Notes from April meeting with FFC
On Wednesday 13 April at 13:30, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust met with Fulham FC via video conference.
The Club was represented by:
- Alistair Mackintosh (CEO, AM)
- Darren Preston (Chief Operating Officer, DP)
- Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing, KB)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager, NW)
- Charlie Harris (Communications Assistant, CH)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director, CM)
- Mike McSweeney (Fulham Foundation, MM)
- Mathew Doolan (Fulham Foundation, MD)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
- Tom Greatrex (Chair, TG)
- Hayley Davinson (Board Member, HD)
- Dan Crawford (Board Member, DC)
- Sarah Keig (Board Member, SK)
- Amelia Armstrong (#HerGameToo, AA)
TG introduced Amelia Armstrong, who was attending as the Fulham rep of the #HerGameToo, but had also been co-opted to join the Board of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust.
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.
- Female focus group presentation
- Fulham Foundation
- Season ticket pricing and related issues
- Supporter behaviour
- Fulham Pier
- Pre-season friendlies
FEMALE FOCUS GROUP PRESENTATION
HD gave a presentation on the focus groups of female supporters which the Trust ran in January. HD advised that due to the large amount of information within the presentation the expectation would be for the Club to take it away look at it in detail and we would put it as an agenda item for the next meeting. AM advised that in order to give it the attention it deserved it might be that we look at it at the next meeting and subsequent meetings, as a standing agenda item. SK talked about the lack of diversity on the Club website and how this could be an easy win for generic photos to include more women, disabled and black supporters. AA talked about #HerGameToo and her desire to set up a women’s forum and get more women involved.
Mike McSweeney (CEO of the Fulham Foundation) gave a presentation on the current and planned activities of the Foundation, and some if its key targets which align well with activity the Trust in undertaking – including on female participation. Girls’ participation via Foundation activity is feeding into the FFC Women’s Team, including the England Women’s Deaf Team.
This year the Fulham Foundation will be celebrating 20 years as a charity. Mike is keen to work jointly with the Fulham Supporters’ Trust to maximise exposure and on areas of mutual interest, including on the development of a community hub facility close to Motspur Park. He would like to do a joint event with the FST, and it was suggested that representatives from FST and the Foundation meet separately to discuss. TG to arrange with MM.
SEASON TICKET PRICING AND RELATED ISSUES
DC raised the feedback that the Trust has received in relation to pricing and sales approach for the lower tier of the Riverside Stand for next season. The Trust has previously made its position on these issues clear. DC particularly drew attention to the concern amongst existing season ticket holders in other parts of the ground due to the lack of communication around the cost for next season, and that the pricing for the Riverside was an indication of the trend for prices elsewhere. AM stated that sales are going well for the Riverside and there is a huge number of people on the waiting list. He confirmed that it is the Club’s intention to offer all previous Riverside Season Ticket holders the option to buy in the Riverside, once this has been completed, they will offer other season ticket holders the offer to purchase before moving on to the waiting list.
TG asked whether the Club were intending to sell all Riverside seats as season tickets, should there be sufficient demand. AM responded that it was the Club’s intention to sell the majority of seats to season ticket holders. Although KB did advise that a small number of tickets might be available on a game by game basis, where broadcaster requirements will vary match to match.
DC queried when the upper tier might become available, AM said that while it would only be the lower tier that is available for the whole of the season (and therefore sold as season tickets), the use of the upper tier was dependent upon progress of the construction and fit out process.
Asked about when renewal prices would be announced, KB reiterated that the Club will release the prices for season tickets in other areas in early May. Asked whether prices will increase, AM confirmed they would do, and pricing would be different in different areas of the stands, but the overall pricing is not benchmarked to the Riverside lower tier.
Asked about seats in block H7, KB confirmed that seats had been returned from Buckinghams in the corner of the stand adjacent to the Riverside and previous season ticket holders there would be contacted about returning to those seats should they wish to do so, but it means the capacity in the Hammersmith End would be slightly higher next season than this season.
There was a lengthy discussion on the use of loyalty points – when they are deployed, how they are used by supporters, the information available to supporters – and whether they should continue to be used in their current form. AM said there were different definitions of loyalty, and one of the difficulties of proposing changes is that there would always be a group who those changes would not suit. KB said the Club were open to ideas about how and whether to change the loyalty points system, but would be keen to hear input from supporters via the Trust.
SK discussed the increase in anti-social behaviour across all football matches since fans returned to stadiums last August. She discussed Hull City’s “Is This Your Game?” campaign, which highlights the fact that the vast majority of fans come to matches to support the Club in a positive and enjoyable way. SK also mentioned that at the Middlesbrough game there were images from the EFL Campaign FFS (For Football’s Sake). Launched in March the FFS campaign clearly spells out that anti-social behaviour and criminal activity are not acceptable at football grounds. DC discussed the incidents at QPR and the abuse that he received on social media after the game, which led to intervention by the police. AM said the abuse DC received had been disgraceful and unacceptable.
AM advised that both he and DP had recently met with the police who advised that this increase in anti-social behaviour is widespread in society and not just football. Fulham is very much at the lower end of the table when it comes to anti-social behaviour compared to other clubs but it is definitely an issue. There was a discussion around Fulham’s Ful Stop Campaign and how there was to be a focus on Ful Stop at the Preston North End Game on the 19th April.
In answer to Trust questions on the Club’s accounts, AM stated that they illustrated how fortunate Fulham were to benefit from the continued investment of Shahid Khan. He confirmed that the Club expected to be fully compliant with Financial Fair Play and that the Riverside Stand should provide a pivotal alternative revenue stream in the future. AM also stated that the vast majority of the £60m of infrastructure spending referenced in the accounts concerned the ongoing redevelopment of the Riverside Stand.
TG advised that the Trust had received several emails about the recent coverage of the proposed pier adjacent to the new Riverside Stand. AM advised that the Club had entered pre-application consultation, but that there were no finalised plans as yet. Some of the comments made by Ranelagh Sailing Club, including projected images, were misleading, and they and Putney MP Fleur Anderson had been made aware of this. In consultation with local residents, 80% of those who responded were in favour or a pier being used to improve accessibility and encouraging more people to travel by river. It is anticipated that a planning application would likely be made towards the end of the year.
TG asked if the Club would be able to announce the pre-season friendlies as soon as possible to allow people to plan. AM advised that the details of opponents are being finalised and an announcement will be made soon.
Changes to kick-off times
TG asked if the Club gets the right to refuse changing kick off times to accommodate Sky. AM stated that while clubs can make representations, in practice broadcasters have an expectation that their slots will be taken with their choice of matches. TG further asked about games moved that were not for TV – citing the Coventry and Preston fixtures, which particularly inconvenienced supporters with families looking to attend an Easter Monday daytime game unable to do a weeknight evening kick off, despite the school holidays. AM explained this is done, where both clubs agree, to enable greater recovery time and preparation for the players. TG noted that at least one player expressed their frustration on social media.
TG raised supporters in the Putney End and Johnny Haynes Stand complaining they were unable to hear the half time presentation at the Coventry game, which is an issue which comes up reasonably often. TG asked whether there had been a particular problem for that fixture. DP will take this feedback away and investigate further.
TG asked whether, to cater for the increased away allocations as a result of the overall capacity increasing, any Putney End season ticket holders in P4 would need to be relocated. DP responded that, as similarly to the Hammersmith End, seats had been released from Buckinghams, then there would be no need to relocate any season ticket holders next season. DP also confirmed that the stand would remain split between home and away fans, with the concourse and turnstile areas being common to both.
Catering options in the Riverside
TG asked if Fulham will look to use local suppliers for the catering options within the Riverside Stand next Season, pending the completion of the stand’s catering areas. He gave the example of AFC Wimbledon who use local pop-up food stalls in the ground as a way of developing relationships with local businesses and providing more food and drink options. AM advised the Club currently uses a local coffee supplier and it is something that they would look into, but there would continue to be a main contractor for catering services around the ground (currently Delaware North).
Fan Led Review
The Trust asked the Club about its attitude to the recommendations of the Fan Led Review, which Tracey Crouch MP recently submitted to the government. AM explained that Fulham’s position in relation to parachute payments was different to the EFL view, and that nobody had come up with a satisfactory alternative that was able to deal with the significantly different financial situations for a relegated club and the adjustment that has to be made.
On some of the other aspects of the Fan Led Review recommendations, AM stated he preferred the broader and regular dialogue that has developed between the Club and Trust over a number of years to something he viewed as less meaningful being imposed upon clubs. The Trust’s position on a fan led review is here.
The meeting ended at 15.30