European Super League fallout and next actions
Online Hate and Social Media blackout
Return of Fans v Aston Villa
Season Ticket Renewals
Carabao Cup Final planning
Business and Community Liaison Group Meeting
#KickOffAgainstHunger campaign update
THST Official Video Podcasts
FSE F+ Collective update
Programmes for charity
We would, before we begin, like to thank all of our members and the many hundreds of new members who have shown us support during some testing times. This has been a turning point at which the value and reach of supporter power has been clearly demonstrated.
We’ve done a lot of media this month, but if you want to listen to an in-depth discussion explaining much of what has happened and where things stood at the end of April, this episode of The Fighting Cock is worth a listen.
1. European Super League fallout and next actions
The failed plans to launch a breakaway European Super League need no further explanation here – the affair has attracted enormous coverage. What we can conclude already is that it has changed the football landscape forever.
We heard confirmation of the news via the media and had been aware of rumours circulating on the Sunday afternoon before the announcement broke. We’ve been preparing for this, with newsletter items and a social media campaign highlighting our opposition to rumoured plans a regular feature of our work for some months. Even so, the speed, breadth and audacity of the rebel clubs’ plans did surprise us.
As rumours gathered pace, we restated our position and called upon the Board of THFC to distance itself from the speculation. We received no response from the Club, and then the official announcement came. The THST Board discussed a response and issued a statement calling on the Club to disassociate itself from the plans. This was rapidly followed by a joint statement from supporter groups at each of the so-called big six clubs setting out our total opposition and calling for the clubs to abandon the breakaway.
The breakaway plans fell apart within 48 hours in the face of huge opposition. THFC was one of the last of the English clubs to confirm it was pulling out, publishing a poor excuse for an apology that regretted the fact fans had not understood why the Club was right. We had been feeding back our views and supporter sentiment to the Club throughout, but it wasn’t until almost 24 hours after the non-apology apology was published by the Club that we received an informal offer to have a conversation, with the caveat that much of the detail was legally sensitive. This offer came after we had announced we were calling a members’ meeting to decide next steps.
We discussed the offer as a Board and decided unanimously to reject the offer of an informal conversation but to invite the Club to put its position in a written statement to the meeting. The Club declined to do so, stating the difficulty of providing any explanation due to legal restraints.
Our decision to reject the offer of an informal conversation has attracted some questions. So it is important we are very clear here. We were not offered a meeting, but an informal chat. With the Club saying that legal implications meant providing explanations was difficult, we would not have been able to report the content of that discussion. So we would then have to explain to our members that we had met the Club but could not say what had been discussed. We do not believe that would have been a position that was acceptable to our members.
Added to this, we had been raising the issue of a potential breakaway league for nearly three years. It was now clear that, despite the Club Board’s denials that any concrete discussions were taking place, they had been involved in those discussions. And Daniel Levy’s comments at our last meeting with the Board clearly showed they did not think it necessary to secure backing from the fans for what they were planning.
So an informal chat that we would not be able to report with a Board that had not been honest with us? It wasn’t much of an offer and the THST Board unanimously decided to decline it. We invited the Club’s Board to put a statement to our members’ meeting but it declined, again citing legal restrictions. And underlining why we were right not to accept their offer.
Our members’ meeting went ahead – the largest meeting we have ever held either physically or online. We put forward our recommendation, reported our contact with the Club, and opened up for debate, with a range of views being heard. Discussion continued for over an hour before calls to move to an indicative vote were made and the meeting agreed to vote on the THST Board’s recommendation. The recommendation was supported by 89.63% of those present with 7.93% against and 2.44% abstentions.
We swiftly informed the Club of the decision, and published a statement clarifying that we were calling for the immediate resignation of the Executive Board and for the owners to work with us to construct a new board with supporter representation on it.
In the aftermath of the meeting we stepped up our work to lobby for a new legislative framework that would cement supporter representation at board level, along with a range of reforms to the governance of clubs and the game. This included meetings with the Football Supporters’ Association, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow sports team, and direct contact with Tracey Crouch MP, the chair of the government’s fan-led review into football. We are continuing that work to secure wide-reaching and lasting change.
The decision to call for the resignation of the Executive Board was taken with a heavy heart. We have always emphasised the value of dialogue, and we have worked hard to develop the relationships needed to make that dialogue work and ensure supporters have a voice in the way our Club is run. But faced with such a betrayal of the Club’s values, and of the trust we had worked so hard to build, we were left with little choice.
On top of all this, the continued presence of those who made the decision not only to turn their backs on English football, but to potentially wreck it, cannot be in the best interests of THFC. Clear water needs to be put between those individuals and the Club if THFC is to have a chance of escaping damaging consequences. No individual is bigger than this football club.
We have extended the offer to the owners to work with us to rebuild. Our offer is a genuine one. We know there are calls, understandably, for the owners to go. But owners stay until they can sell and while they remain, we need to find a way to work with them. But things cannot be the same as they were.
We’ve been asked if the Club Board had no choice but to back the ESL. They had a choice, as did every other club. They did not have to make a move that would have ended English football as we know it and gone against what they knew were the wishes of their fans. We’ve been asked if the ESL was this Club’s chance to catch up with the rivals owned by oligarchs and oil states. It wasn’t, because those clubs were planning to break away too, to get the same money. There was no quick route to success, just a decisive break with the club built by Bobby Buckle, John Cameron, Arthur Rowe, Bill Nicholson and Keith Burkinshaw. And the end of English football as we know it.
The work to secure lasting reform to football as a whole will continue as we work at a national level to secure change. You can help by lobbying your MP and putting the case for reform. There are some very good arguments put forward by the FSA and by Football Supporters Europe that may also be useful.
And at Spurs, we must also continue to push for change. There are calls from a number of outlets for supporters to make their feelings clear at the Aston Villa game. We fully support the right of Spurs fans to express their feelings in a lawful and respectful manner. THST will have a presence at that game and we are happy to work alongside anyone that shares our aims and is interested in what is best for THFC. Our focus will be on making positive calls for change and on trying to achieve real and lasting solutions. We are not interested in empty slogans or pursuing any agenda other than the best interests of THFC. We will communicate our plans across our usual channels as soon as they are finalised.
2. Online Hate and Social Media boycott
Along with the whole of the football community, we will be joining the boycott of social media on the first weekend of May. The boycott is backed by the FSA, supporter groups across the game, the FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and Women in Football. The boycott is being called in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse experienced by players and many other people connected to football.
We want to send a powerful message to the social media companies that more needs to be done to tackle this abuse, and to show our determination to challenge and eradicate it. All organisations backing it will be switching off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts from 3pm on Friday 30 April to 11.59pm on Monday 3 May. The action is also being backed by THFC.
This means our final communication on our social media channels will be the appeal to support our local foodbanks ahead of the match against Sheffield United on Sunday. It is important we continue to give our support to this cause.
We know that the boycott in itself will not be enough. But we think it is important to stand with the rest of football on this issue. And we will continue to argue for more action to be taken to effectively tackle abuse once we resume our online activity.
As reported last month, we have been working with the FSA and anti-racist groups on this issue. We had a productive meeting with Kick It Out and are arranging a meeting with Hope not Hate. We welcome the coordinated campaign which is pushing the issue forward and we will continue to work with other groups to maintain the pressure on social media companies to act and on politicians to legislate.
3. Return of Fans v Aston Villa
As the country attempts to ease out of lockdown, the Premier League had asked the government for permission to bring the 17 May deadline for moving onto Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown forward to 15 May for football, to enable both the penultimate round of the league campaign and the final round to be played in front of fans. This would give every club the chance to host fans and every team the chance to play in front of their own supporters. The government declined to make an exception for football so the Premier League decided to shift the penultimate round of games to the following mid-week. This means Spurs will play Aston Villa at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on either Tuesday 18 or Wednesday 19 May at either 6pm or 8pm, potentially with up to 10,000 fans present. All matches in the last two rounds of the campaign will be televised. Final confirmation will come with the government’s roadmap announcement on 10 May.
THST has had preliminary discussions with the Club about this game, and we attended the meeting of Haringey Council’s Safety Advisory Group at which preparations for the game were discussed. We are confident that, from a safety perspective, every effort has been taken to ensure supporters will be able attend safely and enjoyably.
Social distancing and mask wearing will be required at the event. Details of whether any testing will be required, and of what facilities will be available inside the stadium, will be confirmed nearer the date of the game. Tickets will be made available to Season Ticket holders by ballot.
4. Season Ticket Renewals
In what now feels an age ago, the Club announced details of the Season Ticket Renewal process on 7 April. Back in our March newsletter, we outlined what we’d lobbied for and why. You can refresh your memory here!
In summary, we lobbied for a Season Ticket price freeze, which the Club granted. We also asked the Club to clarify that all 20% deposits from the 2020-21 season would be carried forward towards the cost of the 2021-22 Season Ticket, which was clarified.
We asked for the renewal deadline to be after the Step 4 roadmap announcement on 21 June, which the Club declined, instead setting a deadline of 3 June for renewals. Fans are naturally cautious about paying in full for next season with no guarantees of a full return of fans from August. We will continue to lobby for a fair and prompt refund process should all fans not be back inside stadia from the start of the 2021-22 campaign.
We lobbied for special consideration for those reluctant to return on medical grounds or those in temporary financial hardship. The Club has agreed to consider individual circumstances on a case-by-case basis, which we consider to be reasonable.
There was speculation around the introduction of additional rail seating in the South Stand, or “integrated safety bars in areas future proofed for safe standing”. We can confirm that seats in Rows 71-82 of Blocks 323, 324 and 451-453 of the South Stand have been converted to safe seating areas. Season Ticket holders located in those rows have been contacted by the Club and offered a priority relocation to elsewhere in the stadium should they wish. We have asked for options in similar price bands to be made available to those ST holders wishing to relocate.
The Club is yet to formally confirm the realignment of the ticketing points cycle. Our recommendation is outlined in our March newsletter.
We also opposed the Club’s plans to expand the number of GA Season Tickets from 42,000 to a maximum 45,000 in light of the newly increased stadium capacity. It has long been the Trust’s position that there is an imbalance between the Season Ticket and Match Day ratio at the new stadium and we have argued for any additional capacity to go into the match day pot. We consider it vitally important that those unable to commit to a Season Ticket owing to work commitments, family commitments, financial commitments and a myriad of other reasons should still be able to attend Spurs games and still be able to access tickets at primary source.
Whilst the Ticket Exchange (TEX) offers a chance to obtain tickets at secondary source, it also adds a further administration charge on top of already eye-watering prices and it forces every Junior, Young Adult and Senior concession to pay full price, too. TEX shouldn’t replace the opportunity for Members to buy from the Club in the first place. We need to be especially mindful of the impact of the Club’s policy on the future generation of supporters.
5. Carabao Cup Final planning
The selection of the Carabao Cup Final as an ERP test event generated a big workload. We objected to the fact that only 50% of the tickets were being made available to fans of the competing clubs and to the complete lack of consultation undertaken by either the EFL, Brent Council or public health authorities. We believe the event could have been organised in a fairer manner and in a way that produced more effective test event results if the organisers had worked with representative fan organisations. But once again, fans were shut out where they could have made a constructive contribution.
We were particularly concerned about the exclusion of under-18s, the confusing messaging put out that led some to believe that disabled fans were banned from applying, and the fact that fans were charged for a test event while local residents were given free tickets. We also questioned the value of the studies of crowd movement as they were being conducted on an atypical crowd at an atypical event.
We worked with colleagues at Manchester City’s fan groups too, raising the issue of the travel restrictions imposed on both sets of fans and the assumptions made about where supporters lived. We issued a statement when the news broke, and then submitted a list of practical questions that needed answers.
In the run-up to the final we handled a large number of individual enquiries and worked with THFC staff as best we could to get information out to people, clarifying exactly how people would be able to attend safely. In the days after the final, we collated feedback from fans in attendance around the arrival process, the checking of lateral flow test results, checking of ID, enforcing of social distancing and mask wearing and the overall fan experience. This has been relayed to the Club and to the Premier League as they look forward to the return of fans to games over the coming months.
The entire event illustrated a shocking failure on the part of all organising authorities to work properly and productively with supporter groups. Even taking the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic into account, this is not acceptable. Sadly, though, it’s not uncommon and, in the case of Brent Council, another example of their utter disregard for football supporters.
6. Business and Community Liaison Group Meeting
THST Board member Rob White attended April’s B&CLG meeting on behalf of the Trust. The main item on the agenda, which was discussed at great length, was the new development proposals for the Goods Yard, The Depot and Printworks sites. The Club has recently leafleted c 10,000 local residents regarding consultation on “proposals to deliver new homes and green spaces on three sites” which they own.
The scheme to create around 975 new homes, workspaces, retail units and public spaces has been in the pipeline for some time, but has now been accelerated. Those present at the meeting were given a ’sneak preview’ presentation by Richard Serra, Head of Planning at THFC, and Ian Laurence of F3 Architecture.
Detailed plans of the proposals can be found on the Club’s website via this link. We’d urge all fans to take a look at these proposals. The scheme was described in the meeting as being ‘bigger than the Club.'
The Club is holding a couple of Zoom webinars to explain the proposals to the community, and to provide the opportunity to answer any questions regarding this scheme. The dates of these are Tuesday 4 May 6 -7pm, and Saturday 8 May 10-11am. The Club weblink provides sign up details.
Original plans for a hotel and climbing wall at the South end of the Stadium have been revisited but remain on hold for the foreseeable future for financial reasons.
The other key agenda item was the probability that our final home game of the Premier League campaign against Aston Villa, which is scheduled for Saturday 15 May, will be moved to either the 18 or 19 May. Whilst no firm Government decision has been taken yet, the Club is working on the assumption that up to 10k fans will be allowed inside the stadium. Given those numbers, this isn’t classed as a major event day. Transport options will be communicated via the Club once plans are confirmed.
On the subject of match-day transport, the Club agreed to revisit the lack of proper, well-situated cycle parking. At present, there are bike stands at the Tottenham Community Sports Centre. It was agreed that this issue is something that needs to be properly addressed.
7. #KickOffAgainstHunger campaign update
We continue to promote the text giving service before every game to raise funds for the Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks. As we are joining the rest of football in the social media blackout this weekend, please remember to make your donation ahead of the Sheffield United game on Sunday.
If you have a UK registered mobile, you can donate to the Foodbanks by texting COYSFOODBANK and any donation amount to 70085. To donate £10, text COYSFOODBANK 10, for example. Anything you can afford would be hugely appreciated. And if you are outside the UK, or cannot use the text giving service, you can still donate directly to the Tottenham Foodbank via this link.
Thanks to all of our friends at Tottenham Foodbank for the birthday wishes in this video, too. We're both humbled by and extremely thankful for your kind words.
8. THST Official Video Podcasts
THST Board members and regular podcast team Rachel Martin, Anthoulla Achilleos, Rob White and Martin Buhagiar recorded an episode at 6.30pm on Tuesday 20 April to discuss plans of the 'Big 6' to set up a breakaway European Super League. They discussed the proposal, THST's response to the plans and, as they were recording, noted some of the clubs involved were getting cold feet and were looking to withdraw. You can listen here.
Earlier in the month, Kirsty Johnson from Tottenham Foodbank and THST Secretary Pete Haine joined the team to discuss the incredible work that goes on at foodbanks and how Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust set up links with these fantastic volunteers during lockdown. Listen to our Foodbanks episode here.
9. FSE F+ Collective update
On 1 April, THST Board member Rachel Martin attended an F+ Collective online meeting with participants from nine European countries exploring the theme of sexualised violence and abuse in football. This was the first of two meetings and it focused on experiences, scope and impact, with the follow up meeting at the end of May looking at strategies to address these challenges.
Sadly, everyone had a story to tell with all participants having experienced abuse in one form or another, from physical or sexual assault, to gender specific verbal abuse (in person or online). There was a clear difference in how this was viewed in different countries however, and the amount of peer and professional support that could be drawn on at different clubs.
Football Supporters Europe is now hoping to create a directory of organisations and projects that address this area so that a best-practice policy document can be drawn up and circulated. We will continue to work with the safeguarding team at THFC, who take this matter very seriously. They constantly develop the support they offer and are very open to any ideas that can improve provision.
10. Programmes for charity
Thanks to the generosity of our members who have donated programmes, and to those who have purchased programmes, the total raised to date for our charity partners is £1650. So far, we have donated £1550 to Studio 306 Collective, and £100 to Childline after Paul Stewart’s appeal following the BBC documentary, Football’s Darkest Secret.
We've just taken collection of another donation of programmes, so if you would like a copy of the latest list of what is available, please email Pete at Pete.Haine@THSTOfficial.com. There are also items on Pete's eBay site: pete2boogie. All proceeds, however sold, go to charity. The most raised on a single programme through eBay so far was £112 for a copy of our ECWC game against Slovan Bratislava in March 1963, closely followed by a single page sheet for the friendly against Swindon in August 1976.
11. THST Forum
It won’t surprise anyone to hear that the hot topic on the Forum this month has been the shameful episode that was the so-called European Super League. The Forum provides a place to find our statements and strategy, how you can get involved and make your voice heard, and links to articles relating to it.
We’d love you to share the letters and emails that you’ve sent to Daniel Levy and the Board at THFC on the Forum. So many of you have sent us incredibly moving emails and we know that other members would love to see these – so pop them into the forum if you can please (or let us know that it’s OK for us to). Remember it’s always better to send personal emails; templated letters never have as much impact.
There is also a thread where we’d like you to share your experiences if you were one of the ‘lucky’ supporters to go to Wembley for the Carabao Cup Final. Tell us what the experience was like, the stewarding, the checking of test results and ID etc., and any difficulties or issues that we need to know about. Obviously, we know about the awful public transport problems but we’d be interested to know what that meant in terms of COVID safety. We read the Forum regularly and your comments help us to shape our conversations with the Club and other relevant organisations. There are also links to our podcasts / vlogs and you can use the forum to let us know of any subjects you’d like us to cover in the future. It’s your forum so keep checking in and see what’s new.
The THST Forum is open to full and life members of the Trust. Full and life members should to apply to join through the link on our site, and set yourself up an account. We should emphasise that Trust membership alone doesn’t give you automatic access to the forum, you need to register via the link.
To JOIN the Trust, please register here. To UPGRADE from free Associate Membership of the Trust to Full membership, please click here. If you’re already a Full or Life member of the Trust, click here to register for our Forum.
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Super League collapses: How fan revolt ended English clubs' breakaway
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Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust calls on club's board to resign immediately
Tottenham fan group calls for ‘immediate resignation’ of club board
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust calls on club's board to resign immediately
THST Official podcast
The Extra Inch podcast
Spurs Web Live interview
The Cheese Room Podcast S3 E66
The Fighting Cock podcast
30 April 2021
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