On Tuesday 11th June, a delegation from the Fulham Supporters Trust (“FST”), led by Vice-Chairman Gerry Claydon, met with Fulham Football Club (“FFC” or “the Club”) at the team’s training headquarters, Motspur Park.
The FST were warmly greeted by Alistair Mackintosh, Club CEO, Sean O’Loughlin, the Finance Director and Sarah Brookes as Communications Director, together with Supporter Liaison Officer Tommy Guthrie.
The meeting was an opportunity for the Club to receive feedback from the FST on fan views and opinions on various off-field matters, and also presented a forum where the FFC could provide the FST with important updates on several Club and fan-related issues. Issues yet to be discussed will raised in further dialogue in the coming weeks.
Topics discussed included the landscape of Craven Cottage, progress of the Riverside Stand redevelopment, the club’s financial performance, financial fair play, fan initiatives and the supporter liaison role.
FFC is planning to use this off-season to continue the effort of recent seasons and upgrade various facilities at Craven Cottage. This upgrading will include works to improve the pitch, to increase the facilities available for the media and to improve the bathroom facilities across the stadium as a whole. This work follows last summer’s installation of a new video screen at each end and the refurbishment work to the roof of the Johnny Haynes Stand.
An initiative under consideration that was revealed to the Trust during the meeting is the use of an optional cashless payment system at Craven Cottage on match days. It is intended that this scheme will be trialled during the coming season and would allow fans to pay at concessions using money pre-loaded onto their season ticket or membership card.
On the issue of flares that were evident in the away end during the Liverpool FC game, FFC condemns those individuals that brought flares into the stadium. Security measures were in place before the game and the club did confiscate a large number of flares before kick-off. CCTV footage has been used to identify those individuals responsible and details have been passed onto Liverpool FC to consider disciplinary action.
The club is progressing plans for the Riverside Stand redevelopment, with the project having recently received formal sign-off from the Mayor of London. The initial phase of works will require an entire close-season and are intended to be commenced at the first available opportunity following final planning approval. There are still some technical planning and approval issues to resolve so, whilst there is no formal start date, yet, the Club wishes to re-affirm to fans that the scheme will go ahead as soon as legally and feasibly possible.
The Club will follow the official Premier League stance on safe standing. Under modern safety regulations, the historic and intimate nature of Craven Cottage is likely to make accommodating safe standing a challenge. FFC have been told that there are health & safety concerns not easily remedied at the Cottage. The gradient of the Hammersmith and Putney Ends is such that, to accommodate safe standing, they would have to be altered, which would reduce the capacity of Craven Cottage. The Club would be unwilling to support safe standing at the Cottage at this stage if capacity would have to be reduced, for financial reasons.
The Club and FST would both like to thank the Chairman, Mohamed Al-Fayed, for his most generous gesture in converting into equity (or shares) his debt held with the Club. This conversion dramatically changes the Club’s financial balance sheet into one with no debt. The club is focussed on achieving long term self-sustaining finances, a goal that the FST wholly supports. FFC’s vote against the Premier League’s Financial Fair Play was a philosophical one: FFC did not wish to downplay the significance of the Chairman’s role as a benefactor in FFC’s recent historical rise, and felt that a ‘No’ vote symbolised the fairness of the current system in allowing other clubs to benefit as we did. The Club do not believe they will be negatively affected by FFP following its introduction.
FFC asked the FST to investigate support for a pre-match flag that could be unveiled in the Hammersmith End before home matches as a way to generate an improved atmosphere. The FST has subsequently canvassed fan opinion on the matter which revealed overwhelming support for the initiative with 81% of those responding in favour. Design feedback has now been passed to the club for further consideration.
Supporter Liaison Officer
FFC have been forerunners in Supporter Relations, and the UEFA-mandated Supporter Liaison Officer role is one which FFC already have in place. For the 2012/2013 season, every Premier League club had a staff member in this role. The FST congratulates FFC on their forward-thinking approach to supporter relations.
The club affirmed to FST that fans should not believe everything that is published in the newspapers. The Communications team at FFC work hard to ensure official news is released as soon as it is possible.
In conclusion, the FST would like to publicly thank FFC for meeting, and those individuals attending for their time and candidness throughout. The FST would also like to thank all those employed at Fulham Football Club for their continued effort and hard work throughout last season.
A further look at the topics discussed will be available in the FST’s next newsletter, available free of charge at the first Premier League home game of the season.
The FST will be maintaining regular dialogue with the Club through Supporter Liaison Officer, Tommy Guthrie, on all relevant matters at all levels throughout the coming season. If you would like to join the Fulham Supporters Trust from as little as just £5 for the coming season, please visit the 'Join Us' section by clicking here or via the website navigation banner above.