Notes from April meeting with FFC
On Monday 26 April at 13:30, 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:
- Ian Clarke (Vice Chair)
- Jerry Cope (Treasurer, Membership Secretary)
- Hayley Davinson (Board Member)
- Farrell Monk (Board Member)
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.
This meeting was delayed from its initial planned date of 12th April by agreement in the hope that more information would be available from the authorities relating to the return of a limited number of supporters to matches at the end of the 2020/21 season. However, information is still in short supply in this area so there is not much more detail to add.
- European Super League
- Return of fans to football
- Key dates
- Ground capacity
- Ticket sales process
- Supporters who did not receive a ticket in the December ballot
- 2021/22 Season
- Season tickets
- Use of technology for ticketing
- Riverside Stand
- Availability and selection of seats
- Protection from the elements
- Location of away fans
- Safe standing / rail seating
- Social media boycott
- BBC site at Motspur Park
- Putney End toilets
- Annual Celebration Day
- Kit sizes
- Thanks to players and staff
EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE
Given the fast-moving events of the previous week in relation to the European Super League (ESL) proposals, the Trust asked the Club for any additional thoughts over and above the well-received and clear statement from the Chairman.
The Club said that the days after the English clubs withdrew from the ESL have been quiet compared with the preceding 48 hours and, at this stage, they have no further comments to make other than to highlight the role played by the fans in collectively rejecting the proposals. Discussions between the Premier League and the clubs will continue but it is too soon to predict an outcome.
The Trust emphasised our support for the fan led review in which we will seek to participate fully on behalf of Fulham supporters.
RETURN OF FANS TO FOOTBALL
The Club and the Trust discussed our collective understanding of the likelihood of game(s) being played at the end of the current season with supporters in attendance and the plans flowing from these.
Although not yet formally announced, our expectation (unconfirmed) is as follows
- A Government decision as to whether supporters can be admitted for Premier League fixtures after 17 May will be announced on 10 May, depending on the national Covid situation and any lessons learned from the ongoing trial events. This is the key date.
- It is likely that two rounds of fixtures will be allowed to have supporters in attendance, one home fixture and one away fixture for each team. Only home supporters will be admitted to each game.
- Subject to Premier League and broadcaster announcements, the fixtures at Southampton and Manchester United are likely to be moved back by a few days each such that the Manchester United game falls beyond the 17 May Government date after which supporters may be able to return. The game at Old Trafford would be for Manchester United supporters only.
- Fulham’s fixture at home to Newcastle on 23 May would be played in front of Fulham fans only.
The Trust asked whether any further discussions had taken place relating to the likely capacity for a match (versus Newcastle) played in front of supporters and the Club replied that the expectation was still that the capacity would be approximately 2,000, as for the Liverpool fixture in December. This is less than the centrally announced ‘lower of 25% of capacity and 10,000’ because the Sports Ground Safety Authority SG02 rules still apply, notably relating to social distancing on concourses which is the limiting factor at Craven Cottage.
Ticket sales process
The Trust asked if there were any more details available relating to the sales process for tickets for the Newcastle fixture should supporters be admitted. The Club confirmed, in the limited time expected to be available, the likelihood is of a two-stage process as follows
- Closed sales period for all supporters who had money taken, and subsequently refunded, for either the Brighton or Southampton fixtures in December. These supporters will have initial priority.
- Ballot for all other season ticket holders should any tickets be available after the closed sale period.
Supporters who did not receive a ticket in the December ballot
Outside of the structured dialogue meetings, the Trust and the Club have identified that a small number of supporters entered the December ticket ballot but had previously opted out of receiving communications from the Club which was a pre-condition of entering the ballot. The Club was therefore unable to put these supporters in the ballot under GDPR rules as additional email communications were required relating to the medical questionnaire.
The Trust asked for specific attention to be given to these supporters and the Club confirmed that the plan is for the ticket office to contact each supporter affected by opting out of communications, asking them to resubscribe prior to the Newcastle ticket sales.
The Trust further asked for the supporters impacted to be placed in the closed sale process which the Club will consider, subject to available capacity, and strongly urges any supporters who receive a message asking them to subscribe to communications to do so should they wish to attend the Newcastle fixture.
The Trust also raised the status of supporters who were unable to apply for the first ballot due to being in a tier three Covid zone, which mainly covered Kent. The Club noted that these supporters were unable to apply previously, but said it would not be possible to allocate Newcastle tickets to them other than via the second ballot should they apply this time, although they will think further about this.
Noting that some clubs have begun a season ticket sales process, the Trust asked for any updates available relating to 2021/22 season tickets. The Club said that they hoped to make season tickets available for next season but reiterated the points made in previous meetings that although they are working on various scenarios, there are currently too many variables to be able to issue any more detail. In particular, it is currently not certain in which division Fulham will play next season, whether any, and if so which, Covid restrictions will continue to apply, thereby restricting stadium capacity, and how many seats may be available in the Riverside Stand. There are further complications related to requirements for broadcasters and visiting teams with social distancing in force.
In discussion, the Trust asked in particular for the Club’s thoughts as to how season tickets might be allocated in the eventuality that the ground is forced by Covid restrictions to operate at a capacity lower than the number of 2019/20 season ticket holders. The Club said they have a number of ideas but would like to hear feedback from supporters.
We encourage any fans with thoughts in this area to contact the Trust to make them known.
Use of technology for ticketing
The Trust explained the concern of a number of supporters that digital only tickets and/or the use of digital Covid passports could unduly impact some older supporters without smart phones. The Club noted the issue and will think about workarounds if needed for those affected.
Availability and selection of seats
The Trust asked about likely availability of seats in the Riverside Stand next season. The Club said this is still being assessed and that there are many complicating factors including access and facilities, but that they hoped that a fixed number of seats would be available followed by full availability in 2022/23.
The seat selection process for Riverside season ticket holders will therefore not take place until season tickets are sold for 2022/23 and the Club confirmed that there is no change to its commitment to provide reasonable priority for former Riverside season ticket holders to return at that point; nobody will be disadvantaged by the choices they make in 2021/22.
The Trust emphasised a number of comments received in relation to the March meeting notes that when the time comes supporters would like to assess their new seat in person rather than via ‘view from my seat’ software, noting that there are areas of interest other than the view of the pitch. The Club said that it will consider this but that it was not now a decision for the forthcoming season.
Protection from the elements
Some supporters have asked whether the stand will provide sufficient protection, particularly towards the back, from wind and rain. The Club confirmed that they have modified the design slightly to ensure this protection will be provided.
Location of away fans
The Trust asked whether any away fans would be accommodated in the Riverside Stand but the Club said this would not be the case.
Safe standing / rail seating
The Trust was interested to learn that Chelsea have installed rail seating following consultation with Hammersmith and Fulham council and asked the Club whether it had any further thoughts on this at Craven Cottage, given the recent FST Survey showing over 70% approval. The Club said that given the focus on the Riverside, it has not given any consideration thus far to a rail seating scheme.
Social media boycott
The Club confirmed that it would be participating in the planned social media boycott from Friday 30 April until Monday 3 May. As an affiliate of the Football Supporters’ Association the Trust will also boycott social media for this period of time to send a clear unified message to social media companies that more is expected of them to tackle online hate.
The Club also highlighted their Ful Stop campaign allowing supporters to report concerns relating to inappropriate behaviour both at matches and online.
BBC site at Motspur Park
Several Trust members have enquired about the status of the former BBC Sports Ground site which the Club purchased in 2017. The Club said that all focus is presently on the Riverside development and that there is no current or planned activity related to the BBC site.
Putney End toilets
The Trust raised comments made by members relating to the poor quality of the toilets at the Putney End of the ground. The Club noted the feedback, whilst commenting that all efforts currently were focused on the Riverside works.
Annual Celebration Day
The Trust and the Club have met outside of the structured dialogue meeting schedule to progress the Annual Celebration Day and all agreed that this is a good initiative which we plan to launch at the start of calendar year 2022. We agreed to pick this up again at the July or August meeting and to work on further details.
The Trust passed on comments received that often replica kits are not available in sufficient quantities in very large (e.g. 3XL) sizes which the Club will refer to the retail team.
Thanks to players and staff
A number of Trust members asked for their thanks to players and staff to be passed on for all their efforts during this most difficult of years, highlighting that football still plays a big part in supporting mental health, even without the ability to attend fixtures in person. The Trust also passed on continuing good wishes to Kevin McDonald in the lead up to his kidney operation.
The meeting closed at 14:30