Tuesday 23rd July
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, N17
Dean Smith, Deputy Safety Officer, THFC
Constable Steve Payne, Football Intelligence Officer, Scotland Yard
Darren Alexander, Joint Chairman, THST
Katrina Law, Secretary, THST
Bernie Kingsley, THST Working Group
Bob McIver, Haringey Council
This was the first Police and Safety Forum meeting since 2011, with several new participants involved. Agreed the meeting would be informal and an open platform for discussions.
THST had crowd sourced questions via social media networks around any concerns connected with match day policing or safety either inside White Hart Lane or the surrounding areas and began by working through these issues before elaborating on additional points.
1. Standing in the Park Lane: Stop telling us to sit down
THFC stewards work to THFC’s directions. White Hart Lane’s safety certificate is dependent on people sitting down. Persistent standing is not allowed with the law as it is right now.
Work with the stewards, don’t abuse them. They are only doing their job. They are fully trained. Every steward has an NVQ Level 2 and every supervisor has an NVQ Level 3 qualification.
THFC is happy for any interested fan to shadow a steward on a match day to get an idea of their job and responsibilities.
THFC has a duty of care to their stewards and, equally, stewards have a duty of care to the supporters.
THST will continue to assist any supporter who has experienced difficulties with stewarding within WHL and urge those with specific grievances to contact THST directly.
2. Atmosphere: Pyrotechnics, flags: what is allowed inside White Hart Lane?
Regarding the atmosphere at WHL, there is a growing movement which is glamorising the use of Pyrotechnics/ smoke bombs etc. THFC was quick to point out that these are illegal and don’t help the atmosphere on their own. On the continent, flares are used when an entire section of the ground is already jumping and highly animated.
The consequences of the use of smoke bombs at the recent Arsenal v Spurs U18 game at Barnet were discussed. The affects could be dangerous to fellow supporters, with one fan requiring medical treatment for smoke inhalation and
another facing criminal charges following that incident.
Regarding flags, there had been enquiries facilitated by THST to introduce a large ‘surfer’ flag in to the Park Lane, similar to the one at Anfield.
This isn’t possible at White Hart Lane owing to a number of factors, including the design of the stadium. The time when a surfer would be used would be just before/at kick off. At that time, people are still taking their seats and the flag would not be able to pass over the gangways as fans were walking up them.
Also, where would it end up after being ‘surfed’? There is no natural place to store it during the game, other than in the South East corner, which is an emergency exit.
The gradient of the Park Lane wasn’t conducive to surfers, either.
Individual flags are allowed into White Hart Lane, subject to ground regulations, but these are open to checks upon entry. No flagpole should be longer than 1 metre and no flag should be of a size to interfere with the view of the match for any other supporter. THFC also reserves the right to refuse entry on the grounds of content/ imagery.
Mosaics are allowed. However, what happens with the card afterwards is an issue e.g. there is a £20,000 fine should anyone make a paper aeroplane out of one of the pieces and throw it onto the pitch.
THST is working with various fan groups to produce fixed banners for the Park Lane and Paxton Road balconies for next season. This is progressing well and THST will provide THFC with mock-ups of the banners before production, with the agreement the banners are fixed in place for the season, except for Europa League matches.
3. Atmosphere: getting fans into the stadium early
THST noted the dwindling number of pubs left in N17 and urged THFC to take advantage by encouraging fans into the ground early.
The stadium always opens at least 90 minutes before kick off and THFC is looking at even earlier opening. The tradition for British fans in the all-seater era is to enter the stadium as near to kick off as possible. It’s a challenge that THFC is looking to overcome to attract fans in earlier. In addition to benefitting the caterers, it would ensure entry to the stadium is more evenly spread. Publicise the presence of Sky Sports on the concourse TVs for any ‘early’ games.
- Continue to work with caterers/drinks providers to negotiate better rates on food and drink – put offers on.
- Improve the music inside the stadium pre game. Look at the play list for songs that are more emotive and rousing than we have 10 mins pre kick off right now.
- Look at opening up the Paxton concourse after games for a period of time.
More supporters would, therefore, be in the ground for kick off and able to support the team more vocally in those early stages.
The existing ban on street drinking all day every day in N17 could help drive people into the ground earlier, also.
4. Pubs: numbers diminishing for home as well as away fans The Bell and Hare is currently under voluntary closure and the police are not sure whether it will reopen again.
The Antwerp is also threatened with closure and a community group, to which THST has extended its support, is working to save the pub. This is a home and away pub with a good track record of no trouble.
The Bill Nic only opens on match days as it is.
Rudolph’s closed on the last day of last season.
THST received a question regarding The Gilpin: ‘Forcing Wetherspoons to raise prices and ban away fans?’ Constable Payne confirmed that would have been a decision made by the licensee, certainly not the police or THFC. It was an individual decision by that pub to push up prices (presumably as other pubs had closed) and it had never been a recognised away pub by the police.
Pubs where away fans are welcomed are recognised as The Elmhurst, The Antwerp and The Irish Centre.
Constable Payne couldn’t envisage many more pubs opening in N17 as the trade from one match day a fortnight on average was not enough to sustain a business, generally.
5. Transport: Crowd congestion at White Hart Lane station THST had received an email from a supporter expressing his concern at the management of the queue at White Hart Lane station after home games.
The metal barriers for the first 25 yards were doing little to organise the rest of the queue and skirmishes were becoming commonplace.
THFC agreed to look into this further and to discuss solutions with their stewarding company for White Hart Lane station, and with the station manager also, with whom they have a very good relationship.
This isn’t an issue for the police.
THFC confirmed that they deploy 5 of their own Stewards to both WHL and Northumberland Park stations pre and post games, or 10 to one station if the other is closed. However, an external company is used to steward the queues.
6. Transport: Station closures/ engineering works THST expressed their concern at the regular closure of Northumberland Park station at the end of last season, which placed too much strain on White Hart Lane.
THFC confirmed that planned engineering works can be scheduled 5 to 7 years in advance and additional trains ran out of WHL station on days when Northumberland Park was closed.
THFC commented that Europa League participation means that many home games will fall on Sundays, where engineering works are more prevalent on National Rail and, as part of their Section 106 agreement on the Emirates, the Victoria and Piccadilly Line have to run between Kings Cross and Finsbury Park for Arsenal home matches. This then limits the dates on which engineering work can
be carried out on Victoria and Piccadilly lines, so will affect THFC home games.
THFC should have site of the new train timetable shortly.
THST has requested that the timetable reflects that a match starting at 3pm does not finish bang on 4.45pm. Need to allow sufficient time to leave the stadium and get to the station or there is little point in laying on extra trains at the end of games.
THFC now has a direct link to all local stations so are able to communicate instantly. This improves the relay of information back to supporters, also.
7. Transport: Integrating match tickets and train tickets THST revisited its desire for THFC to explore the possibility of rolling transport into match tickets. This had been addressed before but dismissed due to the number of different train providers, most of which were on short-term franchises.
THST suggested THFC provides Zone 1-6 Travelcards, as per the Olympics, for match days and negotiate funding this with TFL and the various train operators. This would ease congestion on the roads, also.
THST recognised the difficulties in integrating match tickets and travel tickets but would welcome genuine discussion, especially bearing in mind the benefits this could have with the new stadium and on the back of clubs such as Basel and Brighton having managed to achieve this, along with numerous Bundesliga clubs.
THFC commented that this would be very difficult to action. Brighton and Southampton (now since ceased) had to incorporate an integrated transport option with match and season tickets as part of their Section 106 agreements during stadium planning.
The deregulated transport map under the jurisdiction of TFL and the Mayor of London means that due to the number of transport operators and revenue dispersal from Oyster and Travelcards, along with the sheer number of football clubs and large stadia in the capital, does make this very difficult. It would need consensus from all London clubs, stadia (inc. the larger rugby and cricket
ones). Providing ‘free’ transport for the Olympics (an eight-week period) cost millions.
8. Coach travel: free transport to away games?
Prompted by the impressive PR on the back of Stoke City’s decision to provide free coach travel to all of their away games for next season, THST suggested THFC may want to consider offering this for a select number of games, too.
THFC commented that our fanbase aren’t really ‘coach travellers’. THST argued that providing free coach travel back from fixtures such as Norwich in the cup last season, when the last train would have left before the game finished, would appeal to a decent enough number to offer it.
Also, with football as expensive as it is and with rail travel so costly, there are sections of our support who would use and welcome this option. Geting the coach to the odd game with your mates could become an event and would be a positive step for THFC.
THFC’s Supporter Liaison Officer is now in discussions with THST in this regard.
9. N17 match day road closures
Road closures on match days are controlled by both the club and the police. The general rule applied is that the High Road is closed until the last away coach has departed, which is normally c 45 minutes after final whistle.
The issue was the private car parks, which fed onto the High Road. The club and the police have no control over these. Suggestions to position police vans at the exits of those at the Sports Centre and St Francis’ were raised. The Spurs car park remained closed until the away coaches had left the stadium.
10. Supporters exiting White Hart Lane
THST raised the issue of the additional 3,000 supporters sitting in the West stad now being exited via Paxton Road, which placed a strain on the exit at street level. While acknowledging that Tottenham Square had helped, there was
still a pinch point immediately upon exiting the stadium.
Possibilities to pedestrianise the other side of the road were raised. Land ownership was an issue, however.
The stationary ambulances parked outside the East Stand were also highlighted as creating a pinch point pre kick off, especially, as supporters were reduced to a single file to navigate around the vehicles.
11. Away fans at White Hart Lane
Conscious of the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Away Fans Matter initiative and the Premier League’s focus on repositioning away fans as ‘visiting fans’ or ‘travelling fans’, THST asked about the treatment of away supporters at White Hart Lane.
THFC have now installed TVs in the away section and do serve alcohol to most visiting fans, excepting Arsenal and West Ham.
There is the growing understanding that away fans need to be treated like home fans.
THST raised the fact that Spurs were currently in the bottom 3 of Premier League teams for ‘away fan experience’, according to the on-going FSF survey. THST and THFC agreed to request the data from the FSF to investigate the scoring and address the areas where this is consistently low.
THST confirmed that Darren Alexander, Joint Chairman, will attend the Premier League Supporter Experience Event, concentrating on away fans, at Cardiff City in August, along with Jake Heath of THFC.
12. Police figures: banning orders, arrests
Constable Payne confirmed the 2012/2013 season figures:
46 arrests over 26 home games last season – 6 of these were home fans
21 arrests out of 28 away games – a number were at the same matches i.e. Lazio, Basel, Arsenal, Sunderland
41 Spurs supporters remained on banning orders for 3 years
It was agreed to schedule the next Police and Safety Forum meeting for January 2014.
Meeting concluded at 8.15pm