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The Twilight Zone

5 min read
by 78Spur

The statement leads you to wonder how genuine the regret is, how keen the club are to consult fans…

I’ve had to read it a few times, today Tottenham released a statement about the ESL and made an attempt at explaining what happened – it can be found here: Club update | Tottenham Hotspur

What a strange statement… Let’s Break it down.

We have seen football fans around the world come together to show their strength of feeling regarding the future of the game we all feel so passionately about, with strong views expressed on the proposed establishment of a new European Super League (ESL).

Interesting that the club should mention their passion for the game after signing up for something that was bound to create ill feeling and they did not show any signs of doubt about it when signing up and nor did they consult outside of the club, which brings us to…

It’s important to underline that we entered the ESL with the expectation that the format, rules and structures would evolve through dialogue with key parties, namely the Premier League, FA, UEFA, FIFA and, crucially, fans. It should never have been conveyed with certainty when it was in fact a framework agreement for consultation going forward.

This is woolly at best, so they signed up either not knowing what the structure would be or in hope that it would evolve over time, what were they expecting it to evolve to? Where does it say, ‘this looked like a cartel and we recognise that this diminishes the meritocracy of domestic and international football’. You might say my wording sounds convoluted, but all you need to do is re-read the last sentence of that paragraph, it’s been refined to within an inch of a lawyer’s life.

We should have challenged and reconsidered the annual access system. We wholeheartedly regret that we involved the Club and that the legal process itself meant we were unable to consult our fans early on – we apologise unreservedly.

But you didn’t challenge the process, you didn’t take the stance that you could not take this step without consulting with the fans as a membership or with the supporter’s trust as a representative,why apologise when it’s clear you would likely do exactly the same thing again if you had not been challenged?

We have all learnt lessons from recent events and have reviewed fan engagement as a priority. As a result we shall be liaising with key stakeholders and establishing a Club Advisory Panel, comprised of elected representatives from the different constituencies of our fanbase, inclusive and reflective of our fans’ diversity. The Chair of this Panel will be appointed annually as a full Non-Executive of the Club Board. We believe this provides for authentic, genuine representation and will ensure fans are at the heart of Club decision-making, something we greatly welcome.

The selection criteria, mandate and constitution will be developed by independent advisors in consultation with fan groups to ensure it is truly representative of our supporter base. Further details will be released in due course. Going forward we shall constantly look to review and improve these new lines of consultation. We shall also fully support the government review into football governance.

So the club is going to create a panel of fans that reflect the diverse views of different supporters, I wonder if anything like this exists at the moment? (Hint, it’s the Supporter’s Trust, Daniel) Also why shouldn’t a fan sit on the Executive Board? If the level of consideration of fans is genuinely paramount a fan should have full exposure to the club and a say in how affairs run with voting rights. This is early days but this cannot be paying lip service, the culture of the club has to change, I’m interested to see if the words match the actions.

We are disappointed that the Board of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) has not yet met with the Club. The THST, with whom we have worked and, indeed, promoted, for 20 years has called for the resignations of the Executive Board over the ESL – individuals who have lived and breathed this Club for the best part of two decades. We have offered on several occasions to meet Board-to-Board and discuss an open agenda – excluding a change of Club ownership and the resignation of the Board. Our door remains open on this basis.

I wonder if the club truly understand how upset the fans are? The ESL case showed to some fans the naked greed of 6 of the English clubs and the feeling they did not consult was not due to legal ramifications, rather, in my view it was that this cartel was a guaranteed income stream and something that any Chairman, with dollar signs in their eyes, would lap up.

The problem for Spurs is that same ‘naked greed’ is a concern that is sticking in the throats of a lot of our fans, be it the tacky merchandise for the Carabao Cup final, the £60 tickets for the game against Villa, that was effectively a dead rubber, worsened still further by Burnley giving their tickets away for free and last, but not least, the most expensive season tickets in the Premier League and all to watch a team that is, effectively, broken.

The problem with these individuals that have lived and breathed the club for the last 20 years mentioned in the statement is that they have lost perspective on what our fans want, they have made bad decisions about how fans should be treated, they have overseen poor management and transfer decisions and the gradual decline of the club, they have allowed the club to get to a point where the Trust, who are not know for militancy or hyperbole, to call for heads to roll. Frankly, the club should agree to whatever terms THST set out and meet them if they genuinely want to rebuild bridges.

The statement leads you to wonder how genuine the regret is, how keen the club are to consult fans, how engaged they want to be and if they really are wanting to show contrition a willingness to engage with the trust on their terms, because, after all, it wasn’t the trust who signed the club in to the ESL or who’ve been accused of taking their fans for granted.

Do the club get it or are they living in the Twilight Zone?

All views and opinions expressed in this article are the views and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of The Fighting Cock. We offer a platform for fans to commit their views to text and voice their thoughts. Football is a passionate game and as long as the views stay within the parameters of what is acceptable, we encourage people to write, get involved and share their thoughts on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur.

Season Ticket Holder, Optimist, not a fan of VAR.

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