On Tuesday 18th. April, 2017, Dan Crawford from the Fulham Supporters' Trust Board met with Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief executive officer), Sean O’Loughlin (SOL, Finance Officer) and David Daly DD, non-executive director) from Fulham Football Club at Motspur Park.
DAVID DALY AND FULHAM HISTORY PROJECTS
David Daly introduced himself and said he was pleased to be available to meet with the Fulham Supporters' Trust. He said that he had been a lifelong Fulham fan since his father had first taken him to Craven Cottage in the 1960s. He had spent more than thirty years working in Nike's football and sports departments across the UK, Europe, Asia and North America. He had been appointed to the Fulham board by chairman Shahid Khan in September 2016 and is currently working at board level with the Club's Chief Revenue Officer, Casper Stylsvig, in increasing revenue and commercial opportunities and on a special project promoting Fulham's history, how the Club recognises and uses former players and builds relationships with Fulham fans.
The Trust drew attention to the work they had already carried out in terms of promoting Fulham's history, such as the successful pop-up exhibition held at Craven Cottage ahead of two home games in February. The Trust expressed interest in working to promote DD's work and co-operating on history-related projects in the future. It was agreed that, upon conclusion of internal Club discussions, the Trust would meet with DD and other Club officials to discuss specific plans.
FULHAM FC ACCOUNTS 2015/2016
Sean O'Loughlin joined the meeting to discuss the Club's 2015/2016 accounts which were filed with Companies House at the end of last month. In response to a number of questions from the Trust, SOL confirmed that the club had posted a £13m loss over the 2015/2016 accounting period, which was an improvement from the previous set of figures. Both SOL and AM confirmed that it remained the Club's intention to become less reliant on the generous benefaction of chairman Shahid Khan and this was part of the reason of adding to DD to the Board and recruiting Casper Stylsvig, who had previously fulfilled similar roles at Barcelona and Manchester United.
Both SOL and AM confirmed that Fulham's wage bill remained high in comparison to the Club's Championship competitors - the comparative figures compiled independently indicated that Fulham's was the third highest in the division. Rather than taking action to bring down the wage down to average levels in the Championship, the Club's Board had - with the authorisation of Mr. Khan - taken the decision to retain a high wage bill to both attract players and build a side to challenge for promotion to the Premier League. This meant that the Club had taken decisive action to constrain costs and trimmed back the non-playing staff.
Both SOL and AM felt that the Club's current position is much healthier now than the 2015/2016 accounts indicate. The focus on commercial revenue has delivered significant sponsorship and partnership opportunities for Fulham already and the proposed Riverside Stand renovation will deliver greater potential for increased matchday and non-matchday hospitality. AM also revealed that the summer transfer window had seen Fulham successfully move on a number of high wage earners that couldn't be reflected in this set of accounts.
AM reiterated that Mr. Khan was fully committed to Fulham, was in it for the long-term and that he was confident the Club were making prudent financial decisions.
AM felt that there was a real sense of optimism around the Club following Fulham's three consecutive victories over Ipswich Town, Norwich City and Aston Villa. Both Slavisa Jokanovic and players felt those three wins were crucial and have certainly boosted confidence as Fulham head into the Championship run-in. Nobody was complacent about what are a difficult set of final fixtures, but there was an extra boost in that Fulham's recent form had coincided with a ‘wobble’ from Leeds United and that none of our competitors, including Huddersfield Town, had mathematically secured a play-off spot.
The Trust raised that several members had concerns about the playback of items on FulhamFCTV. AM said that this would be investigated by the Club's multimedia team. The Trust had also received several suggestions for content for FulhamFCTV and these would be passed on to see if they could be actioned. The Trust floated the idea of utilising fan-produced content on FulhamFCTV and this was met with approval from AM.
The Trust also passed on our best wishes to Sarah Brookes after it was announced that she would be leaving the Club following 20 years as Fulham's director of Media and Communications.
AM revealed that the sales of season tickets were going very well - and he was encouraged by the number of sales by the original 'early bird' deadline. The Club had also received significant interest from supporters who had not previously held a season ticket. The Trust raised significant concerns from our members that the paper renewal forms had not included a cup-tie scheme tick box option and this would be investigated by the ticket office.
The Trust had received a large amount of correspondence around the ticketing arrangements for the home game with Brentford on April 29th. AM confirmed that the initial allocation of tickets to Brentford was fewer than 2,000, a figure that could rise to a maximum of circa 4,000. It was incorrect to state that Brentford had been allocated the entire Putney End and, in fact, Fulham fans were able to purchase tickets in P1 and P2. It remained AM's preference to sell tickets to Fulham fans and the Club had taken the decision to place tickets on general sale in order to allow more Fulham fans to purchase tickets in home areas.
HUDDERSFIELD TRAVEL AND TICKETS
The Trust thanked the Club for their commitment to maximising the number of Fulham fans at this weekend's crucial game at Huddersfield by subsidising coach travel. AM revealed that both Slavisa Jokanovic and the players felt the Fulham fans made a significant difference during the Good Friday win at Norwich City and that the club had prioritised cheap travel as a way of making sure Fulham could take as large an away following as possible.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY TICKETS AND TRAVEL
AM confirmed that the Club had ticketed the full allocation of 3,200 tickets - at significant financial risk - for the final game of the season at Sheffield Wednesday. This allocation has been restricted on advice from South Yorkshire Police. The tickets go on sale from Wednesday 19th. April at 10am, priced at £39.00. AM confirmed that the Club had looked at subsidising train tickets or running a private chartered train. This proved impossible due to the lack of Sunday services being provided by the train operators and rail track replacement and engineering work taking place that weekend that meant no company would consider a private charter. Instead, the Club will be running subsidised coaches again from Craven Cottage and Motspur Park on Saturday and Sunday to facilitate better travel options in light of the 12 noon kick-off.
The Trust reiterated our disappointment at the £39.00 being charged for match tickets by Sheffield Wednesday and the significant cost differential in the Championship, which is especially galling given the Twenty's Plenty campaign the Trust helped to launch when Fulham were in the Premier League. AM and DD were in support of the Trust's position, but Fulham had no influence over the pricing of away tickets. The Trust will be discussing the situation with our national affiliates, Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation, as well as the EFL during the close season.
CRAVEN COTTAGE AND THE RIVERSIDE STAND
AM revealed that the Club were making very good progress on the new designs for the Riverside Stand. The Club were still in discussions with Thomas Heatherwick and a number of other architects around achieving the best possible scheme. AM insisted that the go-ahead for the project was not dependent upon Fulham achieving promotion to the Premier League and AM and DD fully recognised the importance of both Craven Cottage and the Riverside Stand to the Trust and all Fulham supporters.
The meeting closed at 12:03pm