At last though, three weeks after the collapse of the ESL, and over a fortnight after everyone else, the Club has apologised “unreservedly”, although only after detailing its reservations. An apology is better late, however, than never.
More important is the acceptance by the Club’s Board of measures we have been calling for over some years, and which we put forward in our six-point plan. The dogged stance of the Trust and the wider supporter base has forced the Club to concede the principle that fans must be represented at Board level, and to adopt some of our specific suggestions. But announcing this without consultation on detail is not a promising start. And the measures set out in the Club’s statement do not give fan representatives any real power.
It is vital the Club Advisory Panel has the support of the fans, including the Trust, if it is to be a credible vehicle for fan representation.
We are very willing to meet with the Club to discuss the mechanics of genuine supporter representation at Board level. Those discussions would be conducted alongside the conversations we are already having with government officials and with the Premier League in order to deliver the changes needed. We have said we are willing to meet, we have made it clear to the Club directly and to the mediator that we are willing to meet, and we have made clear what the basis for that meeting should be. We will take the results of any discussions back to our members.
What cannot go unquestioned is the Club’s decision to publish a statement that misrepresents the position and attacks a volunteer fan organisation at a time when the Club is facing sustained criticism over its relationship with the fanbase and for its decision making. It is simply destructive. To do so while we were pursuing a mediation process via the Football Supporters’ Association in good faith is regrettable in the extreme.
We also note the description of the Club’s Board as “individuals who have lived and breathed this Club for the best part of two decades”. The obvious implication is that the Trust and the fans we represent are somehow not. Let us state now, for the record, that the supporters of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club have lived and breathed this great Club for far longer than two decades. And we will continue to do so far beyond the tenure of our current custodians.
The Club fails to acknowledge that in previous meetings with the Trust it repeatedly denied that any talks were taking place in relation to any European Super League, even while it is now clear that those talks were taking place. Its latest statement is another attempt to deflect criticism at a time when the Club should be seeking to rebuild relationships and repair trust. Relationships matter, not only with fans but with the wider football family, and when those relationships have been so severely damaged the time has come to reassess.
Fans are not convinced that the current Board or owners do know that “the heartbeat of the Club is success on the pitch”. And the warning that “we shall need to recover from the loss of substantial revenues” is ominous indeed from a Board that has imposed the highest ticket prices in Europe and charged £60 for the partial return of fans to our stadium after a year of the pandemic.
Real change is coming because you, the fans, have made your voices heard. We remain committed to securing that real change at the football club whose interests we always have, and always will, put first.
12 May 2021