Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Board to Board Meeting
Minutes and Report
Monday 19 September 2016
Tottenham Hotspur Football & Athletic Co Ltd, Lilywhite House, 6pm
Martin Cloake, Co-chair
Katrina Law, Co-chair
Keith Sharp, Secretary
Adam Bailey, Treasurer
Daniel Levy, Chairman
Donna Cullen, Executive Director
Sue Tilling, Senior Safety Officer
Ian Murphy, Head of Ticketing & Membership
Jonathan Waite, Head of Supporter Services
1.Outstanding action points from previous meeting
- DC to pick up on Founder Member Scheme detail with MC/KL
- JW to confirm new caterer’s policy on waste food and recycling with THST
- JW to arrange a meeting for THST reps with the Stadium Catering Director once new contractors in place
- DC to liaise with THST regarding collecting ideas for commemorating the final season at WHL
- DC to provide THST with further quote in support of Safe Standing
- IM to confirm the ‘refund’ mechanism should both domestic home cup vouchers in the ST package not be used next season
- ST to share details of policing meeting with THST
2. Transfer window and the 2016/2017 campaign
- Reflections on the window
- Priorities for this season
- Departure of Paul Mitchell
- Fan interaction with players
Q&A sessions on Facebook and Twitter had worked well.
DL was encouraged to participate more.
The suggestion of a podcast was floated.
- Premier League B teams in EFL competitions
3. Northumberland Development Project
- Update on build programme
Once again, the complexities of the project were stressed. Completion on time was also dependent on other factors such as the transport infrastructure and public realm provisions being in place for the anticipated opening in August 2018.
MB stressed that communication was key here. DC elaborated on the new part of the website dedicated to the build, complete with fully upgraded webcams.
- Latest on stadium planning applications
- Latest on TFL/ LOROL’s plans for White Hart Lane station
It was understood that a planning decision would be made next month (October 2016).
The need for this to dovetail with the stadium is clearly apparent.
- Latest on Haringey’s High Road West plans
AB referred to a member question around the value of the NFL tie up. DL confirmed that the NFL provision had not added much cost and would provide ongoing rental revenue. The NFL has also contributed greatly in terms of knowledge and input into enhancements to the stadium design and build and was a very valuable partner in that respect.
- Naming Rights
- Plans for final match at WHL
- Removal of the NE corner of WHL
KL opened up by asking THFC for their view on how the home ballots were working in practice and what had been learned so far. IM felt the Club had been potentially over cautious in how many seats were sold for the first 2 or 3 games. This had led to more tickets going on sale later than desired and empty seats in some sections of the stadium.
KL questioned whether the late release of tickets ahead of the Sunderland match had been as a result of the ballot. IM stressed partner, staff, sponsor, player returns had always come back late in previous years and this season they were keen to provide as many seats as possible for fans, but that this was nothing new. And not a result of the ballot.
IM stated that the ballot was leaving the Club with more single seats than they’d like, which are harder to sell on.
The ballot was a different challenge. It had its operational issues, of course, but there was now more familiarity and comfort with the process. IM stressed that the ballot had removed the pain of 19 huge on sale dates with large volumes of unhappy fans and felt the ballot was the right call to have made.
KL stated that when the Club approached THST towards the end of last season to tell them the sales mechanism was changing to a ballot, the prime reason given was to remove the pinch point of thousands of Members all attempting to purchase a significantly reduced number of tickets and potentially missing out. But the ballot figures are relatively low: c 7,000 applications for c 5,000 seats. Why did IM think this was the case? IM thought there was still a lack of understanding around the ballot which meant fans either didn’t know how to apply, were put off applying or thought they wouldn’t get a ticket so didn’t bother.
KL shared THST’s views on the reasoning for lower figures than anticipated. The first being Price. The ballot encourages fans to price higher than they normally would to stand a better chance. There's only so many times a season you can do that. So people are being selective.
The next reason was the issue of Concessions. KL explained that, because of the very restricted number of seats available at a concessionary rate, parents were cautious about being forced to pay full rate for their kids. KL requested that concessions either be extended further around the stadium this season or that all concessionary members successful in the ballot are prioritised into existing concessionary stands.
A discussion followed where THFC expressed caution at the financial impact of opening up concessions around the ground. KL suggested the increased revenue from the 500-750 seats taken from the visitors allocation at White Hart Lane could be used here, as those seats were now selling at higher than the £30 away price. IM reminded KL that the loss of over 4,000 seats in the North East corner had resulted in a significant loss to the Club already. IM, DC and DL to discuss internally and report back to THST.
The next issue was the inability to select between North and South stands in the ballot. Each stand has its own personality and none more so than Paxton and Park Lane. Appreciating the restrictions members would be placing on themselves by selecting only one of those stands in the ballot, THST wanted to explore the practicalities of separating those out. IM agreed to explore and report back.
KL flagged the inflexibility of the StubHub platform as a major problem when allocating tickets at primary source via a members only ballot and asked for assurances other providers would be consulted prior to their contract expiring in May. IM confirmed that no decision had yet been made about secondary ticketing beyond this season and that THFC would explore all oprions.
- Impact of £30 price cap
- Transferring of away tickets
- Subsidised travel
THFC responded with their view that subsidising coaches for such a small segment of the fan base wasn’t fair or appropriate. Take up rates at full price were parallel with where they’d been last season at a subsidised price.
THST responded that it had been both fair and appropriate when it was THFC’s preferred method of spending the ASI over the previous 3 seasons. THFC said this was because it was one of several measures that had benefitted a wider spread of fans.
THFC confirmed it would provide trains for fixtures without an alternative public transport option but would not subsidise coaches again. The preference was to focus on favourable pricing for Cup games and Wembley as had been demonstrated.
THST expressed its disagreement with the decision and will investigate external sponsors for coach subsidy.
Champions League at Wembley:
87,000 tickets sold for the Monaco match was a great success; the Trust thanked the Club for a progressive approach on pricing, making Wembley a home from home and setting the atmosphere at the game. The three match package has worked well. Breaking three home attendance records was also cause for congratulations. However, a couple of issues had arisen that needed addressing.
- Sales mechanism and process
IM explained that this was the first time the Club had attempted to sell a game of this magnitude and there were a lot of moving parts. Some seats weren’t available for the group package, some areas were held back until others had sold out in case the take up wasn’t great – in agreement with Wembley National Stadium Ltd - some seats only became available after TV requirements and other stadium commitments had been confirmed. It was a complicated process and there was no desire to mislead.
It was agreed to improve ticketing communications in future so as to try to manage expectations.
IM acknowledged the problems experienced by some fans and said detailed discussions have taken place with THFC and Ticketmaster subsequently with cast iron guarantees this would not happen again.
DC asked for THST’s support in urging fans to arrive in plenty of time for future Wembley matches. Large walk ups in the ten minutes before kick-off put severe pressure on Wembley’s ticket entry systems at the Monaco game.
- Season Ticket Amnesty
IM and DC explained THFC’s current position: the fans had wanted a London venue, the Club had delivered Wembley and there was a concern about giving fans the option to drop out at exactly the time they needed ST holders to support the Club both financially and physically.
There was also concern around the practical implications and effect an amnesty would have on those at the top of the ST waiting list and when offering ST’s for the new ground.
KL was certain that those practicalities could be worked through if there was a will to deliver this. An amnesty would mean a ST holder freezing their membership for the year. So they’d effectively be non-members. That brought with it implications that would deter most unless there was a genuine reason for not being able to travel to Wembley throughout the season. KL stressed that no fan had asked for the Club to relocate and by moving for a season, THFC had fundamentally changed their terms of engagement.
After some discussion, it was agreed further internal discussion was needed and THFC asked that the matter be deferred to the next meeting with THST.
- New Season Tickets
- Fan migration
IM confirmed this was in hand and valuable lessons had been learned from the Champions League sales process and from East London.
JW explained that catering was run by Wembley and Car Park was currently operated by CSP on behalf of Quintain. JW confirmed discussions are ongoing over the provision of disabled parking for the season away at Wembley.
IM noted the comments on ticket pricing.
5. Safe Standing
- MC revisited our request for the Club to ask Richard Scudamore of the Premier League to confirm with the DCMS whether rail seating complied with current legislation.
- DC agreed to approach RS for clarification.
6. Policing and Stewarding
- MB asked ST for an update from the opening matches of the season. ST reported it had been a good start to the campaign, with very few stewarding issues, despite the difficulties with the relocation of the 4000 ST holders from the NE corner.
- There had been only 4 ejections in 3 matches.
- ST confirmed that THFC was taking c 50 stewards to Wembley for the Champions League matches. For the season away, Wembley would supply agency staff. ST was keen on our stewards working for that agency so as to retain good staff and retain the knowledge of our fan base and those individual relationships that had been established between stewards and supporters.
- Looking ahead to the new stadium, there would be the need for up to three times as many stewards.
- MC had attended the last meeting of the Haringey Safety Advisory Group on behalf of THST and ST confirmed THST will be invited again to the next SAG.
- MC asked for ST to express the value of supporter input to Brent’s SAG looking ahead to the season at Wembley. ST agreed to do so.
- The next meeting of the Police Safety Forum would take place on 3 October, as reported earlier.
- KF expressed his thanks to THFC for their support with the Antwerp Arms First Anniversary event, the THST End of Season BBQ and the Prostate Cancer Football to Amsterdam bike ride in the Summer. Special thanks were extended to JW for his ongoing support across all of these events and for staying late ‘in the office’ a couple of weeks ago to welcome the cyclists visiting all of London’s professional football grounds in one day to raise awareness of Football to Amsterdam 2017. The Foundation were also singled out for thanks.
- The next joint project is the War Graves Commission: Living Memory Project in November. KF is looking forward to working with the Club on this again.
- Other issues raised under AOB included questions from our members around merchandising – namely the fact that Spurs items are not available in Under Armour stores in Canada, which THFC will follow up on, and the prices at the catering outlets in WHL – especially £2.30 for a bottle of water, which will be addressed during THST’s meeting with the new caterers.
The meeting concluded at 8.30pm.
- JW to provide clarification of caterers food waste policy - subsequently provided as follows*
- JW to confirm arrangements for meeting with the caterers at the Man City match
- IM to update THST on internal discussions around concessionary areas in home ballots
- IM to update THST with decision on whether to split North /South stand in home ballots
- THST to explore finding a sponsor to subsidise away travel
- Discussion on an Amnesty for Season Ticket holders at Wembley deferred to the next meeting of the two boards
- THST to assist with Club comms re: early arrival at Wembley for remaining UCL matches
- DC to contact RS at the PL re: DCMS definition of rail seating.
Next meeting to be scheduled for January 2017.