Notes from Trust’s October meeting with Fulham FC
On Tuesday 10 October, Dan Crawford and Mike Gregg of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief Executive Officer), Casper Sylsvig (CS, Chief Revenue Officer) and David Daly (DD, non-executive director) of Fulham Football Club at Motspur Park as part of the Trust’s ongoing structured dialogue with the Club.
The Trust representatives opened the meeting by formally thanking Fulham Football Club for facilitating the Trust’s hosting of last month’s Supporters Direct Board Member training day in the Johnny Haynes suite at Craven Cottage. The training day was well attended by representatives of football clubs and supporters’ trusts across the country and the Trust received positive feedback from both delegates and Supporters Direct.
RIVERSIDE STAND REDEVELOPMENT
AM confirmed that Fulham Football Club would be formally submitting a planning application to redevelop the Riverside Stand to Hammersmith and Fulham Council on Friday 24th November. In line with previous communications from the Club, AM outlined that the plans produced by Populous built on the existing planning consent granted in 2012 by proposing to extend the stadium’s capacity to 30,000, introduce a Riverside walkway that connects the ground with Bishops Park along to Putney Bridge and offers enhanced commercial and hospitality facilities that could be used on a non-match day.
AM reiterated that the Club would be undertaking two public consultation events with supporters at the Café at the Cottage on Thursday 12 October between 2pm and 8pm and, prior to the fixture against Preston North End, on Saturday 14 October between 9am and 1pm. These sessions, which would be attended by representatives of Populous and Fulham FC officials working on the proposals, are designed to gain feedback from the supporters about their views on the design and what fans would like to see included within the new stand.
AM explained that the new plans would deliver a single tier stand, with significant space for a variety of premium entertainment activity and community use, and a roof terrace. Should planning permission be granted by the Council, the plans would require the demolition of the current Riverside stand and the building of its replacement. AM told the Trust that the Club were not expecting to vacate Craven Cottage to facilitate the construction of the new Riverside Stand. The Trust agreed to provide feedback from our members and Fulham fans on the proposals and send representatives to both of the consultation sessions. The Trust representatives also expressed their view that any new corporate facilities in the Riverside Stand should promote the Club’s rich history and be accessible to all supporters.
CRAVEN COTTAGE MATCHDAY EXPERIENCE
Following on from our previous discussions, CS confirmed that the Club were currently commissioning research on the fans’ matchday experience at Craven Cottage. A focus group with supporters was held prior to the recent fixture against Hull City and the Trust has been invited to join a Craven Cottage working party discussing how to improve the supporters’ experience. The Trust gave feedback around the reintroduction of the fan-produced flags and other suggestions on how to improve the atmosphere, food and refreshment offer that had been put forward by our members. CS and AM agreed to look at these suggestions and inform the Trust of progress.
BRIAN McBRIDE’S RETURN
The Trust thanked the Club for taking up our suggestion to invite former Fulham captain Brian McBride back to Craven Cottage for the forthcoming home fixture against one of his former sides, Preston North End. DD and AM informed the meeting that tickets for the evening event with Brian McBride in McBride’s on Friday were almost sold out, but that supporters would have the opportunity to meet Brian at a signing session in the Club shop from 12.30pm on Saturday 14 October. DD hopes that this evening event will be the first of many ways in which the Club seeks to honour the contribution of past players and managers.
The Trust raised the large volume of correspondence received from our international members with regards to ongoing problems with the viewing of the live streaming of Fulham fixtures via FulhamFCTV. AM and CS confirmed that the Club were aware of serious issues during the home fixture with Middlesbrough and steps had been undertaken to resolve the problem. The Trust reported that a large number of fans had been in touch saying that the instructions on how to access the live stream were unclear and that they had experienced significant problems with playing the video and hearing the commentary. The Trust suggested that the Club could amend the FAQ section on the official website to include clearer explanations around how to access the live streaming service and how to raise problems with the Club.
In response to a question from the Trust about how he felt the season was going, AM said that he had been encouraged by the back-to-back away wins before the international break. He disclosed that Slavisa Jokanovic was happy with how the Club’s new signings had successfully integrated into the first-team squad, with Aboubakar Kamara’s two goals proving timely. AM felt that, in contrast to last season, Fulham had been unlucky with injuries early in the campaign, like the ones suffered by Tom Cairney, Lucas Piazon and Sheyi Ojo, but hoped Cairney’s imminent return would help to continue an impressive recent run of form.
FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY
AM confirmed that the Club had considerable headroom under the Championship’s Financial Fair Play regulations following the sales of the likes of Ross McCormack, Jozabed, Sone Aluko and Scott Malone, and that there would be funds to add to the first-team squad during the January window. He also confirmed that the Championship clubs had yet to be notified about the news of QPR’s case contesting FFP.
CATEGORY ONE STATUS AND MOTSPUR PARK
AM, CS and DD accepted the Trust’s congratulations on retaining Category One academy status on behalf of academy director Huw Jennings and chief operating officer Darren Preston following the summer audit under the Elite Player Performance Plan. AM said that the facilities provided at Motspur Park played a crucial part in retaining Category One status and that the Club was determined to continue making progress with its highly-regarded academy. In response to a question from the Trust, AM said that the Club had not yet finalised full plans for the use of the old BBC Sports Ground but would welcome suggestions from Trust members.
The Trust thanked the Club for their continued dialogue over ticketing issues and the improvements currently being discussed with Ticketmaster. The Trust representatives raised feedback from Middlesbrough supporters about the £40 cost of away tickets for the recent fixture at Craven Cottage as well as the Club’s decision to reject reciprocal pricing arrangements for games against Reading, Ipswich Town and Barnsley. AM and CS said that these matters would be reviewed by the Club following the meeting.
EFL ENGAGEMENT AND NEW TV DEAL
The Trust representatives shared their disappointment at EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey’s recent comments on BBC Radio 5 Live that ‘deliberate scheduling decisions’ meant that away fans faced long-distance trips in midweek. Fulham fans have had to travel to Leeds United and Nottingham Forest in midweek during the first two months of the season having previously been promised that fans’ views would be taken in account by EFL chairman Ian Lenagan. AM said he sympathised with the Trust’s concerns and that the Club had arranged free travel for several midweek fixtures, including the games at Leeds and Sheffield United, thanks to main sponsor Grosvenor Sport. He also wished to convey head coach Slavisa Jokanovic’s and the players’ gratitude to Fulham’s loyal away supporters, who made such a difference at the City Ground and Loftus Road recently.
AM confirmed that the EFL clubs had agreed in principle to follow the Premier League in moving forward the closure of the August transfer window, with a formal vote is scheduled for January. Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic is in favour of this month, especially with the relaxing of the loan restrictions outside of the summer window. AM also confirmed the EFL have agreed a new five-year TV deal with Sky Sports worth around £600m. The deal, which starts in 2019, would allow domestic viewers to stream midweek league games that are not selected for broadcast by Sky Sports for the first time.
The meeting closed at 12.41pm