Tottenham Hotspur confirmed on Thursday that the north London derby against Arsenal will be played at Wembley.
New Stadium Update – Arsenal fixture.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 7, 2019
The new White Hart Lane remains under construction, tantalisingly close to being complete.
And yet with every update, with every setback, it just seems to move further and further away.
There is a suggestion that the stadium is, indeed, close to being opened.
The London Evening Standard report that the match against Arsenal was never likely to be the curtain-raiser, such were the security concerns around such a high-profile and volatile fixture.
Instead, the report claims that a different London derby, against Crystal Palace, on March 17, could be the first game at the new stadium.
It remains to be seen, however, if that promise will be delivered upon, given the complications surrounding FA Cup commitments.
If Palace beat Doncaster Rovers in the fourth round it is likely the Premier League encounter will be rescheduled.
And now it appears to be a waiting game.
Former Wigan & Fulham man, Jimmy Bullard recently showed that he’s still got it! Check out the video below…
Fans, of course, are burned out. There is a joke among Tottenham fans that as soon as the picture of the club’s crest, taken from below, is seen accompanying a stadium update on Twitter, it is bad news. It has never been good.
This is a fanbase that has, essentially, been sold false promises.
The move to Wembley was meant to be for a season and a season alone. That has not held water. There have been numerous starting dates bandied around for the opening of the stadium but none have yet come to fruition. Ticket prices continue to be extortionate – there have been little concessions for the average match-goer, even at a temporary venue.
Test events continue to be held – some fans were invited to watch the Super Bowl at the stadium at the weekend. One rival fan on social media likened the ground to a cinema and, in effect, that was the purpose it served on Sunday.
Spurs, then, should just be honest and admit the game is up.
Fans want to move into the new stadium now but such is the cynicism surrounding the move, this writer simply does not see that happening.
So the simple fact is this: If Spurs know they face a race against time, they should simply admit that Wembley is going to be the club’s home for the remainder of the season.
It will not go down well. Fans will accuse the club of lying to them and they may well be right. Perhaps Daniel Levy and his fellow board members knew all along that it was incredibly unlikely Spurs would be playing at the new White Hart Lane this season.
But if they are to reclaim any goodwill whatsoever in the face of announcing an extended stay at Wembley, they must be wholly transparent.
Telling fans now would help them make arrangements for the remainder of the season and would also heighten excitement levels for next season, with the promise of playing the first home game of 2019-20 in the new stadium.
It would not be popular but, after the latest developments, it would certainly not be a surprise.