- Next THST Members’ Meeting
- Battle of the Somme Centenary
- Football to Amsterdam 2017: Ride London Grounds
- THST/THFC Board to Board Meeting
- Suraj Sharma
- iSpurs information portal
- Remove Katrien Meire from the FA Council
1. Away fans: subsidised travel, concessions and partnerships
Last month, we updated on the replacing of subsidised travel to away matches (via the ASI) with the £30 away price cap. The background can be read here. We also explained how we had written to official travel providers and THFC partners, Thomas Cook Sport, asking them to help plug the gap left by the Club’s decision not to continue with the £10 coaches to away games this season. Our correspondence with Thomas Cook Sport can be read here, along with our reaction.
We will continue to push for our aim of reducing the total cost of going to football and will discuss specific travel initiatives for those away games where fans are seriously inconvenienced by the lack of transport options with THFC.
We will also continue to press the point that it is commercially possible for a forward-thinking sponsor to work with fans to alleviate the financial burden of attending football matches; a good example being the partnership between Virgin Media and the Football Supporters’ Federation, announced earlier this month. This alliance will see every away fan visiting Southampton pay just £20 for their match ticket this season, with Virgin Media subsidising £10 towards every adult ticket.
The FSF is also monitoring concession prices charged for away tickets by Premier League clubs this season. Concessions were a detail not covered when the PL made its decision to back the £30 away price cap, and individual clubs have been left to set their own prices.
So far this season, Spurs fans have been charged, £27 (Seniors) and £25 (Juniors) at Stoke and £25 and £23 at West Brom. We do not believe reductions for pensioners of just £3 and £5 are within the spirit of the away price cap, and will continue to lobby alongside the FSF for concessions that do comply with that spirit.
2. Home ticketing: StubHub
On Tuesday 16 August, THFC announced how the official resale platform, StubHub, would operate for home league games at White Hart Lane this season.
Contrary to our expectations, and the information we had been given in good faith by senior members of staff, the platform won’t remain closed to One Hotspur members, even though every game is anticipated to sell out to members as a result of the ballot system.
Rather, there will be a four day window at the start of any sales period on the platform for One Hotspur members to purchase tickets and, thereafter, anyone will be able to buy, regardless of membership status.
The inability of Stubhub to flex their offering further following fundamental changes to the home ticketing process at Tottenham only serves to underline why it’s imperative THFC takes any future ticket exchange back in-house or partners with an ethical, face value offering willing to adapt to any changes in primary sales mechanisms.
We want to take this opportunity to make our position on StubHub clear, just so fans are left in no doubt.
We objected to the original deal back in 2013 on the basis that it pushed prices up, and gathered evidence that 91% of tickets for Spurs matches on StubHub were being sold at above face value. We joined the Stop StubHub coalition in calling for a ticket exchange system that operated as a service to supporters, not a means of inflating prices or as a revenue generator for Clubs.
That early pressure secured significant changes to the system, including an end to the option to resell tickets on the platform (a practice known as ‘flipping’), and the first price cap to be applied anywhere in StubHub’s global portfolio (initially £200).
When the Club opted to renew the deal in March 2015, supporter pressure led to a reduction in the price cap ceiling to £150 and a significant donation to a Club-nominated community project.
We’ve taken a pragmatic position, looking to secure maximum possible benefit for fans while maintaining our call for an ethical, face value system.
When we discussed the ticketing system for this year, a year when there is unprecedented demand for home tickets and reduced supply, we did so on the basis that the ballot and loyalty points system previously announced for members would apply across the board.
While the four-day priority is better than nothing, the fact remains that majority of business on StubHub is done in the 72 hours before a game. So this is not much of a concession. And One Hotspur members who have been denied a reduction in their membership fee despite our requests, and who have missed out in the ballot, will now see tickets appearing on a so-called secondary ticketing platform where anyone with sufficient cash can purchase a ticket regardless of membership status.
The folly of signing this deal becomes clearer every day. All we can do is call again for Season Ticket holders not to list tickets at above the cost of sale – that’s face value plus admin fee – on StubHub. Don’t exploit your fellow fans.
To the Club, we say that, at the very least, the money gained from renewing the deal should be used to provide further resource to the already overstretched ticketing teams and infrastructure.
3. White Hart Lane this season: access routes and part refunds
Members of the THST Board met with Club staff on 2 August to discuss the new access and egress routes for the stadium for the coming season and to talk through changes to the NPD planning application, namely relocating the ticketing windows to the Northern Terrace, close to Lilywhite House.
THFC released details on access routes following our meeting and these can be read here.
At that meeting, we raised the issue of the substantially reduced quality of experience for supporters sat nearest the building site at White Hart Lane and the possibility of those fans being compensated. We were contacted by the Club several days later and told that some form of compensation was being considered. The Club subsequently offered 800 ST holders a 12.5% reduction. We welcomed that decision. We do, however, recognise the severely reduced quality of match day experience for many fans sitting near the site will continue to cause issues throughout this season and will continue to liaise with the Club to ensure as much as possible is done to offset this.
We have also been contacted by Paxton Road Season Ticket Holders relocated into the Park Lane Lower as a result of the building works. It is very apparent that the match-day experience varies hugely from stand to stand at White Hart Lane. We will continue to try to ensure each case is dealt with on its own merits and, where possible, a satisfactory solution is found.
4. Ticketing at Wembley
The £70 three-game ticket packages for our Champions League games at Wembley proved very popular. We were pleased with the pricing but did not have the same level of detailed discussion over the sales process as we did over tickets for games at White Hart Lane. This was possibly due to the involvement of Wembley National Stadium Limited and Brent Council, too.
The sales process for Season Ticket holders seemed to go largely without incident, especially after the Club agreed to our request to keep the sales window open for two weeks.
For members, who comprise a greater number, some of the old problems with demand affecting the operation of the Ticketmaster platform returned and we heard from quite a lot of frustrated members dismayed to see the return of the infamous ‘wheel of doom’. The issues here reinforced our feeling that the changes made to the home ticket sales system were right. Despite the relative complexity of selling football tickets as opposed to concert tickets, we still find it difficult to believe that a company the size of Ticketmaster can’t deliver a system that handles demand better than it does, and we continue to impress upon the Club the importance of delivering a much-improved system at our new stadium.
We are also following up with the Club on the overall sales approach for Wembley, including the staggered release of blocks, which concerned many members. Clearer communication would have helped, and that’s another issue we are discussing with the Club.
5. Flags and banners
A group of Season Ticket holders contacted us to ask how to get crowdfunded banners into Wembley for this season’s Champions League games and next season’s Premier League campaign as part of the efforts to make the ground “ours” during the games we play there. We have put them in touch with THFC and Wembley National Stadium Ltd and are helping them get the information and permissions they need to achieve what they want. We also publicised the group’s Just Giving page, and the Trust has pledged a donation of £150. You can donate here.
This is the second crowdfunding initiative by Spurs fans working with THST. The Bill Nicholson banner currently on the Paxton Road stand was the first. We’d like to see more initiatives such as this, with rank and file fans stepping forward with their own ideas and designs to create something unique to Spurs, and we’re already looking ahead to our new stadium to make sure that has a character created and owned by Spurs fans.
THST will always look to help where we can, especially with the mass of rules and regulations that, whatever is thought about them, need to be dealt with these days. We’re not looking to run every initiative, and we’re certainly not saying this is the only way to support the team. We try to help fans support in whatever way they want when they ask.
With the first Champions League ‘home’ game scheduled for 14 September, it’s going to be tough to get anything substantial organised in time. The initial response from Wembley also seems to be more focussed on telling fans what isn’t allowed than on advising on what is, and this is something we will be looking to see change.
We also helped organise another team of volunteers to give out and use flags at the Crystal Palace home game, following the success of that move at the last home game of last season. With a significant number of people relocated in the South Stand from elsewhere this season, the exercise proved more of a challenge but still seemed to be popular. It’s not something we see THST helping to organise for every game, especially if we can increase the number of static, fan-produced banners around the ground, but it’s great these flags are now available and we’d be delighted if those sitting in the South Lower got used to picking up a flag from the concourse on the way in and using them throughout the match without any organisation from us!
6. Premier League TV selection dates
We asked the Premier League to provide the key dates on which fixtures selected for TV broadcast will be announced this season. That information can be found here.
THST alongside other Trusts, fan organisations and the FSF, continue to press for decisions on fixture changes to be taken as early as possible to minimise inconvenience to fans.
Next THST Members’ Meeting
We are due a members’ meeting in the near future and wanted to be sure the time, day, location and format of the meeting worked for as many of you as possible. We issued a short questionnaire on 16 August and the results of that show that your preference is a week night meeting in Central London with a key note speaker. And with beer. That came across loud and clear!
We are working on a suitable venue and agreeing a keynote speaker now. Full members of THST will be receiving their formal invitations to this event shortly.
Battle of the Somme: Centenary commemoration
The Trust continues to liaise with Spurs and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission regarding an appropriate commemorative event for November 2016 and we will inform you further as soon as preparations are complete and a date is decided. Please refer to the July Newsletter for background and context.
Football to Amsterdam 2017 promo event: Ride London Grounds on 2 September
Following the Spurs cyclists table topping participation in Prostate Cancer UK’s June 2016 Football to Amsterdam cycle ride (F2A16), where our 15 cyclists were the largest team to leave the Olympic Park and where our £21,655 fundraising topped the league for all English football clubs, THST Board member and cyclist, Kevin Fitzgerald, has been instrumental in organising a promotional event for next summer’s ride.
To raise awareness of the work of the charity and to help launch F2A17, Kevin has mapped out and tested an 88 mile ride past all 13 Premier League and Football League grounds in the capital. Riders will leave the Olympic Park at 09.00 on Friday September 2nd and head East in a large clockwise loop, meeting Club representatives and local press at each ground, finishing back at Leyton Orient at around 19.00. If you would like to join Spurs riders and cyclists from other London clubs, cycle the whole route or a section of it please email Kevin for timings and other details. Our ETA for White Hart Lane is 18.29, if you’d like to cheer us on (we plan things down to the last minute!). Or come along for a beer at the finish line (Leyton Orient 19.05). We hope to see some of you along the route on Friday!
THST/ THFC Meetings
The next meeting of the Boards of THST and THFC is scheduled for Monday 19 September. The THST Board will meet a week in advance to finalise the agenda.
Fan questions will be invited from 5 September. As many questions as possible will be asked on the night with every question submitted included in a pack for each member of the THFC Board to read.
After two and a half years on the THST Board, former Secretary Suraj Sharma has stepped down owing to a change in personal circumstances. We thank Suraj for his contribution and commitment since 2014 and look forward to his continued support as a Trust member moving forwards.
The THST Board will operate with the nine existing Board members until the next AGM scheduled for February 2017.
iSpurs information portal
The Club has also set up a new, dedicated information portal online which answers many of the questions we are frequently contacted with. We’d urge fans to read and familiarise themselves with the information in those links, as we continue to receive a high volume of questions asking for this information
Remove Katrien Meire from the FA Council
During our work with the Olympic Stadium Coalition, we have formed strong bonds with fan groups at Charlton Athletic. Many of you will probably be aware of the current situation at Charlton, where fans have been protesting about the way their club has been run. The club’s Chief Executive, Katrien Meire, has responded with a number of dismissive and derogatory comments, and so when it was announced she had been selected to represent Football League clubs on the FA Council this caused alarm far beyond the fan base at Charlton.
Putting a person who has expressed such clear contempt for supporters into such a senior representative position sends out entirely the wrong signal at a time when the football authorities are telling us they want to work more collegiately. We have raised this matter with the FSF’s rep on the FA Council.
A group of fans have set up an online petition calling for Meire’s removal, and if you wish to sign it the link is here, along with an account of the situation at Charlton by long-time fan Charlie Connelly.
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