Premier League meeting with fan reps
European Super League and UEFA Club Competition reform
Ticketing update with THFC
Kick off Against Hunger campaign update
Terrace Talk mental health campaign
Social media abuse and football
Overseas merchandise sales
THST Official Video Podcasts
FSE F+ Collective update
PCUK Football 2 Amsterdam 2021
Selected supporter representatives from six Premier League Clubs met with senior Premier League executives on 3 March for the latest in the series of formal structured dialogue sessions, facilitated by the Football Supporters’ Association. THST co-chair and FSA Premier League Network representative Katrina Law was joined by fellow fan reps from the Trusts at Manchester United, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Arsenal and Fulham for the Zoom meeting where areas of particular interest or concern to fans across the division were discussed. This included plans for the return of fans, hopefully at the end of the current season in limited numbers; European Super League and UEFA Club Competition reform proposals (see point 2 of this newsletter); Ongoing Governance reviews; Social media abuse and online hate; VAR; Ticketing for next season and the Premier League’s Gambling review.
The FSA has published a report of the meeting, which can be read here. The Premier League has committed to a further meeting with supporter representatives in April to discuss the return of fans to stadia in more detail, once it’s clear the government’s road map is on track and more discussions have been held with the DCMS and Public Health England.
2. European Super League and UEFA Club Competition reform
Over the last week or so, we’ve issued a series of tweets attempting to highlight the issues with changes being proposed to the UEFA Champions League, and with the plans for a so-called European Super League that are being floated. Both have serious implications for European and domestic competition, and our position is that fans’ views on any changes should be considered.
UEFA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) was due to vote on some of the proposals as this newsletter went to press, so we will have to update fully next month. But we wanted to update members on the work we’ve been doing.
A key objective has been to raise awareness among fans of what is being proposed and what the implications are. We think it’s important that all fans take the time to read the response Football Supporters Europe, an organisation THST is a member of, prepared.
In short, we are arguing for qualification to be decided on merit only, for the protection of domestic leagues, and for financial benefits to be spread more evenly in order to protect competition. Please take the time to read and understand what is being proposed, and what the alternatives are.
3. Ticketing update with THFC
THST co-chairs Kat Law and Martin Cloake, along with Board member and ticketing support lead Anthoulla Achilleos, met with Club ticketing staff on 2 March for an update on various ticketing strands. Here, we’ll explain what we’ve lobbied for. The Club will publicly announce their decisions in due course.
First, we’ve lobbied for the General Admission Season Ticket price freeze the Club had committed to a year ago to be upheld for the 2021/22 season. It would not be appropriate or reasonable to pass any of the significant losses incurred by the Club throughout the duration of the pandemic onto the fans; many of whom are also experiencing significant financial hardship. So, we would like prices held at the 2020/21 level for next season.
We asked the Club to clarify that all deposits, along with any additional funds held in Cashback accounts, would be carried over to next season. This is something that was clarified on the call. So we can confirm the 20% deposits paid to hold Season Tickets for the current season will be deducted from the cost of 2021/22 Season Tickets.
We told the Club that the view we were hearing from members and fellow fans was that there was a reluctance to part with any more money until it was clear that fans would definitely be permitted to attend games at full capacity from August 2021. We asked for any renewal deadline to be extended beyond the government’s planned 21 June announcement, when the likelihood that fans would be back inside grounds for the start of the 2021/22 season may be clearer.
We asked for special consideration to be given to those who had deferred their Season Tickets on medical grounds this season and for the Club to be mindful of those who find themselves in temporary financial hardship as a result of loss of earnings caused by COVID-19. The Club needs to be conscious of the specific issues facing fans in the upcoming renewal window: summed up as Fear, Finance and Health. We asked for installment options to be available and in place for those requiring or preferring to pay for their Season Ticket in this manner and again for the Club to be aware of difficulties those temporarily out of work may have securing credit from the usual providers.
We asked for assurances that any amended Ticketing T&Cs for 2021/22 wouldn’t include a ‘Force Majeure’ clause in relation to disrupted seasons in future.
We had submitted proposals in advance on how the Ticketing Points cycle should be adjusted to maximise fairness for both newer and longer-term Season Ticket holders, given no points had been deducted last summer and no points had been awarded for individual games this season.
As a reminder, ticketing points operate on a rolling cycle compromising points accrued from the current season and from the four previous seasons. Each summer, points are deducted from the fifth season prior to the current one, keeping points to the four previous seasons and current one only.
The onset of COVID-19 and failure to complete the 2019-20 season with fans present resulted in the Club deciding not to deduct any points at the end of the last season. The fact 2020-21 has been a fallow season in terms of ticketing points meant steps needed to be taken to redress the balance and get the points cycle back on track.
With that in mind, we have lobbied the Club to:
- Remove the 2020-21 season from the loyalty point rolling system altogether
- For longer-term ST holders to have their 2015-16 points deducted at the end of this season
- For newer ST holders (those who purchased during our season at Wembley) to have their first season’s deduction at the end of the 2022-23 season
This would mean that both longer-term and newer Season Ticket holders would hold four seasons of points by the end of the 2021-22 season, with both sets of ST holders then holding ticketing points accrued during 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 (partial season), 2021-22 when entering the 2022-23 season. The following infographic explains our thinking in visual form.
At the time of writing, the League Cup Final has not been selected as a pilot event and, as such, no fans will be permitted inside Wembley on 25 April. This is a fluid situation, however, with sporadic rumours appearing in the media to the contrary! We’re in touch with the Club and have reminded staff of our recommendation for any tickets to be awarded by ticketing points not ballot should the decision change. We would also argue for priority to be given to fans of the competing clubs in the event of any limited capacity event.
It is possible the last home league game of the season v Aston Villa will be held in front of 10,000 home fans. This is reliant on government permission, but should this go ahead, tickets would be allocated by ballot. We have asked that the Club is transparent on how those tickets are divided across the various Sponsor, Player, Partner, Staff, Premium and General Admission pots. The Trust position is for a proportional allocation in line with regular match days.
We’ll keep in close contact with the Club as the government’s roadmap out of lockdown advances.
4. Kick off Against Hunger campaign update
KOAH Trust lead Pete Haine met with Tony Stevens of THFC and representatives of Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks on 15 March to review the joint Kick Off Against Hunger campaign. THST co-chair Kat Law attended with her marketing day-job hat on.
In a hugely positive meeting, we reviewed the platforms and channels currently being used to push out the campaign, how we could add to that mix and the new opportunities that would be available to us once fans are back inside the ground. We also looked at how to create more engaging content that connected with supporters and explored how we could make text donating accessible for those outside the UK, along with offering a weblink for those unable to donate by phone.
Food poverty and hunger is a very real issue in our community and the Club, Foundation and Trust are committed to a sustained fundraising campaign to support both local foodbanks. Keeping this front of mind when life returns ‘back to normal’ for many will be a challenge and we’ll need the continued support of our members to raise awareness and amplify those important messages over the coming months.
You can donate to the Foodbanks 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.
5. Terrace Talk mental health campaign
Our February newsletter brought you news of the Football Supporters’ Association’s recently launched #TerraceTalk initiative. You can view the recent FSA mental health webinar here. During the last month, the Trust has been exploring how best to use resources to play an effective part in this campaign. Anthoulla Achilleos and Kevin Fitzgerald are leading for the THST Board and have been in discussions with a number of other Supporters’ Trusts and mental health workers and are about to discuss options for a live virtual event with the Tottenham Foundation.
Further details on our plans will be brought to you during April.
6. Social media abuse and football
Social media abuse of footballers and others involved in the game is a persistent and increasing problem. Often the abuse is racist and/or misogynistic. As a Trust, we share the widely-held view that not enough is being done to prevent or combat this abuse.
THST Board Member Steve Cavalier has been working with the Football Supporters’ Association and representatives of supporters’ groups from other clubs to agree a coordinated approach.
Often abuse is posted by so-called fans, attacking players (often at the clubs they claim to support), media commentators and others, including other supporters and supporter representatives. It is important, as a fans organisation, that we recognise this but also that we challenge the view that all fans are the problem. Supporters’ groups must be involved as part of the solution.
Clear action is needed. This must re-emphasise that whilst legitimate criticism is understandable and acceptable, abuse is not and must be stopped. Fans need to be encouraged to report abuse. Most of all, social media companies need to act more quickly and decisively to tackle the issues, by blocking abuse, taking down posts and taking action against perpetrators where appropriate. Social media companies have a responsibility to protect those who are subjected to this abuse.
Some of these issues will come to the fore in the discussions in Parliament on the proposed Online Harms Bill, which the government has said will be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in May.
With the FSA and other groups, we are contacting football organisations and anti-discrimination groups to work together on this issue. We are suggesting a coordinated campaign to stamp out abuse and encourage the reporting of abuse. We will also be writing to the social media companies to call for quicker and more effective action and writing to politicians to ensure these concerns are addressed in the online harms legislation when it is debated in Parliament.
BBC1's 'Football's Darkest Secret', a three-part report on historic sexual abuse of young players in football, was an extremely harrowing watch. It was broadcast to coincide with the publication of The Sheldon Report at the end of March 2021. Even those of us who felt that we had followed the story closely as it unfolded were left stunned and horrified by the full scope and depth of the abuse. The bravery of the men who told their stories and who empowered so many others to do the same was outstanding. The great sadness and anger was exacerbated by the woeful inability of the Clubs and the legal system to protect them and others.
The Sheldon Report recognises that football, and safeguarding in general, is in a very different place now, but that we can never be complacent. The recommendations of the report are common sense and have disappointed many in that they don't appear to go beyond the obvious. For example, The Offside Trust, the organisation set up by survivors of child sexual abuse in sport, said the recommendations were "blindingly obvious to anyone" after the scandal broke in 2016. It added it was "disappointed not to see anything stronger in terms of mandatory reporting" and it would have liked to have "seen more on wealthy clubs supporting grassroots safeguarding".
We, as a Supporters’ Trust, have a remit to look out for the interests of our supporters and we work closely with the Head of Safeguarding at Spurs to look at policy and practice around supporters, and throughout the Club. We will be continuing to work together to ensure there are clear communications for supporters and that the impact of safeguarding policies, and particularly those raised by The Sheldon Report, are constantly reviewed and adapted where necessary.
8. THST Official Video Podcasts
This month on our THST Official podcast, co-chair Martin Cloake joined the team to discuss governance. How involved can Supporters’ Trusts be with the day-to-day running of their clubs, why should football fans care about governance and what does it entail? Tune in and find out...
Meanwhile Tottenham On My Mind blogger Alan Fisher featured on an edition earlier in the month to discuss VAR. Alan virtually attended an FSA VAR session where Professional Game Match Officials Limited general manager Mike Riley gave his views on the technology. The team also discuss their VAR likes and dislikes (mainly their dislikes) and a year away from football stadiums.
9. Overseas merchandise sales
One of our US-based members contacted us to raise concerns about the charging structure for overseas merchandise sales. Board member Michael Green has carried out an extensive piece of research to see how the situation at Spurs compares with other Premier League clubs, and to try to establish greater clarity on how and why overseas fans are charged in the way they are.
We’re still talking to the Club about the issue and have asked for purchasers to be given the option of paying in USD or GBP, and for the Club to provide greater clarity during the sales process on UK VAT deduction, US sales and other taxes and exchange rates.
We’ll update on progress in our next newsletter.
10. FSE F+ Collective update
Board members Rachel Martin and Anthoulla Achilleos represent the Trust on the Europe-wide F+Collective, a group for women to discuss and shape priorities and practice affecting female supporters of the game. Meetings are held bi-monthly and online, with the next meeting addressing sexual violence in football contexts. A report will be shared in the next newsletter, and on the forum.
11. PCUK Football 2 Amsterdam 2021
One should always add “fingers crossed”, but the good news is that all of our 31-strong Cycle On You Spurs team have been informed that PCUK is confident the ride from the Olympic Park Velodrome to the Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, cancelled in 2020 and postponed for a June 2021 start, will go ahead in September.
Our COYS team are still ready to welcome new riders. Registration will remain open until late April (Code PAL25 for £25 off the registration fee). If you would like to enjoy the release from lockdown, add a challenge, get fitter, have a great time with a large group of Spurs fans and raise funds for this great cause, now is your chance.
Now that it’s all systems go, it’s time to make the call for donations. During the pandemic the Trust has, quite rightly, directed all our fundraising efforts to NHS workers, local foodbanks and to Studio 306 Collective; our local mental health charity partner. Further promotion of our campaign to get the money rolling for the ride to Amsterdam will follow. Meanwhile you can join the ride or donate here.
12. THST Forum
This month on the Forum we have been discussing a range of subjects including:
- Safeguarding and The Sheldon Report
- The renewal of season tickets for next season
- The potential of fans returning to stadia for the last two matches of the season
- The ticketing points cycle and how to manage this fairly as a result of the pandemic
- A debrief from Mike Riley about the joys of VAR
- Governance in football and the review of European football tournaments
The Forum is also a handy place to find links to our podcasts / vlogs. As the country opens up again, it’s likely that there will be lots of issues that will affect you as supporters so keep an eye on the forum, get involved, start a new topic if it’s not already there, and let us know your thoughts.
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.
THST helps lead work on FSA Ticket Charter
A Sunday in Plumstead – Martin Cloake on The Spurs Show
31 March 2021
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