Have Tottenham overstepped the mark?


The ambition shown at Tottenham is admirable, a club that dreams of one day feasting again at the top table of European football and whose owners seem to have the desire to make this reality. Football these days is as much about what you do on the pitch as you do off it, the teams with greatest financial muscle generally do the best.

In Joe Lewis and ENIC, Spurs have one of the wealthiest football sugar daddies around, who if he wanted could happily match the spending powers of many of the clubs Premier League rivals.

Yet it isn’t that simple, the advent of FFP and Lewis and Levy’s business geared approach means that turning a loss isn’t a possibility. If Spurs want to compete then they need to bring in the kind of revenue that their North London rivals Arsenal do, and the secret to this is the upgrade of a rickety and under-sized White Hart Lane.

Now this isn’t a plan conceived on the back of cigarette packet, Spurs fans know all too well about the trials and tribulations of the NDP since its conception in 2008, indeed thoughts to a new stadium have been on-going for decades now.

However, financial wrangling and red tape have held up the project that in all honesty will be key to Spurs’ long-term future. A standoff over the issue of £16m funding of infrastructure and 50% commitment to affordable housing left Levy keen to explore other options, indeed his overtures to the Olympic Stadium bidding process forced the council’s hand and concessions have since been made to ease the building process.

The Guardian has argued that in doing so the council have effectively neglected their main concerns for the local community of Tottenham. Here is their take on Spurs’ plans for the surrounding area of the ground:

“A council housing tower block and rows of shops with people living above are to be knocked down to create a wide walkway for Spurs fans from a relocated White Hart Lane station straight to the new 56,000-seat stadium, with its shops, bars and food outlets; the council says on non-matchdays the walkway will be a “mini-town centre” public space.”

“Business owners whose shops, workplaces and, for those who live above the shops, their homes have been targeted for demolition under the council’s “masterplan,” have accused Haringey of going too far to please Spurs, in the effort to keep the club in Tottenham and build regeneration around the new stadium.”

Comparable to the issues surrounding the recent construction of the Olympic stadium in Stratford, the council face a huge headache. There are businesses up and down the High Road that have existed for decades, family run ventures that have been the beating heart of the community. That said the regeneration of one of the most deprived wards in London depends solely my opinion on the continued investment of Spurs in the wider community.

On paper Tottenham is an area with potential to prosper and grow, a stones through away from central London with ever improving rail and bus links it represents a potential commuter hot spot. Such a development will be set back decades and decades if Spurs don’t get their plans through, it is for me a question of harming a few to help the majority.

An area tormented by the riots of 2011, you only have to go to Haringey to realise what an under-invested part of London it is. The Guardian may argue that this plaza is totally unnecessary and that Spurs should just build the stadium as a stand-alone structure.

The reality for Spurs is that without the potential to sell-off new-build housing and lease restaurants and café’s the financing for the stadium just isn’t feasible. A £400m investment isn’t as simple as signing over a cheque, why else has it taken the club so long to put their plans into action.

It has become something of a tug of war between the club and council, but both sides know that they need to make concessions to the other to make it work. The very thought of Tottenham playing away from their roots in North London is sickening, and in the same way Haringey without the club there is a much worse off place as well.

With any mass development there will always be winners and losers. Those that lose out here will be granted the necessary compensation and hopefully the opportunity to thrive in the newly developed North London.

With the club now confident about funding it is believed that following consultation with Populous work on the new stadium can begin by the end of next year.