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Tuesday
Jan032017

QPR Away tickets and order of sale.

Once it became clear this morning that the tickets for the QPR game were going to be sold top tier first, followed by lower tier the FST contacted the club to find out the reason why.

The issue we could see arising is that while the loyalty system is in place many fans actually prefer the lower tier and would have to wait to buy them.

The club response is as follows:

"The club has a strict selling order which QPR have asked us to abide to when selling their tickets.

We have agreed with QPR to take both the Upper and Lower Tier, on the agreement that the Upper Tier is sold first. We can only sell into the Lower Tier once the Upper Tier has sold out.

To allow fans who buy first the best choice of seats within the Upper Tier, QPR have allowed us to open the whole Upper Tier allocation for on sale this morning, as opposed to selling block by block from corner to centre.

Those fans wanting to sit in the Lower Tier are advised this will only be available for sale if the Upper Tier sells out, a total of 1,221 tickets"

The club have also commented:

"Will ensure we update the website with sales, so fans know how far off we are potentially going into the Lower Tier"

The club have now updated the website with more information and hopefully this clarifies the situation with regards the sale of tickets for this game.


 

Friday
Dec302016

FST meeting with FFC at Motspur Park at 10.30 on 20th. December 2016

On 20th. December 2016, two of the Trust Board (Dan Crawford and Michael Gregg) met Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief Executive Officer), Sarah Brookes (SB, Communications and Marketing Director) and Mike Rigg (MR, Chief Football Officer) from Fulham FC at the Club’s Headquarters, Motspur Park.

1) FA Cup Game Away to Cardiff; 11:30am Kick Off issue

The Trust confirmed it had sent a letter to BBC Wales complaining about the kick off time. The Club acknowledged it was not a great time to play but, under the TV deal, they are obliged to play at the time the TV company ask. The Club has tried to mitigate the travelling issues by organising free coaches.

2) First team, Injuries, Coaching set-up, player contracts and future transfers

MR was present for this part of the discussion and asked him about the current injury situation at the Club or absence of it.

Tomas Kalas had a scan the day before but, at the time, the outcome of it was unknown. Apart from him the rest of the squad was fully fit. This had, in part, led to the Club looking back over its records and at no other time in its recent history had the injury situation at this time of the year been so minimal.

This was put down to the pre- and post-match preparation that has been put in place by the current coaching set-up, medical department and sports science teams, some of which the newer players have said were the best they have ever seen.

MG asked about the position of Steve Wigley within the Fulham coaching set-up. MR confirmed he is head of coaching for all age groups from the U23s and below. Vic Bettinelli and Mark Pembridge were in charge of the U18s and Peter Grant in charge of U23s.

MG asked if any of the younger players had contracts extended of which we had not been notified by the Club via the website. He said discussions were ongoing with some of the younger players and it was mainly positive at the moment and that, in the near future, contract extensions should be announced.

MG asked about Chris Martin and his loan situation with rumours in the press that Derby County FC could recall him. AM confirmed that Derby could not recall him as and when they pleased and that Martin was key to the team going forward.

The Trust asked about January transfers and whether we expect to see many arrivals at or departures from Fulham. There would a few moves but not many. The Head Coach, like anyone in his position, will want to strengthen the team but it would not result in a major influx of players since 14 had joined in the summer.

Some players will be allowed to leave but only with the agreement of the head coach.

3) Redevelopment of Riverside Stand and ground improvements

The Trust asked AM for an update on the development of the Riverside stand and the review by Heatherwick Studios. AM said there was no update at this time and when the Club has something to report they will.

With much publicity over the newly installed Gin Bar, the Trust asked the Club about other improvements for fans across all income bands from normal to corporate supporters. AM replied that they would look at other options and are open to ideas on what they can offer. A full list of what’s on offer is to be supplied to the FST so they can pass on to the membership.

4) Away Tickets and website

Following the changes made to the website, both the FST and Club has received good feedback on the changes the FST helped put forward. Whilst not perfect, the Club is looking to improve on this issue in the future.

5) Johnny Haynes shirt

The FST asked as to where the mounted Johnny Haynes kit, which the Trust had loaned given the Club for display could be sited in order to give it a prominent position. This led to the Club and FST looking at a future project together and it was agreed to return to this matter in the New Year.

6) FulhamTV

SB was asked how FulhamTV and the issues recently during live matches. The Fulham website, along with other sites, were attacked and this meant the site went down as it as it experienced a DDOS attack (Distributed Denial of Service). This was against the host server and out of Fulham’s control and the Club is waiting for a full report from the company.

On the issue of loss of commentary from IOS/Android systems recently, SB explained there had been a software update and one solution is to reinstall the FFC App. If issues continue, then subscribers should contact the Club and they will investigate the specific matter(s).

With regard to match coverage, SB said that, at home games, they have 3 cameras and this allows more coverage/editing for the highlights and 90-minute game. Away from home, they are unable to offer this service and are left with the coverage offered by the home club.

The Club continues to be pleased with both the ‘take up’ and numbers who watch the live Under-23 games.

7) English Football League, dealings with fans and TV deal

The Trust raised its concerns about ticket pricing, particularly in relation to Ipswich Town FC’s pricing arrangements for our game on Boxing Day. The Trust also communicated its disappointment that EFL chief executive, Shaun Harvey, had yet to meet with Championship fans’ groups three years after promising to do so. AM recognised the Trust’s concern about ticket prices for the Boxing Day game and said that he regularly discusses matters with his fellow Championship colleagues and represents the EFL on a committee that negotiates with players on behalf of the professional game.

Meeting closed at 11:30

Sunday
Dec182016

Fulham and Cardiff City fans protest over Sunday 11.30am FA Cup kick off

The Fulham Supporters' Trust and the Cardiff City Supporters Trust have written to BBC Wales this weekend protesting at the television company's decision to schedule the FA Cup third round tie between the two clubs for a Sunday morning kick off at 11.30am on January 8th.

The decision to reschedule the fixture at short notice leaves supporters travelling from London with just one direct train from London to Cardiff, which gets in at 10:59, and is the latest manifestation of just how low down in the game's priority list matchgoing supporters now feature.

Both Trusts have long supported the campaigns ran by the national supporter groups, the Football Supporters' Federation and Supporters' Direction, on ticket pricing and away travel. The FA Cup third round was once a special weekend for football supporters up and down the country, but this decision highlights just how little 'magic of the Cup' remains.

You read can the full text of the joint letter to BBC Wales here.

Thursday
Nov172016

FST meeting with FFC at Motspur Park on 8th. November 2016

On 8th November 2016 two of the Trust Board (Dan Crawford, Michael Gregg) met Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief executive officer) and Sarah Brookes (SB, Communications and Marketing Director) Casper Stylsvig (CS, Chief Revenue Officer) and Mike Rigg (MR, Chief Football Officer) from Fulham FC at the Club’s Headquarters, Motspur Park.


1) First team, U23 team, loan window and Manager’s contract

MR was present for this part of the discussion and the ST asked him to explain how he felt the playing side of the club was progressing. He explained that confidence was high in the first team and a number of the players had expressed their view that they had never played in a team that consistently creates the number of chances its currently doing.

Those players not in the team are working hard to try and prove they should be playing and while they are disappointed they are also professionals. Decisions will be made in January on what’s best for some of those players who are not involved, both for the Club and the players.

MR was asked whether the first team players that have been appearing in the U23 games recently feel that these games are below them. He responded that, having watched all the games, he did not think they were taking these games lightly at all and it’s about giving players game time and keeping them match fit.

MR was asked about his feeling on the new U23 league and whether it had made much difference to the games. He explained that, while you could never replicate the intensity of 1st team football, the games are competitive, as the 4-3 loss to Wolves last week showed.

The removal of the emergency loan window was touched on and MR felt it was actually a good thing and removed the constant speculation of players moving in between the mai n windows.

On the subject of the Manager’s contract, AM would neither confirm or deny that they were talking about this and said this would not be the forum to announce it either way. However, the Club is happy with how things are going and, while home form needs to improve, the feeling was we should have more points than we currently have.


2) Redevelopment of Riverside Stand and Motspur Park

The Trust asked AM for an update on the Riverside Stand and the Heatherwick Studios review.

AM reminded the trust that the council had signed off the continuation of the planning consent after the club fulfilled stipulated requirements in the summer. This meant that the Club could go ahead with the Riverside Stand based on the KAS design at any time.

The Club has received the review from Heatherwick and is looking at the options it offers. The review covered not only the Riverside Stand but also the entire ground. AM mentioned that the costs for maintaining the Hammersmith and Putney stands was a costly matter and, since as this is possibly the one chance in the near future that the Club could rebuild much of the ground, the Club is going to take its time looking at all the options they have on the table. AM and CS had a meeting recently looking at the financial side of a number of designs its has. There are no plans to release a version of the report for public consumption.

Of course, any major redesign will have to include planning permission but, at this moment, there are no timescales on when the club will announce plans going forward. However, AM reiterated that the KAS design could still be the one with which the Club proceeded.

There was no pressure on them to rush ahead with any build and was not dependent on promotion either. However, promotion would make it an easier decision to make.

Work at Motspur Park was now completed and the club will be announcing more news on the work that has been done in the near future.


3) Away Tickets and website

Casper Stylsvig explained his role at the club and in charge of all revenue apart from player sales.

The subject of away ticketing was discussed. This followed a 45-minute telephone conference call that Michael Gregg had with CS and Katy Phillips (KP, Head of Ticketing) the previous week, where some of the issues were raised and these minutes reflect mainly that discussion and then follow-up at this meeting.

The issue of being able to pick your own seat at away games was the main reason for the call. Since Ticketmaster (TM) had become our online provider since the start of the 2015/16 season, the ability to choose seats had been lost. The reason for TM being taken on was due to the previous provider being unable to support heavy online traffic, which saw the website crash. Since TM supply a number of the clubs (such as Arsenal), the decision to go with them was taken and the website, when buying tickets, is far more stable.

MG Asked why TM could not upload seating plans on a game by game basis as they do in the USA, for example for NFL games. CS has had discussions with TM on this subject and it was explained that TM in Europe works on an older software platform than that in the USA, hence they cannot do plans game by game. However, pressure has been coming from a number of clubs that now use TM to provide the option for fans to purchase seats of their choosing. TM is 25% of the way toward building the required system that the football club will be able to use. Unfortunately, it cannot give a date as to when they will be able to roll it out to clubs.

MG raised the following questions:

How does the ‘Best Available’ option work? Why are those fans who book early (in particular those when a game uses loyalty points to stagger the sales) sometimes given seats that do not reflect either best available or at times in a worse position than someone who books two weeks later?

The way a home team distributes or offers away tickets varies from team to team. All allocations in the Championship are offered on a sale or return option, However, if tickets are not sold in the order that the home club specifies, the away club could be liable for the cost of the whole allocation of tickets, even if they are not sold.

Thus, taking the example of the away match versus Aston Villa, the Club needed to sell block P11 (the ‘end’ block) first and then move onto P10, P9, etc.

For Brighton & Hove Albion, we have an allocation of 1800 (which could increase) and blocks are required to be sold from S1A (from the far left looking at the stand and then block by block going to the right).

KP explained that the Ticket Office create a plan for each away game and sell tickets from blocks in the order of ‘Middle to back’ and then Middle to front’ and then move onto the next block. Tickets are issued in the order the bookings are made online and not in any kind of random order.

MG commented that this had happened at Villa Park, when, having booked on the first day of sale, he had ended up two seats from the end of the stand basically looking at the side of the home stand. A number of other fans with high loyalty points having booked early, also found themselves with what is described as ‘best Available’ on the website being perhaps the worst available.

The trust commented Is this the right way to treat fans with high loyalty points for a start? Also, that particular block at AV should never be considered best available or be the first one sold.

The Club accepted that this situation was not ideal and has been talking to other clubs to see if any has come up with other options or routes to get around some of these issues and are open to any ideas on this subject.

Why show lists of blocks but then not allow a fan to actually pick one of them and show an error message? Also, when booking online, you do not see your seat until you get the email confirmation.

The Club has agreed that this can be frustrating for fans and are going to change the way tickets for the match away to Wolverhampton Wanderers will be sold. It will be ‘Best Available’ but also the seats you are given will be shown prior to payment. This will give fans the option to accept or decline those that have been selected for you.

MG also asked if it would be possible to change the options to book to something like ‘Front’, ‘Middle’ and ‘Back’. This might assist with the issue of those fans who want to stand or sit not being as mixed as has happened in previous away matches. The club said they would look at this option.

On this subject, the FST would say that the club are aware of the issues and are looking at changing the bookin g for away games and any feedback on this subject is very welcome.


4) Match-day Mascots

The Trust raised the issue of recent changes to the arrangements for match day mascots and disclosed the fact that many supporters had written in, concerned about the new arrangements.

CS confirmed that the new system had been in operation since the start of the season, but that the Club had honoured any previous packages purchased. SB clarified that it wasn’t strictly accurate to suggest that mascot packages were now only av ailable to corporate sponsors; mascot opportunities have been made available to the Club’s charitable partners, children linked to the Fulham Foundation’s projects and ongoing work.

The Club will also keep under review how to make the mascot experience accessible to as many supporters as possible; previously it was felt that some supporters had become priced out. The Trust asked that the current policy and any future changes should be clearly detailed on the Club’s website and reiterated that we would be happy to be involved in any future discussions.


5) FulhamTV

SB was asked how FulhamTV was doing and plans ahead for further content.
The take up has been good and, while no numbers were forthcoming, she said that the club had reluctantly gone down this route after being fined by the Football League for showing the highlights and 90 minute games on the website. More content is planned and, while the club would have liked to have kept the match-day commentary free, it was felt that, in order to enhance the package offered, the inclusion of the match-day commentary would give those paying the fee more value for money.

While still in the early stages, SB acknowledged that lessons have been learnt from the live press conference and also the U23 game shown live and that a lot more content will be com ing over the next few months.

MG raised the view that the U23 game coverage would be better if the camera was not so far back and the zoom was used more. It was explained that the footage is used for analyses as well and that requires a wider shot of the pitch than you would see in a normal live TV game and the use of another camera has been ruled out at this time. AM commented that he was surprised by the large number who watched the U23 game.

6) Tannoy system prior to game

The subject of Craven Cottages sound system was raised and especially how loud it was when the stadium was fairly empty between an hour and 30 minutes prior to kick-off. AM explained that he received questions on both ends of the argument, one that it’s too loud and the other that it’s too quiet.

The Manager had asked for it to be cranked up to a high volume during the pre-match warm up and that this might be why some have heard a change to it this season.

The FST asked if the club could monitor from where in the ground the complaints had been received and whether it could be re-examined in those specific areas.

7) George Cohen Statue

The FST asked the club to keep the fans informed on how the charity raising with those groups associated with the statue. They confirmed this would be done.

Meeting closed at 11:30

Monday
Nov142016

Minutes from FST meeting with FFC 8th November

To Members

Apologies for the lateness of the minutes from last weeks meeting.

This is due to personal workload and also some fact checking that needs to be done regarding the content of the meeting.

The minutes should be on the website and sent out to members over the next couple of days.

Michael Gregg

FST Committee Member