Updated: May 10
As so often happens when there’s something to feel good about at Spurs, the club has managed to bring the mood down. New season ticket prices and conditions have been announced and it would be possible to write a long post dismantling the decisions made and the, frankly, insulting justifications. But there would be little point, especially as I’m going to renew – although doing so will be tougher than ever in the current climate, and a little more of the goodwill I’ve still got left for THFC plc has been eroded.
Alan Fisher on Tottenham On My Mind – a consistent source of well-informed, well-written comment with lashings of real heart – has made some well-considered points about how the activities of the greed is good league are changing the relationship between the game and its audience. I agree wholeheartedly with what he says, and would add a few more brief points – particularly regarding what can no longer be called the loyalty points system.
Spurs say the rises are in line with inflation, but the rise in my ticket is 4.1%. Inflation is currently 3.4%, but that rise must also be seen in the context of the many, many above inflation rises over the last 20 years. Spurs list among the benefits the latest rise buys a “personalised membership card with stadium access facility”. This is a bit like claiming the food that arrives on your plate when you order a meal in a restaurant is an additional benefit. Access to the stadium is what we are paying for, so to claim the means of getting what we’ve paid for is an additional benefit suggests the club think we are as stupid as they must be for expecting us to believe this utter rubbish.
Spurs will, no doubt, also argue that rises are needed if we are to continue to buy and pay top players. This is also utter rubbish. The highest increase I’ve heard about is £100. Mine is £35. Let’s take £50 as the average increase for 20,000 season ticket holders. That raises £1m (without interest). As an annual wage for a modern premiership footballer, that’s small. As a transfer fee, it’s infinitesimal. This increase does next to nothing to boost the club’s buying power.
What was the loyalty point system is now changing to a recent attendance system. All points gained more than four years ago are to be wiped out. The new system favours fans who have supported the club through its four most successful Premier League seasons, and in the midst of the worst recession for 80 years also favours those fans who have been able to afford some of the highest ticket prices in world football. Social engineering anyone?
I accept there were problems with the old system keeping newer fans down the list, and I don’t agree with all the comments about “glory-hunting” fans “coming out of the woodwork”. But this ill-thought out change is bound to fuel this kind of resentment. A system which used points from the last four years plus three random years from the previous years in which a season ticket was held would make at least some nod towards rewarding loyalty. There are surely other, better, ideas. They could have come from supporters if the club had actually bothered to consult the fans. But the club didn’t, as it has so often failed to on key issues in the past. As far as I can gather, there was no conversation with the Supporters’ Trust about this scheme or the rises. No wonder fewer and fewer fans see the Trust as representative when the club constantly undermines it by refusing to discuss the issues that matter.
It’s probably pure coincidence that these changes will fuel demand for the club’s premium-priced official packages in future, and also coincidence that when I tried to check just how many years-worth of points I’d had wiped out I found that the new “renewal microsite” only holds details going back four years. The @lustdoctor on Twitter says he’s had nine years worth of points removed in return for a £100 rise. I can’t remember, or now check, what I’ve had removed, but I’ve held a season ticket since 1994. All those years of watching Jose Dominguez and Andy Sinton, all the soulless depression of Spurs under Sugar and Graham, all now gone to waste.
I don’t consider myself well-off, but I know there are quite a few people worse off than me. And yet I’m finding it increasingly difficult to justify paying what’s being asked – especially when the reasoning for turning the screw is so contemptuously badly thought out. I’m seriously starting to wonder how much longer I’m going to be stupid enough to keep accepting this.