Notes from August meeting with FFC
On Monday 9 August at 13:30, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC via video conference.
The Club was represented by:
- Alistair Mackintosh (CEO)
- Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
- Ally Spicer (Head of Ticketing Operations)
- David Daly (Non-Executive Director)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director)
- Darren Preston (Chief Operating Officer)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
- Tom Greatrex (Chair)
- Ian Clarke (Vice Chair)
- Jerry Cope (Treasurer, Membership Secretary)
- Sue Couch (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.
- New front of shirt sponsor
- Feedback from Middlesbrough and Charlton games
- General ticketing matters
- Transfer window
- Ground developments
- FFCtv pricing
NEW FRONT OF SHIRT SPONSOR
The Trust welcomed the Club’s new front of shirt sponsor World Mobile and highlighted the positive feedback from fans, not least that the welcome decision to move away from a betting sponsor enabled children’s shirts to carry the logo and hence look like shirts worn by the teams. The Trust looks forward to better understanding World Mobile’s programme of work in Africa as the season progresses.
FEEDBACK FROM MIDDLESBROUGH AND CHARLTON GAMES
The Trust reported that fans were delighted to be back watching live football in a good atmosphere and thanked the Club for their efforts in ensuring a successful return to Craven Cottage after 18 months away. Recognising these were the first games back, the Trust raised the following comments and suggestions for improvement based on feedback from supporters at the Middlesbrough match and Charlton friendly:
- Season tickets : Whilst appreciating the huge pressures on and commitment from the Ticket Office team, there was considerable frustration from affected supporters whose season tickets had not arrived in time and the lengthy queues that this caused at the Ticket Office before the Middlesbrough match. Supporters asked why season tickets were not distributed earlier;
- Programmes : Programmes seem to have sold out before kick-off in some parts of the ground for the Middlesbrough match;
- Toilets : The configuration of the Hammersmith End toilets had changed, and the signage was somewhat confusing in some areas;
- Congestion : There was significant congestion on the Hammersmith End concourse at half time, a situation which appears to have been worse since the Riverside Stand building work began and is exacerbated in bad weather. This makes it difficult to access the toilet area below the concourse. This has been discussed at previous meetings (pre-pandemic);
- Exit gates : At the end of the match, some exit gates appeared to be shut at both ends of the ground that were normally opened, which appeared to significantly slow down exit from the ground;
- Bishops Park : At the Charlton game some stewards appeared to be trying to stop leaving supporters entering Bishops Park.
In response the Club emphasised the challenges it faced in staging the match including the work needed to secure a safety certificate, flooding, the power outage (and hence no internet) last Friday, and the restrictions caused by building work.
But the Club particularly apologised for the inconvenience to those season ticket holders badly affected by the last dispatch of new cards. This had been caused by the ticket card provider, without the Club’s knowledge, sub-contracting the printing of the new cards to a French company, and the tickets then being stuck in customs at Stansted airport due to post-Brexit import regulations. The Club had made strong representations at the highest level to their suppliers about the impact of this delay and were conducting a full review of what and how things had gone wrong, to prevent a repeat in the future.
In response to the other points raised by the Trust, the Club:
- Confirmed that programmes were produced to the same quantity (approx. 10% of capacity) as previously, but also noted that while some individual sellers may have sold out, copies of the programme are available in the club shop (physical and online);
- Said they would look again at toilet signage – also some toilets were being constructed by Buckinghams as part of the Riverside project;
- Will continue to monitor congestion at half time and welcomes any further suggestions that may ease this, recognising however that there is limited space;
- Confirmed the relevant exit gates at both ends would be fully opened in future; congestion had also been increased by a broken-down ambulance outside the gates;
- Said they would check on any instructions to stewards about Bishops Park.
GENERAL TICKETING MATTERS
New ticketing system
Following the implementation of the new SecuTix ticketing platform, the Trust were delighted to see in the last few days a number of improvements which we have been pressing for in recent years, but which had not been possible on the previous Ticketmaster system. Supporters can now select specific seats from a seat map for away games, a service which has not been available for several years. There is also a new seat selection view for Craven Cottage fixtures. The Club confirmed the recent introduction of these features and welcomes any feedback from supporters.
In response to a question, the Club confirmed that the transfer of loyalty points to the new ticketing system was now a priority, although loyalty points were not expected to be needed for upcoming matches.
Kids for a quid
The Trust asked when the first kids-for-a-quid game would be and were told the Reading game, with tickets going on sale shortly.
Away fans in home sections
The Trust also asked that every opportunity be taken to ensure that away fans knew there was no longer a neutral section at Fulham. The Club confirmed that for the Middlesbrough fixture they had ceased selling home tickets to anyone, without a booking history, with a Middlesbrough postcode, but acknowledged that did not completely solve the issue of away supporters in home seats. They would look again at the website to make sure it was clear that there were only home and away parts of the ground now and would continue to implement postcode restrictions where necessary.
Colour coded fixture list
The Trust explained that we plan to re-introduce our popular Colour Coded Fixture List this season, to help supporters better understand which games are at risk of moving for TV and other reasons and asked for any input the Club could provide. The Club confirmed its understanding of the so-called “minimum five-week commitment” to not change fixtures but said there is always a risk that dates may change, for instance because of Chelsea’s Champions League fixtures. Nevertheless the Trust will provide the best information it can find and publish the Colour Coded Fixture List soon.
Director of Scouting
The Trust asked for an update on the process to appoint a Director of Scouting. The Club said interviews had been held but they were still searching for the right candidate and were determined only to secure someone of the highest quality and experience.
In response to a question on the likelihood of further activity in this window, the Club confirmed that they were still looking at options, in and out, but along with other clubs were finding the market quiet; the question was whether it would pick up in the normal way as the deadline got closer. Asked about the status of the Harry Wilson transfer, following media reports that it was a loan rather than permanent transfer and confusion within the player’s own video interview, the Club said they had a confidentiality agreement with Liverpool about the detail of the transfer, and therefore were unable to comment further.
The Trust asked about the Club’s commitment to the Academy given the frustration of losing good players to other clubs. The Club confirmed that despite the frustrating way the market for Academy players had developed, they remained fully committed. They always tried and were trying to sign up all suitable players on longer-term contracts as soon as allowed, but the influence of agents, in particular persuading players to move, continued to grow.
In response to a series of questions from the Trust, the Club:
- Re-iterated there was no immediate intention to introduce a safe standing area as the focus was on the Riverside, but this would be kept under review;
- Said any further ground development after the Riverside would critically depend on funding – there were long-term ideas, but no immediate plans;
- Said the increase in street parking charges was a matter of LBHF Council’s environmental policy. The Trust asked the Club if they might share a link on the Club website to enable supporters to access up to date parking information from the Council;
- Had no immediate plans to develop the BBC sports ground site;
- Confirmed video reports on the progress of the Riverside stand would continue.
The Trust reported that it had received a large number of representations from all over the world, including the USA, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, about the high cost of FFCtv’s international subscription rising from £120 when last in the Championship to £170 now with, it appeared, Fulham being the most expensive in the Championship.
The Trust added that the comparative cost of equivalent services in the United States, we had been told, was rather less, and the Trust were particularly impressed by representations received from an African Fulham group where the cost was extremely high related to local wages. The Trust were concerned that Fulham would lose some of its international supporter base by this large increase, a base which had built steadily over recent years.
The Club responded that they thought all clubs were charging on or around the iFollow price which was now set at £170 (up from £140 last year, the £120 price was 2 years ago) albeit some clubs had introduced an early bird offer, which was not possible with the later launch of Fulham’s service. Fulham were not part of iFollow and indeed provided additional features like the dedicated commentary and alternative camera positions. There was also an option for overseas fans to buy games on a one-off basis at £10 per match, the same as iFollow.
The Club further explained that as per the EFL’s pricing strategy, international match passes have also increased and are now in line with domestic prices, meaning individual match passes will be priced at £10 (this cost also increased to £7 per game in 2020/21 season from the previous £5 per game). Therefore, the season-long international streaming pass does remain the best value for overseas supporters accessing live games, as well as still being able to enjoy match replays, reaction and other video content. The Club will continue to deliver its own dedicated matchday production, complete with FFC commentary and content. The Club would, of course, welcome any feedback on the service throughout the season.
Since the meeting the Trust has researched this issue further and it seems that the large majority of Championship clubs have increased their season price to £170, but many have offered an early bird price, commonly at £140, and the Trust is disappointed that Fulham were not, for whatever reason able to make such an offer. The Trust will continue to keep this issue under review.
The Trust asked about the increased cost of replica shirts, now £60. The Club said that Adidas had increased the cost of their shirts, Fulham’s mark-up had not increased and that prices were generally in line with other clubs who used Adidas kit.
Subsequent to the meeting Trust research has found that both Cardiff and Sheffield United are selling Adidas shirts at £55.
Smaller kit sizes
Supporters with younger children asked when smaller sizes of kit would be available to buy. The Club confirmed that the “mini kits” (up to six years old) would be available in September.
In response to a question from one of our members, the Club said that the updating of U23/U18 player profiles was in train.
The meeting ended at 14:40