Having failed to get myself together for the last couple of years and organise a trip to the AGM, I thought that I would treat myself this time and pay a visit to be entertained for a cold and dreary afternoon. Now held in Whites, the meeting attracted a packed house (just like the previous Saturday v Forest) brimming with questions for the top table.
A downbeat Alan Sugar welcomed us to the meeting and introduced the proceedings as the serious business to be got out of the way, before we could get to the fun part where the floor was open to informal Q and As. The first query from the floor was about wages and was there any sign of clubs going bust because of them. Sugar explained that there was recent evidence of clubs having to sell players (West Ham and Everton) over the managers head to balance the books and the banks may have been requiring this from behind the scenes. Bernie Kingsley of TISA asked how big earners could not be shifted out of the club, to which the Chairman replied that it was up to the manager to advise the board who he would keep and who he would let go. GG also wanted to bring players in -having to speculate to accumulate. The kit supplier matter was also raised and it was revealed that Nike, Adidas and Reebok have indicated that the market for replica kits is well down on recent years, but the club is to appoint a new retailing manager to expand Tottenhams merchandising into the UK and European market. This would also produce a revamp of the High Road Spurs shops, of which Sugar was not proud. A shareholder asked about Hodram inc. who had bought more than 3% of shares in the company. This group is owned by a Greek family who are behind the Easyjet airline/holiday company.
The rest of the financial business passed off fairly uneventfully, apart from resolution to allow the company to buy its own shares without having to offer to take-over the whole company. This confused Sugar and the floor, with AMS getting confused himself, before offering to explain it in joined up writing for one shareholder, who then retorted that there was no need for sarcasm. It ended with Sugar asking one shareholder to trust me, there is nothing sinister in this!!
The informal session started with the Chairman doing a straw poll to find out if Mark Jacobs of TAG was representative of shareholders or fans views. There was little positive response from the floor and Mr. Sugar went on to say that he thought that this person had been behind the News of the World article on the ticket expose for the Chelsea match. Sugar explained that under Premier League rules the home side must offer 10% of the capacity to the away team, but Chelsea offer 1400 on a sale or return basis, with a further 1600 which have to be paid for whatever. The club, via John Sedgwick, said there was insufficient demand for them to take on the extra allocation, which brought groans from the audience. After a question as to why Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur was no longer played when the teams come out (Sugar - Whats the party line on this?) and confirmation of the Chairmans more hands on approach with a change on the executive side came a question for GG, sitting quietly by Martin Peters and Bill Nicholson (who got an ovation). Asked if he was surprised by the quality of the players, he said that the underachievement of the past few years had to be turned around and he assured us that hell do his best, but it wouldnt happen overnight. He had a two year target in terms of results and a five year plan bringing players through the youth system. A bigger ground may be a possibility if the team is successful, with the East Stand being expanded out across Worcester Ave. and sweeping round while doing away with the posts supporting the roof. The club were also looking at ways to increase the number of people able to attend the Jumbotron screenings, which AMS said were like watching at home. All I can say is he must have a very cold home !!
The catering came in for it's usual criticism with it being unfavourably compared to the food and drink at Newbury racecourse this year !! Especially when it is possible to get champagne at the racing, but you can't get a hot drink at half-time at Tottenham. Or even a cream cheese bagel, which the questioner thought was the end of the world !! The caterers have another two years to go, but the club keep on at them to improve, while understanding that they have to deal with a lot of people in a short space of time.
The Media Monitor was praised and there are fans forum meetings planned to get the view of supporters, with other ways of getting info to fans being looked at. It was at this stage that the previously mentioned Mark Jacobs stood up to respond to the comments made earlier. He said that fan groups had a part to play and was glad that the board had seen sense in following what supporters had been saying for a long time re: buying players to make the team better. He then shot himself in the foot and managed to get the majority of shareholders against him by refuting that he had said that the appointment of GG had been the final nail in the Tottenham coffin, then saying from his Tottenham tradition, it was. This provoked jeers and laughter, which effectively ended his say. Sam Chisholm said he hoped that his expertise in TV would help THFC seize on the communication revolution, but a Spurs TV channel would be for the board to decide. AMS said that the gate money currently received covered only 30% of wages at the club and TV money made up some of the shortfall, so this was where Chisholm would enhance THFCs earning ability. Unfortunately, there have been logistic problems in the ticket office and despite a new manager there (who compared to previous incumbents is excellent), things are still not right, but some new systems may be introduced to provide a better service. One shareholder suggested a customer care manager to provide what the fans wanted and a loyalty card to reward them for their support. The next question involved the behaviour of the annoying corporate hospitality guests in the West Stand, which Alan Sugar agreed with. Player power was next on the agenda with why Berti was not playing (hes injured at the moment) and Pleat explained that although he had agreed to everything Garry Bradys PFA rep had asked for, the player decided that he would not sign. The club were happy with the £650,000 they got for him, but Pleat felt that the proof of the pudding will be in the number of Premiership games he plays. One questioner asked for performance related pay, but the Chairman thought this was fantasy football. Frank Lampard Jr. had been discussed, but no mention of a bid was made and when Shearer was mentioned, Pleat said he would not be signed this week !! Taricco was played by Ipswich so their fans werent annoyed, but his injury has put back the deal. The kick to his Achilles was not responding to Ipswich treatment very well, but the Argentinian was due at WHL in the next few days to see the Spurs doctor.
All in all, the board produced reasonable answers to the
questioned asked of them, but there was little
groundbreaking information imparted. It was like a live
version of Media Monitor. An entertaining enough time was
had by all and Alan Sugar rounded off by thanking
everyone for coming and he looked forward to seeing us
next year !! Especially, no doubt, those who thought GG
was the best manager in the world - ever
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