circumstances. This leaves about 650-700 people who are not renewing because they are disillusioned about the club. Most of these people are long-term season ticket holders. If most of them continue to attend the majority of games then the effect on attendances will be slight. However, holding a season ticket also has a symbolic value and there is a danger that, as casual supporters, they will gradually lose the habit of attending. It is encouraging that sales to new people have increased but we note that this will not necessarily build a new supporter base as renewal by short-term holders is only 56%.
Among Charlton season ticket holders there is at present little appetite to cross the river to watch Premier League football at The Olympic Stadium. Although there is some concern about the implications for building Charlton's fan base, there is no evidence to say that Charlton supporters on the whole are very concerned about this at the moment.