Twelve months of progress for female fans
At the Club meeting in April 2022 representatives from the FST Board gave a presentation on female supporters and the women’s team. The information used was based on feedback received from a number of female focus groups held in January of that year. The purpose of the focus groups was to better understand the female experience and learn what could be done to make things more inclusive for them and new fans that the Trust want to encourage to join.
Twelve months on from the initial meeting with the Club, FST Board Member Hayley Davinson has reviewed the progress made and took the opportunity at the April 2023 meeting with the Club to provide an update.
It’s important to note that when we first presented the findings of our focus group research in April 2022 to Alistair Mackintosh and the rest of the senior team of our Club, it was warmly received, with thanks for the time and effort to understand a section of our fanbase. Appreciation is great, but if it isn’t followed up with tangible action, these good intentions can often get forgotten amongst other more pressured issues and conversations.
When we asked female Fulham fans from a range of ages about their support of our club and how they would like to see things improved, the feedback we got ranged from sorting the Hammersmith End toilets out to saying it would be great to have a way of chatting to other females. It’s good to read those notes back and see how much progress has been made (the toilets are still a work in progress).
We’ve been pleased, therefore, that the progress made by both the Trust and the Club has been substantial and worthwhile, and markers have been put in place to show that this is just the beginning of a strong relationship between us both to ensure that this progress continues into the future.
One of the biggest successes of the last twelve months has been the creation of the Fulham Lillies, a female-run supporter group that has been started to allow female fans to meet, encourage those who have not attended a match before to give it a try and advocate for female-related issues in football – both at Fulham and the broader world of supporters. As affiliates to the Football Supporters Association the Lillies have been involved in a number of supporter led projects, including more recently meeting with Karen Carney and the DCSM to discuss the government led review of the Women’s game.
The Lillies and the Trust have been working closely with the Head of Safeguarding at the Club, Eleanor Rowland, to consider ways to encourage female fan involvement, and this has enabled tickets to be given to females that wouldn’t have considered attending in the past, and female Fulham fans making their way to their first away game.
From the Club side, creating an internal female working group has allowed employees to get together and voice concerns and ideas for internal working improvements. This has been cemented by the addition of Eleanor to the Club board, the first female member to be appointed.
For Fulham FC Women, we commended the Club on their much-improved website & social coverage of the women’s team and the brilliant achievement of hosting a game at Craven Cottage this season with over 3,000 fans in attendance. We discussed that the next important step for growing this arm of our club is growing support. We’re excited to bring some ideas to help grow that together.
We know that this is just the start. The work we’ve done over the last twelve months is undoubtedly a work in progress, and there is still a lot needed to make attending matches, working at the Club and playing for our women’s team the brilliant experience it is, but always should be. But we’re incredibly grateful to have been listened to, had our ideas taken on board, and feel confident that the Club shares our vision for improving the experience.