intended to go to the AGM this year (09.11.2004), I made a decision to go with the
promise of an interview after the press conference after it. Thus,
arriving late and having to be let in by the security guards on duty, I
missed the business part of the meeting, but got there just after the
free football questioning began. I will run through some of the
questions asked, although not in any particular order, but with the
similar topics lumped together.
The board members and staff who were
present were Daniel Levy (DL), David Buchler (DB), Frank Arnesen (FA),
Mervyn Davies (MD), Matthew Collecott (MC), Paul Kemsley (PK) and John
- Martin Jol was an obvious point of
interest and when asked about the roles that he and Arnesen would carry
out, FA made sure that everyone was clear. It was FA's job to
provide "the weapons in the hands of the coach" and then he
picked the team from the players brought in. FA said he had
confidence and trust in the new Head Coach.
- The captaincy was under question and the
need for a ball-winning midfielder, so FA replied that a leader is not
made overnight, but has to grow, like Ledley King had done by playing in
midfield for a while and being brought on in the proper way.
One question mentioned the availability of Mark van Bommel, who would be
on a free transfer in the summer when his contract expires. The
Dutch midfielder was someone that FA knows very well, having been at PSV
and he said that if the player would benefit the team, then he would go
Jermain Defoe has been touted as a replacement at Chelsea for Adrian
Mutu, while the West London club and Arsenal have been linked with Ledley
King and one questioner wanted to know if they would be sold for
around £20 million each, while accepting that if a bid of £40
million per player came in, it would have to be accepted. DL
said there had been no bids for those players and that they would
not be sold.
- With FA signing the players at the
club, one person asked where the buck stopped with buying and
selling players. FA reiterated that the Head Coach
concentrates on the first team, while the Sporting Director is
ultimately responsible for signing new players, while sales were
discussed with the coach and the board.
- Dutch players became a topic of
discussion, especially those at PSV (Robben, Rommedahl and Kezman) ,
with Mark van Bommel being mentioned as being available on a free
transfer in the summer and did we go after him last summer ?
FA confirmed the club had not pursued him last summer and if it was
felt that a player such as van Bommel would benefit the team, then
they would go after him. With Robben, FA had been involved in
negotiations to transfer him to Manchester United, but then Chelsea
came in at the last minute and that was that. Spurs did not
need another striker, so did not move for Kezman, while with
Rommedahl, who FA rates highly, there was not a place for him at the
time when other areas were being addressed.
- Did the club have a sports
psychologist on the books and did they use one ? FA was
outlining that players need a lot of factors to be a
professional. They need to be lucky with fitness and talented,
but they needed the right mentality - even in training. He
believes that if needed they can be brought in to be used with
players as necessary.
- With only a one point improvement on
last season's corresponding fixtures, a fan asked would there be an
opportunity to boost playing strength in the January transfer window
? DL said that they would be looking to do business in the
January transfer window.
- Tottenham's set-up was also a point to be
probed by the audience and the matter brought an answer form DL, as to
why it was the way he wanted to go. The chairman had looked at why
the club had underachieved over many years. A lot of money had
been spent (much more than Arsenal), without similar success. The
structure stops big changes when a new appointment has to be made and
promotes continuity, with the Sporting Director having an overall view
of how the club operates. As the Head Coach is only in charge of
the First Team, the effect on the club is minimalised. The reason
that some people cannot assimilate themselves into the theory behind it,
is because many British managers want to control everything, including
the medical management of players, but here all they have to do is
concentrate on the First Team.
- MD said that we should realise that we are lucky to have someone like FA
at the club, as he had great knowledge of the European game and also
football in places further afield. he is one of the most respected
football men in the game.
- Someone wanted to know how will the
structure work differently to that at the start of the season.
FA said that he and Martin Jol were used to working this system in
Holland, albeit at different clubs and it should not be regarded as
a threat, but as a benefit, as two people run the club, not one, as
is traditional in England. For two years FA was assistant
coach to Bobby Robson at PSV Eindhoven and Robson liked the
arrangement. it allows each person to concentrate on their
duties, but communication between the two is very important.
- A point was put forward that was this
not storing up trouble for the future, as the Press had leapt to the
conclusion that there had been conflict between FA and
Santini. FA cleared that up by saying that he had been
responsible for appointing the coach and it was his job to make it a
STYLE OF FOOTBALL
- One shareholder wanted to know if the
style of football would change under Martin Jol. FA said that
it was the players who did the entertaining and not the coach.
The main idea would be to go and get results and then the flowing
play would come from that. The Sporting Director believed that
if the team played with confidence, in a style that they liked to
play in, then we will win, but that wouldn't happen all the time
(results and style). This season under Santini, the early
results were gained to establish some points on the board for the
team and to help the large number of new players settle in.
There will always be ups and downs in a long season, but FA had
confidence in Jol after the battling performance in the last 30
minutes fo the Charlton Athletic match.
- How the stadium would be developed and
even where it will be was the next issue to be asked about. PK is
responsible for making the redevelopment work and will receive a big
percentage bonus should more than £2.5 million profit. He said
that the plans for the redevelopment had been completed for a greatly
improved stadium. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and the London
Borough of Haringey (LBH) have not shown a great commitment to the plans, so
they had not been submitted yet. The club have made strategic
acquisitions in the area and believe that the redevelopment will make a
big contribution to the regeneration of the area. Some of the
dealings in gaining planning permission revolve around the benefit that
will be gained for the area (planning gain) weighed up against the
effect it has on the area.
- The matter of transport links is closely tied to the planning issue and
LBH has shown no commitment to assisting the planning
application to go in. PK hoped that everyone would be able to see
the plans very soon and he was sure that everybody would be hugely
impressed with them when they do get to see them.
- A question about the stadium being
more welcoming for fans travelling a long distance for home games
was raised and this was to be dealt with in the redevelopment plans.
- The old chestnut of the transport
links to Tottenham was raised once more. Was Northumberland
Park being linked to the Victoria Line on the Underground and how
would things be changed to make it easier to get to the
ground. PK explained that the redevelopment was over 16 acres
(0.25 million feet of residential, leisure and car parking) and that
was a large project, so things take a lot of time to achieve what is
required. One consideration would be the access into and out fo the
area for fans, but the negotiations on the tube station was ongoing,
although this needed the assistance of Transport for London and the
SIR BILL NICHOLSON
- Sir Bill Nicholson's death was raised and
the fact that there had been no minute's silence throughout football as
there had been for Brian Clough. JA answered that the Premier
League had sent a circular to clubs saying that the minute's silence for
Clough was discretionary and that there was no direct instruction about
it. There had been no such communication about the death of Sir
- The club were praised for their
handling of the Bill Nicholson tributes and memorial service, but
with the club shop being open on the Sunday of the service, the
takings over any other Sunday were requested. Those figures
were not available.
- Young players were being creamed off
to Arsenal from the local area, a youth worker in Haringey claimed
and asked what was being done to improve the links with youth groups
in the area to increase the interest in the club from the next
generation of supporters. JA answered by saying that lots has
been done by the Football In The Community scheme over the last 5
years and especially the last 2-3. With the appointment of
Kathryn Robinson as Community Director it is hoped to expand on the
successes, especially the "Playing for Success" scheme
that has targeted underachievers at school to improve attendance at
lessons and this has been done to achieve 98% attendance.
There was still a problem in allowing tickets to go to local youth
groups at the moment, because of the lack of capacity in the
- The loss of the 10% discount in the
Spurs Stores was raised and DL said that a decision to make special
offers to Members throughout the season would compensate for the
- A question from the floor concerning
the club's policy in taking the lower end of the allocated tickets
for away games was posed. JA said that under Premier League
rules the home club had to offer the away club 3,000 or 10% of
capacity and these are usually offered on a sale and return or
guaranteed sale basis. THFC accept tickets on the basis of
historical information and for the Chelsea match, it was felt that
there would have been a financial loss to the club had they accepted
the whole allocation.
With a general drop-off of away support in the Premier League, the
effect of Sky Sports Pay Per View service and the new Football First
extended highlights package, coupled with the cost fo tickets and
the lack of capacity for away fans, this means that most clubs are
reducing the amount of tickets they are taking. In fact,
Bolton asked Spurs to take back more tickets after being unable to
sell them for a Saturday 3.00 p.m. kick off League match.