Stadium delay: recap, refunds, requests and resolutions
Test events postponed
Outstanding ticketing queries
Carabao Cup third round
Manchester City game
Business Community Liaison Group meeting – 21 August
Summer transfer window
THST Board meeting – 8 August
- Football to Amsterdam 2019
- Upcoming THST events
- Wingate and Finchley upcoming matches
- Antwerp Arms – Annual Members’ Meeting – 17 September
- Zeelo coach travel for the new season
It’s been an extremely busy and challenging month for everyone connected with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. We’ve tried to establish facts, gain information, and encourage clear communication from the Club to the fans, as we always do. We try to do that while being mindful of the interests of supporters and the reputation of the Club. It’s extremely encouraging to see so many new members joining over the last few months.
While we try to provide as much information as possible as quickly as possible, and answer what questions we can on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, we do need to emphasise that THST is a voluntary organisation with no full-time staff, so it’s not always possible for us to respond immediately. We’d also encourage you to check down our social media feeds as often questions have been answered fairly recently.
1. STADIUM DELAY: RECAP, REFUNDS, REQUESTS AND RESOLUTIONS
By far the biggest news of the month was the further delay to the opening of our new stadium. The story broke in the press before THFC announced it, meaning the Club issued an initial statement, followed by a second one detailing mitigation for fans. The way events were communicated didn’t go down well with fans, especially as the original statement gave greater emphasis to apologising to the NFL than to the tens of thousands of THFC season ticket holders who have already paid for seats and the many more who had already paid for travel and accommodation to see the opener at our new stadium.
As always, many theories circulated about who knew what and when. We are satisfied that the issue with wiring that affected safety systems was not discovered until just before the announcement, and we understand that safety cannot be compromised. It’s also clear to us that not playing further home games at the new stadium is going to cost the Club money, and that therefore it would have wanted to avoid the situation we now face if at all possible.
We contacted the Club as soon as the story broke, and urged it to communicate as fully and early as possible to fans. We made it clear the Club should issue full refunds, not credits, for those who had already bought match tickets. The Club confirmed it was planning to do this.
We also emphasised that those refunds had to be in fans’ accounts before they were asked to pay again to purchase tickets for the Liverpool game. The Club agreed to do this, although the operation of the BACS system meant that fans would have to apply for their refunds by a deadline in order for funds to clear accounts prior to the Liverpool sales window.
Although giving refunds was the correct decision, the fact that the Club had issued a credit for the Fulham game caused some confusion as it was now applying two different systems to mitigate for missed games. We made the point that this would not have occurred if the Club had agreed to our request to issue refunds for the Fulham game, and that some of the issues that occurred due to Ticketmaster’s inability to match refunds to the person and not the seat could also have been avoided. Not for the first time, the apparent inflexibility of Ticketmaster’s systems is having a negative impact on fans.
We also fed back the strong criticism of the cursory apology to THFC fans and the emphasis on the NFL in the Club’s statement. The Club seemed surprised at this but acknowledged the strength of feeling.
We urged to Club to get ahead of the story rather than let information drip out, prolonging the bad news and adding to bad feeling. This would include some clarity on when the stadium would be ready. Fans who have paid premium prices for what has been heavily sold as a premium product should be given as much information as possible. The Club said it was still difficult to make commitments, partly because it was not yet known how long the problem would take to resolve, and partly because of the need to maintain the pace of work across the whole project.
Our view is that the correct balance between project management and communication with fans who have committed substantial sums up front, and with the wider fan base, has yet to be struck. Fans understand problems can occur, but they want to be treated like grown-ups, given solid information and compensated fairly.
We’ve advised the Club to examine goodwill gestures, especially for fans who have already committed large amounts of money on travel and accommodation to see Spurs at the new ground. We’ve asked for an early decision on the Manchester City game. And we’ve made it clear that should fans be confronted with a situation in which 25% or more of our home Premier League games are to be played away from the new stadium, we would expect substantially more than 1/19th of the season ticket price per game to be refunded.
We’ve asked the Club to look at, among other things, restoring the two cup credits to the season ticket package, to commit to lower pricing for home cup games, to price Champions League games competitively, and to consider discounts or at the very least price freezes on future Season Ticket purchases.
With match day pricing for the new stadium still not confirmed, a quite incredible state of affairs, we advised the Club that pricing the Liverpool game at last season’s category A level would mean some fans would be paying more than 1/19th of their current Season Ticket for that game, and that it would be wise to bear this in mind when deciding on pricing. The Club opted for category A pricing, and pointed out that the category C pricing for the Cardiff game would even things out. We see this as another missed opportunity to demonstrate goodwill to fans.
The opening of the Liverpool sales window brought a further slew of problems. We accept that heavy demand will put a strain on any system, but demand was not exactly difficult to predict. Technical issues with Ticketmaster’s system meant many fans either could not access the site to buy tickets, or experienced long delays. The purchase system was not as clear as it could have been, with fans needing to access reserved seats under ‘Notifications’ rather than simply buy a ticket as before. Some found they had not been granted the correct permissions to buy. And the system automatically loaded every person in a member’s network into the purchase basket, adding to delays in page loading times and meaning individual supporters had to remove other names one by one before purchasing. Not for the first time we are forced to question how fit for purpose Ticketmaster is for selling tickets to football matches. The Club’s decision to charge fans £1 postage per ticket in this instance was yet another poor decision, although we acknowledge the free print-at-home option for these tickets.
The delayed opening has also had an impact on where we play our Carabao Cup and group stage Champions League games, and these competitions are covered below.
As we finished this newsletter, we are continuing to press the Club for more information and urging it to take control of the story.
We also spent considerable time answering individual questions on email and social media, most of which could have been dealt with by the Club if it had set up the dedicated customer service system we have been pushing for and fans have been asking for over a long period. We try to help fans where we can because we think it is the right thing to do. We would like to see the Club demonstrate a greater ability to do the same.
2. TEST EVENTS POSTPONED
The delayed opening of the new stadium of course meant the two scheduled test events on 27 August and 1 September were cancelled. We are waiting for a new timetable and will help give supporters information as soon as possible along with the mechanism for obtaining tickets.
3. OUTSTANDING TICKETING QUERIES
There are a large number of ticketing questions still outstanding. The dedicated ticketing meeting we were promised by the end of June still has not happened, and the long list of questions we’ve submitted remains partially answered. We appreciate ticketing staff are busy but, having been told the department is properly resourced, we continue to push for the information fans need.
We have clarified a number of issues.
The Gold membership autopay scheme for home cup matches was made available just before the stadium announcement. The delay to the stadium opening meant we then had to ask the Club to clarify whether or not the autopay scheme would cover any ‘home’ cup games played outside the new stadium. The Club confirmed the autopay cup scheme IS NOT VALID FOR HOME MATCHES PLAYED OUTSIDE OF THE NEW STADIUM. So games played at Wembley will not be covered by the autopay scheme, and supporters will need to watch the Club website and social media for details of how to apply for tickets.
Gold membership has, to date, been worth an extra 10 ticketing points more than Silver. This season, only five points appear to have been added for Gold membership. We’ve asked to Club to confirm if this is the case and, if so, why the number of points awarded has decreased.
News that the opening of the new stadium would be delayed also meant that at least one of the Champions League group stage home games would need to be played at Wembley. As we completed this newsletter, it had been confirmed that our first Champions League home game would be at Wembley, with the venues for the other two to be confirmed. While this is obviously not ideal, we appreciate the Club’s dilemma while issues with the new stadium are resolved. Our view was that fans would rather have it confirmed that we will be moving into the stadium later so that they can plan for attendance at group games, but we appreciate the financial implications for the Club. They said they heard our view.
We also asked specifically if the match day schedule of home and away games would be subject to further change, or if the dates of each home and away tie would remain the same. The Club said that home and away ties on those dates were confirmed.
We had been pushing for the Club to offer group stage Champions League packages again, which would enable fans to buy all three games ‘blind’ for a discounted rate. We had strongly advised the Club to offer these packages again, however, the Club feel it would be operationally impossible to sell packs across two venues of differing capacity and differing seating layouts, should it be the case that we play across two venues. This means there will be no group stage packs this season.
With this in mind, we have reiterated our opposition to pricing ANY Champions league group stage game at category A level. This is the group stage of a long competition, and category A pricing should not be applied in the early stages of a Cup competition. Early stage category A prices also open up the possibility of category A+ prices at later stages of the competition.
We’ve also pointed out that, in the event of the Manchester City home Premier League game being moved to Wembley, refunding a further 1/19th of new stadium Season Ticket prices and then charging category A prices at Wembley would mean too many fans are left out of pocket. We would want a conversation about this, and confirmation of match day pricing at the new stadium.
We also said Season Ticket holders should not have to pay booking fees for tickets at games moved to Wembley as they were being asked to repurchase something they had already bought. We are pleased that THFC and Ticketmaster found a way to waive booking fees in this instance.
We are also waiting for clarification on what the situation with domestic cup games and 1882 Season Tickets is. Fans buying these tickets were told that tickets for home domestic cup games were included in the £2,200 price. If a domestic cup game is played at an alternative venue, 1882 ticket holders need to know if they automatically have a ticket, or what the level of refund is. The fact that the Club did not have an immediate answer to this question further underlines the folly of this offer.
Finally, the Club confirmed to us that Season Ticket packs, including access cards for the new stadium, are now being sent out. Fans should be receiving them in the coming weeks. Please remember that these access cards are for the new stadium only.
4. CARABAO CUP THIRD ROUND
When it became clear we would not be able to play our Carabao Cup third round tie at either Wembley or the new stadium if we were drawn at home, the Club asked us what the fan view would be on either playing a home tie at a neutral venue, or flipping the tie and playing away. They emphasised that the final decision was the EFL’s to make, and that the views of our manager and players also needed to be taken into consideration. We said there would be caveats to any view depending on who we drew and what the venue options were, but offered to run a survey to get fan views if the Club thought that would be useful. The Club asked us to go ahead and we ran the survey.
That survey attracted lots of press attention, with many outlets reading far more into the exercise than was there. This was an informal way of gathering views, not a poll to deliver a binding commitment. And, as an organisation that regularly urges consultation with fans we weren’t going to refuse to consult.
We closed the poll on Wednesday 29 August, the day before the draw. Over 4,000 fans completed the survey and the results were close, with a marginal preference for playing as the home side in a neutral venue (46%: 43%).
Of those who would prefer to play as the home side in a neutral venue, the overwhelming majority believed that venue should be within London or the M25 (70%).
A pleasing 76% claim to have attended a league cup game at home in the past 3 seasons, so these are responses from match going fans.
43% say they would be likely to attend a home match in a neutral venue, with 35% saying they’d be unlikely to attend. Obviously, there are a lot of variables there!
Of the factors influencing attendance, location comes out top with 79%, price comes second with 62% and date of match comes third with 55%. Opposition and transport options make up the top 5.
We passed the results onto the Club in good time ahead of the draw.
As soon as the news that THFC had applied to use Stadium MK as a home venue was announced, we were contacted by the press for our view.
We knew the choice of venue would be controversial given feelings about the manner in which MK Dons was established, so this was never going to be an easy situation. And we appreciated THFC’s difficulty.
We have always said the act of going to support the team is one of the most valued expressions of support a fan has. So we explicitly did not call for a boycott of the game. We did urge fans to make an informed decision on whether or not to attend, as attendance would inevitably be an issue. We believe that was the correct thing to do. The word “urge” seems to have been interpreted by some as us calling for a boycott. We used it to convey the importance of making an informed choice.
Having done this, the inevitable next question was ‘what will you be doing as Trust board members?’ To not answer that question would simply not have been a sustainable position. So we said that, after discussion, Trust board members would not be attending the game.
We’ve been asked why we took that decision as a board. Trusts, like all fan organisations, exist to promote the voice of supporters in football. The way in which the views of Wimbledon FC fans was ignored when the decision to move the club elsewhere and award its League position to the new entity is one of the biggest examples of fan opinion being disregarded in the game’s history. And because of this, and the undermining of the pyramid system valued by fans that it represents, fan organisations still have major reservations about the level to which MK Dons are legitimised by the fan movement and have supported as yet unsuccessful attempts to resolve the issue, for example through the call for the dropping of the Dons part of the name.
As an organisation that is part of that national fan movement, one that has stood alongside us in the campaigns for cheaper tickets and safe standing to name just two examples, we had to be mindful of our part in that movement as well as our responsibilities to represent Spurs fans alone.
So we issued what we still believe is a balanced response to questions we were asked on a complex issue. To clarify lest there still be any doubt, we did not and are not calling for a boycott. We do not intend to make further comment on this matter.
5. MANCHESTER CITY GAME
It had not been possible to secure a decision on the date or location of the Manchester City home game as we published this newsletter. Our advice to the Club was that fans would prefer an early decision, whatever the venue, and that issues with the potential Category A pricing of this game would need to be carefully considered.
6. BUSINESS COMMUNITY LIAISON GROUP MEETING – 21 AUGUST
Secretary Pete Haine attended the August BCLG meeting at Lilywhite House on behalf of THST. Key points covered included confirmation that summer 2019 will see full completion of the works to White Hart Lane station; the first NFL game will not be held at the new stadium until October 2019 and talks are ongoing as to the location of the NFL tailgate event.
The delays to the stadium build were also discussed with confirmation that the new stadium would have been ready for the planned test events on 27 August and 1 September but for the issues with the safety systems, which meant that they had to be postponed. THFC is currently working with MACE and their subcontractors to resolve the issues and decide when the test events can be held. Over 3,000 workers are still on site, despite the postponement.
60,000 “Blue Books” have been issued to residents and businesses in Haringey and Enfield explaining the impact of events at the new stadium. Copies can be downloaded here. THFC is currently preparing similar guides for fans attending matches and we’ll share as soon as this is available.
7. SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW
When the transfer window closed, we asked the Club to issue the transfer wrap it has issued previously. While we don’t involved ourselves in specific player or on field matters, we do believe it is good practice for the Club board to explain its thinking to fans, and these statements have been appreciated in the past.
We should make it clear that we were asking for the Club to continue with established practice. Some of the reports of our “furious response” to the window in sections of the media owed more to hyperbole than fact.
The fact that THFC was the only club in Europe’s top five leagues not to make any signing inevitably attracted comment. Our manager’s remarks about the cost of building the stadium having an impact on our ability to compete in the transfer market also appeared to be at variance with the chairman’s assurance, given on a number of previous occasions, that this would not be the case. All this meant we thought it would be useful for supporters to be updated.
We’ve received no formal response from the Club Board. Instead they have told us that this is Mauricio Pochettino’s department. So we have invited Mauricio to attend our October Board to Board meeting to cover this part of Club business.
8. THST BOARD MEETING – 8 AUGUST
The Trust Board met for their Q3 meeting on the evening of 8 August. Topics discussed included a finance and membership update, with THST due to finish the year end at the close of August with a small surplus. A paper prepared by Board Member Keith Sharp on reserves and recruitment was debated and will be advanced at our Q4 meeting. There was a review of the annual Fan Survey and the FSF Away Fans survey, both positively received, and plans for supporting our charity partners, Prostate Cancer UK and Studio 306 Collective, were shared for 2018-19.
Plans for our first members’ event of the new season were agreed and we’ll be communicating information shortly regarding our panel event of journalists planned for the October international break.
Secretary Pete Haine shared the first draft of new rules proposed for THST, with a view to voting on the changes at our February AGM.
There was a run-down of national fan issues and campaign updates from co-chairs Kat Law and Martin Cloake and a catch up on all live work streams connected with the new stadium.
The Q4 meeting of the THST Board is scheduled for 26 November 2018.
- Football to Amsterdam 2019
- Upcoming THST Members’ Events
- Wingate and Finchley upcoming matches
For any of Wingate and Finchley’s home matches, adults presenting a proof of membership of THST at the gates will gain entry for half price. That’s just £6. And any juniors under the age of 16 will be allowed in for FREE. For Senior Concessions (over 65) and Students (proof required for both), the charge is a modest £3. More information can be found here.
Throughout the coming month, Wingate and Finchley face Didcot Town or Aylesbury at home in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Saturday 8 September, Merstham at home in the Bostik Premier League on Saturday 15 September and Lewes at home in the Bostik Premier League on Saturday 29 September. THST members are welcome at any and all of those matches.
We’d like to clarify that this is not an exclusive arrangement with Wingate and Finchley, and should we be approached by other local teams with a similar offer, we’d be very happy to explore similar partnerships.
- Antwerp Arms – Annual Members’ Meeting – 17 September
For information, for any of our members who are also shareholders and attending, Pete Haine and Kevin Fitzgerald will be attending as individual shareholders and representing THST, who also hold shares.
We hope to see you there, but if you cannot be present at the meeting, please return your proxy form to ensure the meeting is quorate to mailto:email@example.com. You can name anyone who will be at the meeting, or the Chair, to act as your proxy. The AAA need at least 38 shareholders present or giving proxies.
Please also support the Annie who are missing our match-day revenue by visiting when you are in the area. Hopefully it won’t be long before we are back!
- Zeelo coach travel for the new season
All Zeelo full season tickets and 10 game passes will be valid on all home league games to Wembley and White Hart Lane
The Transfer Window
Football London – Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust ask for explanation of what happened this summer
ClubCall – Pochettino points to Tottenham positives
Delay to opening NWHL
The Telegraph - Tottenham forced to delay opening of new stadium until end of October after 'issues with critical safety systems'
The Telegraph - Tottenham apologise to fans over ongoing delay to new stadium and reveal compensation details
The Times – Tottenham fans are angry because club have not been transparent
TalkSport – Tottenham Supporters’ Trust demand ‘full refunds and a little bit more’ from club after new stadium’s opening is postponed
Evening Standard - New Tottenham stadium progress: When will it be ready? Where will Champions League fixtures be played?
HITC – Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust react on Twitter to stadium delay
Sky Sports News – Tottenham's new stadium delayed until at least October over safety concerns
Guardian - Tottenham apologise to fans and issue refund details following stadium delay
Independent - New Tottenham stadium: Club apologise to fans and reveal compensation details after fixtures moved to Wembley
iNews - Premier League considers granting Spurs Wembley extension
The Times - Tottenham Hotspur fans paid top dollar – the least we deserve is honesty
ESPN Football - What Tottenham need to do to regain the trust of supporters after new stadium debacle
THST/THFC Carabao Cup Questionnaire
The Times - Spurs ask for fans’ views on switching Carabao Cup tie away from ‘home’
Telegraph - Tottenham to consult fans over where to play Carabao Cup game
Talk Sport – Tottenham stadium news: Club to consult fans over where to play Carabao Cup match
Sky Sports – Tottenham ask fans over using neutral ground for Carabao Cup
Evening Standard – Fans quizzed on EFL Cup venue preference with Wembley unavailable to stage game
ESPN Football - Tottenham fans surveyed on Carabao Cup game venue amid stadium delay
Independent - Spurs send fans a survey to find out EFL Cup neutral venue preferences
Mauricio Pochettino press conference: Every word on Man United, Rose's future & the new stadium
THST tweet quoted on BBC News 24, Sportsday
Delay to opening NWHL
KL on Sky Sports News
KL on Talk Sport
MC on Sky Sports News
MC and KL on Last Word On Spurs - 14 August
MC and KL on The Fighting Cock - 14 August
KL on The Spurs Show - 22 August
The Club’s iSpurs information portal has been rebranded as Ask Spurs. The portal answers many of the questions we are frequently contacted with. We’d urge fans to read and familiarise themselves with the details available on the portal as we continue to receive a high volume of questions asking for this information.
31 August 2018
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