THST Fan Survey 2017
THST Members’ Event – The Spurs Beat
Bedding into Wembley
Wembley ticketing - Ticket exchange, loyalty points and booking fees
Champions League ticketing
Coach travel to Wembley with Zeelo
- Kick off times working group – developments
- Policing meeting – West Ham away – 30 August
- Spurs v Juventus friendly – refunds
- Thomas Cook pick up points for away matches this season
- Prostate Cancer UK – Men United
- Antwerp Arms AGM and refurb
- Mace update on Park Lane
- Evening Standard, ESPN on ticket exchange
- FSF on pricing of Juventus friendly
- The Guardian, The Independent on flexible rail tickets
- BBC Radio 5 Live on secondary ticket
Ticketing has been by far the major issue we’ve been dealing with in the last month. Individual ticketing issues are addressed throughout this newsletter, but we need to make some general observations.
We’ve commented on each stage of the ticketing process as it was rolled out during the summer. We believe the Club’s Executive Board has made a series of poor decisions that have unnecessarily complicated the process and increased workload for frontline staff. And, as we have made clear, we disagree with the pricing policy.
As well as increasing workload for frontline staff, the Club’s decisions have also increased workload for the Trust. Our social media feeds and email inbox have never experienced such heavy traffic, with fans seeking clarification and advice. This presents us with a dilemma.
We believe fans should get the help we try to provide. Especially as you often come to us because information is not forthcoming from THFC. But it is becoming impossible to sustain the level of work we are being presented with. We are a volunteer organisation and we have day jobs. The work we can do is also being severely hampered by the almost complete shut down in information and consultation from the Club. And lack of information leads to more work for us and for the Club as fans seek reasonable answers.
We are going to have to review how we work. But things could be improved if the Club was more collegiate. There is a deeply-embedded culture of not admitting fault or appearing to take on advice that has to change. There had been progress over the past few years, but the Club has taken a huge step backwards this summer. This is not just our view. Many of you have said the same thing.
Given the substantial goodwill that existed at the end of last season, the almost complete squandering of that in just three months would be impressive if it were not so sad. The responsibility for this rests entirely with the Club’s Executive Board. We believe it too needs to review how it works. We remain, as always, ready to work with the Club for the benefit of fans.
1. THST FAN SURVEY 2017
We published the results of our annual fan survey on 7 August. The survey drew the biggest response we’ve ever had, with over 3,200 fans contributing. We published a series of stories, the first drawing out key themes, and three more examining the findings in more depth. The national press also picked up on the findings.
We’ll be using the findings to inform our work and policy positions over the coming year. We’ll also be examining the verbatim responses in more detail over the coming months and looking to take as many of your ideas on board as possible.
We’ve shared the findings on safe standing and ticketing with the Club, and the catering responses with Levy Restaurants (no relation).
The stories and full pdf report of the findings are linked here and can also be found in the News section of our website.
2. THST MEMBERS’ EVENT – THE SPURS BEAT
We promised we’d deliver some members’ events and will be staging a very special evening on Thursday 12 October.
We’ll be joined by four of the journalists most familiar to Spurs fans – Ben Pearce, Tom Collomosse, Alasdair Gold and Seb Stafford-Bloor. They’ve covered the Club for years for a variety of publications from FourFourTwo, the Ham & High, London Evening Standard, Football.London and Yahoo Sport among others. Trust co-chair Martin Cloake will start the evening off with a few short questions to the panel, before we open up to questions from the floor and what should be a lively discussion.
If you want the inside track on covering Spurs, or to grill the writers about transfer rumours and standing up stories – this is your chance. You need to be a Trust member to attend the event and you can book your place via Eventbrite. There are only 100 places available, so be sure to be quick. Full event details can be found on our website.
3. BEDDING INTO WEMBLEY
We collated and fed back to the Club information on fans’ experiences at our first games at Wembley.
Ahead of the game against Chelsea we took part in a routine call with the Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police, Wembley National Stadium Limited, Brent Council, both Clubs, and fan reps from Chelsea and the FSF to get as much information as possible for fans and to put across our usual message about the approach we wanted to see on the day.
One of the points made was that ‘arrive early’ means arrive 20 minutes before the game for many fans, while stadium authorities mean at least 40 minutes before. Along with the FSF, we advised the use of more specific language. We recognised that greater numbers and the need for increased security checks meant it was important to get the message out about arrival times, but also made the point that the realities of fan behaviour had to be acknowledged. Given this, we pushed for gate opening time to be moved back from 90 minutes before kick-off to two hours before. Wembley’s Stadium manager did not accept that this was necessary, although we subsequently had reports that gates opened two and a half hours before kick-off.
The most frequently requested information before the game, and possibly in the history of THST, was about the pub split before the game. As this was a home game, with only 3,000 away fans, there was no pub split. And this, as we wrote this newsletter, was the situation for forthcoming home games. No pub in Wembley has yet stepped up to be the ‘away pub’. If and when this changes, we will pass the information on.
Club communications before the game were very thorough, for which credit is due. It’s an approach we would like to see replicated elsewhere.
After the game we received concerns on social media and email around entrance queues, checking procedure, lack of programmes, Chelsea fans in the home ends, lengthy beer queues, absence of stewards – and, conversely, over-zealous stewards – standing, sitting, the amplified drum, popcorn, slush puppies and red seats. These have been reported back to heads of department at THFC and we asked for a catch up pre-Burnley to address what could be improved for the next home game.
The amplified drum caused some controversy. We had no idea this was planned, and if we had we would have told the Club it was a bad idea. As the Club had not seen fit to consult its recognised fan group about an initiative clearly within our remit, we were therefore very unhappy to hear from our press contacts that the Club’s media team were briefing that the amplified drum was a result of fan demand through a Trust survey. This was disingenuous. Some years ago, fans indicated they would like to see the drum brought back to White Hart Lane, but this was a live drum, used as it used to be, in a different stadium, and which would respond to the crowd rather than direct it.
The drum was pulled at half-time. We later found out this was because the Premier League had informed THFC it was against PL guidelines.
We have registered our strong objections about how this was handled to the Club, particularly over the attempt to deflect blame on to THST.
4. WEMBLEY TICKETING – TICKET EXCHANGE, LOYALTY POINTS AND BOOKING FEES
Regular readers of THST News will know it has been an extremely busy summer on the ticketing front. At the end of each month, we’ve commented on the parts of the ticketing jigsaw that have been confirmed in the previous weeks, and flagged areas still to be resolved. You can read through the numerous statements we’ve published on this topic since the start of the summer for clarity on the positions we’ve taken and our recommendations on outstanding areas. They can all be found in the News section of our website.
August saw confirmation of the mechanics of the new, in-house ticket exchange. Since the Club ended its relationship with StubHub, we’d been keen to understand the details of how the new exchange would work, stressing the importance of offering a viable platform for Season Ticket holders to make tickets available to fellow fans for games they were unable to attend.
Our main concern had been the trigger for opening the exchange, which we argued should be on a section or level sell out. Spurs took the decision to open on a stadium sell out which, in a stadium the size of Wembley, effectively means it won’t open for many games. Admittedly, StubHub opened on a sell out, but there is no comparison between White Hart Lane and Wembley in terms of capacity.
We made comment on the ticket exchange here.
We also questioned the buyer’s transaction fee of £7.50 per ticket, which we are informed is ‘contractual’ between THFC and Ticketmaster. And we questioned the morality of offering sellers 1 / 19th of their Season Ticket back each time they sold through the exchange, when the exchange won’t open 19 times this season. That, to us, seems unethical at best.
The Club has left a get-out here, however, by saying the exchange will open ‘at their discretion’. This meant it opened for the Chelsea game just under 72 hours before the match itself. The platform didn’t open at all for Burnley and the 67,000 attendance figure and swathes of empty seats in Level 1 was partially as a consequence of Season Ticket holders having nowhere to resell tickets for a Bank Holiday game many, quite reasonably, couldn’t make.
We will continue to stress the need for a workable exchange platform, especially considering fans were effectively strong-armed into renewing their Season Tickets this year, and promised an exchange facility at the point of purchasing that Season Ticket.
Each summer, the ticketing team at THFC ‘adjust’ the loyalty points of each Season Ticket holder and member so only the last four full seasons’ points remain on individual accounts. This follows the introduction of the four year loyalty point cycle in 2012.
Normally, loyalty points are updated well before the start of the season, and in advance of the first away game application being processed. This season saw points eventually being restored to accounts on Tuesday 22 August, after the Club originally promised to have these completed within ‘5 working days’ on the 4 August.
This caused issues for fans waiting to hear if they had qualified for a Newcastle away ticket. When the Club announced applicants with in excess of 160 points had been successful on 4 August, this caused considerable confusion, as fans were unable to check how many points they had. The Club was to email each successful applicant to let them know they had a ticket but actually emailed more than solely the successful applicants. After realising the mistake, they tried to recall messages and then sent out correction emails in the space of 10 minutes. The result being even more confusion and meanwhile, rail travel peaking at £135 for a return trip to the North East on match day.
We asked the Club to use alternative methods to confirm the allocation with the fans in question, which was not forthcoming. We also asked the Club to offer compensation in the form of a good will gesture for those fans who’d been affected by the incorrect emails. THFC confirmed they would be liaising directly with fans who’d made travel arrangements as a result of the email error but would not be offering a gesture to the other fans who’d been left confused and unsure if they had a ticket until the match tickets arrived on their doormats the week before the game.
Loyalty points still hadn’t appeared on accounts almost a month after the application window had closed for the second away game of the season at Everton. Fans had been asked to apply before 28 July for this fixture. At that time, train fares were around £40 return. By the time the cut off was announced, a day return to Liverpool Lime Street from London Euston was £84.
These delays, again the knock on effect of poor Executive Board decisions earlier in the summer, have directly affected fans and have cost many considerable sums of money. This is simply not good enough.
We’ll be asking for a full explanation as to how it took quite so long for Ticketmaster to run an algorithm they run each summer and for THFC to then restore the points to accounts.
We asked for clarification of the booking fees for this season following reports of different charges for the opening game at Wembley. These are as linked here. Please keep handy and if you are charged outside of these rates, contact the Ticket Office.
Several members were overcharged during the Chelsea sales windows. If you’re one of them, please make sure you chase this up.
Spurs has assured us that the error has now been rectified. We think it’s worth being vigilant on this.
5. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TICKETING
On Monday 21 August, THFC announced that the long awaited multi-game packages for the Champions League group stage would be on sale ‘that week’.
In reality, a large proportion of Season Ticket holders were given less than 24 hours’ notice that a significant amount of money would be taken automatically from their accounts; more money than for the same pack last season as prices have been increased. Once more, there was no advance consultation with or specific information given to THST. Once more the consequences of a series of bad decisions on ticketing negatively affected fans.
The Club offered tickets for all home group stage games in an advance package at a price we must assume was designed to be cheaper than after game dates and opponents were known. It did this last season and it was an extremely popular move – leading to record attendances and significant fan goodwill. The rationale for selling these packs ahead of the group stage draw was to negate low sales for a less attractive tie or a dead rubber on the final home match day. The advantage for fans being a discounted price for buying ‘blind’.
Last season, Season Ticket holders had 16 days to make sure they had sufficient funds to purchase the multi game package, with members given a further 14-day window after that to buy tickets. This season, Platinum and Gold Season Ticket holders, automatically signed up to the cup autopayment scheme, were told on the evening of 21 August that funds were being taken from their accounts on the 22 August. Remaining Silver Season Ticket holders were told they then had 24 hours to purchase their tickets the following day. And members had one day after that. All this at the end of most people’s pay month.
In an extraordinary development, the Club then announced, less than an hour before the draw was made, that the sales windows for three-game packages would be extended for another four days. Fans had been sold tickets ‘blind’ for games that would be played up to three and a half months ahead on the basis that they would pay a discount for doing so. Now, fans would be able to access the same packages knowing the full details of game date and opponent. The product the Club was selling had effectively been changed mid sale.
In an even more extraordinary development, when we questioned the Club on this, it did not understand what the problem was. As we put this newsletter together, we are still trying to get the Club to understand the issue.
The Club should have realised the sales windows were too short and either opened up the whole process earlier and closed before the draw was made, in keeping with the ‘buying blind’ principle, or it should have held back and put the packs on sale after the draw was made when all fans were in full possession of the facts. Changing the proposition mid-way through is not acceptable.
The ongoing inability of Ticketmaster to cope with demand at peak periods compounded things further, with fans experiencing significant problems with the online ticketing platform once again. We have made the point on numerous occasions in the last few years that Ticketmaster’s systems do not appear fit for purpose. The Club assures us that the service it is paying for should deliver. The service is clearly not delivering, so our only conclusion is that Ticketmaster is incapable of delivering the required standard of service. The Club should seek an alternative ticketing partner.
Numerous fans were also overcharged (and under charged) booking fees on the packages, too. This should be £3.99 per pack. If you have been overcharged, keep an eye out for a refund. If that doesn’t appear in your account, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. All those pennies add up, and they’re better off in your pocket then theirs.
At the time of writing, we are still awaiting confirmation of whether loyalty points will be allocated for this package – and if so, how many.
6. COACH TRAVEL TO WEMBLEY WITH ZEELO
After pushing hard for the Club to play at Wembley, we wanted to do what we could to help those fans who would have to travel further to our home games. So when coach company Zeelo got in touch, we sat down to discuss what they might offer.
Once they outlined their service, the THST Board discussed whether we wanted to publicise the service. As a not-for-profit organisation, we have to be careful about commercial tie-ups, and we also don’t believe our members would be happy receiving marketing material through Trust channels. And we had to consider the reputational effects of any perceived link up.
After grilling Zeelo, and taking some professional advice, we decided to make fans aware of a service we knew there was demand for. We linked to the Zeelo website on our website and Twitter account, offered Trust members a discount on initial bookings, and encouraged fans to contact Zeelo about opening up new routes.
Over 600 fans used Zeelo to get to our first game at Wembley, with Zeelo opening up a number of new routes in response to demand. We will continue to make fans aware of the service throughout this season.
- KICK OFF TIMES WORKING GROUP – DEVELOPMENTS
There were signs of encouragement that our campaigning may be gaining traction when Labour’s Deputy Leader, and Shadow Sports Secretary, Tom Watson, publicly backed the calls for flexible train tickets for match going fans, catchily called “Fan Fare”. Tom echoed our push for rail companies to honour bookings made by fans for matches subsequently moved for broadcast. We have been in touch with Tom and will be meeting with him and his team next month to discuss working together to advance this initiative.
- POLICING MEETING – WEST HAM – 30 AUGUST
We attended a very thorough session at the London stadium last April, ahead of our first visit to West Ham’s new ground and released detailed messaging for Spurs fans attending the match. While this was a Friday night match and this season’s is a Saturday lunchtime, we anticipate much of the basic messaging to be the same.
We will, however, pull together information for Spurs fans heading to the match and will post in the run up to the game on 23 September.
- SPURS v JUVENTUS FRIENDLY – REFUNDS
The Club’s commercial partners Relevent Sports, more about them in the story linked above, were forced to drop – sorry, readjust – pricing but in the aftermath of the game it became clear many fans due refunds had not received their money and the dedicated phone line had been closed down. We contacted THFC and told them this was not acceptable – which resulted in the line opening for another week.
We’re still dealing with fans who have not received refunds and we consider it is wrong that the onus is on fans to claim, rather than for the company to reimburse them.
We have made it clear to THFC’s Executive Board that it needs to consider the reputational effects of its commercial partnership decisions more carefully in future. They are after all, as fans are, ambassadors for the good name of the Club.
Any fans still not in receipt of their refunds, please email us on info@THSTOfficial.com
- THOMAS COOK PICK UP POINTS FOR AWAY MATCHES THIS SEASON
Please contact THFC or Thomas Cook Sport with any specific questions regarding away coach travel.
- PROSTATE CANCER UK – MEN UNITED
Ride London Football Grounds, 1 September 2017
This Friday, four Trust members will be cycling 85 miles around twelve of London’s stadia, pausing at each for pitch side photos; the objective is to promote next June’s London to Amsterdam fundraising ride.
Here are the estimated timings for Friday’s ride.
A good luck, well done welcome from anyone close to one of the stop off points would be most welcome.
Football to Amsterdam, 2/3 June 2018
For the third consecutive year, a Cycle On You Spurs team will be leaving the London Olympic Velodrome on a two day ride to Amsterdam. Our 2017 team of 24 riders raised £27,658, bringing our grand total over two rides to just short of £50,000.
Registration for 2018’s ride is open. Any Trust members who are interested in becoming a team member, full details can be found here.
- ANTWERP ARMS AGM AND REFURB
While WHL is undergoing a bit of refurb so, too, is The Annie. By the end of October, the pub will have a larger back area providing improved kitchen and dining space, new toilets, disabled access to the front of the pub plus a disability toilet and better access to the outdoor area. The pub will remain open for all but a few days towards the end of the 8 to 10 weeks of work.
And don't forget The Annie during our sabbatical. If you fancy a visit to see how the new stadium is coming along or want to watch a match back in Tottenham, do check out the pub.
- MACE UPDATE ON PARK LANE
The fire barrier that had been open on Park Lane is now closed again and the traffic diversion that had been in place has ended.
Mace provided a letter about parking bays on Park Lane in relation to the noise screening that is being installed using shipping containers. This is attached at the end of this newsletter.
Evening Standard – Ticket Exchange operation
ESPN - Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust airs ticket gripes with club
SportReff - THST has criticised the club’s handling of ticketing ahead of the move to Wembley
FSF – Pricing of Friendly v Juventus
Supporters Direct – Results of THST Survey
Sports Business – Nearly half of Tottenham fans criticize Wembley atmosphere in THST Survey
The Independent - KO Times and the inconvenience to fans
The Guardian - Labour’s Tom Watson calls for more flexible rail ticketing to help away fans
Euronews – Preview of Chelsea match
The Guardian – The Wembley “hoodoo”
BBC Radio 5
Co-chair Martin Cloake talking secondary ticketing on BBC Business, 21 minutes in
iSpurs information portal
The Club has also set up a new, dedicated information portal online which answers many of the questions we are frequently contacted with. We’d urge fans to read and familiarise themselves with the details available on the portal as we continue to receive a high volume of questions asking for this information.
31 August 2017
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