Notes from Sept meeting with FFC
On Monday 13 September at 13:30, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC via video conference.
The Club was represented by:
- Alistair Mackintosh (CEO)
- David Daly (Non-Executive Director)
- Darren Preston (Chief Operating Officer)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
- Matt Lowery (Marketing Director)
- Apologies : Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
- Ian Clarke (Vice Chair)
- Simon Duke (Secretary)
- Hayley Davinson (Board Member)
- Owen Smith (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.
WOMEN’S GAME AND FEMALE FANS
The meeting began with a detailed discussion of the Trust’s and Club’s mutual desire to support the growth of Fulham FC Women and also to increase the diversity of attendance amongst all Fulham teams, in particular providing support to female supporters on matchdays.
The Trust asked for the Club’s perspective on the progression of Fulham FC Women and its goals for the team.
The Club said that it is excited that so many people are now focussed on promoting the women’s game and explained that, following the excellent work undertaken by the Fulham Foundation, Steve Jaye and the Fulham Women’s team have now moved to the performance side of the Club under Huw Jennings to oversee the next stage of its evolution and promotion. The Club highlighted, however, the importance of ensuring that nobody is left behind and they are still focussed on all those who have been a part of the progress of Fulham Women to date.
The Trust asked about promoting Fulham Women by using the Arena pitch at Motspur Park and possibly Craven Cottage for matches.
The Club agreed that these are both possible and there had been pre-pandemic plans to host a men’s/women’s double header game at Craven Cottage. Plans are currently in place to recruit a new hire to the Fulham Communications team with specific responsibility for the women’s team and the use of the Arena pitch is part of a plan to encourage more support for the team. It is recognised that the audiences for the men’s and women’s teams are not necessarily the same and the Trust and Club reiterated our joint desire to help advertise and promote these games.
Gender balance at Fulham matches
In relation to female supporters, the Club said that it remains committed to improving the gender balance of supporters of all Fulham teams, and sees the Fulham Pier project as a key part of this plan.
The Trust and Club agreed to talk jointly to the campaign Her Game Too with a particular focus of ensuring that female fans feel welcomed and respected equally at football.
The Trust thanked the ticketing team for their hard work over recent months in migrating away from the previous Ticketmaster platform to SecuTix, which provides, amongst other facilities, the long-requested facility to select specific seats for away fixtures and has recently been enhanced to provide better seat selection capabilities at home matches. We asked a number of specific questions raised by members relating to ticket sales and the new ticketing system as follows.
In previous seasons, season ticket holders have been able to commit to buy a ticket for all home cup ties by registering a credit card with the Club (‘Home Cup Tie Scheme’) but this was not available for the Leeds United fixture. The Club explained that it was not possible to implement this facility before the start of the season and so would remain unavailable until 2022/23. Season ticket holders will still have first priority on tickets for cup fixtures.
Following on from this, the Trust asked why Putney End season ticket holders were unable to buy their seats for the Leeds fixture and whether this would be the same for future cup games. The Club said that, with the expectation of a very high number of Leeds supporters, it was considered best to allocate the Putney End of the ground to visiting supporters for safe segregation. Allocations for future home cup fixtures will be made on a case-by-case basis, but could return to the more normal use of the Putney End.
Ticket Office opening
Asked whether the Ticket Office will be re-opened to personal callers, the Club said they intended to do so, but did not have a date to share at this point.
Web site ‘user journeys’
Following a number of detailed questions asked by supporters about timely access to tickets and information through the official web site and app, particularly for away games, the Trust undertook a piece of work to understand the navigation required (so-called ‘user journeys’) and highlighted some difficulties encountered. The Club offered to host a separate meeting to walk through the issues and make improvements where necessary.
Away ticket availability
The Trust relayed comments from many supporters about the late availability of tickets for various away games at the start of the season, including Millwall and Birmingham. The Club explained that in each case tickets had arrived very late from the home club, and noted in particular that Birmingham has issues at St Andrew’s that have been well publicised.
The Trust asked the Club to provide as much advance notice of away tickets as possible to allow supporters to plan, noting the continuing dependency on the home clubs but suggesting that even estimated and continuously updated availability times are better than none.
Loyalty points and earlier purchase history
The Club explained that all of the loyalty point and purchase history data has been uploaded to the new system but is not yet visible to supporters. Work continues to provide this information.
The Trust welcomed the continuing video updates being provided on the official web site, the latest of which was published on the morning of the meeting. Following on from this, we asked for an update on the estimated completion date. The Club confirmed that the stand will be complete and fully available for the start of the 2022/23 season.
Permission for use of 4,000 Riverside seats
The Trust asked the Club for its plans in respect of the permission being sought to use 4,000 seats in the Riverside Stand this season. The Club explained that its first concern is to sell out the current capacity on a regular basis. The permission being sought for the use of additional seats this season is only in the event of extra capacity being required for specific matches and there are no detailed plans for their use at present. The Club reaffirmed its commitment to provide first priority to return to the Riverside Stand next season to those who migrated to the Putney End.
Riverside Stand floodlights
A number of supporters raised a concern with the Trust that the new floodlights in the Riverside Stand were dazzling them in blocks C/CL in the Johnny Haynes Stand making it hard to see games, although other supporters situated nearby and known to the Trust reported no such difficulties. The Club said that they had received one email directly on the subject but that they are happy to speak to anyone with concerns and asked the Trust to forward the additional correspondence which we will do. The Trust asked whether any further calibration of the lights was planned and the Club said that this was not the case. Nonetheless, details of the impacted seats have been passed to the Club’s operations team who will investigate, as will Trust board members who sit nearby.
Following the installation of rail seating at some clubs, including Manchester United and Chelsea, the Trust asked whether the Club has any similar plans. The Club reaffirmed that it does not, at this stage, intend to install rail seating, with all focus remaining on the Riverside Stand. The Trust reiterated support for safe standing, as indicated by the results of the recent fan surveys.
Hammersmith End congestion
The Trust highlighted that supporters remain concerned about congestion on the Hammersmith End concourse, which particularly inhibits access to the lower concourse area where the toilets are located. The Trust has, in the past, made a number of recommendations as to ways to alleviate the problem, including the addition of extra stairs linking the upper and lower levels, but the Club explained that a very fine balance has to be struck to provide the current capacity of the stand and that small changes in one area can have big knock-on effects in another.
We asked for the Club to continue to seek even small solutions in the hope that the opening of the Riverside Stand will alleviate pressure further. The Club was able to confirm that there will not be a physical barrier between the Hammersmith End and the Riverside Stand, although there will still be a stewarded ticket check line.
The Trust also asked whether any additional space might be made available should the Hammersmith End hospitality all move to the Riverside Stand. The Club said that this would not be the case.
The Trust asked, on behalf of a member, whether flood risk assessments were undertaken at Craven Cottage, which the Club confirmed were part of the Riverside planning conditions. Additionally, the latest update video makes reference to ‘attenuation crates’ as part of the flood protection at the river wall.
Following mixed messages from UK Government relating to the requirements for Covid certification at large events (the latest being that they would not be required) the Trust asked for the Club’s views. The Club explained that they are not in favour of Covid certificates and will only implement such a scheme if mandated to do so by Government or the football authorities.
Asked whether they are aware of any identified cases of Covid transmission at Fulham matches, the Club stated that they are not.
Annual Celebration Day
The Trust and Club are jointly working on plans for an Annual Celebration Day in January 2022 and agreed to continue discussions outside of the regular monthly meetings. Further information will be made available shortly.
The Trust raised the concerns of members who use the Fulham Facebook pages and are worried in particular about the number of illegal streams advertised on the site. The Club said it is aware of the issue but, although there is a moderator, they are not able to remove these links on matchdays when there are other priorities.
FFCtv technical issues
A small number of members continue to encounter technical issues with FFCtv and have raised them with the Trust. The Club confirmed previous advice that technical problems are almost always local issues with browsers or bandwidth and that these should be the first things to check. Further support is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Access to FFCtv videos
Some supporters have flagged to the Trust that they no longer visit the Club web site as much of the video information is behind the FFCtv paywall. The Trust asked on their behalf whether some of the shorter offerings can be made available to season ticket holders. The Club said they will consider this, but needed to be fair to those paying for the FFCtv service.
Coventry City fixture – Jimmy Hill Day
The Trust expressed support for Coventry’s Jimmy Hill Day activities at our upcoming fixture and asked whether the £1 per ticket donation to the Jimmy Hill Legacy Fund applied also to tickets purchased by Fulham supporters. The Club said that it thought it did.
We are in touch with the Sky Blue Trust at Coventry City with a view to jointly marking the contribution of Jimmy Hill to Fulham and Coventry on 2nd October. Further details will be provided nearer the time.
Fulham and Chelsea clashing fixtures
The Trust asked whether there have been any changes to the arrangement that Fulham and Chelsea home fixtures do not take place on the same day. The Club replied that this was still generally the case, but that on occasion the police will allow Fulham and Chelsea fixtures to clash, notably for Chelsea’s European games.
Some Trust members have asked whether the Club plans to hold Christmas celebrations involving players and fans this year. The Club said that it did, but will have to monitor the Covid situation nearer the time before final decisions are made.
The meeting ended at 14:30