Notes from February Meeting with FFC
On Monday 8 February at 12:30, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC via video conference.
The Club was represented by:
- Alistair Mackintosh (CEO)
- Darren Preston (Chief Operating Officer)
- David Daly (Non-Executive Director)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director)
- Huw Jennings (Academy Director)
- Ally Spicer (Head of Ticketing Operations)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
HOW IT WORKS
The Trust asks any questions that it judges are of interest to supporters, based on responses from Trust Members to the advance notification of the meeting, and by generally interacting with the wider supporter base. There is no restriction placed on which questions the Trust choose to ask or points raised with the Club. These notes are then sent to members only in advance of being posted on our website at a later date.
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 or alternatively we can seek to raise it between meetings if that is more appropriate.
- Updates since December
- Transfer window / FFP
- Annual celebration day
- Riverside Stand progress
- 2021/22 season planning
- Max Noble investigation
- Betting company sponsorship / future commercial planning
- FST annual survey
UPDATES SINCE DECEMBER
The Trust opened the meeting by reflecting on the COVID-19 outbreak at the Club during January and was pleased to hear that all those affected are now healthy.
Simon Duke was introduced as the new Trust Secretary following the recent elections and board meeting.
TRANSFER WINDOW / FFP
The Trust welcomed the update on the January transfer window provided by Tony Khan last week and explained that it had received a number of follow-up questions from members, particularly relating to the impact of Financial Fair Play (FFP) on transfer activity and the timing of transfers within the window.
The Club said that in general there was nothing further to add to the information provided in the video, but did reiterate both that FFP remains particularly difficult for clubs moving between the Championship and Premier League and also that there are many aspects of financial planning during the pandemic that remain unquantified, including, for example, potential player value impairment across the global market. The Club did confirm that FFP analysis would be carried out this year looking at a four-year cycle rather than the normal three-year timeframe.
The Club was able to confirm in response to a large number of questions from members that the tribunal hearing to determine the compensation due for Harvey Elliott’s move to Liverpool would begin on Tuesday 9 February. It is currently unclear how long the process will take and when the Club can expect to hear an outcome.
The Trust commented that it plans to produce a Fulham focussed ‘explainer’ of the complexities and challenges created by FFP based on public-domain information and would be grateful for any review or contribution by the Club.
ANNUAL CELEBRATION DAY
The Trust introduced an outline proposal for an Annual Celebration Day to come together to remember and commemorate members of the Fulham family – players, staff and fans – no longer with us. The key points included
- celebrate at the home fixture closest to the anniversary of Johnny Haynes’ birth/death (17/18 October)
- laying of a wreath by the Cottage or Johnny Haynes Stand
- minute’s silence to remember all those lost to us
- half-time big screen show of photos of loved ones submitted by supporters
- section of programme reserved to carry tributes to those we have lost
- raise money for the Fulham foundation.
The Club agreed to review the proposal and to provide feedback to the Trust, noting the possibility of a clash with Remembrance Day activities in November. The Trust will provide further information on the proposal in the hope that we can create a wonderful annual occasion.
RIVERSIDE STAND PROGRESS
The Trust asked for an update on the Riverside Stand project given the very visible progress noted by supporters watching on TV recently as segments of the roof structure have been lifted into place.
The Club confirmed that good progress is being made, although works will now start to slow as closer working is required for the fit-out trades, which has COVID distancing implications. Some seats are likely to be available for the 2021/22 season, although the quantity will be driven by the available facilities. Temporary facilities will be considered where possible to maximise capacity.
The Club further explained that whilst the stand may look complete from pitch side at the start of next season, there will still be considerable internal works to be completed. Full completion is now unlikely until summer 2022.
In relation to specific detail questions asked by Trust members, the Club confirmed that there are no plans to move the changing rooms or press facilities into the Riverside Stand. A broadcast point will be in the stand to replicate the one in the old stand which has been temporarily replaced by a scaffold gantry.
Work continues on how to best migrate season ticket holders to the new stand but there is nothing to share with supporters at this stage, particularly as the timing of seat availability is not yet known, nor the future impact of COVID.
Occupiers for the commercial spaces are being sought through a mixture of working with partners and the club sourcing on their own; there will be a partner for catering.
2021/22 SEASON PLANNING
The Trust asked whether the Club was able to do any planning for the 2021/22 season, in particular whether plans existed for the sale of season tickets should supporters be allowed to attend by the start of next season.
The Club said that although they would like to be in a position to provide details, at this stage there are too many variables including which league, whether or not spectators can be admitted, the number of spectators allowed and Riverside Stand seating availability. Hence there is currently no planning information for the Club to share with supporters. At this time there is no date by which season ticket holders and members should expect a communication regarding tickets.
MAX NOBLE INVESTIGATION
The Trust and supporters were shocked to read the recent allegations of historic bullying and racism made by Max Noble relating to the Academy. The Club said that they take any allegation of this type extremely seriously and confirmed that they have launched a thorough internal investigation based on FA advice. The investigation will seek to speak to anyone with relevant information, including the complainant (first) and the few members of staff remaining from that period. Given the sensitive nature of the allegations, it is not appropriate for the Club to comment further about the details of the investigation until it is complete.
In further discussion, the Club highlighted its very high standards of support for current and former youth players, including an exemplary Barnardo’s review of safeguarding. The Club has a strong ‘alumni support programme’ and a number of former players have been extremely complimentary about the support they have received; the Club retain a focus on supporting young players’ mental wellbeing.
BETTING COMPANY SPONSORSHIP / FUTURE COMMERCIAL PLANNING
The Trust asked for the Club’s views on future commercial planning in the light of the ongoing Government review of the Gambling Act (2005) which it is thought may result in restrictions on advertising and sponsorship by the gambling industry.
The Club explained that in seeking to maximise revenues, the gambling sector is not one it has shied away from and noted that the possible direction of travel in the UK seems to differ markedly from the UEFA/Champions League models and also that operating the US. The Club further noted that any restriction on sponsorship from the sector will have a negative financial impact on clubs like Fulham, but it is difficult to say at this stage which sectors might fill the void.
FST ANNUAL SURVEY
The Trust explained that the third of our annual surveys will be launched very soon, including topics such as
- behind closed doors football
- limited capacity attendance during the pandemic
- pay per view television
- betting sponsorship
- Riverside Stand
- safe standing.
In the absence of match day attendance, the survey will be advertised through social media, web site and email and the results will be shared with all supporters and also with the Club at a future meeting.
The meeting closed at 13:30.