Notes from Sept meeting with FFC
On Monday 9th Sept the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC at Motspur Park.
The Club was represented by:
Alistair Mackintosh (CEO)
Darren Preston (COO)
David Daly (Non Executive Director)
Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
Carmelo Mifsud (Media Relations Manager)
Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
Rob Paddon (Head of Matchday Sales)
HOW IT WORKS
Each topic below is raised by the FST in an attempt to discuss issues raised primarily by a number of our members. Individual questions from members are sent to the Club outside the meeting, and we encourage members first to raise these directly with the Club via [email protected].
If any member has raised an issue that it has not been possible to discuss in the time available then please do contact us again in good time before the next meeting.
The following topics were raised and discussed:
With the announcement on the morning of the meeting that the Ticket Exchange system was now ready to go, the FST started by thanking the club for this welcome introduction which we had requested and discussed at a number of previous meetings over the last year.
RP explained that starting from today, once an upcoming home fixture reaches a certain threshold capacity, season ticket holders who are unable to attend said fixture will be able to log in to their online ticketing account and list their seat for sale for that game. If the ticket is then re-sold via the club, the season ticket holder will receive a credit on their account, which can be used towards the renewal of their season ticket for the following season. The credit amount is £15 (adult), £10 (concession) and £3 (junior).
Some clarification was asked by the FST on certain processes within the system, which the club answered as follows:
- The system will be managed by Ticketmaster and is accessible via the same e-ticketing platform currently in use.
- Until the club announce that an upcoming fixture is ‘open’ for Ticket Exchange, it is not currently possible to advise the club in advance if the season ticket holder will be unable to attend.
- The threshold for when the Ticket Exchange will be switched on will be assessed on a game-by-game basis.
- The credit value is the same for all seats in the ground, regardless of season ticket price. Asked why the credit amount was not based on season ticket price, RP explained that this was the simplest model for the initial version of the Ticket Exchange and was based on average season ticket prices.
- The credit can only be used against a future season ticket renewal.
- If a season ticket is listed on the exchange, and then a change in circumstances means that the holder is now able to attend the fixture, as long as the ticket has not been sold, it is possible to de-list the ticket.
- The credit will only be given should the ticket then be re-sold.
Season ticket seat move policy
During August Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing, not present) explained in response to a question from the Trust on behalf of members that season ticket holders are only able to request a seat move when purchasing additional tickets for a game and that a price increase may apply if moving to a more expensive area. It has never been the policy to allow season ticket moves for individual games without the purchase of additional tickets. The Trust agreed to add this to the meeting notes to allow everyone to understand the policy.
Matchday ticket pricing categories
The Trust observed that three different price categories have been used for matches so far (Hammersmith End adult prices of £25, £30 and £35) and that members continue to request advance notice of the categories for the remainder of the season. RP and AM replied that the match ticket price category in which each match will be placed will be reviewed by the Club throughout the season based on a number of factors. Although Sky selection of a match is one of the factors when considering these prices, it is one of many. The Club could not confirm that the full range of match ticket pricing has already been seen by the fans.
Sky TV match selection
In response to queries from Trust members regarding the movement of games due to television commitments, AM confirmed that the Club has no power in these decisions, it is entirely controlled by the broadcasting companies.
Putney End ticketing for cup games
Asked about away ticket allocations for cup games at Craven Cottage, DP explained that for the League Cup tie against Southampton, the allocation for away fans meant that those with a season ticket within block P4 were unable to purchase those seats. This affected only a small number of season ticket holders. DP confirmed that future cup ties at Craven Cottage are likely to require a 15% allocation for away fans and similar arrangements.
STEWARDING AND MATCH OPERATIONS
The Trust relayed the positive feedback from members, including board members, regarding the stewarding that was received by fans that made the trip to the Caridff City Stadium on the last Friday in August. DP said they had previously been given this information regarding Cardiff’s approach to persistent standing and the Club’s Safety Officer had spoken to the stewarding team to take any possible learnings from this. DP added that the Club had received similar positive feedback from away fans in the Putney End, and had been commended for their care of disabled fans visiting Craven Cottage, in particular attempts to make sure that fans remained seated in front of this area.
Putney End operation
The Trust relayed the generally positive feedback from members regarding the operation of the Putney End, despite initial reservations. Members have commented that the atmosphere so far has not been too problematic and that the levels of stewarding have been sufficient for the task.
Some supporters have however complained about a number of away supporters moving into block P4. DP said the Club had not had this reported and would monitor going forward, but was aware of some ticket holders in P4 moving across to block P3.
DP explained that the Council have had a representative at each game this season to monitor the Putney End and that they are satisfied so far with the mixed entry and concourse for home and away fans. There has been little incident of note in the home games prior to the first international break.
The Trust informed the Club that they had received feedback from a few members about issues at the Southampton League Cup game. The Club said they were unaware of any problems at the match and if there were any issues to contact the Club directly.
In discussions on ground safety, DP explained that a key area of concern for the SGSA (Sports Grounds Safety Authority) is persistent standing of both home and away fans and that the Club has a responsibility to meet SGSA requirements. The Club is aware of the areas of the ground, principally at the back of blocks H4 and H5, where some supporters stand but has been able to take a pragmatic stewarding approach in these areas. The Club and the Trust agreed that it is important for all supporters to show respect for those around them in the ground.
The Club have far less control over the experience at Fulham away games, as they are rarely allowed to have club stewards in the away end.
Incident at Barnsley
CM confirmed that the allegation of racist abuse of Cyrus Christie’s sister at the away game at Barnsley is still being investigated by South Yorkshire Police. The Club reiterated the message for any fan who has any information regarding the incident to inform the police using the crime reference number 14/118274/19.
Fan behaviour at Craven Cottage
During the course of the month the Trust was made aware of dialogue between individual fans and the Club due to behaviour deemed to be outside of the Club’s agreed standard. The Trust asked for clarification on how such matters are handled. DP explained that he hears any appeals relating to warnings and stadium bans and that there is a Charter on which the Club base decisions upon the course of action taken. CH agreed to send the Charter to the Trust, to have an understanding of action undertaken by the club in any future areas of dispute.
Southampton League Cup match
Following long queues for the Cup matches last season due to a reduced number of operational turnstiles, the Trust had previously requested that a full complement of turnstiles be opened for this season’s Cup games. The Trust thanked the Club for listening and acting on this.
DP explained that there was a particular issue for the Exeter City match last season with approximately 1,500 “walk-up” supporters causing additional congestion at the turnstiles. For the Southampton match the number of walk-ups was approximately 250 which is more normal for this type of match.
The Trust provided feedback from some members that the level of support provided for the new FFCtv service could be improved. CM explained that the Club receive detailed reports from the new service provider and regularly monitor support activity. The average number of queries raised on a matchday is 75, most of which have been local internet or browser version issues. CM also explained that
- The FAQs on the Club web site do resolve many of the common issues found by users and they will be made more prominent
- Users are asked to log any errors or issues via the online support team immediately (email: [email protected])
- On non-matchdays queries should be responded to within 48 hrs. On match days, additional dedicated support is available with all email enquiries answered asap
- A number of issues have been solved by installing browser updates (latest version of Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari)
- Accessing FFCtv via Google Chrome is the recommended browser.
The FFCtv app that has been discussed in previous meetings is close to completion, with internal testing complete. It is undertaking final external tests with Apple and Google prior to planned release soon. The app will allow customers to stream matches using a tablet as well as a phone.
The Trust re-iterated our suggestion that the recent interview with Tony Khan on the transfer window should be made free to view now that a number of weeks have elapsed. AM said that on balance he is not in favour of this as premium content is required to provide value to FFCtv subscribers.
The Trust asked for an update on the use of reusable pint glasses that appeared towards the end of last season. AM and DP replied that this was a trial and that there were no immediate plans to reintroduce them.
Speed of service
The Trust raised concerns from some members that the general speed and level of customer service on matchday, particularly during half-time, could be improved. AM reiterated that due to the size of the stadium and the shortness of time to serve people during this period, there will always be difficulties to serve enough drinks at sufficient speed. The Club stated that they regularly review new ways to improve this, and will feedback to the catering services team with regards to the customer service given.
Cash free catering
DP stated that one scheme planned to be introduced will be to make catering services at Craven Cottage cash free from the beginning of the 2020/21 season. This will help improve speed of service. The Club plan to reduce cash stalls during the course of this season and would like feedback from members regarding this plan via the Trust.
DP further explained that catering is already 85%-90% cashless and that a move to full cashless operation would also free up the space currently used as a cash office to be a sensory room.
Asked for an update on the planned use of The Flag, AM explained that the Club were pleased with the success of the Cardiff match screening in August and will announce further information when they are able to confirm any future games to be hosted there.
The Trust thanked the club for the recent updates regarding the redevelopment of the Riverside Stand which have been well received by members, and look forward to the future time-lapse videos that will be released in due course.
AM explained that the “deconstruction” of the existing stand is now scheduled for October/November this year. A larger hoarding than currently in place will be used.
With regards to the members that have requested further information regarding their return to the new stand upon completion, the Club are not currently able to provide any more details. AM did confirm that relocated Riversiders wishing to return to the new stand will be given the “first opportunity” when the seats become available.
- The Trust informed the Club of the upcoming FST elections, and the timetable for this.
- The Trust relayed some of the positive feedback received recently regarding the PA system, particularly in the Johnny Haynes Stand. However it was also noted that some were still struggling in other areas of the ground. DP explained that during last season the Club had a third party company undertake tests of the sound for speech, and that no major issue had been found. Other than routine maintenance there has been no major upgrade work since the start of the season.
- RP confirmed that Cottage tours are due to start again at the beginning of October. There will be a slightly altered route due to the works on the Riverside Stand, however they will otherwise continue to operate as they had previously.
The meeting opened at 12:30 and closed at 13.56.