Notes from January meeting with Fulham Football Club
On Tuesday 9 January 2018, representatives of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust board Tom Greatrex (TG), Dan Crawford (DC) and Michael Gregg (MG) met with Alistair Mackintosh (AM, chief executive officer), Casper Stylsvig (CS, chief revenue officer), David Daly (DD, non-executive director) and Carmelo Mifsud (CM, media relations manager) of Fulham Football Club at Motspur Park as part of our structured dialogue and relationship on behalf of Fulham fans.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AND STRUCTURED RELATIONSHIP
The Trust representatives began the meeting by welcoming the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the two parties in December and raised ways in which this could be developed over the period ahead.
Consultation on specific issues relating to supporter experience, run in conjunction with the Trust, was a good testing ground to explore this. Several other Clubs and Trusts had been in touch to ask for further details about the work that had gone into both the setting up of regular meetings and the establishment of the MoU. Both the Trust and the Club agreed to continue talking to interested parties as part of our commitment to sharing such best practice within football.
PLAYING MATTERS AND JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW
The Trust representatives reported that there had been significant concern expressed by many members following the reported comments of head coach Slavisa Jokanovic during a recent press conference, and raised a series of questions from Trust members regarding the January transfer window.
Trust representatives pressed the Club on statements made in December, and AM reiterated the Club’s position that they are looking to strengthen the squad during the January transfer window and that the identification and recruitment of targets had begun well in advance of the opening of the window. There is no change to the position and process outlined in December, an integral element of which is discussion and evaluation of options with Slavisa Jokanovic and the coaching staff. Pressed on the concern that has arisen from the widely reported press comments, AM said that every manager wants to have players in as early as possible and AM understood his and fans’ frustrations, adding that the nature of conducting transfer business in January meant deals were often dependent on selling clubs concluding their own transfers – which meant that activity is usually delayed until towards the end of the month, but he did confirm they were working on a potential deal at the moment.
AM reiterated that the Club’s recruitment process would remain the same as outlined in previous meetings and that the Coach, scouting team and data analysis department were working to an agreed list of players. He also confirmed that Tony Khan is in regular contact, several times a day, when he is out of the country. He also emphasised the importance of identifying value for money (Be it a £500K deal or a £5M deal) and ensuring that the financial aspects of each deal represented strong long-term investments for the Club. AM also stated that the Club remained keen to retain their key players during January and that there was renewed confidence that the first team could challenge for promotion from the Championship in the months ahead.
CM and AM thanked the Trust for their support in raising awareness of the Club’s submission of their planning application to Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the various means by which Fulham fans could support the plans. AM confirmed that the Club had been informed that the Council were still working towards a formal determination of the application at either their March or April planning committee meetings, which would fall before the purdah period ahead of the local elections.
The Trust representatives confirmed that the Trust would shortly be putting in their own submission in support of the plans to Hammersmith and Fulham Council as well as a further request to remind Trust members and Fulham fans to either add their names to the Club’s online petition or write statements of support directly via the Hammersmith and Fulham Council planning portal. The Trust representatives highlighted the particular impact supporters living close to the ground can have, and suggested they particularly be encouraged to make submissions to the Council. The Trust shared positive feedback they had received about the plans.
The Trust also raised the issues regarding the future of supporters who currently have season tickets in the Riverside Stand, and shared feedback from recent survey work with a sample of season ticket holders in that stand. Whilst the Trust and Fulham fans welcomed the Club’s commitment to remaining at Craven Cottage for the duration of the redevelopment phase, there is clearly going to be disruption to the current matchday arrangements once the existing stand is demolished.
The Trust undertook to provide further details of our members’ feedback to the Club and both parties also agreed to set up a working group involving the Club, Trust members and supporters from the Riverside Stand to discuss the redevelopment and how to work through the various logistical issues that will arise during the construction phase.
The Club and the Trust agreed to hold a specific and more detailed meeting where specific issues surrounding the plans for the Riverside Stand could be discussed with Sean O’Loughlin.
The Trust representatives raised issues with the food offering and service at recent home matches in several home stands and, following a discussion of particular concerns with the Club, it was agreed that a series of consultation meetings should be set up regarding supporters’ experience of food and drink, the matchday atmosphere and the hospitality currently offered at Craven Cottage. Trust members will have already received an email inviting them to take part in these meetings.
The Trust also brought up complaints received from supporters about the public address system at Craven Cottage. Some announcements made via the tannoy are impossible to hear clearly, which includes several announcements made during the half-time interval, although the occasional emergency announcement comes through clearly. Both CM and AM agreed to investigate this as a priority.
The Trust also raised correspondence from supporters about the WiFi available in the ground and the lack of signage in the Riverside Stand that helps supporters locate their seats. The Club confirmed that this would be looked into as well.
BOXING DAY AND BANK HOLIDAY FIXTURES
Following Fulham’s fifth away Boxing Day fixture in a row, the Trust had undertaken a round of media interviews and activity ahead of the trip to Cardiff City. Several supporters had been in touch suggesting that it was well past time that Fulham had a home Boxing Day fixture and the Trust representatives communicated this view to the Club. Both AM and CM replied that, whilst the Club does not have the ultimate say in regards to the arrangement of the fixtures, they would make a strong representation to the football authorities ahead of the fixture list being drawn up for the 2018/2019 season.
The Trust also raised the issue of most of Fulham’s Bank Holiday fixtures now taking place on Tuesdays. AM and CM advised that, particularly in the case of the January matches, this decision had been taken following consultation with the first team head coach taking into account recovery time between fixtures, but that they would take supporters’ views into account when considering changes to the schedule in future.
The Trust had been made aware of a number of issues regarding ticketing since the last meeting in December. Several supporters had been in contact regarding the Club’s recent special offer of free tickets for season ticket holders for forthcoming home fixtures as they had endured difficulty in claiming their tickets for the relevant fixture. CM and CS advised that all supporters who had contacted the Club had been offered tickets for future matches and that some of these issues arose from supporters having unsubscribed from the Club’s email communications.
The Trust also raised concerns about the difficulties that a large number of supporters faced when trying to order their tickets for the FA Cup third round tie against Southampton. CM said that a number of issues arose due to changes made by Ticketmaster and that the Club had experienced difficulties liaising with Ticketmaster between Christmas and New Year. The Club’s ticket office staff had worked very hard to resolve any issues and CS apologised for any inconvenience caused to Fulham fans.
The Trust had also received correspondence about a number of season ticket holders being unable to gain access to the Craven Cottage for the Ipswich Town game because their season tickets had been suspended. This resulted in increased queues prior to kick off and a large number of supporters having to visit the ticket office to get the issues resolved. CS confirmed that the Club would investigate this as a matter of urgency.
In response to a question from the Trust, CS confirmed that the Club had been encouraging supporters to use ‘the print at home’ option having purchased match tickets online and, that following a software change, this should option should be now fully operational once again.
The meeting finished at 11.56am