George attended the FSF meeting at the Premier League HQ on 24thApril. This was for all official Premier League affiliates if the FSF (of which WHUISA is the West Ham one). Apologies for the late report, minutes only recently arrived.
This is a bit of commentary on what George took away from the meeting that may be of most interest to WHUISA members. Interesting debating points.
We met with various Premier League executives including Richard Scudamore and Bill Bush. We were warmly welcome by the other PL FSF reps. There was lots of valuable advice and support from PL FSF reps and the PL itself for WHUISA to keep pushing for a proper fan engagement programme. In order to be an affiliate of the FSF you have to be a democratic, representative organisation. If you want know more the FSF you can find it here http://www.fsf.org.uk/about-us/
FIXTURES TV etc. In terms of the future engagement between FSF affiliates and PL clubs the PL said this “The Premier League will consider issuing a guidance note after reviewing PL club practice from this season, plus the impact of the approach taken by EFL and its clubs.”
We had a presentation by Mark Annett, Head of Football Operations on Fixtures which basically said there was not much room for manoeuvre. UEFA taking extra weeks for champions League has stuffed everything so we will end up with some daft midweek/holiday fixtures. BT/Sky have their say as do the clubs, police and “other stakeholders”. (ie Westfield)
One of the most interesting things was that the clubs Supporters Liaison Officers have a schedule of when TV matches are going to be announced and should share this with the fans so that we know when to book tickets etc. It means we can avoid the situation where hotels/planes/trains are booked before TV dates are announced. Many were left out of pocket by the move by the move of the Spurs & Liverpool fixtures. We should prod the club over this.
Several clubs provide subsidised travel for difficult away trips. Arsenal put on coaches at a tenner a go on for their Easter Monday night game at Boro. Steve Parrish did something similar for Palace at Everton on a Friday night. Chelsea & Spurs offer very cheap train tickets back to London if there not reasonable public transport back to London. £10 return Leicester was mentioned. I don’t think West Ham take part in anything like this? Is there a demand?
Away fans will hopefully have at least one block pitch-side at all away grounds next year. (Hello Newcastle!)
There’s a big debate about disability access at all grounds. The Premier League will send a report to Equalities and Human Rights Commission later in 2017. There was particular concern over how non wheelchair using disabled fans are treated. If you need to contact the West Ham disability access officer she’s called Julie Pigeon and she can be reached on email@example.com
SAFE STANDING/GROUND CAPACITY
The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) are looking to push a small amount of safe standing through but the Premier League think the other side of that is that they will push much stricter enforcement of seating in other areas. There will be a PL report on safe standing next year. How this affects the London Stadium is unknown.
Safety Advisory Groups (SAGs) are getting a lot more aggressive when pushing the boundaries of what constitutes “safety” when it comes to imposing conditions on kick off times, alcohol bans etc. This will involve taking a view on language, abuse etc. It may have an impact on the capacity at the OS (and all grounds tbf).
Di Cunningham from “Pride in Football” spoke about concerns over Brighton’s promotion next year. They will be playing a lot of clubs for the first time next season and want to reduce the risk of any unfortunate incidents. WHUISA has contacted “Pride of Irons” and suggested we ask the club to get a message out there about homophobic bullying and engage with fans. We do it for anti-Semitism when we play Spurs. We should do it for homophobia when we play Brighton. This is going to be a big deal next year, landscape has changed since we last played we should make sure we’re on the right side of this.
WHUISA Interim Committee.