Notes from January meeting with FFC
On Wednesday 12th January 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)
- Huw Jennings (Head of Football Development)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
- Jerry Cope (Treasurer and Membership Secretary)
- Simon Duke (Secretary)
- Sarah Keig (Board Member)
- Tamara Dragadze (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.
- Feedback on recent issues
- Covid arrangements for forthcoming matches
- Dundee United partnership
- Fan behaviour
- Social media issues
- Website signposting for supporters with special needs
- Riverside Stand
FEEDBACK ON RECENT ISSUES
The Trust opened the meeting by giving the Club some positive feedback based on member comments. The efficiency of the process for recent cancelled games, the Covid arrangements for the Sheffield United game and the help given to an overseas season ticket holder who had experienced Covid travel restrictions were all good examples of how the Club had served our members well.
The Club were advised that our new representative for the Safety Advisory Group is Gavin Megaw. The Trust records its thanks to our outgoing representative, Mike Gregg.
COVID ARRANGEMENTS FOR FORTHCOMING MATCHES
The Club have asked us to draw to supporters’ attention to the Covid requirements for the forthcoming games against Bristol City and Birmingham. Information can be found through this link.
DUNDEE UNITED PARTNERSHIP
Huw Jennings joined the meeting to provide more detail on the recently announced collaboration with Dundee United. In looking to establish a pathway for young players, Dundee United have been identified as being an ideal partner. An old established club with a similar footballing philosophy to our own, their own academy and expectations of qualifying for European football, they are seen as an ideal partner for FFC to develop younger players. There will also be a sharing of commercial ideas, fan engagement initiatives and recognition of former players. The Club are mindful of the need to ensure regulations are properly followed through this collaboration. The Trust will make contact with the Dundee United Supporters Trust to explore ways we can work together.
In closing Huw expressed his thanks for the on-going support the Trust is giving to the FFC Women’s football team, and the Trust explained its work in seeking to increase the number of women attending both the women’s and men’s games.
While away support has been loud, passionate and numerous at many games this season, adding to the atmosphere in supporting the team, there have been a small number of incidents at recent games, including Luton and Bristol City, where a small minority of our own fan behaviour has fallen short of what we would expect and caused injuries to other Fulham supporters. This has included a few supporters occupying some of the relatively small number of seats reserved as non-standing areas, specifically sold to those supporters who are unable or prefer not to stand, and refusing to sit and abusing Fulham supporters around them. The “bundling” in gangways and to the front of the stand when celebrating a goal has also been highlighted as the cause of injuries suffered by fans unwillingly caught up in those incidents. At Reading there have been reports of supporters intentionally breaking seats in the ground, and kicking dustbins and litter in the streets outside the stadium.
The Trust raised this issue with the Club as we have received increasing numbers of reports of similar incidents, and concerns about the risk of more serious incident/accident, and is also aware that this is an issue which a number of different clubs’ supporters groups have witnessed amongst their support bases since the beginning of this season. The Trust and the Club want to encourage as much away support as possible in the second half of the season but some supporters are being put off by this minority behaviour.
It was noted that at Reading yesterday they covered two rows of seats behind the allocated “seating only” area, which along with having some of our own stewards present, helped alleviate some of the problems seen at other away games. When asked if the covering of rows could be used at other away grounds the Club advised this was specific to Reading as the blocked rows were directly in front of a wheelchair platform and if these seats were used, line of vision for wheelchair users would be blocked. They also confirmed that we can only provide our own stewards with the agreement of the home club, which is not always forthcoming.
On the issue of fans behaviour at away games, the Club intend to discuss this with the Metropolitan Police Liaison Officer for guidance. Fan behaviour generally is expected to be a subject for discussion at the next Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which is due to meet shortly and which Gavin Megaw will attend on behalf of the Trust.
For home games there is an on-going issue, again raised by a member, regarding fan behaviour in certain parts of the Hammersmith End. This mainly relates to continual standing, blocking the view of those unable to stand. The Club are aware of this issue and believe improvements have been seen at more recent fixtures. They will however speak with the Safety Officer to see if anything more can be done.
In the meantime, while appreciating the benefits for the team of passionate, committed and noisy supporters travelling in numbers, the Club and the Trust will take every opportunity to remind fans to be considerate of some of their fellow Fulham fans who may be less mobile or attending with younger children, so that all can enjoy the experience. The Club will look to issue a web-site article to reach supporters who are not Trust members.
Concern has been expressed by a member and shared with the Club regarding the lack of ticket checks at the Putney End, which has enabled away supporters to infiltrate the home sections in recent fixtures. The Club have already taken steps to re-direct away supporter access to P7, which would enable better movement and ticket checking for away fans. The Safety Officer will be asked to remind stewards of the need for thorough ticket checking as supporters enter the stand.
SOCIAL MEDIA ISSUES
The Trust have become aware of inappropriate comments being made on social media pages, which are not controlled by the Club or the Trust, yet are badged Fulham FC. The Club are aware of these sites. In response to the Trust’s question as to what can be done, the Club has asked that where we are aware of any inappropriate comments we should take a screenshot and share it with them. Like the Trust, the Club take this kind of incident very seriously and where possible will take the strongest possible action against any identified individuals. Sadly, in a number of cases, individuals hide behind false identities and taking action is harder where comments are made on sites not controlled by the Club or Trust.
The Club were reminded that we have recently issued social media guidance. The club also have their own guidance.
WEBSITE SIGNPOSTING FOR SUPPORTERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Following the incident reported at last month’s meeting relating to an autistic child, the Trust have reviewed the links provided on the Club website to find information for people with particular challenges. Whilst there is a lot of very good information available, navigation to find it is not easy. The Club have agreed to review the website navigation and where appropriate provide additional links to make the experience easier. This includes for away fans. The overriding message is the Club Disability Liaison Officer is able in advance to help with any questions regarding visiting Craven Cottage and their contact details are available and clearly visible on the website.
The Club confirmed the new stand will accommodate spectators from next season. Capacity will depend on what stage the final fit-out has reached. It is expected the capacity position will be clearer by the end of March, but capacity is likely to build up over the early part of next season as work is completed. In response to a member question the Club confirmed there are a number of lifts in the new stand. On the broader question of accessability the Club confirmed the the contractor has worked closely with the Disabled Supporters Association, that all 2022 accessibility requirements will be met and that the majority of the stand will be accessible for people with physical challenges. Some parts will obviously be more accessible than others.
The Trust advised the Club that we would shortly be asking members to undertake a quick survey to gauge views on a number of issues relating to moving to the new stand.
In response to a member question, the Club confirmed they would look to give the opportunity for season ticket holders in other parts of the ground to experience the new stand for a game with a view to moving their season ticket should they so wish. The terms and conditions of any such arrangement, including any extra charge/fee based on price differential, are yet to be determined by the Club.
Away coach stewards
One member has raised the lack of communication regarding stops/arrival time/return drop off points from some stewards on away coaches. The Club have undertaken to remind stewards that they should give as much information as possible to travelling supporters.
The Club and the Trust will be meeting this week to discuss arrangements for the Celebration Day where we will remember and honour supporters who have recently passed and sadly no longer with us. The match planned is Fulham v Huddersfield on Saturday 19 February as opposed to the Blackpool fixture that was originally referenced in earlier notes. Further details will be communicated as soon as possible.
Bristol City away tickets
In response to a comment made on Radio Bristol, the Club confirmed tickets for the away FA Cup game were priced in consultation with Bristol City.
Amid some confusion over Sky coverage for the Reading game, the Club confirmed that scheduled midweek games not picked for main broadcast are available via the Sky red button. Where games are displaced, such as Reading (and Swansea and the upcoming Middlesbrough game), the decision whether to stream in the UK rests with the home club. If selected for UK streaming, displaced games will also be available via the Sky red button. Reading chose not to make the game available for streaming domestically which is why only overseas supporters could view. A decision regarding UK streaming of our displaced game against Birmingham will be made by the end of this week.
Manchester City FA Cup tie
In response to a question from the Trust, the Club sad they would be talking to City about away access to standing “seats”, as City (and later Cardiff) were taking part in the national pilot.
Diversity and inclusion
The Club have agreed to make the February meeting 90 minutes to enable Jamie Dapaah, FFC Diversity and Inclusion, to make a presentation to the Trust.
The meeting ended at 14:40