THST Annual General Meeting 2021
THST Annual Report 2020/21
THFC ticketing update
VAR session with Mike Riley of PGMOL
FSA Premier League Network meeting
#TerraceTalk mental health campaign
Business and Community Liaison Group meeting
Supporting Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks
Football to Amsterdam 2021
Bobby Buckle update
We also need to make an important point about online hate and abuse on social media. In simple terms, it’s not OK. And we all need to play our part in stamping it out. A number of recent instances of racist abuse directed at footballers have underlined a problem that has been growing for some time. It has to stop, and fan organisations are determined to play our part in calling it out. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, wishing death, illness and violence on people – all the abuse has to stop and it has to be challenged. We can’t let this kind of behaviour become normalised. There are two very basic rules that should make it easy to establish what is right and what is not. The first is don’t say anything on social media you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. The second is don’t be a bigot. It’s not complicated.
It’s sad that we have to make these points, but we can’t pretend the abuse is not happening and we can’t ignore it. Along with other fan organisations, we will be making the case to stop the abuse for as long as it takes. And we will be asking the companies that run the social media platforms to use the same swift efficiency in removing, deleting and punishing abuse as they do in taking down video clips that infringe other companies’ copyright. It is not acceptable to hide behind spurious concepts of free speech when people’s lives are being affected. We’ll also be encouraging everyone to challenge abuse wherever they see it.
1. THST Annual General Meeting 2021
The evening of 16 February saw our first ever online AGM and we were delighted with not only how many of you attended but how smoothly it went! All of us who’ve worked from home at some point throughout the pandemic will be familiar with the challenges of video conferencing and this really was a case of practice makes perfect! Particular thanks go to Trust Secretary Pete Haine and to our friends at the Fulham Supporters’ Trust for their counsel at the start of our online AGM journey.
All five resolutions were approved on the night, and by an overwhelming proxy vote in advance of the meeting. Full results can be viewed on our dedicated AGM webpage. In summary, existing Trust Board members Martin Buhagiar, Martin Cloake and Michael Green were reappointed to the Board, with Stephen Cavalier joining as a newly elected Board member.
Our subsequent post AGM Board meeting saw Martin Cloake and Katrina Law retain their positions as Co-Chairs, Pete Haine continue his role as Trust Secretary and Adam Bailey stay in post as Treasurer.
The resolution to disapply the need for auditors for next year’s accounts was also carried. Accounts for the year ending 31 August 2020 can be viewed here. With thanks to Trust Treasurer Adam Bailey for preparing the accounts and ensuring they were independently examined. These will now be registered with the FCA.
Following the formal part of the meeting, members were invited to ask questions of the Board on any Trust activity or on issues of concern to them. A lot of ground was covered, from the latest on a safe return of fans to stadia, VAR, League Cup Final ticketing, Spurs and the NFL deal, diversity and inclusion work and match day transport, the reopening of the Corner Pin and THFC’s decision to stop sending birthday cards to adult One Hotspur members and Season Ticket holders. Very much a mixed bag!
It was pleasing to be joined by overseas members as well as those closer to home as the virtual platform presented the opportunity to attend to those typically unable to travel to Central London on a week night. Special thanks to THST member David Green for transcribing our discussions within the Zoom chat function on the night, too.
Finally, thanks to those who attended and have contacted us subsequently to congratulate us on such a smooth experience. We’ll definitely explore holding more remote meetings over the coming months.
2. THST Annual Report 2020/21
To tie in with our AGM, we produce an Annual Report each February detailing the work we’ve undertaken on behalf of our members over the previous 12 months. It’s an essential read for members and also for fans unsure of the role, remit and reach of the Trust.
In an atypical year, we’re really proud of our combined achievements. We say combined as your part in successful campaigning is vital. We really are so much stronger together. So have a read and pat yourself on the back for helping support not only THST but Leyton Orient, Marine FC, Meals for the NHS, Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks, Prostate Cancer UK, Studio 306 Collective and more.
Huge thanks, as always, to resident Trust designer Justin Ford of Hubert and Ford for his pro bono work for THST. And to SnapShotSpurs for taking such wonderful photos of our beautiful home, and allowing us to use those to bring the report to life.
We hope you enjoy the read as much as we enjoyed pulling it together.
3. THFC ticketing update
We’re currently waiting for the Club to offer dates for us to discuss a number of ticketing points, including the Season Ticket renewal process for 21/22, seat relocation requests for this summer and plans for rebalancing the ticketing points cycle.
We’re also awaiting an update on ticketing for the League Cup Final on 25 April following various media reports suggesting a desire from the FA, amongst others, to use the final as a test for the Euros in the summer. As we publish this newsletter, there has been no formal update from the Club or the EFL on this matter. We’ll share any information as soon as we have it. Should fans be permitted to attend, we’re keen to understand the pricing, number of tickets and how those will be allocated.
Finally, we’re keen to unpack the wordy but ultimately vague statement issued on 17 February around the new, “innovative” partnership with Ticketmaster and what that actually means in practical terms for fans.
Hopefully we’ll have a fuller update in March’s newsletter.
4. VAR session with Mike Riley of PGMOL
Hot on the heels of not one but two motions on VAR being passed at their AGM in December, the Football Supporters’ Association arranged for a Zoom session with Mike Riley of PGMOL on 16 February. As this clashed with our AGM, we asked Trust member and “Tottenham on my mind” blogger, Alan Fisher, to attend on our behalf. These brief notes are based on his report of the meeting.
First, some stats. Mike Riley said that since VAR, refereeing decisions are accurate 95% of the time, compared with 83% in the recent past. The average VAR check lasts 32 seconds, and most of the time this takes place unobtrusively. The average VAR review, i.e. when a decision is looked at by the ref and changed, takes 82 seconds. This compares with an average of 7 minutes per game for substitutions, goal celebrations etc. Averages mean some breaks in the game are longer than 82 seconds.
Some time was spent on the mechanics of VAR. Most VAR checking goes on the background without any break in play. Each game has a VAR referee who looks at two screens playing the match in real time, plus a VAR assistant who watches the same feed with a three second delay, to pick up anything the video ref misses in real time. Both refs have full access to broadcast pictures from all available angles.
They go through each incident stage by stage. For example, when checking a penalty, they look to see if there is contact between the defender and forward, then if the forward touched the ball, then any other relevant information, which may include if a forward was in an offside position. If the VAR ref thinks there may be a clear and obvious error, he advises the ref to look at the footage pitch-side and decide if they want to change their decision.
THST submitted questions in advance of the session, as did other supporters' groups, and Mike Riley based his presentation around them. Here are the key points.
First, FIFA is ultimately responsible for the way VAR works and IFAB for the interpretation of the law. Individual associations contribute to the process but are bound by their key guidelines. Mike Riley assured that he is in regular touch with colleagues in Europe to influence FIFA policy. In what direction is not clear but he repeatedly stated his aim was to keep the game flowing while achieving a balance with accurate refereeing decisions. It's debatable whether he and FIFA have that balance correct.
There were concerns expressed about referees and accountability. Fans asked why referees could not be miked up during the game and explain their decisions as they do in rugby or NFL. The reason is simple - FIFA prohibits this.
Riley was asked why referees don't explain decisions post-match. He replied that he is satisfied with the current system. There is a referee assessor present at every game. Also, every match is analysed by a technical panel of referees, who scrutinise every decision, not just the moments when the referee blows his whistle, an average of 240 times per game. This is then discussed with the Premier League for every game. Where there is a particularly contentious decision that gains publicity, PGMOL issues a statement after the game, then Dermot Gallagher goes on television the following day if further explanation is required. Riley prefers this system to one where individual referees speak publicly.
This led to questions about how, after all this scrutiny, bad decisions could be made. Tomas Soucek's dismissal against Fulham was fresh in the mind. Riley said referees are human and make mistakes, and we have to accept that as part of the game, which is reasonable as far as it goes and leaves us with the problem of poor officiating. He didn't however expand on the other issues around that incident, such as the inordinate delay and interpretation of violent conduct. He added that they use both real time and slow motion, aware that the latter distorts reality rather than enhances it in some cases.
Failure to effectively communicate decisions in the ground is a huge bugbear of match-going fans. Riley said this had improved in terms of clear on-screen explanations about what VAR was looking at, coupled with a replay of the incident and stadium announcements. Fans obviously can't see this because grounds are empty.
On offsides, Riley said that this is not a subjective decision. Players are either offside or they aren't. The VAR official looks first to see if when a goal is scored a player is clearly offside. If it is unclear, they then go to a 2D line (that line drawn across the pitch) and then only go to the 3D line (the vertical dotted lines) if it is still not clear. This happens rarely. The definition of parts of the body is down to FIFA, and they follow this.
TV pictures run at 40 frames per second. VAR can identify one of three frames at the point of contact when the ball is played. The rest of the cameras then synchronise around that single chosen frame. The actual line they draw to judge VAR is one pixel wide. The ones we see on TV are wider so that we can pick them up on the screen.
The definition of clear and obvious was discussed. Intervention when a clear and obvious error may have been made remains the key criteria of subjective decisions (goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity). But is the threshold for clear and obvious defined? This was discussed without a clear answer emerging. If VAR spends three minutes checking a decision, logic dictates the error isn't obvious, so we should stay with the on-field ref's decision. The non-definition could be taken to give officials a mandate to intervene on any decision as they wish. That's not clear, obvious or consistent.
Mike Riley gave up an evening to explain his work, and such dialogue should contribute to using VAR in the best possible manner. Telling us that many key issues are down to FIFA and IFAB is on one level a convenient escape clause, but it's reality. It’s also important to remember referees are human and they make mistakes. Riley readily acknowledges this, aiming to reduce subjectivity to within the narrowest possible band.
Alan Fisher said two anecdotal discussions stood out. “A Wolves fan described two examples where fans celebrated goals wildly, only to have them disallowed after several minutes for reasons unclear to fans in the ground. Afterwards, he said, he and his fellow supporters said, 'what's the point, just what is the point?' It's existential and we've all been there.
“Riley responded with a largely procedural and stats-based answer, along the lines of, it happens infrequently, so it's an outlier. It shouldn't happen at all, of course, but anyway.
“He also gave the example of Raheem Sterling’s disallowed goal in the Champions League quarter final, saying that ‘first the City fans celebrated, then the Spurs celebrated, so that was something for both sets of fans to cheer, and it added to the drama’. Which like a Steffen Freund thunderbolt, misses the mark by a long way.”
5. FSA Premier League Network Meeting
The Football Supporters’ Association held one of its regular Premier League Network meetings via Zoom on the evening of 22 February. THST was represented by co-chair and FSA PL Network rep, Katrina Law, and co-chair Martin Cloake.
A busy agenda saw over 25 reps discuss the latest on both the government’s ‘fan-led’ review and the Premier League’s governance review. The former has yet to get going and the latter isn’t involving fan input. Yet. FSA Vice Chair Tom Greatrex updated on the emergence of a complementary working group aimed at bringing EFL clubs onside, on David Bernstein and Gary Neville’s ‘Our Beautiful Game’ initiative and, of course, the FSA’s ‘Sustain the Game!’ campaign. There is a lot of activity in this area at the moment, but not enough by those with the power to actually make the changes needed to the running of our game. From a fan rep point of view, it is essential we are clear in what we are asking for in any upcoming review, and that we target those with the power to make real change.
There was an update on UEFA’s proposed changes to the Champions League from 2024/25, whereby the number of clubs participating would increase to 36 with each team playing 10 ‘league’ matches as opposed to six group stage games. There would obviously be knock-on effects for Premier League clubs around fixture scheduling to accommodate the four additional games between September and December, which raise a number of critical concerns for fan reps. We’ll look to feed into those discussions and help produce a response through the FSA/FSE over coming weeks.
VAR was discussed, with a recap of the meeting covered in item 4 of the newsletter, along with the #TerraceTalk mental health campaign with MIND, covered in item 6.
Social Media abuse was an emotive and important topic and Kat agreed to assemble a sub-group of reps to work on a movement-wide, proactive, collective stance against the abusers. We’ll update on this next month.
Finally, after the roadmap out of lockdown was revealed earlier in the day, we looked ahead to the proposed return of fans from 17 May, test events from 12 April and the possibility of maximum crowds inside stadia from August. Connected to this are the ticketing policies and processes referenced in item 3 of this newsletter.
6. #TerraceTalk mental health campaign
Following work with EFL supporters groups in partnership with MIND, the Football Supporters Association has launched a fan-led mental health campaign. Such an initiative would be of significance at any point in time but now, with COVID-19 having such a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of so many, it is that much more to be welcomed. To quote the FSA launch statement: “The aim of the campaign is to encourage open and honest conversations about mental health and to encourage supporters who need them to seek out mental health support services. A central theme of #TerraceTalk is to also recognise the value that social aspects of the match day routine provide to fans up and down the country”.
The Trust is committed to playing its part in this campaign and is currently considering the most effective way so to do. Board members Anthoulla Achilleos and Kevin Fitzgerald took part in an FSA webinar on mental health on 24 February. The session was chaired by Proud Lilywhites’ Chris Paouros and heard from a very impressive and inspirational panel. The panel members were Hayley Jarvis, Head of Sport & Physical Activity at MIND: Danny Mills, Dulwich Hamlet striker, involved with Shout Out For Mental Health: Luke Chadwick, ex professional footballer, various clubs from Manchester United to Cambridge United; Gemma Oaten, actress, Emmerdale, Holby City, patron and manager of SEED, services around eating disorders.
7. Business and Community Liaison Group meeting
THST Board member Rob White attended the Group’s latest meeting, which came just after the government’s announcement of its roadmap out of lockdown. What that confirmed is that fans are not going to be admitted to grounds until 17 May. Unfortunately, our last home game is currently scheduled for 15 May. TV selections will be made closer to the time but the Club alone does not have the power to move this match into a Monday night slot, for example, and every other club scheduled to play away on the last day of the season may well have a similar wish!
Following on from the announcement, the Club is working on new dates for re-opening the Sky Walk, possibly from 12 April; looking at reopening Stadium Tours from 17 May at the earliest.
Summer events at the stadium are now in the planning stage. These are obviously dependent on how the ‘lockdown exit’ progresses. There are plans for at least one NFL game to take place later in the year.
As reported in January, planning and licensing has been granted for the Corner Pin/Beavertown pub. If all goes according to plan, this should be open by the time fans are back in the stadium. Our understanding is that means by late August/September 2021.
The Irish Centre, Pretoria Road, came up for discussion and it was suggested, by one of the local councillors, that it might open again later in the year. Cllr Peacock was going to find out more details about this.
There was a discussion on news that the High Road West scheme has been ‘re-started’. This is the massive redevelopment plan for the area which was first launched in 2012. Updated details are on the above link.
8. Supporting Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks
The #KickOffAgainstHunger campaign, running jointly with THFC, has raised just short of £2,000 so far. The Club promotes the text line ahead of each home game through social media, the N17 live pre match broadcast and on the back page of the programme, and we promote ahead of every game – home and away.
Anyone wishing to make a larger donation or unable to use the text service can still make a contribution directly to the Tottenham Foodbank via this link.
9. Football to Amsterdam, 3 – 5 September
As with so much of the sporting calendar, the confirmation of our long-awaited next edition of the charity ride to Amsterdam is dependent on control of COVID-19 and the roll out of vaccines. The organisers, PCUK, are feeling increasingly confident that the event will be able to go ahead, as planned. Hopefully this will be confirmed in good time for us to step up our appeal for donations.
Our team of 31 riders is still in place in readiness to leave the Olympic Velodrome on 3 September; we are also always ready to welcome new riders.
10. Bobby Buckle update
At our recent AGM, we were asked about progress of efforts to secure a Blue Plaque on the front of The White Cottage, No 7 White Hart Lane, to mark the fact that former Spurs captain and founding member Bobby Buckle was born there. Trust Board member Rob White spoke to Philip Nyman, who runs the Bobby Buckle Partnership; the group leading the campaign. He told us the application has been delayed by the COVID-19 crisis but will be submitted very soon.
On a related note, Rob’s research has found the property was bought at auction by a company called Hyjan Investments, and later sold on to Atlas Property Investments. We’ll bring you more news as soon as we can.
11. THST vodcasts
THST Board members Martin Buhagiar, Rachel Martin, Anthoulla Achilleos and Rob White recorded three further video podcasts in February.
In our fourth episode, they look back at some our key achievements in 2020 and look ahead to what could be in store in 2021. Next, the team were joined by THST Official secretary Pete Haine to discuss our upcoming AGM. Why do we need to hold an AGM, what do we discuss and how can our members get involved? All questions were answered during this chat. In our most recent edition, Marine Football Club CEO James Leary joined us to discuss our famous FA Cup tie, the idea of selling virtual tickets, the reaction by Spurs fans and a very funny anecdote about a certain player in Marine's very cold showers.
Finally, Martin Buhagiar was also invited by Marine’s social media manager Tom Clark to be a guest on their first podcast.
12. Programme donations
We have now raised over £1,000 from sales of donated programmes. Many thanks to all who have donated and those who have purchased. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy of the updated list of what is still available. All proceeds go to Haringey based Studio 306 Collective.
13. THST Forum
All Full members of THST are invited to register for the THST Forum and join in discussions on a wide range of issues. We’ll often post updates there rather than on social media as we can provide the detail you need, so please do check the forum regularly.
This month, discussions have included:
- The Trust’s position on on-field results
- The twin proposals for Champions League / European football, and the huge implications these could have for us as a Club and for football in general
- Ticketing enquiries and season ticket renewals – an incredibly in-depth stream on general and individual issues and concerns
- Goal celebration music
- A roadmap for the return of fans to stadia – the potential use of Wembley for trial events prior to the Euros, maintenance of current broadcasting arrangements while playing behind closed doors, the Trust position on any price increases for supporters
- Joe Lewis and ENIC
You can also find all our podcasts and vlogs listed, with links, on the Forum. We would encourage you to leave us feedback and suggest any topics that you would like us to explore in future editions.
The forum is a great place for us all to share views and it helps to shape some of the work we do as a Trust – so thank you to everyone who has contributed.
Club and Supporters Trust launch joint fundraiser for local foodbanks
Premier League website
Spurs team up with fans to support local foodbanks
Spurs: Club and trust team up to support foodbanks - Football Supporters' Association
Fans Europe website
FANS FROM ACROSS EUROPE UNITE TO OPPOSE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE
Football fans across Europe unite to condemn European Super League idea
Spurs Show with Pete Haine guesting
28 February 2021
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