Notes from January meeting with FFC
On Monday 13th January 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)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
- Aimee McKenzie (Operations and Venue Director)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
The FST was represented by board members:
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.
The Trust informed the Club that the FST Board has been strengthened by the co-option of Derek Brewer, a Fulham fan and formerly Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, who now works with the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board).
The following topics were then raised and discussed:
- Stewarding of home areas
- Homophobic chanting
- 2020/21 season tickets
- January transfer window
Catering has been a regular topic at this season’s meetings, particularly speed of service. The Trust said that feedback from recent games (Stoke, Reading, Aston Villa) indicated that the speed of catering had improved, particularly by the pre-pouring of drinks, and we hoped this could be maintained or indeed improved further.
The Trust also asked about the mystery shopper exercise undertaken by the Club which was discussed at the December meeting. The Club explained that the issues raised by the exercise were similar to those reported by Trust members. The Club is now focusing on seeing whether healthy options can be added to the menus along with better signage and communications. The Trust was supportive of these further improvements.
The Club added that, in response to a previous suggestion from the Trust, at this Friday’s game against Middlesbrough they will be trialling ‘hawkers’ in red coats at the Hammersmith End who will sell hot dogs only (as a start) to try to help ease congestion. Continuation of this scheme will be critically dependant on take-up. The Club was also pleased to note that the barista style coffee outlet at the Hammersmith End has been very successful.
We encourage supporters to use the new hawkers where possible to ensure their use is continued and expanded. This will contribute towards alleviating the concourse congestion.
STEWARDING OF HOME AREAS
The Trust received a number of recent reports of identifiable away fans in home areas and asked about both tickets being in away fans’ hands and also the protocol for stewards dealing with such fans.
The Club said that it had a zero tolerance policy towards Fulham fans buying tickets for away supporters who identified themselves by their actions etc, and asked supporters to make a note of where any such away fans were sitting and pass this information to the Club.
The Club explained that at the Aston Villa match a number of such away fans had been identified and ejected by stewards checking tickets on entry to the ground. If Fulham supporters notice away fans in home areas during a game they are asked to notify a steward who can pass the information via a supervisor to ‘control’. The Trust said that, based on its reports, it was not clear that firm and visible enough action was being taken. All acknowledged that this was a difficult and sensitive area and it would be kept under close review.
The Trust also added that the blocking of stairways by stewards seemed to have improved recently but again asked that this continued to be spelt out in the pre-match briefing, especially to new stewards.
Where possible we asked that more help be given to supporters by stewards to find their seats, particularly given the layout of the Johnny Haynes stand.
The Trust noted that it was opening up separate channels of communication around the stewarding of away fans in away areas.
The Trust highlighted that supporters were becoming increasingly concerned by the prevalence of homophobic chants at both home and away matches and asked about protocols for handling complaints.
We were told that the Club followed a protocol when becoming aware of such chanting in an area of the ground. The Club encouraged the reporting of unacceptable behaviour to stewards or via the Kick It Out telephone number publicised at each game. If such reports are received within a game then the Club can make announcements in specified areas of the ground as had happened in the away section during the Reading game. Otherwise, if supporters do not wish to alert stewards on the day, the Club asked that supporters make a note of precisely where such behaviour was happening and inform them so that they can then monitor the area in future games.
The Trust noted that Hull, for instance, have their own well publicised phone and text number for quick in-game reporting of incidents by supporters, and asked if the Club could provide something similar. We were assured this is under consideration.
It was agreed that it is in everyone’s interests to make the atmosphere at Fulham games as positive and inclusive as possible.
2020/21 SEASON TICKETS
In response to a question from the Trust, the Club said that it is too early even to start planning next season’s ticket policy, not least because of the obvious uncertainty around which division we will be playing in. The Club intends to leave the decision as late as possible.
The Club did however add that it is very pleased with attendance levels at home and away games this season. The Club is also pleased with the operation of the season ticket exchange ticket system, which they encouraged more people to use when it is triggered, as will be the case as the season progresses.
JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW
The Trust asked how activity in the transfer window will operate and pressed in particular on the involvement of the Head Coach and Tony Khan, the latter who clearly has other high profile business sometimes in America. Alistair Mackintosh responded that he had talked to Tony Khan every day at length, including weekends, since and before the window opened and both Tony Khan and Scott Parker were fully involved in planning strategy for the window. These two key individuals were supported by an experienced team analysing options etc. The Club would continue to support the Head Coach, within FFP rules, if he wanted to strengthen the squad.
At the time of the meeting the Club had no further news on the injury to Aleksandar Mitrović.
Manchester City ticketing and travel.
The Trust asked if there was going to be any support to help fans get to Manchester by 13:00 on a Sunday for the cup tie. The Club responded that prices had been set very low (£10 for adults) which was in their view very good value; coach prices had been set reasonably and they argued that the overall package was good value. Fulham have agreed to take 5,000 tickets for the game, noting that Port Vale had managed to bring over 7,000 supporters to the previous round against City, although the Trust pointed out that that game was not on TV, and Port Vale was much closer to Manchester.
Charlton Athletic re-arranged fixture
The Club re-iterated that under EFL rules there was nothing that the Club could do about Charlton fixing the date of the forthcoming game, despite it unusually being at very short notice.
Pre-match announcement of the team
The Club said that it was the request of the first team that in the tweet giving the team the formation of players was not revealed any more.
The provision of public Wi-Fi for the whole ground is being considered as part of the Riverside Stand construction, but there are formidable technical difficulties.
Exiting the Hammersmith End
The Club explained that it is not possible under the Club’s Safety Licence for exit from the Hammersmith End to be also via the Johnny Haynes stand.
Contracts for young players
There are very complex rules around contracts for young players and a lot depends on the attitude of the player. (The Trust would refer interested supporters to the full explanation given in the notes of our July 2019 meeting).
Issues at end of Hull City match
There had clearly been problems at the end of the Hull away game, and supporters are encouraged to notify Hull Supporter Liaison via [email protected] with full details of anything they experienced.
More information on Club medical staff
The Club will consider profiling the medical team and other less visible staff, but were concerned about singling out any one individual.
Hammersmith End congestion
The Club continues to give consideration to overcrowding on the concourse in the Hammersmith End, including access to toilets, and will ask stewards to move people along where appropriate.
Use of ‘Live Tourism’ services
When in the Premier League, the Club received six visits a year from an organisation called ‘Live Tourism‘ on the ground experience and had made adjustments following their recommendations, but the EFL only provides one such visit a year.
The Club confirmed that the incident at the Barnsley away game was due in court in mid-February, and no further comment would be made until the case had concluded.
The meeting closed at 14:00