Updated: May 10
A new initiative aimed at restarting efforts to get Tottenham Hotspur to play in a bigger stadium went live on the web yesterday. A group called Supporting Our Future has been conducting a survey, and now there’s a website explaining a little more about the initiative. I’m one of the people named above the group’s mission statement. So I thought I should explain a little more.
During the row over the bid to move Spurs to Stratford I blogged quite a bit, and got a pretty high volume of traffic. Some of the conversations that sparked continued. And out of those conversations an idea took shape. Or rather, a number of ideas. All of them addressed how to crack the conundrum of financing the Northumberland Development Project. And the focus was on the NDP because it was a costed plan which had planning permission secured and was backed by fans. So it represented the quickest, most immediate route to get to the expended capacity stadium we have been told is so vital.
Not everyone agreed with every proposal. But we did agree on one thing. THFC had made a huge mistake in not properly consulting fans, and had in fact alienated many fans with the way they dismissed opposition – often well-argued opposition – to the Stratford move. So what we as individuals thought was not as important as finding out what Spurs fans thought. And so Supporting Our Future was hatched.
What Supporting Our Future has done is to put forward some possible scenarios. It has asked fans their opinion of them. If the initiative can achieve sufficient scale it could demonstrate not only that supporters can be brought onside, but also demonstrate to potential financial partners that there is a viable plan to make the new stadium work.
There was an alternative. We could’ve said nothing. We could’ve let the silence that has descended since the club – apparently rather sulkily it has to be said – withdrew all proposals from the public arena. We could’ve kept our fingers crossed either that Spurs didn’t drift into oblivion or that a sugar daddy turned up in the nick of time.
But we decided it might be an idea to put some constructive and considered proposals forward. To find out what fans thought. And to try and get the stadium move back on track.
We don’t think we hold any special influence of position. And we don’t seek any. We all have things we would like to see happen – and the securing of a meaningful supporter financial interest is certainly high on my list of priorities.
Such is the nature of Spurs supporter politics that already some have started kicking the initiative, picking out parts of it and suggesting that these parts are in fact the whole plan. All I can say is that in the discussions running up to the launch of the survey and the site, everyone was very clear that we were suggesting a range of ideas and seeing what support there was for them. The suggestion of ticket price rises has been a particular bone of contention. So let me address that.
I’m one of the many fans who opted for the two-year prices freeze deal on season tickets two years ago. So it would be very surprising if there were no price increase announced. Especially after Arsenal announced their rises. What some of the scenarios in the survey seek to do is examine if the idea of tying ticket price rises into stadium funding has any support. I think that’s just examining a realistic option.
Ideally, there would not only be no price rise, but a reduction. But let’s face it, that’s not going to happen. So we are trying to work within a realistic framework. In fact, a number of options proposed would actually mean prices rose less in the next ten years than they have in the last ten.
I was also very conscious of the criticism that we were essentially suggesting supporters should fund a stadium that would benefit a private company. If I thought that was the intention I would have nothing to do with it. But we, as fans, will be putting money into the club. So if there is a chance of that enabling the club to move onto another level, and of prices being kept down in the long term – surely it’s worth a try?
I don’t know how this will turn out. I’m hoping it provides a catalyst for people more skilled and better placed than I am to make a difference. And for the Spurs board to emerge from their period of silence and engage properly with people who want to work with them. This in itself requires a recognition that other people may actually have a useful contribution to make, which would be a major cultural change for this board. But the art of the possible is what makes the world go round.
So, that’s why my name is on the Supporting Our Future mission statement. It may be possible to achieve something useful. There are many more useful things that need to be achieved, but this is one I happened to be in a certain place at a certain time for, so rather than stand on the sidelines I decided to try and make something happen. If you feel the same way, email us at the address on the website, get involved, and make the future happen.