Champions League Final – Ticketing and allocation
Planning for Madrid – Fan advice and information
Crowd management at Barcelona: UEFA decision
Premier League network meeting – 14 May
Catering Meeting at Lilywhite House - 21 May
Business & Community Liaison Group meeting – 21 May
THST Summer BBQ – Sunday 26 May
Football to Amsterdam – Friday 7 June
- Annual Fans Survey
- Rescheduling Club meetings
- THST Q2 Board meeting – 17 June
- Swindon Spurs AGM – 22 June
- Supporters Summit – 29 June
You’re receiving May’s newsletter slightly early because many of you, along with quite a few of us, will be off to Madrid via pretty much all points of the compass. For The Champions League Final! We can’t do anything else to start this newsletter other than salute the players for this amazing achievement, and to wish the team, everyone at the Club and Spurs fans everywhere, whether travelling or not, the very best of luck. We’ll see you on the other side and remember, enjoy these days to the full. COME ON YOU SPURS!
1. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: TICKETING AND ALLOCATION
The celebrations from that amazing semi-final win over Ajax had barely died down before attention turned to the Final in Madrid. We have been inundated with work, and we know the Club has been stretched to the limit. Some Club staff had to fly to Madrid from Amsterdam the morning after our game to begin the planning process. This is a roundup of the work we have been doing over the last three weeks.
Ticket prices had been announced before we qualified, and it’s safe to say the eye-watering prices set by UEFA surprised even seasoned observers of modern football. With travel and accommodation costs also rocketing, we spoke to colleagues at Liverpool FC’s Spirit of Shankly supporters’ union, and put out a joint statement calling for a cap on ticket pricing, transparency over the allocation of tickets, and for consumer protection measures to stop some of the sharp practices to which supporters were being exposed by elements of the travel and hospitality industry. We are aware that this year is not the first time fans have been subjected to all this, and we wanted to put down a marker.
We followed up with another joint call for our Clubs to use the proceeds of their European Champions League runs to subsidise ticket prices for fans, ensuring that no fan paid more than £100 for a ticket. THFC issued a more positive response than we expected, expressing sympathy with the “significant costs” to fans, and noting that we had put the issue onto the agenda. We know that there are discussions currently going on between clubs, fan organisations and UEFA about ticket pricing in European competition, so we feel the Club’s response is not just a sop, but a recognition that things need to change.
Nevertheless, THFC said it would not subsidise prices, because this would “remove any incentive for competition organisers to price sensibly in the future’. While we acknowledge the logic of that, the simple fact is that it still left our fans having to pay extortionate prices. As we went to press with this newsletter, LFC were yet to issue a formal response to their fans.
Following confirmation that just 16,613 tickets would be made available to fans of each competing club – less than 25% of the available tickets for the game – we also made a public call alongside SOS for a greater proportion of tickets to be given direct to fans of competing clubs, and for sponsors to return some of their tickets to the pot. Again, we recognised this was not a new problem, but we wanted both to try to secure more tickets for fans this year and put down a marker for future games.
All the joint work attracted a lot of positive response and positive press coverage, although no immediate practical benefit for fans this year, which is disappointing. We have had some limited response from sponsors and sponsor organisations and we will continue to work in the pragmatic way we have established to achieve practical solutions.
We’ve also spoken to reps from the Arsenal and Chelsea Supporters’ Trusts about issues around their final in Baku. And we’re pushing for more direct contact with UEFA on all these matters through Football Supporters Europe.
The four fan groups were determined not to waste the opportunity presented by clubs attached to some of the most active and organised fan groups reaching the two European finals, and the joint work we have done around a number of issues has raised awareness of the often shocking treatment of fans, and of the need for UEFA to get a grip on its role. We’re also intending to follow up on some of the consumer protection issues raised with national fan and political contacts.
- TICKET SALES AND COLLECTION
There was not much that could be negotiated over the sales process, but it was one we broadly agreed with in the circumstances. We were able to help flag up some initial glitches with the ticketing website when the first sales window opened, and communicate progress in fixing it to supporters. We also dealt with a large number of questions into our Twitter feed about the sales process.
On collection, we would have preferred the Club not to require collection in person. But their decision was that sending by registered post was not reliable enough. We asked that those fans who couldn’t make it, particularly those based overseas, could be allowed to pick up in resort and the Club said it would be running a limited operation in Madrid to enable fans to collect.
- TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT
Coach provider Zeelo, however, did contact us to tell us about a luxury coach transfer straight into and out of Madrid. We have worked with Zeelo for nearly two years and not received a single complaint about their service, so we agreed to publicise their link asking fans to express interest and, once they had established there was sufficient interest, we told fans about the service. We’re aware that Zeelo had to make some late changes to departure times due to ferry operators changing the terms on which they were dealing with them. Zeelo informed us as soon as they found out, and also communicated clearly and early to customers.
If only the same could be said of the Club’s official travel partner, Thomas Cook Sport. Many fans were left hanging for weeks, thinking they had flights booked, only to be told on 21 May that Thomas Cook could not source the capacity. This meant some fans lost the chance to attend the game, and others had to pay far more than they had anticipated via other operators to get to Madrid. Not unreasonably, fans who’d had bookings confirmed assumed Thomas Cook would be able to supply the service they had promised. Or simply deliver the confirmation within 48 hours of booking that was promised. Thomas Cook not only failed to source flights, they failed to communicate clearly with their customers.
We tried as much as we could to get clear information, and handled a large number of questions via email and twitter from fans affected. As we finished this newsletter, we are still urging THFC to make a clear statement to fans, clarifying the situation and providing practical advice. We understand the huge demand on flights generated by this final, but it cannot be right for fans to be treated as they have been. The wider issues of how the travel industry operates are something we will be taking up with the relevant authorities. If Thomas Cook survives as a company, and press rumours suggest it may not, then we would expect THFC to seek a different official travel partner for the future.
- STADIUM SCREENING
On a more positive note, the Club did respond to fan requests to install additional screens on the pitch as well as use the giant screens in the four corners of the ground.
Finally, the Club publicised its decision to ban three season ticket holders found to be trying sell their Madrid tickets for vastly inflated prices online. We fully support that decision and we know from the high volume of messages we’ve had that most supporters do to. The irony of fans using former Club partner StubHub to tout their tickets was not lost.
2. PLANNING FOR MADRID: FAN ADVICE AND INFORMATION
We took part in a conference call with Club officials and the police to run through preparations for the game in Madrid and the screening at the stadium. We’ve been in constant touch with Club staff since we reached the final, and this call gave us a chance to finish addressing a number of issues and confirm details, as well as to ensure some key points were being addressed. We’ll be running a standalone piece on our website with information that will complement the Club’s advice.
3. CROWD MANAGEMENT AT BARCELONA: UEFA DECISION
Almost six months after the Club and THST submitted a formal complaint to UEFA over the treatment of our fans at the Nou Camp, UEFA announced the results of its investigation – a €20,000 fine on Barcelona. We view the so-called punishment as derisory and said so in a statement. THFC also issued a statement expressing concern that the decision did nothing to ensure incidents such as this would not be repeated and thanking us for our help in compiling fan accounts.
We are currently taking legal advice on options for pursuing justice for our fans. And we have written to every fan who contacted us updating them personally on developments. We will be contacting those fans again once we receive legal advice.
4. PREMIER LEAGUE NETWORK MEETING – 14 MAY
Fan reps from Premier League clubs met in London on the evening of 14 May in the latest network meeting organised under the umbrella of The Unified Football Supporters Organisation. Most of the meeting was taking up with a presentation on plans for a new, closed, European Super League being pushed by the European Club Association and UEFA. While we are still trying to ascertain precise details, plans are complex and we’ll be publishing more information about them in the coming months. In a nutshell, the proposals would create a closed, invite-only set of European competitions that would undermine the principle of merit and threaten the continuance of a domestic league programme as we know it.
All reps present agreed that these plans must be opposed. It was recognised that we needed first to communicate clearly to as many fans as possible what the proposals were and why they pose such a threat. And it was also agreed that we needed to be smarter in our campaigning. The football authorities in England and Wales are by no means in favour of these proposals, and nor are the clubs united in their views. So there is an opportunity for as to form a broad alliance. Broad alliances will also need to be pursued across Europe.
It was emphasised that there was no room for complacency. Similar plans had been floated in the past, and it would be easy to see this as just another attempt to float an idea that won’t get anywhere. Every indication is that the threat is very real this time. Please keep an eye on THST comms for more information.
The campaign on FA Cup pricing was discussed, with THST reps making the point that more resources needed to be put behind a campaign that had started well but had rather fallen by the wayside.
And TUFSO agreed to look into setting up an Instagram account for fans to post pictures of the view from restricted seats as a way of pushing on campaigning work around restricted view seat pricing.
5. CATERING MEETING AT LILYWHITE HOUSE WITH FEEDBACK ON CATERING PROVISION
We’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the huge numbers of supporters who responded to our two questionnaires on the catering provision at our new stadium. Your responses were overwhelmingly positive regarding the vision, quality and range of the offer, but individual responses gave us a very useful and insightful look at issues that arose around the ground at different times, as well as your particular tastes and requests.
This information meant that when THST’s catering lead, Rachel Martin, met with David Peskett and Ray Watson from the catering team at Spurs earlier this month, it was a useful two-way information sharing process – one which we intend to repeat at regular intervals throughout the coming seasons. Here’s a flavour of what was discussed.
Survey overviews: From the two surveys, it was evident that fans were impressed with the quality, choice, cost and portion sizes available, and that the percentage improved from the first to the second batch of games surveyed. The speed of service was an issue in the first batch of games but had improved by the second batch – as staff and supporters became more familiar with the way the stadium and the offers worked.
Similarly, regarding availability of desired foods, this percentage improved by the second survey. David and Ray were keen to improve this further. However, with busy concourses it is not possible to wheel large trolleys to the outlets to top up supplies, so this is necessarily restricted to when the game is on or before fans arrive. As games progress, they will have better ideas of numbers required at different areas and will be able to stock accordingly. They will also be exploring ways of storing more food and drink behind the public areas. Another improvement they hope to introduce very soon is for the menu displays to be instant, so that they are removed from displays if that item runs out. This should stop supporters from queuing needlessly or having to make decisions once they get to the front of the queue.
Fans asked why, in some instances, the bottoms up system was not fast enough to cope with pressure points like at half time. In theory this system can pour 62,000 pints in eight minutes! However, there are distribution issues so there are already plans afoot to extend the cellar areas. There have also been some issues with air fobbing, which are being rectified during the close season.
The cashless system is working very well within the stadium and is helping to speed up service.
Some fans mentioned that the wonderful atmosphere in the Market Place, along with the rich variety of provision, should be replicated elsewhere in the stadium as not everyone can get into the Market Place at peak times. This idea was greeted with interest.
The South Stand Terrace, opened for the Everton game, was also considered a great success. It is planned that this will be opened for chosen matches and will be publicised widely.
Pricing: Generally it was felt that the pricing strategy was fair and the starting point for beers was excellent. The strategy is to hold prices where they are for next season. In fact, some prices have gone down e.g. crisps and chocolate; naan and noodles portion sizes have increased and gone down in price.
Beavertown sales have been high and have constituted a larger percentage of beer sales than anyone could have imagined, so again, supply issues will improve next season now that the initial trends have been established.
We talked about the desire for healthy sandwiches, bagels and wraps. This is something we receive regular requests for but which the team do not see replicated in the stadium. For example, for one match they sold 30,000 pies and sausage rolls but eight sandwiches. We would suggest that this is because fans don’t know where to buy them.
So, please download the Spurs Official App, use the function on it where you can identify what food and drink is sold at which outlet, and then make sure you locate and buy the healthy options. That way, we can argue for more of these items to be available in mobile retail points on the concourses. The app really is the answer, and the team are working on more publicity for its full functionality as well as improving its interactivity.
Now for the thorny issue of chips served on their own. David and Ray understood that there was considerable demand for this, and obviously it is in their interests to meet demand. However, the reason this is not currently possible is because of the way chips are cooked, i.e. deep fat fried (oven chips don’t taste as good and take up too much oven space for too long). The sheer numbers of deep fat fryers needed would present too much of a health and safety risk on this scale. However, they are looking at potato wedges as a standalone option.
We discussed the provision for 1882 members which was, agreed by all, not as it had been hoped. This will be a major priority for next season in terms of improving the range and quality of food on offer. There will be better controls on who is going in and out of these areas and, in turn, those that are there legitimately will have a much better experience. Feedback from members has been noted.
It was heartening to hear that all staff, regardless of age, and from the first test event, have been paid the London Living Wage, including cleaners and catering staff.
Of course, there are teething problems, but we think we can all agree that the vision is right and that a great start has been made. There is work to be done but the potential is clearly there for a world class provision and experience. As Ray and David said at our meeting, “We have put our souls into this. We hope we’ve considered everyone and that supporters feel we have done the right thing.”
David and Ray and, of course, all of us at the Trust are grateful for your response to our surveys. So please keep it coming.
6. BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY LIAISON GROUP MEETING – 21 May 2019
THST Secretary Pete Haine represented the Trust at May’s BCLG meeting. Main areas of discussion were as follows:
- Issues created for residents of the Love Lane estate when the police decided to use the grounds to contain Ajax fans;
- Additional screens will be sited on the NFL pitch for the live screening of the Champions League Final at WHL.This will be a major event and therefore the CPZ will be enforced;
- If we win the CL, there will be a victory parade on 2 June (details now on THFC website). This will also be a major event and therefore the CPZ will be enforced.
7. THST SUMMER BBQ AT THE ANNIE – SUNDAY 26 MAY
Bank Holiday Sunday, 26 May, saw the fourth annual THST BBQ in support of Prostate Cancer UK. This year’s event was always going to be bigger and better than ever: more star guests, more entertainment, more prizes, more food but few of us saw the biggest twist of all coming. This wasn’t your usual End of Season BBQ. This was the Not the End of Season BBQ, with one huge game left!
The Antwerp Arms was awash with anticipation, excitement, joy, disbelief and pride as all talk centred around Madrid: journeys, hotels, weather, wardrobe, meeting plans. Never has small talk been about something so big!
With the atmosphere already electric, Mike Leigh of the Spurs Show interviewed Spurs Ladies star Ashleigh Neville in front of an attentive audience before Tom Mitchell and Alex Royffe continued the party atmosphere with an acoustic set and a mix of choice tracks from the DJ decks.
The arrival of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa was greeted with much excitement and their interview with Nick Godwin of BBC London was as funny, insightful and endearing as ever. Thanks must also go to Tony Stevens of THFC for managing their appearance so professionally. Ossie and Ricky took the time to sign autographs and have photos taken with Trust members and fans.
With a three hour Charity Karaoke session to end the event, we raised almost £2,500 on the day, thanks in part to the auctioning of a football signed by the Champions League Finalist squad at Tottenham Hotspur raising £1,100 and almost £1,400 being raised in Raffle ticket sales.
The event was in support of the Cycle on you Spurs team of riders cycling to Amsterdam from the Olympic Velodrome at the start of June, fundraising for Prostate Cancer. This will be the fourth year we’ve taken on the challenge and we wanted to break the £100,000 barrier in total funds raised to date. We’re delighted to confirm that the BBQ has taken us to a total of £97,000.
Thank you to everyone who came along and supported the event. We’ll do it all again next year!
8. FOOTBALL TO AMSTERDAM – FRIDAY 7 JUNE
May 8: Spurs arrived at the Johan Crujff ArenA.
June 8: Our Cycle On You Spurs team arrive there.
The ride is normally a week earlier, which would have meant the cyclists would have arrived on 1 June. Another stroke of luck?
We’re now very close to our £100,000 four-year target. To date this year we have raised around £21,760; we need around another £2,700.
If you haven’t already taken the opportunity to make your contribution, then this is your chance. You can donate here.
- ANNUAL FANS SURVEY
- RESCHEDULING CLUB MEETINGS
- THST BOARD MEETING – 17 JUNE
- SWINDON SPURS AGM – 22 JUNE
- SUPPORTERS SUMMIT – 29 JUNE
Evening Standard – Champions League Final flight prices soar to £1400
The costs of going to the Champions League Final - FSF
How to get to Madrid - Metro
Ticketing allocation for Champions League final - BBC News
Joint call with SOS for THFC & LFC to subsidise Champions League final tickets - BBC News
Madrid Airport full to capacity – Daily Mail
Joint Statement with SOS on sponsors tickets for the Champions League final - Sky Sports News
THFC won’t subsidise Champions League final tickets
Tottenham angry over 'lenient' £17,500 Uefa fine for Barcelona – BBC Sport
Tottenham ban three fans for reselling Champions League final tickets
World Soccer Talk
The Washington Times
Fans know just how "dirty" football is — they get FINAL reminders every year
Liverpool CEO Peter Moore plans to speak to UEFA about lack of Champions League final tickets
Madrid Champions League rush: fans slam price rises
101 Great Goals
ITV London News, 8 May – Pete Haine
BBC Radio 5 Live, 8 May – Pete Haine
BBC London News, 9 May – Keith Sharp
BBC Newsround, 9 May
Hawksbee and Jacob, 13 May – Martin Cloake
BBC Radio Merseyside, 13 May – Martin Cloake
BBC Radio 5 Live, 14 May – Martin Cloake
Love Sport Radio/ Last Word on Spurs - 16 May – Martin Cloake and Katrina Law
30 May 2019
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