Premier League PPV games
Getting fans back inside stadia
Project Big Picture and European Super League
Sustain the Game
Photo ID verification
One Hotspur Membership update
Season Ticket deposits and the media
Business and Community Liaison Group meeting
Safeguarding at THFC
Meeting with Liberal Democrats
Black History Month
JE3 Foundation update
Postponement: PCUK Football 2 Amsterdam
Spurs programme charity sale
Olympic Stadium lawsuit
There’s more on these initiatives below, but we wanted to place our thanks on record to all of you who have contributed – especially when circumstances are hard for so many. At a time when some are seeking to encourage scapegoating and promote division, we’re so proud to be able to play a part not only in providing practical support for people, but also in promoting the common humanity that binds us together.
The donations to the foodbank began as part of a national protest by football fans against the £14.95 price being charged to watch some games on TV. We’re hoping that charge will be substantially reduced, more of which below. You can donate via the Tottenham Foodbank Justgiving page.
You can also donate £3, £5, £10 or £20 straight to the foodbank by texting TOTTENHAM 3, TOTTENHAM 5, TOTTENHAM 10 or TOTTENHAM 20 to 70085. Texts cost donation amount plus one standard rate message.
If you’d prefer to donate to your local foodbank, that’s fine too. This is not a competition to see who can raise the most. It’s about getting as much help as possible to everyone who needs it.
1. Premier League PPV games
After weeks spent pushing the Premier League, clubs and broadcasters to enable fans to watch their teams while stadiums are closed, and with a temporary arrangement in place for September’s games, an agreement was reached to show all the games not previously selected as part of the original broadcast deal during October at a price of £14.95 per match.
The people who run English football’s top division had been surprised that fans felt so strongly about seeing their teams. They’ve also been surprised at the strength of opposition to the charge of £14.95 to watch those games. They need to start talking properly to fans. They wouldn’t get so many surprises.
What should have been a positive step rapidly turned into another PR disaster, and when the extent of the anger became clear, the clubs, Premier League and broadcasters slipped into the familiar mode of trying to blame each other.
We told THFC that the price was too high. The Club said that the Premier League was responsible for negotiating the price. We said that the Premier League was the 20 clubs, and as one of those 20, THFC could influence a decision. The Club and the Premier League’s executives said that the broadcasters set the price. And the broadcasters said the Premier League set the price. Sending fan reps all around the houses for long enough to defuse any situation worked when most of the fan reps hadn’t been around for long. But quite a few of us have been doing this for some time, so we were able to cut through the flimflam and evasion to piece together a slightly clearer picture. The process wasn’t helped by the inability of most people in football to provide a straight answer to a straight question.
What we’ve established is this. The Premier League, mandated by its clubs, asked the broadcasters to put together a package to show the games that weren’t scheduled for broadcast. They also gave the broadcasters an indication of the financial return they would like to see. But the clubs are forbidden by law from setting a price. The broadcasters then costed what showing the games and administering a payment system for viewers would be, plus some margin for themselves. The price of £14.95 per game, by pure coincidence, was what both Sky and BT came up with. This was presented to the clubs at a Premier League meeting, and they had to vote to accept screenings at £14.95 per game, or not to have screenings.
The vote was at first reported as unanimous, then as 19-1 with Leicester City against, then – once the backlash started – as a decision no one had really agreed with at all.
We want a solution that delivers a fair price for fans, which doesn’t drive people to use illegal streams, and which doesn’t encourage people to gather to reduce the price of watching games at a time when greater social distancing is needed.
We asked THFC if it would put forward a proposal to reduce the price per game, or to commit to supporting such a proposal. The Club said it supported a fair price for fans, and was aware of our views, but would not give a straight answer to our question. It also said the broadcasters set the price.
We’ve continued trying to have a constructive conversation with Sky and the Premier League. BT still refuse to communicate with fans. Sky and the Premier League are communicating in as much as rolling out corporate lines is communicating, while continuing to blame each other.
We’ve also continued to work with the FSA and other fan reps, and all of us are ready to sit and discuss a mutually beneficial solution when the clubs and the broadcasters see sense. This, in a nutshell, is what we want:
- A reduction in price per game for everyone.
- The offer of reasonably-priced packages to all, with consideration given to existing subscribers and club season ticket holders and members.
- For fans of clubs selected for fewer games on the regular schedule not to be penalised by being asked to pay for a greater number of games.
A number of games have gone ahead at the £14.95 price, and fans have made their voice heard. The call has gone out for fans to donate the £14.95 to their local foodbank rather than pay to view. And across the country, this call has been taken up. On the first PPV weekend, Newcastle United fans raised over £50,000 before their game against Manchester United, with fans in Manchester also raising a significant amount. From what we are seeing on the national fans network, more and more fans are donating as their own team’s PPV game gets closer and at the time of writing, the collective total is currently in excess of £300,000.
We have publicised the Tottenham Foodbank and asked fans to consider donating their PPV fee. This has raised over £25,000 in just 9 days, with our PPV game against Brighton still 3 days away at the time of writing. It should be noted that our match v West Brom the following weekend is also earmarked for PPV at £14.95.
The Premier League and the broadcasters are costing themselves money by setting too high a price, losing money and exposing their customers to the cyber-security threats that come with illegal streams, undermining a vital public health initiative, and further alienating an audience already deeply suspicious of them. There is an easy way to resolve this. Talk to the fans and come to an agreement.
We’ll keep you informed on our forum and through our website.
2. Getting fans back inside stadia
The tightening of restrictions on movement by the government and the steady rise in new infections obviously makes attempts to get fans back inside stadiums more difficult, and all of us who were campaigning for a safe return are mindful of the public health considerations.
We know some members and supporters expressed reservations about pushing for any kind of return even before the latest developments. We’ve always emphasised that public health must come first, but we also recognise that there are economic considerations that must be borne in mind. Like any business, football clubs are trying to make sure they survive so there is something there once we get through this international crisis.
What seems a long time ago now at the start of the month, The FA, Premier League and Football League wrote a joint letter urging the government to address the issue of a safe return. On 9 November, Parliament is scheduled to discuss a safe return after a public petition forced a debate.
With the situation changing so rapidly, all we can do is stay in touch with the Club and football authorities and try to contribute to a rational assessment of the risks. We’ll use our website to update as necessary.
3. Project Big Picture and European Super League
The revelation that the owners of Manchester United and Liverpool had been working up a document under the name of Project Big Picture that would fundamentally change the way English football is run created another huge workstream at an already busy time. If you’ve read this far into this month’s newsletter you will probably be aware of the proposals, but in brief the intention was to buy a controlling influence in the game for the billionaire owners of the self-styled Big Six. There were many other proposals in the document that were worthy of consideration, but the key factor was that, if agreed, those six could essentially do whatever they wanted.
It was just the latest manifestation of an idea that is regularly floated by people who don’t understand the true value of football, but it was clear a lot of work had been put into it, and the economic crisis prompted by COVID-19 meant that some clubs saw the short-term financial injection the plan proposed as worth supporting. So opposition had to be mobilised quickly and effectively.
Supporter reps at all of the so-called Big Six Premier League clubs knew it was very important we agreed a joint position opposing the plan, and we started working on drawing up a statement that was issued on 13 October. The FSA also put out a statement.
We’ve always taken a clear position as an organisation that we support the basic principles of competitive balance and achievement by playing merit, and that we see the value in retaining the pyramid structure of football that promotes those principles. We do not believe that being top is a meaningful achievement unless it is in a truly competitive environment, and so we see the best interests of Tottenham Hotspur as being aligned with the best interests of the game as a whole.
We understand that individual club boards are obliged to pursue their own interests to the exclusion of all others, and that is one of the reasons why we support a fan-led review of the way the game is run, and the establishment of an independent regulator. The emergence of Project Big Picture, and soon after of yet another European Super League proposal for a closed competition, in our view underlines the need for this review – promised by the Government in its manifesto – to start as soon as possible and we’ll continue to work with the FSA to achieve that.
4. Sustain the Game
The support we give to the FSA’s Sustain the Game! initiative ties in with the position outlined in the previous item, and we compliment that with some practical work with local non-league clubs Enfield Town and Wingate & Finchley. These sides are currently allowed limited numbers into their grounds, and we’ve publicised games and encouraged people to go along – to get a fix of live football and to get much-needed funds through the gate. Thanks to all those who have turned out to support local non-league sides.
Wingate and Finchley update
Now that fans are allowed into games from the seventh tier and below, Wingate & Finchley have continued to extend their offer to supporters of Spurs, offering half-price entry to anyone who turns up on the gate with proof of THFC/THST membership or a season ticket.
Furthermore, the club are offering over 1,000 free tickets to NHS staff as a thank you for the continued heroic efforts of our doctors, nurses and other staff. If you have NHS ID, simply present it at the gate and you will be allowed free entry to any home league game this season.
Wingate & Finchley has taken huge strides in recent years to become a community club and, as the highest ranked football club in the borough of Barnet, they hope to reach out further to help their attendances - and help more and more people attend non-league games.
If you are interested or want to know more, you can follow the club on Twitter - @WinFinchleyFC, or on Facebook and Instagram at @WingateFinchley. The club's home ground is the Maurice Rebak Stadium, Summers Lane, N12 0PD.
Enfield Town update
ETFC offers the highest level of football currently available for supporters to attend. They’ve sold out their four home league games to date, albeit at a reduced capped capacity which they are now steadily increasing by another 100 to 450 in order to control social distancing.
All adult entry costs £11, OAP’s/U21s £7 and U16s £1.
Enfield Town are at home to Brightlingsea on 3 November and Cray Wanderers on 7 November and are currently sitting fourth in the Isthmian League Premier Division. Follow on Twitter at @ETFCOfficial
5. Photo ID verification
To comply with the test and trace requirements that were required for a limited reopening of the stadium, the Club needed Season Ticket holders to provide photo ID. We’re aware of the dangers of full photo ID being introduced by the back door, and of the conversations around facial recognition technology, and we made it clear to the Club that we would only support the introduction of photo ID for a limited period to comply with test and trace requirements.
Obviously, things have moved on since this was first announced, and any return to stadiums looks to be some way off. But it’s likely that test and trace will still be required when fans are allowed back in limited numbers. So we offered to help test the software the Club was using, to ensure the user experience was as smooth as possible. We thought we’d identified an early glitch, but in fact it turned out to be an educational process for Trust co-chair Martin Cloake, who learned that a driving license has to be renewed every 10 years.
While we thought it was important to ensure the process was as user-friendly as possible, we continue to be vigilant about what happens after the current crisis has passed. Along with supporter groups at other clubs where this is being introduced to comply with public health requirements, we are seeking undertakings that any data gathered will not be held after we move out of the current crisis. The Club has told us that it required photo ID for initial identification of season ticket holders, and that photos will be deleted 31 days after applications are made.
We’ll keep you informed.
6. One Hotspur Membership update
After quite a lot of feedback from fans in previous years that the membership packs were not really what people wanted, the Club decided to give all UK members a £10 voucher plus free postage and packing – which matched the typical £15 value of the packs. These vouchers should now have been emailed to all UK-based season ticket holders and members. If you haven’t received yours, please contact the Club via this Ask Spurs link.
We’ve had requests from quite a few people to donate the £15 value to those in greater need, and we’re talking to the Club about how best to do this. There are a few logistical challenges around doing that with the existing offer, but we’re looking at whether, for example, an opt-out donation can be included in future membership offerings.
Delayed discount codes for season ticket holders and members with birthdays in September should now also have been received, so please contact Ask Spurs if you haven’t had yours yet.
7. Season Ticket deposits and the media
We had another neat insight into How The Media Works, at least in some cases, this month. Rather belatedly, a few outlets picked up on the fact that some clubs had taken money for season tickets ahead of this season, with fans still unable to enter grounds.
We were contacted by one well-known national title and asked if we’d like to express outrage about the fact that fans were being charged money for a product they weren’t getting by rich Premier League clubs. We sent a comment back, explaining the situation at Spurs wasn’t quite as they thought.
Oddly enough, they didn’t use what we said. So we thought we’d reproduce it here.
“We at THST worked closely with THFC around the Season Ticket renewal process this summer and we’re satisfied that it was a fair deal for fans, all things considered. Ticketing is a complex area and each Club will have different drivers, different needs and a different supporter demographic, making like-for-like comparisons a little simplistic, in our opinion. At Spurs, the deposit sum was equivalent to the refund awarded for the final 5 games of last season, and an interest-free finance option was also offered against the deposit. If there is no return of fans this season, that deposit rolls over to the 2021/22 season and should a fan decide not to renew at that point, they will be refunded the deposit in full. We share our thoughts on the process here:
With regards to those needing to defer on medical grounds, Spurs has given not only those clinically vulnerable the opportunity to effectively take a sabbatical for a year, they have also granted deferrals to carers, key workers and those sharing households with vulnerable people. Those supporters have paid a deposit towards their 2021/22 season ticket. Should they then decide not to return, that money will be refunded to them after the 2021/22 renewal period has closed. For now, season ticket holders granted deferrals have the peace of mind that their seat is secure once it’s hopefully safe to return to the stadium in August 2021 and without the worry of their seat being sold on or having to commit to any more funds throughout this campaign.
Feedback from our members has been overwhelmingly positive with the vast majority of fans applying for a deferral having that granted after a fairly straightforward validation process, handled by ticket office staff with sensitivity and discretion.
Home ticketing is a localised issue usually and part of a fairly complex jigsaw. Whilst no process was ever going to be perfect in these difficult times, we understood the imperative and rationale behind THFC’s process, as did the majority of Season Ticket holders. The window has now closed with extremely high renewal rates.”
Just to be clear, the deal we managed to agree with THFC leaves our fans in a much better position than those at some other clubs. To take just two examples, fans of West Ham United have had to pay the full price of their season ticket up front, and then apply for a refund game-by-game, which will be paid within 30 days of the game being played. Although we hear there’s some lag in that 30-day window. And fans of Newcastle United also had their renewal money taken in full up front and have only just forced the Club to have a conversation with them.
8. Business and Community Liaison Group meeting
Trust secretary, Pete Haine, attended the latest virtual meeting of the Business and Community Liaison Group. To follow are some points of interest that arose from discussions.
There is still no confirmation from the Government on when fans can return to stadia. The Club continues to liaise with the Government and other bodies to progress this, while implementing the necessary safety measures within the stadium in preparation. Around 250 Executive Members paid for and attended a live screening of the Burnley match held in Premium restaurant areas on the evening of Monday 26 October.
The Club updated on outstanding planning applications, as follows:
- B&M site (approved), HGY/2019/2929 & HGY/2019/2930;
- 807 High Road (refused around issues with disabled access, Club considering next steps), HGY/2020/1361;
- 798-808 High Road (part of Northumberland Terrace) (approved), HGY/2020/1584 & HGY/2020/1586;
- The Goods Yard is being remediated with a view to construction beginning early next year
- A license application has been made for the Corner Pin building, previously the Club’s Ticket Office, to convert back into a pub alongside one of the Club’s partners. The Club will shortly be submitting a planning application
9. Safeguarding at THFC
Trust Board members Rachel Martin and Martin Cloake met with Dayne Matthieu from THFC, who is responsible for the strategic development of safeguarding arrangements throughout the Club including at the academy, foundation, international coaching, the women’s and men’s teams, on match days and at general events. We will be meeting on a regular basis to support Dayne's work and to give a fan perspective to ensure that everyone associated with the Club benefits from rigorous safeguarding policies.
10. Meeting with Liberal Democrats
On 29 September, Co-Chairs Kat Law and Martin Cloake and THST Board member Michael Green met Jamie Stone MP, the newly appointed parliamentary spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats on DCMS, via Zoom call. The THST team introduced Jamie to our recent activity and campaigns, focusing on football governance, Premier League broadcasting, ‘behind closed doors’ games, fan reps on local Safety Advisory Groups, subsidised rail travel, safe standing and fan input into the activity of the All Party Parliamentary Group for football (of which Jamie is a member).
We felt that our concerns were heard and it was agreed that we maintain contact. We have also introduced Jamie to key individuals within the Football Supporters' Association, as governance issues come increasingly to the fore (underlined by the subsequent revelations about Project Big Picture).
11. Black History Month
Board members Rob White and Rachel Martin have been attending webinars to support inclusivity and equality, with this month’s focus being on Black History Month. These have included an event organised by the Football Supporters’ Association on the importance of people at all levels of the game promoting Black History Month, and another webinar "From being idolised to stacking shelves: Race and retirement in professional football", organised by the University of Leicester and Emerald Publishing.
We are committed to increasing our knowledge and, as a result, our work in this hugely important area following on from our pre lockdown training with Show Racism the Red Card and Kick It Out. Knowledge is power.
12. JE3 Foundation update
Our Carabao Cup draw against Leyton Orient prompted yet another highly successful fundraising initiative, and we’d like to thank everyone who took part in either making a direct contribution, buying kids’ kit from the Leyton Orient shop and donating it to local children, or bidding in the auction for match-worn shirts from the Chelsea tie. We're waiting for the Club to announce the final figures from the auction but anticipate in excess of £20,000, judging by the bid totals, which adds to the £8,000 donated by fans to the Justin Edinburgh 3 Foundation to set up its work.
You’ve helped establish a vital campaigning charity, given hundreds of local kids something special, and helped Leyton Orient offset at least some of the money lost after the game was cancelled. We can’t thank our fans, and Tottenham Hotspur FC, enough.
13. Postponement: PCUK Football 2 Amsterdam
Due to the continuing and increasing COVID-19 related restrictions and the negative impact on both rider registrations and fundraising, Prostate Cancer UK has reluctantly decided to postpone the planned June 2021 ride. The new dates are 3-5 September 2021.
At the time of postponement, all 28 of the COYS team had confirmed their readiness for the June ride. Given that the team had been signing up from October 2019 for a June 2020 start, this shows great determination and commitment. It also means we have the largest team and are the top fundraisers nationally, with almost £23,000 raised to date.
There are certain to be places available to join the team once PCUK opens up new registrations for the September 2021 ride. Likewise, we will be stepping up the fundraising campaign a little closer to the time. For now, the cycling team recognises the more pressing calls for donations to causes aimed at alleviating the COVID-related suffering of so many.
Meanwhile you can keep up to date with all F2A 21 matters here.
14. THST Forum
Full Trust members can join our member’s forum to discuss any of the issues in this newsletter, or anything else Spurs-fan related. The forum is starting to become a vital part of our relationship with members, so make sure you are not missing out.
You need 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 THST Forum, you’ll need to be in FULL or LIFE membership of the Trust. 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.
15. Spurs programme charity sale
We have now raised £510 for our nominated charities so far from the sale of programmes donated to us, for which THST Secretary Pete Haine says a hearty ‘Cheers’.
Programmes cover the period from 1957 to the present day and include all home and away league games for seasons 1974-5 to 1984-5, along with many cup games and friendlies from that era.
If you are interested in purchasing any of the programmes, please email Pete.Haine@THSTOfficial.com for a full list of what’s still available.
16. Olympic Stadium lawsuit
Alongside 13 other London supporter groups, we’ve been involved for some years in the Olympic Stadium Coalition.
Originally formed to expose and question the terms under which West Ham United were awarded the now-named London Stadium, the campaign successfully forced publication of the financial terms of the contract agreed between Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and WHUFC. And the campaign group has fed into the inquiry into the deal announced by current Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Last month it was revealed that the public owners of the London Stadium, LLDC and E20, have filed a professional negligence suit against law firm Allen & Overy. The public bodies are arguing that the law firm’s poor drafting of the concession agreement signed with WHUFC has contributed to a difficult relationship with the club and a series of costly legal disputes.
LLDC said: “We have a responsibility to protect taxpayers’ interests and so have had no alternative but to seek redress through the courts.” Allen & Overy said: “This claim is entirely without merit and we will defend it vigorously.”
The Coalition continues to follow the saga of the Olympic Stadium legacy closely, and we’ll keep you updated.
Last Word on Spurs podcast: Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust update
Tifo Football for The Athletic: Premier League PPV – Sense the mood
The Spurs Show: The Beauty of winning ugly
The Athletic: Power grabs, pay per view, politics – A portrait of football in England
Evening Standard: Tottenham fans back Charity not PPV campaign
Daily Star: Premier League fans turning to illegal streams
The Guardian: Digested week by John Crace
BBC Sport: Premier League fans raise £300k as PPV set to continue
30 October 2020
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