Notes from May meeting with FFC
On Wednesday 11 May at 13:00, 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)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director, CM)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Relations Manager, NW)
- Eleanor Rowland, (Head of Safeguarding, ER)
- David Daly (Non-Executive Director, DD)
The FST was represented by Board Members:
- Ian Clarke (Vice Chair, IC)
- Simon Duke (Secretary, SD)
- Dan Crawford (Board Member, DC)
- Tamara Dragadze (Board Member, TD)
- Amelia Armstrong (Co-opted Board Member, AA)
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.
Congratulations and thanks
On behalf of the Trust and the wider Fulham fanbase, IC offered congratulations to Marco Silva, the first team squad, coaching staff and Club officials on winning the EFL Championship and promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The Trust also recorded our recognition of a fantastic season at all levels of football, congratulating Steve Wigley and the Club’s under 23 side on winning the Premier League 2 Division 2 title and heading back to the top flight, and recognized the achievement of Ali Melloul’s under 18 team who reached the final of the Premier League Cup. The success of Fulham’s Women was also noted, with Steve Jaye’s team finishing the campaign very strongly.
In response to feedback, thanks were given to the Club for the way in which supporters have been assisted during the season, with particular mentions for Katy Brecht and her team in the ticket office and Nicola Walworth, Supporter Relations Manager.
IC congratulated the Club on the way in which the final game against Luton had been handled and the atmosphere created. The general view was that the scarves had been an excellent idea.
AM, on behalf of the Board and the Manager, thanked the Trust for their support during the season and the supporter base in general for the atmosphere created at the Cottage. The Trust have been asked to share with the Club any ideas we may have around atmosphere generation for next season. DC has offered to form a small working group to help the Club keep the atmosphere the same next season.
Planning for 2022/23 season
DC asked about progress in pre-season planning. AM reported that the Club were in the final stages of putting together their full fixture list and announcements would soon be forthcoming. The Trust reiterated the importance of early publication of friendly details to allow supporters to book their travel abroad. AM confirmed that Fulham would be holding a home pre-season friendly at Craven Cottage on 31st July, a week prior to the start of the Premier League campaign.
Following questions from members, DC asked about the recent decision to extend the contracts of Tim Ream and Neeskens Kebano. AM replied by saying that, whilst he was reluctant to discuss the contractual situations of individual players, he felt it would be fair to recognise this pair’s professionalism, dedication and excellent performances and that we should be proud to have them both playing for Fulham Football Club.
In response to a question, AM confirmed that the process of identifying possible transfer targets continued to have 4 key components as Tony Khan previously explained: Data, Scouting, Head Coach and Finance.
Referring to the recent announcement of season ticket prices in the “horseshoe” (parts of the ground not including the new Riverside Stand), IC thanked the Club for a price model which was considered by the Trust and the majority of supporters who had provided feedback to be very fair, particularly as there had been some concern following the earlier announcement of Riverside prices. We asked for an update on season ticket sales and plans for memberships and match day tickets next season.
AM said that season ticket sales were progressing well, with approximately 2,000 new season tickets already sold in addition to renewals. He reported that all season tickets in the lower tier of the new Riverside Stand had been sold and there was now a waiting list. The only match by match seats likely to be available in the lower Riverside next season will be returns via the ticket exchange.
Memberships and match by match tickets
AM further explained that it is the Club’s intention to keep selling season tickets at present, noting the requirement for a minimum of 5% of home capacity to be kept back for match day sales. At the present time there is no update available on membership packages or match by match ticket sales as these depend on the progress of season ticket sales. The Trust asked that these be shared as soon as possible.
Loyalty points were briefly discussed and it was agreed IC/DC would revert to the Club with the observations of the Trust.
It is expected, although not yet confirmed, that Premier League away tickets will continue to be capped at £30 next season. IC noted that this will mean home and away supporters paying different prices for similar seats next season (for example in the Putney End), as has been the case in the Premier League this year. AM agreed, pointing out that Fulham away travellers will benefit from this scheme.
IC reported the Trust are happy to continue to assist the Club in any way possible on ticketing, particularly reviewing the user journey through both website and app.
FEMALE SUPPORTERS / #HerGameToo
ER thanked the Trust for their presentation last month, which had been shared with her by AM. ER said the piece of work was very informative and helps clarify why women may or may not attend Fulham games. This fits in with work already going on at the Club, which includes an internal workflow to develop women’s involvement both directly within the workplace and across the wider supporter base. A 3-year strategy is being developed and ER has asked AA for support from the Trust to develop this piece of work. ER and AA will have separate discussions outside of the formal monthly meetings with the Club.
ER also reported that in 2019, female season ticket holders / members accounted for 15% of the fan base, based on the supporters’ survey. This will be re-run early next season where it is hoped there will be an improvement in this percentage.
DC reported that AA had been co-opted to the FST Board to develop work in the area of female engagement. AA wants to set up a female FFC supporters network and ER confirmed the Club would be supportive of a visit to Motspur Park to hold interviews with both female staff and FFC Women’s players.
DC commented how well received the involvement of Mary Southgate had been in the trophy presentation.
AWAY TRAVEL & FAN BEHAVIOUR
DC recounted the experiences of Fulham supporters, some of whom are Trust members, at the recent away games against Derby County & Sheffield United. Behaviour mirrored that seen at most away games during the season. DC included his personal experience at Sheffield, where he did not feel safe. The behaviour of certain followers of the Club is not acceptable, and a number of supporters are now becoming afraid to travel. The discussion then moved on to cover similar problems seen in the Hammersmith End at home fixtures where the main issue, brought up by the Trust, is Club / agency stewards not keeping gangways clear to prevent bundling forward. It was felt by the Trust that fan behaviour was becoming a real issue for the Club.
AM commented that there was a vast majority of amazing experiences during the campaign in regards to fan behaviour. The Club of course acknowledges and recognises that there have been a number of exceptions. The treatment received by some individuals resulting in their negative experience is not acceptable. Getting stewards into away grounds is not always possible and requires the agreement of the home club. It is a minority causing the problem but this minority is having an impact. The Club does not wish to lose loyal supporters due to the behaviour of others.
Abuse of stewards is also not acceptable and by way of example AM gave details of a recent incident involving a female steward.
Safety of spectators is paramount and if a solution to the behaviour issues at away games cannot be found then AM said capacity at away games could be cut by authorities as a last resort.
In terms of what the Club are doing about it, AM reported that with DP he has met with the Police and it is clear this is not just an issue for our Club. The Trust are aware of this from our participation in FSA forums and Police liaison groups. On a calibration basis, the issues the Club face are not as great as the majority of clubs but that does not mean it is acceptable. For Fulham there is an increase in poor behaviour from a fairly low start point whereas other clubs are seeing much larger increases in poor behaviour from a higher start point. Where individuals can be identified, AM reported action will be taken including banning orders. AM & DP are working with Chris Baker, Head of Safety, to see what else can be done.
AM re-iterated that if the Trust had any ideas on how fan behaviour can be improved, they would like us to share them.
IC has offered to head a group of people to consider what could be done to improve the away experience.
It was noted that the Club are presently advertising for stewards.
A number of issues relating to Craven Cottage were discussed, based on feedback received across the season from a wide range of supporters.
Hammersmith End congestion
Congestion on the concourse at the Hammersmith End continues to be an issue. DP reported that the Club are undertaking a video analysis at the start of next season to observe people’s movement on match days to see what could be done to improve experience. IC suggested that consultants should be engaged to look at improving usage of the limited available space and questioned whether the mound should be removed and if a mezzanine floor might be an option. Other suggestions made included moving the bars away from the stairs and reconfiguring and upgrading the toilets. It is likely space will increase slightly around the George Cohen statue as the new Riverside Stand opens, where ticket checks will be where they were for the old Riverside Stand.
Female toilets remain an issue and this will be progressed by ER/AA as part of their Female workstream.
Screens (Johnny Haynes Stand)
TD asked whether screens could be installed in the JH stand for those who cannot see the large screens. This becomes important next season when VAR will be in use. DP has undertaken to look at this but reminded the meeting that due to its listed status, works in the JH stand can be challenging.
DP has agreed to look at the question of the sound system again. Trust attendees reported that the sound is muffled in most parts of the ground and that, in particular, it is impossible to hear the Forever Fulham presentations at half time.
DP has agreed to a request from DC to have a review walk around the ground over the summer.
In response to a question about why the away support often seems louder on Sky transmissions than the home support, the Club said whilst they were not aware, this was likely to be due to the way the broadcasters position their equipment.
Mohamed Al Fayed
A member had asked whether the Club were still in contact with Mohamed Al Fayed and whether it would be appropriate to recognise him in some way. AM said that whilst MAF had not been a visitor to Craven Cottage, Mark Collins and Michael Cole were regular visitors and Karim Al Fayed, MAF’s son, had been to a few games.
There will be no Club meeting in June; the next meeting will be in July.
Meeting closed at 14:50