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Trust Issues

6 min read
by Martin Cloake
Fix Up

‘We are speaking up to emphasise the vital role of the Trust.’

by Martin Cloake & Katrina Law

It’s been 18 months since we stepped down as co-chairs of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, and Monday’s AGM marks a full year since we left the THST Board and ceased formal involvement in the running of the organisation.

Throughout that time, we’ve tried to refrain from commenting from the sidelines. We have remained as THST members, and we have both – in different capacities – continued to work with the supporters’ movement at national and European level. So, we take no satisfaction in speaking up now. We are deeply concerned that the Trust is currently not adequately representing supporters’ interests both on an individual basis and from a position of strength with the Club. We are speaking up to encourage members to hold the current Trust Board to account, to emphasise the vital role of the Trust and to encourage more supporters to join and help revitalise the organisation.

Over recent months, we’ve been buttonholed with increasing regularity at home and away games by fans asking what’s happened to the Trust. That follows a long period in which we have watched and worried about the direction the organisation is taking. So, with the THST AGM approaching, we feel now is the time to air those concerns. The Trust is important, not just because we prioritised it for almost 10 years of our lives, but because it can make a real difference.

Successes achieved thanks to a strong-minded, hard-working and fiercely independent Trust throughout our years as co-chairs included the defeat of the European Super League, the introduction of the Premier League £30 away price cap, the scrapping of PPV fees during COVID, the reversal of the Club’s furlough decision, the increase in Junior ticketing from 16 to 18, the introduction of a Young Adult price category, support for the introduction of Safe Standing at Spurs, not to mention hundreds of pieces of individual case work. All of which was achieved by clear, purposeful leadership, mutually agreed aims and a strong collective, working with grassroots support and alongside national bodies.

A number of incidents have deeply concerned us in the last 18 months, and we hope Trust members will use the opportunity of the AGM and any upcoming members’ meetings to ask relevant questions and, most of all, step up to make the Trust the organisation it should be.

  • Our successors stood down as co-chairs within a few months of taking over. The official reason given was that they wanted to focus on their roles as the Trust’s representatives on the Club’s Fan Advisory Board (FAB). This sent a message that the Trust was of secondary importance, damaging the credibility of the organisation.
  • Unfortunately, the FAB has not gained the confidence of all fans in its first year. We supported the decision to endorse it, but with some reservations. Those reservations have grown. There is a marked lack of transparency in the way the FAB conducts its business, and what is reported has the feel of a Club presentation rather than a report of a meeting between equals. It is rumoured that non-disclosure agreements have been signed by the fan reps, and that even the existence of these NDAs may be covered by an NDA. The Trust reps come from the largest independent fan organisation at Spurs and have a special responsibility to ensure the FAB is not just used by the Club as a fig-leaf for proper consultation. It is unclear what or how they are reporting back to the Trust and its members, or how the Trust is holding them to account.
  • Soon after we left the Trust Board, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Trust and the Club. This conceded a reduction in the number of meetings between the Trust and Club annually, and restricted attendance at those meetings to the Trust chair or chairs. Worst of all, it conceded control of the minutes of those meetings to the Club. We had fought for years to ensure minutes of these meetings were timely and accurate, and to prevent Club efforts to censor, revise and retrofit. It was absolutely key to building confidence. Now, “Any minutes issued to the Trust’s members must be approved in writing by the Club prior to publication.”
  • There was a significant backlash against the rise in matchday ticket prices. We helped organise demonstrations at Brentford away and at Manchester United at home, working closely with Trust ticketing lead Anthoulla Achilleos. During this time, it was clear not everyone on the Trust Board was contributing, and valuable time was also lost in arguments about semantics. Then, catastrophically, the Trust did not turn up to a demo it called before the home game against Sheffield United. We were among those who showed up only to find nothing there. This understandably caused immense damage to the Trust’s reputation, and effectively destroyed the campaign against price rises.
  • The lack of support she had received contributed to Anthoulla’s decision to resign from the Trust Board, and we are concerned at the number of people who have resigned from their positions in the last year. This is not just because an organisation needs committed volunteers to succeed, but also because the demographic spread on the Board has been reduced.
  • We’re being contacted by fans to take on individual casework representation because they are receiving no reply when they contact the Trust. Neither of us mind using our knowledge to assist. But during our time in office, we made sure that every enquiry was responded to, and it is vital that the Trust itself is seen as willing and able to represent fans when they encounter difficulties. If the Trust does not take this part of its job seriously, it not only loses the confidence of fans, it encourages the Club and other bodies to think they can get away with treating fans poorly because there will be no push back.
  • The Trust’s monthly newsletters show a dwindling number of workstreams and reduced amount of information about those workstreams. Much of what is written echoes the Football Supporters’ Association’s weekly bulletins, without making it clear what, if any, THST’s original contribution is. A number of social events have been successfully organised, but a Trust is not a Supporters’ Club and must be about more than just social and fundraising events.

We know our views won’t be welcomed in some quarters. However, we spent a decade of our lives building something because it matters; because Spurs fans need an effective and independent advocate.

We urge Trust members to ask the pertinent questions, to press for answers, and to step up to contribute to improving things. And we urge non-members to join and give THST the fresh impetus we had hoped it would receive when we stepped down.

There are potentially serious challenges on the horizon with the changes to football governance and the introduction of IREF, the continued encroachment on the domestic calendar by the ever-increasing demands of UEFA and FIFA, the increasing threat to competition posed by multi-club ownership and state ownership and worrying developments in the policing of football fans.

We also need a Trust that is capable of being guardians of the values all Spurs fans hold dear during any potential sale or takeover of the Club, and a Trust that can unequivocally speak up for its members and the wider fanbase when necessary.

Our belief in the role of Supporters’ Trusts remains undiminished and we have spoken out today in the hope that positive change will occur. Let’s not let the Trust sleepwalk into irrelevance.

We felt compelled to raise our concerns. It is now for others to decide if they share those concerns and if they think they are important enough to act on.

For the future of independent fan representation at Spurs, we truly hope they do.

18 February 2024

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.

Writer, editor, Londoner. Opinions mine.


  1. Andy Park
    18/02/2024 @ 5:10 pm

    Sadly we know what we lost when Kat and Martin jumped ship.


  2. Paul Wallis
    18/02/2024 @ 5:12 pm

    I applied, I’m sure like many others, to be considered for the FAB. I have been a season ticket holder for nearly thirty years and have supported Spurs since 1959. I did this in part to convey sensible issues being discussed with both surrounding season ticket holders and supporters in my friendship circle. I realised this was likely to be fruitless, in light of similar initiatives and the people likely to be involved in the selection process. I was subsequently ‘successful’ in being ‘unsuccessful’.
    However, as a committed fan, I expected at the very least an acknowledgement of my application and therefore the subsequent rejection. I received neither.
    I understand that as a multi billion enterprise, the interjection of someone like myself in club matters might be seen as retrograde. I am extremely grateful to both Alan Sugar and Daniel Levy for their astute financial governance, even though ENIC is seen as the ‘devil incarnate’ by many. However, like you, I am always concerned by ‘Nodding Dogs’, especially when backed by the Board.
    Paul Wallis


  3. Sam
    19/02/2024 @ 12:54 pm

    I hear nothing from the FAB nor do I hear anything from the FAB fans Rep illicting the fans view.

    What Martin, Kat and many others did for the THST was magnificent but not everyone can dedicate so much time to the cause. I understand this. However it does seem that the THST has been somewhat gagged along with the FAB.
    Although a founder member of the THST, regrettably maybe it is time for a new Trust or Supporters organisation.


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