Notes from March meeting with FFC
On Tuesday 10th March at 16:00, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC via video conference following the postponement of the previous day’s meeting. The face to face meeting had been cancelled as part of the Club’s plans to safeguard the players during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Club was represented by:
- Alistair Mackintosh (CEO)
- Darren Preston (COO)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director)
- Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
The FST was represented by board members:
- Tom Greatrex (Chair)
- Ian Clarke (Vice Chair)
- Gerry Pimm (Secretary)
- Derek Brewer
HOW IT WORKS
In the light of fast moving coronavirus developments, much of the meeting focused on planning and communications in this area. We were also able to discuss a small number of extra topics. If any member has raised an issue that it was not 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:
Planning and communications
The Trust introduced co-opted board member Derek Brewer, who is heavily involved at ECB in Cricket’s response to coronavirus. We offered to share information and participate in planning and communications as appropriate. The Club agreed to keep in touch on this topic.
The Trust will provide to the Club a list of the issues that will impact most on supporters, so they can be reflected in communications and any FAQ that is produced.
Motspur Park and Craven Cottage
The Club explained that they are following all government guidance on coronavirus, particularly as Motspur Park and Craven Cottage are ‘high performance’ workplaces. For this reason the following measures have been taken:
- Limiting attendance of non-Club staff on site
- Extra precautions around the players on match days
- Additional player education
Further precautions and measures are being implemented for all Club staff such as
- Questionnaires on travel
- Flexible working
- Use of other Club offices
As a result of these measures, some Foundation activity has been impacted. The Club are looking for alternative venues for some Foundation activities.
Games behind closed doors
The Club and the Trust discussed the possibility of matches being played behind closed doors. The Club said that they are very keen to keep fans at the Cottage, but as previously mentioned will adhere to official advice. The Trust explained our understanding that decisions could be taken at short notice by the DCMS. In response to questions about planning for this eventuality, the Club explained that they have a working group focusing on contingency scenario planning but hoped this would not come to pass. The Club will seek guidance from the EFL as appropriate.
The Trust asked if FFCtv has the capacity to be made available to all supporters in the event that games are played behind closed doors. We are aware of EFL plans to upgrade the iFollow platform, but Fulham use a different system. The Club said they are in contact with the FFCtv service provider (Stream) on this topic.
Games continue with crowds
Should games continue with crowds, the Trust asked what measures the Club planned to take to help reduce coronavirus risk, particularly at the upcoming Brentford fixture. We asked specifically in the areas of hand hygiene and catering.
The Club explained that they are attempting to source alcohol hand rub/sanitser but that this is in short supply. They committed to ensure that hot water, soap and paper towels were available and topped up as appropriate in the Craven Cottage toilets.
The Club said they are considering making the stadium fully cashless, including catering, ticketing and the stadium store. This will eliminate the handling of cash and the associated potential virus issues. The Trust said we felt this was a sensible policy in the circumstances.
The Club further explained that all stewards and caterers will be reminded of the hygiene standards required of them.
The Club and Trust agreed that timely communication on the impacts of coronavirus on football was essential, particularly if any decisions were made regarding behind closed doors fixtures. The Club agreed to involve the Trust in the communications process and that it would continue to reiterate Government advice in the matchday emails.
HEALTH EMERGENCY DURING PRESTON MATCH
During the recent home match with Preston, a Fulham supporter in the Hammersmith End was taken seriously ill. The Trust asked if the Club had received an update on the health of the supporter.
The Club said the individual concerned is making a good recovery and will hopefully soon be discharged from hospital. The Club explained that they have remained in touch with the patient and various players have been in contact via video call (personal visits not being possible due to coronavirus precautions).
The Trust asked if a debrief had taken place and if so, whether there are any learnings for the Club, supporters and medical teams. The Club said that a full debrief would take place at the next home game, but that all concerned seemed to acquit themselves well. The medical team was on site in 3 minutes with stewards and supporters providing assistance.
TICKETING AND SEASON TICKETS
The Trust thanked the Club for providing £5 coaches to the midweek fixture at Leeds in response to a request at the previous meeting. We asked about the take-up of the offer and the Club revealed that four coaches would be travelling to Leeds, two each from Craven Cottage and Motspur Park.
Some members have asked whether the online ticketing system can store credit card details so that they don’t have to be re-entered for each transaction. This is common on many other ticketing systems but the Club explained that it is not currently available via Ticketmaster and nor are PayPal transactions. They added that other Clubs who use Ticketmaster have also asked for this facility.
The Trust enquired as to the current status of the contract with Ticketmaster, particularly as a common complaint from members is the inability to be able to select individual seats for away matches. The Club explained that the current contract runs until June 2020 but has been extended for 12 months until June 2021, during which time it will go to tender.
Regarding the specific issue of selecting away tickets, Ticketmaster will next year introduce a ‘Stadium share’ scheme whereby all Clubs using the Ticketmaster platform will be able to make their seat plans available and therefore allow away seat selection. This will allow Fulham fans to select away seats for any Club who also use Ticketmaster.
Season tickets 2020-21
The Trust followed up on the question asked at recent meetings regarding season ticket pricing and timing for the 2020-21 season. The Club reiterated that they do not plan to make a decision on season ticket pricing until next season’s division is known. It is clear from this that there will be two pricing models but we won’t know the prices until May.
The Trust is aware from a recent Premier League Network meeting of a plan to limit bags being taken into Premier League grounds (Manchester United, for example, already have this policy). We asked if the Club is aware of this policy and will implement it.
The Club explained that it will comply with any league wide policy but doesn’t plan to make any changes at present. The Club does already provide a bag store for which no charge is made. The definition of a ‘large’ bag is made currently by the Club but that may change in accordance with League rules.
The Club further explained that bag policy is constantly reviewed in line with prevailing anti-terror legislation.
Forever Fulham videos
The Trust thanked the Club for providing free to air videos of the Forever Fulham recipients, as requested at the February meeting.
‘Standby’ Sky games
The Trust asked whether the Club was aware of any policy from TV broadcasters to designate matches as ‘standby’ TV matches, dependent on the outcome of other games. We were aware that Cardiff announced in January that one of their home matches might be moved for TV depending on the outcome of a League Cup tie. The reason for the question was to try to determine available TV slots for the WBA away game (Chelsea are still in the FA Cup but scheduled to play live on TV the night before our fixture at the Hawthorns).
The Club said it was not aware of any such policy.
Given time constraints and pressing matters, further items of AOB were deferred to a future meeting.
The meeting closed at 16:55.