THST AGM and Annual Report
Social media policy
THST Q1 Board Meeting
Away fans in home ends
Southampton FA Cup replay pricing
The One Show complaints
Coaches for Burnley away
Business & Community Liaison Group Meeting
THST Spurs Charity Pub Quiz
December catering survey
Cycle On You Spurs
Members online forum
- Sport Options
- The Spurs Show
- Wingate and Finchley FC
- Big Green Coach
- Zeelo coach travel
1. THST AGM AND ANNUAL REPORT – 11 FEBRUARY
Our formal AGM process commenced on 3 January with the publication of the Convening Notice. Our Annual General Meeting is scheduled for 11 February 2020 at 7pm at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, 1st Floor, Cannon Place, 78 Cannon Street, London EC4N 6AF. We encourage all full members to attend in person. As a formerly constituted Community Benefit Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, there are a number of formal pieces of business we must deal with on the night. There will also be a chance to question Trust Board members on the work we have done over the last year, and the work we intend to do in future.
A detailed account of the work we have done in 2019-2020 will be published in the form of our Annual Report. This year we will be circulating the Annual Report to members in advance, giving you a chance to read it and prepare questions. The Annual Report will also be available to all on the AGM page of our website, along with annual reports from previous years.
Full and life members are encouraged to vote on all Resolutions, including Board elections. Co-chair Katrina Law and Board member Kevin Fitzgerald are re-standing for the Board, and Rob White has put himself forward for election to the Board.
As we appreciate it’s not always possible to attend the AGM in person, we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for full and life members to cast their votes. Those who can make the meeting on 11 February in person can vote by a show of hands on the night. Those who can’t attend in person can nominate a proxy to cast their vote by completing the Proxy Voting Form on the AGM web page and returning by post or by email ahead of the deadline of 6pm on Wednesday 5 February. They can also complete this online survey, or they can appoint another person to attend the meeting and vote on their behalf on the night.
Full and life members with any questions around the AGM process are encouraged to contact the Secretary in advance of the voting deadline of 5 February on info@THSTOfficial.com.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
We announced in November that we would be adopting a transmit only policy on our social media accounts (item 13 in our November newsletter). We remain convinced this was the right thing to do. However, we’re still being asked questions on our Twitter account. If you want to find something out, please drop us an email at email@example.com
It’s disappointing to see that some people are still peddling the myth that the Trust account blocks people who disagree with it. The facts are that just 65 people have been blocked in 7 years on an account that regularly reaches 250,000 people. And a percentage of those are fans of rival clubs. Disagreeing with something the Trust does or says does not result in being blocked. Using abusive language and alleging we are corrupt does get you blocked. It’s really very simple to understand.
Because we’ve moved to transmit only on social, we are setting up a members-only online forum, more of which below, and we will be putting more detail explaining policy decisions and actions into these newsletters, along with increasing social posts flagging up those explanations.
3. THST Q1 BOARD MEETING – 20 JANUARY
The Board of the Trust met for its Q1 meeting on Monday 20 January at CMS on Cannon Street. Existing Board Members were joined by Board candidate Rob White in an observational capacity. Topics included standing orders around Trust finances and membership numbers, marketing and partnerships, charity and community initiatives and issues of relevance to the national supporters’ movement and specifically relating to the Club.
Plans are underway for an external research project to help understand member retention patterns; to develop an online community for THST members to provide a space for policy discussion, to answer FAQ’s and to discuss topics of interest to full members without the toxicity of open social media; to review our membership offering for Supporters Clubs and individual members.
Recruitment and fundraising for the 2020 bike ride to Amsterdam for Prostate Cancer UK has commenced and plans for our upcoming Quiz in aid of Studio 306 Collective are afoot. The Events sub-group are meeting next month to plan member events and meetings for the remainder of 2020.
Next month’s AGM represents the end of year for the current THST Board. Timings and responsibilities for the remainder of the AGM process were agreed, along with a date for the first meeting of the new board at the end of February. Board members thanked Keith Sharp for his contribution over the past five years in what was his last Board meeting.
Discussions focused on the upcoming Board to Board meeting with the Club at the start of March and key areas for inclusion at that session. A full agenda will be produced closer to the session, with questions from members gathered and collated, as usual, from mid-February.
We spent some time discussing the need to make the strategic direction of the Club under the current Board a much stronger focus of the meeting. The Club has still not answered the questions we posed when José Mourinho was appointed. These include what the strategy is now the previous project has ceased, what the Board has learnt from the last five years, what constitutes success going forward, exactly who is responsible for transfer strategy and what the policy on wages and contracts will be going forwards.
We believe any Board wanting to retain the confidence of supporters should be willing and able to provide those answers. With ENIC’s 20th season in charge of the Club coming up, it seems a good time to take stock.
4. RUDIGER CASE
On 6 January, THFC issued a statement detailing the results of investigations into allegations of racist chanting during our home game against Chelsea on 22 December. That statement said that: “The police have notified us today that, having reviewed and investigated, they have closed the crime report as they can find no evidence to support the allegation of racial abuse.”
The Club’s statement came soon after we had issued our own call for “a clear statement on what has been established”. We made this statement amid growing commentary on the issue that fuelled attacks on the reputation of Toni Rudiger, the home crowd and the Club, both on social media and in the traditional media.
While we acknowledged the complexity of the situation, and the challenge posed by the Christmas and New Year period, we believe a gap of 15 days between the incident and the Club’s 6 January statement was too long. It created a vacuum within which speculation gathered. We pushed the Club every day for updates on progress and had received no indication that it would say anything further.
Let’s be very clear here. We fully support any player’s right to report an incident of racism. We believe Toni Rudiger took the action he did because he genuinely believed he had heard racist abuse. It does no one any good to suggest otherwise and we condemn any fan accusing Toni Rudiger of malicious intent. It’s important that players feel able to report concerns moving forwards.
It was right that THFC moved quickly to address and investigate Toni Rudiger’s concerns. Everyone must have the confidence that allegations of racism are taken seriously and properly investigated. But the results of that investigation have left an inconclusive, unsatisfactory situation. Lessons must be learnt by all concerned.
In the aftermath of this case, we have spoken with the Club and with the two leading anti-racist organisations in football, Kick it Out and Show Racism the Red Card, and with colleagues in Spurs fan groups. It is important that everyone acknowledges the value of working together and sharing experience.
We now want to set out our current thinking very clearly.
- Referee Anthony Taylor invoked the incorrect protocol at the game. He used the FIFA protocol and not the Premier League protocol. The latter would require stewards and security staff to attend to the area of the crowd in question immediately but does not require suspension of the game and three public address announcements at 10-minute intervals. The three statements broadcast during the game led a global TV audience to believe there were three separate incidents of widespread racist abuse, and set the tone for much of the subsequent comment. So it is therefore important that everyone is clear what the correct protocol is in future and that actions taken do not harm any subsequent investigation. The Premier League needs to be very clear about the protocols it has adopted and ensure that every referee is trained to apply them.
- Throughout the evening of the match and all through the next day, much of the press reported the allegations as fact. This is irresponsible. The principle of innocent until proven guilty must be upheld, and actions taken must be based on evidence and not presumption.
- While the Club’s initial statement was very good, the way the investigation was conducted left much to be desired. A delay of 15 days between allegation and conclusion is not good enough. To be credible, the investigation needed to be far more transparent, and conducted under the guidance of a respected independent figure. And there needs to be far more clarity over how evidence from fans is handled. To have over 1,000 stewards in the stadium and to have what we are told is the most sophisticated CCTV in the country and not to be able to categorically prove or disprove the allegations is simply not good enough.
- We’ve requested a wash up with the Club to review the process, asked for input into how such incidents are dealt with in future, and requested that KiO and SRTRC are consulted.
- Every one of us should respect and support the right of a player to speak up when concerned about abuse.
- Any fan witnessing racist behaviour at a match should report it immediately via TEXT LINES promoted by the Club. The number to report abuse is 07537 404821. Details of how to report abuse can be found on the Club website. We believe this line should be reserved completely for reporting discriminatory behaviour and have asked the Club to ensure that this is the case.
- We have already spoken to KiO, SRTRC and the Proud Lilywhites about how to strengthen our work around anti-discrimination issues, and how to make that work a more integral part of what we do. We are talking to the Show Racism the Red Card All Party Parliamentary Group about how to improve processes for addressing these issues throughout the game.
- We are also asking the Club to join us in reviewing and strengthening its anti-discrimination work, and we will be suggesting some practical initiatives in the coming weeks. This will include improving the process for dealing with future allegations and incidents.
We also want to emphasise that THST is a safe place for any fan wanting to report an incident anonymously or who is unsure of the process.
We value the proud history of inclusion and diversity at Spurs. That does not mean we believe prejudice and intolerance does not exist in our fanbase. Racism and discrimination is on the rise in society in the UK in general and we all need to be vigilant that it doesn’t establish a foothold in our grounds and where we gather. But it does mean we think our proud tradition of inclusion is worth defending, and that we all have a responsibility to do so.
5. AWAY FANS IN HOME ENDS
We’ve had an increasing number of people contacting us about the presence of away supporters in home areas, particularly the South Stand. We’ve spoken to the Club and made it clear what the issues are, and what fans expect. We’ve also set out a more detailed explanation of the issues. The Club is now, as a result of our discussions, including an item on away fans in home sections in every email sent to match-day attenders.
We try to put as much detail as possible on our website on a variety of issues, and we’d really encourage all fans to look at the News section of that site to see if there are answers to their questions. We want our website to be a source of information and explanation on various issues.
Opinion continues to be divided about initiatives to improve the match day atmosphere at our new stadium. Our experience has been that Spurs fans are wary of atmosphere initiatives that look contrived, and that it is very difficult to get people to turn up regularly before games and be prepared to miss parts of games to run crowd surfers or co-ordinate flag displays.
We do, however, encourage grass roots fan groups to work with the Club on initiatives they want to pursue and advise them on the best points of contact at the Club. THFC’s Supporter Liaison Officer Levi Harris is attempting to give that work some focus by convening an atmosphere group that will listen and potentially help organise initiatives with fans. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We recognise that what happens on the pitch has an effect on the atmosphere generated in the stands, and recent performances have unsurprisingly led to an increase in the number of fans asking us if anything can be done to improve the match day atmosphere. We also know that the crowd in the new stadium is capable of generating a great atmosphere, as last year’s home Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City showed. And that we had similar conversations about improving the atmosphere on occasion at our old stadium.
Attempts to create a better atmosphere at more games need to bear a few things in mind.
- The Club’s ticket pricing strategy meant that many fans chose tickets in the South Stand, heavily marketed as the heart of home support, not necessarily because they wanted to be at the centre of where the atmosphere is created, but because it was the only place they could afford a ticket. This, combined with people buying tickets to experience but not necessarily generate atmosphere, and the failure to retain the blocks of community that had evolved at the old stadium, has contributed to what can be a fractious atmosphere in the South Stand.
- Current legislation on standing at football grounds in the top divisions continues to make it difficult to apply a common-sense approach to fans standing during moments of excitement. It’s very positive that THFC has tried to future-proof areas of the new stadium to be safe-standing areas if legislation changes, but this has inevitably sent out mixed messages to the fans who see this as the introduction of safe standing. We continue to campaign for a change in legislation that is more in touch with reality and which allows for choice and sensible crowd management.
- What is briefed to stewarding staff is not always what happens in practice, and this has led to a number of instances of unsatisfactory and inconsistent stewarding, which has an impact on atmosphere.
- While the Ticket Exchange scheme is one we welcome, it appears to be the case that a significant proportion of tickets are put up for sale at each home game by season ticket holders. While tickets will sometimes be put up for sale because a fan can’t make the game, the information we have been getting indicates that the high price of tickets is also a factor. Fans are sacrificing some games in order to reduce the cost of watching their team without giving up their season ticket. This inevitably leads to a less cohesive crowd.
More immediate initiatives may be possible, and we’ll continue to facilitate discussions between fans interested in getting involved and the Club.
7. SOUTHAMPTON FA CUP REPLAY PRICING
The Club’s announcement of pricing for our FA Cup replay against Southampton attracted considerable negative response, and a statement from us expressing our disappointment and anger at the decision to charge a £25 full adult price when the equivalent at Southampton for the original tie had been £10.
While the reaction to our statement was overwhelmingly supportive, a number of comments convinced us it was worth clarifying some background and context.
The £10 price in the original tie was a decision taken by Southampton FC. There was no subsidy from THFC. Tickets were printed with a £20 price as the agreement was to sell tickets to season ticket holders for £10, and members for £20. Our allocation did not go to members so the full price across the board was £10.
The pricing for the replay was decided by THFC. The Club’s decision meant that there was a 150% uplift in the price of a full adult ticket for both Spurs and Southampton fans. No supporters’ organisation would back such an increase.
The Club told us it decided on the pricing based on the cost of opening and running the stadium, and the fact that the opponents were a Premier League team. As the stadium would cost the same to open and run whoever the opposition were, the only conclusion we can draw is that prices were increased because our opponents are in the Premier League.
Since 2014, in response to lobbying from THST, the Club has implemented an accessible pricing policy for home cup games, keeping these games out of match categorisation. This latest decision still keeps the game out of categorisation. So, some people, asked, was £25 that unreasonable?
On its own, a £25 ticket to a game between two Premier League sides would be something we welcomed. But the fact is that regular match going fans do not buy just one ticket. The replay will be the ninth game in a month, with the busy Christmas period immediately preceding it featuring a further three games. Season ticket holders and members are, by definition, fans who go to most or all games. So that represents a significant financial burden especially at this time of year. Therefore, the price of this match ticket needs to be seen in the wider context.
That context also includes the fact that ticket prices at THFC are already some of the highest in Europe, and that the Cup credits that used to give the first two home cup games as part of the season ticket package have been removed.
A pricing announcement such as this inevitably leads some to call for fans to stay away from the game. We have always been very careful about deploying the boycott call for a number of reasons. First, for everyone stridently pushing for a boycott on social media – which, it should be observed, is not the same as actually boycotting – there is another fan arguing that the pricing is OK. Which is partly why we’ve published the explanation above.
It’s also a fact that, even if significant numbers of season ticket holders and members stayed away, there are many more who will buy the tickets in their place. This will, almost inevitably, affect the crowd dynamic and atmosphere, but the Club seemingly prioritises filling seats ahead of these factors. So, calling for a boycott – a very big step for a fan to take – would have little effect.
The walkout staged by Liverpool fans is often used as an example of how it is possible to use this tactic. But that walkout came amid a very specific set of circumstances, and was by no means popular with all supporters, some of whom blamed those who walked out for a bad result on the pitch. While we salute the achievement of Liverpool fans in eventually getting their own club to drop a particularly badly thought out measure, we do not underestimate the problems our colleagues in the Spirit of Shankly and other supporter groups had.
We’ll continue to argue that our Club, and others, should do the right thing, not the thing that can be done. Not only has THFC further eroded supporter goodwill with this decision, it has done nothing to foster relations with a fellow Premier League club with whom it may well need to work in future. Doing the right thing is also about recognising the advantage of building relationships, not just seeing the benefits of taking advantage.
We hope the facts and background information here give people a greater understanding of our position.
8. THE ONE SHOW COMPLAINTS
We were contacted by a number of supporters following an item on BBC1’s The One Show on 27 January. We raised the issue with THFC, and the Club’s lawyers are currently in touch with the BBC. While those discussions are ongoing we cannot make any further comment, but will update when we can.
9. COACHES FOR BURNLEY AWAY
When it was confirmed that our Premier League game away at Burnley had been selected for TV coverage at 5.30pm on Saturday 7 March we asked the Club to look into helping fans travel to and from the game as there was no way to get home on public transport after the game.
Ideally, given the time it takes to travel to and from Burnley by road from London, we would have liked a train to be chartered. But, as we know, the logistics of finding rolling stock and then getting a slot to travel in can be challenging. On this occasion, it was not possible to charter a train, but we are grateful to the Club for providing coach travel at the subsidised price of £10. The fee THFC gets for agreeing to move the time of this game will help to offset the costs.
While we are pleased the Club is subsidising coaches, we’re left to observe once again that match going fans come well down the list of priorities when TV companies and football clubs decide on the timing of games. Many of those fans who will return from Burnley in the early hours of Sunday morning will be travelling again on the Monday to our Champions League tie in Leipzig.
10. BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY LIAISON GROUP MEETING
Trust Secretary Pete Haine attended the BCLG meeting on 21 January. The meeting heard that the two Guns N’ Roses concerts on 29 and 30 May have sold out, with attendances of 47,000 expected. Further gigs are scheduled to take place on 30 July and, possibly, 1 August. A further, as yet unspecified, event is to be announced for 13 June. On 28 March, Saracens will play a rugby union game at the stadium.
New trains with increased capacity are currently being tested through White Hart Lane station.
Details of a new development at the back of Percy House, called the Northern Terrace, will be unveiled next month.
11. THST SPURS CHARITY PUB QUIZ
This year’s event will take place at The Antwerp Arms on Thursday 23 April 2020 from 7pm onwards, and we’re pleased to announce the host for the evening will be Theo Delaney. Put it in your diaries now, assemble your teams and start revising your Spurs history.
This will be our third annual quiz, with all proceeds once again going to our nominated charity Studio 306 Collective, a Haringey mental health social enterprise. It’s guaranteed to be another fun night for a very worthy cause. More details to follow.
12. DECEMBER CATERING SURVEY
This month saw the introduction of a new craft beer at the stadium: a collaboration beer created by Beavertown for Tottenham Hotspur FC. It’s named ‘One of Our Own’ and was launched, rather unfortunately, on the day that Harry Kane began his long lay-off due to his hamstring injury. As the launch match was against Liverpool – one where many fans felt large quantities of beer might be needed – it was frustrating that several outlets had difficulties serving it. However, these difficulties appear to be sorted now, and it is readily available. It is more expensive than Neck Oil because it cannot be made in such large quantities – but the important thing is to have choice and affordable quality beers available throughout the stadium.
The other development worth reporting is that the Spurs App now has a much-improved section, under ‘Stadium’, which allows you to source food for different allergies. We have asked for this as a result of your feedback on our monthly surveys so we hope you will find it useful.
Your responses to the surveys are greatly appreciated and have really helped us to work with the Club to fine-tune the service it provides. The much-improved hot drinks, for example, have clearly been very well received and are proving very popular.
Don’t forget to let us have your feedback for the January matches.
Finally, we say goodbye and thank you to George Robertson who has led on Catering for THFC but left the Club on Friday. It has been a pleasure working with him and we wish him well for the future.
13. CYCLE ON YOU SPURS
Our 17-strong team are on a recruitment drive for new Spurs cyclists to join. Sign up before 8 February and save £50 on your entry fee. Full details can be found on our new dedicated Cycle on You Spurs web page.
14. MEMBERS ONLINE FORUM
We’ve been working with Trust member and longstanding friend of THST Tom Mitchell to set up a members-only online forum that can be a space for discussion of policy and exchange of information. It is a membership benefit that will be available to all full and life members, and it will be a moderated forum embedded in the THST site. We’re currently putting the finishing touches to the technical side of the forum and making sure we are able to moderate effectively. We hope to have the forum up and running soon after the AGM on 11 February, and we’ll be posting a dedicated update and contacting all members with more details in due course.
- SPORT OPTIONS
We know many fans value an officially organised trip, and many more want the option of a direct, one-day trip. We think the Club has a responsibility to help its fans get to games, but we also recognise the commercial environment.
Sport Options is an experienced, ATOL-registered operator and is able to secure deals at very competitive rates. Its ability to do so for our trip to Leipzig meant it was not practical, for example, for the Club to offer a trip.
After speaking to Sport Options, we’re happy to make fans aware of the deals it offers to away games in Europe, at no liability to THST. As we do with Zeelo and Big Green Coach, we will publicise what is on offer so fans can make an informed decision. There is no commercial partnership between THST and any other organisation.
At the time of writing, there are limited places available for Leipzig away. Details can be found on the Sport Options website.
- THE SPURS SHOW
The Spurs Show holds regular, intimate events in Central London with ex-players and Club legends. These entertaining and informative nights are extremely popular with fans of all ages, are always well attended and have become a cornerstone of the Spurs social calendar.
Now’s your chance to be at all Spurs Show Live events for the coming season with your very own Spurs Show Live season ticket and, as a THST member, you’ll get a 20% discount! Full details are can be found here.
- WINGATE AND FINCHLEY FC
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.
THST members are welcome at these matches. Keep an eye on Wingate & Finchley’s social media for latest news.
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.
- ZEELO COACH TRAVEL
31 January 2020
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