Tottenham’s move to appoint a fan representative to the board has been met with scepticism by their Supporters’ Trust, which says the plan would not give fans “any real power” and was proposed “without consultation”.
In response to widespread supporter fury at their involvement in the failed European Super League (ESL), Spurs yesterday apologised “unreservedly” and outlined plans to create a Club Advisory Panel made up of elected fans.
The panel’s chair would be appointed as a full non-executive member of the club’s board – with complete voting rights, including on key football decisions.
In the wake of the ESL’s collapse, the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) published a six-point plan for change at the club, including the replacement of chairman Daniel Levy and the entire executive board, the implementation of a system requiring the consent of supporters for all key non-football decisions and the opportunity for fans to own a stake in Spurs.
Responding to yesterday’s announcement by the club, the THST said on Tuesday: “More important [than their apology] is the acceptance by the Club’s Board of measures we have been calling for over some years, and which we put forward in our six-point plan.
“The dogged stance of the Trust and the wider supporter base has forced the Club to concede the principle that fans must be represented at Board level, and to adopt some of our specific suggestions.
“But announcing this without consultation on detail is not a promising start. And the measures set out in the Club’s statement do not give fan representatives any real power.”
In a strongly-worded statement, the THST also accused the club of a “destructive” and “regrettable” attack, as both sides entrenched their positions over future discussions.
The club and the THST usually meet board-to-board three or four times a year but they are yet to hold talks since the ESL’s collapse, with each accusing the other of refusing to come to the table.
The club yesterday said it was “disappointed” with the THST for not yet agreeing to talks and insisted they are willing to discuss “an open agenda – excluding a change of ownership or the resignation of the board”.
In response, THST, which has previously accused the club of a breach of trust, said: “We are very willing to meet with the Club to discuss the mechanics of genuine supporter representation at Board level.
“We have said we are willing to meet, we have made it clear to the Club directly and to the mediator that we are willing to meet, and we have made clear what the basis for that meeting should be. We will take the results of any discussions back to our members.
“What cannot go unquestioned is the Club’s decision to publish a statement that misrepresents the position and attacks a volunteer fan organisation at a time when the Club is facing sustained criticism over its relationship with the fanbase and for its decision making. It is simply destructive.
“To do so while we were pursuing a mediation process via the Football Supporters’ Association in good faith is regrettable in the extreme.”
Referring to sections of the club’s statement, THST added: “We also note the description of the Club’s Board as “individuals who have lived and breathed this Club for the best part of two decades”. The obvious implication is that the Trust and the fans we represent are somehow not. Let us state now, for the record, that the supporters of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club have lived and breathed this great Club for far longer than two decades.
“And we will continue to do so far beyond the tenure of our current custodians.
“Fans are not convinced that the current Board or owners do know that “the heartbeat of the Club is success on the pitch”.
“And the warning that “we shall need to recover from the loss of substantial revenues” is ominous indeed from a Board that has imposed the highest ticket prices in Europe and charged £60 for the partial return of fans to our stadium after a year of the pandemic.
“Real change is coming because you, the fans, have made your voices heard.”
Spurs have said they could not consult with fans over the decision to join the ESL for legal reasons but admitted they should have “challenged and reconsidered” the closed-shop “access system”.
Tottenham also said yesterday that they would “fully co-operate” with the Government’s fan-led review into football governance, which is being overseen by Spurs season ticket-holder Tracey Crouch, MP.
Chelsea’s have announced plans to appoint three fans as board observers from next season, although they would be excluded from any meetings on football issues and have no rights to vote.