Why it is crucial that Spurs heed the warnings from Merseyside

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Much has been made in recent weeks of the growing costs that are being incurred by fans of English football’s elite clubs. Unlike many Premier League sides, Tottenham’s pricing structure has seen the club manage to strike a fine balance between financing the club and keeping the loyal supporters content. However, Spurs is a club on the move and with the many potential market forces in play, such as the development of a new stadium, high-spending competitors and the potential to obtain and consolidate a Champions League place, there could well be the temptation to increase the club’s revenue through an increase in the price of tickets. In this article, we analyse the potential risks that Spurs face as the club moves closer to an era with a new stadium.

Moving on up

Times as a fan of the boys from N17 are certainly enjoyable at present- the side are pushing nearer and nearer to mounting a credible title challenge, whilst the building of the club’s new stadium offers the club a huge opportunity to develop into a side that can constantly mix it with the finest teams of European football.

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Tottenham’s new stadium can be a pantheon dedicated to the demi-gods that adorn the club’s hallowed turf and is a credit to the labours of the members of the board that have turned their vision into a reality. The revenues that the increased volume that the new stadium can present, alongside the colossal sums of money generated by the Premier League’s broadcasting rights, have the potential to generate significant revenue streams to support the clubs burning ambitions over the next few years. What is crucial, however, is the board of directors recognising that the fans are not viewed as a revenue stream that can be milked to increase the profitability of the club.

A point in case is the anger felt by Liverpool fans, following the announcement of the club implementing a new pricing strategy that saw the club selling tickets up to a quite frankly gobsmacking £77. Whilst this figure is only representative of a few tickets available at select matches, it is very much an emblem of the growing discontent amongst fans who feel their loyalty is being exploited for financial gain.

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Anfield was the scene of a mass walk out last Saturday

The events that took place at Anfield received a significant amount of national media attention, as well as some incredible support from fans from across the country. The scenes were striking, with approximately 10,000 fans walking out of the stadium as Liverpool succumbed to a 2-2 draw with relegation candidates Sunderland. In the aftermath of these events, the club’s owners buckled. The ticket pricing strategy has been adapted as Werner, Henry and Gordon released a full and unreserved apology to the fans.

This was not just a win for Liverpool’s fans but also English football in general, with the supporters trust Spion Kop 1906 stating: “While we welcome the news, the next process is dialogue with the club to ensure that, for future generations, football at Liverpool and across England is affordable for everyone… Football rivalries have to go to one side, if supporters’ groups join together, that’s how we can really get some results”. It shows that a united front can have an impact on the big business philosophies at the top of most Premier League sides.

And this isn’t an isolated example. The resentment resulting from the exceptional costs associated with a new stadium is exemplified by fans over in Holloway, with many Arsenal fans feeling a certain degree of frustration since the opening of the Emirates Stadium. Protests over the significant number of regularly empty seats that have been priced beyond the means of the regular football punter have been far from uncommon. Whilst the tribal nature of football entitles us all to feel just a little bit smug at the level of misery that our north London rivals may be feeling; there can be no doubt that the issue of ticket prices must transcend conventional footballing boundaries if real change is going to take place.

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Traditional boundaries must be overcome to tackle rocketing ticket prices

What can be done?

Unity amongst football supporters’ trusts is crucial. Not only do stunts such as the Anfield walkout or the tennis balls raining down onto the pitch at Borussia Dortmund represent stunning imagery, they also reflect a public relations nightmare for the directors of the clubs. This intrinsically appealed to the very nature of the clubs owners and may be just the strategy that the supporters’ trusts need to pursue. These owners, schooled in the art of business, will know that communicating effectively with their biggest stakeholder is crucial to the clubs success, meetings between the clubs and trusts can prove a vital medium for creating a balance between the desires of owners to increase profit margins as well as the fans need to feel that they are valued by the club they love; a happy fan is a returning fan.

Truthfully, Tottenham as a club should have sufficient revenue streams to enable them to increase profits without hurting the fans through price hikes. The stadium alone provides significant opportunities for revenue generation through the increases in ticket-sales volume that increased capacity will bring as well as funding opportunities offering up stadium naming rights. With the business savvy Daniel Levy at the helm, there’s unlikely to be any missed opportunities when it comes to business development opportunities and one can only hope that he and the other board members are sensitive to the crucial nature of unity between the club and fans.

Things feel good on the lane right now as the club continues to ride the crest of a wave both on and off the pitch. Crucial to Tottenham’s continued success will be a state of harmony between the club and the supporters, especially during the transitional period of a stadium move. And thus, Mr Levy, we implore you to please take heed of the warning signs that have erupted from the movements over in Merseyside- We are fans, not customers!

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Written by Joe Thomas

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