Against this backdrop, football issues had paled into insignificance but in the last few days the sport has come to the fore again, and members have been in contact with us to ask about our own Club’s statement regarding salary reductions and the furloughing of around 40% of the Club’s non-playing staff.
The Club’s announcement has attracted a lot of comment. And it came on the day financial results for the year to 30 June 2019 were released. That meant the financial picture painted in those results was from very different days; starting during the highs of the 2018 World Cup, immediately after our full season at Wembley Stadium, and finishing some 9 months ago. We have, over the years, repeatedly asked the Club to publish its results earlier to avoid any inaccurate perceptions rather than waiting for the last possible moment. Perhaps that point has now been made.
But the detail of presentation is not really the issue. What has most angered fans, who care that their club does the right thing, is that an organisation that is perceived to be very wealthy is cutting staff pay and asking for government help while the most well-remunerated individuals under its umbrella maintain their earnings. This anger is not exclusive to the Spurs community, but the Club’s reputation as a wealthy and well-run business means it is in the spotlight.
THST has always tried to avoid grandstanding, preferring to establish facts. We adopted the same approach this time, asking the Club for a fuller explanation and making supporter sentiment very clear. We have strongly recommended that the Club explains the detail and nuance to supporters with far more clarity than it has currently, and we hope it will take that advice. While all businesses, not just football clubs, need to plan for a time when what is currently unimportant becomes important again, what is done now will affect reputations in future.
There has also been some inaccurate reporting in the media, which has further affected that reputation. We are aware that no football club can impose contract changes on its playing or coaching staff without agreement with the respective unions, the PFA and LMA. So the comment that THFC has chosen to cut non-playing staff wages while choosing not to cut playing staff wages is inaccurate. But there is nothing to stop the Club’s players making a voluntary contribution to ensure that the most vulnerable do not bear too great a burden. And there is nothing to stop the Club’s Directors, including the Chairman, making a further personal contribution on top of their 20% wage cuts. Points we have made directly to the Club Board and will continue to do so. We have made it clear that this is a course of action fans would overwhelmingly support.
In these exceptional times, it is vital there is a sense of solidarity across the game and so we also call upon the PFA and LMA to commit to meaningful dialogue over the coming days and to reach a position that reflects well not only on elite footballers and managers but on the game as a whole.
In the meantime, we are in touch with other Spurs fan groups and will continue to explore practical solutions that deliver where they are most needed. There is much of that conversation we cannot conduct in public. We ask for your trust that we are trying all we can to secure solutions that will sit alongside the work the Club is doing with the NHS and local community to show what football can achieve when it puts its mind to it.
All that matters is that the maximum number of people possible are helped through this unprecedented crisis.
Stay safe, stay home, support the NHS.
2 April 2020