THST April newsletter

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Nutter-Naylor

Supporter
To say April was dominated by the move into our new stadium would be an understatement! We shared the joy and excitement of thousands of Spurs fans as we formally opened our new home against Crystal Palace on 3 April. We were inundated by media requests as every outlet on the continent wanted to cover the opening of what is without doubt The Best Stadium In The World, helping where we could and passing onto colleagues and fellow fans where we couldn’t. We’ve been honoured to be a part of the history of our great Club and share the delight felt by so many returning to watch our team on the site of our beloved White Hart Lane. It’s true what they say, there’s no place like home.

It’s inevitable there would be teething problems and that’s proved to be the case. We’ve also been inundated with ticketing, stewarding, travel and catering queries, and seen our case work increase exponentially as a result.

We’ll cover the main areas in this newsletter and we’ll try to be as informative as possible so that people can refer back to a more detailed explanation when they need to. We’ll increasingly be referring people to detail in our newsletters as a result of our new social media approach outlined below.

We are also in the process of arranging a behind the scenes visit to the stadium over the summer, so we can familiarise ourselves with how everything works on match days and hence work more effectively with the Club to improve supporter experience next season.

1. TRUST SOCIAL MEDIA
It’s not uncommon to start a monthly newsletter with a quip about it having been a busy month at Trust Towers. It’s fair to say the move back to our new home has generated unprecedented levels of work for Board Members across virtually every area affecting fans. Our social media feeds have been flooded with ticketing, stewarding, catering and transport questions as it’s become clear the Club staff are struggling to keep up with the volume of work generated by the move into a new 62,062 seater stadium, with 50,000 season ticket holders and in excess of 160,000 One Hotspur members.

We will always do our best to reply to emails, tweets and posts but we regret to say it is no longer physically possible to answer every single question. As a voluntary organisation run by fans with jobs and other responsibilities, we simply cannot keep up with the volume of work now generated. We’ve prided ourselves on being able to engage with fans and provide help wherever possible, and we really do appreciate the kind feedback from many of you. But the simple fact is we need to focus where we provide help and information.

Please think about your question before contacting us on social media. It is likely the information you need is already in the public domain, be that on Ask Spurs or on the Club website, or in Club emails and newsletters. It is also highly likely your question has already been answered by our account, so please take the time to check previous responses. We cannot resolve technical issues around ticketing, nor can we resolve individual issues around the purchase or resale of tickets. All of those enquiries need to go straight into the Ticket Office.

We’ll also be publishing more detailed information under clear headings in these newsletters, and will be referring people to our newsletters – all of which are published on our website at www.thstofficial.com – from social media. You’ll get a fuller answer here than on our other channels.

Ultimately, the more time we spend answering basic ticketing and supporter services queries, the less time we have to push on the important campaigns such as safe standing, further ticket price caps, concessionary pricing, stewarding and policing and ensuring your views are represented at Club, national and international level.

We understand the ticket office is stretched and that the supporter services and access teams are also light on numbers for the amount of work now being generated, and we will continue to try and plug that gap as best we can in the short term for the good of our fellow fans. However, the best people to handle ticketing and supporter services queries are the Club, and the Trust can’t and won’t continue to be unpaid arms of those departments. We are encouraging the Club to invest in more resource as a matter of urgency. When we have asked if there is sufficient resource we have been told there is. The evidence of the last month clearly shows there is not and the Club needs to address this, for the good of its own staff as well as for fans.

2. STEWARDING AT OUR NEW HOME
We have dealt with numerous individual cases and seen a large number of messages come in through our social media channels around stewarding at our new stadium.

Over the last two years, we have regularly asked the Club for assurances about and details of the stewarding operation at the new stadium, emphasising the fact that retaining stewards that know and understand our fans, and deploying them in the right places, is key. We’ve been told that the stewarding operation has been well worked through, and that we would not see the problems caused by multiple agencies supplying staff that we saw at Wembley.

While the reality of actually staging games at the new stadium was always going to throw up different challenges, it’s clear that the approach to stewarding has somewhat differed in practice. Experienced stewards who understood the dynamics of the old Park Lane lower, for example, have been deployed elsewhere. Multiple agencies have been used, and it’s clear the message being briefed from senior staff at the Club has not fully filtered through.

We need to make it clear before we go any further that we recognise the enormous amount of hard work many of our permanent team of stewarding staff have put in over the past few weeks. We also know that some of them have had to put up with unacceptable abuse and aggression from some fans. We absolutely condemn any instance of Club staff being subjected to abuse or threats for doing their job.

However, we also condemn the treatment of many of our fans that has emerged through the cases and incidents we have been informed of. We’re aware that social media can make isolated incidents seem commonplace, but there has been simply too much evidence of poor stewarding to dismiss it as the actions of a few rogue individuals. We’ve seen the deployment of an aggressive, bouncer-style mentality that is based on the premise that all fans are a potential problem.

We have represented a number of individuals who have contacted us, working with caseworker Amanda Jacks from The Unified Football Supporters Organisation where necessary, and in the majority of cases, the Club has recognised that the fans have been treated unfairly – overturning suspensions and bans. A number of these cases are still in progress and so we cannot go into detail, for obvious reasons.

Again, we need to make it absolutely clear here that we do not automatically assume the fan is in the right and the steward or Club is in the wrong when we are contacted. We ask for full details from the individuals who contact us, and we check stories out, raising them with the Club and asking for an explanation or response to the questions we put forward. If we find a story does not add up, we are honest with the fan and say we cannot represent them.

But we continue to challenge the Club when it appears to automatically believe the fan is in the wrong when an incident is reported. We want fans to be treated as paying customers, not as potential problems, and the basic principle of innocent until proven guilty to be used.

To give credit to the Club, it has taken firm action against a number of stewards found to have acted in an unacceptable manner. And it has apologised to fans affected, and rescinded any punishments.

As well as dealing with individual cases, we also asked for and took part in a call with senior stadium management in the wake of the first two games at the stadium. With staff under pressure and at times having experienced the kind of unacceptable treatment we have said we condemn, and with the Trust reps having seen a steady stream of stories of unacceptable treatment of fans, this was one of the more robust calls we have been involved in. We came away from the call still concerned that problems were seen mainly as down to fan behaviour, then down to the actions of a few rogue contractors. We think there is a wider issue and, in the wake of some specific cases, we are calling for a number of questions to be answered around training and the processing of incidents using force or resulting in ejection.

We’ve also reiterated the call we have made over a number of years for the Club to develop and clearly publicise a proper, transparent, complaints and appeals procedure.

We want to work with the Club towards a resolution we are all happy with.

STANDING
One major area of contention has been over persistent standing, so it’s worth spending some time on this. The fact of the matter is that persistent standing is against our ground regulations and, as a new stadium, our ground is in the spotlight of local and national safety authorities. So when stewarding staff are trying to get people to comply with ground regulations, they are not doing so because they want to ruin the football experience, they are doing it so that our ground can remain open and at full capacity.

The Club has installed rails in the front section of the South Stand and in the away blocks, so that those areas are safer should there be persistent standing, and so that if legislation allows a change in the safety regulations, these areas can be designated standing areas. This was clearly communicated when tickets were being sold for the new stadium.

We’ve argued consistently that the common-sense approach to standing we saw at the old stadium should continue to be used. Fans at football matches stand up at moments of excitement or tension, so a rigid ‘stay seated at all times’ approach is not practical. And we’ve pushed the right for fans to have the choice of whether to stand through national fan campaigns for many years. But that right to a choice also extends to people who want to remain seated, or who are unable to stand for long periods. Every fan has a right to watch the game, and sometimes that will mean compromise is required.

It was a compromise we seemed to manage perfectly well for many years at our old stadium. But some of the narratives that have developed don’t seem to recognise this. There was never, as some have said, a time when the whole of the Park Lane stood throughout every game. There was, however, more likelihood of people standing more often in the Park Lane lower.

The evidence of the first four games at the stadium is that some games are more likely to generate an atmosphere in which fans stand more often. There are a number of other factors that need to be taken into consideration when looking at the new South Stand and developing an effective stewarding strategy. And we have said this to the Club. There are a number of distinct groups in that stand. There’s the old Park Lane lower and Shelf section. There’s the rest of the Park Lane and many from the lower east. There are people who could only afford or obtain tickets in sections of the South Stand. There are people who wanted to be in any future safe standing area. And there are people attracted by the Club’s suggestion that the South Stand would be a version of Dortmund’s Yellow Wall.

The Club needs to recognise this and use that recognition to inform its stewarding approach. And fans need to recognise the realities too, and work to achieve the situation we’ve always had where we manage ourselves to a certain extent to ensure everyone is able to enjoy their match day experience. With sections of the North Stand designated a family area, for example, persistent standing is going to be less tolerated by other fans in this area.

CROWD FLOW
The other major issue with stewarding has come outside the stadium bowl on the concourses. The Club made much of the ability for fans to move around anywhere in the stadium, apart from the away section. And many fans have taken advantage of that option. This has caused some problems because some areas are so popular movement has to be restricted at times. Leading in turn to some people being denied access to areas of the ground they understandably believed they would have access to if they bought tickets in certain positions.

We want to try to work with the Club to resolve this set of problems, but the feedback we are getting from the Club is that fans were somehow wrong in getting the impression they would have access to as wide a range of facilities as they thought they would. Having based much of its case for the high ticket pricing on access to facilities, it is perhaps not surprising that the Club is taking this stance.

For balance, we should also say that we as fans have a responsibility to ensure our actions do not spoil others’ match day experience. So, again, if stewards are taking proportionate action to ensure that some do not ruin the experience of others, we fully support staff efforts to do that.

3. TICKETING: PROCESSES AND RESOURCE
It’s clear the new 62,062 capacity stadium has generated an enormous workload for the Club’s ticketing staff. We asked if the Club thought it had enough resource to deal with the workload that would be generated and were told it did. From the multitude of reports from fans on hold for hours on the ticketing line or waiting days for replies to emails, this is clearly not the case and we continue to ask the Club to properly resource this vitally important area.

Again, for the avoidance of any doubt, we want to make it clear that we acknowledge the work being put in by the ticket office and we make no criticism of our hard-working staff. We just want them to be able to provide the service to all supporters we know the Club wants to provide.

We’ve had a taste of the volume of work with a huge increase in ticketing questions through our social media feeds. Many of those questions are answered on Ask Spurs on the Club website, and in regular Club communications. It is really important that people read and familiarise themselves with Club comms on ticketing, and look at Ask Spurs in the first instance to see if their question is answered. That would both help lighten the workload for the Club and for the Trust, and get you to your answer quicker.

We have doubled our own resource on ticketing, with new board member Anthoulla Achilleos now working alongside ticketing lead Katrina Law on ticketing issues.

As we all get used to our new stadium, there will inevitably be issues settling in, and we are currently engaged in a number of strands of work around ticketing. We wanted to briefly tell you what they are.

  • Ticket Exchange and Ticket Share are welcome developments, but there are a number of aspects we want to see improved. We’d like to see concessions available on Exchange. And we’d like to see Share open before a game sells out.
  • We also want to pick up on problems with bar codes on etickets gifted via Ticket Share and to ensure that 1882 and Premium seats up for sale on Exchange are clearly marked as such, including information as to what that ticket actually comprises.
  • We want Exchange to open to non-members (with a purchase history) after a certain amount of time to stop the current situation in which ST holders are unable to sell on. And to consider a ST guest window for the same reason.
  • We want the Club to look again at prices for Category B and C games. We believe prices are too high across the board, but we think there is room for some downward movement on these games.
  • We are asking for a guarantee that domestic cup games are kept outside of match categorisation and that the Club continues its successful and popular policy of cheaper tickets for domestic cup games. We will also continue to lobby for the restoration of cup credits to the Season Tickets, and want to see the return of group stage packages for European competition. We have not forgotten our commitments in these areas.
  • We also intend to discuss the repeated listings of both home and away tickets on unauthorised resale sites, often well above face value and clarify what action the Club is taking to prevent and remove those listings

TICKETMASTER
We are scheduling a meeting with the Head of Ticketing for the early summer where we hope to discuss these issues further. At this meeting, we will also submit our detailed record of all the technical issues with the Ticketmaster system we’ve been notified of. We continue to hold the view that the current system provided by Ticketmaster needs significant improvement, particularly around server capacity and the queueing system.

AJAX AT HOME

We had a conversation with the Head of Ticketing about making tickets for our home Champions League semi-final tie against Ajax available to members via loyalty points. The timescales involved meant it was simply not possible to implement. We’ve obviously had a lot of feedback about this but in this case we believe the Club took the only option available to it.

SEASON TICKET RENEWALS AND RELOCATIONS
Finally, and in anticipation of your questions – the window for renewing Season Tickets opened on 29 April, closing on 16 May. If you want to keep your Season Ticket for next year, it is vital that you renew in that time frame.

The Club isn’t offering a formal relocation window this summer. They’d prefer fans to spend one full season in their chosen seats before requesting to move elsewhere in the stadium. However, any fans strongly wanting a move should email ticket.office@TottenhamHotspur.com. Once the renewal window has closed, the Club will consider individual requests for a move on a case by case basis. Priority will be given to those with medical reasons for needing to relocate. It’s important to renew your Season Ticket for your current seat first, however, and no moves can be guaranteed at this stage.

We’ve received several requests from Trust members looking to relocate because they have vertigo and their seats are too high up or next to a drop, their views are restricted by camera positions, their leg room is severely compromised by glass panes or they bought and selected seats on the basis they wouldn’t have to relocate for cup games, and are being asked to relocate for cup games. We’d like to think the Club would consider these as valid reasons for seat moves over the summer.

4. MONTHLY CATERING SURVEY
We work closely with Spurs to support their endeavours to provide a top-quality catering provision, with speedy service, at competitive prices. One that meets the needs of supporters and complements the incredible quality of our new home. It’s early days, of course, and there are inevitably going to be some teething issues, but generally there is a lot to celebrate, especially in terms of the quality and range of food and drink on offer.

At our regular meetings with the Club’s catering team we share your feedback on a range of areas. To help us reflect as wide a view as possible, we are running monthly surveys in which we encourage you to participate.

Our initial survey focused on your experiences of the first three games: Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Huddersfield Town. We received over 1600 responses. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your views with us. All your comments are being passed to the catering team. We have also collated these to enable us to focus our meetings on the key themes emerging. We will share any updates and the outcomes of our meetings in the next newsletter.

The second survey covering Brighton, West Ham United and Ajax, is now live and you can take the survey by clicking here. This will help us see how things are settling down and we would be grateful for five minutes of your time in order to share your views with us. Your feedback helps the club to celebrate and build on what is working well, and address any areas for development.

5. 1882 OFFERING
We’ve been contacted by many supporters who bought the 1882 Season Ticket. We are on record as opposing this package and the positioning of many of these seats across the middle of the South Stand, a package that was introduced without any consultation or prior notice. But once these packages have been bought, we believe fans should get what they were promised and it was clear this was not the case.

Complaints we received were that the private lounges were not of the standard indicated, the food and drink offer was not as indicated, that the physical programme included in the package had been replaced with a download, and that the ‘name wall’ was far below the quality expected. Remember, these packages cost £2,200 for 19 home league games and domestic home cup ties. Most of those who contacted us said they did not feel they were getting value for money, and it’s clear from what we have seen that many who bought the tickets were ordinary fans who have really stretched themselves rather than the high-rollers the Club envisaged these would sell to.

We asked for a call with senior Club staff to address these issues. We were disappointed with the Club’s initial position, which was that these packages were not executive lounge deals, merely a premium ticket offer. We made the point strongly that if people were getting the wrong idea about what they were buying, the time to put them straight was while the packages were being sold, not after the package had been purchased. But the Club did agree to make some improvements in response to the complaints received.

The choice of food and drink on offer as part of the package would be improved, and 1882 ticket holders would be given the choice of a printed programme or a download. The name wall would be looked at with a view to improvement, along with efforts to improve the furniture and surroundings of the 1882 lounges, or bars as the Club prefers to call them. This would be done over the summer, once the problem of members passing their entry cards to non-members had been resolved to stop overcrowding. All 1882 ticket holders were also promised a dedicated account manager.

We believe that went some way towards addressing the concerns of 1882 ticket holders, and so did many of those who had contacted us. The dedicated account manager has subsequently turned into a dedicated email address, so we’ve gone back in to the Club to say this is not acceptable.

We think if the Club implements the measures it said it would it would go some way towards making the 1882 package more acceptable. Ideally, we would like to see the Club drop this package altogether and return the pool of seats to standard general admission seats. We’re also concerned at the overselling of these and other premium packages after feedback from many supporters.

6. HARINGEY SAG MEETING – 1 APRIL
THST Co-chair, Martin Cloake attended the first full meeting of Haringey’s Safety Advisory Group to be held for the new stadium. These meetings discuss overall operational matters rather than granular detail, and some of the information therefore has to remain confidential. Our position on the SAG is intended to ensure the perspective of fans is part of the discussion, and to encourage as much transparency as possible.

This meeting heard how stewarding, safety, security and transport plans were being made as preparations for our first game at the new stadium reached their final stages. This meeting was a bit special as the stadium’s safety certificate was formally granted during the course of the meeting.

7. CASEWORK
We’re busy dealing with a number of individual cases around issues such as ejections, bans for alleged unauthorised reselling of tickets, fans who have been mistreated by stewards and a number of other issues.

We judge each case on its merits and work to get the best possible solution. For obvious reasons, the details of each case usually need to remain confidential. But we have achieved successful solutions for a number of fans. We’re helped where necessary by Amanda Jacks, the caseworker for The Unified Football Supporters Organisation, whose knowledge and experience is a great help.

You don’t have to be a member to ask for and receive help. But we have been encouraged by the number of fans we’ve helped who have joined up, and encouraged other fans too. The more members and the more income we have, the greater our chances of being able to represent you properly.

8. PLANNING FOR MANCHESTER CITY GAMES AND WEST HAM
We took part in two telephone conference calls ahead of the away game at Manchester City in the Champions league and against West Ham in the Premier League. Also on the calls were the respective police forces responsible for the games, reps from both Clubs and, on the West Ham call, fan reps.

Conversation around the City game mainly covered fan behaviour, in the wake of a number of high-profile incidents, the police approach and transport issues. The game itself went off largely without incident apart from a few reports of coins being thrown from the home sections into the away end at full-time. Those complaints have been taken up with Manchester City and we await their response.

West Ham was the first game categorised C IR (Increased Risk) by the police at our new stadium, and the call ahead of this game was quite a long one. The reality is that there has been tension between the two sets of fans, and there was quite a lot of trouble in the away section at the league cup game at Wembley last season. So this was always going to be to the fore of thinking when plans were made for the game. We argued, as we always do, that the approach had to be measured and that it should not be assumed that all fans were a potential problem.

Police advice was that alcohol should not be served in the away section. We challenged this, as did the West Ham fan reps. The justification was that serving alcohol could increase the risk of trouble and therefore removing this element from the equation was one easy measure to take to ensure the day went off smoothly. We argued that it was wrong to see every fan as a potential problem, and that as paying customers all fans should be allowed access to available facilities. The Club decided it would not serve alcohol in the away end.

The day passed off without any significant problems we’ve been made aware of.

9. BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY LIAISON GROUP MEETING - 29 APRIL
THST Secretary, Pete Haine, represented THST at April's B&CLG meeting at Lilywhite House. Key points as follows:
  • 28 July is a potential date for another pre season friendly at The Lane;
  • THFC admit they don’t have everything right at the moment and it has been challenging for everyone, but improvements to the matchday experience for the community are being made as a result of addressing the feedback received;
  • The Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) has been monitored, and whilst Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) have reduced in the CPZ, they have increased on the Homes 4 Haringey estates;
  • There is evidence of repeat offenders taking the hit, and a misuse of visitor permits;
  • Very positive comments from the community with regards the clean up of the area post match. More waste bins being added, paid for by THFC;
  • Large numbers of people walking up White Hart Lane post match has necessitated temporary road closures and suspension of the W3 service;
  • Of the four cycle park locations mentioned on the Spurs App, only Dukes is not operational yet. Issues at the Community Sports Centre and bikes on railings reported;
  • The Black Cab rank at Scotland Green wasn’t working and will be reviewed;
  • Between 1200 & 1300 match goers are using the shuttle buses to Wood Green and Alexandra Palace
  • The next B&CLG meeting will include a presentation on the NFL events.

10. CROWD MANAGEMENT AT BARCELONA: UPDATE ON FORMAL COMPLAINT TO UEFA
We continue to wait for the results of UEFA’s investigation into the unacceptable treatment of our fans at Barcelona’s stadium when we visited in December. THFC has also asked for an update and been told this has nothing to do with Spurs, it’s between UEFA and Barcelona. The Club and THST reject this view – our fans being attacked has everything to do with us. This response does not convince us that UEFA sees this latest incident in a long line anywhere near as seriously as we do. However, we have little choice at this stage but to wait for their response.

When Manchester United drew Barcelona, their fans reps contacted us to pool knowledge and experience, and were able to brief their own Club staff to secure measures that saw their fans experience turn out to be a vast improvement on ours. We’ve also spoken to Liverpool fan reps ahead of their game in Barcelona.

We’ll be attending a meeting convened by Football Supporters Europe next month where the actions of Spanish police and match day authorities will be discussed. The FSE is aware of longstanding issues in Spain, and there are some signs that lobbying for improvements may pay off in the longer term. We’ll continue to keep you updated.

11. WHITE HART LANE STATION TICKET OFFICE: UPDATE

Some good news and some bizarre news on station ticket office closures. The Mayor of London has refused to allow the closure of 47 of the 51 station ticket offices earmarked for closure, including Bruce Grove and Silver Street. Bizarrely though, White Hart Lane is one of the four not on the list!

There are suggestions that “White Hart Lane may need to close as the station is rebuilt”. We have written to London TravelWatch to seek clarity on this statement and that any closure will only be undertaken as a temporary measure while building works take place.

More news as we get it!

OTHER

  • THST BBQ – Sunday 26 May
This year’s event once again will be held at the Antwerp Arms on the Sunday of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, 26 May. Plans are being finalised this week with the aim of then going live on Eventbrite. So, keep the day free and look out for details and registration via @THSTOfficial on Twitter.

 

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LLB Part Deux

Armchair fan. I fucking love armchairs.
TICKETMASTER
We are scheduling a meeting with the Head of Ticketing for the early summer where we hope to discuss these issues further. At this meeting, we will also submit our detailed record of all the technical issues with the Ticketmaster system we’ve been notified of. We continue to hold the view that the current system provided by Ticketmaster needs significant improvement, particularly around server capacity and the queueing system.
Not arf. After failing to get tickets for Ajax despite 8 hours of multi-window, multi-device doughnut management, I tried this morning to get tickets for Everton. One browser let me in too early and I got kicked out, the other two didn't let me in until after 11am despite logging on at 9:30. In the meantime, another browser I logged on at 9:45 did let me in... but by 10:50 all bar a couple of seats given over to OH+ members had been taken.

It's an absolute pile of shit and the current allocation of OH+ seats on the early release window is a joke.
 

Nutter-Naylor

Supporter
Not arf. After failing to get tickets for Ajax despite 8 hours of multi-window, multi-device doughnut management, I tried this morning to get tickets for Everton. One browser let me in too early and I got kicked out, the other two didn't let me in until after 11am despite logging on at 9:30. In the meantime, another browser I logged on at 9:45 did let me in... but by 10:50 all bar a couple of seats given over to OH+ members had been taken.

It's an absolute pile of shit and the current allocation of OH+ seats on the early release window is a joke.
They need to take a look at the BHA ticket system which seems much fairer. I tried it out once to see what it was like & seemed to work much better than our pile of shit.
 
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