Safe standing victory
Update on Club Board
Premier League / FSA Meeting on COVID
FSA Premier League Network Meeting
ECL and Premier League Away match ticketing
Concessions and Ticket Exchange
Europa Conference League Away Games
Football Supporters Europe Away Fans Survey
Supporting Tottenham Foodbank on match days
FSA #TerraceTalk campaign
Andy's Man Club
Cycling to Spurs: Pedal to the Pitch
London to Amsterdam 2022
Gary Mabbutt event special offer for members
We’re also aware of rising discontent with the direction the Club appears to be heading in, and we’re continuing to press the Club Board for answers. More about this follows in this newsletter, but there may have been other developments by the time you read this.
1. Safe standing victory
After 30 years of campaigning by fan groups, standing is once again to be permitted at top-flight stadia in England and Wales. The Sports Ground Safety Authority announced that a change in government policy would allow it to permit safe standing in licensed standing areas at Premier League and Championship clubs from 1 January 2022. The FSA, which co-ordinated campaign work, welcomed the announcement and gave some context about what it means.
THST has backed the campaign for many years, and was instrumental in persuading an initially-sceptical THFC to back it. Led by former Trust Board Member Paul Head, we campaigned to get the backing of our members and the Club, outlining the arguments about why the choice of whether to stand or sit was important. In early 2014, we presented the case for the choice to stand to the THFC Board. In July 2015, we organised a demonstration of one safe seating solution for THFC executives, with the assistance of the Safe Standing Roadshow. The Club eventually incorporated a safe-standing option in its plans for the new stadium.
The Club has announced it will be applying to be one of the pilot clubs to offer safe standing from 1 January 2022, but in its excitement forgot to acknowledge the role played by fans and the Trust. Trust reps will be attending meetings of the local Safety Advisory Group as discussions on how the pilot is to be run continue.
We’d like to thank all those who backed the campaign, and in particular former THST Board Member Paul Head, who devoted much time and energy to building a constructive and convincing case for safe standing. And, of course, the Club for listening to and taking the case on board. It’s an example of where campaigning by fan organisations can work.
2. Update on Club Board
Some poor performances on the pitch have led to another upsurge in discontent with the way THFC is being run. THST’s position remains the one our membership voted for in the wake of the ESL debacle – that accountability rests with the Club’s Executive Board and that the Board should step down. That vote was followed up by an overwhelming demonstration by fans who completed our annual survey – the largest independent survey of Spurs fan opinion – of lack of confidence in the ability of the Board or current ownership to take the Club forward.
At the same time, THST was working on its submission to the government’s fan-led review on the governance and structure of the game. This put forward a number of practical suggestions to improve accountability and ensure supporter views are more firmly entrenched in the Club’s decision-making structure – not just a token fan on the board.
THFC’s Executive Board is clearly not going to resign. It does not acknowledge that denying involvement, at successive board-to-board meetings, in a key project it was clearly deeply involved in has undermined confidence in those meetings. And it has refused to acknowledge the sentiments revealed by the findings of our survey.
It’s now clear everyone is waiting for the result of the fan-led review to be published by Tracey Crouch MP. That is expected in the next few weeks. We stopped the Club from pushing on with a hastily-put-together plan to set up a toothless and unrepresentative ‘Club Advisory Panel’ – an attempt to pre-empt the review. We are hoping, along with other fan groups and the Football Supporters’ Association, that the review embeds fan influence at board level. And we have said clearly that members of the THST Board would not be seeking positions on the Club Board.
Some have said the Trust has “backed away” from its position in order to “stay in the Club’s good books”. As set out above, our position remains as it was. And we are most definitely not in the Club’s good books. Because our job is to represent our members.
We understand that waiting for the results of a review that could deliver real, lasting change is not as exciting as Calling A Big Demo. If people want to do that, they are of course free to do so. We’re not optimistic that if there was A Big Demo it would, in itself, convince the Club’s Executive Board to act any differently. And calling for a change of ownership would mean there needed to be a clear idea of who the new owners would be, and what we would want them to do.
We have been accused in public of ignoring the views of members who want a different approach. This is simply untrue. We’ve had very few individual members contact us arguing for a different approach, and none who have been able to answer the question ‘what happens next?’ . We have spoken to anyone who has got in contact and shown a willingness to work together, and continue to do so.
If the fan-led review delivers the reforms we are calling for, it won’t guarantee every transfer bid succeeds, every decision is correct, every game is a thriller or that we get three points every week. What it will do is ensure that football and the interests of fans are given a greater priority than they appear to be getting at the moment. The problems at our Club go deep, and it will need more than the recommendations of the review to solve them. But those recommendations could change the landscape in our favour.
We believe that our approach is more beneficial and workable than shouting ‘sack the board’ with no clear plan for what comes next, then sitting back and watching another takeover fail to deliver what fans want – always assuming a takeover happens. It is a pattern that has been repeated too many times in football and we will not take a route that leads nowhere just because it appears easy.
At a national level, the government’s cabinet reshuffle saw Oliver Dowden replaced as Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport by Nadine Dorries. Dowden had indicated his broad support for reform, so along with colleagues from other supporter groups and the FSA, we wrote to Nadine Dorries to set out the importance of the government delivering real change in football. The letter was signed by 100+ groups and is included here.
3. Premier League / FSA Meeting on COVID – 9 September
Kat Law represented THST at a meeting on 9 September between club fan reps and the Premier League, organised by the FSA, on issues around COVID.
The session covered COVID Checks, Communication, Consultation, Future Certification plans, Impact on Supporters, Match day experience, Transmission rates and plans for the future.
Much of the meeting was taken up with fan groups relaying experiences at their own grounds to the Premier League, and this seems to have been valued. Fan reps were looking for greater clarity on policy and guidance from the Premier League, but there wasn’t much of this. We appreciate the difficulties of planning when government guidance is constantly changing, but more firm leadership and direction from the Premier League is needed.
Fan reps were looking for more clarity and uniformity around status checks; better, clearer communication; a better balance between fair access and creating safe environments. And, as always, greater co-operation between clubs and supporter groups – a point we shouldn’t have to keep making.
One issue fan reps were looking for leadership from the PL on was over the treatment of season ticket holders who had paid for their tickets but were unable – because of concerns over health or travel restrictions – to use them. The PL is reluctant to interfere in individual clubs’ ticketing processes, but this is an area where it needs to assert and maintain best practice.
Since the meeting, the government has attempted to clarify its position, and this should make it easier for the PL to deliver the kind of guidance being asked for. There was not, however, much evidence of contingency planning in the event of stricter measures being introduced if rates rise significantly.
The PL did confirm that public health bodies were suggesting that research showed a very low instance of transmission associated with attendance at stadiums. Available research on the subject is to be shared.
4. FSA Premier League Network Meeting – 20 September
Ahead of a scheduled Structured Dialogue meeting with the Premier League, at which THST will be represented by FSA Network Rep Kat Law, the Football Supporters’ Association called a Network meeting to discuss the main areas of concern amongst top flight fans at national level, and to agree what to take into the session with Premier League executives.
COVID and the return to matches, the roll out of digital ticketing, cryptocurrency and fan engagement models, Safe Standing, VAR, broadcast and streaming along with European and World Cup football all generated healthy debate on the night.
As always, these league-wide sessions are a fantastic reminder of how what unites us is so much bigger than what divides us, and a reminder of how much fans can achieve when they organise collectively and confidently. ESL, PPV and Standing being just three recent victories for the not-so little people!
A full report from the Structured Dialogue session with the Premier League will be available in October’s newsletter.
5. ECL and Premier League Away match ticketing
We were pleased that our lobbying for the Club to offer a group stage pack for home matches in the Europa Conference League and for matches to be priced accessibly was successful.
Offering a package is a rare example of the Club offering a progressive pricing deal, and of course it should also help to boost attendance. Pricing individual games more accessibly by keeping them out of match-day categorisation also helps bring more lower income fans into the ground.
We also lobbied successfully for each game to be worth three loyalty points to those who used the tickets.
On the day the group packages went on sale there were some widespread problems with Ticketmaster’s system. We flagged these with our contacts in the Club’s ticketing and supporter services departments, and helped communicate to fans who were trying to book. The problem was resolved pretty quickly, but once again revealed an issue with the systems provided by Ticketmaster.
On the subject of Ticketmaster, we’re seeking clarification of how booking fees are applied, for example whether it’s a fee per transaction or per ticket. The Club is yet to respond, but we’ll keep pushing for answers as it’s an area of great interest to many of the fans who contact us regularly.
Tickets for our away game at Palace were issued late after delays in the host Club supplying the ticket inventory. We’ve emphasised that tickets must go out sooner. On the day, our Supporter Liaison Officer Levi Harris did a great job helping fans on the gate and liaising with Palace officials to make sure fans got into the ground on time. This is probably a good time to stress that, even if you email the ticket office outside normal office hours, they do pick up mails and contact supporters in difficulty.
Both of the ticketing issues above affected a number of members of the Trust Board, which is remarkable as we are always reading about the preferential treatment we get. Maybe people are just making things up!
6. Concessions and Ticket Exchange
We continue to press the Club to reverse its unfair refusal to offer concessionary pricing on the official ticket exchange platform, TEX. Until 2020, fans who qualified for a concessionary price were able to pay that price for tickets they purchased on TEX. But the Club now insists all tickets on TEX are told at full price.
The Club argues it is unable to offer concession prices through Ticket Exchange as there would be a difference in the price a concession supporter pays, compared to what an adult season ticket holder would receive to their account. The Club says that if an adult season ticket holder listed their seat and this was purchased by a supporter entitled to a concession, the adult season ticket holder would then expect the full adult price and the difference would then need to be made up by the Club.
We argue that any money lost from an adult ticket selling at a concessionary price is more than offset by a greater number of concessionary tickets selling at adult price. So the club in fact gains money.
We’re aware of the undercurrents of constantly focusing on the Club’s attitude to finance, but in this case the stance adopted by the Club is both penny-pinching and unfair. The totals involved for a Club that has been the Premier League’s most profitable and which has some of the highest ticket prices in Europe are also negligible compared to the effect on individual supporters.
Previous attempts to raise ticketing issues via the Trading Standards Office have proved fruitless, largely due to the Office’s inability to understand how football ticketing works and complete lack of interest in finding out. So we need fans to show the strength of feeling on this by emailing the Club and raising the issue with their MPs. Your emails to the club should go to SupporterServices@TottenhamHotspur.com, using the subject line Concessionary Pricing on TEX.
Reversing this policy, along with making concessionary pricing available to all who qualify, rather than just in some sections of the ground, would be a first step in rebuilding goodwill with fans. Assuming the Club is interested in doing so.
7. Europa Conference League Away Games
Ahead of our ECL game away to Stade Rennais, the Club’s Supporter Liaison Officer contacted us to tell us some of the most restrictive regulations we’d ever seen would be imposed for our visit. These included not permitting our fans to wear club colours or otherwise identify themselves as Spurs fans within a given radius of the city centre. Rennes were also planning on charging our fans €45, and had substantially reduced the already small number of away tickets available.
THFC pushed back on the pricing, and we drew their attention to the price cap of €35 set by UEFA for away fans in the ECL. We also contacted Football Supporters Europe for their advice on the administrative order imposing the restrictions on our fans.
FSE said they had rarely seen anything like the order, and contacted the French Ministry of the Interior, the local police, and the FSE legal department. We put them in touch with THFC’s SLO and work began on challenging the order.
After some conversation, FSE said they believed the order was largely for show and was sufficiently generally worded as to be difficult to challenge legally and virtually impossible to enforce. A request, supported by a number of prominent French MPs, to suspend the administrative order was submitted but turned down.
FSE said it would provide legal support to any fans who needed it, and continued to liaise with THST and THFC up to and including the day of the game. THFC acknowledged the help given by THST and FSE in a statement on the Club website, underlining what can be achieved by working together. In the run-up to the game we were contacted by many travelling fans worried about the implications of the order and about the issue of ticketing vouchers and were able to provide advice. In the event, the day passed off successfully off the pitch.
8. Football Supporters Europe Away Fans Survey
FSE runs a regular Away Fans Survey to gather information on the treatment of fans at European competition games and is doing so again this season. Travelling Spurs fans are encouraged to complete after every European Away trip.
9. Supporting Tottenham Foodbank on match days
We continue to support Tottenham and Enfield Foodbanks on match days, encouraging supporters to drop off food at the van outside the Community Sports Centre on the High Road at each weekend home game or to make a donation as part of a our #KickOffAgainstHunger initiative. Please check our Twitter feed for news of any particular items that are being appealed for.
You can donate to Tottenham and North Enfield 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 this campaign for some time now, and sadly it looks like demand is going to grow this winter. If the cut in Universal Credit goes through, research from the Trussell Trust – which organises food banks across the country – has shown that another 1.2 million people say they will be forced to skip meals in order to make ends meet. Your support is needed more than ever.
10. FSA #TerraceTalk campaign
Towards the end of the 2020-21 season we reported on the Football Supporters’ Association #TerraceTalk campaign; the aim of which is to reach out to football fans through supporters’ organisations, to increase awareness of mental health issues and to get fans talking about them. The Trust is still aiming to participate in an event for Spurs fans over the coming months. In the meantime, the FSA website has some useful resources, which are well worth a look.
11. Andy’s Man Club
Andy's Man Club is a mental health charity offering free-to-attend talking groups for men, and aiming to challenge the stigma around male mental health. It was started in Halifax five years ago by Luke Ambler, a former rugby league player who lost a friend, Andy Roberts, to suicide at the age of 23. There are 64 Andy's Man Clubs across the UK, mainly in the north and Scotland. They are now seeking to launch groups in London, having grown from 133 attending their weekly groups to over 1,000.
We’ll be publicising their efforts as part of our drive to increase awareness of mental health issues and to promote mental health wellbeing.
12. Cycling to Spurs: Pedal to the Pitch
In the lead up to the recent home match v Chelsea, the Trust and the Club supported a new initiative: Pedal to the Pitch, aimed at helping new and inexperienced cyclists who wish to cycle to football matches. Through Cycle On You Spurs we provided advice, and then participated in a guided ride to the ground from Liverpool Street station, along cycle route CS1.
The event coincided with promotion of the first carbon neutral match at elite level. The Trust is keen to keep the momentum going in practical terms by progressively reducing the carbon footprint with ever more fans cycling to our matches.
For those cycling to future matches, remember that the safest places to lock your bikes are in the Spurs provided stands at the Tottenham Community Sports Centre (701 High Road, opposite the No 8 pub) and in the nearby Saint Francis de Salle School match day car park.
For any queries or further Information on cycling initiatives, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, keep a check on Cycling to Spurs and Match Day Travel on our Forum.
13. London to Amsterdam 2022
Dates for the twice-deferred 2020 Prostate Cancer UK fundraising ride to the Johan Cruyff Arena are likely to be 10 - 12 June 2022. Once dates are confirmed, they will be posted on the Cycle on You Spurs page of our website, along with information on registration. So if you would like to join our 30 + strong COYS team, start getting a few rides in before winter sets in.
14. Gary Mabbutt Event special offer for members
Chickenshed Theatre have offered THST members a special price to see Spurs Legend, Gary Mabbutt, live in conversation at their theatre on Sunday 10 October at 19:00. All members can BOOK ONE TICKET AND GET THE SECOND HALF PRICE when using the special code THSTCS50. Money from the event will go towards the theatre’s work with young people.
15. THST Forum
Our forum is still the place to go for more detailed debate and information on Trust activities. This month has seen lively threads on ticketing issues, commemorating or Club legends, and of course the direction of the Club. The forum is open to all full members and may well have answers to issues that have concerned you, too. Pop over and have a look when you have a moment.
Full and life members should 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.
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