A delegation from the Fulham Supporters' Trust went to Westminster this week as Supporters Direct unveiled their proposals for football club licensing at the House of Commons.

Supporters Direct's plans are in response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee's report on football governance and aim to end the era of unsustainable debt, leveraged buyouts and reckless financial gambles in English football. There is cross-party support for the introduction of a licensing system, similar to that operating in Germany, as the event was hosted by Jessica Lee, the Conservative MP for Erewash, and the meeting also heard from the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes.

The founding chair of the Fulham Supporters' Trust, Tom Greatrex, now Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said the licensing idea crossed political boundaries, saying: "Nobody seriously doubts the ability of (fans) to contribute in a constructive way. It's right to recognise the role of fans in the new licensing arrangements as guarantors of the best interests of clubs and their communities."

William Gaillard, an advisor to UEFA President Michel Platini, also offered his support, describing the Bundesliga model and outlining some of the ways in which European football's governing body have moved towards licensing, such as introducing Financial Fair Play.

Whilst in Westminster, the Trust also took the opportunity to meet with Fulham season-ticket holders Andy Slaughter and Steve Pound (Labour MPs for Hammersmith and Ealing North, respectively).

The licensing proposals may be read here and the Trust will keep members informed of progress with the proposals.


Craven Cottage planning application


On 12th January, 2012, Fulham submitted a planning application to increase Craven Cottage's capacity to 30,000 from 25,700. Fulham plan to develop the Riverside Stand in order to increase capacity up to 30,000, as well as undertaking wider facility improvements at the venue.
Following exhibits at Craven Cottage and a consultative exercise with fans and residents, the club made the formal submission of a planning application to Hammersmith and Fulham Council for permission to redevelop the Riverside Stand.
In a statement on the club's official website, the club said: "Fulham Football Club today submitted an application to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, for the redevelopment of the Riverside stand at its Craven Cottage home.
"The application will take the club's current capacity to 30,000 seats and, further significant funds will be invested to open up the Thames River walk from Hammersmith to Putney for the first time in recent history."
Fulham will hold exhibitions on January 25th. and 28th. to showcase the final design submitted and provide feedback from the second consultation. As soon as the plans are put on show at the Hammersmith Town Hall, the Trust will view them and report back.



FFC: more on redevelopment proposals at Craven Cottage 

In the early part of December, Fulham Football Club held another series of consultation events regarding their proposals to redevelop Craven Cottage. Club officials and members of the planning consultancy involved with the designs were present as the club unveiled some detailed designs of the proposed changes to the Riverside Stand, which will predominantly introduce additional seating and offer extra opportunities for non-matchday use of the new facilities. One of the salient features was the desire to re-open the Thames Path to its fullest extent. It remains Fulham's intention to submit a planning application this spring, with the expectation that work will be undertaken during the close season.


Re-developing Craven Cottage: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Since last month, there has been some progress with Fulham Football Club’s plans to redevelop Craven Cottage. According to a statement published on the Club's website on November 16th., Fulham submitted an EIA to Hammersmith & Fulham Council regarding their proposals. It is important to note that this is not a planning application, but a minor part of the planning process designed to assess the impact of any future proposal.

The environmental impact assessment included a description of the project, in this case a discussion of the measures that would need to be taken to redevelop the Riverside Stand, any alternative approaches that were considered, a description of the current environment, consideration of any impact on the environment and its possible off-setting, a section advising on any weakness in knowledge and a summary of the proposals.

To this end, the Club included some drawings and technical sketches outlining the current environment behind the Riverside Stand and along the Thames. The sketches showing the height of a redeveloped Riverside Stand were not indicative of its final appearance, but merely provided an understanding of the environmental impact. Detailed proposals will emerge in due course as the planning application takes shape. Fulham have indicated that they will hold consultations with their supporters and the local community in December and they hope to submit a planning application next year. The proposals involve the redevelopment and expansion of the current Riverside Stand to increase the overall capacity of the Craven Cottage football ground by approximately 4,000 seats. The scheme also includes new food and drink and service facilities for supporters and corporate hospitality space and up to six residential apartments.

In order to reduce any encroachment into the River Thames, the plan also highlighted the proposed over-hang of the two-tier stand over the river with the creation of a new riverside walkway. To assist in the delivery of materials required to construct the new stand, an area has been identified for the creation of a temporary jetty, required for the duration of the construction works only and to facilitate deliveries by water.


Proposed redevelopment at Craven Cottage

Further to the initial announcement, the Trust was pleased to attend the 'open days' held at Craven Cottage in late October. As the Trust grew from the 'Back to the Cottage' movement, we are delighted that the club are actively considering proposals to make a permanent stay at our historic home a reality. We would welcome any feedback from members on the club's proposals. Although the exhibition's displays were well illustrated with plenty of photographs and a drawing of the current structure of the ground, those hoping for detailed plans of what a redeveloped Riverside Stand would look like would have been disappointed.

According to club officials, the open days were held to facilitate feedback from supporters as to what they would prioritise in an enlarged Riverside Stand, with the starting point of increasing the capacity to the stated 30,000 and an upgrading of the existing facilities. Each attendee was given a questionnaire which asked for their comments and ideas.

The club presented both the positives and the negatives of the proposed expansion: stating that the increased capacity would bring additional revenue from increased attendance, but may also necessitate expansion into the River Thames. A very rough sketch of potential riverside frontage was available and, after discussion with representatives from the club, it was clear that the redevelopment could be completed during the close season and avoiding the closure of the stand for any prolonged period.


Crucial to the plans was the re-opening of the Thames path for use on non match days, which featured in the club's last set of redevelopment proposals back in 2007. It would appear likely that an increased number of supporters attending the ground would place greater pressure on current facilities for egress onto Stevenage Road and could result in concomitant damage to the banks of Fielder's Meadow at the Putney End. As well as the obvious fire and safety issues presented by larger attendances, it is both rational and practical to augment and improve egress from the ground at both ends.


With reference to the Putney End, a combined programme of re-opening the Thames Path - and bringing it the same level as that of the Riverside Stand, with appropriate modification for wheelchair and disabled access, the creation of a 'spillway' to avoid any serious damage to Bishop's Park and major improvements to the 'Putney Wall,' which is non-uniform in construction and would require additional support, and appropriate horticultural development in the surrounding areas would present the Club with an opportunity to follow through on their previous offer to support much-needed improvements in Bishop's Park as well as simultaneously fulfilling their own desire for much-needed expansion.

The Trust notes that, in their recent statement on the future of Chelsea Football Club in the borough, Hammersmith and Fulham Council said: "We are currently assisting Fulham FC with its plans to expand the capacity of its historic ground at Craven Cottage and we have already agreed to grant planning permission for additional capacity.  A new scheme is about to be consulted on."

The Council's support is welcome and will be crucial to ensuring that these proposals are not mired in the wrangling with local residents that has hindered the Club's previous attempts to expand Craven Cottage. The Trust will be working with all relevant bodies to ensure that the permanent expansion of Craven Cottage is a success. Trust members are encouraged to view the Club's presentation of the plans on the Fulham website at: