We all know about Daniel Levy’s Olympic Stadium ambitions for Tottenham Hotspur. We also know that there are fans who are both for, and against the move. I am a fan who isn’t strictly opposed the Olympic Stadium proposal, however the latest news coming from Levy leaves me feeling a little uneasy.
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Levy’s tone appeared to have become more sinister and he seems even further detached from the common feeling among Spurs fans. When asked if the club could move from the Tottenham area even if the Olympic bid was unsuccessful he replied: “Correct. The problem with the situation we’re in now at White Hart Lane is that the project currently is not viable. So we would have to go back to the drawing board and that would obviously mean looking at other locations again. It’s one of those emotive items that, if one had a choice, we would rather be building here, we would rather have fantastic transportation links. But what is clear for this club is that in order to compete at the highest level within the Premier League and European football, we need to solve the stadium [issue]. We need a larger stadium, and if that means we have to move out of the area, I think the fans will back us.”
I accept that my personal opinion is likely to be in the minority – the move from North London would be regrettable, but the chance to take control of the Olympic Stadium, and the money we would save from doing it, would justify the switch. But the notion that a move from White Hart Lane is inevitable regardless of what the Olympic Park Legacy Company decides, doesn’t sit well with me.
The fact that Levy believes that the fans would back any move away seems a little misguided to me. Levy thinks that only a “very, very small group of individuals” oppose Spurs switching postcodes. But the fact that around 8,000 people who resist the move have already signed an online petition and that a mass protest was staged at White Hart Lane before and during the Manchester United game suggest otherwise, Mr Levy. The level of animosity felt by the fans when was clear for all to see when it was announced that they were considering creating a breakaway club in a similar vein to that of FC United of Manchester.
What interests me is just why, and how, the previously proposed Northumberland Redevelopment Project (NDP) is suddenly ‘not viable’. It’s been clear for sometime that Stratford is the cheaper and more preferable option for Levy, but the fact that redeveloping White Hart Lane is now off the table completely has come as something of a surprise to me. There have always been problems with transport links and the planning permission, but a piece which can currently be found on the club’s official website entitled ‘Masterplan’ outlines the NDP in a much more favourable light. The article speaks of how excited the club are at the prospect of redeveloping the area and building a stunning new stadium, appartment complex, restaurant, hotel and supermarket. I think that fans deserve to know why these plans have been shelved and why the circumstances have changed so drastically.
Worryingly, Levy’s back-up plans seem like they may be required in the near future. West Ham’s promise to keep the running track intact has made them favourites to win the rights and the voices against Tottenham taking the Olympic Stadium are not only those of the fans, they are also coming from politicians, members of the IOC and the general public.
If the Olympic plan fails I think that Levy should do all he can to push on with the Northumberland Project. It has the backing of the council and the mayor and is the currently the favoured option of many of the fans who fill White Hart Lane every week. The club has been buying up land around the stadium for around 20 years (it currently owns 20 acres) and they have been in negotiation with Haringey Council for the last two years just to get this far, so why waste all of the work done up to this point? Tottenham do need a larger stadium, but in doing so Levy is unlikely to make any friends, which ever of his plans come into fruition.