Several people mentioned the efforts of stewards several years ago in Seville to defend travelling fans against Spanish police as being a turning point when the value of a dedicated and knowledgeable team who had built up a relationship with fans was recognised.
We’ve gone on record already to thank Sue and her team for the constructive way we’ve been able to work together over the last few years. During the break, many members took the chance to speak to Sue and the team, and she told us afterwards she was pleasantly surprised at the interest fans took in her team’s work and the value they placed on it. We feel this is a great example of how good communication can improve the relationship between the Club and its fans.
GROUND SHARE/NEW STADIUM
THST Board Members ran through the results of the recent mini-survey on the ground share. Detailed results will be published in the next week or so. Findings were taken from before the organised intervention by Arsenal fans. THST explained the survey was undertaken to gauge support for the position the Trust had taken, and to pose several further questions that had been raised by fans.
Co-chair Martin Cloake reported that the Club had reacted to the survey by calling it premature, biased and based on a possibly incorrect assumption that Wembley and Stadium MK were the only options. Jonathan Waite said the survey was received “with consternation” by THFC. THST had replied that the two options were those the Club’s Board had said were the only ones that remained at the last Board to Board meeting, and the Club had replied that those options were the only two available at the time the question was asked.
Questions from the floor and discussion revealed a continued dissatisfaction with the information coming from the Club, and concern that, having confirmed the Club would not play at White Hart Lane for the 2017/18 season, there was apparently no progress in finding a venue for the team to play at. There was an understanding of commercial sensitivities, but still a strong feeling that more solid information on an issue as important as this needed to be communicated to fans.
The point was made that it was 10 years since stadium plans were first announced, that a stadium build and relocation plan widely supported by fans had been discarded with what was felt were incomplete explanations, and that there was continuing equivocation even on the latest available options. Members at the meeting were mystified that there appeared to be no knowledge of any timetable for decisions to be made within. It was felt that a normal PLC board would have been required to explain and account for far more than the current THFC Board seemed prepared to.
THST Board Members reiterated their determination to push the views of supporters to the Club Board, to seek genuine input into this vital area, and to seek answers to concerns raised by members present who had expertise in the areas of finance and construction. The strong feeling of the meeting was that any temporary relocation should be within the Greater London area.
Discussion also covered a number of more detailed points including whether there would be an amnesty for season ticket holders who did not wish to go to a new location but did wish to retain their place on the list. THST said that this, and a number of other specific points, were currently being discussed with the Club.
There was strong support for a safe standing area in the new ground, though it was noted that there would have to be new legislation to allow this. Jonathan Waite said that if regulations/laws changed, THFC would give serious consideration to a safe standing area. It was confirmed that THST is pursuing this, including with Haringey Council.
Finally, THST member Philip Newfield informed the meeting that he, in his capacity as an official stadium tour guide at Twickenham, had arranged to give Club staff and some THST Board Members a bespoke tour of Twickenham. From THST’s point of view, this gives us a chance to ask questions about how various heritage, atmosphere and match day issues had been dealt with during the course of the rebuild. We’d like to thank Philip for his kind offer and efforts in arranging this.
Ticketing remains a key area of work for THST and co-chair, Katrina Law, referenced the achievements in terms of securing a Season Ticket and match day price freeze for the second successive year for 2015/16.
Restoring the renewal deadline to its traditional mid May slot from the proposed end of April date was also achieved as a result of lobbying from THST.
The Club, however, are looking to increase prices for the 2016/17 season by 1.6% and to move the renewal date further forward. THST wanted to gauge reaction from members on both of these points. The general feeling was that the financial burden on fans was already too great and an increase was unwarranted. The case for moving the date forward was also met with consternation from the floor.
A suggestion was made by a member to consider offering agreement on an increase and renewal date move in return for assurance the ground share season would be in London.
Regarding pricing in the new stadium, THST confirmed that discussions have been requested with the THFC ticketing team and it was essential that the pricing was pitched correctly in order to fill a stadium of c 60k. THST explained the principle of stretch pricing whereby Executive seats would be priced higher allowing the headline price for regular fans to be dropped without reducing revenue. This was generally well received by those present, with one member suggesting THFC turn this to their advantage by positioning themselves as the Club for the people: bigger and cheaper. Reducing prices for regular supporters was felt to be an obvious, positive marketing opportunity for THFC as well as delivering tangible benefits to match going fans.
The ratio of season ticket holders to non season ticket holders in the new stadium was confirmed as being the same as it is in the current stadium, which his c 60%.
StubHub was referenced and THST reiterated their wish that the partnership had not been renewed this summer but it was better to have taken something rather than nothing away from this situation in terms of securing a price cap reduction of £150, an end to flipping, reduced marketing and monies for a CSR project via the Foundation.
THST touched on the ongoing national ticket pricing campaigns with the FSF and other Trusts and the discussions around ending away match categorisation that were taking place with the Premier League. Ticket pricing was expected to continue to be a key campaigning area moving into next season.
Kevin Fitzgerald updated the meeting on progress with the Antwerp Arms and New River Sports Centre, information about which can be found on the THST site. It was felt more could be done to make members and fans generally aware of the facilities offered by both, and to encourage greater uptake of shareholding in the Antwerp. Kevin has also been asked informally to consider if he would like to join the Antwerp’s management committee.
THST Board Members expressed disappointment at the low take up of the call for volunteering to collect money for the Bradford fire fund, unroll the surfer, and attend an FSF shoot in Euston before the Hull game. Several present said they were unaware of any call for volunteers being made, and it was agreed to re-examine THST communication in this area. In the meantime, members were urged to consult the website regularly.