Notes from October meeting with FFC
On Wednesday 13 October at 13:30, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC via video conference.
The Club was represented by:
- David Daly (Non-Executive Director)
- Darren Preston (Chief Operating Officer)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
- Mike McSweeney (CEO Fulham Foundation)
- Jack Burrows (Head of Marketing)
Apologies : Alistair Mackintosh (CEO)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
HOW IT WORKS
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.
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.
- Jimmy Hill Day
- Match day operations
- External match day issues
- Games with large away followings
- Safe Standing and match day atmosphere
JIMMY HILL DAY
The meeting opened with a discussion of the Jimmy Hill Day activities which, despite the result at Coventry, all agreed had been a success. The Trust participated fully in the day, joining forces with our counterparts at Sky Blue Trust to raise awareness of the bucket collections taking place to support Coventry based charities through the Jimmy Hill Legacy Foundation.
The Club thanked the Trust on behalf of Coventry and said that they will reflect on Jimmy Hill’s contribution to both clubs at the return fixture in April through the programme and other events.
MATCH DAY OPERATIONS
The Trust raised a number of questions and concerns on behalf of supporters in various areas of the match day experience.
Riverside Stand floodlights
Following on from previous discussions, we asked if any further investigation had taken place into the calibration of the floodlights on the Riverside Stand. This is in relation to the comments of a number of Johnny Haynes season ticket holders that the lights are dazzling.
The Club said that they have checked on match day (versus Leeds and Swansea) and do understand that there is a significant difference in positioning between the new lights along the side of the stand and the old corner floodlights, although there is no difference in brightness. Trust board members have also undertaken a similar exercise. The Club confirmed again that the lights are properly calibrated to requirements and very similar to those at other grounds which are side-lit.
We asked whether the Club might consider helping anyone suffering significant discomfort or health complications from the lights by considering a seat move. The Club said they would be willing to help in these cases, and asked anyone in this situation to contact them. Please also let the Trust know if this is causing you difficulties.
In recent weeks, speed of entry to the ground seems to have been a problem, with many supporters highlighting long queues close to kick-off and slow operation of the turnstiles. We asked what could be done about this.
The Club explained that it was aware of a number of small technical issues which, when combined, had led to slower turnstile operation. These issues primarily relate to the integration of the new ticketing system from SecuTix with new ticket scanners from Fortress. Particular problem areas which the Club have identified include
- Over-sensitivity of the scanners to the multiple bar codes on ‘print at home’ tickets, leading to tickets being scanned too early. This will be corrected by calibration of the readers and reduction of the number of bar codes on the tickets.
- Supporters used to inserting season ticket cards into a slot not realising that they now need to tap the card on top of the reader (like an Oyster card). Signage will be provided to explain this, and extra training will be provided for turnstile operators and supervisors.
- Sensitivity of the access control beams (which when broken, indicate that a supporter has entered the ground) to activity on the ground side of the turnstile. This will require further calibration.
- Supporters attempting to use ‘print at home’ tickets on their mobile phones. The readers are not currently set up for this, although it does seem to work for some phones. Supporters are asked to bring a paper copy of all ‘print at home’ tickets. The use of mobile phone ticketing is on the roadmap for next year.
The Club said that they expected the changes they have made since the previous home game to reduce the delays and that they will continue to monitor and tweak the systems. Whilst this is happening, supporters can help by arriving in good time, tapping season tickets on the readers, folding ‘print at home’ tickets prior to arrival at the turnstile and not using mobile phones for ‘print at home’ tickets.
The Club and Trust agreed to review again next month.
Toilets in Johnny Haynes Stand
From time to time, supporters raise concerns about the quality of toilet facilities in various parts of the ground which we pass on to the Club. A particular concern was raised this month about the Ladies toilet block in the Johnny Haynes Stand at the Putney end of the ground. The Club said it will investigate.
Volume of speakers
At recent matches, the volume of the PA speakers has been very high, with supporters unable to hold conversations at half time. We asked if this could be addressed. The Club said it was aware of the issue, particularly at the Leeds fixture, and made adjustments for the Swansea game. The Club will monitor this.
Speed of catering
Some members reported that the service at the Hammersmith End bars is very slow at half time and that better staff training is required. The Club explained that the catering service is provided by an outsourced provider and said it would take this up with them.
Supporters have observed that there is a lack of recycling bins inside Craven Cottage. The Club said that with space at such a premium on the concourses, it did not make sense to install recycling bins, particularly as there is no storage space. However, all waste is collected and taken off-site for processing and recycling.
EXTERNAL MATCH DAY ISSUES
Bishops Park lighting
Several supporters have pointed out that the lights in Bishops Park are set to turn off at approximately 21:30, which means that the park is in darkness after evening matches. The Club was unaware of this, but said that they would ask the council to extend the lighting period on match days.
District Line closures
The Trust asked, on behalf of members, whether any influence could be brought to bear on the TFL maintenance schedule which often sees the Wimbledon branch of the District Line closed on match days. The Club doubted that it could help with this, as repair timetables are set quite some time in advance.
In further discussion, the Club said it had been made aware that TFL expects to close Putney Bridge station from 21:00 on the night of the Fulham v Cardiff fixture on Wednesday 20 October. This is thought to be because Chelsea are also at home on the same evening, our fixture having been moved as a knock-on from Swansea v Cardiff being televised on the prior Sunday.
Since the last monthly meeting, the Trust and Club have met separately to discuss the ticketing web site, with a focus on making access to tickets and information easier. A number of changes have been made as a result of this meeting, including
- Simplified navigation from the Fulham FC web site to the ticketing site.
- Introduction of dedicated ticket information pages for each home and away fixture that is on sale or soon to go on sale.
- Ensuring all games, both home and away, which are available to purchase are listed on the home screen of the ticketing site
Supporters are reminded that in order to access the ticketing site and be able to purchase tickets they are eligible for online, they will need to be logged into their OneFulham Account.
The Trust and the Club agreed to continue to discuss possible improvements to the ticketing site and access to it from the web site and Fulham FC app.
The Trust asked for an update on access to loyalty point totals on the new ticketing system. The Club reiterated that loyalty points had not been lost and should be available to view in the next month.
GAMES WITH LARGE AWAY FOLLOWINGS
At the Leeds United fixture, for which the Putney End was sold out to Leeds fans, a number of supporters observed away fans in home areas, particularly in the Johnny Haynes Stand. The Trust asked if the Club had been aware of this and, more generally, what processes it has in place to prevent and manage such situations.
The Club said that on the day there had been two ejections of Leeds fans and ten ticket refusals. All stewards are made aware of the risks of away fans in the wrong area through their briefings.
The Club further explained that it has a robust set of processes to minimise away fans buying tickets in home areas, including requiring a previous booking history (not just Leeds games) and postcode exclusions. There was no general sale for this fixture. However, the Club said that the vast majority of away fans in home areas have had tickets bought for them by Fulham season ticket holders and members, which is hard to prevent.
The Club requested that Fulham season ticket holders and members do not buy tickets for any away supporters in home areas and said that action would be taken against any identified as doing so. Where away fans are obviously in home areas, and causing concern, then this should be identified to stewards. Additionally, in such circumstances, if seat numbers are notified to the ticket office they will investigate and take action where appropriate.
SAFE STANDING AND MATCH DAY ATMOSPHERE
The Trust asked for an update on the Club’s view of safe standing, particularly given the recent law change allowing its implementation for early adopter clubs, and the expectation that it will be open to all clubs to apply for permission to use rail seating from August 2022.
The Club said that it currently had no plans to introduce safe standing areas, not least because Arena Seating, who provide the seating in use in the Putney, Hammersmith and (front of) Johnny Haynes stands do not have a rail seating option in their certified seating systems. The Club also noted the difficulty of installing rail seats in the ground without impacting the sightlines of other supporters.
As increasing numbers of clubs are likely to provide some safe standing accommodation and seating providers will have developed solutions, the Trust asked whether Fulham would be open to exploring this further. The Club reiterated that while they have no current plans to provide rail seating, they would be open to considering further.
The Trust also highlighted discussions currently taking place amongst fans looking at how to improve the match day atmosphere, citing previous studies that suggested that the Hammersmith End acoustics are unduly impacted by the rake of the stand and gaps at the rear.
The Trust asked whether, with the opening of the new Riverside stand, any consideration had been given to changing the location of away supporters. The Club responded that it is likely that away fans will remain in part of the Putney End, but no firm decisions had yet been taken.
The Trust further asked about consideration of using the home part of the Putney End to attract vocal fans to seek to improve the atmosphere, but the Club responded that the current unsegregated concourse and turnstile areas would add complications to any such idea. They also pointed out that when something similar was tried some years ago, with facilitated seat swaps into the first two of blocks of the Putney End, there was very little take-up.
On a wider point about supporter-led initiatives to improve atmosphere, with the Trust citing other clubs who have done so successfully, the Club indicated they would be happy to engage on that with the Trust and other interested parties to explore ideas in more detail.
Some Clubs in the Championship have stopped producing printed match day programmes available for sale at the ground. The Trust asked for the Club’s intentions.
The Club said that it sees the match day programme as a driver of fan engagement and recognises it is part of the experience for many supporters, as well as hospitality guests; there are no plans to stop printing them.
George Cohen statue
The Trust asked, on behalf of a member, whether there were any plans to move the George Cohen statue from its current location once the new Riverside Stand opens.
The Club said that there are no plans to move the statue.
Luis Boa Morte interview
Several supporters have requested a video interview with Luis Boa Morte on FFCtv, now that he has returned as part of Marco Silva’s team. The Club said they will ask him but he is a busy man in his capacity as Marco’s assistant in comparison to when he was a player here!
The Trust and the Club discussed the recent Panorama programme, which drew attention to the activities of agents in relation to youth footballers, with Fulham being one of the clubs mentioned.
The Trust asked, on behalf of a member, whether the Club could expand on its comments at the time. The Club said it had nothing further to add, and that the club provided its representation to the programme which was referenced in the broadcast. It highlighted the work it undertakes through the Fulham Foundation to support former players as well as the excellent work carried out by the Academy’s Alumni programme.
Director of Scouting
Further to previous meetings’ discussions on the appointment of the Director of Scouting, the Trust asked for an update on when it was anticipated they would be in post.
The Club said that this is currently on hold and an update will be communicated if there are any developments.
The meeting ended at 14:50