tottenham hotspur supporters trust

 

Friday 12th April 2002 was a particularly busy day for the Trust.

1) On Friday morning (10-00 to 12-30), Peter Haring and Bernie Kingsley had a meeting with James Smith, ENIC's Sports Director of Finance, to talk about the club's policy on ticket allocations. (Away games, cup games, semis and finals etc.) 

They will publish the final policy soon, and our advice, in addition to trying to ensure that it's as fair as it can possibly be, is to make it clear and to stick to it, without exception.

Here are some points we recommended:
Tickets for high-demand games should be allocated according to "loyalty" rather than money. eg, The loyalty scheme should award more points for distant away games attended (outside the M25 for starters), than for home games, but that all games should be taken into account. This should recognise that someone prepared to travel for a low-key game on a Monday night for example, should get some reward when trying to get a ticket for a final that everyone in the world wants to attend.

People who've had a ST for a long time should be given preference over a new ST holder. This should apply even if the new ST holder has the most expensive seat in the ground, because it should be a LOYALTY scheme, not an auction.  James Smith agreed with these and similar ideas and will put them to the rest of the club's board.

We also spoke about the letter that will accompany the ST renewal invitations. He could not tell us what the prices will be since they still have to be finally agreed by the club's board, but we did urge them to be honest and explain fully the reasoning behind any prices rises. 


2) Friday lunchtime Peter had a long meeting with Keith Palmer (Trust member, freelance writer, vociferous supporter) with a view to giving an interview to appear in whichever media he can manage. 

3) Much of Friday evening was spent in communication with the club (Daniel Levy mainly, but others too).  Daniel Wynne and Jonathan Adelman spent hours on this too. Spurs knew about the anti-red petition and were extremely concerned to know whether the petition represented a universal or extreme view.

The petition and potential media coverage resulted in a threat, (which thankfully is now averted) to both the Thomson and Kappa deals. 

During many conversations over the course of Friday night, until the sponsors finally confirmed that the deals were no longer under threat, we were able to express our views on behalf of supporters, but also learn more about the club's position. We were assured that the Kappa deal is undoubtedly a good one for the club, and in many ways is better than we ought to have expected. 

Many clubs, we are told, will have token sponsorships only, whereas Spurs will make good money.

The board tried from an early stage to avoid the red, but Thomson were absolutely determined, and Spurs effectively had to decide whether to sacrifice the entire deal or accept the red logo on the home shirt. The board took the decision that the deal was too important to the club to lose.

On Friday night we had to decide how helpful we could or should be, and we believe that we also did the right thing in giving the club some ammunition to help them (in a small way no doubt) to ensure the deals were not jeopardised, whilst at the same time reinforcing the message that the supporters' views are so important. As such, they cannot be taken for granted. 

19.4.2002

SEASON TICKET PRICES

As I am sure you are aware, the ticket prices were announced today for next season.  Some areas of the ground have seen significant increases.

Season Ticket holders will continue to have the benefit of two pre paid cup ties, but if these are not used, refunds will not be offered.

Club Chairman, Daniel Levy wrote today in a statement on the club's website of their "attempts to increase the revenues available to the club" and in a week when the Club announced two lucrative sponsorship deals surely the club have never been as cash rich as they are now.

These are difficult economic times that we find ourselves in and the club should be applauded for trying to generate as much income as possible,  but we need to be sure that the extra revenue goes towards building the first team squad with quality additions. 

We want to hear from you. What are your views on the ticket prices? What do you want to see in return for your money? 

Please send your views to Daniel.Wynne@Tottenhamtrust.com as soon as possible so we can put your thoughts to the board of the club. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

21.4.2002

The Trust has been very  busy recently.

We've been putting as much pressure as we can on the club to be as open as possible. A small example: With our encouragement Spurs will be the first Premier League club to publish a Ticket charter. It will explain exactly how ticket allocations for next season will work, who'll be entitled to what and when.  This should mean no mess-ups like we've had this year and previously when we apply for tickets for away games or cup games and so on, or home games if we're not season ticket holders.  We expect to have more input to the detail of the Charter before it is published and will continue to do everything we can to make the ticket allocation policy fair.  We don't know how well it will work, but at least we will now know how it ought to work, and I can promise you we'll be policing it very carefully indeed.  Please let us know of any problems or thoughts you have on this over the coming season.

Also, we've gone to great lengths to put over your opinions to the club.  We've told the club very clearly that we want them to be highly ambitious, that we need to see results and that we want to see a return for our incredible loyalty and a financial contribution by fans way beyond most other clubs over years of disappointment and frustration.  A conversation that the Trust Chairman Peter Haring had with Daniel Levy, Spurs' chairman, is reported below and it reflects this, and we have every intention of letting the club know exactly how our members feel.  Please let us have your reactions.  We promise to pass them all on to Daniel Levy. 

Some people are concerned that we should be doing more to make sure that the club is always in tune with the supporters. We can promise you that for every bit of progress we've fought for there is more we would love to be able to do. The Trust exists purely for the benefit of Spurs supporters. We have limited resources and can't do everything we'd like to, which is why every supporter should join the Trust. It costs 10-00 a year and the more members we have the more influence we will have and the more we'll be able to do.

We've achieved a lot already, but there is so much more to do.  Can you imagine a year or so ago having the sort of information and access to the club that all members of the Trust now have? So, can you imagine how much more we could do if everyone who truly cares about Spurs was prepared to join up?

We'll keep fighting on your behalf, but please tell us what you want so that we can do it as effectively as we can.



This is Peter Haring's report of a conversation he had with Daniel Levy on Friday after the announcement of next season's ticket prices.

"I had a long conversation with Daniel Levy late on Friday night.

I told him that many people were very unhappy about the ticket price rises, some extremely so, and that virtually all supporters would probably feel that the overwhelming priority is to catch up with the leading clubs.  If supporters tolerate such large increases it will only be if the club shows that it is absolutely determined to achieve this.

He said they are, and agreed that he and the club will be judged on what it achieves.

He said he knows he will take flack over the price rises, but he's done it entirely in the interest of the club.  He said that most of the biggest increases are one-off adjustments, such as the North stand coming into line with the South, and the West stand realignments.  They believe that to do their jobs properly they have to get the relative pricing right at some point.  They considered phasing the increases in over a few years, but decided to do it all now, in one fell swoop, because otherwise it would prolong the agony and fail to maximise income for too long a period.  He says he understands the risks and has taken the decision that he believes is best for Spurs. (He also said that there will be many benefits to the Thomson deal, such as discounts, vouchers for free Spurs shirts with holidays booked etc., which could seriously offset the increased cost of tickets without reducing Spurs' income, but this will come out later, and isn't the main point.)

I believe DL's position is this;  the club will do everything it can to maximise revenue.  He assured me that every penny the club raises will be invested in the club with the sole intention of making it as successful as possible.  He backs Glenn Hoddle 100% and will do everything possible to help him build the squad he needs.  But they will not borrow to buy players or throw money around irresponsibly.  He will not jeopardise the club's survival.  They have absolutely no intention of paying dividends to shareholders.  They could not make a public commitment to this effect because if, for example, there were a real collapse in the share price of the type which could actually threaten the club's existence (rather than the current decline which is common to most clubs), it may be necessary to consider paying an extraordinary dividend, or buying back some shares.  This is standard for all public companies, but he tried hard to assure me that there was no realistic prospect of paying dividends because their sole objective is to make the club successful, and that needs all the money available.  The shareholders will make their money from the long-term increase in the value of their shares if Spurs becomes truly successful, but they have to be in it for the success of Spurs, not for any short term pay-outs, because there won't be any. 

If we accept that the money being raised by all the means possible, including sponsorships, TV money and ticket sales, is not being raised to enrich shareholders' cash-flows but for investment in the club, we have to look at how the money will be invested.

He said that there is virtually no transfer market.  A tiny number of clubs will spend real money, but most are too scared or too poor.  Spurs have to sell some players because the wage bill is astronomical.  For example, Jamie Redknapp's wages use up most of the Thomson money (His medical was the severest, most demanding they could devise).  But to sell a player, you have to find a buyer who is prepared to pay the players' wages as well as any transfer fee that may be required.  He said Spurs are not reluctant to spend money on transfer fees if the players Glenn wants are available, but he said some of the wage demands are just absurd and could threaten almost any club's future.  That is one reason why they are placing an enormous emphasis on youth development.  That is something they can get on with regardless of the condition of the transfer market or the economic climate for football clubs, and its a way to give Spurs a competitive advantage. 

He repeated a few times that they've appointed Glenn to manage the team and will always back him 100% with all the resources they can make available to him. They will take risks but they won't allow Spurs to do what some other big clubs have done. He said what he's said to me before: he has no right to put the existence of the club at risk. He has to make sure its still there in five or ten years' time. They desperately want to bring in  top class players and let some players go, and are working very hard on this, but won't make promises because deals are never easy to predict and the current market is especially hard.  


My personal opinion is that they have done the hard, unpopular things that they believe needed to be done, and are prepared to take the criticism for it and be judged on results. In putting up prices they are asking us to make an act of faith, but this is the last time they'll be able to ask it unless their actions justify it. I've told them many times, as forcefully as I can, that Spurs supporters have been incredibly patient despite immense frustrations and disappointments, but now, finally, we need to see the benefits of our patience and loyalty. I believe we have made this very clear and that they understand it. Now we'll see what happens.. "

Please let us have your thoughts. We will pass them on to the club because that is what we are here for:-  we can't always change things. The club was determined to put up ticket prices this year and we couldn't stop them. But we can and did find out why, and we can let them know exactly what we think. Reaction so far suggests that many supporters feel the new prices are excessive and can only be justified if the club makes major signings this summer and goes on to achieve real success on the pitch next season; the Trust will continue to hammer this home to the club. Also, people are not happy to find that there will be no refunds if there are not two home cup-ties to use the vouchers for. 

Is this acceptable to you? 

But please tell us what else you think about the new prices. And tell us anything else that's on your mind about Spurs. It doesn't have to be just about tickets. Our job is to make sure that the supporters and the club understand each other better, and with your help that's exactly what we're trying to do. 

21.4.2002

The new ticket prices have been announced - snuck out on a weekend when we're away rather than announced at home as usual. Is Jo Moore working for Spurs now? When it comes down to it, we all look at our own prices, and while my ticket has not gone up as much as I was expecting (smart pre-publicity by ENIC!) it's still enough.

The cup credits thing is again not satisfactory. It'll probably be an irrelevance because if we don't have at least 2 home cup ties next season I suspect there'll be mass demonstrations at the gates, but the principle is still out of order. We can have the option of two free cup ties, but if they're not used, there's no refund? What other business has this sort of arrangement? We're always being told football is 'just like any other business' - but this seems to be another time where it is a law unto itself. 

Most worrying are Levy's statements on the immediate future. We have just signed two major sponsorship deals, which the club has sought to deflect criticism of by pointing out just how lucrative they are. Season ticket prices are going up across the board, heftily in places. And yet the line still seems to be that we don't have money to spend.

Levy's statement that there is "no transfer market" because clubs are too scared or too skint is - and there's no politer way to accurately express this - utter garbage, as will become evident over the summer when deal after deal is concluded and club after club strengthens or juggles its squad.  True, some will do silly deals for silly money, but it's glaringly obvious that Spurs need three or four major signings - at least - and will have to pay the going rate in fees and wages if we are to get them.

The board are trying to have it both ways.  We're told we must fork out and accept all sorts of things because we need money to fund success, yet we're simultaneously told the club hasn't got the money to compete. Daniel Levy even goes so far as to tell the Supporters Trust that "Spurs have to sell some players because the wage bill is astronomical". 

So not only are we not able to compete in the transfer market for the quality we need, we can't even hold on to the players we've got !  All that extra money raised to make us a selling club!  He also recycles the line about "every penny" being invested in the future of the club. This is the youth academy line again.  When will the board understand that producing fine young players needs to be done in tandem with building a successful team for the present?  If Spurs continue to underachieve, our good youngsters will be off to the sides which are achieving real success.  It'll keep the books balanced, but personally I don't want Tottenham to turn into London's version of Crewe Alexandra. 

Daniel Levy also wheels out the old "we'll pay the money if the players are available" line - one we've heard from Francis to Graham.  It's funny how other clubs manage to sign these players who are "not available".

We're entitled to ask questions about the club's conduct of its transfer policy anyway.  Board prevarication and tactical cluelessness in the art of negotiation led to us paying over the odds for Dean Richards, so money was wasted there.  We've also held onto Sergei Rebrov long after it's been clear he has no future at the club.  I'm one of those who thinks Rebrov has been badly used by the club, but I have to accept the manager's view.  But I cannot understand why we didn't sell him earlier in order to strengthen the squad and maybe achieve success earlier, rather than hang on to him and see his value fall.  We're entitled to press the board on these issues if they are urging us to pay up time and time again.

In the coming months, it's not unlikely that Spurs will sell the stadium naming rights to some entirely unsuitable outfit whose involvement gets the fans' back up. The board will then peddle a load of patronising and self-contradictory twaddle in a bumbling attempt to keep the mug punters quiet. The deal will be for megabucks, but we still won't got any money and there's still no one available. As it all blows up into another fine mess, Daniel Levy will hit on the bright idea of saying that we might well have lots of money, but we'd be foolish to tell everyone we had - even though we we've already told everyone we have in an effort to keep the fans quiet.  We will become convinced Levy truly is son of Baldrick.

Put this beside the fact that the players we are rumoured to be looking at are either out of form, unproven at Premiership level or old - but all nice and cheap - and it becomes more difficult to convince yourself the glass really is half full.  Combine this with the line now being peddled by the board that the investment company which owns the club is really, honestly guys, not looking to make any money for its shareholders and you start to wonder how stupid we all really are.

I'm lucky enough to work in a relatively well paid job, but I've got a young family and the price of a ticket is steep even for me.  I'm renewing this year, partly because I want to be there for the success after the years of rubbish, and partly because I'm a mug fan who needs my fix of Spurs.  But next season is make or break for me.  I suspect I'm not alone. 

MARTIN CLOAKE

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