On Wednesday July 8, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy unveiled the long-awaited plans for Tottenham Hotspur’s new 61,000 capacity stadium. It’s been a long time coming, and for the most part, I am excited, but a big part of me will for one miss White Hart Lane and two, remain slightly sceptical on the new stadium project.
Of course it has its upsides. At 61,000 seats, it will be 568 seats bigger than the Emirates. It was a sad day for many Spurs fans when that monstrosity was built, and the fact that ours will be a fraction bigger will be a metaphorical middle finger in their direction.
The added revenue from almost doubling our capacity (providing it sells out) will mean that we will not only be able to afford higher transfer fees, but also be able to afford higher wages, which I think is our main problem in attracting the highest calibre of player. It will enable us to mix it with the real big boys of European football, and not be a “stepping stone” club, which, let’s face it, we have been in recent years with the likes of Modric, Bale, Carrick, Berbatov and possibly soon to be Lloris all moving onto greener pastures.
The plan involves building a 17,000 single-tiered stand at one end of the ground. This will make it the largest of its kind in the country and should make for an incredible atmosphere. That’s the plan anyway, but it’s hard to imagine the atmosphere will be anything less than electric, especially in the first season of moving in.
There are also plans to play NFL games there. I realise that this will bring even more revenue to the club, but I’m not really a fan of this. I don’t really care either way about American Football. If people like it that’s fine, but I don’t agree with taking a team away from their own fans in search of greater fortunes. For example, if Spurs were to play a couple of games in an American stadium each season, I’d find that totally unacceptable, and I do have fears that the Premier League will go that way within my lifetime (I hope I’m wrong). So any kind of deal with the NFL isn’t the best news in my opinion.
Again, with the added revenue, I’m afraid we’ll dip into the transfer market too much and neglect the academy players. I loved seeing so many of our young players nail down first-team places last season, and it was so satisfying to beat the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea with no less than five academy players on the pitch. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I’d prefer to see those guys give their all than pay some “superstar” £200k a week to put half a shift in on “a rainy night in Stoke” which is often the case with big money transfers.
But then, would signing the better players bring more success? I’d like to say I’ll stay true to my principles, but it is hard to argue with the idea of consistent Champions League football and winning trophies on a regular basis. I guess I have to hope we go about it in the right way, and the likes of Kane, Bentaleb, Townsend and Mason all stay and form the backbone of our side, with perhaps a lot more academy products mixed in with new talent.
Another thing that worries me is the season away from White Hart Lane. Will all the businesses in the area be able to cope without the matchday income for a year? What’s going to happen to the Bell and Hare or the Bricklayers Arms? These are iconic places for many Spurs fans, and form part of the match day ritual – it would be a travesty if the club allowed them to shut down during this period.
Time will tell, and I know I’ll definitely miss White Hart Lane. It’s been our home for so long and it is a shame to move on. But I am excited all the same and, ultimately, if we want to compete with Europe’s elite then it’s the price we have to pay. I just hope we haven’t sold our souls.