Ever since Arsenal FC successfully completed their move into one of the most impressive football stadiums on the planet, their north London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur have been peering over the garden wall, coveting all they see. Saying ‘ooohh, that’s nice’, ‘how much did you pay for that then?’ Really? Where did you get that kind of money? What’s the capacity?’ Really? And so on and so forth.
The answers expose the gulf that has grown between the two clubs over the last decade. Answers such as £400 million, yearly revenue from the Champions league, the redevelopment of Highbury into luxury flats, 60,000 people at 60 quid a head et cetera. These answers should have put Tottenham off, but they always want to be bigger and better than they are, faster than it is actually possible.
In October 2008 Tottenham Hotspur announced plans to build a 60,000 capacity stadium near White Hart Lane. (The Northumberland Development Project). Although, at the time, Spurs were performing abysmally in the league, there was a season-ticket waiting list of 22,000 and after 2007/08’s League Cup victory, the club seemed on the up.
Since this announcement, Harry Redknapp has taken the team from the bottom of the Premier League to the Champions League quarter-finals (as he constantly reminds us). Tottenham and Arsenal are now at their closest for many years and as Tottenham’s ambition has grown, fuelled by this first taste of the bright lights and big money, the need for an expansion becomes ever clearer and ever more important. Tottenham are getting closer to providing those answers financially, however the stadium remains a computer-generated vision of a far-off future. In fact it seems further away now than it did in 2008.
Whilst the fortunes of the club have transformed over the past two and half years, something of the old Tottenham reveals itself in this stadium debacle. As our attentions lurched suddenly to the cheaper, highly unpopular, short-term fix that the Olympic site offered, it reminded me of our short-term, quick fix, cheap and underwhelming squad rebuilding seen around 2004-2007. Every year we’d bring in 10 and get rid of 10, year on year, good for the club’s credit rating perhaps, but not for the team.
The attempted move to Stratford has been a well-documented disaster, suffering the humiliation of losing to West Ham both on and off the pitch in the same year is too much for many Spurs fans to bear. The Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy estimated it could save us £250 million, in the end it has saddled us with enquiries and judicial reviews at no benefit to the club. West Ham beat Tottenham’s bid and in the process Tottenham looked uncaring to the wants of their fans and sour in defeat.
So two and half years down the line, where do Spurs stand? The Northumberland Development Park has been grudgingly picked up again, a headache of grants, regeneration promises, planning permissions and bureaucracy. The recriminations and accusations still linger on after the bizarre Olympic stadium bid shambles and the football team continues to grow, straining against the walls of White Hart Lane.
The need for a bigger home is far greater now than in 2008 and Spurs appear no nearer to making a decision, with Levy continuing to look at stadium expansion plans. Let’s just hope in two and half years time Spurs have more than just a picture.