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The Burden of Expectation

Spurs fans demand more bang for their buck

Harry Hotspur

In the last few days Spurs released the season ticket prices for the 2018/19 season to what can only be termed as a mixed reception.

There is a significant difference between anticipating a price hike and having cope with the grim reality of one.

To drill down into specific examples or to start making comparisons with the erstwhile pricing at White Hart Lane or more complexly, other Premier League teams, would at best become muddled.

Put simply, everyone attending games in the New Destination will be paying more, by varying degree. The issue is more about value for money against the daunting backdrop of a sport that one could say has pretty much evolved out of control.

Top flight clubs are in receipt of fatter revenue streams than ever before, not least TV monies and a multitude of sponsorship deals. Match day gate receipts have to some extent been eclipsed. So arguably there’s never been a more delicate moment for Premier League sides to strike the right balance when ‘positioning’ their ticket prices.

Some will say that the writing has been on the wall for some time. A wall in Islington, to be specific.

12 years in and the Emirates is frequently the Emptycrates.

The lack of tangible achievement (or ‘silverware’ as we over 40s call it) actually precipitated the birth of Arsenal TV, a beyond parody YouTube affair which hosts what can only be described as a series of people having some class of breakdown, after more of less every single match.

Indeed, last season one regular contributor called ‘Claude’ did an excellent impression every week, of a man who was about to hand himself in at his police station and ask to be sectioned Under The Mental Health Act. Claude caused genuine concern to viewers last season when unannounced he absented himself from the interviews for a few weeks. Fears were allayed when he surfaced on social media later on to announce he was okay, but ‘in a dark place’.

This level of lunacy has yet to be reached by Spurs fans, however the stage is definitely set.

The most generous way to describe Tottenham season tickets price points for 2018/19 season is ‘opportunistic’.

There’s some baggage here too. The ubiquitous loyalty points rears its ugly head as the release of season tickets are done so in phases, with those fans having the most points getting first dibs.

Unfortunately THFC managed to erase all points predating the 2006/7 season which they attributed to the mechanics of switching from their in-house platform to Ticketmaster.

This was cold even by Daniel Levy’s sterile standards.

This phased release will also put a metaphoric gun against many a head as not just pals but families are prevented form sitting next to each other if there’s a disparity in points.

Remember; this is season tickets here, not just a one off match. The group or family’s only option is to wait for the person who is granted access to buy from what will be the most latterly phasing –  which will have the most limited choice –  and then decide whether to plump for the worst seats in the house or the most expensive. Common sense dictates that they are unlikely to be left with much if anything in between to choose from

The eunuchs at the Tottenham Hotspur Supporter’s Trust have of course had zero influence whatsoever on matters, despite wasting everybody’s time by perpetuating this interminable charade that they have a line of dialogue with the club. They issued the following:

‘We were given headline pricing minutes before the club announcement went live yesterday. So we knew the cheapest GA tickets and the most expensive were comparable to prices at White Hart Lane. But as we digested the detail, it soon became clear those headline prices masked a different reality.

The club believes it will fill the stadium with this pricing policy. That may well be the case in our first season with a successful, entertaining team but the novelty may wear off after the first season, particularly if performance on the pitch falls short. With fans already contacting us saying they are priced out, we cannot view this as anything other than a missed opportunity.’

It’s no surprise the Trust feel cheated, they are an exceptionally deluded shower, but for normal humans the dull reality of the season ticket pricing is that what was hoped to be a seminal moment of inclusivity, with more people being able to attend on a regular basis than ever before, has in instead become a siren song for something closely resembling unchecked avarice.

Beyond the cold hard cash demands there’s also the much vaunted and future proofed for safe standing South Stand which was pitched as a ‘Kop-like’ wall. Bizarrely, or more accurately, opportunistically, in the midst of this atmosphere generator THFC have embedded a sizeable slew of their most premium seating.

Priced at an eye-watering£2,200 per season, this package includes a devoted bar and washroom facilities; surely contradicting the entire concept of the stand. It’s not unreasonable to believe that these patrons are likely to mirror the corporate crowd and move to and from their seats in a fashion so leisurely that the empty seats at the start of each half will be be glared at by everyone else.

Beyond the instant reaction to the club’s ham fisted colour coded brochure plan – where the colours don’t quite match up with the code and it’s all just marginally out of focus –  there’s the more serious business of sustainability. The brave new world is all tremendously exciting but this isn’t the Opera or the Ballet. Football fans quite like an outcome. A result. Winning stuff.

Being entertained is part of it, but very much the secondary issue.

‘How did you get on at Spurs?’

‘Oh, we lost 1-2 but what a thrilling match!’

There’s an exchange you won’t have heard frequently in real life.

Fans don’t just want to win individual games, but cups and divisions. To challenge meaningfully. As we have witnessed at Arsenal, qualifying for The Champions League is all fine and dandy but it’s not a trophy, it’s not winning, it’s simply a gilt-edged invitation.

Levy & Co have set themselves an unedifying task here, to live up to not just the majestic venue but the expectation that  simply must come with it. This mustn’t be redressed with some apologist guff about ‘entitlement’, thanks very much.

You simply do not spend£15,000 on a Pinarello racing bicycle (it’s a maker the Sky racing team use) and then only use it to occasionally poodle down to the corner shop for a paper.

ENIC’s business model has been extraordinarily successful from an investment company perspective, as far as the football goes, one trophy in nigh on two decades is miserably thin fare. The burden of expectation is high. In some instances, thirty to forty percent higher than it used to be!

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