Trust Meeting with Fulham FC CEO, May 2016
On 26th. May, 2016 at 11.00, four of the Trust Board (Dan Crawford, Michael Gregg, Gerry Claydon and Tom Greatrex) met with Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief Executive Officer) and Sarah Brookes (SB, Communications and Marketing Director) from Fulham FC at the Club’s Headquarters, Motspur Park.
1) Redevelopment of Riverside Stand, Motspur Park and work on Craven Cottage
The Trust asked AM for an update on the 3 major works taking place and reiterated concerns over the delay to the Riverside stand and lack of clear information from the club on where exactly the club stood in relation to a start date on it.
The Trust made it clear that the low key nature and imprecise wording of the statements published on the Club's website and in the final match programme of the season increased anxieties, and that the Club needed to always be aware of the significance of any proposals associated with the ground with supporters, given the history.
AM explained that as the club moved closer to the actual start date of the work on the Riverside stand it was decided to have a peer review on the current plans. He confirmed that this decision was taken towards the end of the season. The club wanted to make sure it was/is the right design for the club and the ground going forward.
AM reiterated that Mr Khan loved Craven Cottage and wants to make sure that any development of it is right in all areas. AM stated that we would start to see more marketing of Craven Cottage as a venue, with regards more internationals possibly being held and as a corporate location. It’s a unique ground and as such should be viewed that way.
Two companies were put forward to look at the stand and ground, with Mr Khan choosing Heatherwick Studios to do the review. They have been given 4 months to look at the stand and the ground and come back with its conclusions. Currently, they are 4-6 weeks into this review.
Once their report is presented to the club they will then look at the result and make a decision on which route to take. This may be to continue with the current plan or take into account what Heatherwick Studios produce.
What this does mean is there will be no major works taking place this year, irrespective of the outcome of the review.
With planning permission due to run out this summer, the club will still be undertaking pre-commencement works to maintain the validity of the current planning permission. If the conclusion (of Heatherwick’s review) is to go ahead with the current design of the stand, there would then be no delay due to planning permissions. AM agreed to forward to the FST a discharge list of work to be undertaken. Some work such as trees being removed and some riverbank work had started already.
If any changes Heatherwick Studios suggest require a full planning application, then the club will have to decide if they wish to submit an application. This, of course, will take time. While the existing design is planned to be built while stadium is in use, AM could not commit that would necessarily be the case if an alternative design was favoured.
The club is in full consultation with Heatherwick Studios throughout this process, and involves discussing both the match day requirements and non-match day possibilities that a new stand could provide. Part of the brief is to ascertain what would be possible by staying within the footprint of the current plans.
The Trust asked about contractors involved with the build and AM said that, while they had worked with one major company throughout the process, nothing had been signed regarding the actual build process of the stand.
While the club would not confirm how much has been spent so far on the Riverside Stand, but the Trust believes it is in the region of £5M.
The work on Motspur Park continues and parts of it resemble a building site. This work will help the club keep the Category One status for its training facilities. New pitches, parking and a permanent dome for indoor training will benefit both the club and the local community. The cost of this work is between £6-7M and it should be finished by September 2016.
Craven Cottage is having all of its roof tiles removed and cleaned. The dressing rooms are being updated to cover league regulations and other exterior and interior work. Hopefully, this will be completed in time for the start of the season. As a listed building, the club is obliged to keep it in good condition, hence the need for these works.
2) Transfer embargo, FFP and player recruitment
With club now out of the embargo, AM said that the plan is to stay within the new FFP limits that have come into force. The question about QPR and its ongoing legal challenge was raised and there is still no news as to when that will be concluded.
FFP regulations should not hamper the club’s desire to make the changes required to the squad in order to challenge for promotion in the coming season.
The manager, in conjunction with Mike Rigg and his scouting team, will all be looking to bring in players with the right character and skills required for a promotion push. The structure of the player recruitment side of the club has remained unchanged following a review by Mr Khan at the end of the season.
3) Players retained/released and pre season matches.
SB confirmed that the list of players retained or released will be published no later than June 8th. and may well be announced before then.
With regard to pre-season matches, dates will only be released when all the contracts with the clubs have been signed, but it was confirmed that will include a tour to Ireland.
4) Season Tickets, Attendances, Fixtures, Ticketmaster and Casper Stylsvig
SB said that sales of STs so far had been going well and was above budget at this time. The reason for the extension of the deadline for applications was due to the forthcoming Bank Holiday and also to help fans who were normally paid at the end of the month, hence the extension until 31st. May.
The club was fairly happy that crowds, on the whole, were the same as last season and only down a few hundred on average. The mixed zone will be staying at the Putney end and also the club confirmed that they will not restrict ticket allocations away fans as many Fulham fans have asked. Scott Parker has asked SB to look at how the club can help the fans be more vocal, so it appears that the clappers are here to stay.
AM confirmed that (i) the club will continue to request permission from the Football League to stage their midweek home games on a Tuesday at 19:45 and (ii) the manager favoured this instead of a Wednesday.
Many fans had received multiple automated e-mail acknowledgements for renewal of their season tickets from Ticketmaster (TM) and this was being investigated by both the club and TM. It is a TM issue and happened during a specific time period. No reason for the problem could be given at this time.
Casper Stylsvig has started work at the club and is looking at all aspects of the club under his remit, which is to focus on increasing and developing revenue streams, including sponsorship and hospitality.
It was confirmed that a main shirt sponsor is in place for 2016-17, but the Club was not yet in a position to announce details.
5) Proposals for re-structuring of the Football League
AM said that the club had been in touch with the League asking for more clarification on the proposals and were unable to offer a firm position given the lack of detail in the proposals so far. He indicated that the FL agreed that discussions will take place over the coming months, ahead of any final proposals being put to Clubs at the 2017 AGM. AM volunteered that the reduction in games was not something he instinctively favoured.
6) The ‘free drink and hot food’ offer
SB said that, while the offers as a whole had gone down well and a majority of fans had been catered for, that issues had arisen from both the greater than expected demand and also the ability of the caterers to actually stock the required food and drink within the kiosks. SB expressed the view that, if it were held again, that lessons had been learnt from the problems that had arisen.
Meeting closed at 12:30