Notes from January Meeting with FFC
- Plans submitted for training ground extension
- Plans submitted for Cottage building improvements
- Heritage area proposed for Johnny Haynes stand
- Season ticket upgrade policy will not change this season
- Club approach to safeguarding and diversity explained
- Work ongoing on Riverside season ticket holder relocation
On Monday 14 January 2019, Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief Executive Officer), Carmelo Mifsud (CM, Media Relations Manager), Peter Spartin (PS, Head of Commercial Development), Nicola Walworth (NW, Supporter Relations Manager) and Eleanor Rowland (ER, Safeguarding Manager) of Fulham Football Club met with Ian Clarke, Dan Crawford and Sue Couch of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust at Motspur Park as part of the ongoing structured dialogue between both parties.
MOTSPUR PARK REDEVELOPMENT PLANS
AM confirmed that planning permission had been submitted for Fulham FC’s proposals to redevelop the former BBC site opposite their current Motspur Park training ground with Kingston Council. You can view the plans here. AM suggested that the Club’s current thinking is to potentially move the first team training facilities to the new site. This would mean that the Under 23 side and the academy set-up would remain on the current site. The main benefit of the new training facilities is to provide additional pitches, with only five grass pitches and one astroturf pitch at Motspur Park.
In response to questions from the Trust, AM said that there were no firm timetables for the start of the building work as the Club were only at the initial planning application stage to date. He confirmed that the construction of further training facilities would help the Club to retain their current status as a category one academy within the EPPP.
AM confirmed that progress continued to made with regards to the Riverside Stand redevelopment. The Club had submitted an application for listed building consent for the Cottage itself. You can view the details of this here. This would help to provide more usable space there, including a manager’s lounge in the roof space.
In response to questions from the Trust, there was a discussion around wider issues at the ground. The Club recognises the difficulty of movement under the Hammersmith End, due to space constraints, and especially during half-time. AM revealed that the Club have considered removing the mound at the Hammersmith End, but this is a difficult structure to remove given how the stand had been built. Research had suggested that this wouldn’t greatly improve the access and flow at the Hammersmith End as additional stairs are needed. AM concluded that the general cost of use of the Hammersmith End is high, largely to do with ongoing repairs, such as removing and replacing rotting wooden flooring at the front of the stand.
The Club are considering proposals for the ongoing use of the old press lounge following the Riverside Stand development. It is envisaged that the press would be housed in a new location and this could create an opportunity to establish a fans’ heritage area, where supporters could view memorabilia and has the benefit of being directly accessible from the street. AM considers this a plus as upgrading the existing facilities would keep a focus on the unique heritage of Craven Cottage once the modern Riverside Stand is built. The Club also suggested that this space could potentially be used as a meeting and social space for supporters prior to games.
AM and PS explained the complexities of planning for operating a ground without the Riverside Stand for two seasons. In addition to relocating all season ticket holders, the Club needs to find space for several other groups, including sponsors (both the Club’s and the league partners), players’ families, broadcast partners, match officials and their guests, agents and hospitality box holders. PS and AM also said that the Club would shortly be compiling a survey for supporters which will tackle a number of topics, including the Riverside Stand. Supporters will only receive the survey if they have opted in to the Club’s official communications, which you can do by visiting this link.
AM confirmed that the specifics of how the Putney End should be segregated and stewarded during the transition phase remains an open question. Whilst the Club have views and would like to retain much of the same arrangements, there will be significant input from the local Safety Advisory Group and the police. PS felt this would be an easier discussion to have once progress had been made on relocating the existing Riverside season-ticket holders. The Trust will continue to monitor this through a range of channels, including the new police Independent Advisory Group at which we represent Fulham supporters. The Trust reiterated that current Riverside season-ticket holders should be afforded priority to return to the redeveloped stand when it is completed. AM added that there was no specific building update since the last meeting and that he would keep the Trust appraised of any further developments.
Eleanor Rowland, Fulham’s head of safeguarding and the Club’s lead on equality and diversity, joined the meeting to talk about her work. ER said that she had joined Fulham two years ago from the NSPCC and was responsible for safeguarding of all under-18s throughout the Club, including working with the host families for under-18 players.
ER said every Fulham FC staff member undergoes safeguarding training laid down by the FA, which specifically focuses on best practice, language and conduct. Much of her work is cultural, including encouraging everybody to draw attention to any issues and she has a particular focus on protecting the mental health of young people, especially players. She works very closely with her colleagues at the FA on helping Fulham players called up for international duty.
ER also highlighted her work on matchdays, including training between twelve and fifteen stewards in safeguarding. The Club’s minimum age to attend matches unaccompanied is 12 years old and this varies from club-to-club. ER also reminded the Trust that the stadium is a public place and anyone taking under 12s to a game should exercise the same caution as they would elsewhere, such as in a cinema or at a supermarket. The Trust fed back on some excellent stewarding concerning young people in the Hammersmith End earlier this season.
ER also chairs the Club’s equality working group, which is designed to help the Club’s workforce be as diverse, forward-thinking and approachable as possible. Fulham are currently identifying ways to lead amongst the Premier League clubs around equality and AM said that this was particularly important to him. ER revealed that the Club will shortly be surveying supporters on equality and diversity at Fulham Football Club. This survey will also only be sent to supporters who have opted in to the Club’s official communications. You can opt in here. ER and AM kindly invited a member of the Trust Board to attend the Kick it Out 25th anniversary dinner next month and the Trust has accepted the invitation to represent Fulham supporters.
The Trust presented feedback from a large number of supporters on their experiences before the recent FA Cup third round tie against Oldham Athletic. The lack of turnstile operators caused significant queuing and delays to entry for supporters and the Trust reminded the Club that they had promised to learn from the serious issues that had occurred prior to the League Cup home fixture against Exeter City earlier in the season. AM and PS felt that the issues were caused by an unexpectedly high number of late walk-ups prior to kick off, but assured the meeting that this was part of an ongoing post-match Club view. The Club have committed to taking on board feedback around the number of turnstiles that were open, the positioning of the cash sales turnstiles and will take advice from the Trust before the next home Cup game.
MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
CM confirmed that a story circulating on social media about Fulham donating the entirety of the FA Cup gate receipts to Oldham Athletic was untrue. The Club had received feedback from Oldham and their fans about how well they were received at Craven Cottage by Fulham officials and supporters.
A recent story published in the tabloid press around the high price of season ticket financing was incorrect. The Club clarified and corrected an erroneous press release circulated by a media agency and, in most places, the story was republished online giving the correct figures. CM also confirmed that a recent story about the price of being a mascot at Fulham were based on data that was at least five years out of date. NW and AM confirmed that mascot opportunities were offered to participants in the Fulham FC Foundation’s scheme as per previous discussions between the Club and the Trust.
PS confirmed that the Club had decided there would be no change to the season ticket upgrade policy for the remainder of this season. PS reiterated that the initial decision had been taken because of serious abuse of the system, but recognised that genuine supporters do lose out as a result. It was felt that the policy was too complicated to change mid-season as it would require a considerable amount of manual intervention, but the Club committed to undertake a review of policy over the summer and take the Trust’s advice. The Trust is disappointed in this decision which we have continually reminded the Club penalises genuine supporters. We will ensure that it is fully discussed before plans are made for the 2019-20 season.
AM also reiterated that no decisions had yet been taken about the levels of season ticket or matchday prices for next season.
The meeting finished at 2.46pm
TRUST RIVERSIDE STAND UPDATE
On 3rd January 2019, a delegation from the Fulham Supporters Trust met with representatives of Fulham FC’s commercial and communication teams at Motspur Park to discuss the relocation of Season Ticket Holders during the redevelopment of the Riverside Stand. The Trust were briefed on the club’s potential strategy for the relocation of Riverside Stand Season Ticket Holders. The club were keen to stress the logistical challenges around relocating Season Ticket Holders and other stakeholders whilst remaining at Craven Cottage during the redevelopment period.
The Club were happy to receive feedback from the Trust on the plans to date, with those Trust members who volunteers to form a part of the Riverside Stand Working Group having the opportunity to help provide comment. Both in the meeting and subsequently the Trust have taken the opportunity to stress the importance of clear and effective communication with Season Ticket Holders. We have also relayed the importance to Season Ticket Holders of the club providing reassurance to those relocated fans that they will have a right to return to the redeveloped stand upon its completion.
The Club hope to be in a position to confirm their plans shortly and the Trust will continue to work with the club as effectively as possible throughout the relocation process.
The Trust have been made aware that some supporters may have received phishing emails from a Fulham Football Club email account following an attempted cyber attack against the football club. The Trust have been informed that the Club have conducted an investigation, locked the account in question and reported the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Anyone who has any queries about this matter is advised to contact the Club’s data protection team on [email protected]