of a Public Meeting held at Whites, Paxton Road, London N17 on 25th
Payne, Vice Chair of the Steering Committee of the Trust welcomed some
350 attendees to Whites club, adjacent to White Hart Lane.
Trevor stated that the purpose of the meeting was to explain to
those present the concept of Supporters’ Trusts and particularly how
the concept of a Supporters’ Trust was applicable to Tottenham Hotspur
Football Club. Trevor thanked Spurs for the use of facilities and the
security and staff who had been a great help.
introduced Steve Warby, the Trusts’ case worker from Supporters’
Direct (“SD”). Steve, who is a Spurs fan, explained that SD is a government
backed and funded body which was established as a result of the Football
Task Force. SD are mandated
to help supporters form societies to enable them to have a say in the
way that their clubs are run and overcome the “them and us” feeling
that pervades modern football. Steve
explained that the first such society was founded at Northampton Town in
the early 1990’s (i.e. it pre dated the formation of SD).
In the case of Northampton, the Supporters effectively saved the
club from oblivion and, even until today, the Northampton Trust has a
representative on the board of the club.
There are now 119 clubs who have or are in the process of having
trusts formed. Clubs with
trusts range from Aylesbury to Sheffield Wednesday, Celtic and
Manchester United. Steve commented that this meeting was the largest
launch meeting he had been to and it demonstrated a great deal of
expressed the hope that, with the recent changes at senior management
and board level at Tottenham Hotspur, the Trust had a great opportunity
to be a real and positive force. Steve explained that SD had approached
various supporters’ groups at Spurs and, over the past several months,
had tried to get as many fans involved in the preliminary stages of
establishing the Trust. As
a result of a public meeting, a working group had been established and
that group has met on a number of occasions to thrash out the basics of
the Trust. That working
group had selected a Steering Committee which was to oversee the
formalisation of the Trust through to its first AGM which would be held
within 6 months of the current meeting.
Wild, who had been selected as Chairman of the Steering Committee was
introduced and began by telling those gathered that they supported the
greatest team in the world. Joff
explained (with various examples) that despite the worst decade in the
club’s recent history we were still in the top 5 clubs in terms of UK
fan base, with over 1,000,000 fans and were the third most watched team
over the past 100 years. Our
average attendance had never been below 20,000 which proved that far
from being fickle we are the most loyal, dedicated fans in football.
Joff explained that we, the fans, are a massive resource to be
harnessed, as never before, in a positive way by the club.
urged all fans to forget about the past - “the anti this, anti that
days” - and to put behind us the days of demos and leafleting.
All of this can be in the past now since we have a great
opportunity with a new manager and a new board who, for the first time
in recent history and possibly ever, are Spurs people from top to bottom
– a real Spurs family. Joff explained how the attitude of the new
owners had already had a positive impact at the club and revealed that
the use of Whites, the stewarding and the tea, coffee and biscuits at
the meeting had been provided by the club free of charge.
The club has allowed the two most recent match day programmes to
carry details of the meeting and had helped to distribute the flyers for
the meeting. This, said
Joff, was unthinkable even 6 months ago. Furthermore, the Trust has been
given an official liaison officer at the club and positive dialogue has
already been established. It
appeared that the club now saw its supporters as a force for good with
explained that the Trust was not about who was manager, who should play
or who we should sign. The
Trust is about creating dialogue with the club on issues of concern to
fans. There is a unique opportunity to do this now as ENIC had made
their purchase of shares at a massive premium to the current share price
and they, as a business, need to show a return to their shareholders.
The only way for them to do this was to make Spurs a force again
and to achieve that, they needed us, the fans, to make it a success.
explained again that SD were vital to the establishment of the Trust,
and that SD would not back the Trust unless it was a positive and
democratic organisation. If
SD felt that the Trust moved away from this, they would withdraw their
support and the Trust would loose credibility with fans and the club
alike. SD was the
independent stamp of approval that the Trust was not just a rehash of
old supporters groups.
Steering Committee was just an interim body and that, after the AGM, it
could be any one of the people present at the meeting [or any member]
who could be sitting on the committee, sitting down discussing
supporters’ issues with David Buchler or Daniel Levy.
Any member can stand for election at the AGM and every member
will have an equal vote. Officials
of the Trust are elected by the membership and if the membership feels a
bad job has been done, the membership can elect someone else to his or
her place on the committee. Joff
made it clear that each member’s voice would be heard and that each
members voice counted.
then set out what the Trust could do and in what areas it could be
involved, such as; a Q&A session with David Buchler (and maybe, at a
later date, Glenn Hoddle). This
could take place in the close season and David Buchler had suggested
this event himself. This
would be for Trust members and the club were willing to do this as the
Trust was going to be representative of the fan base; consultation with
the Trust on stadium development, disabled access, relationship with the
community. Basically, the
Trust presents an opportunity for fans’ views to be put directly and
constructively to the club, who have shown a genuine willingness to
embrace the Trust.
urged fans to seize the day, to help Tottenham Hotspur be the standard
bearer in London football (he asked those present to consider if Ars*nal
or Ken Bates at Ch*lsea would allow such an organisation and embrace it
as Spurs have done). The
Trust is a vital component of getting “our Tottenham back”. Joff
urged people to sign as members and to provide their names if they
wanted to help in whatever way, for example in press and publicity or
were taken from the floor (where possible names of people who asked the
questions have been credited but often no name or only first names were
provided – my apologies for the mis-spelling of names!)
were a number of questions, many dealing with issues such as the stadium
which were related to issues which people wished the Trust to raise with
the club. Trevor explained
that these were all the kinds of ideas the Trust needed to canvass but
that this meeting should focus on the Trust itself.
There followed a number of questions on the Trust and its
relationship with the club, for example “what meetings were planned
with the club?”. Joff explained that John Fennelly had been appointed as a
liaison officer between the club and the Trust and that regular meetings
would be planned with the club. [it has since been confirmed with Daniel
Levy that monthly meetings will be held between senior management at the
club and the Trust with other regular meetings to be held between Trust
officials and members of staff at the club on issues which the Trust
Smith raised a question about what would happen if SD had to close
through removal of funding. Both
Steve and Joff replied and it was made clear that SD provided the
platform for the Trust to launch and provided it with help and guidance
but that the Trust was independent and, hopefully, self financing so
that, even if anything did happened to SD, the Trust could still
continue. It was mooted
that the Trust would seek a new independent body to ensure transparency
and democracy if SD folded. It
was also made clear that SD’s funding was guaranteed until August 2003
in any event.
Silverman congratulated Joff and the steering committee on forming the
Trust but was very concerned about the former supporters groups, he felt
that everyone needed to come together.
Steve mentioned that most of the old groups had been involved in
the discussions which had led to the foundation of the Trust which was
to be an umbrella organisation. The
idea was that the Trust would enable dialogue with the club to go beyond
mere lip service. Joff
pointed out that the club now realised that they needed us, the fans,
and the ball was in our court to prove that we are democratic and a
power for positive change. Joff explained that groups such as TAG and SOS had committed
themselves to the Trust and that they were going to close down.
TISA were consulting their membership with a view to taking the
Fry asked whether the relationship with the community was really a
concern for the Trust or if it should be the club’s responsibility. Joff replied that the Trust was to act as a facilitator for
fans’ to be communicated to the club but it was up to the club to act
on the Trusts suggestions and to go out and do the work.
followed another question about the involvement of SD and the
“independent seal of approval” which it provided.
Peter Haring (who is the member of the steering committee
responsible for Finance and PLC relations) commented that the Trust was
not financially dependent on SD and Steve pointed out that the
Northampton Trust had existed perfectly well without SD for 7 years.
Joff went on to reaffirm that the Trust had a constitution,
approved by lawyers and registered under the Industrial and Provident
Societies Acts and that the constitution would ringfence the democratic,
transparent nature of the Trust. To
have credibility the Trust must be fully transparent and democratic.
introduced Andy Manston who has responsibility on the steering committee
for Community Relations. Andy
explained that the Trust presented a great opportunity to bring football
to the community and to use it to break down social and racial barriers.
He reviewed a number of possible initiatives which the Trust
could run with, such as urging the club to run coaching sessions for
local kids, player visits to schools in the local area, enhanced
co-operation for womens’ teams, tours of the ground for local kids,
better access to Chigwell training facilities, Spurs open days and
roadshows, match day tickets for local schools for non sold out games,
hospital visits more than once a year at Christmas time.
Andy reiterated that the agenda would be set by the members who
would decide which issues needed to be put to the club.
were taken from the floor.
Weaver, who runs the Spurs Ladies team, wanted to make it clear that the
club did support ladies football and had allowed training to take place
at White Hart Lane and was generally very helpful.
It was suggested that the links be even more strengthened through
the Trust, perhaps in liaison with Steve Grenfell and his community team
at the club who, it was widely accepted, had been doing a very good job.
number of questions were raised (by Peter and Kingsley) on ticket
allocation, both at home games, where away fans had seats in home
supporters’ areas, and with allocation and distribution of away match
tickets. The general feeling was that away fans should be segregated
from home fans and that the issue of the ticket office was one which the
Trust would prioritise. Joff
acknowledged that, at times, the ticket office had appeared to be a
shambles but that for the first time in the near 120 year history of the
club we, the fans, have an opportunity to go to the club and express our
views. [Note that since the
meeting the club has approached the Trust to consult with its members as
part of a thorough review of the ticket office operations.
All members are encouraged to communicate to the Trust (either
through the Trust’s website or the PO Box address) their personal
ticket office experiences and suggestions for its improvement.
This must be done by mid May to coincide with the review by
external consultants which the club has employed to look in to the
running of the ticket office].
(who is a member of the Supporters’ Club) mentioned that Spurs could
generate a lot of goodwill by ensuring players were available to open
hospital facilities and the like and to get out and meet young fans.
June wanted reassurances that the Trust was not attempting to
replace the Supporters’ Club. It
was made clear that the Trust was an umbrella organisation and wanted to
embrace the members of all different groups, including the Supporters’
Brecknock (who has responsibility on the steering committee for press
and publicity) raised the example of Newcastle where the club is the
town and vice versa and that we had to strive to replicate that with
Spurs. He said that, much
as it pains him, Ars*nal present themselves as a club which takes a keen
involvement in areas, such as womens’ football, that show it to be a
well run club. The Trust has a massive role to play in helping the club
to present itself in a similar light.
raised an issue from the floor that it was all well and good
communicating with the club but the Trust had to ensure regular feedback
to its members. It was
reiterated that the Trust committee members would be elected to have
dialogue with the club amongst other things and would provide feedback
on all of the aspects of their area of responsibility.
Feedback would be via the website, which was already up and
running, and producing a regular newsletter.
The names and contact details for all committee members would be
published to members so that each member could raise issues directly
with the relevant committee member.
As Joff pointed out, if the members do not feel someone has done
a good job the sanction of the members is not to re-elect that person.
Haring was introduced to speak about the financial aspects of the Trust.
Peter explained that the Trust would be charging an annual
membership fee of £10. Other Trusts charged between £12 and £35 per
annum. Therefore, the Trust will be the least expensive in the country
so as to be as accessible as possible.
The money will be used for administration primarily with the aim
that some surplus funds would help the Trust to purchase shares in
Tottenham Hotspur plc, in the name of the Trust.
It was explained that, given the right circumstances, shares
would be purchased directly from the club so that funds were not
divested to third party shareholders through market purchases of shares.
questions were taken from the floor.
noted that players would usually be willing to help for charitable
causes provided they were given sufficient notice. Darren asked if it
were possible for members to make voluntary extra donations to the Trust
over and above the £10 membership fee.
Peter confirmed that this was possible and would be most welcome.
Bernie asked to whom cheques should be payable.
Jonathan Adelman (Secretary of the Trust) confirmed that payment
should be made to Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Society Limited.
Daniel Wynne (who also has responsibility for press and publicity on the
steering committee) appealed for the fans to unite and make the Trust
Clemence asked for all groups to think about joining and that no one
could be forced to join the Trust but that the club seems to have
indicated a willingness to have dialogue so it was in everyone’s
interest to join the Trust and make it strong. Dorothea, a member of the
Supporters’ Club, again asked for the Trust’s support. Another
speaker from the floor said apathy is the enemy of everything the Trust
will try and do and that, as a result, everyone in the meeting should do
whatever they could to persuade people to join.
was a question about Tottenham Hotspur plc’s obligations to its
shareholders but Joff pointed out that the club could only maximise its
shareholder value by maximising its revenues and success. This could
only be achieved with the support of the fan base. Nigel Sennet asked
about the process by which the club would gather the views of its
members. It was explained
that the primary way this would be achieved would be via sub committees
set up by the Trust so that all members interested in a particular area
could contribute. Danny Keane urged the Trust to approach former players
for support. It was
revealed that the likes of Steve Perryman, Clive Allen and Ricky Villa
has offered their support already. (There were a number of other
questions and comments from the floor but sadly I was unable to write
them all down!)
and Trevor concluded the meeting with a big thanks to Spurs, again, for
the use of White's and for all the 350 attendees for coming along.
They asked people to bear in mind the unique opportunity before
us and urged everyone to contribute their time and effort to the Trust
to get involved and spread the word.