It feels as if a small lifetime has passed in the respective quests of both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, to find a solution to their stadium capacity woes. Both clubs have endured relatively painful legislative sagas as they’ve sought to develop a blueprint to maximize matchday revenue; no doubt spurred on by having to sit back and watch their fiercest rivals turn their own home grounds into Premier League cash cows.
But as Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre announced plans to renege on building a new stadium in favour of redeveloping Anfield, there have been some in the white half of North London, that have been left scratching their heads. Both clubs have been entrenched in the financial mire of getting stadia projects, estimated to cost in the region of £300-£400milion plus, off the ground and bricks and mortar finally lay.
Yet all of a sudden, Liverpool appear to have saved themselves half the financial burden, with a more modest redevelopment of Anfield harnessing a price tag of around £150million. It’s a development that will bring The Red’s a similar number of seats as what the new White Hart Lane will. The difference being, Spurs are still looking to tie up a private funding package for the development during the worst economic downturn in recent memory – for over double the money.
This has led some to ask the question as to why Spurs can’t go down a similar route? If Liverpool can shave off half the money needed to increase the capacity, then why can’t Spurs? Although it’s a fair question to ask – and at one point in the last decade, a highly relevant one too – the fact is that it just isn’t as simple as knocking up a new stand at White Hart Lane. Each case must be judged on it’s own merits and although there are similarities between Spurs and Liverpool’s stadia headaches, there are huge differences to.
None more so, than the fact Spurs are edging oh so close to the finishing line of getting their expansive Northumberland Development Project off the ground.
But first of all, we’ll look at the scope that Tottenham Hotspur could have, theoretically, if they chose to dispose with their grand new stadium plans and push on with a Liverpool style redevelopment.
It’s important to note that while Spurs’ new plans are by technicality, a redevelopment, it is in essence, a completely new stadium in an almost identical, yet slightly altered footprint
With a very haphazard and cautious estimate of the current White Hart Lane, you could probably make a case that three of it’s four stands, would have the capacity for some kind of redevelopment. On the premise that the bulk of the NDP is set to be built on the industrial area to the back of Paxton Road, you could safely assume that the North Stand has plenty of room for elaborate development. The West Stand on the High Road has a fair area of space behind it, incorporating a small car park, which you would have thought would offer room for some form of expansion.
Perhaps ultimately, the only stand that couldn’t be developed would be the South Stand. Indeed, towards the end of the Alan Sugar reign, Spurs were granted preliminary planning permission to redevelop the East Stand, in a move that would have increased capacity to 44,000. It is maybe only the South Stand that would face some severe issues, given the proximity to houses down Park Lane – an issue that Liverpool have similarly faced with housing down Lothair Road behind their main stand.
But for Spurs, it isn’t as black as white as just knocking down the stands one by one and starting again. With Liverpool, although we are yet to see stonewall architectural plans, the crux is that they already have boast a capacity of 45,276. As Ayre said, they don’t need to be paying £300million to increase stadium capacity by 15,000. Spurs are looking to expand by near on 20,000 with potentially the scope for a little bit more. The grander the size, the harder it becomes.
Because although an estimated £400million for the NDP may seem an astonishing figure, for the price it could cost the club redeveloping White Hart Lane stand-by-stand, it makes no sense to not go through with it.
For example, by choosing to resurrect the Worcester Avenue plans, Tottenham would have to kiss goodbye to the matchday revenue that the 10,691 capacity stand brings every week, during the duration of the works. If we go with a very general bracket of 12-18 months construction time at a time, the club would have to live with a huge loss in revenue while paying out for the works; of which you couldn’t guarantee would be covered by a lucrative naming rights deal.
The beauty of the NDP is that Spurs can stay in White Hart Lane, for the majority of the works, ensuring they don’t suffer a loss in revenue as they would do by redeveloping the stands individually. Plus when they do move in to their new home (which will be three-quarters built around the old ground) it will still , in theory, offer a greater matchday revenue than what they receive at the moment, while the old White Hart Lane is demolished.
Furthermore, the issue of finance would be a real issue. Phase one of the NDP, which encompasses the construction of a huge supermarket development, is under way, and the proceeds of what they will receive from the incumbents (Sainsbury’s), will go straight towards paying for the new ground. Furthermore, the club’s income will be boosted by the sale of housing and commercial space in phase three of the development, which will again, help fund the stadium. None of this would be possible if Spurs went down the Liverpool route- let alone the potential lack of scope to develop the all important hospitality space.
The notion of redeveloping White Hart Lane in its current guise is a romantic one, but while it may work for Liverpool, it simply won’t work for Tottenham. It may seem like just another acronym, but the Northumberland Development Project means so much more both the area and the prospect of financing, than just a shiny new stadium.
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