Whilst we can be proud of the achievements of last season - we cannot afford the luxury of sitting back on our laurels - far from it. No business stands still and we have a good deal more to do.
We continue to face significant challenges - taking predominance are our future capital projects - namely the proposed new Academy and First Team facilities and the other, the possible development of an increased capacity stadium.
To update you on the status of these projects - Earlier in the year the Club presented an exceptional proposal to Enfield Council for the development of a world class Academy and First Team facility. The proposal for the 56 acre site on a Metropolitan Green Belt site was always going to be challenging, but such was the strength and appropriateness of our application that is was fully supported by the Council's planning department with a recommendation for approval, and endorsed by such bodies as the GLA and English Nature - the application was, however, turned down by Enfield Councillors on grounds of the site's Green Belt designation. As expected, and as with many similar applications from football clubs across the UK, this process has now gone to Appeal and is due to be heard later this year. I should like to place on record at this stage the Boards gratitude to the very many supporters and local residents who took the time to write in support of our application. We shall keep you informed as the process takes its course.
In respect of the stadium, we continue to examine all options as we look at the possibility and indeed, the feasibility of increasing capacity. Whether this be in the form of a redevelopment of White Hart Lane or new build on an alternative site. I am conscious of the need, and it would be remiss of your Board to do otherwise, for this to be achieved without a negative impact on our financial stability, without affecting our ability to invest in the First Team or our desire to bring the Academy project to fruition. We are also mindful of the increasing television coverage of matches, the trend on the continent away from matchday attendance and, during busy seasons with increased cup games, the ability of the Club to sell-out increased capacity.
We continue to work through our options and I fully expect and am determined that we shall have a much clearer picture this time next year.
To summarise, the Academy project is following its expected course and financial resources have been ring fenced for the development. In respect of the stadium, we continue to drive the process in consultation with a number of bodies and we continue to site assemble around the stadium to ensure we are in control of our surroundings. It will be a long process but one on which we are committed to deliver.
Both of these projects are key to how the Club develops over the decades to come and I certainly do not underestimate their importance - but neither should the complexity of them be underestimated and they should both be viewed in perspective – they need to be achieved in a cost structure and a time frame which in no way impinges on the short, medium or long-term ability of this Club to compete and enjoy longevity of financial stability.
Moving away from our longer term projects……
An unexpected challenge the business faced this season has been the total overhaul of the ticket office, a process that will not be complete until the Summer and which includes the future integration of Members and the Ticket Office, along with the introduction of new in-house computer and web systems. Our supporters have been patient with us throughout the transition period and we, in return, have sought to minimise disruption and to respond to supporter issues and concerns. I fully acknowledge that the service is not yet operating at the level that our supporters have a right to expect, but rest assured we are giving this our full attention. I am also conscious that this is compounded by the fact that it is taking place in our busiest season for many years.
I was pleased to note the support we received from fans for our recent efforts to overturn a Football League decision which would have meant a disparity of percentage on away ticket allocation for our Carling Cup semi-final. We were determined to deliver the fairest solution for our fans.
Moving forward - we have a strong commercial platform which generates good levels of cash - and the business continues to grow and retain the ability to invest.
We have invested significantly in the team during the period - and the team remains our priority. In the last year the Club has spent just over £45 million on new players, infrastructure and our community projects - an increase of £10 million over the prior year. We have continued to develop a strong squad of players with a mix of good young talent.
We have made provision for significant funds to be available for valuable community-based projects through the new Tottenham Hotspur Foundation which we launch here today. It is important that we recognise the grass roots level of the game and the power of football to inspire, engage and, in some cases, enhance and change the lives of young people. You will hear more about this from Kathryn Robinson, the newly appointed CEO of the Foundation, in a short presentation before the formalities of the meeting.
During the year we announced two new record-breaking commercial agreements for the Club - bringing in a new technical sponsor, PUMA and a new Club sponsor, MANSION.
We have seen growth and increased income in all areas of the business and we find ourselves in three cup competitions at this point in the season. All this, I believe, allows us to view the future with well-placed optimism. This year sees the 125th anniversary of our much loved Club and we shall all look forward to celebrating that.
Finally, I would to like to thank everyone at the Club for their contribution to last season's success and to the Club's supporters for their magnificent support. Our priority is to challenge for honours on a consistent basis - and I believe that we have gained ground on achieving that goal.
Chairman Daniel Levy's address to the Annual General Meeting which took place at the Lane this afternoon.Last season was a formative one for our Club with our highest ever finish in the Premiership and our entry to the UEFA cup competition.