Thursday, February 07, 2008

We are herewith repruducing correspondence from Ms Diane Smith (ONE HOTSPUR) and Mr. Paul Barber, Executive Director (THFC) about the lack of allocation of cup final tickets to supporters clubs.
Dear Supporters’ Clubs

We are pleased to provide the following update to questions some Supporters’ Clubs have raised in response to Paul Barber’s letter to you at the end of last week.


Diane Smith, One Hotspur

Dear Supporters’ Club

Further to my letter to you last week, I am pleased to update you further on your various queries concerning our decision not to allocate Carling Cup Final tickets to Supporters’ Club and, for the benefit of all Supporters’ Club branches, to reiterate or clarify one or two points that have been raised in various e-mail exchanges with either myself or Diane Smith directly.

Supporters’ Clubs were not guaranteed or promised an allocation of tickets to any Cup Final the Club may have reached during the 2007/8 season. Ticket allocations for all matches are always subject to availability - and particularly so for Cup Finals where the Club’s ticket allocation will be varied depending on the competition owner’s regulations, the event itself and the venue (none of which we control).

Since our appearances at previous League Cup Finals in 1999 and 2002, season ticket, Club membership and Executive membership numbers have grown considerably. Those events were also held at different venues (to each other and indeed this month’s new venue) and the Club was subject to different ticket allocation levels and competition regulations.

All Supporters’ Club members are required to be One Hotspur members. We are however aware that some Supporters’ Clubs have advertised higher numbers of members than those that are registered as One Hotspur members with the Club itself. (We do not know why this is).

One Hotspur members, affiliated to Supporters’ Club branches are entitled to (and do frequently) purchase tickets directly from the Club when they are available and as such those individuals will have accrued loyalty points in the normal way. It has therefore been possible for Supporters’ Club members to apply for tickets to a variety of matches both as a direct One Hotspur member and as a member of a Supporters’ Club, where they will have secured priority access.

All records for Supporters’ Clubs going back to the start of the loyalty point scheme are intact (they have not been destroyed). Loyalty points have been accrued to the Supporters’ Club through combined ticket purchases for their members in each season. In order to be fair, and given that many different members may have accumulated the points for attending different matches at different times and may not have been members throughout the period, those points can only be averaged across current group members.

Diane Smith and her team have worked tirelessly in recent days to check all records and to ensure that Clubs have been credited with the loyalty points they believe they are due. These points have then been divided by the current number of members in each Supporters’ Club branch. This means that some current members have benefited from this policy as they may not have been around throughout the entire accrual period. Others may have slightly lower levels of points than if they had collected them individually (but may also have benefited from securing priority access to some matches).

The maximum number of points accrued by any one Supporters’ Club branch is 11,798 to date. This Supporters’ Club currently has 180 members and therefore, to be fair to all current members in that Club (and accepting that some people may have attended more matches than others) each member is assumed to have the average of 65 loyalty points.

The Supporters’ Club branch with the highest loyalty point to member ratio has accrued 4735 points and currently has 67 members. The average loyalty points per member is therefore 71.

In both cases, and based on information currently available to us, no members in either of these Supporters’ Clubs’ will qualify for a Carling Cup Final ticket based on our current estimates of what the likely loyalty point requirement for One Hotspur Bronze and Lilywhite members will be (please note that the final loyalty point number requirement won’t be known until final One Hotspur Bronze and Lilywhite member allocations are considered in light of the remaining ticket allocation early next week, but with more than 30,000 applications made before today’s 5.30pm deadline, it’s fair to say the loyalty point threshold will be very high).

We have not created an uneven playing field against Supporters’ Club members. Supporters’ Club members receive priority booking opportunities for all matches. If anything, this creates as uneven playing field in favour of Supporters’ Club members as they have a greater opportunity to secure tickets and therefore loyalty points for all matches, particularly the bigger matches, ahead of non-Supporters’ Club affiliated One Hotspur members.

On various occasions, various Supporters’ Clubs at various times have been permitted to purchase match tickets while not meeting the minimum ticket order requirement. Diane and her team, in an effort to be as supportive as possible, have overlooked this. Again, if anything, this has provided Supporters’ Club members with an advantage over One Hotspur members not affiliated to a Supporters’ Club as technically such ticket applications should have been denied and loyalty points should not have been accrued.

On various other occasions, some Supporters’ Clubs have been allocated match tickets despite failing to submit lists of the members attending. Again, on occasions, this has been over-looked – and, for the purposes of this exercise, loyalty points for those matches have still been added to the totals. Once again, technically speaking, loyalty points should not have accrued for these matches.

More worryingly, on some occasions – and as recently as last Saturday - some Supporters’ Clubs have booked tickets and then failed to produce One Hotspur Club membership cards in order to verify One Hotspur membership entitlement to those tickets when asked to do so. For the Manchester United match, this led to over 40 tickets remaining unclaimed and unused by Supporters’ Clubs for one of our biggest matches of the season. Unfortunately, as result, the Club will now be requiring Supporters’ Clubs to verify individual member details on a more frequent basis for the remainder of this season.

Finally, whilst the Club very much recognises that many of our Supporters’ Club branch members travel long distances to matches, so do many other One Hotspur members. We now have a huge number of One Hotspur members who live across the UK, Europe, the USA and many other parts of the world. Many One Hotspur members travel to a large number of our matches at White Hart Lane and indeed to our matches away from home. Furthermore, a large number of One Hotspur members, who live in or close to London, but are not affiliated to Supporters’ Clubs, also travel to many of our away matches across the UK and, in the past two seasons, across Europe. We recognise that many, many fans spend large sums of money following our Club and we are grateful for this support.

Contrary to suggestions by some Supporters’ Clubs this week, I do think that the Club, over the course of many seasons, has in fact been supportive of and extremely fair to our various Supporters’ Clubs. We have also set out to recognise the hard work and organisation that goes into running Supporters’ Clubs in the UK and across the world by applying flexibility to our rules and to helping members get to matches that they might not otherwise be entitled to attend.

Recent events have, however, demonstrated the very real need for us to review and, in some cases, tighten up many of the current procedures for the benefit of the Club, our Supporters’ Clubs, and the wider and fast growing One Hotspur membership. We will be looking at ticketing rights, loyalty point awards and branch membership and operation criteria amongst many other things. This work has already started and, as I have mentioned previously, it has been accelerated by the nature of the correspondence we have received in the past week. On this point, I am extremely grateful to those Supporters’ Clubs who have written to us expressing their full understanding for the difficult decision we reached regarding the distribution of Carling Cup Final tickets and, in particular, for their appreciation for the excellent work Diane and her team have done on Supporters’ Clubs behalf so far this season. Those messages, during a particularly busy period, have been much appreciated by the One Hotspur team.

Finally, when demand outweighs supply for any match, most of all a Cup Final at Wembley, the Club fully recognises that a very large number of loyal fans – including many One Hotspur members with high loyalty point levels - from many different places, will be desperately disappointed at missing out on match tickets. We understand and appreciate this – and we sympathise. However, this does mean that our ticket distribution methods must, by definition, be as fair as possible and allocations should be determined, wherever it is possible to do so, by the use of contractual rights or a common currency. In our case, for the majority of supporters, this means using the loyalty point system. It is not perfect, but it is the best mechanism we have. Whilst I regret that we will not be able to accommodate a specific allocation of Carling Cup Final tickets to Supporters’ Clubs, I do hope that our letters to you have provided you with a detailed explanation as to why. Unfortunately, time constraints will not permit us meeting individual Supporters’ Clubs at this time. We will however involve all Supporters’ Club branches in our research to determine how we work together in the future and we look forward to involving a small group in some face to face discussions we will hold at the Club.

Thank you for your continued support for Tottenham Hotspur.

Regards, Paul

Paul Barber
Executive Director

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