Trust July meeting with Fulham Football Club
On Tuesday 25th. July, 2017, Tom Greatrex, Dan Crawford and Mike Gregg of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief Executive Officer), Casper Stylsvig (CS, Chief Revenue Officer) and Darren Preston (DP, Chief Operating Officer) from Fulham Football Club at Motspur Park.
The Trust began the meeting by thanking AM and Fulham Football Club for its help in producing the video that portrayed the structured relationship between the Club and its fans, represented by The Fulham Supporters’ Trust, at the Supporters’ Summit in Burton upon Trent earlier this month. AM congratulated Trust chair, Tom Greatrex, on his election as the new chair of Supporters Direct and apologised for not being able to attend the Summit, but expressed his delight that the video was well received and hoped that the structured dialogue could continue positively.
The Trust relayed the disappointment of some members about the late announcement of pre-season tour dates, particularly with regard to the recent mini-tour of Austria and Germany. DP expressed sympathy with supporters who were unable to travel and explained that Fulham’s participation in the Championship play-offs narrowed the window available to finalise arrangements. DP also said that the Club could not formally announce the tour until fixtures had been agreed with Fulham’s opponents and this caused a further delay. Both AM and DP expressed hope that the Club would be in a position to announce their pre-season programme earlier next summer.
CS confirmed that Fulham’s new kit would be formally unveiled on Wednesday, 26th. July, 2017.
Fulham FC TV
The Trust reported that it had received a number of questions from supporters with regard to the Club’s decision not to sign-up for the IFollow streaming package supplied by the EFL. AM confirmed that the Club would be able to offer, via its own Fulham FC TV service, live streaming of league matches to international subscribers. The only matches the Club would be unable to show via Fulham FC TV would be those chosen for broadcast by a television rights holder in a particular territory. CS and AM revealed that subscribers would be able to choose a season ticket package, individual games or discounted rates for particular matches and then this would be announced in August.
The Trust also suggested that there could be more explicit promotion of what Fulham fans would receive when they subscribe to the service on the Club’s website. Several members had been in touch to compliment the summer offering. Both AM and CS said that this option would be explored immediately.
AM said that the Club was delighted with the high level of season ticket sales for the forthcoming season and thanked the Fulham fans for their outstanding support.
CS confirmed that the Club would be issuing new season tickets to all season ticket holders and that these would arrive within the next week.
In response to ongoing queries from the Trust, CS confirmed that the Club was in the process of replacing the premium rate ticket office hotline number with a local call rate number and hoped to conclude this as soon as possible.
CS confirmed that the Club was now in the last season of their current contract with Ticketmaster and that, following up from earlier feedback submitted by the Trust, was looking to make a number of changes to way in which tickets were presented and sold online. The Trust once again asked the Club to look at the ability for supporters to select tickets at the front, middle and back of stands for away fixtures and CS confirmed that this was the subject of an ongoing discussion with Ticketmaster.
The Trust agreed to pass on the details of its discussions with fellow Trusts and supporters’ groups following the successful ticket-pricing seminar at the Supporters’ Summit and to continue discussions on this matter.
DP and AM confirmed that the Club had accepted an invitation to field an Under 21 side in this season’s Checkatrade Trophy. Fulham had been drawn in a group with Portsmouth, Crawley Town and Charlton Athletic and all their group fixtures would be away matches. Fulham’s Under 21 side will play Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Tuesday 29th. August, 2017, Charlton Athletic at The Valley on Tuesday 3rd. October, 2017 and Crawley Town on Tuesday 7th. November, 2017.
The Trust reiterated our strong reservations about the competition. AM and DP recognised these concerns and said that the Club felt the Trophy should, in theory, allow some of the Club’s Academy players experience of senior football and that the EFL had instituted a number of rule changes following last season’s experience.
Craven Cottage working group
The Trust thanked the Club for its invitation to feed into the Craven Cottage working group as detailed in the previous minutes and asked for an update on progress. CS said that the Club was proud that fans generally felt that their experience of a match at Craven Cottage was excellent, but that the Club had still identified a number of areas in which they wished to improve. The Club was now working on a number of consultations to bring forward some options that would be presented to the Club’s board.
The Club is keen for the Trust to provide input on how the fan experience can be improved at Craven Cottage, especially retaining the excellent atmosphere towards the end of the season, which Slavisa Jokanovic wishes to replicate on a regular basis. Jokanovic also wished to express his personal thanks to the supporters who had travelled to support the team away from home throughout the season and CS confirmed that the Club was investigating the best ways to make travel to and from away matches more convenient for supporters.
The Trust will be formally invited to a separate meeting to discuss their own research and feedback from supporters, once the findings from the Club’s surveys and plans had been presented to the Board.
In a response to a question from representatives of the Trust, AM confirmed that the Club was continuing to work on a final design for the redevelopment of the Riverside Stand. He revealed that chairman Shahid Khan had been in London ten days ago to examine the latest plans, and AM hoped that the Club would be in a position to go out to consultation with supporters on these proposals in October.
AM thanked the Fulham fans for their continued patience and reiterated the Riverside Stand redevelopment was intended to increase the Club’s non-match day and hospitality offer as well as solidify Fulham’s future at Craven Cottage. He confirmed that the redevelopment was not contingent on the Club playing Premier League football.
The Trust asked if the Club was reassessing its position on safe standing following the EFL’s public statement of support and the planned conversion of seated areas to safe standing at Shrewsbury Town and Northampton Town. AM confirmed that the Club was giving this further consideration and that it was now a choice open to EFL clubs. DP said that he had been to see the rail seating in operation at Celtic Park and the Club was acutely aware of Fulham fans’ affection for standing after many years of terracing at Craven Cottage. Both AM and DP confirmed that the Club would keep its position under review and consult with the Trust where they felt it necessary.
AM recognised that there had been a lot of comment from Fulham fans about the Club’s business during the summer transfer window. He welcomed the Trust’s invitation to outline the Club’s current position.
AM said the Club began its preparations for the summer by seeking to secure the future of the key performers from last season’s squad were secured. The Club was very pleased to sign Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon to long-term deals this month and this spoke to the Club’s desire to retain its strongest assets.
The head coach and coaching staff identified the areas of the squad where additional signings were necessary. AM said that the Club’s first summer signing, Marcelo Djalo, was approved by the statistical analysis system, but was heavily scouted by the Club’s own network and first team coaching staff. He said Djalo represented a small outlay in a position where the Club was short of potential first team players and that the Club was looking to sign players who would increase in value during their time at the football club. AM also confirmed that the Club was actively looking to recruit more centre halves.
AM confirmed that Fulham had returned to Ibrahima Cisse, who was a target that had been identified during the January transfer window, because it wanted to add more depth in midfield. Cisse was comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder or in a more orthodox midfield role and the management team was impressed with the start he had made during pre-season.
The Club were very pleased to be able to re-sign Lucas Piazon on a season-long loan. Slavisa Jokanovic had felt that Piazon had made a significant contribution last season and that he would be a first-team option who would be able to provide cover in a number of positions.
AM also confirmed that the Club was continuing to look for strikers to supplement the first team squad. A number of the Club’s long-term targets had not signed for other sides and discussions were ongoing. AM also said that Slavisa Jokanovic’s preferred system allowed for flexibility in the type of striker used – the head coach was pleased with the way the likes of Floyd Ayite and Neeskens Kebano performed in the second half of the season and, it could be argued, that they were more effective than the traditional type of forward, such as Chris Martin. AM said the Club was keen to keep to sensible business principles in the transfer market and that the head coach agreed with this approach.
In a response to a question from the Trust, AM discussed Scott Malone’s departure. AM felt that Malone had done terrifically well for Fulham and was very honest in saying that his dream was to play in the Premier League, so he was eager to accept Huddersfield’s offer when it was put to him. AM said that the deal was considered a very good one for Fulham, in particular following Ryan Sessegnon’s emergence into the first team, and that Malone left the Club with everyone’s best wishes.
AM also said that it, whilst he was saddened by the departure of Lasse Vigen Christensen, it was felt it was the right time for him to move on. Both the player and head coach had accepted that there was little chance of him getting first-team football with Fulham and, despite a successful loan spell with Burton Albion, there was no Championship interest in his services. AM said that Christensen was a model professional and the Club wished him the very best in his future career.
AM acknowledged that there was some debate about how large a squad Fulham should operate with in the Championship. He tended to feel that the Club should have at least two senior professionals in each position and wanted to retain the pathway for the Club’s best young players to make an impact in the first team. The Club was delighted to secure the signature of Tayo Edun on a long-term contract following his success at the European Under 19 Championships and AM was pleased to see the strong performances of a number of the academy players during the pre-season tours.
AM also stated that the Club’s recruitment was far from finished and that everyone was working hard to ensure Slavisa Jokanovic had all the resources he needed to sustain a promotion push during the forthcoming season.
The meeting closed at 12.00.