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An interview with THST

What is the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust?
It is a democratic, non-profit organisation for fans, committed to strengthening the voice of supporters in the decision-making process at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, and strengthening the links between the Club and the community it serves. Think of Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) as a union for Spurs fans; where the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) would represent fans at a national level, THST would represent fans at club level.
A Supporters’ Trust isn’t just another way of saying supporters’ club or fans’ group. It is a registered and recognised Industrial and Provident Society; a fully democratic organisation backed by Supporters Direct.

Why should I join?
As the only officially recognised voice of Spurs supporters, being involved in our surveys, meetings and casting your vote on key issues will ensure your opinion helps to drive our strategy moving forward. Your view will be heard by both THST and by THFC.
it’s great having an opinion on Twitter or message boards but your voice will be lost if it’s not channelled into the one avenue where its volume can be increased through sheer numbers and sheer will.

Aren’t you just an extension of the Club?
No. The Trust’s Board Members are fans, just like you, we attend games and we pay for our own tickets. We are not employed by the Club nor do we receive any preferential treatment. We aim to represent what is best for supporters on all occasions. This doesn’t mean we will lobby against the Club at every opportunity or argue for the sake of it. A reasonable, measured, mature dialogue goes a long way. But we do speak out for fans’ rights and have no qualms about making the feelings of our members known to the club.

And those wondering??
Will THST lead supporters’ opposition to an unpopular manager or player?No. THST does not seek to play any part in the footballing decisions made by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It will, however, question ambition or certain policies, where necessary.

Ok looks like the shameful plug it is!but Kat could just have said all this and taken up more of her valuable time!
Here is the profile taken off THST contacts,just so you can see who we are talking to.
Katrina Law : Co-Chair
Length on Board: Since March 2013
Day job: Business Manager
Expertise: PR, Marketing, Events, Project Management
Contact:[email protected]

Just to remind you THST meets with the THFC board, Daniel Levy and all on our behalf .

She kindly agreed to answer some questions,obviously she has never seen @Javi`s chatterbox and didnt know how we interview here!!
hope you find it a good read.If you have any questions (for the trust to put before the board or what is posted here) use either the links direct to Kat or the trust or post here, no doubt she will look in to see if there is any reaction,but I doubt she will answer on the thread?

Welcome to shelfside spurs Kat !!

So how did you come to support spurs? 
1981 FA Cup Final v Man City. As a girl growing up in Leeds, I had a passion for football but no team to support. My dad refused point blank to take his only child to Elland Road so I was on the look out for a club to devote my youthful energy to. That turned out to be the match and Spurs turned out to be the team. Over three decades on and I still love them to bits, I just don’t have stickers and posters all over my house any more.

And then become involved with THST,have you always been a campaigner or did something lead you to take this path?
I was involved in student politics at University but won’t claim to have a background in activism. I have, however, always been pretty outspoken on issues I feel strongly about and apathy drives me nuts. I’m a do-er rather than a talker, I guess.

I was actually approached by long time Trust campaigner, Darren Alexander, at Fulham Away in December 2012. Darren had been on the Trust board for 7 years and had stepped down to run the anti-Stratford protest group, ‘We are N17’. He was looking to get involved with the Trust again but this time he had a vision as to what was needed to really make the organisation function as a credible voice for Spurs fans.To do this, he needed people with certain skills to get involved. I work in marketing communicationsand one of the key tasks would be to rebrand and relaunch the Trust, moving away from the rather negative legacy left by previous incumbents. So, brand amplification, PR and media work would be vital. I was up for the challenge and joined the Board of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust at the end of February 2013. We set to work on a new visual identity, building a website, cleansing the database, ensuring we could communicate with our members, re opening membership and within a couple of months, THST in its current guise was born.

Over the next year, I shadowed Darren at national campaigning meetings and ran the ticketing and safety side of the Trust’s work, learning the ins and outs of the supporters rights movement from the best teacher around. Darren sadly passed away in March 2014, which was an enormous loss for THST.

For me, THST is and always will be his legacy. And it’s an extra motivation for me to make sure it continues to grow to his vision and we continue to fight for the interests of our members at every possible opportunity. We’re lucky to have some highly motivated, determined and capable people involved with the Trust. And we’re always looking for more people with time, passion and thick skin to join us.

So THST evolved around 2001. Was that to do with the ENIC takeover from the Sugar regime? What led to the trusts emergence then and is the climate the same now or better/worse for supporters to engage with their clubs?
Ok. Quick history lesson time. Supporters’ Trusts are a form of organisation that came out of the Football Taskforce set up by the 1997 Labour government in the UK, and the model is based on the first Trust that was set up at Northampton Town by a man called Brian Lomax. Lomax organised supporters to get the Club out of debt and get representation for fans on the board. In 1999 Supporters Direct was set up as a national umbrella organisation to promote fan ownership and fan representation. There are now 39 supporter-owned clubs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Trusts at pretty much every club. AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester are probably the most famous examples of fan-owned clubs, and the Pompey Trust at Portsmouth has rescued a club that was nearly driven out of existence by the people we’re told know better than fans how to run clubs.

At Spurs, the Trust was formed at around the time ENIC took over the Club in 2001. There had been a number of supporter groups active at Spurs since around the early 1990s when the Club put executive boxes on the famous Shelf terrace, with the Tottenham Independent Supporters Association probably the largest. That came out of a time when fans nationally were starting to organise independently for the first time to challenge what was happening in the game. At Spurs, Alan Sugar never made any secret of his contempt for consulting fans about anything and that had led to a falling away of support for the fan groups and, if we’re honest, quite a lot of division and factionalism.

The Trust model offered a route forward, especially with a new regime at the Club, so the various fan groups agreed to pool resources and form the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust as the voice for Spurs fans. One of the original ideas was to start building a shareholding in the club so fans could own a stake, but that wasn’t pursued and ENIC eventually took the club private, so it’s not an option now. ENIC did recognise the Trust, but despite the hard work of some of the people involved it soon became clear the club wasn’t really interested in meaningful consultation and over time disillusion and apathy set in. That takes us up to the Club’s attempt to move to Stratford and the decision to use the energy and anger about that to relaunch and revitalise the Trust.

Is the climate better or worse for supporter engagement? There are two answers. The first is yes, without doubt. No one seriously questions whether supporters should be consulted any more, the argument is about how they should be consulted and whether there should be more formal supporter representation in the game and at club level. And fans’ confidence is growing too as they see the work supporter groups are doing. There’s less of a tendency to think we’ve just got to take what we’re given. But the money in the game now at the top level means it’s much harder for fans to get a financial stake in their clubs, and the game is still run by people who think they’re doing us a favour and who often seem to be more interested in short-term profit rather than the long-term good of the game. And that’s a much bigger argument about what modern football has become. So there are a lot of very tough challenges for voluntary organisations such as fan groups to take on.

At Spurs, we’re now in the position where the Club does talk to the Trust regularly and where we do achieve some good things. We’re recognised as one of the more organised and successful Trusts, but there’s still huge scope for improvement in the way the Club deals with fans. What I hope we’ve shown is that being organised and speaking up gets fans further than doing nothing, and I think that’s a fair description of where things are nationally.

What’s also changed recently is that fans are putting club rivalries aside to campaign together, and that’s never really happened before. The ticket price campaign is the most high profile, and there are small steps being made to get the game to address price issues. Those who run the game and the clubs are now having serious questions asked of them by a united fan movement that has been built from the grass roots. And there’s also a lot of work going on around things such as policing, safe standing and secondary ticketing. There’s also a feeling that things need to change in how the running of the game is structured, so there’s a lot of work going on around that horrible word governance which is pretty technical and makes most people glaze over but which could be really important if the politicians can be persuaded to legislate for more formal supporter involvement. There are a lot of people who have been involved in fan campaigning for quite a long time who have built up a really valuable body of knowledge, and that’s something that’s also coming into play for the first time.

How many members do you have,and does the amount correlate to the strength of the trust in meeting with the board of THFC?
We represent c 10,000 fans across all streams of membership and are, hence, one of the bigger Trusts. Our media profile and standing amongst the Trust community reflects this. Obviously, the more members we have, the louder our voice and the greater our impact and influence when dealing with THFC.

Why should fans join THST,what should they hope for you to achieve?
Think of us as a Supporters’ Union – pushing for better treatment of fans. So, if you care about how much your ticket is costing you, or your transport to matches or whether you can stand at games, or how you’re managed by the police or stewards, then join us.

We campaign on a wide range of issues that affect football fans at both national and club level.

And we’re the only officially recognised voice of Spurs supporters so by participating in our surveys and polls or through attending our meetings, you have a direct influence on our policies and positions. And in turn, your voice is heard by THFC and national football bodies.

We’ve successfully lobbied for season ticket prices freezes, a rise in the age of concessionary tickets and lower pricing for Europa League and League Cup games. We’ve limited the ways fans can be exploited through the so-called secondary ticket market and got the Premier League to change its rules on away ticket sales so that more fans have more chance of seeing the team. We’ve got the Club to support safe standing and we’ve worked with other Trusts and supporter groups nationally to secure £200,000 a season for away fans. And we provide day-to-day assistance to fans on ticketing issues and issues with policing and stewarding – including securing legal support and practical assistance for our fans who were arrested and threatened with prosecution in the so-called ‘Y-Word cases’.

With the new stadium now looking as if it will finally be built, there are obviously many issues we will be pushing the fan perspective on. We see our job as always ensuring the Club is aware of the supporter perspective, and that means we sometimes need to remind those running the Club that the interests of the owners and those of the supporters are not always the same, and that fans’ loyalty should not be exploited.

You start from a low base when judging any supporter input at Premier League level. For too long fans were seen and not heard. So we think we’re doing relatively well, but things could be so much better. There’s a feeling that the Club has over-used the ‘commercially sensitive’ card in the past to avoid having discussions it doesn’t want, and that’s a issue. We realise some things can’t be discussed in public, but we always push for the most transparent approach possible and we hope what we do gives fans confidence that we are putting their point of view on the occasions when it’s not possible to make the full detail of discussions public. It’s about balancing the interests of fans with those of the Club and, as I’ve said above, having the view of the Club as a 133-year-old institution, not just as a business under ENIC.

Do you have to have a ST or club membership to become involved with the trust?
Absolutely not. Any fan of THFC is welcome to join the Trust regardless of THFC membership level.

Is there benefit for overseas fans in joining?Would the club even listen to concerns from fans who follow from afar?
THFC has 116 Supporters Clubs across the world so there is an interest on their part in terms of overseas fans. Spurs also track the quantity of overseas tickets purchased on the StubHub platform, so there is an active audience for them to engage with, too.

The English Premier League is, after all, a global product and there are rich veins of revenue to be tapped into by savvy clubs through merchandising and general brand engagement.

From a Trust point of view, we have 25 Overseas Supporters Clubs as full members of THST. Obviously, a lot of our work is centred around the domestic, match-going fan but there are issues which affect all supporters regardless of geography. Ticket pricing may seem only relevant to regular match goers but if those fans stop going, resulting in no atmosphere and a poor TV spectacle, that affects the enjoyment of overseas fans, too. Not to mention impacting on their experience when making a pilgrimage to White Hart Lane to watch the team live. Similarly, Safe Standing is something which has an impact outside of the stadium confines.

Basically, our job is to try to make the supporter experience as positive as possible for as many fans as possible. For those who attend 19 league games a season at White Hart Lane to those who attend one game every 19 years.

On a practical level, THST offers assistance to those travelling over for matches, lists their details on our website and connects them with other Overseas Supporters Clubs for cross learning and networking purposes.

This is the first year we’ve offered overseas membership and we arecareful to ask what they would like more of from us. If you’re an overseas member, we’d like to hear from you!

What are the big issues now with THFC?
The Northumberland Development Project and the ground share season.

The stadium i bet is the biggest area to try and affect,and the area we are all most keen to hear news on.How is the trust approaching the many issues with the move.
We shouldn’t underestimate the scale and complexities of the stadium project. At the moment, we are waiting for clarification on the same areas as the rest of the fan base. We know THFC have planning permission to build a 56,000 seater stadium but we also know there will be changes to the design of the stadium, which could include capacity, although the Kop end remains.

We know Anderson Group have begun working on the foundations for the new stadium and we know all of the Archway Steel land will be in THFC’s hands by the end of the year.

We now wait for Spurs to finalise the funding for the stadium and to firm up exact dates for the project, all of which THFC insist has been hampered by the legal proceedings surrounding the CPO.

At present, we are provisionally scheduled to leave WHL in May 2017 and move back in August 2018, with a season away in between.

THST seeks to ensure fans are consulted every step of the way through this project. We have requested meetings with the ticketing team to discuss pricing in the new stadium already. We have also requested input at the design stage to ensure the stadium is built with fans at its heart. We’ll be pushing for consultation for the duration of the build, starting with focus groups being organised for this summer.

The ground share is an immediate priority. THST believes it’s crucial for the identity of the Club and for the fans that we stay in London for the season away. We strongly back a move to Wembley. The key thing here is that fans are consulted and that the decision making process is transparent before any deal is signed. It’s critical our supporters have a chance to express their opinions and their feelings before THFC agree to a move anywhere.

Once that decision has been made, we will push for the best possible deal for fans during that time away. Be that amnesties for season tickets/ memberships, Subsidised travel, a suspension of loyalty points etc.

Safe standing is there anyway it could happen for 2018?
This is dependent on changes to legislation. We are now in a position where 17/20 PL Clubs support Safe Standing, including THFC, who responded to our lobbying. Here’s hoping this will have moved on sufficiently to allow a purpose built Safe Standing area in our new stadium. We’re currently in the process of arranging some demonstrations of the type of safe standing that could be used to show the Club, working with the Safe Standing Roadshow.And, of course, we’re going to be arguing that tickets for any safe standing area should be significantly lower than they are now. Some of the business models show clubs could reduce prices while also boosting income by introducing safe standing.

New stadium capacity,can we fill it?
We have planning permission for a 56,000 seater stadium. But we also have new architects and we know there will be ‘internal’ changes. Pricing is the key factor for me as to whether we sell out in a stadium that size. And the quality of football offered up, of course. A benefit of being in London, however, is that there is always a market for Premier League football.

how many STH`s are projected?
This hasn’t been confirmed yet so any figure would purely be a guess. Considering we’ve got c 21k at present, I’d estimate another 15K or so but that completely depends on the corporate/ exec breakdown and, let’s not forget, individual match day sales can command higher prices than ST’s so there will be a good quantity available for members/ general sale, too. We’ll let you know when we know!

Do you as a consequence forsee problems with away ticket allocations not even getting to non ST members with greater ST numbers.And do you see us getting more away tickets at the emirates and certain stadia as we will be offering them more tickets?
There is already an issue with certain away matches not going beyond ST holders and I can’t see that changing. This depends on whether the loyalty point system is overhauled or retained as is.

The Premier League rule is that 5% of the capacity needs to be given over to away fans. Wereceive 3000 at the Emirates and that’s 5%.

Our average away allocation is 3000 and it’s not worked on a reciprocal basis so no, I can’t see any change there.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Safety Advisory Groups have a big say in away allocations for matches, too. We’re pushing to get formal fan representation on the SAG’s affecting matches we play, as too often the fans’ voice is not heard here.

And how on earth will the club E-ticketing site cope?I guess as you are a STH yourself you have never had to join the online scrum for tickets and enjoy the experience of our online ticket lottery!
One would hope there will be major technological upgrades before we move in to the new stadium! This is something the Club’sTicketingmovers and shakers are currently exploring.

What are the biggest issues within THST and the wider football fans societies,where even we and arsenal can agree!!

  • Ticket pricing – the one that unites us all. This is already at the forefront of national campaigning, as illustrated by the Football Supporters’ Federation“Share TV Wealth” campaign and the original “Twenty’s Plenty” campaign, which led to the implementation of the Away Fans Fund in 2013. Discussions with the Premier League to expand this from 2016 are ongoing and the Premier League recently committed £1bn to five areas including match going fans, the details of which we eagerly await.
  • Kick off times – again, a problem for fans of all Clubs. This could potentially become a bigger issue from 2016 onwards on the back of the OFCOM challenge to the latest domestic broadcasting deal.
  • Away Cup allocations – wanting to preserve the 15% away rule in the FA Cup and 10% in League Cup. Both are integral to maintaining the point of difference from regular league games in competitions in danger of losing their identity completely.
  • Safe Standing – lobbying for legislative change which would allow the introduction of Rail Seating at Premier League and Championship stadia
  • Changes to football governance – calling for independent Supporter Directors on Club Boards and, structured engagement with recognised fan groups. This is particularly pertinent in the run up to the General Election in the UK.

Does THFC see us as fans or consumers?

You’d need to ask them that as I’d just be giving my personal opinion, which is a bit of both. Fans when we’re following the team all over Europe and raising the roof at White Hart Lane.Consumers in terms of monetary transactions.

And in the modern age are football chairman the owners or custodians of the club (from their and supporters trusts point of view)
For me personally, the fans are Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It’s our club regardless of who owns it on paper. The current owners are temporary custodians. We, the fans, have been there since 1882. There’s 115 years of history before ENIC and there’ll be hopefully hundreds more after, too.

You’ll need to ask Daniel Levy where he stands on that, though!

Stubhub (had to come up eventually!)we just agreed a new 2 year deal,so far only THST have announced this and not the club,could it be the club uses THST to soften the blow of an unpopular policy?.I reached out to everton and sunderland forums and they even thoughtstubhub was a good thing as demand is far less than supply in many cases there and often led to tickets sold under FV.Will the new stadium lead to an end of our stubhub partnership?

The Club announced it first. Here’s a link:
One Hotspur Season Ticket and Membership Renewals 24 March 2015 – News – tottenhamhotspur.com
They had to announce it with their Season Ticket renewal statement for contractual reasons.

We made our own statement the same afternoon:
Latest News from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust – Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust

We’d been notified by THFC of the StubHub approach after the company terminated its partnerships with Everton and Sunderland and their intention of renewing the deal for a large sum. It was then our job to try and minimise the impact on our fans as best we could within the limitations of a commercial partnership.
A further price cap reduction down to £150, the continued end to flipping on the site, reduced marketing and the rerouting of a proportion of the deal to the Foundation was the most we could manage on this occasion.
The deal is for 2 seasons and we are led to believe will not be renewed for the new stadium as the supply / demand model will have shifted significantly by that point.

Now the bit you have all been really waiting for……….

Ok,now a bit about yourself and your life as a spurs fan

Do you wear red?
Not as a rule although I do have a red dress which occasionally gets an outing. I feel bad even mentioning that. I never wear red lipstick or paint my nails red, though.

Favourite current player;Harry Kane. That was easy.
Favourite all time player;Clint Dempsey (long story!)Closely followed by Ricky Villa.
Best match you have ever attended
Ooooh. Tough one. I’ve never seen Spurs in any final other than League Cups so I’ll go for the best two matches I’ve ever attended in the space of 4 days and they would be Arsenal and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in April 2010. The roof came off on both occasions as we pushed towards Champions League qualification, absolutely smashing our fiercest rivals in the meantime. I have goosebumps remembering that now. The recovery after the non-show against Portsmouth in the FA Cup semi final the previous Sunday was nothing short of remarkable.
(I love this answer gets so easily missed with cup finals,the CL games)

We seem to be split on the forum into two camps which would you describe yourself as pragmatic realist or hopeful dreamer.
Dreamer. Always got to have a dream – or how you gonna have a dream come true?

In short what are the best and worst things about beeing a spurs fan? The rollercoaster. Never knowing which Spurs will turn up on any given day. You can never be complacent or cocky or arrogant as a Spurs fan. On their day, they’ll play some of the best football in the land. On an off day, it’ll be worse than a Sunday morning on Hackney Marshes.

That’s the best and worst bit in one go.

In three words each, word association with the following managers
POCH;Before Saturday, I had written “Brave, Progressive, Popular”. I’m now writing “Give Him Time”
SHERWOOD;Cocky, Lucky, Opportunist
AVB;Studious, Committed, Stubborn
REDKNAPP;Talkative, Entertaining, Chancer
RAMOS;Jonathan Woodgate header
JOL;Having a party
MAN IN THE RAINCOAT;Never. Managed. Again

On long drives to away matches what do you listen to?The inane ramblings of my co travellers, or Kiss FM or Heart.Or a touch of Barry Manilow on Spotify. No away trip is complete without a hit of ‘Can’t Smile Without You’. Also a good opportunity to catch up with some of the better Spurs podcasts.

And finally an interview on here wouldn’t be complete without a zombie apocalypse sceanrio.(its a long story!)
Spurs have just won the CL,you OFC are at the game on a vipticket.However in true spursy style,an outbreak of the zombie virus “Z” has broken out.
The downside is we will never get to rub certain other clubs noses in it,the upside is we will be champions of europe forever.So,having just been crowned champions of europe and it possibly being your last meal on earth what do you order?
VeuveClicquot Champagne and Grey Goose Vodka.
You think I could eat after winning the Champions League?! Not a chance!

And cos its a VIP trip what 4 spurs legends do you share it with.Clint Dempsey (long story)
Ricky Villa (the reason I support Spurs)Ledley King (modern day legend)Glenn Hoddle (the best player in a Spurs shirt. Ever)

The flight manages to make it back to Stanstead,but Z has taken hold in Essex,which 3 players do you choose to team up with to try and survive/fight off the walking dead.(im guessing its not paulinio! who is hiding in the toilet).Pick carefully they are your last line of defence!Are these current Spurs players? If so, Fazio, Chiriches and Stambouli. They’re all monsters.

Sadly you are infected,and find yourself at the head of a zombie swarm which arrives at the emirates.Despite the silence,you sniff out the 1st team cowering in the changing rooms,as you are 1st through the door which player do you feast on first.
Szczesny – after forcing him to take a selfie.

Walcott or Wilshere are so so close, though.

AND Your hopes for season 15/16.Starting the season with a squad our manager wants. Eliminating the heavy defeats away to the top teams.Playing with more positivity, pace and commitment at home. Being entertained again and seeing where that takes us.

Off field, genuine fan consultation into the ground share options and planning for the new stadium. And improved communication around those key areas between THFC and supporters.

OK,its almost as long as GoT,but good to get straight talk on matters around the club.Anyone want to know more,get involved,put a question before Daniel Levy (thst can make that happen)!!,dont just sit on the fence.Despite occasional disagreements here (lol) it is all of ours` club,thanks to Kat and all the volunteers who work on behalf of all tottenham fans in THST or whatever movement.
Stronger together!

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