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Tuesday
Sep152015

Fan coalition backs Information Commissioner’s demand to publish full terms of Olympic Stadium deal

Following discussions with members of the Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust at the Supporters Summit, held in Manchester in July, 2015, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust has been collaborating with an informal grouping of supporters’ trusts with regard to the deal struck between West Ham United FC and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) over their possible use of the Olympic Stadium, sited in the London Borough of Newham.

Subsequent to the decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office to require the LLDC to publish the, until now withheld, commercial information, the supporters’ groups involved met in central London on 14th. September, 2015 and agreed a press release, which is appended below.

Fan coalition backs Information Commissioner’s demand to publish full terms of Olympic Stadium deal

Supporters’ trusts’ campaign results in successful Freedom of Information request

The coalition of 14 supporters’ trusts seeking clarity on the Olympic Stadium deal with West Ham United FC today called on London Mayor Boris Johnson and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to ensure the full publication of the commercial terms of the contract after a positive response from the Information Commissioner.

The Information Commissioner has responded to a complaint lodged by the group under the Freedom of Information Act, ordering full publication of the commercial terms of the agreement, as requested by the coalition, within 35 days from the decision notice date of September 3rd. 

The LLDC has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal but the coalition of groups has called on Boris Johnson, as head of the LLDC, to waive that right, saying: 

"The Information Commissioner's decision could not have been clearer, and it is equally clear to us that publication must follow. This campaign is publicly backed by 25,000 individuals, football supporters’ trusts from around the country, and the public interest in the issue is there for all to see.”

“We call on the mayor not to use the appeal system to delay publication of this document further. If he does it will open him up to the suspicion that he has something to hide”.

“This is an issue about the use of public money to, apparently, subsidise a commercial football business. It seems the taxpayer will be paying the cost of a series of overheads which every other club, rightly, has to pay for themselves. It is important that the taxpayer is allowed to know exactly what has gone on here, and to judge whether it is a responsible and fair use of public money.” 

Mayor's Question Time will commence tomorrow at 10:00 am City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2AA, where questions have been tabled on the matter by Andrew Dismore, Labour & Cooperative London Assembly member, and are scheduled for about 12:00. The Mayor's Question Time is now due to finish at around 13:00. 

Murad Qureshi AM and also Andrew Dismore AM, will both be located in the map area of the lower ground floor, near the café, at the end of the event. We will also have  representatives available to talk at the same time. 

For further enquiries: 

Steve Clarke, Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust                          07500 057067

Richard Pemberton, Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust                07976 705069

Mat Roper, Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust                                            07854 393037

 

Editors notes:

Football supporter groups, representing tens of thousands of football fans, backing the coalition are:

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust

Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust

The Blue Union (Everton)

Canaries Trust (Norwich City)

Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust

Chelsea Supporters’ Trust

Crystal Palace Supporters’ Trust

The Dons Trust (AFC Wimbledon)

The Foxes Trust (Leicester City)

Fulham Supporters’ Trust

Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust

Manchester United Supporters’ Trust

QPR1st Supporters’ Trust

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust 

 

A petition launched by the coalition gained 25,000 signatures within days: 

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106355  

Faced with a refusal by the LLDC to explain how public money was being spent on this deal, the petition called for a public inquiry to expose the truth. The coalition said: We believe public money should be used responsibly, fairly, and in a way which does not distort the competitiveness of independent sports bodies and businesses. Considering the cost to the taxpayer, and the effect of this taxpayer subsidy on competition between clubs, a full public inquiry into the deal is needed.

 

For further reading, please see:

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/sep/15/west-ham-details-olympic-stadium-deal

 

Friday
Aug282015

Rotherham Away Travel Information

AESSEAL New York Stadium

I was particularly fond of Rotherham on my first visit to the ground last year, the layout of the ground and the relatively short distance from the station and parking facilities made it a very easy to access. The ground itself, while being new and offering good facilities and views maintains some of its surrounding character as it is located virtually opposite to the site on which their old ground stood.

Getting to the ground – Train

Getting to Rotherham by train is relatively straightforward, while there are direct services from Kings Cross many will find it easier and cheaper to do split tickets and travel to Sheffield and take a relatively short journey across to Rotherham. The walk from the station to the ground is relatively short in comparison to some of the journeys we have done this season and directions are attached below.

Come out of the main station entrance turn right along Bridge Street. Opposite the Bridge Inn is a footpath that goes along one side of the River Don. Walk along this footpath until you reach a car park and then head towards the car park entrance. Then turn left going up over the bridge across the river and then take the next right into Market Street. At the bottom of Market Street turn right into Main Street and the stadium entrance is down this road on the left.

Getting to the ground – Car

Car parking in the stadium is for permit holders only so don’t bother attempting to get in there. There are a number of options for you to park in the City Centre however which are all pay and display and within a 15 minute walk of the ground. Your cheapest option is probably the multi storey car park located next to the Interchange Bus Station which costs £2.80 for four hours. For those using a Sat Nav the nearby police station postcode is S60 1QY and is a good marker to aim for.

Where to drink

On my last visit to Rotherham one of the noticeable things was the vast amount of pubs available to drink in all within walking distance of the ground. A short walk from the station or from one of the city centre car parks you will find three weatherspoons, the best of which is the Bluecoat, amongst a variety of other pubs. These pubs do have a home fan vibe to them but this isn’t to say they are unwelcoming to the away fan. Personally, I avoided these and opted for the very away friendly Bridge Inn which is conveniently located directly opposite the train station. They had a vast array of beers on offer and provided some proper football food on my last visit such as an incredibly priced £1 pork pie! While the pub food was superb for those looking for a more substantial meal the local bakers Staniforths are highly rated by pie pundits across the country and I’m sure one of the locals would be happy to point you in the direction of one of their stores.

A note for those coming back on the train via Sheffield on the Sunday, Virgin Trains Eastcoast are working on the line from Peterborough to London and as such there will be a revised service

 

 

 

Monday
Aug102015

Wycombe Away information for fans

Adams Park

Although Fulham haven’t met Wycombe in a competitive game for a rather long period we have visited Adams Park in an enjoyable pre-season friendly a few seasons ago. The ground itself is a throwback to a different era of football and makes for a welcome change from the reproduced new grounds which feature so heavily in the Championship. The away end is all seated and holds 2000.

Getting to the ground – Train

Direct trains from London to Wycombe operate out of London Marylebone and take about half an hour. As mentioned the ground is situated a fair way from the ground (over two miles) so if you’re coming straight from work be advised that you will need a bit of extra time to get there. Taxis can be found at the station and cost about £8 or alternatively a shuttle bus can be taken for £2.50 from the station to the ground which departs the station at 18:40 for midweek games. After the game I have been informed it can be a bit of a nightmare getting back to the station, the shuttle bus leaves 10 minutes after the final whistle and can be very busy so allow yourself a bit of time if you’re aiming for a specific train.

If you are in Wycombe early enough the walk is about 45 minutes along West Wycombe road and is well signposted, there are many pubs to make pit stops in along the way if you want to break the journey up slightly. I have been advised by previous travellers that you can cut across a park after the last pub and shave 10 minutes off the journey time.        

Getting to the ground – Car

Again, having never been to Wycombe by car I can only go on what others have advised. Wycombe as a club offer free match day parking to cars with over 4 occupants however road access to the ground can be a nightmare so it has been said that you’re better off parking in one of the industrial units on Hillbottom Road which cost between £3 and £5 and walking. If looking for the ground it has in the past been signposted by signs for London Wasps.

Where to drink

 As mentioned above, there are plenty of drinking options along West Wycombe Road if coming by train all of which are supposedly away friendly. If you’re looking for something closer to the ground then it should be noted that away fans are welcome in the Supporters Club Bar at the far end of the main stand which does a selection of beers and ales as well as food. The nearest pub to the ground is a fair way away as the ground is generally surrounded by industrial estates but the Hourglass in Sands is a 15 minute walk away and comes highly recommended.

 

Jamie

Thursday
Aug062015

Trust Meeting with Fulham FC, August 2015

On 4th August2015 at 10.30, three of the Trust Board (Dan Crawford, Mike Gregg and Neil Springate) met with Sarah Brookes (SB, Communications and Marketing Director), Mike Rigg (MR, Chief Football Officer) and Darren Preston (DP, Chief Operating Officer) from Fulham FC at the Club’s headquarters, Motspur Park.
 

1) Ticketing and related matters

The Trust had received, and had noted from various message boards, heavy criticism of the new ticketing system, operated by Ticketmaster. Season tickets had not yet been received by the majority of applicants and loyalty points had yet to be credited. SB said that problems had been encountered whilst transferring data from previous to current systems and that this had taken time to resolve. The remainder of season tickets would be dispatched, by first class post if necessary, in order to reach applicants on or before Saturday, 8 August 2015. The Club asked the Trust to forward on any contact details of members whose loyalty points had not been transferred over.

Further complaint had been received about the unavailability of seat selection for away matches and the Trust asked whether this would persist for the entire season. SB said that this was Ticketmaster’s policy, resulting from the use of other ticketing agencies by opposition clubs, but agreed to investigate the matter further with them. The Trust believed that this could have a negative effect on tickets sales for away matches, in particular for groups of fans that wished to sit together. (SB has since replied and confirmed that away seats are unable to be displayed using the system. This is the same with other clubs that use the Ticketmaster booking system for away games.)

The Trust asked whether the Club had considered using a separate Twitter feed for ticketing, as had been employed by other clubs, such as Stoke City FC. SB said this was unlikely, since incoming messages to the existing Twitter account were being monitored and replies made by customer relations staff.


2) ‘Close season’ transfer and media activity

In general, fans were pleased with the new signings and their performances in the pre-season matches and the majority were relatively optimistic for the team’s prospects for the forthcoming season, provided a couple of playing positions were strengthened. MR had attended the recent match versus Colchester United FC, where the intention was to give as many of the first team squad players as much playing time as possible before the start of the new season and to assess a pair of trialists.

MR was aware of fans’ concerns that had been raised as a result of the sale of Patrick Roberts to Manchester City FC. Whilst the Club was determined to retain the talents of promising players, there was little that could be done once a player had decided, or had been convinced, to leave. The Club needed to consider the ‘knock on’ effects of, for example, a significantly-improved contract on (a) other players’ (and their representatives), (b) the Club’s overall financial plan and constraints within Financial Fair Play regulations and (c) whether the subsequent playing performances would justify the bettered conditions. He considered that the large sums of money being offered to younger players were having a negative effect on t heir development and longer-term career prospects.

MR believed that the best balance of players for the team was more important than paying excessive amounts for notionally highly-rated players. However, the Club was targeting named individuals rather than contacting agents and enquiring of their available clients in specific positions on the pitch. MR would prefer that the transfer ‘window’ would end before the first competitive match.

During the close season, MR thought that manager Kit Symons had done well in accommodating new players and that concentrated periods of training and matches in the training camps held in Portugal and Austria had been a success.

3) Team strip and shirt sponsors

The first and second team’s kit would be those as used in the friendly matches on 1st August 2015, versus Crystal Palace and Colchester United FCs. SB said that once all the relevant paper work had been signed off with the new sponsor that the Club’s shirts would go on sale straight away

4) Ground redevelopment

Club CEO, Alistair Mackintosh (AM) had attended the meeting very briefly, but only to offer his apologies since he was needed elsewhere. The Trust attempted to discuss the redevelopment of the Riverside Stand and issues with other stands, but SB said that it would be better to contact AM directly on these matters.

5) Johnny Haynes Café

SB said that the café was being refurbished in its entirety, with completion scheduled before the first home match versus Brighton & Hove Albion FC on 15.viii.2015. it was also noted that the temporary signage outside would be changed by match-day.

6) Proposed social event at FFC

The Trust followed up last month’s proposal of an informal ‘meet the players and manager’ social event, to be held at Craven Cottage. This would be a ticketed event with proceeds going toward the Fulham Foundation or a named charity. This had been agreed in principle by AM, and SB suggested that it would be better held once the busy August schedule of six matches had been completed.


Meeting closed at 11.35

Thursday
Aug062015

Cardiff City Away information

Cardiff City Stadium


Much like any other of the newly built grounds around the country Cardiff City Stadium provides a simple and effective match day experience. The biggest plus to this ground is that unlike many of the other new developments, the stadium is relatively close to the city centre and main train station allowing you a fair variety of pubs and food outlets pre and post game.


Getting to the ground – Train


Cardiff has always been a relatively straightforward ground to get to by train, although the ground itself is served by local train services from Cardiff Central to Grangetown you are better off staying in the city centre as the availability of pubs and food outlets is limited around the ground. The ground itself is a 25 minute walk from the city centre so you are best off grabbing a taxi which should cost you around £7, taxi ranks are located at the main station, after the game taxis can be hard to come by so you may be best to walk, walking directions from the station to the ground are attached below.  


As you come out of the entrance to the station, bear left and at the bottom of the station approach road, turn left. Continue straight on into Ninian Park Road, for around a mile passing the Millennium Stadium on your right. At the end of Ninian Park Road turn left and then left into Leckwith Road. You will then shortly be able to see the stadium over on your left (the away turnstiles are on the left hand side of the stadium, as you view it from here).


Getting to the ground – Car


Car parking is said to be plentiful at the ground but drivers are warned to check all signage as traffic wardens are generally out in force on matchday. Your best bet is to locate the HSS Hire Company adjacent to the ground, there is a car park located here which is adjacent to the away turnstiles and is priced at £8.  


Where to drink


The majority of Cardiff fans base themselves out of the same pubs they used prior to their move to the new stadium so the city centre tends to be the best bet for away fans. The Walkabout is usually your best bet, turn right out of the station follow the road down until you hit the main high street and the Walkabout is located on the left hand side. Further along this street you have a Weatherspoons called The Prince of Wales.


A reminder to all those going that Cardiff city centre is likely to be very busy with the Welsh and Irish in town for the Rugby.  

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