Notes from September meeting with Fulham Football Club
On Tuesday 5 September, Tom Greatrex and Dan Crawford from the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Alistair Mackintosh (AM, chief executive officer), Casper Stylsvig (CS, chief revenue officer), Sean O’Loughlin (SOL, finance director), David Daly (DD, non-executive director), Carmelo Mifsud (CM, interim communications and media director), Jack Burrows (JB, senior marketing executive) of Fulham Football Club at Motspur Park as part of our ongoing structured dialogue.
RIVERSIDE STAND REDEVELOPMENT
AM and SOL confirmed that Fulham had been working with architectural firm Populous, who have previously worked on the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and the London Olympic Stadium amongst others, over the past few months on revisions to the design to redevelop the Riverside Stand. It is the club’s intention to begin consultation in October, including with supporters, prior to submitting any required planning application to Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Both AM and SOL told the Trust that Shahid Khan was keen to make swift progress with the Riverside Stand redevelopment to secure Fulham’s future at Craven Cottage and increase the club’s commercial and hospitality offer to supporters.
MATCHDAY EXPERIENCE AT CRAVEN COTTAGE
The Trust had previously been invited to join a working group discussing the matchday experience at Craven Cottage and how it can be improved for Fulham supporters. This initiative came directly from Slavisa Jokanovic, who wished to replicate the atmosphere from the second half of last season at each home fixture. The Trust presented feedback from our members following the opening home games of the season, with regards to pre-match and half-time entertainment, as well as the long queues to be served at the various kiosks around the ground both before kick-off, during the game and at half-time. In response, CS said he would be raising these catering and staffing issues with Delaware North and that the Club are looking at increased promotions for fans. The Trust and the Club have also agreed that many of the fan-produced flags and banners should be displayed in prominent positions at home fixtures and DD, CM, CS and JB confirmed work is being undertaken to ensure this is achieved as soon as possible.
AUGUST TRANSFER DEALINGS
AM reiterated that Fulham’s priorities following the play-off semi-final defeat were to retain Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney given the significant interest in their services. Bringing back Tomas Kalas and Lucas Piazon was important to everyone – and they eventually arrived for a second season on loan. AM said that the club then wanted to build on the strong second half of last season so that Fulham could be promoted. The recruitment of two strikers was one of the club’s highest priorities. Both Rui Fonte and Aboubakar Kamara had been tracked by Fulham for a considerable period of time and were the subject of serious interest from the club during the January transfer window. They were two of the club’s top targets this summer with the club’s scouting network and analytics department in agreement to proceed – and it was then a matter of concluding a financially acceptable deal, which proved successful.
Once Fulham had signed Fonte and Kamara, both Tony and Shahid Khan gave their support to finance a move for a further striker on deadline day with Dwight Gayle viewed as a bonus were a deal to bring him in be concluded. Gayle was ultimately not signed because Newcastle United were unable to bring in a replacement.
Sone Aluko was offered a very lucrative contract, which would have made him one of Fulham’s highest-paid players, but he turned it down as he wished to secure a longer-term deal, which he was offered by Reading. The transfer represented a very healthy business return on a player Fulham signed on a free transfer last summer, which strengthened the club’s financial position. Tony Khan and Fulham were happy to allow Aluko to join Reading at this price once Fulham had brought in Sheyi Ojo and were close to recruiting further wide players – Jordan Graham arrived from Wolves on loan and Yohan Mollo was signed a free transfer on deadline day.
Asked about the possibility of the changes to the summer transfer window that have been floated by both Premier League and the EFL, AM confirmed that he would be in favour of a trial of a shortened transfer window so that Fulham could probably understand the consequences of such a change. This issue will be discussed further by the Premier League, EFL, Championship clubs and the footballing authorities in the coming months.
FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY
AM and SOL confirmed that Fulham remained comfortably within the limits allowed under the EFL and Championship Financial Fair Play regulations. By way of further explanation, SOL said that the rules in place from the 2016-2017 season – which contained a new set of ‘Profit and Sustainability’ regulations to solidify a consistent approach for those clubs that move between the Championship and the Premier League – permitted a maximum loss of £39m over a three-year season timeframe from March 2017 to March 2020. The reporting date to the EFL has also been shifted from December to March and Fulham’s player sales that would fall in this reporting period, including Ross McCormack and Kostas Mitroglou as well as this summer’s departures, leave the club with considerable headroom within the current regulations.
In response to a question from the Trust, CS talked through the portfolio of commercial partners that the club has recently announced.
In July, Fulham agreed a two-year deal with Grosvenor Casinos to become the Club’s main team partner, which included their logo being displayed on the club’s first-team and U23 shirts and becoming the Club’s designated betting and casino partner. CS revealed that, once Visit Florida had confirmed that they were not looking for renew their existing deal, Fulham were approached by more than thirty companies who were interested in becoming the main team partner. Grosvenor Casinos were initially in the shortlisted categories of interested parties, but increased their offer to considerably more than the existing deal, and were very keen to work with Fulham Football Club. CS recognised the concerns of some supporters around having a gambling company prominently associated with the club and said that Grosvenor Casinos were fully signed up to the Gamble Aware programme and were keen to work with the Club, the Fulham Foundation and supporters to tackle problem gambling during their partnership.
In August, Fulham announced a deal with West London Audi, who have become the Club’s official automotive partner. CS said that West London Audi were an excellent replacement for Motor Village, who were the previous partner, and had already shown a real appetite to engage with Fulham supporters. The exclusive offer for season ticket holders has proven very popular in its first month.
Also in August, Fulham announced that GameTime Hydration, a sports energy drinks company originally based in Dallas, Texas, and new in the UK, would become the Club’s official energy drink partner for the next two seasons. As part of the agreement, GameTime Hydration’s logo now appears on the back of the shorts of the Fulham first team’s home, away and third strip. CS and SOL said that GameTime Hydration were very keen to grow their brand awareness in the UK and saw Fulham as an excellent fit for their business. CS said that this deal was one of the most expensive for short sponsorship in the Championship.
As announced last month, CS confirmed that Fulham have entered into a global partnership with Konami Digital Entertainment for their Pro Evolution Soccer computer games series. This partnership will see Fulham perfectly digitally recreated in the forthcoming PES 2018 edition, which is released on Thursday 14 September. The partnership sees the PES 2018 logo featured on the back of the first team’s home, away and goalkeeping kit as well as being the main sponsor of Fulham’s youth teams’ playing kit. CS felt this deal was a significant coup for a Championship club and represented an excellent commercial result for Fulham. Konami will also be heavily involved in Fulham’s family zone, with activities exclusively designed for younger supporters.
CS said that Fulham were also extending existing arrangements with Adidas, Carlsberg and Delaware North. CS further revealed that the club were inundated with requests from potential partners to discuss associations with Fulham and that he was continuing to work to increase the revenue realised from such partnerships and delivering the best offers and service for supporters.
As previously released to Trust members, the Club confirmed the ticketing arrangements for September’s away fixtures at Nottingham Forest and QPR. Fulham have allocated around 2,000 tickets for the trip to the City Ground on Tuesday 26 September and 3,178 tickets for the local derby at Loftus Road on 29 September. The significant change to the selling procedure for the QPR fixture was an increase to two tickets per season ticket holder. The Trust thanked the Club, especially AM, CS and head of ticketing Katy Brecht, for their continuous dialogue on away tickets and raised the ongoing issue of supporters being unable to specify sections of the stand to sit in at away matches. The Club confirmed that this is the subject of ongoing discussions with Ticketmaster.
The meeting closed at 12.15pm