In recent months we have seen a number of clubs clashing with their local councils. Tottenham are one side who have had trouble with their local council, Haringey. After coming up with an ambitious plan to redevelop White Hart Lane and the surrounding area, they have faced numerous objections and obstacles which have hampered the development. The council at first embraced the idea, but seemed to not provide the support and constructive help along the way to get the project off the ground. The project has the potential to develop and regenerate local commerce and habitation in a long neglected area, bringing in more business on match days and creating more jobs. Spurs are an important aspect of Haringey and a vital source of revenue for the council so should the council be willing to do more to help?
Due to the problems Spurs have been forced to look elsewhere, and could still leave the Haringey area altogether. They were in the running for the Olympic stadium, but lost out to West Ham. When they announced they were interested in moving to the Olympic stadium, Haringey council quickly objected to the plans, so it seems Spurs can’t win with the council neither supporting their bid to stay and regenerate, or the option of them moving away.
Liverpool are another who have run up against obstacles in their development of a new stadium. They have faced ongoing problems for the last 10 years. Their project faces continued delays, as the council obstructed plans for a redeveloped Anfield due to legislation which means that you cannot build in an area which blocks natural light getting into peoples homes, which is understandable as it a legal requirement. However, the council has been less than supportive through the process in helping Liverpool to get their plans off the ground. Considering the opportunity to regenerate the whole of north Liverpool, should the council have done more to help out with certain conditions, making it easier for the club to get the finances it requires? The council have now forced Liverpool into a deadline which means they can’t explore either the option of regeneration, or moving to Stanley Park fully. They have forced Liverpool into a corner, with the people set to lose out being fans and local residents. Of course the delays aren’t only the councils fault, the plans were originally put back because of the clubs previous owners as well. However, it seems as if the council is unwilling to do more to help Liverpool out.
Stockport County, are another side, currently struggling with their local council. There is controversy over whether or not they should be given money by the local council to sort out their ailing finances. On the one hand, the side are a vital aspect of the community, putting the area on the map, and bringing in vital business for the local area. However, we are in a recession and with cuts by the local council to schools and health budgets, it does seem difficult to justify the argument that the local council should be helping out County more. A football club is a business like any other, so it should be able to stand on its own two feet, rather than relying on the council and taxpayers money.
As well as the bigger teams, smaller grass roots teams are also struggling, many like Tower Hamlets have had their funding cut by local councils, and are now struggling to survive. Too many councils have sat by as their community clubs have died. The benefits of a local side in the community cannot be understated, they promote the neighbourhood, and provide employment and enjoyment for all.
There are some councils who have done more to help out their local clubs. Oldham Athletic, Stevenage and Tranmere are just a few who have received the full support and backing of their local councils. It seems not all local councils are unwilling to go the extra mile to help their local side, when they see what they bring to the area.
It’s tough to weigh up whether councils should do more to help. On the one hand a football club is likely to be the biggest source of revenue for the council, as well as a centre of community life. However, in the harsh economic climate we are in, it is difficult to see what more local councils can do without sacrificing vital services elsewhere. Local councils have a duty to their residents as well as to their football clubs and that is something they have to balance.
Let me know your thoughts below or follow me on Twitter @LaurenRutter