THST Annual General Meeting 2021
Raising funds for Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks
Broadcast update, including FA Cup
Club sanctions and banning policy
Business and Community Liaison Group meeting
Supporter Experience meeting
European solidarity work
Cycle on You Spurs
Ride for Ray
Much of January has been taken up with preparations for our Annual General Meeting on 16 February. As a Community Benefit Society, registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, holding a formal AGM each February sits at the heart of our constitution. It’s key to the democratic principles of the organisation and ensuring as many of our members as possible participate in the process is critical to the long-term health of the Trust.
Ahead of each AGM, one third of the Trust Board resign with those Board members permitted to seek re-election by the membership, if desired. This year, Martin Buhagiar, Martin Cloake and Michael Green have resigned their posts and all are seeking re-election to the Board. In addition, two new places were made available on the Trust Board. One nomination was received and Stephen Cavalier will therefore be elected to the Trust Board should the membership ratify that appointment at the AGM.
All Life and Full members are encouraged to use their votes on the above resolutions either in person at the AGM on Tuesday 16 February or by Proxy vote in advance of the meeting. Proxy votes need to be submitted by Thursday 11 February either by email or by online survey. Full details can be found on the dedicated AGM page of our website.
Once the proxy voting period has closed, we’ll be contacting Full and Life members yet to vote to register for the online AGM and we’ll circulate relevant meeting access codes thereafter. We look forward to welcoming many of you to the meeting from the comfort of your own homes, especially those usually prevented from attending by geography!
We’ve also been busy writing our Annual Report, detailing the work we’ve undertaken over the last 12 months. This is currently with our designer, Justin Ford of Hubert and Ford, and we’ll publish ahead of the AGM. It’s another comprehensive, informative read so please do look out for that.
2. Raising funds for Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks
The Club, its charitable Foundation and THST have launched a joint fundraising initiative to support North Enfield and Tottenham Foodbanks throughout the coming year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for the Foodbanks has risen by approximately 300%. In November, THST launched the #KickOffAgainstHunger campaign for Tottenham Foodbank, urging fans to donate at least the price of a pie, a pint or a programme every time Spurs kick off a match. We have now joined forces with the Club to raise awareness among members and the wider fanbase of the new fundraiser for the two Foodbanks.
Fans are able to make donations of any amount via a text-to-donate service that will be regularly promoted across Club and Trust platforms around matchdays.
To make a donation, for example, text COYSFOODBANK 3 to 70085 to donate £3*
*Texts cost the amount of your donation plus one standard rate message.
You can replace ‘3’ in the text message with any amount you wish to donate.
Your donation will be added to your monthly mobile bill or deducted from the credit on your pay as you go.
If you are unable to donate by text, you can make a donation directly to Tottenham Foodbank or to the North Enfield Foodbank via their web donation pages.
Here is a link to the Club announcement for more details.
3. Broadcast update, including FA Cup
The Premier League has confirmed all matches will be broadcast live as part of existing subscription packages until the end of February. It’s also been confirmed that all FA Cup games will be shown live across the usual platforms, including the BBC Red Button service.
We remain in close contact with Premier League executives on broadcast. All indications are that this arrangement will continue until fans can return to grounds, and we anticipate that broadcast times will be confirmed on a month-by-month basis.
The current health situation means that it is highly unlikely fans will return to stadiums in any great numbers until the autumn. Our position, which we successfully lobbied the Football Supporters’ Association to back and which is also supported by fan organisations across the league, is that the current broadcast arrangements should continue until the full return of fans to stadiums. We are particularly committed to ensuring that fans who cannot return to, or choose not to return to, stadiums for health reasons in the event of any partial return continue to be able to watch their team play on TV under the current arrangements.
Our discussions indicate there is a keen awareness that football is not the most important issue at the moment, but also that there is a recognition of the benefits of continuing to provide entertainment to supporters. (Fans of all clubs will no doubt insert their own joke about style of football here). Many parts of the entertainment industry have adapted to provide Covid-19-safe delivery, and football is no different.
4. Ticketing update
The chances of any fans being able to attend the League Cup Final are extremely slim. The date of the final was put back to 25 April, but the current public health situation provides little if any prospect of the game going ahead in front of a crowd. To cover all bases, we asked the Club to issue tickets according to the mechanism in their T&C’s, based on ticketing points, if fans were allowed to attend.
The uncertainty over when and how current restrictions will be lifted means it is difficult to plan any ticketing work, but it may help for us to set out the situation as it stands.
The Club currently holds a 20% deposit from every season ticket holder for the 2020/21 season. The reasons for this, and a full explanation of the current position with season tickets, are outlined in detail in our July newsletter, under point 2. To be clear, the 20% deposit will carry over into the 2021/22 season should the stadium not open at full capacity this season.
The Club has committed to holding prices for the 2021/22 season at the same level as 2020/21. A full explanation can be found on the news section of our website. The Club’s announcement can be read on its website.
We will discuss the detail of any partial return as and when the eventuality arises. While we broadly agreed with the ballot process the Club used for the two limited capacity games that went ahead earlier this season, the Club’s refusal to be fully transparent about how those tickets were allocated is counterproductive. It is important fans have faith in any ticketing process, and that cannot happen without full transparency.
We’re also aware that the prolonged shutdown has a potentially significant effect on the way the current five-year ticketing points cycle operates. We have asked the Club to consider how to address this and will report back in more detail once we have it.
5. Club sanctions and banning policy
We spent years urging the Club to adopt a clear and coherent set of sanctions for ticketing offences and other misbehaviour by fans. Last December we announced that a policy was in place and that we would review its implementation within six months. That review was delayed by the Covid-19 crisis.
We’ve now had the chance to see how the policy is implemented and we remain concerned about aspects of the Club’s approach. We cannot, for obvious reasons, go into every detail of the cases concerned, but information that is in the public domain can be found on the website of the so-called Independent Football Ombudsman.
Some issues around the composition of the Appeals Panel, adhering to timescales and effective communication have been addressed in theory, although we will have to see what happens in practice. We also asked for a loophole in the away ticketing returns policy, which prevented fans from returning tickets for away games within seven days of a fixture, to be addressed. The Club has agreed to more widely publicise current arrangements, but we would like to see a better solution in view of the current sanctions.
Discussions around this whole issue have, in our view and notwithstanding the public health crisis, been unnecessarily drawn out. The Club’s approach of seeing consultation as simply restating its original decision after listening to other points of view is not genuine liaison or engagement. It is increasingly difficult to take a pragmatic approach when this happens.
It’s also worth making the point that, despite the so-called Independent Football Ombudsman finding, in the ruling linked above, that improvements in the process were needed, his findings made no requirement of the Club to address them and gave no timescale in which it should do so. The small improvements in process that were secured were solely down to the efforts of THST and the FSA representative. Because of this we share the doubts expressed by a number of other fan groups about the operation of the IFO and would like to see a thorough overhaul of that operation.
6. Business and Community Liaison Group meeting
Pete Haine attended the Zoom BCLG meeting during the last week of January as the THST representative. Key take outs were:
- The Stadium will be used as a vaccination hub from late February/early March, providing some 2600 appointments a day, 7 days a week between 8am and 8pm;
- Planning permission for The Corner Pin was approved just before Christmas. It is expected to open in about 6 months;
- The Club has been given approval to use the Goods Yard as a temporary car park to house around 400 cars when fans return in small numbers. There are no plans yet for how to book or the cost. It is important to recognise this will only be a temporary measure and will not be made available once we return to larger attendances.
7. Supporter Experience meeting
Trust co-chairs Kat Law and Martin Cloake had an informal video call with THFC’s Supporter Liaison Officer Levi Harris and Head of Supporter Experience Tiggy Thompson to understand and discuss the general approach to what the Club calls supporter experience. In short, this covers all interactions between the Club and fans across customer service, supporter service, retail and visitor attractions.
Tiggy and Levi explained a little about the structure of this side of the Club’s operation, and about the changes and improvements being put into place. Kat and Martin articulated some common supporter complaints and issues with aspects of the Club’s approach. We emphasised the need for fans to feel they were getting a personal, empathetic response rather than a standard reply, and made the point that the Club too often starts from the assumption that the fan is in the wrong.
This was a positive and informative meeting, and we hope that some of the general principles agreed will – as current management speak would put it – cascade upwards.
8. European solidarity work
We continue to contribute to discussions with supporter groups across Europe, through FSE Europe, aimed at preserving the integrity of competition and addressing the need for a reform of how finance is distributed. It’s a tough workstream, with many fan groups and viewpoints involved, and with UEFA’s commitment to proper consultation with fans questionable.
We also have to balance addressing the many big picture issues with ensuring we can take a position that our members will back, and that a good proportion of our fans will too. The broad approach currently agreed can be found in this FSE Europe statement.
9. FSE’s F+Collectiv
We were recently invited by Football Supporters Europe to attend the inaugural online meeting of the F+Collectiv, an informal network of female football fans across the continent, to hear about the areas of work being undertaken by female fans across Europe. This included The Fantastic Females Exhibition, a touring exhibition promoting female fan culture in European football with 78 portraits of female fans from 21 countries, and a multimedia presentation of research on female fan culture at a European level.
We heard from the German organisation, F_INN, founded in 2004 to represent women in all areas of football including players, supporters, journalists and ‘social workers”. It is independent of the clubs, not institutionalised, there are no votes, no leader and decisions are based on “those who want to do things, get to decide”. An interesting philosophy! Their influence has spread to the extent that they now form part of the official fan dialogue with the German FA and leagues. They are also regularly contacted for comment by the press, albeit often on very niche areas such as sexual harassment in stadia. One of their goals is to widen the range of subjects they can offer input on.
We also heard from the Network of Women in Fan Culture based in Malmo, Sweden. They have held residential weekends for female fans with workshops and discussions. A particular area they sought to address was the way that the media presented the women as fragile, and the failure to see the contribution women make. As a result, the network developed a 10-point plan to establish a more female-supportive culture within football.
Discussions around European Club Competition Reform were very familiar to the THST attendees, and no doubt to our members, also. Concerns were shared around the reform of European competition, the lack of fan consultation, the threat to domestic leagues, to fan culture and the relationship between domestic and European leagues.
All guest speakers stressed that women working together is an incredibly empowering and supportive experience and that the issues they face are pretty universal. This overrides any potential club rivalries and demonstrates that we are stronger together through our shared experiences and the desire to improve things for female fans universally. As one delegate summed it up, “Fans are the ultimate bastion of the purest form of love for their clubs, so we cannot be ignored.”
It's clear that fan culture and attitudes differ greatly across Northern Europe, Scandinavia and here in the UK. Many of our European counterparts have already established female networks at Club and National level with varying degrees of success. This is not something that is at best in its infancy in organised English fan culture to date. We’re happy to support and learn from our European peers where we can. We believe in the power of the collective, networking and shared experiences and we look forward to working with the women across Europe in future months on issues of relevance to all football fans, as well as specifically to women.
10. THST vodcasts
THST Official has launched a video podcast. With so much information to share, we want to make sure we are getting our message to as many members as we possibly can by offering as much choice as possible.
Board members Martin Buhagiar, Rachel Martin, Anthoulla Achilleos and Rob White have recorded four episodes so far and all are available to watch on YouTube or can be listened to via Spotify or iTunes. The podcast will cover the issues that matter to supporters ranging from ticket prices, television scheduling, pay per view matches and future broadcasting deals, governance, the continued safe return of fans to the stadium and other important matters.
For more information, please visit our website and watch our first episode.
11. Programme donations
So far, sales of the kind donations of Tottenham Home and Away programmes have raised £860, with more in the pipeline to bring that figure closer to £1,000. £550 has already been passed onto Studio 306 Collective.
Please contact Pete.Haine@THSTOfficial.com for an up to date list of what is available.
12. Cycle on You Spurs
If you are looking a few months ahead and planning to cycle further than five miles when, hopefully, lockdown restrictions ease, how about signing up for 3 -5 September 2021 PCUK charity ride to the Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam? You can do so here, where donations can also be made.
13. Ride for Ray
Along with cycling to Amsterdam, we have a team planning to cycle from Anfield to Spurs as a tribute ride for the late Ray Clemence; a great ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK. The confirmation of a date for the ride is dependent on the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and further information will follow as soon as circumstance allow.
14. THST Forum
Our members’ only forum – you can find it under the yellow button on our website – continues to grow. This month we have been discussing a wide range of subjects, important to our members.
You can also find links to everything you need to know about the forthcoming AGM and how to ensure your vote, as a full member, is made. The meeting will of course be online and you can vote on the night, or by proxy. More details in point 1 of this newsletter.
Other discussions on the Forum include our new vlogs / podcasts, everything you didn’t know you needed to know about our shirt sponsorship deal (and naming rights), and the controversial subject of the piped goal celebration music – why it’s played, when it’s played and when it wasn’t!
Please join in the discussions, let us know what else you’d like to see discussed and what issues currently matter to you.
31 January 2021
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