Notes from Oct meeting with FFC
On Wednesday 11 October at 13.30, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust (FST) met with Fulham FC via video conference.
The Club was represented by:
- Alistair Mackintosh (Chief Executive Officer, AM)
- Darren Preston (Chief Operating Officer, DP)
- Carmelo Mifsud (Communications Director, CM)
- Aimee McKenzie (Operations Director, AMc)
- John D’Arcy (Head of safety, JD)
- Katy Brecht (Head of Ticketing, KB)
- Nicola Walworth (Supporter Liaison Manager & Disability Liaison Officer, NW)
- Glenn Sutton (Chief Profit Officer, GS)
The FST was represented by:
- Simon Duke (Chair, SD)
- Jerry Cope (Treasurer & Membership Secretary, JC)
- Hayley Davinson (Board Member, HD)
- Sarah Keig (Board Member, SK)
HOW IT WORKS
At our regular monthly meetings, Trust Board members ask questions relating to as many topics as possible in the time available, based on responses from members to the advance notification of the meeting and our own observations from interacting with the wider supporter base. The Club then gives its position, which is discussed. These notes are therefore a statement of both points of view. The Trust continues to press both the Board’s and its members’ view at this meeting and in separate meetings.
Often members ask similar questions, and, in these cases, we try to summarise, provide the Club with feedback and gain as much useful information as possible in the time available. We also prioritise new and time-critical topics, whilst also seeking updates on longer running issues.
You can access notes of all previous meetings on our web site, including the most recent information on key topics not covered at this meeting.
If any member has raised a new 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.
The following topics were discussed:
SD opened the meeting by expressing the Trust’s appreciation for the way in which the serious injury to Chris Basham of Sheffield United had been handled last Saturday, not least the way that Tim Ream had handled the situation, which had brought noticeable credit to him and the Club – the Club had passed on the Trust’s appreciation to Tim.
The Trust had issued a full statement this morning expressing its escalating disappointment in the Club policy on ticket pricing, and that it was planning protests going forward starting with the Manchester United game. The statement had been endorsed by a very wide range of Fulham supporters’ groups and Fulham media outlets. SD emphasised two elements of the Trust’s statement:
- The Trust was in no doubt that the Club would continue usually to sell out tickets whilst in the Premier League, the concern was whether tickets were ending up in the hands of genuine regular and long-term Fulham fans to underpin a sustainable future for Fulham, whatever division we were playing in;
- The Trust remained appreciative of the financial commitment of the owners of Fulham to the Club – but the Trust thought that the current ticket policy was misguided and unaffordable for many supporters, thereby endangering the longer-term supporter base.
In response AM said the Club had only just received the statement and therefore would not respond in detail at this time, but affirmed it understood the right of fans to protest in a peaceful and safe way.
SD and SK reported that there was a growing concern amongst supporters of the number of away supporters identifying themselves in home areas. This was particularly prevalent at the Spurs, Chelsea, and Luton games. The Trust knew that it was not easy to stop tickets ending up in the wrong hands and supported the ticket team’s efforts to control distribution. SK asked how stewards were briefed to handle identified away fans, including those entering the home areas wearing away shirts. There were particular concerns about the forthcoming Manchester United (MU) game.
JD responded that there was a balance to be struck, but if there was a significant noticeable negative impact on surrounding home supporters, identifiable away fans would be ejected, even though this of itself caused disruption. Stewards had been proactive at the Chelsea game in particular with a number of ejections. A number of season ticket holders had also now been banned for passing or selling their tickets to away fans. JD re-affirmed that stewards were being asked to refuse entry at the gate to anyone, including perhaps sadly young children, wearing MU colours.
There had been a particular problem at the Chelsea game, where a Fulham fan had been wrongly identified as a Chelsea fan and attacked suffering injuries – the Fulham fan(s) involved were likely to be banned, so JD emphasised the need to involve stewards not take action themselves.
JC asked why there were so many empty seats at recent games, despite the Club reporting sell-outs, and wondered whether some of these season tickets had been sold to touts, intending to sell them on for the bigger games. KB said the Club were equally exasperated at the number of empty seats, and some season tickets had not even yet been collected or used once this season but had been legitimately sold. They continued to monitor this, but a particular issue was the requirement to provide tickets for the Premier League and their sponsors. The two wings of the Riverside often had no shows from this particular ticket allocation. The Club were in dialogue with the Premier League about this and some sponsors were now returning unused tickets, which, only if there was time to complete proper checks on purchasers, the Club then put back on sale, sometimes after announcing a sell-out.
The Club and the Trust remind season ticket holders to use the exchange to sell tickets they could not use – sales via the exchange were subject to the same checks eg for potential away supporters, as normal ticket sales.
SK reported that Sky and BT were both showing an increasing focus on sustainability in sport, and the impact on sporting events was increasing from volatile weather. A recent report forecasts 3 London Clubs, including Fulham, are likely to be under water by 2050. SK asked if the Club, perhaps in conjunction with the Club partner, Gridserve, were planning to mark either the designated green weekend (3-5 February) or World Earth Day (22 April). There was also a table of Premier League Clubs approach to sustainability, where Fulham stood 17th out of 20. The Trust would be happy to discuss and support Club initiatives for either or both of these events.
AM responded that the Club were trying to take some initiatives, including less use of flying to away matches, and the Club would consider and talk with the Trust about any possibilities for the two designated events and would talk further with Gridserve.
UNDER 5 ADMISSION
HD reported that the Fulham Lillies, supported by the Trust would soon be bringing out a detailed ‘glossy’ report on Clubs across the Leagues’ approach to attendance at games of under 5s, with a particular emphasis on under 2s. A table would be included in this report, which would be publicised widely, showing each Club’s approach to safety, ticket pricing, and language amongst other things. HD hoped that Fulham would be able to support the approach, and she would forward a final draft to the Club shortly. The Club agreed to consider when it saw the draft.
- SK reported that the welcome new staircases at the Hammersmith End (HE) had eased congestion, but the real test would come when the weather turned colder and/or wetter. In discussion the Trust asked if there were any options for covering the open-air corner near the riverside which eased congestion – AMc reported this was under review, but nothing cost effective had yet been found. DP reported that the new speakers at the back of the HE also seemed to have improved sound quality, and although nothing further was currently being planned for the HE, this would be reviewed at the next round of capital budgeting.
- SD asked about progress on the Fan Advisory Board, following the publication of Fulham’s Fan Engagement Plan. CM responded that a first meeting would be next year, and the Club were still considering how a fully representative (of all Fulham communities) Board should be established – dialogue with the Trust would continue.
- In response to the Trust, AM re-affirmed that a full opening of the Riverside Stand remained on course for next season. DP explained that this would also involve permanent food and other concession in the areas currently boarded up. In response to a question from SK, he added that, as had been clearly explained in all the marketing around the new stand, these general facilities would continue as now, to be all on the ground floor.
The meeting closed at 14:25.