Dear Mr Khan,
As I sit down to write this letter to you, I am caught between smiles and a tear in my eye as I picture Robbie Herrera’s long curly black hair bombing down the wing as the 8-year-old me watched on from the enclosure by my Mum and Grandad’s side. Second half and the teams would switch around only for Darren Freeman’s long curly locks to do the same. Picturing my Grandad doing this mad twitching habit with his hands whenever there was a moment of excitement during the game as I would laugh at him thinking to myself, what the hell is he doing?!
Then the middle-aged bloke who was always half cut before the game had even kicked off with his famous catchphrase “come on my team!” or even being on a bus and having a conductor print me a ticket on the old Routemasters when we boarded the bus en route to the Cottage. The buses where I lived were already upgraded and it was a novelty for me to be on an old fashioned bus as a child. Silly things that will mean very little to you or quite frankly anyone else I’d imagine, but they mean the world to me.
That little boy grew up to become Fulham through and through and even decided to create a website focusing on them. Someone who has never stopped loving this wonderful club with memories that I was privileged to have because despite not having loads of money, my family were able to take me regularly because it was affordable. Albeit in the bottom tier when Fulham was a completely different outfit to the Premier League one we know today but why does that matter? Fair prices and creating memories with your families chosen club are a right that every generation of Fulham fans deserves and is entitled too. Who cares which division it is in? I didn’t care that Fulham were second from bottom and facing non-league when I fell in love with them and neither will my kids if given the chance.
As a parent of 4 young children, life can be tough at times like it is for most people. I work my knackers off to let my kids enjoy the finer things in life, and one of those things is Fulham. It’s my only hobby and means far more to me than just 90 minutes in the Premier League like the tourists and ‘customers’ you are appealing to this season. It’s something I will always hope to keep in my life because it’s a proud tradition that goes back to 1948 in my family, from my Grandad right through to his great-grandchildren. Sadly, this season it has hit a stumbling block and it has made me feel like my hard earned cash isn’t good enough and I’m no longer needed.
Credit where it’s due, season ticket prices were fair this year. But not everyone is in a position to buy season tickets and commit to a whole season. Some people live miles away and go when they can, my dilemma is having to work some weekends on a Rota, meaning I would have to miss too many games to justify having one. There are many reasons why a season ticket isn’t the right solution for a supporter and my hope was to buy tickets when I had weekends off and most crucially of all, I was willing to pay a fair price. I wasn’t after freebies or charity, just the price that a football match can be justified at and in most cases, that figure was doubled in the estimation of the club. How disappointing that the fan you so badly needed last season was now a mere peasant who could be replaced by the soulless moron with a half and half scarf celebrating a Liverpool goal in the home end. If only Carlsberg did insults!
I completely understand that football is a business and one I would hope that the likes of yourself picture a long term plan with. So when Fulham aren’t doing so well and drop down divisions which will happen, it happens to everyone. In 10, 20 years time, where’s this fanbase coming from? The reality is, we aren’t Newcastle where you could bleed us dry and it would still be forbidden for a Geordie not to grow up to follow the magpies. Instead, we are a London club surrounded by 3 of the biggest clubs in the world. Add West Ham to that list with another huge following. Then the likes of Charlton, Millwall, Crystal Palace and QPR who we are splitting hairs with over who has the biggest fanbase. A resurgent Wimbledon about to move into their new home only a stone’s throw away, not to mention Brentford if some people get desperate enough! There is far too much competition for bums on seats for you to risk losing the future generation of those already secured. If you price people like me out of taking my children and continuing my families tradition, who am I to stop them turning to their local club Charlton Atheltic where prices are fair? How can I stop them and more importantly why should they wait in the doldrums until your ‘customers’ get bored and or you need us again?
I am not pointing the finger at anyone for this decision. I have no clue who is in charge of prices but I know the man who can influence any decision if he so desires. As the “Custodian” you volunteered yourself as having a care of duty to your fans. Fans who were here 135 years before you bought us off of Mohamed Al Fayed. Fulham has far more tradition, heritage and meaning than can be explained in one article and I plead with you to recognise this and restore some pride back into the make-up of our club. Relegations happen, misjudged decisions are forgivable and we are all only human. But turning your back on the people who breathe for this club with past generations who have fought tooth and nail to save its existence, is the only thing you could do to make me lose faith in your legacy as Chairman.
That’s why as the founder of Fulham Focus, I support the #StopTheGreed campaign and agree wholeheartedly that enough is enough. Premier League fans won the right to a £30 quid cap because 30 is plenty reasonable. Charging double that and more in some cases for a matchday ticket is keeping me away from my club against my own will.
So whether that be a season ticket, membership or single matchday ticket, if a fan is willing to pay a fair price and isn’t pleading for charity, please meet us in the middle and do the right thing. I want my children to have memories of their own to smile about when they are my age and to bring my Grandchildren along to start the fifth generation to follow in my Grandad’s footsteps.
Please let me look back in decades to come and think you were the owner who made a difference for the right reasons.