Notes from April Meeting with FFC
- Riverside Stand announcement due end April / early May
- Season ticket renewals linked to Riverside announcement (hence later than usual)
- Club would have been FFP compliant in 2017/18 even without promotion
- FST Championship ticket pricing analysis presented to Club
- Ticket prices for 2019/20 not yet set
- Fan behaviour policies explained
- Luca Murphy signing explained
Alistair Mackintosh (Chief Executive)
David Daly (non-Executive Director)
Andy Tighe (Finance Director)
Peter Spartin (Head of Commercial Development)
Rob Paddon (Head of Matchday Sales)
Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
Carmelo Mifsud (Head of Media)
Fulham Supporters’ Trust
Tom Greatrex (Chair)
Owen Smith (Treasurer)
AM confirmed that the sub-contract tendering process for packages of work, discussed at the last meeting, is ongoing and the Club is working towards completion of those agreements and an announcement at the end of April/beginning of May.
The Trust raised the number of members and supporters who have been in contact asking about season ticket renewals, both prices and when sales would start, given most clubs were well underway and had advertised their prices. AM reiterated that, while appreciating the delay to the usual timescale for season ticket renewals and sales, the Club’s ability to begin season ticket renewals is linked to relocation of Riverside stand season tickets, which is, in turn, linked to the successful conclusion of agreements on packages of work for the Riverside stand. In the Club’s view, it was better to have a set of linked announcements, even though this is later than people are used to.
On the stand specifically, AM reiterated that the intention remains for work to start at the end of the season. When asked about the first works, AM responded that this would likely be initial marine works, followed by demolition, with work commencing during the close season.
The Trust asked about the consultation process being undertaken by Hammersmith & Fulham Council in relation to the Club renting part of Bishops Park adjacent to the ground to be used as a construction compound/storage area during the build period. AM explained that the Council have to consult on the arrangement already agreed between the Club, the Church Commissioners and the Council. The three year agreement builds in some contingency, but the Club’s intention is to only hold the compound for the period required for the build.
The Club confirmed they would be holding a drop in information session for local residents (this happened on 9 April 2019). The Council’s consultation closes on 24 April 2019.
ACCOUNTS AND FINANCES
Since the last meeting between the Trust and the Club, both Fulham Football Leisure Limited (the parent company) and Fulham Football Club have published their accounts to year end June 2018. While there has been some media comment on the high level figures in the published account, the Trust asked a number of supplementary questions both in relation to the accounts, and the implications for Fulham and the Financial Fair Play regulations of the EFL. Andy Tighe confirmed the following points put to him by the Trust:
- The accounts submitted to the EFL for Financial Fair Play (FFP) are those of Fulham Football Leisure Limited, not Fulham Football Club.
- FFP is calculated using net profit.
- It is difficult to calculate FFP compliance on the basis of the published accounts alone, as there are various add backs (expenditure which can be offset against the net profit/loss figure) which are not all specifically identified in the published accounts. These are:
- Academy/Youth expenditure including contracts
- Any contributions to the Foundation or community initiatives
- Promotion related bonuses (players, coaches and loan clubs)
- Fulham would have been compliant with FFP even if not promoted, as promotion bonuses included in the published accounts wouldn’t have been due.
- There are differences in FFP regulations between the Premier League and the EFL. In the Championship, there is a £13m allowable loss per year, calculated over a three year rolling period. In the Premier League the annual allowable loss is £35m.
Given the amount of interest in, and the number of misconceptions about, FFP regulations, the Trust have suggested producing an explainer document on FFP for members who are interested. AM agreed to assist and review where appropriate.
At the March structured dialogue meeting with Fulham FC we presented, at the Club’s request, our research, ideas and proposals on ticket pricing for consideration for future seasons. We looked at both season ticket and match pricing and undertook detailed comparisons with other Premier League football clubs.
At the time of the March presentation, although we had also undertaken some detailed analysis of teams in the Championship, we all still held out hopes of avoiding relegation. Now that we know for sure that our football will be played in the Championship in 2019-20 we have created some supplementary material focusing on the second tier. This was presented to, and discussed with, members of the Club board and senior team during the April meeting.
Discussion of ticketing presentation
The Club thanked the Trust for the further presentation, and the analysis that had been undertaken. In discussion, the Club confirmed that they had not yet finalised matchday ticket pricing for the new season, and confirmed that the input from the Trust would be taken into account alongside other factors, in deciding that structure. It was noted that the number of tickets available match by match could be very limited, subject to work on the Riverside stand commencing and the level of season ticket renewals.
It was also noted that of the season tickets at Craven Cottage, currently 39% are a concession ticket (over 65, young adult or child) – which is a comparatively high proportion and places Fulham at the lower end of Clubs for overall season ticket revenue.
The Trust also raised complaints about away fans in home areas, particularly evident in the Liverpool fixture, but also at other recent games. AM pointed out that, while it is possible fans of away clubs and touts had become members to secure tickets for specific fixtures, a number of season ticket holders also either bought additional tickets or passed their own tickets to away fans for some fixtures.
The Trust had received praise from a member about the way in which a steward had dealt with away fans in a home area, and wanted to ensure that had been noted and appreciated. The Trust undertook to pass details to the Club so the feedback can be relayed.
Trust representatives also queried the action taken by the Club where it was clear season tickets were being used by away fans, with the Club highlighting the business of the ticket office ahead of kick off dealing with blocked tickets where there was a strong case to take action.
On a positive note, the Trust thanked the ticketing team for providing daily updates on tickets sold for the Bournemouth away fixture, which ensured nobody was taken by surprise, as happened with Leicester away. The Trust particularly noted that as well as updating the website each day, the Club also tweeting that information ensured it was widely circulated and avoided unofficial and often inaccurate updates being given credence. The Trust asked that this approach be continued next season for away fixtures, particularly where high demand is anticipated or sales are according to loyalty points.
The Trust asked the Club about procedures relating to supporters being excluded from the ground for a wide range of reasons. AM responded that where complaints about behaviour are received, they are investigated before any decision to exclude is taken, and prefer not to exclude fans. However, there is some behaviour which is clearly unacceptable, and as recent incidents at various clubs have shown, there is increased scrutiny of racist incidents.
The Trust asked about the way in which the Kick it Out app is advertised to enable fans to report racist incidents, and CM explained that following earlier discussions on this matter with the Trust, there are now more announcements made pre-match, details are included in the programme and appear on the big screen ahead of kick-off and at half time.
The Trust asked about rights of appeal where complaints are received about a supporter’s behaviour, and AM confirmed that there is an appeal mechanism. Ultimately, fans are entitled to involve the Football Ombudsman if they are not satisfied.
LUCA MURPHY SIGNING
The Trust explained that it had been contacted both by members and also by the Hartlepool United Supporters’ Trust, following the statement made by Hartlepool United in relation to the signing of Luca Murphy by Fulham shortly after he had been released by Hartlepool, where no fee was due. It was understood that he had been on trial at Fulham previously, while registered to Hartlepool, but Fulham did not continue their interest following the trial.
AM confirmed that this was the case, and that once Fulham were notified he had been released on a free transfer, they decided to offer the player another chance.
The Trust asked about planning for the new season, and decisions relating to playing staff. AM reiterated the main points made in the extensive discussion on this at the last meeting – that it is the intention to retain the core of the squad who remain contracted to Fulham, that loan players would return once their time with Fulham ended, and that playing contracts included relegation clauses. The Club have been impressed with the work of Scott Parker since becoming Caretaker Manager, and while no final decision had yet been taken on who would be manager at the start of the new season, the wider club staff was working with Scott Parker to put plans in place for next season.
Asked about pre-season plans, the Club confirmed that while specific details were still to be finalised and so subject to change, the pre-season programme will probably include games played in Portugal.
The meeting concluded at 2:45pm