Notes from November meeting with FFC
On Wednesday 10th November 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)
- Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing)
- David Daly (Non-Executive Director)
- Aimee McKenzie (Operations and Venue Director)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant)
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.
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.
- Security, stewarding, & behaviour of fans
- TV fixture changes
- Riverside Stand
- Rainbow Laces fixture
- Ticketing (including for Memorial Day)
SECURITY, STEWARDING & BEHAVIOUR OF FANS
The Trust received a large number of messages from members this month relating to the behaviour of supporters at home and away and the stewarding of a number of situations. We had sent details to the Club of several of these incidents prior to the meeting which were then used as illustrations of the key general issues being raised.
The Trust asked what the arrangements were for stewards to be placed between the home and away supporters at the Putney End, noting that QPR fans had broken through the barrier into the home section, and that a bottle thrown from within the away end had caused injury to one spectator during that game.
The Club responded that they were very sorry about the particular incident and had followed up with the injured spectator who had returned to the ground for a subsequent match. In principle stewards were placed every other row of seats between the home and away fans, although turnstile operators provided some of the stewarding, so this built up once most turnstiles were closed. In general the Club and Council had been pleased with safety and crowd control at the Putney End this season.
In addition the Club said it always invited the away club to provide its own stewards for advice, spotting known troublemakers etc., with Fulham retaining overall operational responsibility. QPR had declined to provide away stewards whereas Cardiff did; some supporters felt that this led to more effective crowd management at the Cardiff fixture. Investigations had still to be completed into how the QPR incident occurred.
Away fans in home areas
The Trust asked how the procedures worked when away fans were identified in home areas. The Club explained that complaints about away fans in home areas were a regular occurrence and that each occasion was individually risk assessed – e.g. if such away fans were behaving reasonably and unprovocatively, then just a careful watch would be maintained. However, if there was provocative behaviour then such fans would normally be ejected, noting that this could be very disruptive for those in the vicinity. The Trust said that we supported a pragmatic approach, with the safety and comfort of Fulham supporters always being the key priority.
The Trust had received several complaints about home fans clustering on the stairs and in the gangways at the back of the Hammersmith End, and not sitting in their ticketed seats, causing blockages and creating an unsafe environment for others. The Club responded that they were aware that both these issues were an increasing problem; they would be stepping up stewarding at future games to look at the issue, including ticket checks on entry to the stand, again making a risk assessment and if necessary, ejecting those who repeatedly refused to be reasonable.
The Trust advises supporters to please use their ticketed seats and not move to other areas or the gangways. There is a risk that anyone doing so may be ejected from the ground which nobody wants.
In response to a question from the Trust, the Club said the policy was for the majority of bags to be searched but as kick-off approached this was only possible in some stands on a sample basis to avoid undue congestion. Bags searches were more rigorous in the away section and dogs were routinely used for explosives checks. The Club again asked that people who needed to carry bags arrived as early as possible to limit congestion.
Home stewarding in general
The Trust and the Club agreed that it would be useful if the expectations of the duties stewards can, and cannot, be expected to perform could be clearly communicated. This will be discussed at subsequent meetings.
Fulham fans away
The Trust said that members reported that the behaviour of a few Fulham away fans had worsened this season. All agreed that there was a fine line between the need to provide strong and vocal support for the team, and disruptive behaviour, e.g. standing in front of those unable to stand, sitting in the wrong seat, excessive intake of alcohol, which spoilt the enjoyment of other fans.
The Club said that their networks suggested that this, post-Covid restrictions being eased, was not just a Fulham issue. Indeed the EFL were putting together a package to address the situation. In the meantime, Fulham always offered to send their own stewards to games, although this was not always enabled by the home club. Although bans were also in force for some individuals, tickets were often bought for banned fans by friends. The Club were continuing their largely successful policy of selling non-standing seats in the front rows of away matches, which also helped. Overall this was a situation which the Club was keeping under review. Neither the Trust nor the Club wanted to harm the great support that the team were receiving away from home this season.
TV FIXTURE CHANGES
One of the consequences of Fulham’s success this season had been the large number of games selected for Sky coverage, with some decisions being made only just inside the guidelines for notice for fans to be given. In response to the Trust, the Club said that they appreciated and understood the disruption for fans, but exposure on Sky was important for the long-term health of the Club both financially and for sponsors. The Club also said that they announced games selected for TV as soon as they were allowed to do so.
The Trust also stressed that TV picks reduced the value of the FFCtv package for overseas fans, but the Club thought that the package remained good value over the season taken as a whole.
In response to a question from the Trust, the Club said that they were not anticipating opening any part of the Riverside Stand this season, given current attendances.
The Club also said that the Passenger Pier proposition was still under consultation with stakeholders, and this was not going to conclude soon, perhaps not before the new stand was opened.
The Trust asked whether arrangements were progressing for selling season tickets in the new Riverside next season – the Club said the detail would not be finalised for a while, but they re-iterated that the key principle was that those returning to the stand would have priority of choice.
Both Trust and Club agreed that the process of moving season ticket holders back to the Riverside could be complex, and agreed to engage further on the detail.
RAINBOW LACES FIXTURE
This year’s Rainbow Laces day has been announced as 8 December and the Trust asked whether the Club would therefore be marking this at the Bournemouth game. The Club subsequently confirmed that the Bournemouth game would be used to mark this day.
New ticketing system
The Trust were pleased to report that queries about the new ticketing system appeared to be lessening, and supporters were able to buy their tickets online in a smooth way. The Club said they had managed to recruit successfully to the ticket office, and so ticket office call wait times were also now much reduced.
Memorial Day ticketing
The Trust asked that, for the memorial day game against Blackpool, consideration be given to enable friends and family of those being celebrated, who perhaps would not be regular attendees, easily to purchase tickets – the Club agreed to ensure this.
Ticket priority for members and season ticket holders
The Trust asked for an explanation of the initial priority given to members over season ticket holders for the purchase of additional tickets for home games.
The Club explained that the key privilege of a membership is the right to buy home tickets (with £5 discount on one ticket per match) not already allocated to season ticket holders and that this may not be possible if season ticket holders received priority on additional seats. Allowing members to buy more than one ticket per match encourages more Fulham members to attend and that membership is a key way to grow the Fulham fanbase. The window for priority sales to members is a short one and the Club routinely reviews sales and forecast match popularity to ensure that the numbers of tickets offered first to members and then to season ticket holders reflects demand. At no stage this season have season ticket holders been unable to buy additional tickets for friends and family, and, for example, the popular upcoming Bournemouth game is now on sale to season ticket holders having passed through the members priority period.
Additionally, the Club pointed out that season ticket holders do receive first priority on the purchase of away tickets.
The Club advised season ticket holders who wanted further home ticket priority for friends or family to buy a Membership package, which, with the £5 discount on the first ticket, it said was good value.
In response to questions from Members of the Trust, the Club said:
- Hammersmith End roof – It would not be cost effective to extend the roof of the Hammersmith end to provide greater rain cover at the front;
- Sustainability – They were working on a sustainability statement which would be published and actioned soon; this issue had been set back by Covid but was very much on the Club’s radar to progress;
- Speed of entry – There had been some improvement in the speed of entry through turnstiles, except perhaps in a couple of areas of the Johnny Haynes stand, which were being reviewed;
- Contactless programme sales – They were looking at the introduction of contactless devices for programme sellers; the Trust were reminded that programmes are also available from the Club Shop for those wishing contactless payments or can be pre-ordered online via Press Box Publishing;
- Riverside Stand lights – They continued to look at issues on an individual basis, related to the potential glare of the new lights on the Riverside Stand, but that the lights were constructed to conform to both EFL and Premier League standards.
The meeting ended at 14:40