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Notes from October Meeting with FFC

21st October 2019

Notes from October Meeting with FFC

On Monday 14th October at 12:30, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC at Motspur Park.

The Club was represented by:

Alistair Mackintosh (CEO)
David Daly (Non Executive Director)
Mike McSweeney (Chief Executive, Fulham Foundation)
Aimee McKenzie (Operations and Venue Director)
Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
Carmelo Mifsud (Media Relations Manager)
Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant) 

The FST was represented by board members:

Ian Clarke
Jerry Cope
Dan Crawford

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.

We encourage members to provide us with as much detail as possible (e.g. time, duration, date etc.) when raising issues either with the Trust or directly with the Club.

TOPICS DISCUSSED

After informing the Club of the outcome of the recent board elections, and that the FST is nominating Michael Gregg to be our Safety Advisory Group representative, the following topics were raised and discussed:

MATCH OPERATIONS

Congestion underneath Hammersmith End

The Trust is concerned that, with the closure of the Riverside concourse, half time congestion at the Hammersmith End has become worse and now represents a potential safety hazard. This has been raised by a number of members who have difficulty accessing the lower concourse toilet areas and was considered to be particularly bad at half time of the Wigan Athletic fixture.  

Recognising the constraints of space available, the Trust made a number of suggestions that might be considered to alleviate the problem including 

  • additional stairs down to the lower concourse toilet area
  • catering stands in the lower concourse area
  • increased use of mobile catering (“hawkers”)
  • mobile catering (non-alcoholic) inside the stand.

The Club responded that capacity at the Hammersmith had in fact reduced this season (due to the loss of block H8 and a reduction in capacity of H7) so that the ratio of people to space had not changed.  The Club also explained that the addition of further stairs to the lower concourse had been considered in the past but had been found to have a negative impact on space available and thus capacity.  The situation is regularly monitored by the Council for safety issues. 

Following detailed discussion, and in the light of the current changed ground configuration, the Club agreed nonetheless to have another look to see what could be done, including the suggestions made by the Trust today.

Stewarding the stairwells

Supporters who have some difficulty with the stairs had reported that the positioning of stewards at the top of the stairwells, particularly in the Hammersmith End, prevents them from holding the rail at the top.  Some stewards explain that they are told to stand in these locations, although the Club said that this should not be the case. The Trust asked that stewards be reminded not to stand alongside handrails on stairs in the ground and the Club agreed to do this.

On The Ball

Following a request from the Trust, the Club agreed that it would be regularly checking the provision of On the Ball items before matches.  This follows reports in recent games of there being no supplies.

Cashless payments

In response to a question about the extension of cashless payments, the Club said this had gone very well (beginning with the Charlton match), with a record 96% of payments being cashless and only one complaint.

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TICKETING

Match ticket prices and season ticket exchange

The Trust thanked the Club for a good range of prices and offers for the QPR, Derby and Hull games, in line with our previous advice and recommendations on Championship ticket pricing.  Everyone hoped this would be reflected in increased attendance. 

The Club reported that it seemed possible that the Hull game would be the first one to trigger the season ticket exchange scheme and explained that the scheme would go live when only a small number of single tickets remained.

Questioned by the Trust on why the exchange had not been used for the Charlton fixture, for which it seemed that approximately 250 tickets remained on sale by Friday, the Club explained that there were more tickets available for sale than were visible on the website as some, e.g. family tickets, could only be bought over the phone. Additionally there were groups of tickets still available in the Putney End.

Sale of Putney End tickets

The Trust asked for an explanation of the sales strategy for Putney End tickets as, for some matches, they had not been made available.  The Club explained that for the first part of the season Putney End tickets had not been made generally available as they were being held back for potential season ticket sales.  For some matches they were made available closer to kick-off when there was limited availability elsewhere.  

As season tickets sales are now almost complete, the Club said that unsold Putney End tickets would now be released, with limited availability, albeit sometimes only close to the game to avoid sales to away fans. However if season ticket holders wanted to buy tickets (only for Fulham supporters) earlier this could be done by phone in advance of a more general release, subject of course to availability.

The Club also explained that the capacity of the ground changed on a match by match basis in discussion with the Council depending on the state of building works, and this coupled with awaiting the announcement of TV games, did delay the sale time for tickets – but they were released as soon as these two issues were settled.  

It was also reported that a total of over 1,000 Putney End tickets had so far been allocated to the Fulham Foundation across the games played this season, which was greatly appreciated by the Foundation.  The Trust is very supportive of this initiative.

Half Season Tickets

The Club said that is was unlikely that half season tickets would be made available this year.

Telephone waiting times

A number of Members reported long telephone waits to buy tickets on the Monday morning of the Reading game. The Trust raised this with the Club at the time to check whether a technical failure had occurred (it had not).  The Club explained how calls were diverted if unanswered, but 400 Reading tickets (approximately 25% of the away attendance) had been sold by phone in a short period of time on that Monday with every available operator being used. This was the busiest the ticket office had been since last Christmas. 

Reported wait times of 40 minutes should not be possible due to the configuration of the phone system and if any supporters feel their phone calls were held for this length of time it is possible to run specific phone line checks to identify the reason (please contact the Trust in this case and we will put you in touch with the Club).

It was agreed that in future where waits were inevitable, Twitter should be used to communicate this, together with the number of tickets still available so that supporters could safely hold back. Indeed the Trust asked for the regular updates on away ticket sales to be re-introduced as they have recently been missing from the web site. The Club agreed to do this and has subsequently updated the web site for the Middlesbrough and Birmingham games.

The Trust asked whether online sales could continue past the postal time limit for away matches.  The Club said that this was not possible and also in the past supporters had been confused as to where to collect tickets, e.g. at Reading or at the Ticket Office

Loyalty points

The Trust asked why as many as 4 loyalty points were available for the QPR home game compared with fewer for some away games and only 5 for Middlesbrough away. It was explained that Club policy was for TV home games to get 4 points as a small thank you to watch the match in the stadium. Recognising the wide range of views on the use of loyalty schemes, the Trust informed the Club that it would be including this in its next Fan Survey.

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FFCtv STREAMING

The Trust said that it had been made aware of streaming problems for the Reading game and that supporters affected had been disappointed with the lack of refunds. The Club said that there had indeed been an encoding issue, and that this affected some users and had been rectified well before half-time. Club staff were on site at the Craven Cottage studio base to oversee the operation and they subsequently had only received a handful of complaints.  

Other problems could have been caused by supporters using the old app, or by hardware issues. The new app specifically for FFCtv is called the ‘FFCtv app’ on the Apple and Android app stores and is now the way to access FFCtv on mobile or tablet.

They said they looked at claims for refunds on their merits e.g. double booking, but in situations where most supporters had received service they could not tell which individual customers had problems without them being directly reported.

The Club repeated that where a problem was being experienced supporters should immediately contact FFC TV support for help.  As a reminder, the email address is [email protected].

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TELEVISED GAMES

Whilst accepting the selection of games was outside of the Club’s control, and that there were published guidelines on the timing of selection to TV, the Trust reiterated the difficulty this caused supporters e.g. three long distance away Friday night games already this season. The Trust asked if anything in such circumstances could be done to help with the cost of coach travel e.g. for the Swansea game. The Club agreed to look at this again, but was wary of favouring one game over another. 

The Trust told the Club it was considering publicity on its own website as to when supporters could be reasonably confident games would not be moved.  The Club also highlighted that home matches do not go on sale until TV picks have been made.

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LONDON LIVING WAGE

The Trust was concerned that Fulham was not included in recent publicity regarding football clubs accredited by the London Living Wage Foundation as paying the London Living Wage as this had been raised and discussed in detail previously. The Club confirmed that it is close to receiving the accreditation by the London Living Wage Foundation as it is already paying London Living Wage to all directly engaged and employed staff.

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OTHER ISSUES AND QUESTIONS

  • The Club confirmed it was still intending to show time lapsed footage of the Riverside building, but not until there was something significant to show.  Cameras are recording progress of the works but will not be available as a live feed.
     
  • The Club said that no development was envisaged in the foreseeable future at either the Putney or Hammersmith Ends.
     
  • The Club confirmed that, like most discount schemes, it required season tickets to be shown to receive discount in the shop, although the Ticket Office, if not busy, would try to help out if supporters had genuinely forgotten their tickets.  The club shop is not linked to the ticketing system and so staff cannot routinely verify season ticket status without the physical ticket being presented to the card readers.
     
  • The Club confirmed that police investigations into the incident at Barnsley were still on-going.
     
  • In response to a request from the Trust, the Club agreed to provide more regular updates about players out on loan. 

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The meeting closed at 1420.

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