This is a long read, with an accompanying document setting out in detail the proposals THST made on concessionary pricing. Please take the time to read both documents carefully before raising any questions. We will be holding a members meeting on 12 March, please keep an eye on your inboxes and our website for details, at which issues arising from this report can be discussed. In the meantime, we’ll do our best to answer any questions you have within the constraints of our available time as volunteers.
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Board to Board Meeting
Minutes and Report
Tuesday 20 February 2018
Tottenham Hotspur Football & Athletic Co Ltd, Lilywhite House, 6pm
Martin Cloake, Co-chair (MC)
Katrina Law, Co-chair (KL)
Pete Haine, Secretary (PH)
Keith Sharp (KS)
Rachel Martin (RM)
Michael Green (MG)
Daniel Levy, Chairman (DL)
Donna-Maria Cullen, Executive Director (DMC)
Jonathan Waite, Head of Supporter Services (JW)
Ian Murphy, Head of Ticketing (IM)
Dean Smith, Safety Officer (DS)
Simon Bamber, Commercial Director (SB)
Jon Babbs, Stadium Director (JB)
Simon Felstein, Head of Communications (SF)
1. Outstanding action points from last meeting on 2 May
1.1 THST to assist THFC with comms encouraging the use of public transport / stations from August 2018 and promoting walking routes to the stadium. ACTION: DMC/ KL/ MC - TBA August 2018
1.2 DMC to inform KL/ MC when station renaming reaches public consultation stage. ACTION: DMC - Ongoing
1.3 Discussion around premium seat holders access to away tickets. ACTION: IM/ KL/ MC - Completed
1.4 DMC to arrange for presentation of Club’s plans around Safe Standing once ready
DMC to share custom made safe seating design and talk through plans for future proofing the new stadium for any change in legislation allowing safe standing areas.
Clear communications will be shared ahead of the season ticket sales process to ensure any fan purchasing in that area is aware of a possible change to a safe standing area at a future point in time. THST expressed a willingness to work with THFC to enable this.
DMC confirmed the Away section at the new ground will also have some seating future proofed for safe standing.
DMC acknowledged this was important for atmosphere.
KL updated on national fan organisation campaign approach focusing around a choice to sit and a choice to stand.
There had been no further update from the Premier League since their consultation piece last year. The Premier League continues to undertake detailed research on this subject. ACTION: DMC - DMC to share designs and plans for futureproofing
1.5 JW to follow up with KL/ MC re: dedicated Club customer service/ ticketing social media channel
Consultation has taken place around this with new customer service hire with the Club looking to develop a social media functionality within the iSpurs platform. The timeline for this is by the end of 2018.
At present, this was considered a better option than a dedicated Twitter or Facebook customer service/ ticketing account but both are under review. ACTION: JW - JW to update towards close of 2018
2. Wrap up on Wembley
2.1 KL asked for key learnings from the Club’s time at Wembley. What lessons could be taken back to the N17?
JB felt that the ability to observe how the national stadium ran on a regular basis and to be able to test and trial new technology and to share experiences and knowledge has been hugely helpful.
2.2 Lessons had been learned in terms of people movement, searching regimes, stewarding numbers. There are 1600-1700 stewards per match across 15 companies at Wembley. Resource can be stretched for midweek fixtures. THFC will work with fewer agencies within the new stadium and will ensure those partners are able to provide well trained staff for midweek matches.
THFC is now tendering with stewarding companies, some of whom work at Wembley, enabling JB to see them in action.
DS assured there would be a team of THFC employed stewards back at the new ground. There was an aim for a continuity across all of the stewarding companies in terms of look (THFC branded jackets) and approach.
A tender is also out for the 24 hour security at the new campus, again with some companies who’ve worked with THFC at Wembley being considered.
JB also felt the chance to observe other non–football events at Wembley had been very helpful moving forward at our own multi-purpose stadium (e.g. NFL).
2.3 Wembley is one of the newest and biggest stadiums in the country so the chance to use their tech had been appreciated. JB reported trials of radio headsets, trials of security arches and other equipment, assessment of their live time ticketing system, their live image CCTV etc. The ability to trial and observe had been invaluable.
2.4 IM reported on a very collaborative approach in terms of Wembley’s ticketing set up.
IM spent match days in the control room, from where it was easier to manage issues than from the physical ticket office.
2.5 DS acknowledged that communications amongst the 15 different stewarding companies at Wembley had been an issue on occasion. Meetings were now held 48 hours in advance of matches, with match day operations starting 6 hours pre kick off.
2.6 JB invited representatives of THST to spend a match day with their safety team – from 6 hours ahead through to close. THST to follow up on this invitation. ACTION: THST to liaise with JB re: shadowing match day
2.7 In terms of ticketing and pricing, KL asked if there had been any lessons learned from Wembley. Any observations on optimum pricing per game?
IM didn’t feel there was a tipping point and that pricing was not the determining factor. That was the opposition, competition and match time more than pricing.
2.8 Considering the Champions League pricing this season, KL asked for assurances that should Spurs progress beyond the Round of 16, any quarter final or semi final would not be priced above Category A.
DL commented that this had never happened and has not been considered at present
2.9 KL asked whether there were lessons learned from the way the ticket exchange has been run this season. Selling 19 games blind when up to 70% move from their original slots without an option to sell on officially wasn’t in the spirit of the service an exchange should provide. KL commented on the infrequency with which the exchange had opened this season.
SB commented that the exchange had opened for 8 out of 14 league matches thus far. KS countered that some of those were with 24-48 hours’ notice, however.
KL stated she hoped the exchange would work far better next season. After getting rid of StubHub, it was a shame it hadn’t worked this season.
2.10 IM explained that the ticket exchange would be operational next season, along with a ticket transfer scheme for home games – called TicketShare. This would allow a ticket holder to forward an eticket to a fellow fan within their network should they not be able to make a game. It would offer a secure way to pass on a ticket. THFC to provide more detail on this ticket transfer tool shortly. ACTION:
IM/ THFC to issue comms on TicketShare
2.11 DMC asked for THST’s assistance in encouraging use of both the official ticket exchange and TicketShare next season.
THST very happy to assist with this. ACTION: DMC/ THST to align comms on Ticket exchange
2.12 KL asked for the Club’s position on touting. THST is frequently contacted by fans concerned by the number of touts at Wembley Park station, particularly.
IM said the Club continues to raise this issue with the Police, but the police have a resource issue and it was deemed less serious than policing the stadium and footprint – the same response the Met gave to THST at a recent fan conference.
In terms of ticketing, the Club bans anyone caught either touting or anyone who’s ticket has ended up in the hands of a tout.
DMC hoped that by moving to a virtually ticketless stadium back in N17, it would make traditional touting very difficult moving forwards.
2.13 KL asked for clarification of the mechanism for allocating FA Cup semi-final or final tickets this season given the influx of new Season Ticket holders. There would be roughly 32,000 tickets for a SF and 28,000 for a Final and potentially large numbers of new Season ticket holders on the same points total.
IM felt that the points awarded throughout the season would have helped separate out the new Season Ticket holders but that the deciding factor would be the number of bronze points held on upgrading to a season ticket should there be a large number all on the same number of points.
THST agreed with this as they felt no new Season Ticket holder should be worse off this season than there were as a bronze member last season. So those bronze members who qualified for tickets through their points totals last year should qualify again this season, in principle.
3. New stadium build and infrastructure
3.1 PH asked whether the stadium build was on schedule, noting that the roof was a little later than anticipated.
DL explained that the compression ring had been completed last weekend and the roof lift was scheduled to be completed in the next fortnight. Bad weather and high winds had caused the minor delay.
DL said the build was incredibly complex and it was impossible to give an exact date as to when the stadium would be completed. However, everyone is working towards being in the new stadium next season and would be extremely disappointed were this not the case.
Once the roof has been completed, there’s still a significant amount of technical work to do.
3.2 PH asked for contingency plans for any over run.
DL said that although a contingency plan was in place everyone was 100% focused on achieving the budgeted timescale. Certainly no talks had been held with Wembley over extending their residency and that there was no intention of activating any extension clause unless it was absolutely necessary.
DL stated he was confident, as far as was possible, that they would hit the build deadline.
Season ticket sales would open in the next few weeks.
DL thought it was likely they would request to play the first few matches of the 2018-19 season away from home. This had always been the case.
3.3 DL confirmed there was no possibility of opening the stadium at a reduced capacity.
SF reassured that any rumours to the contrary on social media had been clarified and corrected.
3.4 PH asked for an update on the progress of ancillary projects and infrastructure, including transport.
DL explained that the construction of the Paxton Buildings had started, where the ticket office would be located.
Work on the Northern Terrace was also in progress, including the highly impressively renovated Percy House – the new home of the Foundation
3.5 As regards transport, DMC commented that the improvement works at Northumberland Park station were all on track, as was Tottenham Hale. The White Hart Lane refurbishment would take until Spring 2019 to complete but would be functional for the start of next season.
Tottenham Hale is actually closer to the ground than Seven Sisters and DMC asked for THST’s assistance in communicating walking routes later in the summer spread across all stations. ACTION: DMC / THST to communicate transport options for new ground
3.6 There are plans for an NFL fan zone. More details to follow on this in due course
3.7 The new stadium will be a public transport destination.
JW outlined the plans for various Park and Ride schemes.
Shuttle buses would run and a national coach route into the stadium is also being explored.
Abellio Greater Anglia are in talks regarding a Park and Ride scheme from Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow and other stations with large car parks.
For the keen cyclists, the High Road is on the CS1 and plenty of bike racks will be made available
3.8 PH asked about planned test events at the new stadium.
DMC said the Club would appreciate help in getting numbers at these as yet undetermined events.
THST would be happy to help. ACTION: DMC to advice THST on test events
3.9 As regards renaming White Hart Lane station, DMC confirmed that the Club was in discussions with TFL, and that the actual station would be moved off White Hart Lane.
KL/ MC would like a heads up when this reaches the public consultation stage. ACTION: As per point 1.2
3.10 PH asked about plans for a grand opening. It was too early to share at this point
3.11 KL requested that JB pick up on the more technical questions regarding floodlighting and pitch watering etc. in the members’ question pack, collated by THST, after the meeting. ACTION: JB to respond to more technical questions in members’ pack
3.12 MG asked whether the stadium build cost had increased since our last meeting.
DL said he’d never put an exact figure on the stadium cost but it had risen for a variety of reasons. There are 2100 workers on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
3.13 MG asked whether, if overall project costs were increasing, this would mean an increase in debt from the £400m facility signed with three banks. What was the refinancing strategy for the current bullet (i.e. interest only) loan?
DL stressed the stadium was fully financed. The Club was very prudently run.
DL felt that additional debt might be raised beyond the current £400m loan.
DL explained that obtaining long term project finance debt on a project of this size would have been difficult and certainly more costly.
DL expected to refinance the debt within 12 months and confirmed the Club had received a number of proposals which the club was considering.
3.14 MG asked whether the NFL opened up the US market in terms of potential sources of finance e.g. public debt markets. DL said that assisted by their advisers, Rothschilds, the club was considering all available options.
The new stadium company (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Limited) is part of the debt financing arrangements. The rest of the corporate structure of THFC remains the same.
3.15 MG asked about the NFL arrangements. Only 1 had been confirmed for this season. Had the incremental cost of equipping for the NFL been covered from the contracted games and the NFL deal?
DL explained that the NFL contract was a minimum of 20 games over a 10 year period and it was normal practice to start with 1 match in a new venue and make up the other over the following seasons.
DL said the CapEx for the NFL was difficult to carve out separately. The NFL pitch would be also be used by THFC for other events so splitting the capital cost over the life of the asset is not straightforward. DL was confident that the additional investment would provide a positive return. There was also an intangible value in the exposure THFC had in the USA which was not easy to quantify within a P&L
3.16 In terms of the contract with the NFL, SB explained that the NFL owned all of the seats in the stadium for their events. They are effectively tenants.
The NFL take over ticketing and economics of all the seats in the ground.
THFC provides the catering operation for the NFL and may provide the merchandise operation.
The sponsorship inventory belongs to the NFL, not THFC.
While all hospitality areas are theirs, THFC will act as their agents as best placed to sell stadium inventory
3.17 SB then explained more about the catering operation in the new stadium.
THFC is in a Joint Venture with Compass/ Levy Restaurants (no relation) whereby THFC controls the delivery and management of match day catering.
SB says THFC wants to be responsible for the experience fans have inside their stadium, hence retaining control of the process.
All of the kitchens have been financed by THFC. All of the equipment is owned by THFC.
This is unique within the UK – it is an innovative approach.
For the NFL, the delivery of the product will be the same but the NFL is the third party.
RM is THST’s catering lead, who has an ongoing relationship with Levy Restaurants. RM explained the dialogue so far, the feedback from fans, the eagerness to support local businesses and suppliers.
DMC said the Club was also looking at innovative approaches to recycling, food waste and single use plastics. This would all be communicated in due course. ACTION: DMC to update on recycling/ food waste etc. and include RM in comms plan
3.18 In a multi-purpose venue, maintaining the heritage and identity of THFC was important to many fans. MC asked for plans as to how this would be preserved.
DMC confirmed the Club had no plans to name stands after players or managers. They would be remembered through living and breathing history in the new stadium. But there would be badging and identity of the stadium to make it our home.
DMC understood the importance of articulating this fully to fans in due course.
There was much excitement around the museum and the Tottenham Experience, also.
DMC referenced the story on the Club site earlier that day regarding external tiling reflecting heritage. This can be read here. ACTION: DMC to communicate heritage and history plans
3.19 MG asked for an update on naming rights. Many had been expecting an announcement now the stadium was progressing.
DL explained that the stadium financing was not conditional on selling naming rights. THFC are in discussions but they will only contract when they are satisfied with the price, the tenure and the counterparty.
DMC assured that the number required for commercials was in the business plan and the stadium financing meant it was not an essential for the stadium to open
Until such a time that a partner is found, the stadium will be referred to as Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
4. Finances and wages
4.1 MG asked when the latest set of THFC accounts were due for release.
DL confirmed the end of March, as usual.
4.2 KS noted the anticipated rise in gate receipts from the Champions League matches at Wembley, placement money in the Premier League, the new broadcast deal etc. Did this provide more leeway for wages? Did THFC allow roughly 50% of income on players?
DL clarified that the Club didn’t operate on a fixed ratio but it was roughly that amount.
4.3 DL noted the perception that Spurs needed to spend money on players. This wasn’t borne out of fact. There are no guarantees. Big money signings are not always successful. MC made the point that that this was more widely recognised by fans and in the media.
4.4 Talk turned to retention of players amid paper talk of contract negotiations and wage caps.
DL felt that Mauricio Pochettino is the best manager in all the time he has been at Tottenham. They see eye to eye in terms of strategy. No player would be sold that MP wanted to stay.
PH mentioned the bonus payments, also. It was felt the bonus structure and incentives should also be considered when discussing players wages as they comprised a significant part of the monies and are the most generous of any club in the Premier League.
4.5 KL explained that, with the move back into the new stadium and with the team on the cusp of really achieving something, there was a real attachment to the players – to the unit – and fans would be upset were that unit to broken. And that the team was the key to the success of the new stadium.
DL referred back to statement that no player would be sold that MP wanted to stay and that this was a different club now.
5. Fan migration and GA ticketing for the new ground
5.1 KL asked for clarification of the plans for moving Season Ticket holders back into the new stadium.
IM commented that another lesson learned from Wembley was that the ‘lift and drop’ of blocks wasn’t the way forward. Pre-empting where people would want to sit last summer had resulted in untold issues with 1,001 permutations.
It would not be a ‘lift and drop’ of blocks moving back into the new ground.
5.2 IM explained the system which THFC feel is the fairest and most robust way to move fans into the new ground and this would be agreed with the Trust ahead of communicating ST sales shortly. ACTION: IM to agree migration plans with THST
5.3 IM confirmed the Ticket Office would share the mechanics by which every ST holder was eligible to purchase a seat clearly – and in good time ahead of the sales windows. This will hopefully allow for conversations between friends and families to take place.
5.4 A 3D ‘view from my seat’ piece of software is being developed (that will be compatible with every browser) to allow ST holders the opportunity to select their seat. IM stressed how impressive this is – and how accurate.
Once sales windows opened, the seat view would be updated overnight to reflect current availability.
5.5 KL asked what the maximum group size was for buying seats together.
IM said it was 20 at present.
KL asked if this could be extended as THST has been approached by numerous groups wanting to move together to preserve atmosphere. Not moving in blocks is one of the major concerns among supporters.
All groups would need to have full names, CRN’s etc. Not just ‘Barry and his cousin from the row behind’. It would need to be organised and a formal process.
KL requested that the Club explore how to facilitate group moves within the same window, accepting the practical issues this may cause but stressing the importance of keeping groups together. If this meant deploying additional resources, THST felt it was important to do so.
It was agreed IM would explore ways of facilitating larger group moves when all ST holders were within the same window. ACTION: IM to explore facilitating group moves into the new ground
5.6 All ST holders are to receive a physical mini-brochure detailing how to pick your seat etc. DMC would like THST to sense check test printing.
THST is happy to oblige. ACTION: DMC to share brochure with THST
5.7 Payment mechanisms were clarified. There would be a deposit taken first and then the balance. Estimated timings were March/April for the deposit and May for the balance – in line with usual timings.
5.8 KL asked whether the deposits had to be paid in one go by the lead booker or whether everyone in that booking could pay their own deposits.
IM clarified the deposit would be paid by the lead booker. There was a discussion around the technology available at this point.
There would be no refunds of deposits. The deposit would come off the cost of the Season Ticket when paying the balance.
5.9 KL asked that the deposit be no more than £20.
DL and SB said they would discuss the deposit amount. ACTION: DL/ SB to confirm deposit amount for ST’s
5.10 KL then raised the issue of Concessions in the new ground.
THST had prepared a paper outlining their thoughts on how Seniors and Juniors should be handled in the new stadium, and appealed for the introduction of a Young Adult category of pricing. This has been circulated in advance.
DMC explained that a Board Meeting was scheduled for Weds 21 February to discuss pricing and concessions and that the paper would feed into those discussions.
With that in mind, the THFC Board preferred not to enter into a discussion on Concessions at this meeting. THST expressed disappointment that submitting a proposal in advance led to less, rather than more, discussion. DMC assured THST that the proposal would be properly considered.
5.11 Similarly, with pricing for the new ground, the Spurs Board were due to meet the next day, Weds 21 February, to discuss pricing of GA areas.
THST shared concerns over a lack of opportunity to have sight of suggested pricing or to feed into any consultation process.
DL stressed that the Club had been looking at pricing for over a year, and that they were familiar with the Trust position. THST’s thoughts would be considered.
DMC committed to share the rationale for pricing with THST after it was agreed.
DMC assured the Club had listened to the Trust as regards stretch pricing and that there would be a variation of price points.
THST recorded its concerns at the attitude expressed. ACTION: DMC to share rationale and context for pricing
5.12 KL reiterated the need to price the South Stand accessibly if atmosphere was desired. Not to price it up because it’s a popular stand.
5.13 RM asked about the pricing of the East stand. Price parity with the West stand was confirmed.
RM and KL made the point that the East and West were not the same. Fans saw the West as the prestigious stand with the Director’s Box and players tunnel etc.
IM confirmed the facilities would be the same in both stands in the new ground.
RM wanted to know where ST holders from the old East would be expected to sit as West prices were considerably higher. Not all East stand patrons are affluent. THFC reiterated the point that all facilities were the same and that there were no bad views.
5.14 KL asked if lessons had been learned from not setting match day pricing before setting ST pricing last season.
KL felt the average gate of 67k could have been improved had the match day tickets been priced more affordably.
SB disagreed. Opposition, competition, time and date of kick off were more important than pricing. THST recorded its concerns at the attitude expressed.
IM commented that Spurs had broken 3 attendance records with Category A pricing.
6. Safety and Security
6.1 With an eye on the move back to N17, MC asked for an update on Haringey SAG.
JB confirmed that all of the old Haringey team was still there, including Bob McIver, and would reconnect with THST over the Summer. ACTION: THST to contact Bob McIver
6.2 JB confirmed that all of Spurs’ stewards were paid the London Living Wage.
6.3 JB and DS explained about steward training programmes – NVQ Level 2 – and a training programme for all staff around THFC and the new stadium.
6.4 In terms of Counter Terrorism measures, JS assured the latest technology was being used and would be evident outside the stadium. New technology would be constantly refreshed.
6.5 JB confirmed there would be a clear bag policy and a small bag policy in the new ground. Details to follow.
THFC were talking with local schools regarding operating bag drops on match days.
6.6 MC asked about the name amnesty previously mentioned for Season ticket holders. It was felt this was something that may be explored in future seasons but not for the coming one.
7.1 Catering – had been covered above in 3.17
7.2 Safe Standing – had been covered above in 1.4
7.3 Club customer services channels – had been covered above in 1.5
7.4 Vlogging – KL shared some of the negative feedback from general admission fans who’d been positioned next to vloggers at matches. Particularly away matches. There needed to be a recognition of the impact on those sat next to the vloggers.
KL suggested moving them to the Press area may be an idea.
SF felt that was a place of work and wouldn’t be appropriate for a vlogger.
KL felt it was more appropriate than disturbing the experience of fans who’ve paid to watch their team.
DMC asked that SF contact the vloggers to pass on the feedback and explain the impact on fellow supporters. ACTION: SF to speak with Vloggers
7.5 Winter break – KL asked for the Club’s position on a winter break.
DL said there was no definitive view.
DL asked for the fan position on a winter break.
KL explained that the established position was against on a national level but that any break would need to be fully defined to enable a discussion to be had. This would need to be seen in context of how the break would be achieved i.e. loss of FA Cup replays, two legged League Cup semi finals etc. and what Clubs would do with the time off. Any overseas tours would not be welcomed!
The enforced break owing to the Qatar World Cup would be discussed with the Premier League in due course.
1.1 (and 3.5) THST to assist THFC with comms around transport options for the new stadium over the summer
1.2 (and 3.9) DMC to inform KL/ MC when WHL station renaming reaches public consultation stage
1.4 DMC to share safe standing seating designs and plans for futureproofing stadium with THST
1.5 JW to follow up with KL/ MC re: iSpurs social media functionality towards the end of 2018
2.6 THST to liaise with JB re: shadowing safety team on a match day
2.10 IM / THFC to issue comms on Ticket Share to fans
2.11 DMC / THST to align comms on Ticket exchange – and to encourage use
3.8 DMC to advise THST on test events. THST to help provide numbers
3.11 JB to respond to more technical questions in members’ question pack in writing via THST
3.17 DMC to update on recycling/ food waste etc. and include RM of THST in comms plan
3.18 DMC to communicate heritage and history plans in new ground
5.2 IM to agree migration plans with THST
5.5 IM to explore facilitating group moves into the new ground and to update THST
5.7 DMC to share ‘pick your seat’ mini-brochure with THST for sense checking
5.9 SB and DL to confirm Season Ticket deposit amount with THST
5.11 DMC to share rationale and context for Season Ticket pricing with THST
6.1 THST to contact Bob McIver at Haringey SAG ahead of the new season
7.4 SF to speak with Vloggers to reiterate the impact of vlogging on fellow fans at matches
The meeting closed at 8.30pm