Return of fans to games
Digital ticketing update and Manchester City debrief
Other ticketing issues
THFC Sanctions and Banning Policy
THST Fan Survey 2021 results
Supporting Tottenham Foodbank on match days
THST Q3 Board Meeting
Blowing the whistle on online hate
Women at the Match FSA survey
Cycling to Spurs and Amsterdam
And we can't let this opportunity pass without mentioning how good it is to be top of the table with a perfect record as we go into the break – it's early days but it's good to have something to be positive about on the pitch after some challenging times.
1. Return of fans to games
Preparations for the start of a new season and the return of fans to full-capacity stadia meant we were involved in a number of meetings and discussions in what continues to be very challenging circumstances. Along with fan reps from other Premier League clubs and the Football Supporters’ Association, we attended a meeting with the Premier League’s new Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs Helen MacNamara and Premier League staff on 4 August.
We were updated on the conversations the Premier League is having with the government and public health bodies, were able to put the fan perspective forward and to identify areas where we could productively work together. Everyone was committed to getting the greatest number of fans back into grounds as safely as possible but the devil, as always, is in the detail. Lack of early, clear and consistent guidance from the government does not help anyone prepare properly, nor does doubt about whether last-minute changes will be sprung.
There is a recognition that there’s a balance between protecting public health and infringing on people’s liberties, and a realisation that it is not going to be possible to please everyone. We pushed for clear advice; practical and proportionate safety measures; consistency of approach.
All of the above are dependent on government policy decisions. It was clear from the meeting that the Premier League was not keen to take a position setting out a standard approach to getting fans back into grounds. Clubs and supporter groups, including THST, made it clear we’d prefer a consistent approach to things such as safety measures, COVID status checks and similar.
THST then met with senior Club staff on 11 August, to prepare for the return of fans to our stadium on 15 August for the Premier League game against Manchester City. Given the timing, we focused on practical discussion about communication and logistics rather than matters of principle.
THFC had decided to move to fully digital ticketing before it was known that some form of COVID status check would be needed. It was clear the introduction of two major new approaches would be challenging, and this is also why we focused on practical issues. We discussed various issues fans might experience with the Club, and again emphasised the need for clear communication that recognised the reality of fan experience rather than just the theory.
We also asked for clarification of how fans unable to use tickets because of positive tests, isolation notifications, or because they lived abroad and were, therefore, unable to travel to the game could either move their tickets on or get a refund. The Club indicated it would deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis, and we have no reason to believe it won’t do so genuinely. More granular detail on COVID related ticketing policy at Spurs follows in the points below.
We are due to attend another meeting organised by the FSA and the Premier League on the Return of fans in early September.
The issue of the closure of one of the main transport routes to the stadium on the opening day of the season was also discussed. We understand the Club, in line with normal practice, asked not to be given a home game, or a high-profile game, on the opening day once it became clear scheduled engineering work would reduce options. The fixture compilation process is complex, but it is hard to avoid the feeling that some of the events of the last year may have reduced the willingness of the Premier League to take the Club’s concerns on board.
We have subsequently had confirmation that no further transport disruption is scheduled at any of the stations close to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium until January 2022.
2. Digital ticketing update and Manchester City debrief
We met with the Club’s Head of Ticketing and Supporter Liaison Officer after the City match to follow up on events at the opening game and address some outstanding concerns.
The Club recognises there were more issues than it would have liked at the opening game of the season in terms of the switch to fully digital ticketing and candidly discussed what had been learned for future matches. It agreed that the findings of a snap poll we conducted on Twitter backed up their assessment of the scale of the problem. Those findings were that the vast majority of people experienced little or no difficulty accessing the ground on the day, but resolutions took too long for those who did experience issues, with reports of long queues for the Ticket Office ahead of the game.
The Club said the three weeks in the run-up to the game had been the busiest it could remember because of the combination of introducing fully digital ticketing and the need to keep up with and work out how to implement COVID status requirements. Again, whatever people views on those requirements, it’s important to realise that the Club has to implement what it is asked to as a condition of the event licencing.
Without the need to communicate regulations and requirements around COVID, it would have been possible to give greater emphasis to clarifying digital ticketing procedures.
On the day, turnstiles were clear at kick-off, but people were still queuing at the Ticket Office 30 minutes into the game. This is not acceptable, but also not unusual for the first home game of a season, when people often bring old tickets or cards or are unfamiliar with the system. The closure of White Hart Lane station also disrupted the usual arrival flow and increased the volume of people at particular times.
The Club had offered the option to request a physical entry card if people were unable to use a smartphone for access. Some 800-900 took up that option and making those available for collection on the day added to the volume of queues. Any remaining cards are being posted out, and postal delivery will be a first option from now on.
Unfamiliarity with the Ticket Share process also added to queues at the Ticket Office on opening day, with many people using the scheme for the first time now the informal handing of stadium access cards onto friends and family is no longer an option. Fans hadn’t appreciated the platform closed four hours ahead of kick off and some of those who’d been gifted tickets weren’t downloading their tickets until they arrived at the stadium, by which time those downloads had been deactivated. One learning from the City game and improvement for the future is that the cut-off time for Ticket Share is being lifted to prevent this problem. Fans will now be able to Share and download tickets up until kick-off.
Alongside the Club, we’ll continue to try to provide clear communication on how digital ticketing works. Some useful pointers for iPhone users are as follows:
- The NFC element of your digital ticket should work like an Oyster Card. Tap it screen up over the card reader on the gate
- Should you need to, you can call up the QR code by tapping the three dots (the ellipsis) in the top right of your screen and presenting your phone screen, with the screen facing up, into the reader at the turnstile
- It’s a good idea to take a screen shot of your QR code as a back-up in case you have reception problems at the stadium
- Don’t panic at the turnstiles! Even if there is a big queue behind you. Take your time and calmly place your phone over the reader. Give it a few goes and there will be stewards located at the gates if you need help
Additional signage on how to use the readers is scheduled to be in place for the Watford game at the latest. The Club is also looking at how to better manage the initial ticket checks at the bottom of the podium stairs, and to give people greater confidence that any initial problems can be solved quickly.
The Club decided to move to making spot checks for COVID certification after trialing a full check system at the Arsenal pre-season friendly. The lack of any central direction from the Premier League was also a factor. Having a standard approach to checking COVID certification across the league would be enormously helpful and it’s something the Club and Trust will continue to lobby for. Fans travelling to away games will notice an inconsistent approach to COVID status checks at other grounds, which undermines faith in the process and causes confusion.
Currently, the Club is focused on trying to ensure as safe an environment as is practically possible, and also encouraging fans to get into the habit of carrying COVID status certification with them in case the government decides to implement blanket checks. We want to stress here that COVID status certification via the NHS app DOES NOT give anyone access to your personal medical records. Spot checks in random areas, and the rotation of heavy check areas around the stadium, will continue until any change at government level is announced.
There is an awareness that, while infection rates aren’t rising much, they aren’t going down much either. Therefore, it’s very important we all do what we can to keep those rates down. No one wants a return to behind closed doors games, and capped attendances are far from ideal. But we all need to play our part. THST continues to advise everyone to wear a mask when in crowded and/or confined areas, and to ensure they are match fit by testing for COVID infection before games.
And finally, to re-emphasise, Club advice to fans unable to use their tickets due to COVID is first to try to shift those tickets via Exchange or Share – both of which have been adjusted to address the current circumstances – and then, if unsuccessful, to contact the Club to discuss your individual case. We can provide assurances from casework that individual cases of this sort are dealt with fairly.
To reflect the realities of the ongoing pandemic, both Ticket Share and Ticket Exchange will open to One Hotspur Members as well as Season Ticket holders a minimum of 48 hours before a league match. This will give those fans who test positive or have to isolate a chance to move their tickets on in the first instance. Should those tickets not sell, fans are encouraged to contact the Ticket Office to discuss their refund options further. At this stage, it is likely you will be asked for proof of a positive test or isolation notice.
Season Ticket holders living abroad and unable to travel are encouraged to list their tickets on Exchange or to use Ticket Share to gift their tickets in the first instance and to then contact the Ticket Office to discuss their individual situations.
We remain in discussions with the Club around the use of Share and TEX for future Cup games during these exceptional times, with our focus always being on achieving the fairest pragmatic solution for fans adversely affected by the pandemic.
The ticket office can be reached on email@example.com.
3. Other ticketing issues
We covered a number of other outstanding ticketing issues and ticketing hot potatoes during our August meetings with the Club. Lots of facts, figures and extremely useful snippets of information here, so please do take a read. These are summarised as follows:
- Membership figures at Spurs currently stand at 77,000 One Hotspur+ and 33,000 One Hotspur members
- This summer, 5,500 new season tickets were taken up by those on the waiting list
- The Club plans to explore membership propositions over the coming months. Once again, THST lobbied for the decoupling of the Waiting List from the OH+ proposition
- No concessions are available on Ticket Exchange. As reported regularly by THST before the pandemic, this is a decision we fundamentally disagree with and we’ll continue to lobby for a change to recognise Junior, Young Adult and Senior purchasers on the platform
- Ticketing points are currently being recalculated and will be back online in accounts by w/c 30 August. THFC has agreed to send all Season Ticket holders an email clearly explaining how those ticketing points have been readjusted. Any queries should go into firstname.lastname@example.org, please
- Ticket Share will open for Season Ticket holders to gift Premier League tickets to family and friends from a minimum of seven days before a game until kick off. For 48 hours before a game, One Hotspur members unable to attend due to COVID will also be able to gift their tickets to family and friends via the platform
- Ticket Exchange will continue to open at the Club’s discretion, usually once a game has almost or fully sold out. However, it will now open 48 hours before a PL game to Season Ticket holders and to Members unable to attend due to COVID. This arrangement is until further notice
- Consideration is being given to opening Exchange and Share for Cup games
- Tickets in designated ‘atmosphere blocks’ weren’t made available for our Europa Conference League qualifier against Pacos de Ferreira because of issues around COVID-safety requirements and adherence to the Premier League’s Code of Conduct in COVID times. We expect to see the Club’s commitment to identifying blocks and encouraging like-minded fans to congregate together upheld once the current COVID restrictions have been lifted
- Booking fees: a huge bugbear for many fans. So, to reiterate, the booking fee is a transaction taken by the ticketing agency the Club uses; in this case, Ticketmaster. The fee is the agency’s way of making money in return for providing a service; in this case, infrastructure. In the UK, it is illegal to absorb the booking fee into the headline price of a ticket. The reason being that consumers should see what they are paying for in a transparent manner. We understand this presents the booking fee as something extra on top of the ticket price. In fact, it is part of the ticket price, and without the current legal requirement would simply be added to the headline price, not subtracted from it. This is a statement of fact, not policy
- THST lobbied for any future ECL group stage games to be offered in a competitively priced pack of 3, with only one booking fee levied per pack. The option to purchase individual ECL game tickets should, of course, remain on the table
- THFC is continuing to maintain concessionary pricing for Senior and Junior visiting fans, unlike a number of other Premier League clubs. THST applauds this decision and continues to work with other club fan groups and the FSA to roll back the attempt to undermine the spirit of the away price cap by raising all prices to £30
4. THFC Sanctions and Banning Policy
The Club has a Sanctions and Banning Policy which can, and should, be read on the official website and on Ask Spurs by all fans. An updated version is being published this week. We pushed for a clear statement of the Club’s approach to be published over many years, and also secured the presence of the FSA in an appeals process.
The Policy aims to give clarity on standards of behaviour expected and sanctions if those standards aren’t met. It includes policy on ticket offences: an area we get a lot of correspondence about, and which can affect many fans. So please ensure you are familiar with the policies, which include a 50% ticketing point deduction for anyone found to have passed on an away ticket for equal to or less than face value, and an indefinite ban for anyone found selling away tickets at over face value.
We are happy to put anyone who disagrees with those sanctions in touch with the fans who regularly contact us asking for those sanctions to be enforced. We’d also refer you to the findings of our latest annual survey on the subject of away ticketing.
The Sanctions and Banning Policy has been updated after ongoing discussion with THST and the FSA. Updates include some improvements to the appeals process. We retain some doubts about the approach to fans charged but not convicted of criminal offences but are prepared to see how this is dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
We need to make it very clear that we do not police fan behaviour. But we do believe a clear Sanctions and Banning Policy is of benefit to fans, and we can assist in individual cases if we are contacted. We will only facilitate cases if we are approached by the fan in question. Individual fans are able to raise issues of behaviour, particularly around ticketing, directly with the Club by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. THST Fan Survey 2021 Results
We published the findings of our latest annual survey at the beginning of August. The full story can be found in the news section of our website. More fans than ever responded, making this the largest independent survey of supporter opinion at Spurs for the seventh time. Every Spurs fan, not just Trust members, had the opportunity to take part.
The key findings revealed a huge lack of confidence in the Board of THFC, and strong backing for the proposals being put forward by THST and other supporter organisations to reform club boardrooms and the way the game is governed. Other subjects covered included ticketing, travel, match-day experience, away ticketing and national issues.
We have carried out this survey regularly since 2014, gaining statistically robust samples each time. The findings inform our work and policy positions and, over many years, provide a valuable picture of trends. We also share the findings with the Club, while respecting the confidence of respondents. This has previously helped in discussions between the Club and Trust in developing practical initiatives and shaping policy, and we are happy to provide valuable customer experience data to the Club in order to improve the way fans are treated.
This year, we have shared the findings with the Club but received no formal response. We remain ready to discuss anything that can improve the fan experience.
While work with senior Club staff has resumed and is operating well, there has been no further conversation with the Club Board about changes to the Club’s governance structure. There has been further discussion with the Club’s Supporter Liaison Officer to explain the detail of the proposals we put forward. With the recommendations of Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review scheduled to be published in October, the Club would seem to be waiting to see what that brings before engaging further.
7. Supporting Tottenham Foodbank on match-days
We’ll be asking you to support the Tottenham and North Edmonton Foodbanks again this season. There will be a van outside the Community Sports Centre on the High Road at each weekend home game, and we’ll publicise items in particular demand via our Twitter feed.
You can donate to Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks at any time 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. Those living overseas or unable to use a text donation service are encouraged to donate via Tottenham Foodbank's crowdfunding page.
8. THST Q3 Board Meeting
The THST Board met virtually on Monday 1 August for their Q3 Board Meeting. Standing items such as finance and membership updates were delivered by Treasurer, Adam Bailey. Following the huge influx of new members throughout the ESL episode, THST is on course for a very positive year financially, ahead of year end on 31 August.
Marketing, Podcast and Forum plans for the coming months were discussed, along with an expanded Foodbank push for the new season alongside THFC. There were updates on the Fan-Led Review and proposed restructure at Spurs, a summary of national campaigning work tackling Online Hate, the mental health Terrace Talk campaign, FSE Female Network and the Return to Grounds at a league level.
Trust resource was also discussed. Each member of the Trust Board is a volunteer with many juggling Trust commitments alongside demanding day jobs. A reallocation of tasks is underway to ease pressure points.
We would also like to hear from THST members or Spurs fans in general with specialist skills in Marketing and Social Media who’d be willing to contribute up to five hours a month on a voluntary basis to help with our outbound marketing comms and survey work. Please email Katrina.law@THSTOfficial.com if you’re able to help.
9. Blowing the whistle on online hate
The start of the Premier League season has regrettably seen further incidents of online abuse. We have continued to use our social media channels to stress our opposition to all abuse and to encourage fans to report any abuse that comes to their attention. We have been working with the Football Supporters’ Association and supporters’ trusts from other clubs to promote a co-ordinated message “Blow the whistle on online abuse - if you see it, report it”.
A draft Online Safety Bill has now been published and will be looked at by a Parliamentary Committee in the autumn, after which the Government will then publish a further draft of the Bill.
10. Women at the Match FSA Survey
The FSA’s Fans for Diversity campaign has launched a major survey on women’s fans attitudes to attending football and is looking for women fans from both the men’s and women’s games to give their insight.
The survey looks to capture data on things such as women’s experiences of sexism at matches, how they got into attending football, and what they think would encourage greater attendance from women to at live football.
The survey is open to women who follow either the men’s or women’s professional game, or both, and you can take the survey here.
11. Cycling to Spurs and Amsterdam
- Cycling to Spurs
Bike security: Match-day travel advice indicated that there are two off-road sites with bike stands provided by Spurs. One is located in front of the Tottenham Community Sports Centre, 701-703 Tottenham High Road, opposite the No 8 pub (formerly The Bell and Hare). There are around 30 stands here, each holding two bikes. The other is to the right of that site on the opposite corner of Church Rd and the High Rd in the grounds of Saint Francis de Salle school, also a match-day car park.
Across a number of locations, there are around 50 such stands. On the evidence of the first home Premier League match vs Man City there was plenty of space for more bikes, though with the increased popularity of cycling and greater promotion of these sites there could become a need for more. We’ll watch this space and press the Club for additions if this happens.
The additional provision around the ground is publicly or Sainsbury’s provided. It should be noted that Sainsbury’s stands inside the car park have been reduced in number due to temporary works taking place in the car park. Along with other stands dotted around, some cyclists just use the railings on the High Rd etc. Our recommendation is to prioritise your use of the provision provided by Spurs and to work with us in pushing for improvements as and when the need arises.
With regards to the carrying of bike-related accessories i.e. helmets, bike tools, extra clothing etc., the Club has assured us that all stewards have now been instructed to allow access to ticket holders with cycling helmets. As far as accessories are concerned, again, there should be no problem provided they are contained within the specified bag size of A4 size (21 x 30 cm or 30 x 31cm for a clear carrier bag). Our tip here is to use the Spurs ‘bag for life’ which is actually a little larger.
If you have any issues or comments regarding these or other cycle related matters, please contact THST Board member Kevin Fitzgerald.
- Cycling to Amsterdam
You can get more information from the Trust website but please note that the exact dates for 2022 have not been finalised, registration is not yet opened and consequently the PCUK link is not yet available.
12. THST Forum
As you’d expect, with the long-awaited return of fans to the stadium there have been quite a few issues raised by our members relating to their experiences. We’ve been discussing travel issues, including why there were no trains to White Hart Lane for our opening game of the season, plus cycling arrangements, car parking and the shuttle buses.
There have also been quite a few concerns and stressful experiences around the issuing and use of the digital season ticket passes, home tickets for the Pacos match, Ticket Share and Ticket Exchange. Flagging these up on the forum means that, as well as it giving us a great insight into areas the Club needs to improve, we can support you and accelerate issues, where appropriate, with the ticketing team.
As might be expected, there were a few teething problems with the catering at the opening games, too and the forum has a thread where you can add your comments – from your views on the price increases for the beers, feedback on speed of service and any other food and drink issues. Positive feedback is also welcomed, of course, and all of it is used to inform our meetings with the catering team at the Club.
Our forum is open to all full members and may well have answers to issues that have concerned you, too – pop over and have a look when you have a moment.
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.
Podcast – Last Word on Spurs
THST (Tottenham Hotspur Supporter's Trust) - Summer Update
The Athletic - Tottenham fans voice disappointment at ownership and on-field performances
Evening Standard - Spurs fans voice disappointment at ownership and on-field performances
Independent - Tottenham fans survey shows 94 per cent unhappy with club’s performance
Yahoo - Tottenham fans voice disappointment at ownership and on-field performances
Football Insider - Tottenham supremo Levy slammed by Maguire as damning figures emerge
Express & Star Tottenham fans survey shows 94 per cent unhappy with club’s performance
31 August 2021
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