Government’s Fan Led Review: Findings published
Planning for West Ham United in the Carabao Cup
Issues at the ECL Vitesse Arnhem match
Property Working Group update
THFC financial statements
Digital ticketing update
Results of catering survey and meeting with THFC catering lead
Q4 THST Board Meeting
FSA Women in Football report
Paul Coyte petition
Safe Standing Experience
Supporting Tottenham foodbank on match days
Cycling from London to Amsterdam: Registration open
Antwerp Arms December deal for THST members
Studio Collective 306 Christmas sale
The long-awaited recommendations of the Football Fan-Led Governance Review were finally published on 24 November. We welcomed the document in a statement on our website and recapped on the proposals we’d put forward in our submission to the Review. Most of the proposals we put forward have been embraced.
The focus now must be to build on the recommendations, ensure the legislative changes necessary to make them work are introduced as soon as possible, and to get to grips with the detail. Many of the arguments we have put forward for years about fan involvement in our clubs and about how our clubs should be run have been vindicated. Arguments about whether or not fans should be involved in the running of our clubs are yesterday’s conversation – attention now turns to how this can be delivered.
We know some of the powerful interests within football will be working hard over the coming months to water down the Review’s recommendations, and there is a long and hard battle ahead to make sure they don’t succeed. So we need all of you to contact your MPs and press for early legislation to be brought forward, and for the recommendations in the Review to be implemented as a minimum standard.
Some of the comments from MPs in the Parliamentary debate last week were encouraging, and the full transcript is available for those interested.
We have also contacted the Club to ask for early talks on how to implement the recommendations. We had agreed to pause conversation until the review was published. Our view is that the recommendations set out a new system of governance for the Club, and that all of us have a responsibility to ensure we establish the best possible model. The Club said it was digesting the contents of the Review and would be consulting its lawyers before returning with some proposals.
The Review clearly calls for a collaborative approach to be adopted, and we have made the point to the Club that simply bringing forward proposals and expecting them to be agreed is not collaborative. So we have asked for a meeting as soon as possible between our governance group and relevant Club officials to begin the process of building what we hope will be a system that sets the standard for the game. Looking forward is more productive than attempting to rerun the battles of the past, and we’d hope THFC’s Board also impresses this upon those of its colleagues at Premier League level who don’t appear to have fully understood the direction of travel in the Review.
The proposals place a great responsibility on the Trust to develop in order to play its role. We need to be more organised and stronger than ever. We need more fans to join, and we need more of you to volunteer some time to help us. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, we will keep fans informed through our regular newsletters and social media channels, and we want to hold more members’ meetings in the new year.
2. Planning for West Ham United in the Carabao Cup
We spoke to THFC after we drew West Ham United in the Carabao Cup quarter final to address ticketing and operational questions. Following crowd control issues at the Vitesse Arnhem game (see item 3 below) we were especially keen for a number of operational issues to be addressed.
We established that approximately 1,800 Spurs season ticket holders would be relocated to accommodate the c 6,000 fans West Ham are entitled to bring under competition rules. These season tickets were sold on the basis that they could be relocated for games such as this, and they were able to access a dedicated sales window to purchase alternative seats. There will be a five-seat segregation line between home and away fans.
The match is part of the automatic cup scheme because it is a home cup tie at full capacity, and pricing has been kept out of match categorisation for both sets of fans. We thanked the Club for keeping to the agreement on this.
Decisions around additional sales windows and guest sales were to be made closer to the game, after consultation with the relevant authorities. Ticket Exchange will be opened closer to the game to allow anyone unable to attend because of Covid-19 the chance to move their ticket on but purchasing restrictions will remain in place. If anyone tests positive very close to the game, we’d advise contacting the Club to discuss the possibility of a refund.
Ticketing points for this game will be awarded to all supporters who scan their ticket at a stadium entrance.
We are meeting with the Club, police and West Ham United’s Supporters’ Trust closer to the game to discuss a number of operational matters. As always, we’ll be advocating an approach that does not pre-judge fan behaviour.
3. Issues at the ECL Vitesse Arnhem match
Events in Level 1 of the East and North Stands at the UCL home tie against Vitesse Arnhem prompted serious concerns about crowd management inside our stadium. The Trust’s co-chairs were on the scene of the incidents in Block 119 and so were well-placed to feed back.
We had been told the 200 x UEFA Category 1 tickets required for these games had been relocated to Block 119, and that home fans who’d purchased tickets to the right of 119 had been relocated. Category 1 tickets are usually reserved for Club officials, players, partners and staff. It was clear many of those in possession of these tickets weren’t the usual Category 1 crowd. The Club had failed to implement any segregation between the two halves of Block 119, leaving Vitesse Arnhem fans free to mix in the home areas, including on the concourse.
There were outbreaks of disorder throughout the game and it rapidly became clear stewards were unable to deal with it, unclear on lines of command and, on occasion, unwilling to do their job. Following the game, we received a number of detailed accounts from fans of problems they had experienced, including some quite distressing accounts of vulnerable fans being caught up in the unrest.
We fed back in detail to the Club’s SLO and asked to be present at a debrief. The Club declined the request, insisting on an internal-only debrief. We have asked for assurances that lessons have been learned and that UEFA Category 1 tickets at our home tie against Stade Rennais will be located elsewhere, safely segregated from home fans. We’re still awaiting final details.
Football Supporters Europe contacted us after the game to ask for an account of what had happened to present to UEFA, and we submitted a dossier of reports to them.
We are still seeking assurances that significant improvements will be made for future games. Our worry is not just about crowd trouble, but about any incident that requires skilled crowd management. We’ve raised these concerns with Haringey Council’s Safety Advisory Group, too.
There are widely-recognised problems with recruiting and retaining good stewarding staff and we don’t underestimate their effect. But events during this game, along with a number of other disturbing instances of individual fans allegedly being badly treated that are currently the subject of confidential casework, mean we must press the Club to improve its stewarding and matchday safety operation. Currently, it is not good enough.
4. Property Working Group update
Trust members will recall our request in June for those with expertise in Planning and Project Management to contact us. During July eight of you did so and as a result we set up a working group of the three Trust Board members (Kevin Fitzgerald, Pete Haine and Rob White) with responsibilities for local business and community matters, subsequently joined by Michael Green, the Trust Board member leading on the Club’s finances.
The working group contacted the eight volunteers and received a number of insightful observations, which have informed our work to date.
To update you on the planning issues first. The main focus of our interest here has been on the planning applications to Haringey Council for the development of the Goods Yard, Print Works and Depot sites along and behind Tottenham High Road, to the north west of the stadium. The planning applications referred to demolition and clearance of existing structures and redevelopment for residential-led, mixed use development. The Club has existing planning permission, granted in 2016, and this application was seeking approval for increasing the number of units delivered.
We have recently learned that the planning applications have been turned down by Haringey Council despite a recommendation to approve by planning officers. We understand that the scheme will now be referred to the Mayor of London, which is when Haringey Council will set out formal reasons for its refusal. Press reports indicate that the reasons centered on the height and density of the buildings and the negative effects on heritage, plus the visual impact. We await the official reasons and the Club’s next steps.
An investigation in July of the many local approved planning developments, together with future plans, led the working group on to a range of financial issues and related matters regarding Tottenham Hotspur and ENIC company structures. As an important point of context here we should reference Michael Green’s work on the ownership and corporate structure of Tottenham Hotspur and the relationship with ENIC companies. This is available as part of our written submission to the Government’s Fan Led Review into Football Governance.
This investigation has led to us examining the various property dealings of both Tottenham’s property arm, Tottenham Hotspur Property Co. Limited (THPCL) and related parties that are owned by the ENIC group outside of the Tottenham Hotspur structure. Our aim is to obtain reassurances that commercial relationships between the two groups are, to use accounting-speak, undertaken on an arms-length basis and at full market value. Or, in other words, that there is no leakage of resources from Tottenham Hotspur to the benefit of ENIC companies.
This is not straightforward due to the number of relevant small land parcels in the Tottenham area that are owned by several subsidiaries of both THPCL and ENIC. To the extent that information is publicly available, it is held in a number of sources (e.g. Companies House, the Haringey planning portal and Land Registry).
Further updates will be provided as our work progresses.
5. THFC financial statements
The Club released its audited financial statements on 23 November. We will provide a more detailed overview in the coming days but at first glance these appear better than expected, notwithstanding the impact of the pandemic which meant that only three games were held in front of a very limited crowd during the period in question.
As a result, matchday revenues virtually disappeared and, combined with participation in the Europa League rather than the Champions League, the Club saw a net loss of £84m recorded (versus a loss of £64m the season before). Nevertheless, revenues from TV and sponsorships held up well and the Club completed a mini-debt restructuring which extended average debt maturity (the date at which it has to be repaid) to 22 years.
The return of full crowds to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, including for non-football events, should mean that (barring any renewed lockdown) the moment of maximum stress to the Club’s finances has passed.
It was also noticeable that the Chairman’s statement accompanying the figures indicated the Club making more of an effort to present and contextualise the accounts. This is a welcome step in the right direction, and something we’d like to see built on in order to give more fans a clearer understanding of the Club’s strategy and the challenges it faces.
6. Digital ticketing update
We’re aware some supporters are still having problems with digital season tickets apparently not updating to provide access to the latest game. If this is the case and you have an Apple phone, it may mean you have to manually refresh your pass by doing the following:
- Open your pass
- Click on the 3 dots
- Press the miniature pass and drag the screen down
- You’ll see a spinning wheel. Please wait a moment for the pass to say ‘updated just now’
- Click on ‘back’ to return to the main pass and this should now show the fixture
7. Results of catering survey and meeting with THFC catering lead
Our catering lead Rachel Martin met THFC’s catering lead Ray Watson at the start of November to discuss current issues and to pass on the results of our latest catering survey. It was a constructive meeting, and you can read a full report here. One thing that did quickly become clear was that the recruitment challenges around security staff mentioned earlier in this newsletter are also being felt in catering and hospitality.
It’s worth saying here that despite the work we do around catering being a frequent target for critical comment from some on social media who complain we are more interested in sausage rolls than football matters, our catering survey and postbag gets some of the highest levels of input from supporters.
8. Q4 THST Board Meeting
The THST Board held its Q4 meeting on 22 November. Along with usual business, we took a report from our Property Working Group, and discussed the implications of the upcoming Fan-Led Review on the way we work. We discussed a number of initiatives on making the Club’s heritage more visible around the stadium, and we hope to bring news of progress on this to you very soon.
We also started preparation for our annual report and AGM and decided to hold the AGM remotely again this year to enable more members to attend. And we are aiming to restart our popular charity quiz nights and the summer BBQ in 2022, assuming there is no move back to lockdown measures.
9. FSA Women at the Match report
The FSA published the results of its Women at the Match Survey earlier in the month, which found supporters more willing to challenge sexist behaviour at games. The full results are available on the FSA’s website.
10. Paul Coyte petition
We were contacted by a long-time season ticket holder asking us to support a petition calling for the return of Paul Coyte at half-times at our stadium. We’re glad to do so. Paul is a popular figure, and long-time friend of the Trust, and the decision to drop him from half-time was made without asking fans, and has gained very little support from fans.
As the supporter who contacted us said: “Paul is engaging, funny and genuinely gets the Spurs fans. He is the Tottenham experience when going to the games and has so much enthusiasm when he’s interviewing.”
We’ve been contacted by quite a few fans asking us to push for Paul’s return, and the Club is aware of fan views. While we can’t, and won’t, put ourselves into the middle of any detailed discussion between the Club and its staff about employment, we can pass on the general feeling of fans, and if the petition helps do this, we wholeheartedly back it. Please sign if you want Coytey back.
11. Safe standing experience
We’ve been contacted by academic Mark Turner, a specialist in crowd behaviour and safe standing, to ask if fans who will be in the trial safe standing areas at our stadium from January would contact him to help with a research project. We’ve known Mark a long time and can vouch for the quality of his work, so if you are interested, please contact him at email@example.com.
12. Supporting Tottenham Foodbank on match days
e continue to support Tottenham and North Enfield Foodbanks on match days, encouraging supporters to drop off food at the van (bought with your ‘Charity Not PPV’ donations!) outside the Community Sports Centre on the High Road at each weekend home game or to make a donation as part of our #KickOffAgainstHunger initiative. Please check our Twitter feed for news of any particular items that are being appealed for.
UK-based fans not attending games can still help to support the foodbanks at any time 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.
Those living overseas or unable to use a text donation service are encouraged to donate via Tottenham Foodbank's crowdfunding page.
We’ve been supporting and promoting the work of our local Foodbanks for well over a year now, and sadly it looks like demand is going to grow this winter, with the Trussell Trust estimating an additional 1.2 million people will be forced to skip meals in order to make ends meet should the proposed cut in Universal Credit become a reality.
Sadly, your help really is needed more than ever.
13. Cycling from London to Amsterdam: Registration open
Registration is now open for the June 2022 ride. Cycle On You Spurs welcomes newcomers to join our team. Just click on “Join us” and don’t forget to specify your team as Cycle On You Spurs.
14. Antwerp Arms December deal for THST members
November saw the first of the Annie’s monthly discount offers to Trust members. We now have news of the discount offer for December.
This month’s offer is for an amazing 10% off all food from the Antwerp Arms menu and 10% off all drinks from 1 December – and not just on match days, either! Every day the pub is open throughout December.
To benefit, you need to be a full or life member of the Trust and to produce a Trust enamel badge. Pete Haine and Kevin Fitzgerald will be in The Annie before the Norwich City match on 5 December from 12.30pm with Trust badges. If you require a badge it would be helpful if you could contact Pete in advance. Email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. Studio 306 Collective Christmas Sale
Studio 306 Collective, one of the Trust’s two nominated charities, is holding its annual Christmas Sale from 12 to 7pm on Wednesday 8 December and Thursday 9 December 2021.
It’s a great opportunity to buy some Christmas gifts while supporting a worthwhile cause. Studio 306 helps people recover from mental illness through the medium of arts and craft.
The Christmas Sale is being held at Collage Artspace 4 (at the rear of The Library Mall), 191 High Road, Wood Green, London N22 6DZ.
16. THST Forum
This month we have been discussing a wide range of subjects, culminating in the report of the Government’s Fan-led review into Football Governance and our response to it. Do have a look and leave your opinions on what we have achieved together and how you see this working out at THFC. We are, of course, grateful to the many members who worked with us to formulate our submission and we’d love to hear from them on the Forum, too.
Full THST members have been talking about the Club’s arrangements for cyclists and the appropriateness of current storage facilities.
Concerns remain around communications and operation of the ticket exchange and ticket share platforms and relocation of season ticket seats. Anecdotal accounts of your experiences are always useful.
There is a thread on catering with a link to the report of our recent meeting with the Club, which focused on the opening matches of the season. There will be a further survey before Christmas so look out for that, too.
We also share a petition asking for a greater role for Paul Coyte and his half time interviews.
As well as that, there are regular updates on THFC developments in the local area – this month focusing on The Goods Yard.
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.
Nuno Esperito Santo’s departure:
The Athletic (£)
The Fan-Led Review:
The Spurs Show
30 November 2021