Broadcast access for the 2020/21 season
Phased return of fans
Body worn cameras at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Catering plans for the return of fans
Supporting local non-league teams
Tottenham Hotspur Women fan organisation
Fundraising for the JE3 Foundation
Football to Amsterdam 2021
Away ticketing points: 2015 to 2020
Spurs programmes for charity
THST co-chairs Kat Law and Martin Cloake first met Steve at the 2015 FSF/ Supporters Direct Annual Fans Summit in Manchester. We were starting to assemble a coalition of London club fan groups to expose and oppose the unfair deal that gave West Ham the then Olympic Stadium at taxpayer expense. Steve and his friend and Charlton colleague, Richard Hunt, proved to be dedicated, resourceful and hugely effective – and good company. It was abundantly clear that Steve was a doer; highly intelligent, articulate and practical but with that rare quality of maintaining good humour even in the midst of heated debate.
Steve’s contribution to the supporter movement and to fan activism is outstanding, having chaired Charlton’s Trust and acting as the first ever Fan Director on the board of Charlton Athletic Football Club. His wisdom, experience, pragmatism and commitment will be sorely missed by those fortunate enough to have worked alongside him.
Our sincere condolences go to Steve’s family, friends and colleagues.
1. Welcome to a season like no other
The football season has restarted, but the world is far from back to normal. As we said in a news item on our website marking the kick-off of the 2020/21 campaign, all of us face challenging and unusual circumstances. Public health remains the priority but football clubs at all levels also face major economic problems. Like everyone, they are trying to find a balance between limiting the transmission of COVID-19 and surviving as businesses.
We’ve stayed in close contact with the Club, discussing the detail on ticketing policy and announcements, and on plans for the safe return of fans. We’ve also been part of a continuing conversation with fan reps from other clubs under the umbrella of the Football Supporters’ Association, swapping information. One of the advantages of being a part of a national organisation is that we can draw on the experiences of others, and also make sure clubs don’t play fans off against each other.
Being part of a national network proved especially useful when THST took the lead in raising the issue of broadcast access to behind-closed-door games. The full story is in item 2 of this newsletter, but we can say without doubt that if we hadn’t pushed for it, it wouldn’t be happening.
The start of a new season also seems a good time for us to re-emphasise what we do and how we do it.
Our remit lies mainly off-field, dealing with issues such as ticketing, stewarding, security etc. There are probably as many opinions about what's happening on-field as there are Spurs supporters, and so we don't, and can't, get involved in the detail of on-pitch issues. But we can take a view of how things progress over time.
We know there are a variety of opinions on the current board and owners among fans, and among our own membership. We ask the Club board to explain its thinking and its vision, because that is the right thing for us to do.
We’ve never been afraid to speak out when it was right to do so. We opposed the ticket pricing structure for the new stadium. We said the prices were too high. We also, very publicly, questioned the Club's decision to furlough a proportion of non-playing staff earlier this summer without providing full transparency as to why such a move was deemed necessary. The decision was reversed.
We are ultimately responsible to our membership for any position we take, as all membership organisations are. If an issue within our remit comes up that needs a response, we take a position. We don’t believe we would be doing our job properly if we didn’t take clear positions on issues that affect our fans. We draw on our contacts, our regular surveys, and our knowledge of conversations in fan forums – including our own – when deciding what position to take. We would be foolish not to consider as wide as possible a range of views, and we are satisfied we do so.
We took the decision some time ago to move to a transmit only policy on our social media accounts partly because it was too easy for people to fire off abuse rather than engage in proper discussion. The conversations we’ve had via email or on our members-only forum have seen some discussions that have begun quite fiercely end with a greater understanding of the picture, and we’ll continue to have those conversations on those platforms.
Rest assured we'll keep raising questions with the Club, making them aware of fan opinion, and pushing for solutions where we can. We think getting the furlough decision reversed, for example, came partly because we put forward alternatives and argued the case rationally. So we’ll continue the measured approach because it gets results.
We’re also very committed to playing our part in the national network of fan groups, and the work of the national umbrella organisation the Football Supporters’ Association. Not only are solutions that are best for all fans beneficial for our own fans, a healthy national game is beneficial for our Club. The FSA’s Sustain the Game initiative raises key questions about how clubs and the game as a whole is run and proposes a number of solutions that would help strengthen the sport we all love. Please take some time to find out about the campaign.
We’d like to thank the vast majority of people who respond to us for their support and kind words, and to welcome the many new members who have joined us over the past few difficult months. When we work together in a positive and pragmatic way, we can achieve great things.
2. Broadcast access for the 2020/21 season
As we outlined in our last newsletter, we were at the forefront of a national campaign to ensure fans were able to watch their teams while entry to stadiums was denied. That campaign was successful, and the Premier League announced on 8 September all games played behind closed doors during September would be broadcast live, with a further announcement outlining radio coverage.
Our view, based on continuing discussions with the Premier League and our contacts with broadcasters, is that the continuation of this coverage on a rolling monthly basis will be announced. That’s simply because the situation with social distancing is constantly changing, and because it would not make sense to commit now to doing something for an entire season when things are changing so rapidly.
We’ll continue to put the case for ALL fans to get the chance to watch their team, and to get clubs to recognise what their regular match-going customers expect. We’ll also continue to remind clubs that, even if greater numbers are allowed back into stadiums, there will still be fans in vulnerable categories who are effectively denied access to games they would otherwise go to, and that provision needs to be made for them.
One of the regular questions we are asked is “do you really make any difference?” No one who was at the meeting between fan reps and Premier League officials where this issue was raised was left in any doubt about the strength of fan feeling or the Premier League’s surprise at it. This TV deal would absolutely not have happened if fan reps hadn’t mobilised – even enlisting support in Parliament. The Clubs and the Premier League attempted to pass the buck until we made it clear we considered the 20 shareholding Clubs WERE the Premier League. They attempted to blame the broadcasters until we found out the broadcasters had not been contacted. And they told us a deal was not possible without huge damage to the TV contract.
And yet, after fan pressure was brought to bear, football found both a will and way to make this work.
The deal covered Premier League games, so our attention then turned to Europe and to cup games. After it became clear BT Sport was not covering UEFA Europa League qualifying games, we pressed the Club for information and eventually it announced a deal with broadcaster Premier Sports, with a discount of £2 for Spurs members via a code. We’re aware the amount of money fans are being asked to spend on TV subscriptions and passes is rising. And we’re also aware that, for match-going fans, the price of watching on TV is still considerably less than it normally would be in person. We’ll keep an eye on the balance here.
The Premier Sports coverage for the Plovdiv match proved to be utterly shambolic, with poor reception and basic packaging finally resulting in a complete blackout during which all three of the game’s goals were scored, along with some high drama on the pitch. We contacted the Club to ensure it would be pressing for refunds and were told subscribers could either apply for a refund and an immediate termination of their Premier Sports subscription or a one-month contract extension. Premier Sports were supposed to be telling subscribers this by email but, at the time of writing, the company’s ability to send an email seems to be on about the same level as its ability to transmit a football match. We continue to pursue this with THFC.
3. Phased return of fans for 2020/21 season including test events, Season Ticket Amnesty and Photo ID requirements
Plans for the phased return of fans to stadiums continue to be subject to a rapidly changing – and unfortunately now worsening – situation with COVID-19. Supporter organisations are in a difficult position. We know fans want to get back into grounds. And we know that not getting fans back into grounds will have a very negative impact on club finances, even at the highest level. But we’re also aware that public health must come first. So it’s all about finding a balance, as it is for many sectors of the economy.
Nationally, fan organisations and the FSA had started asking why, for example, people could gather in a confined space like a pub to watch a game, but not in a stadium where there was more social distancing. We know, because we’ve been working with the game’s authorities, that many clubs had put a lot of time and effort into developing measures that would allow at least some fans back into stadiums, and that these were some of the safest spaces. But we are also aware of the questions that still existed around areas such as transport to the game.
The government’s announcement of tighter restrictions on gatherings on 22 September appeared to signal that it will be some months yet before fans are allowed back into stadiums. Let’s be clear. If this happens many clubs will go under, and that will damage the overall strength of the game in this country. It will affect everyone. So we will continue to push for each club’s plans to be assessed on their merits, and for spectator sports to be given a chance to remain viable while remembering the importance of public health.
At Club level, we’ve helped with the tone and content of some of the messaging the Club has put out about a potential return to the ground, and the Code of Conduct fans will be asked to sign up to. We also worked with the Club around the Season Ticket amnesty and photo ID requirements. We retain some worries about photo ID and have stressed we support it only as a temporary measure.
That’s also why the ST amnesty was needed. We know some fans aren’t particularly happy that the amnesty, in their eyes, rewards people who have broken ticketing rules in the past. But we have to be guided by practical reality and the fact is that without the amnesty, it would be impossible to have the photo ID scheme that is necessary to get fans back in the ground. Most feedback we’ve had on this has accepted the need for both measures.
We also contacted the Club about reports that it was planning to open the stadium to Premium ticket holders only. As it turned out, the Club had applied for permission to get both Premium and General Admission fans back for our opening game against Everton, and reports about Premium-only entry stemmed from speculation about what the government would allow. It seemed this was another occasion when people were only too prepared to believe the worst, although we have repeatedly made the point to the Club that it might be useful to wonder why people so often jump to the most negative conclusion about the actions it takes.
As things now stand, the prospect of getting any fans in to any stadium before the end of this year looks extremely unlikely. But there is a growing body of opinion within the sports sector that the current one-size-fits all-approach needs to change.
4. Body worn cameras at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
The Club has made us aware that it is looking to introduce body-worn cameras for use by stewards once fans are allowed back into grounds. We can see some benefits to this, most obviously that if stewards’ actions are captured on camera it is provides a greater incentive to act in an appropriate manner. However, we have a number of concerns about how the cameras will be deployed, how information will be retained and used, and whether audio and well as video recording is to be used. We’ll report back in further detail when the return of fans to stadiums is closer.
5. Catering plans for the return of fans to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
THST’s Rachel Martin met, virtually, with Levi Harris, THFC’s Supporter Liaison Officer, and Ray Watson of THFC Catering on 16 September. The meeting was arranged in light of the potential return of some fans to matches in the near future, but news came soon after that any return was likely to be delayed until at least the new year. This is therefore a short report of some top line issues. Once a date for return seems more likely, we’ll meet the Club again and update through our newsletters and website.
The management and leadership of catering has now been brought in house to THFC, though service provision is still through Levy UK/Compass.
There was some discussion of potential food and beverage price increases once the stadium reopens. We stressed that increases should not be above the rate of inflation and that supporters should not be expected to pay significant increases when lots of them are also facing financial insecurity in the current very difficult circumstances. Ray Watson agreed and said increases would be as low as possible, with prices remaining very competitive. Figures will be shared before the stadium reopens and, in the meantime, we’d be interested in supporter reaction to the prospect of increased catering pricing. Drop us a line on info@THSTOfficial.com or tell us on the Catering thread of our members’ Forum.
6. Supporting local non-league teams
We’ve always been happy to publicise local non-league teams that approach us. Over the last few seasons we’ve flagged up Wingate & Finchley’s matches when Spurs aren’t playing at home, and they’ve kindly offered a discount on the gate to members of THFC or THST.
The impact of coronavirus on non-league clubs has the potential to put many out of business. That’s one of the many reasons we are supporting the FSA’s Sustain the Game initiative.
As the season was brought to a halt in March, and later suspended indefinitely, clubs had to find ways to keep themselves alive. Wingate & Finchley turned to the public and the community, raising over £13,000 in donations as part of their fundraising efforts; including a £1,500 donation from Peterborough chairman, Darragh MacAnthony.
Up to 600 fans are currently allowed into Wingate & Finchley games and the offer of half-price entry to anyone who turns up on the gate with proof of THFC/THST membership or a season ticket still stands for the coming 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.
7. Tottenham Hotspur Women fan organisation
Since winning promotion to the FA Women’s Super League and subsequent integration into the main Club at the close of the 2018-19 season, Spurs Women has grown from strength to strength on the pitch culminating in the loan signing of US superstar, Alex Morgan, during the recent transfer window.
With interest in the Women’s team and match attendances on the rise, it’s also time for fans to organise themselves. Many of the key decisions that will shape the future of the Women’s game are yet to be taken and there is an opportunity to make sure fans’ voices are heard and fans' views are included in that decision-making process far earlier than they ever were in the Men’s game.
The Football Supporters’ Association is busy creating a network of fan groups for the Women’s game at a national level and we want Spurs fans to play their part. To this end, THST Co-chair Katrina Law and THST Secretary Pete Haine have formed a Steering Group along with the founders of the THW Supporters Club and members of the Proud Lilywhites’ committee to explore constitutional options for a new, independent, democratic fan organisation for Tottenham Hotspur Women.
The Steering Group has also opened dialogue with Club staff around ticketing, merchandising, branding, communications, infrastructure and investment with the aim of embedding a structured dialogue process similar to the agreement in place between THST and THFC.
We’ll keep readers updated on progress via our newsletters and social media feeds. Fans interested in volunteering time and expertise to a formal Women’s supporter organisation should contact info@THSTOfficial.com in the first instance and we’ll share with the Steering Group.
8. Fundraising for the JE3 Foundation
When we were drawn against Leyton Orient in the Carabao Cup, we got in touch with our friends at Leyton Orient Fan Trust (LOFT) to see if we could mark The Real North London Derby with a fundraiser for the Justin Edinburgh 3 Foundation. At the time, the charity was £8,000 short of the £70,000 target it had set to get established. So, both THST and LOFT launched a joint appeal to fans to give some of the money they might have spent going to the game to the charity.
The appeal got an amazing response and backing from some high-profile media accounts. So much so that the £70,000 target was smashed the day before the game was due to be played. We also approached THFC to see if they could help and were delighted when they announced they would be donating signed, match-worn shirts from the game to JE3.
Of course, the match did not go ahead after members of Leyton Orient’s squad tested positive for COVID-19. LOFC faced a significant financial loss from the tie not going ahead, and Spurs fans began to suggest on social media that support could be given by purchasing replica kit from the club shop and donating those kits to local children. LOFC embraced the call, setting up a mechanism for kit to be delivered to Haven House Childrens’ Hospice and Whipps Cross Hospital – two of the club’s partners in the Harry Kane sponsorship deal. Delivery charges were donated to JE3. Again, THST and LOFT amplified the call.
Within days, the incredible generosity of supporters saw Leyton Orient’s club shop sell out of kids’ replica kit, raising over £20,000.
We’d like to thank everyone who made a donation. We know times are tough, and that makes the generosity even more incredible. We know it meant a huge amount to everyone at Leyton Orient, and have been asked to pass on thanks. THFC has now said it will auction match-worn shirts from our Carabao Cup game against Chelsea for JE3.
What’s particularly good about all this is that via social media, all too often these days a source of discord, fans got together to really make a difference for some important causes.
9. 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. With more people joining, we’re starting to see the forum 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 get 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.
10. Football to Amsterdam 2021
Currently, all the Cycle On You Spurs riders who had registered for the cancelled June 2020 ride are being asked to confirm that they will be cycling to Amsterdam next June, and building on their 2020 fundraising. In the last five days, 17 of what would have been a 27-strong COYS team have already registered for June 2021.
Once confirmed numbers have been finalised, new riders will be sought and COYS will be recruiting. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more, or to register an interest or if you would like to donate, you can do so here.
While you are there, you can read a short history of Cycle On You Spurs and the Trust’s support for the event and for Prostate Cancer UK.
11. Away ticketing points: 2015 to 2020
Each year, we collate the ticketing points required for THFC Premier League away games and summarise those points in a handy infographic. Data from the last five seasons can be viewed here.
With no fans inside stadia for the forseeable future and indications that visiting supporters will take even longer to return, we appreciate this data may not be instantly relevant. You may want to favourite this link for future reference, however!
THFC has suspended the awarding of ticketing points for either home or away matches across all competitions for the 2020-21 season in recognition of the difficulties faced by fans unable to attend games for COVID-19 related medical reasons during the pandemic and the limited number of tickets available once the phased return of fans is underway.
12. Spurs programmes for charity
We have raised £330 for our nominated charities so far over recent weeks from the sale of programmes donated to us, for which THST Secretary Pete Haine extends a special thank you.
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 Trust Secretary Pete.Haine@THSTOfficial.com for a full list of what’s still available.
Fighting Cock Special - Trust Issues featuring Martin Cloake and Kat Law
The Athletic Explained: The fight to let fans stream Premier League games this season
The Athletic All or Nothing? Filling in the blanks in Amazon's Tottenham series
Football London Tottenham fans show their class as Leyton Orient deliver sales update
The Cheese Room Podcast (THFC) featuring Rachel Martin and Martin Cloake
Sky Sports Tottenham to donate shirts to Justin Edinburgh charity auction
Tottenham Hotspur Shirts to be auctioned in Justin’s memory
1 October 2020
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