Notes from March Meeting with FFC
- Trust presents research and model for fair matchday ticketing and prices
- Information on away ticket sales to be provided after Leicester confusion
- Riverside Stand – tendering for key packages underway, work to start at season end
- Caretaker manager – opportunity to impress prior to permanent appointment made
- Player strategy – aim to keep core squad together, less reliance on loan system in future
- Coach travel issues and ticket giveways for local residents discussed.
Alistair Mackintosh (Chief Executive Officer)
Tony Khan (Vice-chairman and Head of Football Operations)
Rob Paddon (Head of Sales)
Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
Charlie Harris (Supporter Relations/Communications Assistant)
David Daly (Non-Executive Director)
Carmelo Mifsud (Media Manager)
Peter Spartin (Head of Commercial Development)
Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
Tom Greatrex (Chair)
FUTURE TICKETING STRATEGY
During meetings throughout this season, the FST has underlined concerns from amongst our members at the affordability of the pricing strategy adopted by the Club for all but the first fixtures of this season, and the impact that has had on the ability of fans to attend matches, and to encourage new fans to the Club. The Club had asked for the Trust to present ideas for consideration for future seasons, and the Trust requested that the bulk of the meeting time be given to presenting proposals and areas for discussion, to enable a thorough exploration of the issues of concern.
We prepared this on the basis of having a fairer, simpler and affordable approach to both matchday and season tickets on a Premier League model, be that for next season or a model to consider if we are promoted again in a short period. We also presented some data from Championship clubs, to give a comparison for what looks most likely next season.
AM and RP asked that the Trust present their analysis to others in the Club, which will be arranged. TK stated that although he is not responsible for ticketing and related issues, he found the presentation informative and acknowledged that there were issues of concern to fans that had been raised.
AWAY TICKETS – LEICESTER CITY AND NON-STANDING SEATS
The Trust raised the irritation of some fans who were caught unawares by the sell out of our allocation at Leicester City. The Club explained that while the initial allocation was 1,200, to take the second tranche of tickets (a further 1,300) that had to be confirmed two weeks ahead of the fixture. Despite having gone to general sale, sales were very slow and so the decision was taken not to purchase the further allocation, as Fulham would have been liable for the cost of all unsold tickets.
The Trust explained that people were taken by surprise, anticipating a larger allocation, and many who decided to travel to Leicester after the change of manager was announced, only to find tickets sold out. The Trust reminded the Club that previously they had undertaken to provide updates on the fixture page of the website on tickets sold for away fixtures, along with details of the allocation, so fans were clear about availability. While this happened on some occasions, it has not been consistent. The Club agreed to look to provide additional information via the website on progress of sales of away tickets (since the meeting, this information has been provided in relation to the fixture at Bournemouth on 20 April).
The Trust also brought up the non-standing seats in furthest forward rows of away allocations, which has been welcomed since it was introduced and has, in most cases, worked well. However, The Trust noted that as these tickets could not be bought on line, those requesting them were forced to pay an additional telephone booking fee (in addition to the usual transaction fee). RP undertook to look into this and rectify for future fixtures.
RIVERSIDE STAND UPDATE
Further to the extensive discussions on this subject at the last meeting, the Trust asked for an update on progress towards the proposed start date at the end of the season, and when information to Riverside Stand season ticket holders would be informed of details of relocation.
AM confirmed that the Club were still managing the tendering process to conclude by an April deadline. It is the Club’s intention to secure a fixed-price contract with Buckingham as the main contractor, but they won’t have a finalised price until all of the tenders are in. Asked whether this includes demolition contracts, AM confirmed it did, and that the intention remained to commence work at the end of this season. Possible relegation did not impinge on that desire. However, the Club are not comfortable with managing the construction risk themselves.
The announcement of season ticket holder relocations from the Riverside Stand is tied up with the tendering process, and final information on capacity available next season. While appreciating this entails a longer period than other Clubs ahead of season ticket on-sale dates, announcements will be made when there is clarity and confirmation of the outcome of the tender process. AM appreciated that this may lead to speculation, but that it remains the intention of the owner to build the new Riverside Stand, and to begin work after the conclusion of this season.
The Trust reminded the Club that this was the biggest single issue that underpinned the long-term retention of Craven Cottage as Fulham’s home ground, and given the history on other projects to upgrade the stadium, it was not surprising that there would be all sorts of speculation. The Trust requested that the Club make the situation clear as soon as they were able to.
APPOINTMENT OF MANAGER
The Trust asked about the process and timeframe for the appointment of a new manager. TK responded that he had been sad that Slavisa Jokanovic had to leave the Club, and he admired what he had achieved in the job. He also felt Claudio Ranieri had made a positive impact when arriving at the Club and in early fixtures, but that the Huddersfield fixture (despite the narrow win) with the injury to Mawson and Kamara incidents had been a turning point, with only three points gained since then.
AM explained that Scott Parker has been given an opportunity towards the end of the season, with the support of the squad and back room team. Pressed on the importance of having a permanent manager in place in good time to prepare for next season, TK acknowledged the point but stated that decisions on the appointment of a manager are for the Chairman and board, but that the Club would like to analyse Scott Parker’s performance at the end of the season before making a decision.
PLAYER RECRUITMENT STRATEGY
Asked to give an assessment of transfer activity in both January and summer windows, TK made the following points:
- In January, there were few transfers across Clubs, and players Fulham had bid for had either chosen not to move or been refused moves by their Clubs. However, he felt the squad had been strengthened from a limited market.
- Pressed on criticism of the amount spent on incoming players this summer, TK responded that he could understand criticism given how events have transpired, particularly after two good years previously. Injuries to experienced players (Mawson) had an impact, and signings including Seri and Anguissa were important players for the future, and some of the criticism of these players he felt had been unfair.
- Asked about loan players, TK confirmed that all loan players would return to their parent clubs at the end of this season, but that the Club’s aim is to keep the rest of the current squad intact even if Fulham are relegated. Partly, this is to have a stronger core squad in place and be less reliant on the loan system.
- In response to widely commented on criticism of the Club’s recruitment, TK said no-one has done more analysis of the struggle of this season, and holds himself accountable for recruitment this season, but also feels his record should be balanced by the success achieved by the Club in the previous two years. He also felt that there had always been the chance that Fulham could get relegated this year, particularly given that 15 of the last 26 play-off final winners went straight back down.
AWAY TRAVEL – ISSUES WITH COACHES
The Trust reported concerns that had arisen from stewards of the Club’s official coaches, that away Clubs and police had changed drop off and pick up points with little or no notice. There has been more than one occasion when vulnerable supporters and those with impaired mobility were felt to be at risk. AM indicated concern at this information and asked for details, and NW undertook to liaise with Trust members who had indicated concerns, particularly ahead of forthcoming away fixtures.
RESIDENTS TICKETS – CHELSEA FIXTURE
The Trust raised concerns around the giveaway of tickets to local residents for the home fixture with Chelsea, which led to some Chelsea fans being seated in home areas. AM and RP said that they were aware of some of the issues but clarified that these tickets were for residents in the vicinity of Craven Cottage and not Motspur Park. They were two tickets per household, and around 700 tickets were redeemed, which is the highest ever take up of such an offer.
LO’G queried the number of away fans in home areas, RP confirmed that free tickets were only made available in the Putney End of the ground and not elsewhere. AM reiterated that given the scale of the redevelopment work planned shortly for the Riverside Stand that the Club wanted to be on good terms with local residents, particularly as in recent years more had become match-going fans than had previously been the case. Where tickets had not sold out, the Club felt offering a limited number to local residents was justifiable.
The Trust queried whether in such circumstances, offering tickets to local schools would increase broadening the appeal of the Club to a new generation of potential supporters, AM responded that the Club already do this and other initiatives through the FFC Foundation.
The meeting was held at Motspur Park on 11 March 2019 from 12:30pm – 3:50pm