It’s been a busy and eventful few months for the Trust which culminated in winning the award with the Club at the Football Business Awards for the best relationship between a football club and a supporters group.
The Football Business Awards established this category, which was sponsored by national fans’ group Supporters Direct, to recognise the importance of dialogue between clubs and their supporters.
This award celebrated the strong working relationship that has developed between the Club and the Trust during four years of monthly meetings between the parties that culminated in the signing of English football’s first memorandum of understanding between a club and their Trust last December.
We are lucky that we continue to have monthly meetings with the CEO and other senior figures – this is a rare arrangement in the footballing world and is something we should treasure. However, as ever, this does not mean we will all agree on everything! I mentioned last time that we continue to discuss the ticket prices for supporters. There has been a growing rumble of discontent from fans since then as prices get released. The Club argues it needs to be self-sufficient and that it is not experiencing problems selling tickets this season. There is also caution that a decision to bring down the price of match day tickets would potentially see pressure to increase season ticket prices. We have voiced concern about the long-term impact of such high pricing potentially pricing out previously loyal supporters who have a lower level of disposable income. Discussions continue.
We have re-opened the discussion on number of season ticket upgrades allowed per season and pointed out that the Club’s current policy is losing them revenue. The Trust has shared extensive research on the policies of other Clubs in the Premier League and tabled a formal request for the current cap to be increased from two evening games to a higher number. This is being considered.
Following several unsavory incidents at away games, the Trust held discussions with the Club who agreed to introduce non-standing seats for the away game at Chelsea. The Trust and the Club will monitor progress but this should at least allow those who struggle to stand for 90 minutes an opportunity to watch the game safely and unobstructed.
The Trust continues to reiterate the fans’ disapproval of the current system for away ticketing, with a lack of a pick your own seat option, run by Ticket Master. As always the problems lay with the Ticket Master software. The current Ticket Master contract runs for another season after this one. Let us hope we move elsewhere once that contract is up.
We keep pushing for news on the Riverside Stand. The Club has now selected a lead contractor and is working with that contractor on the specifics of the proposals going forward. The lead contractor will be announced in December. The preferred lead contractor’s role covers approximately 40 per cent of the project, with sub-contractors envisaged to cover the remainder. The next phase of the scheme will be to complete tendering by the Club and the lead contractor for the various subcontracted elements of the build. The Club is still planning to knock down the existing Riverside Stand when this season finishes and work to a two-year schedule for the building of the new stand. It remains the Club’s intention to stay at Craven Cottage for the duration of the project.
The Club is looking for ideas for the new stand and indeed a working group of Trust directors and members met with David Daly to discuss ideas on how to celebrate our history and heritage within the new stand. It was a good brainstorming session and more meetings will follow before we make a formal proposal to the Club.
There was a bit of a shock to the system when our owner decided he was going to buy Wembley and looked like he would be successful. We of course quickly and publically reaffirmed our position in that Fulham must not leave the Cottage permanently under any circumstances. The Owner and the Club insisted that the move would not affect Fulham in any way, However, this ended up not being tested as Khan withdrew his bid once he realised that there would be many dissenting voices. We as ever remain vigilant on safeguarding the Cottage.
The Trust also brought the nationwide On the Ball campaign, designed to encourage clubs to provide free female sanitary products at football matches, to the attention of the Club and suggested that Fulham should sign up. Following a discussion at the September monthly meeting, the Club announced that they would be immediately joining the On the Ball campaign. An excellent result.
We do of course discuss the playing side and released a statement on our disappointment to see Slav leave and our gratitude for what he had achieved in his time with us.
On a lighter – but still important – note, the Trust sponsored the TOOFIF30 book launch on behalf of this mag’s editor. Hopefully he enjoyed it and will reflect that in this edition! It was an excellent event with over 80 people attending the launch at the Duke’s Head in Putney (procured for us by the shrewd Alan Smith). An excellent Q&A with Tom Greatrex and David himself was followed by a panel discussion with Dean Jones, Dave Kidd, Simon Morgan, Les Strong and David Daly. Chaired expertly by Mr Smith. A real entertaining night that we were proud to sponsor. Now buy the book if you haven’t already – it really is an incredible tome of Fulham’s last 30 years.
There is still a lot to do and we continue to work hard for all our supporters.
In August a new Board was elected. Board members (with main job roles) are:
Tom Greatrex (Chair), Gerry Pimm (Secretary), Owen Smith (Treasurer), Sue Couch (Membership Secretary), Ian Clarke (Ticketing and website), Dan Crawford (Communications), Chris Gilbertson (Riverside and residents), Les O’Gorman (History), Archie Rhind-Tutt (International and Communications)