Notes from March meeting with FFC
On Monday 8 March 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)
- Ally Spicer (Head of Ticketing Operations)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
- Matt Lowery (Marketing Director)
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.
- Return of fans to football
- Club understanding
- Operations and likely capacity
- Ticket allocation
- 2021/22 Season
- Annual celebration day
- FST survey feedback
- Riverside Stand
- Terminology used in video update
- Opportunity to view
- Opening game
- Pitch quality
- International Women’s Day
- Jim & Jamie post-match reviews
In opening discussions, the Trust board members present asked the Club to pass on both our personal best wishes to Kevin McDonald following the news of his kidney transplant and also those of all Trust members and the wider Fulham fanbase.
RETURN OF FANS TO FOOTBALL
All Football supporters have been encouraged by recent Government announcements relating to the possible return of limited numbers of fans to football after 17 May 2021. The Trust asked for the Club’s understanding and views on this.
The Club explained that they are and always have been positive about supporters returning to football as soon as possible. They were able to confirm their expectation that, assuming no changes to the guidelines, some Fulham fans will be able to attend the Fulham v Newcastle fixture on 23 May. The Club also anticipates one away fixture may have fans admitted, although this will be for home supporters only (Fulham supporters will not be able to attend).
There is no current expectation of earlier test events and all will be subject to a meeting of the Hammersmith and Fulham Safety Advisory Group (SAG) which the Trust attends.
Operations and likely capacity
As explained and discussed at previous meetings, there were many factors limiting the available capacity when supporters returned for the Liverpool fixture in December. These were all based on Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) Covid guidance. The most recent Government announcement suggested attendances of the lower of 25% of capacity or 10,000 would now be allowed and the Trust asked for the Club’s understanding, especially given the particular challenges at Craven Cottage.
Working to the current SGSA guidance and from earlier discussions with the SAG, the Club explained that it is prudent to anticipate capacity for Fulham v Newcastle will be approximately 2,000 and not 25% of capacity. If there are revisions to guidance this may increase, but given the configuration of Craven Cottage and limited concourse space, it may well be lower than other venues are allowed. The Club and Trust agreed that if there are ways of getting more spectators present then they will be explored.
For clarity, there is no likelihood of seats in the Riverside being available for sale for the Newcastle fixture.
In relation to ticketing for the likelihood of a single fixture with approximately 2,000 capacity, the Club and the Trust were in agreement that those supporters who had previously been allocated tickets in the ballot for the Brighton or Southampton fixtures in December should have priority access to the Newcastle match. This is in line with the previous announcement made when Brighton tickets were refunded. Following a ‘closed sale’ period of Newcastle tickets to those supporters, any further tickets available will be balloted amongst remaining season ticket holders, with priority given to those who have not yet been allocated a ticket this season.
The Trust asked if there has been any planning for the 2021/22 season following the recent Government announcements. The Club explained its view that it is still too soon to make plans with so many variables, most notably no confirmation of allowable capacity next season, but confirmed that it would like to sell season tickets if possible. In discussion the Trust reiterated the desire of most supporters to be able to return to ‘normal’ football.
The Club confirmed that it does expect some seats to be available in the Riverside Stand next season before its completion, probably towards the ‘wings’ of the stand, although it is not yet clear what facilities might be available.
ANNUAL CELEBRATION DAY
The Trust asked for feedback on the proposal brought to the Club at the February meeting for the introduction of an Annual Celebration Day. The Club was pleased to explain that the supporter relations team had discussed the proposal with the Club management board and that there was broad approval, subject to some additional ideas. The Club and Trust will meet outside of the regular monthly meetings to progress the initiative.
FST SURVEY FEEDBACK
The Trust presented some very high-level feedback from the recent Fans’ Survey. Particular discussion points centred on
- gambling sponsorship
- attitudes to pay per view and illegal streaming
- impact of lack of football on mental health.
The Trust agreed to bring further details to the Club once a full analysis has been completed and will be presenting the results to Trust members at a members-only Webinar on the evening of 24 March.
The Trust thanked the Club for the recent Riverside Stand project update and asked a number of questions arising both from the video and from points raised by members.
Terminology used in video update
Some supporters picked up the use of the phrase “Hotel End” in the update interview and asked for clarification on the use of this name. The Club explained that it is a convenient description being used by Buckingham and there is no change in the name of the Hammersmith End.
The Trust also checked with the Club its understanding that mention of a hotel does not imply that there has been any change to the planning permission, and that the existing class C1 permission covers both “serviced apartments” and “hotels where no significant element of care is provided”. The Club confirmed this to be the case, explaining that there is very little difference, given the range of services which will be provided by Fulham Pier.
Opportunity to view
The Trust asked whether supporters will be able to view the Riverside Stand when it is closer to completion. The Club said that whilst it is not planning a specific viewing period, there will be plenty of opportunity for supporters to understand the facilities via the planned ‘sales portals’ including ‘view from my seat’.
In response to questions from members, the Trust asked whether any plans were being made for a prestige opening fixture. The Club confirmed that this is certainly being considered and asked for our feedback and ideas. A range of suggestions were made in the meeting, including the possibility of inviting Benfica (the opposition for the opening of the then new Riverside Stand in 1972) and Atletico Madrid given the friendly relations between fans at the Europa League final.
Some supporters have noted a possible degradation in the state of the pitch and asked whether the new stand has had an impact. The Club said that it has not, and that any apparent ‘cutting up’ of the surface was due to the bad weather recently, noting also that the very short close season did not allow for the usual programme of pitch maintenance works.
International Women’s Day
The Trust highlighted an interview on its web site with Megalie Mendes of the Fulham Women’s team.
Jim & Jamie post-match reviews
Some members have noted a recent lack of post-match reviews with Jim and Jamie which are popular with supporters. The Club explained that during the pandemic, changes have been made to the content and that currently these reviews are being done on a grouped match basis rather than after each match.
The meeting closed at 13:30.