Trust Meeting with Fulham FC, August 2015
On 4th August2015 at 10.30, three of the Trust Board (Dan Crawford, Mike Gregg and Neil Springate) met with Sarah Brookes (SB, Communications and Marketing Director), Mike Rigg (MR, Chief Football Officer) and Darren Preston (DP, Chief Operating Officer) from Fulham FC at the Club’s headquarters, Motspur Park.
1) Ticketing and related matters
The Trust had received, and had noted from various message boards, heavy criticism of the new ticketing system, operated by Ticketmaster. Season tickets had not yet been received by the majority of applicants and loyalty points had yet to be credited. SB said that problems had been encountered whilst transferring data from previous to current systems and that this had taken time to resolve. The remainder of season tickets would be dispatched, by first class post if necessary, in order to reach applicants on or before Saturday, 8 August 2015. The Club asked the Trust to forward on any contact details of members whose loyalty points had not been transferred over.
Further complaint had been received about the unavailability of seat selection for away matches and the Trust asked whether this would persist for the entire season. SB said that this was Ticketmaster’s policy, resulting from the use of other ticketing agencies by opposition clubs, but agreed to investigate the matter further with them. The Trust believed that this could have a negative effect on tickets sales for away matches, in particular for groups of fans that wished to sit together. (SB has since replied and confirmed that away seats are unable to be displayed using the system. This is the same with other clubs that use the Ticketmaster booking system for away games.)
The Trust asked whether the Club had considered using a separate Twitter feed for ticketing, as had been employed by other clubs, such as Stoke City FC. SB said this was unlikely, since incoming messages to the existing Twitter account were being monitored and replies made by customer relations staff.
2) ‘Close season’ transfer and media activity
In general, fans were pleased with the new signings and their performances in the pre-season matches and the majority were relatively optimistic for the team’s prospects for the forthcoming season, provided a couple of playing positions were strengthened. MR had attended the recent match versus Colchester United FC, where the intention was to give as many of the first team squad players as much playing time as possible before the start of the new season and to assess a pair of trialists.
MR was aware of fans’ concerns that had been raised as a result of the sale of Patrick Roberts to Manchester City FC. Whilst the Club was determined to retain the talents of promising players, there was little that could be done once a player had decided, or had been convinced, to leave. The Club needed to consider the ‘knock on’ effects of, for example, a significantly-improved contract on (a) other players’ (and their representatives), (b) the Club’s overall financial plan and constraints within Financial Fair Play regulations and (c) whether the subsequent playing performances would justify the bettered conditions. He considered that the large sums of money being offered to younger players were having a negative effect on t heir development and longer-term career prospects.
MR believed that the best balance of players for the team was more important than paying excessive amounts for notionally highly-rated players. However, the Club was targeting named individuals rather than contacting agents and enquiring of their available clients in specific positions on the pitch. MR would prefer that the transfer ‘window’ would end before the first competitive match.
During the close season, MR thought that manager Kit Symons had done well in accommodating new players and that concentrated periods of training and matches in the training camps held in Portugal and Austria had been a success.
3) Team strip and shirt sponsors
The first and second team’s kit would be those as used in the friendly matches on 1st August 2015, versus Crystal Palace and Colchester United FCs. SB said that once all the relevant paper work had been signed off with the new sponsor that the Club’s shirts would go on sale straight away
4) Ground redevelopment
Club CEO, Alistair Mackintosh (AM) had attended the meeting very briefly, but only to offer his apologies since he was needed elsewhere. The Trust attempted to discuss the redevelopment of the Riverside Stand and issues with other stands, but SB said that it would be better to contact AM directly on these matters.
5) Johnny Haynes Café
SB said that the café was being refurbished in its entirety, with completion scheduled before the first home match versus Brighton & Hove Albion FC on 15.viii.2015. it was also noted that the temporary signage outside would be changed by match-day.
6) Proposed social event at FFC
The Trust followed up last month’s proposal of an informal ‘meet the players and manager’ social event, to be held at Craven Cottage. This would be a ticketed event with proceeds going toward the Fulham Foundation or a named charity. This had been agreed in principle by AM, and SB suggested that it would be better held once the busy August schedule of six matches had been completed.
Meeting closed at 11.35