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Woodland Lounge

I was shocked to learn from a fellow Woodlander a couple of days ago that the lounge used for a quarter of a century by (predominantly) more elderly long-standing supporters is being transformed into an expensive (£2000 per season) hospitality area. A fellow member has just forwarded me a copy of an email dated 28 August setting out details and purporting to have been sent to all members. Well, I certainly didn’t receive it and another fellow member who only receives hard copy was also totally in the dark.

The email sets out proposed alternative arrangements but, with five weeks having elapsed, I am probably too late to be considered for them.

Not happy.

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Comments

  • I spotted this on the Gasman's twitter account a couple of weeks back. He'd picked out the response: "Packages to match all pockets are available around the ground."

    Aside from being an eye-watering price, it seemed a strange marketing priority at a time when nobody is getting into any part of the ground in any event. Why piss loyal customers off until you really need to?

    👍 👎 ( -1 )
  • I believe they've been moved over to the old Honours Lounge on the other side of the ground

    Nice and convenient

  • @micra, I am one of those affected, unable to afford the £2000, I have now moved my seat to the other side, in the PreSonus stand, and taken out Honours membership.

    We had been a table of ten in the Woodlands Lounge, going back many years together. Now some of us have opted for a seat in FA Upper, some in PreSonus, but those with mobility problems will still be allowed to sit outside of Woodlands Lounge. We are all gutted to be splitting up and moving out of our 'second home'.

    Lower car park passes are unlikely to be available any more as well, upper ones are on sale until 1 November apparently. I can't see the point of buying one of those at the moment.

    I did receive Neil Peters email of 28 August. He said that the Trust fully backed these changes.

    To be fair to the club, hospitality prices at other Championship clubs are in this price range, but now is not the best of times to be introducing it, and I'm not clear who they think will buy at this price. On a comparable day rate, perhaps visiting fans from some of the London or bigger clubs will buy.

  • “Gutted to be split up” says it all @Steve_Peart. End of a great era in that respect and it puts an additional damper on what looked like being one of the most exciting seasons in the 52 years I’ve been a fan.

    The disconnect been those proposing the changes and those of us who have been there in the Woodland Lounge from the start is strangely unnerving. Since I started this thread I have been in touch with a third person from our table and he too had heard nothing.

    My own mobility has become more of a problem since lockdown and I have thought about moving to the ‘landing’ outside the Woodland Lounge but then I’d really miss the 20 or so friends in rows A and B, Block Q.

    There might not be places left now in the Honours Lounge for those of us who shared a table at every home game and we’ll need to park at least 90 minutes before kick off so the only solution might be to sit in the car for an hour or so.

    👍 👎 ( -1 )
  • I’m a member and have had no communication of any changes.

    Assumed it was all on hold until fans are allowed back.

  • Does someone have a copy of the email they can share?

    Thanks

  • Here you go @PrinceOfCrowell, email from Neil Peters on 28 August (without some original formatting).

    Dear Woodlands Member

    I write to update you on the decisions we have made following the review we had undertaken with regard to different options we have for the use of the Woodlands lounge on a matchday. Whilst the final detail is to be determined in regard of a potential partner, it’s now appropriate to write to you with our plan.

    I attended a virtual Trust Board meeting this week (Tuesday), along with Rob and Pete Couhig to make sure the Trust were fully versed on out intentions and the rationale behind our plans. It was clear the Trust were appreciative of the discussions and issues we have faced this season and backed the decisions we have taken.

    I can confirm is WWFC are moving the Hospitality side of the match day experience into the Woodlands Lounge from the Honours Lounge. This will be available to seasonal and individual match day bookings and will be a superior match day experience which will come at an increased cost. The details of this offering sits at the footer of this email and I do hope that you consider this as an option.

    If you wish to continue the experience you have had over the last few years, the Honours lounge will replicate what you have been used to in the Woodlands, again details sit below. I accept the location of this bar may mean utilising the services at halftime is difficult. We have addressed this by opening the Woodlands Executive Lounge for half time tea and coffee. However, should you wish to consider moving your seat to the Beechdean Stand we are more than happy to accommodate and discuss the alternatives with you.

    In addition to the improved hospitality, we expect to offer a larger and more complete Fanzone Village as well as improved food and bar services across the stadium. I am confident we will meet our supporters needs. The Caledonian Suite will also provide food and drink as well as having a giant floor to ceiling screen to play Sky Sports & BT Sports matches both pre and post-match. There will be a match by match pass for the Caledonian of £5 but this will be exchanged for a token to spend at the bar.

    Monty’s bar will become exclusively the Player and Family’s Bar both before and after the match.

    If you have mobility issues and have already purchased tickets in the FA Stand, I can assure you we will work on a plan for you to be seated outside the Woodlands Exec lounge and be able to use this lounge to access toilet facilities. We are also currently looking at alternative solutions and plans to add a lift to the far end of the Beechdean stand are being considered.

    You may also be aware the car park remains a huge challenge for us as we have very few spaces left after enlarged playing squads, TV trucks, EFL reps and a larger Fanzone Village, coupled with the loss of spaces outside Monty’s and the Caledonian Suite due to a newly designed pedestrian thoroughfare which will make it safer for everyone. Therefore it is highly unlikely we will be in a position to sell any lower car park passes for the season ahead. Whilst this news may be disappoint, we still aim to keep the same level of disabled spaces for those with a valid Blue Badge. If you qualify, please contact us now to book. Upper car park spaces will go on sale in early September and an announcement will be forthcoming. We will create a drop off point within the lower car park for those who cannot walk far. We are also speaking to a number of local partners regarding a couple of Park and Ride services which should help congestion.

    We do not know when these plans will truly kick in as we still do not know when fans will be allowed within the stadium and again within the stadium rooms. I will keep you all informed of this as and when we are aware.

    If you do wish to register your interest for either of the options below please make Josh Easterbrook aware via email in the first instant [email protected]

    Honours Lounge – Limited to 80 guests (subject to Covid-19 Regulations)

    Package A: Seasonal Membership 23 League games, plus all cup matches, excluding Premiership opposition

    Access to Hounors Lounge pre-match, half-time and post-match.
    Food available to purchase within lounge
    Use of Bar, pre match, half-time and post-match
    Tea and Coffee available to purchase at half-time
    Team Sheets provided pre-match

    • Member of playing staff will attend pre-match for Q&A
      Screens playing pre-match entertainment
      Price: £200

    Suggested but not enforced Season Ticket holders will be placed in Beechdean stand above.

    Member of playing staff may be Staff member such as Squad member, Team nutritionist, Doctor, Coach, Director

    Package B: Match-day Membership (subject to availability) – 1 game (excludes ticket)

    Access to Honours Lounge pre-match, half-time and post-match.
    Food available to purchase within lounge
    Use of Bar, pre match, half-time and post-match
    Tea and Coffee available to purchase at half-time
    Team Sheets provided pre-match

    • Member of playing staff will attend pre-match for Q&A
      Screens playing pre-match entertainment
      Price: £10

    WOODLANDS LOUNGE

    Package A: Season Membership - 23 home league matches (includes season ticket)

    Access to Lounge pre-match, half time and post-match.
    Premium Buffett (available between set time frame)
    Unlimited Drinks
    Tea and Coffee at half time
    Use of free bar at half-time
    Pre-Match visit from 2 – 3 players and Q&A
    Screens playing pre-match entertainment
    Man of the Match award completed in the Lounge
    Price: £2,000 per season

    Average per match £86.95 per match

    Players will not be players featuring within the match

    Package B: Season Membership - 23 home league matches

    Access to Lounge pre-match, half time and post-match.
    Premium Buffett (available between set time frame)
    Unlimited Drinks
    Tea and Coffee at half time
    Use of free bar at half-time
    Pre-Match visit from 2 – 3 players and Q&A
    Screens playing pre-match entertainment
    Man of the Match award completed in the Lounge
    Price: £120 per match

    Price for existing Season ticket holders: £90 per match

    This message has gone out to each Woodlands member from 2019-20 who I have detail for. With limited resource I am not able to clarify if this list is exhaustive of all members. As a result I may have missed ta few and would welcome you to forward to any Woodlands member you may have details for who have not received this email today.

  • Never received the e-mail either and my table of 8 of over 15 years (and longer) loyal support is gone forever. Why oh why was this not communicated properly?

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  • I was a member of the Woodlands Lounge from the start and eventually took in my grandchildren. In Andrew Howard's time the price zoomed up one season and would have cost me c £600 for the 3 of us so I didn't renew. So there has always been change and we have to make our choices based on our circumstances at the time. Very few things are forever.

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  • @woodlands said:
    I was a member of the Woodlands Lounge from the start and eventually took in my grandchildren. In Andrew Howard's time the price zoomed up one season and would have cost me c £600 for the 3 of us so I didn't renew. So there has always been change and we have to make our choices based on our circumstances at the time. Very few things are forever.

    Change can be rationalised. Its the dismal lack of communication that concerns me

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  • Dear all. I read with interest the posts and fully understand your comments. I'm sure, like everybody you will understand I have made decisions based on a number of factors. I stand by these but not without understanding this does have an impact on a number of loyal supporters.

    The Woodlands is without doubt the best room in the stadium to spend pre and post match. It's clear we can increase our hospitality bookings by using this lounge and capitalise on the revenue to support the long term plan of becoming sustainable. To date those that have booked to be in this room has doubled the revenue made last season already. This demonstrates for commercial reasons this is the right move. The price is also lower than many clubs within League 1 and certainly the Championship for this offering.

    It seems the wider issue is communication. Frustratingly for me I inherited an incomplete list of Woodlanders. I asked Directors to update those they knew were missing and the staff in the office trawled through emails to get the most comprehensive list we could achieve. I knew we would miss some and referenced this within the email I sent. I could not send an email to a member who did not have an address on our system. Changing ticketing systems did see some data lost, email addresses do change and those previous memberships bought over the counter often did not capture all needed data. We are improving this and collating correct and needed data to correspond better.

    We do have a mix of hospitality and suite offers to stretch across all budgets. This new offer is high but pays back much needed revenue to a club who needs it. My aim was to make sure those with mobility issues were not hit by changing to seats that would be a struggle to reach. By doing this it has led to some groups being hit as seats needed to offer this solution can't not be used by those who don't require but want them.

    Change is hard but essential and I would ask all those who feel they have missed the communication to contact me at [email protected] to discuss further and to find a solution that manages your situation best.

    I appreciate the comments and urge you to believe the changes we are making are based on good thought, deep discussion and a mix of opinions from Trust to fan.

    Regards

    Neil Peters

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  • @NeilPeters: Thank you. As you will be aware from the voicemail message I left this afternoon, I was shocked to chance upon these proposals a couple of days ago in the course of a telephone conversation with a disabled fellow Woodlander on our table. The fact that most members (I assume) will have heard about the proposals five weeks ago adds insult to injury. My own situation is complicated by cardiac and mobility issues, making it difficult to know what option would suit me best and I will email you tomorrow setting out my thoughts.

  • @woodlands said:
    I was a member of the Woodlands Lounge from the start and eventually took in my grandchildren. In Andrew Howard's time the price zoomed up one season and would have cost me c £600 for the 3 of us so I didn't renew. So there has always been change and we have to make our choices based on our circumstances at the time. Very few things are forever.

    There was indeed an increase (from £90 to £120 from memory) but it was £130 last season and I was budgeting for £150 this year. That would have cost you £450 but, yes, it would be £600 (for the inferior Honours Lounge) this season.

    👍 👎 ( -2 )
  • Does anyone have a link to where the upper car park passes are on sales? I’ve had a lower car park pass for years and have had no Direct communication that this wouldn’t be available this season.

  • @micra said:

    @woodlands said:
    I was a member of the Woodlands Lounge from the start and eventually took in my grandchildren. In Andrew Howard's time the price zoomed up one season and would have cost me c £600 for the 3 of us so I didn't renew. So there has always been change and we have to make our choices based on our circumstances at the time. Very few things are forever.

    There was indeed an increase (from £90 to £120 from memory) but it was £130 last season and I was budgeting for £150 this year. That would have cost you £450 but, yes, it would be £600 (for the inferior Honours Lounge) this season.

    @micra how are you? The problem at the time was that there was no charge for my gc until the fee increased then I had t pay full whack for them. My memory is not what it was but I thought the hike was a lot more than that I don't remember it being £90 I thought it was less that. But no matter . Keep well.

  • Gotcha @woodlands. We’re keeping well, thanks. My problem has been nervousness about going for walks because of the heart problem and that translates into wastage of already indifferent muscle power! Apart from that, we’ve been very lucky.

  • @NeilPeters said:

    Change is hard but essential and I would ask all those who feel they have missed the communication to contact me at [email protected] to discuss further and to find a solution that manages your situation .....

    .....The Woodlands is without doubt the best room in the stadium to spend pre and post match. It's clear we can increase our hospitality bookings by using this lounge and capitalise on the revenue to support the long term plan of becoming sustainable. To date those that have booked to be in this room has doubled the revenue made last season already. This demonstrates for commercial reasons this is the right move. The price is also lower than many clubs within League 1 and certainly the Championship for this offering.

    Well done Neil and the team.
    We have struggled for years financially and now it is time for the club to behave off field to the same level as Gaz has achieved onfield.
    To thrive we have to make serious money and to do this we must ‘sweat the assets’. We are a Championship club so we must function as one.
    The reality is that a premium table in the best hospitality position in the ground can not be permitted, for nostalgic reasons, to fail to maximise its revenue potential. There would lie economic suicide and a dereliction of duty by the new management team. So we move on. We make money and do all we can to not let the playing side of the club down.
    I cannot imagine that any true Chairboy would allow their personal preference to suppress the financial opportunity this season hopefully presents?
    Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps some yearn for a season back in the Isthmian League where we would now be playing Brightlingsea Regent? I for one however look forward to us hosting two times European Champions Nottingham Forest.
    I guess it’s just a matter of where your horizons and aspirations lie.

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  • I imagine that this sort of package might appeal to local business owners. Taking a different client to a game every couple of weeks and putting it down as a business expense might make sense for some companies.

  • @NeilPeters said:
    To date those that have booked to be in this room has doubled the revenue made last season already. This demonstrates for commercial reasons this is the right move.

    @NeilPeters, well done on doubling revenue. Presumably you are comparing to lounge membership sales plus season ticket sales last season.

    I don't understand how the club can have a list of Woodlands Lounge members, which we see every time we enter, and not be able to match it to the list of season ticket holders, which will have as a minimum an address, maybe a phone number as well. A change as important as this needs communicating in a letter as well.

    I know you are under huge pressure from the Couhigs to increase sales, I seem to remember Rob saying he wanted something like a a three or fourfold increase. There is always a danger of becoming obsessed with spreadsheet bottom lines, and forgetting that this club has many loyal supporters who have been contributing much time and money to the club over many years, decades even. They are a big pool of advice and goodwill, but I must admit my goodwill is a little diminished at the moment. The club should take the trouble to find out more about them, as a minimum finding how long they have been coming. Nothing is forever but regular supporters are creatures of habit, they get used to going with the same family members or friends, sit in the same seats, eat the same food, imbibe the same drink. Any enforced change to that routine needs handling more carefully than it has been this time.

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  • Neil Thank you for taking the time to respond and sharing your thoughts.I fully understand the commercial logic of what has been proposed and have no gripe at all here. However, I would have thought that the most comprehensive list of e mails was the ones used for the purchase of season tickets as all the woodlands members are season ticket holders. As for names, each member is checked off as they enter the premises. A simple match of both would have most likely solved the issue. It is what it is and we must move on, but if the club is to retain good fan relations among some of its most loyal and long standing supporters i just feel that communication lessons need to be taken on board. I am sure that you will do this given your comments above

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  • @perfidious_albion said:

    @NeilPeters said:

    Change is hard but essential and I would ask all those who feel they have missed the communication to contact me at [email protected] to discuss further and to find a solution that manages your situation .....

    .....The Woodlands is without doubt the best room in the stadium to spend pre and post match. It's clear we can increase our hospitality bookings by using this lounge and capitalise on the revenue to support the long term plan of becoming sustainable. To date those that have booked to be in this room has doubled the revenue made last season already. This demonstrates for commercial reasons this is the right move. The price is also lower than many clubs within League 1 and certainly the Championship for this offering.

    Well done Neil and the team.
    We have struggled for years financially and now it is time for the club to behave off field to the same level as Gaz has achieved onfield.
    To thrive we have to make serious money and to do this we must ‘sweat the assets’. We are a Championship club so we must function as one.
    The reality is that a premium table in the best hospitality position in the ground can not be permitted, for nostalgic reasons, to fail to maximise its revenue potential. There would lie economic suicide and a dereliction of duty by the new management team. So we move on. We make money and do all we can to not let the playing side of the club down.
    I cannot imagine that any true Chairboy would allow their personal preference to suppress the financial opportunity this season hopefully presents?
    Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps some yearn for a season back in the Isthmian League where we would now be playing Brightlingsea Regent? I for one however look forward to us hosting two times European Champions Nottingham Forest.
    I guess it’s just a matter of where your horizons and aspirations lie

    Was waiting for the Isthmian League to be mentioned here

    👍 👎 ( 1 )
  • A real shame for those who are being displaced and the contact details issue needs to stop being a thing soon too, that has gone on too long, would say though this is probably right from a hospitality point of view for special occasions or sponsors as I was really underwhelmed with the offering in the one occasion I used it. The smaller lounge in the main stand has no view, no real atmosphere and whilst you can hear rumbles of noise and excitement from outside or the vere it seemed a bit dull and cut off, it also didn't help that you knew there was a beer Festival in the next room but only had limited offerings where you are eating. With the views, photo ops with players and the pitch in the background and wider facilities it should be a good money spinner for the club as opposed to the old hospitality setup which seemed to need constant discounts and was just regulars getting a meal in. Hopefully this means that the boxes are expected to be well used as well should we ever be let back in.
    Longer term the Vere could probably do with being expanded but I'm not sure how likely that is with the car park issues described above.

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  • @perfidious_albion: From a business point of view, of course what is proposed makes complete sense and something which will bring in a quarter of a million pounds a season is clearly a no-brainer. The point I and others have been making relates to the seemingly cavalier treatment of longstanding fans, a great many of whom have been members of the Woodland Lounge for over two decades.

    @North_of_the_Border’s post at 11.18 am is spot on with regard to the shortcomings of the way in which this has been handled so far and I hope, as he suggests, that lessons have been learned. Priority has to be given to ensuring that each and every existing member is made aware of the proposals and the alternative arrangements that are (or perhaps were at this stage) available to them.

    👍 👎 ( -2 )
  • @perfidious_albion No one's complaining about the club maximising revenue streams are they? But surely it's concerning that a number of our less mobile and long time supporters are being displaced, and that some of them are only finding out second or third hand. If we're being provided Championship football and Championship hospitality shouldn't we expect Championship communication?

    👍 👎 ( 1 )
  • @micra
    Might need your exemplary linguistic skills to work out what the below line meant! :)

    "By doing this it has led to some groups being hit as seats needed to offer this solution can't not be used by those who don't require but want them."

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  • Easy to be wise after the event of course but surely there's a huge crossover between Trust members and Woodlands Lounge members? And the trust's contact list must be more exhaustive after the work they did to update it ahead of the big vote

    Should it have been beyond them to send out a mail to Trust members saying look, this is happening and some of you may be affected and won't have heard about it. Please get in touch and we'll put you in touch with the right people. Also if you know anyone who's not a Trust member but affected by this can you please let them know?

    Seems like the Trust's contribution to this entire process had been simply to wave it through (I say "the Trust", I mean Trust directors, Trust members were not consulted, or at least the membership as a whole was not)

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  • @perfidious_albion said:

    Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps some yearn for a season back in the Isthmian League where we would now be playing Brightlingsea Regent? I for one however look forward to us hosting two times European Champions Nottingham Forest.

    Its been all downhill ever since we haven't been able to able to change ends at half time (via a quick pint in the Blues Club)

    👍 👎 ( 1 )
  • @Malone said:
    @micra
    Might need your exemplary linguistic skills to work out what the below line meant! :)

    "By doing this it has led to some groups being hit as seats needed to offer this solution can't not be used by those who don't require but want them."

    An absolute classic @Malone. I turned my limited grey matter inside out reading and re-reading it but eventually (well, quite quickly actually) decided it didn’t apply to me. Probably.

    I’ve even forgotten who wrote it.

    👍 👎 ( -1 )
  • Maybe the club could invest in some golf buggies or a like to ferry the less mobile supporters down from the top car park

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