As I’m sure many of you are aware, although given how the club have gone about it I understand if you’ve missed it, the club is soon set to feature a new service for fans called FulhamFCTV. This service will provide us with (to quote the club); Club footage, interviews and action from behind-the-scenes, stuff that we are basically getting already in the form of short clips on the main website.
However, the panic setting around the messageboards right now, is that what we are getting for free, might soon be costing us fans. In an email sent by Sarah Brookes to FOF’s very own ‘Gang’, she gave this response;
“Since our relegation to the Championship, we have understood the importance of ensuring that fans have access to match footage because it is not so widely available as it had been in the Premier League… As you may be aware the League is responsible for a centralised deal that puts all content behind a paywall on uniform designed club sites known as EFLDigital. The club charges vary but are, on average, £29.99 each month. The league protects the value this deal by charging the clubs that are not signed up to it, to air their own footage on their own platforms. Therefore for two seasons Fulham has paid a significant amount to the league, so that our fans could benefit from free content. As I’m sure you can understand, that’s simply not a sustainable model and we are, therefore, compelled to have a subscription service of our own. We will add value to this by ensuring that we create excellent content that fans will want to see, and produce features that are interesting and insightful. This will be at a fraction of the cost of other Championship clubs, and be far better quality as we also invest in extra cameras at our own home games matches, which few other clubs do as it is so costly. I hope that when you see the pricing and the level of content you will agree that it is great value for money, albeit no longer the free content we have offered previously and for so long.”
What this says to me, is that the parachute money from our days in the Premiership, has finally run out. The club has exhausted all the money it can from what it used to have, and is now financially thinking about how to get that money back, from other sources. With the money on offer in the Championship being a pittance compared to that of the top flight, and with FFP dangling over clubs (btw, we’ve already had one strike, we fall foul again, I fear point deductions are afoot), the pressure to keep the books as favourable as possible is becoming harder and harder. The club therefore has two choices; put up ticket prices or start up this subscription service.
What does this all entail? Well to put it simply, this year it is Premier League or bust. Many clubs have come down and failed to get back up (Leeds, Forest, Ipswich, Wigan, Sheff Wed, Wolves, Birmingham, Blackburn the list goes on). This is brought about by a combination of two things:
A – The league being a ‘tough place to get out of’ in the first place
B – Not having the funds to splash out when they’ve been in the division for three years and the parachute payments run out.
Some clubs, like Newcastle United, because of the situation they’re in (big fanbase, 52,000 seater stadium, wealthy owner) could afford to bankroll themselves even without the parachute money. We however, are not in the same boat as The Geordies. Due to where we are, and given that The Cottage can only be expanded so much, we are VERY limited in terms of what we can do to grow financially ‘organically’.
To sum it all up, this FulhamFCTV service, I feel should be served as a warning to all fans (and to an extent the club), that if we do not achieve promotion this season, we could be stuck in the same position as the clubs I’ve listed before, floating around the mid table for what will feel like a generation.