Notes from December meeting with FFC
On Wednesday 15th December 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)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
- Ian Clarke (Vice Chair)
- Simon Duke (Secretary)
- Tamara Dragadze (Board Member)
- Sarah Keig (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.
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.
- Updates from FST
- Covid checks at Craven Cottage
- Stadium operations and stewarding
- Riverside stand
UPDATES FROM FST
The Trust provided an update on our recent board elections and introduced our two new board members, Sarah Keig and Tamara Dragadze, who were welcomed to their first monthly Trust-Club meeting.
We also provided positive feedback on the noticeable and welcome increase in the profile of the FFC Women’s team in the Club’s channels. The recent FA Cup tie versus Oxford United at Motspur Park was considered by attendees to be a very successful event, despite the result, and everyone looked forward to further opportunities to support the women’s team.
The Trust highlighted interesting positive feedback from disabled AFC Bournemouth fan Rob Trent relating to accessibility and stewarding, following the recent game at Craven Cottage. This is available to view on YouTube.
COVID CHECKS AT CRAVEN COTTAGE
Following recent national legislation requiring Covid checks to take place at, amongst others, all venues with capacities of over 10,000, a good portion of the meeting was focussed on discussing the plans for checks at Craven Cottage.
The Trust thanked the Club for the very clear and comprehensive note put on the official web site on Tuesday, which we encourage all supporters to read carefully. We asked the Club if they could explain how the checks will work in practice at forthcoming games, starting with the Sheffield United fixture on 20th December.
The Club explained that there will be a “reception line” before the turnstiles at which stewards will check supporters for their relevant Covid documentation, either on smart phone, paper or, in the case of negative lateral flow tests, text or email. Lateral flow devices and vaccination cards will not be accepted. Supporters will also need to show photo ID for which one of the following is acceptable:
- Driving Licence
- Student card
- Union Card
- Official membership card of any organisation (printed not handwritten).
The checks will take place for all supporters over 18 in line with Government advice and following consultation with the local council Safety Advisory Group (SAG) and local public health officials.
All agreed that this would significantly slow down entry to the ground, particularly for an evening fixture. The Club said they have extended their reduced-price early bird catering to operate from two and a half hours before kick-off until 30 minutes before and they are encouraging as many supporters as possible to please arrive early.
The key messages for all supporters are to
- Make sure your Covid documentation is current
- Download your documents before arriving to avoid the need for mobile reception
- Bring photo ID
- Arrive early.
The Club said it will be putting out additional communications between now and the Sheffield United match and the Trust suggested that asking Marco Silva and players to amplify the message about Covid checks in pre-match interviews would be helpful.
The Trust would like to highlight the section of the Club’s notes warning that anyone arriving later than 30 minutes before kick-off risks missing a significant portion of the first half of the game. We do understand the difficulties of arriving early for evening games, but please do all you can to help get as many into the ground for kick-off as possible.
STADIUM OPERATIONS AND STEWARDING
Following the discussion about probable delays entering the upcoming fixtures due to the additional checks, the Trust asked about speed of access generally, highlighting that some supporters had been admitted into the Johnny Haynes Stand without ticket scans for the AFC Bournemouth fixture.
The Club explained that manual ticket checking has always been available to them as a backup option in the case of overcrowding at the turnstiles and that this was implemented for a section of the Johnny Haynes Stand at the last home game. However, they emphasised that this would not be possible at upcoming fixtures because of the additional checks required.
The Trust asked for an update on a recent incident relating to a supporter being unable to leave the ground when her autistic child was experiencing difficulties, noting that the Club had reached out to the person concerned. The Club explained that although stewards are briefed about how to react in such a situation, the steward in this case made an error for which they had apologised.
In further discussion, we asked whether Craven Cottage has a ‘sensory room’ as we recalled that there were plans to convert the cash office inside the Johnny Haynes Stand concourse behind the block KL family section before the pandemic. The Club said that there is not, currently, a sensory room but the intention is still to convert the cash office and that they are in regular dialogue with the Fulham Disabled Supporters Association on the matter. Asked for a timetable for the conversion, the Club explained that they are currently talking to contractors about undertaking the work. When it has been created, the Club plan to look to some of the pioneers of sensory rooms at football, for example Sunderland, for best practice in how to make it available.
The Club also said that they offer ‘sensory packs’ which include sensory friendly toys and ear defenders to any attendees at Craven Cottage with sensory access needs, as well as Fulham FC sunflower lanyards. These are available to collect from the Ticket Office prior to matches or can be brought to fans’ seats if the Club is contacted in advance. Fulham FC branded sunflower lanyards can also be posted to fans who require them. For further information on sensory packs and sunflower lanyards please contact the Club directly.
Late returners after half time
A number of members have raised the issue of late returners after half time blocking their views of the match and asked whether stewards could intervene. The Club said that this was difficult to manage in the same way as, say, cricket, and was a problem at all sports stadiums.
We ask all supporters to please be aware of others as you move around, particularly while the game is underway.
Signage for ladies’ toilets
Supporters at the Hammersmith End have flagged that the signage at the ladies’ toilets near block H5 is confusing as the doorway that the majority of people use to enter is, in fact, marked as an exit, leading to queues at both doors. The Club agreed to look at this, noting that the exit marker had been placed at the end with the handbasins.
In further discussions the Club said that, contrary to impressions, the number of ladies’ toilets had in fact increased this season following the conversion of a toilet behind block H7 from gents to ladies.
Safety of stairs in Johnny Haynes Stand
The Trust asked for the Club’s views on the safety of the stairs in the Johnny Haynes Stand, following questions from members who found them difficult to use.
The Club said that the stand does fully comply with all health and safety legislation, with areas at the front available for supporters with access difficulties and hand rails in the upper levels. They continue to look at the feasibility of so-called ‘P handles’ which are used elsewhere in the ground, but that English Heritage were reluctant to authorise their use in the listed building and they would also narrow the ‘vomitories’ with knock-on impacts on access.
The Club said they are always happy to discuss a seat move should any supporter have particular access difficulties.
Injury to supporter at Luton
The Trust said we were very concerned to hear news of an injury to one of our longstanding fans at Luton, who was knocked over and hurt by others rushing to the front of the stand when our goal was scored. The Club replied that they were also aware of the incident and were currently liaising with Luton Town on the matter.
The Trust is aware that the behaviour of some of our fans has recently fallen short of what we should expect and, whilst a difficult area to control and influence, we have asked if we can discuss this further with the club in the new year. We do ask all supporters to be aware of the safety and comfort of fellow fans, particularly at away games where seat choice is limited, and behave accordingly.
The Trust asked whether a new update video was scheduled, with supporters particularly interested in progress inside the stand. The Club said that a new update video is planned for this month.
Following a question from a member, the Club confirmed that the opening of the river walk was planned to coincide with the opening of the stand, not before.
Moving supporters back from the Putney End
The Trust explained that we are keen that the move back from the Putney End to the new Riverside Stand should be as painless as possible and, within reason, cater for supporters’ requirements for their new seats. We will be undertaking a short survey in the New Year aimed at better understanding the priorities of returning Riversiders, to which the Club agreed to provide input.
The Trust explained some concern amongst supporters related to the accumulation and use of loyalty points, particularly in the light of the very quick sale of the low allocation at Luton and the apparent lack of detailed breakdown on the new ticketing system of loyalty points accrued. We asked why loyalty points had not been used for the Luton fixture and what plans were in place for future away games.
The Club explained that, despite the low allocation at Luton, no fixture this season had sold at such a speed and the tickets were not expected to sell out in under a day. They agreed that loyalty points would have been a good option in hindsight and that they were available on the new ticketing system if considered necessary for upcoming fixtures. However, they also pointed out that the Club’s ability to use loyalty points for staggered allocation of tickets is heavily dependent on timely allocation information and ticket access from the home club, which often was not easy to obtain.
In addition, the Club highlighted that they had operated a waiting list for all season ticket holders who had contacted them having been unable to secure a ticket for Luton and that everyone on the list had subsequently been contacted to purchase a returned ticket. A similar waiting list is in operation for the Reading game and will be for any future sold out away games. The Trust said that we thought this was a very good initiative. Please contact the ticket office on 0203 871 0810 to be added to the Reading waiting list.
The Trust said that we considered that it will be essential to use loyalty points for the Bournemouth fixture towards the end of the season, given the small allocation and likely importance of the game. Other games that might be considered include WBA and QPR, although the latter will have a relatively large allocation. However, much depends on any moves for TV and the number of tickets the home club expects to sell to its own supporters.
The Club pointed out that sale by loyalty points will always be on a one per season ticket holder basis meaning that supporters who usually sit together, including family members, may not be able to do so if loyalty points are used.
Regarding the update and visibility of loyalty points on the new SecuTix ticketing system, the Club said that they had recently been through a multi-stage process of updating supporters’ accounts which included
- Import of loyalty point balances from Ticketmaster accounts
- Retrospective addition of loyalty points for games sold by the new system (completed 4-6 weeks ago)
- Adding loyalty points for each new fixture attended.
On this latter point, the Club explained that under Ticketmaster, loyalty points were awarded when the relevant ticket was bought, whereas under SecuTix loyalty points are awarded after the fixture is played. SecuTix also does not provide the breakdown of points awarded per game that was available on the Ticketmaster system, but all loyalty points, including for season tickets, half season tickets, memberships and ticket purchases, are now up to date and available to view on the bottom right-hand side of the ticketing account homepage. Anyone who thinks their loyalty points balance is incorrect is asked to contact the Ticket Office.
Season ticket exchange
In a similar vein to the previous discussion, the Trust asked whether the SecuTix system supported the ticket exchange which has previously been used for (close to) sold out fixtures and, if so, when this would be available to supporters. The Club said that the SecuTix ticket exchange facility for season ticket holders is ready to be used if necessary, but that it would only be available should ticket sales reach a near sell-out sufficiently early in the sales cycle. The ticket exchange won’t be available (and wasn’t before) if games are not close to selling out.
Coaches from other parts of London
On behalf of some supporters who live on the east side of London, the Trust asked whether the Club would consider providing additional coaches to away matches from other parts of London. The Club said that it was unsure whether there would be sufficient demand given the likely costs involved as even the coaches from Motspur Park and Craven Cottage were often run at a loss. They asked that anyone interested in a coach from east London contact the them so that an assessment can be made.
The Trust asked for clarification of the rules concerning making games available to stream to domestic audiences, following comments received that the Derby fixture had been unavailable. The Club said the Derby fixture was available on FFCtv, had been widely advertised and received a good domestic audience. Anyone who paid for the game but was unable to view should contact the Club. They also confirmed that the rules currently listed on the FFCtv pages are correct, namely that games are available domestically providing the following criteria are met:
- The match kick-off is not between 14:45 and 18:45 on a Saturday
- The fixture is not chosen as a live broadcast on Sky Sports (excluding the Red Button service)
- The game is not on the final weekend of the season
- For displaced matches or games held on a Bank Holiday, the home club retains the option of whether the match is available to stream.
On this latter point, the Trust asked whether the Boxing Day fixture against Birmingham was considered to be a Bank Holiday game. The Club said that a decision on whether the Birmingham game would be streamed domestically had not yet been made.
The Trust enquired as to why some FFCtv payments had not been taken during the autumn. The Club said that this was an error from the third-party provider, leading to the September, October and November payments being taken during December and that as soon as they became aware of the error they issued this statement.
‘Beyond the Mic’ – Jim & Jamie
This is a popular feature and the Trust asked whether it would be available for all fixtures. The Club said that they planned to provide the ‘Beyond the Mic’ content for key fixtures, but not all.
The Trust said we continued to have excellent feedback on the Forever Fulham awards, but that they were often hard to hear inside the ground and supporters would like them to be made more prominent on the web site to watch after matches. The Club agreed to look at how these could be further promoted.
Man of the Match voting
Some supporters have asked for man of the match voting to be kept open longer. The Club said that they needed to prioritise other web site content, particularly with so many matches coming quickly, and so they preferred to keep the timeline as it is currently.
The Trust asked about the environmental impact of the clappers, raising the question of whether they could be made available to those that want them at the turnstiles rather than the seats. The Club and Trust agreed that additional delays in the limited turnstile area would not be sensible, but the Club did confirm that clappers are biodegradable and that any left behind are fully recycled.
The Trust asked whether it was possible to make WiFi available in the ground as mobile coverage at football stadia is very limited with large crowds. The Club said that it would not be possible to provide on such a scale.
Age UK initiative
The Trust highlighted our initiative with Age UK to help women uncomfortable to attend a match alone to do so in a welcoming environment and thanked the Club for its offer to help. We will keep supporters updated.
The meeting ended at 14:45