This pause, and the start of what could be a bright new era for Spurs fans, has given the Trust’s three longest-serving Board members the opportunity to do something we have been considering for some time. And so, from the THST Q3 Board meeting on 14 July, Co-chairs Katrina Law and Martin Cloake will be stepping down from our positions, and Treasurer Adam Bailey will be leaving the Board at the end of the financial year in August.
We wanted to take a moment to reflect on what has been achieved during our time at the Trust, because we think it is important to recognise that. All of us got involved because we thought fans should have a stronger voice, and because we believed just thinking or saying that was not enough. We had to actively work to make that happen.
When Kat and Adam joined the THST Board in 2013, the Trust had a small membership, minimal presence on social media, little profile and limited finances. Now, the Trust represents over 27,000 people, has a social media following of nearly 70,000, and is a recognised voice for fans in the national supporter movement and media, and within football. The organisation is now in a considerably stronger financial position with reserves in place to safeguard the longevity of the Trust. Martin joined the Board a year after Kat and Adam.
Attempts to rebuild the Trust owed much to Darren Alexander, and his untimely death in 2014 meant that all of us had to step up and take on unexpected responsibility. We have tried to stay true to Darren’s wish to see a vibrant and effective organisation for Spurs fans throughout our time in post, and we’ve never forgotten his drive, determination and humour.
Working with a succession of Board colleagues over the years, we’ve achieved a number of victories for members, and by default the wider supporter base, on both national, international and local issues. Nationally, we played a leading role in the successful campaign for a £30 away ticket price cap in the Premier League; we spearheaded the campaign against Pay Per View charges during the pandemic and continuously campaigned for the choice to stand at top-flight matches. Kat sat on the Football Supporters’ Association’s National Council for three years as a Premier League representative after serving the same amount of time on Supporters Direct’s England and Wales Football Council, and has led the national workstream around fixtures moved for broadcast for several years. Kat was also the first ever female fan rep to sit on FA Council in 2017/18. Internationally, we stood alongside our colleagues at peer Trusts to oppose the European Super League, meeting with the UEFA president and the UK Prime Minister along the way.
Locally, we secured a cheaper Young Adult ticketing category for Spurs fans aged between 18 and 21 after previously securing an increase in the age bar for young people’s concessionary tickets from 16 to 18. We successfully lobbied for cheaper tickets and packages for Cup games, secured fan-friendly changes to away ticket sales across the Premier League and stopped the price-hiking of the secondary ticketing market at Spurs.
We’ve defended Spurs fans in court, and when Spurs fans have been treated badly in Europe we have helped on the scene and afterwards to secure future improvements. We successfully campaigned for Spurs to stay in London during the stadium build, and played a significant part in transitioning our fans from White Hart Lane to Wembley and into the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. And we stopped the Club furloughing its staff in response to an outcry from fans in 2020.
We’ve secured improvements in catering and in matchday stewarding, and spearheaded fan involvement on local safety committees. We’ve represented hundreds of individual fans in cases involving ticketing, behavioural and other issues.
Well over £250,000 has been raised for charities. We’ve supported community pub The Antwerp Arms and worked with local foodbanks and other community initiatives, often alongside the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. We’ve built strong relationships with fan groups across England and Europe, and with the media, making THST a respected and influential voice.
A fuller list of what has been achieved can be read on the home page of our website, but we wanted to emphasise these achievements to encourage people to carry on the work, and to support those who give up their time and effort for free to do so. To clarify, we have taken nothing from THFC or any other organisation during our years on the Trust Board.
It’s fair to say that Tottenham Hotspur can be a challenging club to deal with, and every step forward is hard fought. There are numerous occasions when we have wished the Club did not act as it did, particularly when it undermined confidence in the relationship we had all worked so hard to build. Actions such as that fuelled a sometimes toxic atmosphere amongst the fan base, which has led to attacks on the Trust, and on individual Board members.
To be clear, we’ve never expected everyone to agree with us. But too often the criticism has crossed the line into outright abuse. We’ll be honest; that has had its effect. We hope our successors don’t have to deal with some of what we’ve had to, because that will prevent people from stepping up. And if fans don’t step up, the people who win are those who do not want the fans to have a voice, who do not want fans to be considered as anything but a source of income.
We began by saying that this summer could represent a turning point on the pitch. And it could off it too. While the review of football governance has progressed more slowly than we would like, change is coming. We have argued consistently for a variety of fan voices to be represented in any new governance structure, with a role for the Trust and the formally recognised fan groups as well as other constituencies. Including those voices who have been critical of the Trust. The detail is still to be resolved, but the principle of increased fan consultation has been established. That’s something we only dreamed of when we began this journey almost a decade ago.
We are stepping back to allow a refresh, and we hope that encourages new faces and new energy. We will always be supporters of the Trust and the wider fan movement. The Board will meet to elect new officers from its number to serve until the AGM, and we will continue to be available to help with work around key areas such as ticketing, broadcast and governance.
We want to thank all the people we’ve worked with over the years. And we’ve worked with some great people. That includes staff at THFC. We hope the Club’s Board and owners will take the chance to reflect on what can be gained when we all work together. And we hope that more and more fans recognise how important it is to have an active, independent organisation prepared to make the difficult calls and put in the hard yards.
It has, mostly, been a pleasure, and we look forward to supporting the Trust and the Club as they go from strength to strength.
30 June 2022