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Tottenham’s new ground still a matter of mystery

By Tony Attwood

I didn’t find this year’s April Fool’s day (a day of practical jokes across Europe – which I seem to recall is called April fish in France – perhaps Walter can tell us what it is called in Flemish), not especially amusing.

The essence of an April Fool story is that at first glance it should be possible – only for you to realise that of course it can’t be.

But this year the main football story seemed to work in reverse.  The April Fool’s Day story in some papers was that Tottenham were planning a ground share with Arsenal.  That seemed ridiculous.

But then, other bits of the story emerged.  Now, whenever we try and take a look at what Tottenham is doing vis a vis its new ground in the High Road, N17, the situation generally seems to be a bit murky.   We are told by a few Tottenham fans that we are “fixated” with Tottenham (ignoring what it says on the mast head of this site), while others tell us that it is all steaming ahead, and that the owner is going to fund it himself.

Other Tottenham supporters who do visit Untold do cover the issue in a way that actually includes some evidence, but none of them at all have suggested a ground share.

But then yesterday both the Independent and the Daily Mail said that Tottenham had failed in a bid to buy West Ham’s Upton Park stadium.   And the Independent actually said that a ground share with Arsenal  had been looked at, along with the hiring of Wembley, as Arsenal did for two seasons (although Arsenal of course only did it for Champions League games).

Of course, given that Untold spends a lot of time debunking the rubbish that appears in the national press, we don’t go charging in saying that this had been looked at seriously.  After failing twice to get the publicly funded Olympic stadium, which now goes to WHU, turning to a far less interesting ground at Upton Park would seem one hell of a climb down.

The Mail suggested that the approach by Tottenham for West Ham’s stadium was rejected immediately even though West Ham has accepted an offer from developers that was less than the £71.2m original valuation.

Both papers covering the story also said that the WHU ground is to become an “East End Village” including 700 homes with blocks of flats named after Bobby Moore, Sir Trevor Brooking, Sir Geoff Hurst and Billy Bonds.  It is also said that the area will be painted claret and blue, although I am not sure if that wasn’t another April Fool’s joke.

A statement from Tottenham concerning their own new ground said: “It is a major development that will present ongoing challenges and, subject to these challenges being manageable, we anticipate going out to tender for construction late this year which will make a stadium opening date of summer 2017 feasible.”

However that statement didn’t really mention either the funding or the public inquiry which was held a year ago, and the delayed results of which have in turn delayed the purchasing of the remaining property needed for the land to build the stadium.   There are also suggestions that it is going to be harder than first believed to keep the current ground fully operational while building the new ground, but that is denied in other quarters.

Eric Pickles, the lumbering obese secretary of state for communities and local government, has yet to speak on the compulsory purchase order, and that is the problem (not the compulsory purchase orders, Eric Pickles).

Tottenham in a statement said, “We have the smallest capacity stadium of any club in the top 20 clubs in Europe, let alone the current top four Premier League clubs, and given we now operate within UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, an increased capacity stadium and associated revenues is fundamental to supporting the future ambitions and consistent achievement at the top of the game.

“Our focus therefore is to continue to invest in and develop the squad – we shall not look to a summer of major upheaval, but rather to strengthen in key positions – to play the style of football for which we are famous – and to deliver the new stadium.”

Tottenham did in fact announce a profit for the year ending 30 June 2013 of £1.5million, compared with a £4.3million loss in 2012.

Presumably when the appalling Pickles, under whose aegis local football has been decimated across the entire kingdom and a whole generation of fit and active young people has been lost, actually finds his desk, and then ultimately, the purchase orders, he will give Tottenham the go-ahead.  But what we still don’t know, and what the newspapers constantly fail to consider, is the issue of finance.

As I suggested above there is the option of Joe Lewis, the 77 year old British businessman whose company owns THFC, buying the ground.  He lives in the Bahamas and has a wealth of $4.2 billion, so he could easily afford to pay for the ground himself, and if has the credentials to borrow the money (if he feels a bit short of the ready).

But those facts alone add to the mystery of why Tottenham has taken quite so long to state where the money is coming from, when quite clearly, as they say and I think everyone would agree, they do actually need a new ground.  The owner also has an interest in football (or at least football investment) having owned some of Slavia Prague and had a stake in Rangers (which presumably cost him a few bob along the way).

Where the media is commenting on Tottenham’s new ground the comment is one that is drawn from Tottenham’s own PR statements – about putting out the work to tender, and there is no breakdown of the way in which things could proceed.

Nor is there any commentary on the controversial idea of having the fans much closer to the pitch than at the Emirates Stadium.  The Ems was built exactly to the Uefa and Premier League requirements for grounds, in terms of distance from fans to touch line, and this has been criticized by Tottenham as reducing the atmosphere.

Quite how they are going to get around the regs has never been made clear, but presumably it will involve appeals to the various bodies based on the limited amount of space that there is available at the site.  It will be interesting to see if they can get away with that, particularly in the light of the missiles that were thrown by a tiny minority of Tottenham supporters at ambulance staff when Theo got injured.

The removal of Theo during that match showed why the space between pitch and crowd has been widened in the regs – it is going to be interesting if the issue of ambulance staff and player safety in such situations is over ridden.

But meanwhile it is the money that is fascinating.  Quite possibly everything is in place, and the moment the Secretary of State wakes up and the planning permission is granted, we’ll know.  But even then the question will remain: will Tottenham suffer as Arsenal have in terms of having to pay the money back.

Joe Lewis does not work like the benefactors of Man City or Chelsea, and he looks for a profit – or at least he always has done before.  That could mean a quick sale after the ground is built, possibly to a benefactor, or the use of front loaded sponsorship money to pay off the loans.

Now that is what Arsenal had – and as we know we have only just come out of that arrangement.  And it has been painful, with money very seriously limited when it comes to transfers.

We’ll see, although I must say I am sorry that Tottenham never got the Olympic stadium.  Singing “F-off to Stratford” was almost as amusing as hearing “F-off to Woolwich” (given that Arsenal never once played in Woolwich).  Such contradictions are what football is made of.

But as I said,  we’ll see.

The Books

32 comments to Tottenham’s new ground still a matter of mystery

  • TTDID

    Still Obsessed with us! Boring article. easing the last paragraph made me laugh though. Take from Wikipedia “Arsenal Football Club started out as Dial Square in 1886 by workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, south-east London, and was renamed Royal Arsenal shortly afterwards.[4] The club was renamed again to Woolwich Arsenal after becoming a limited company in 1893.”
    Franchise club or Nomads as you should be called

  • WalterBroeckx

    And what do you think the first comment starts with ….yes: Still Obsessed with us!

    LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂

    edit: mind you it isn’t approved yet but funny it is. 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    I also think it is funny how Tottenham fans call us nomads but their club is trying to buy any ground that comes available to move their club to….

    We can only hope that the more serious Tottenham supporters could shed some light on this

  • THFC4EVER

    Can’t believe I actually wasted my time reading this shit.

    There has been the worst recession in living memory don’t you know.

  • The Manor Ground in Plumstead, south east London was a football stadium which, between 1888 & 1890, and 1893 & 1913, was the home of the football club formerly known as Royal Arsenal, renamed Woolwich Arsenal in 1893, and later simply Arsenal F.C. soon after they moved across London to Arsenal Stadium, Highbury. Plumstead is a district of South East London located in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It is located east of Woolwich and south west of Thamesmead. 
    They weren’t playing at Highbury were they. Spurs arent looking to move which Nomads do they are looking for a temporary place to play while there ‘home’ is being rebuilt.
    Your argument comes straight from Kermitt The Frog or some other Muppett.

  • Projectmanager

    “Quite how they are going to get around the regs has never been made clear, but presumably it will involve appeals to the various bodies based on the limited amount of space that there is available at the site. ”

    It’s all to do with the design, the library has raked back seating, the proposed and passed plans for the Spurs ground is a far more vertical arrangement that will act a bit like ‘dome effect’ and will thus trap noise, as opposed to the dissipation that occurs at the library.

  • WalterBroeckx

    So Herewegoagain you only wanted to use the Olympic stadium for a short moment then. Interesting.

  • Jax

    I don’t know if there is an obsession with what’s going (or not) on at Spurs, but you would expect that a club with a potential match day support of a similar size to ours and an ambition to rejoin the elite group of English clubs would have a viable plan in place. I for one would like to see them redevelop WHL as I would expect most of there local support would as it just makes sense. The ground share idea came up in the late ’70’s with an ill fated proposal to build a large stadium at Ally Pally. I wonder how that would have worked out.

  • bjtgooner

    In this revised plan put forward by the Spurs, have they given any indication of seeking public funding. From memory Boris was intending to arrange some funding about a year or so ago for the previous scheme.

  • TOTTENHAM will be sold to REDBULL you read it here

  • andy1886

    Bjt, I trust that if Boris is planning on wasting tax payers money on a wealthy football club in times of austerity there will be a public outcry and suitably verhement campaign to make him see the folly of his ways.

  • Blimey project manager, that is going to be loud. the volume of sound for the Tottenham games at the Emirates was very high indeed. If it were a library, it would be a rather noisy library.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I never liked Redbull any way. 😉
    Now wouldn’t that be funny…. a company with RED in their name owning Tottenham 🙂

  • P.Nesta

    The proposed WHU ground purchase would have been only a temporary move for 1 season, or a little more if required, and then sell on as planned for development. A 1 year ground share with Arsenal or at Wembley would both have been looked at, but both have restrictions set by their respective local authorities. Wembley is prob now the best option, I understand there may be an option with a reduced capacity to allow more games/events to be held there, but Wembley insist on there own Hospitality being used, (less income for a third party). The original plans was to play 1 season in a 2/3rds built ground, not sure on why they are looking at moving out for 1 year, maybe the rumoured NFL link up is forcing them to try and speed things up who knows, the design has possibly been tweaked by the new designers maybe that has caused the change. The majority of the funding I would imagine would be linked to naming rights, which can’t be finalised until the decision is made on the COP on Archway Steel and things can start moving forward. I am sure things will all be confirmed over the next few months.

  • Christian Spur

    Tony, I have always found your articles fairly balanced when it comes to Tottenham and Arsenal unlike some other sites. All of the obsessed comments come from both sides of North London and yes if there is healthy rivalry then we’ll naturally be interested in what our neighbours are up to? The general consensus amongst THFC fans is that ENIC will look to sell once they have the new ground either built or approved plans to construct as though Joe Lewis could be rich sugar daddy THFC has always been run as a business much like Arsenal and unlike Chelski and City. In terms of where the funding is coming from ENIC have always been very tight lipped with their communications. They are clearly looking for a Naming rights sponsor but either they have an agreed deal which will be announced once final approval is given or they have not found a party ready to pay what Levy is asking? Doesn’t help not being in the CL. Until we have the new ground and hopefully not a decade of paying it off then we have been truly punching above our weight bearing in mind the wages league table/ stadia capacity table/football club turnover as the original Sky 4 plus City’s wages heavily outperform us. So the sooner it is announced the better.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks P. Nesta and Christian Spur for your comments.

    I must say I didn’t follow the Tottenham bid for using the Olympic stadium that much (not obsessed enough I think 😉 ) but was this also to use it temporary? Or if the Tottenham bid would have been accepted would it have meant that Tottenham would have moved permanently out of North London?
    I think West Ham will move permanently as their old ground will be used for new houses.

  • P.Nesta

    Walter

    The Olympic bid was serious, and if accepted THFC would almost certainly have moved there.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks P. Nesta.
    I thought so but wasn’t sure. After all they tried to block the stadium being given to West Ham so it must have been serious.
    Just out of curiosity again wouldn’t a temporary ground share with West Ham not be a possibility while building? But maybe after the “troubles” surrounding the bid this isn’t really on the cards?

  • P.Nesta

    Walter

    WHU have sold/selling the ground to developers, THFC were too late in their bid, so it wasn’t an option to share.

  • andy bishop

    There was always a contradiction lying at the heart of Chapman. As Huddersfield manager, he frequently reiterated the fact that spending large sums of money on players or stadiums was “a regrettable part of football.” He also believed that the status of footballers as professionals should preferably be avoided. Yet no other manager spent so much (comparatively) on players or ground improvements until the Premiership era dawned. George Male claimed: “Above all, Chapman was a showman. Everything – spending money included – came second to his team putting on a fantastic show.”

    Read more at http://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/what-herbert-chapman-did-highbury#bw3v0ZiXBMGgR2ZR.99

  • Jax

    Walter.
    Not to forget that the Olympic Stadium bid was part financed with £27 million of ratepayers money which wasn’t returned after the failure. They would also have received the same (free money) as West Ham are now receiving to convert it to a football stadium (I heard £150 million). It’s these sort of things that make you so proud of the way that Arsenal do their business.

  • ARSENAL 13

    spurs are spurs ….They missed the most important part of this article.

    “Joe Lewis does not work like the benefactors of Man City or Chelsea, and he looks for a profit – or at least he always has done before. That could mean a quick sale after the ground is built, possibly to a benefactor, or the use of front loaded sponsorship money to pay off the loans.

    Now that is what Arsenal had – and as we know we have only just come out of that arrangement. And it has been painful, with money very seriously limited when it comes to transfers.”

    Have spurs missed the bus?????

  • DavyD

    I will try to answer some of the authors questions in the article.

    There is only one property on the new stadium site that THFC have not aquired, that is Archway Steel. The CPO was served (and granted) on this property but requires the ratification from Eric Pickles – which (rather unacceptably) has taken the best part of a year so far.

    ENIC have recently created a new subsidary (TH Properties) and used this to purchase from Spurs the ancilary land and property that is not directly required for the stadium development. This includes the phase 1 development (Supermarket, offices, etc) and also the properties that THFC had previously purchased on the West side of Tottenham High road. The sale of those assets resulted in Tottenham becoming practically debt free. This means that THFC have been able to utilise their previous property purchases and the phase 1 development to be able to pay for all of the land required for the new stadium, along with the design, planning costs and build costs so far. In addition to the costs associated with the stadium build (so far) having been paid off, the new training ground costs have also now been paid off.

    This has put THFC in very good financial shape to press ahead with the remaining phases of the project (assuming the CPO is ratified). The “stadium only” development has been estimated at £200 to £250 million. This cost will have to be covered by naming rights, potential profits on the phase 3 residential development and (if necessary) loans. Interestingly enough ENIC have just provided an unsecured loan of £40 million to THFC with its use being related to the stadium project. The loan will be converted to equity at a later date. Could this loan be for the balance of what Spurs cannot raise from naming rights and selling off the phase 3 development perhaps?!?

    I think the reason why THFC have not yet stated where the money is coming from is because they cannot do so until the CPO is ratified, any appeals are complete and the tenders for the construction phase are in and decided upon. It would be at this point that any naming rights partner could be announced and the full project funding become clear.

    In terms of who the naming rights sponsor may be. I think it may well be telling that THFC and AIA have recently agreed a 5 year shirt sponsorship deal – as this will take things past the stadium development stage and also potentially cover the first 2 or 3 years that Spurs are playing in the new stadium. I think we’ll be hearing more about the AIA deal in the near future.

    To address your point about the fans being significantly closer to the pitch at the new WHL than at The Emirates. There are different stipulations in terms of minimum distance from the pitch for different competitions. I think that the Emirates complies with the FIFA stipulation that would enable it to host a World Cup final. There are different (lower) stipulations from the Premier league and also UEFA. In order to host a Champions League final a stadium has to be a ‘UEFA Elite 5 Star Stadium’. The elite 5 star stadium criteria are: that the stadium must be all-seated with a minimum capacity of 30,000 and at least 22,500 seats under cover, the playing surface must be 105 metres x 68 metres in width and entirely fence-free, other requirements are along the lines of the number of TV Studios, size of dressing room, CCTV, etc. The new THFC pitch and stadium dimensions would comply with the UEFA Elite 5 Star Stadium rules so the stadium would be eiligible for CL matches or a Europa League/Champs League final. Personally I am happy to make the trade of having the stands closer to the pitch but never be able to host a World Cup final (as the chance of doing so is so remote anyway).

    The earlier THFC bid for the Olympic stadium was for Spurs to play there permanently…. Well actually it was to knock it down and build an 80,000 capacity football stadium there for THFC and then pay to develop the existing Crystal Palace athletics stadium to a modern 15,000 facility.

    The recent (rumoured) THFC bid for West Ham’s current stadium was to allow THFC to play there for one season while development of the new stadium in Tottenham was completed.

    Discussions are also ongoing with the FA regarding the use of Wembley. If this happens then for many games (perhaps all games) capacity would be restricted to the lower two tiers and approx 50,000. Utilising another venue for a season will make the build at WHL easier, faster and cheaper. However the club will have to do their sums to work out the difference between retaining all it’s own revenue using WHL and then a part completed new stadium or having to pay rent/share receipts with the FA at Wembley. There are other stories that the MK Dons stadium is apparently also being discussed as a temporary home for Spurs.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I wish Spurs well with their new stadium project. I suppose my only problem with any club, anywhere, building stadia is the possibility of the use of public funds. Fundamentally, I don’t buy in to the notion that the average tax payer, who may not be a Premier League football supporter, (or Olympic games supporter, whatever) gains from these projects given what I have seen about the governance of these sports (FIFA, IOC, et. al) and how they interract and buy off support from local and national governments.

  • Micheal Ram

    Totties are day dreaming again. Wembley stadium pitch is horrible because of frequent rugby plays. Besides, its a national stadium. If a club can own it, then why not sell to Arsenal earlier instead of selling to FA? More conspiracy theories. The way some clubs are behaving just in order to gain something is really embarrassing. No club will ever build a self-finance stadium and stay in CL for 10 years straight ever again. Certainly not with an attitude like that.

  • colario

    During the war Arsenal unable to play at Highbury played at WHL. If THFC needs temporary accommodation surely its an opportunity for us to return the good deed and allow them to play their competitive first team games at the EMs.

    From a supporter point of view the theory is horrible for both clubs however for THFC supporter it would be practical as our ground is the nearest to their ground so the their fans will not have to travel as far as they would have to travel to the other grounds referred to here. For once the fans would benefit.

  • nicky

    @colario,
    Couldn’t agree more.
    Arsenal were appreciative of ground sharing with Spurs in WW2.
    My only reservation would be the effect on the immaculate playing surface at the Emirates as a result of a game every week.

  • Mandy Dodd

    DavyD, thanks for the informative update. MK Dons as a temporary home? That is quite a distance?
    Use the Wembley pitch and Spurs will soon take over from us at the top of the injury league. In fact, unless that pitch has improved , not sure it could take games week in week out.Would not be at all surprised if business heads at both clubs would consider a temp ground share, may be a hard sell on both sides though

  • Clarky

    Nice point colario, in fact we actually helped you out of financial difficulties around the time of WWI, buying a share of Arsenal and later giving most back for free. Wartime spirit and that.

    Not too sure where Michael Ram is coming from as no one mentioned buying Wembley. Nothing embarrassing I can see with our stadium process except the time taken due to things beyond our control, like the difficulty with the steel firm. I believe this is why we considered the Olympic stadium as it was a lot easier.

    It also forced some important decisions on infrastructure as the City of London and Borough of Haringey played selective blindness to the underfunded and run down Tottenham area. The riots also played a part, forcing the council and city to provide massive redevelopment funding for an area that had been purposely neglected.

    I think the North London Development Project could be a shining example as to how a club should interact with the local community, if it all comes off. New housing, educational facilities, community facilities and commercial properties will be created to invigorate a community desperately in need of external funding and someone to care.

    Our financial position is secure and rest assured with Lewis and Levy the funding will be done in a financially and commercially viable way. I’m sure there will be some impact on transfer funds for a while but hopefully there is enough asset value in the current squad to keep paying for transfers with existing player sales, as it has for a few years, keeping the net outlay to a minimum and you may have seen, we turned a 1.5m profit after spending 100m+ on players (don’t get me started in whether the money was spent well though).

    ENIC (Lewis and Levy’s holding company) may well end up selling the club once the stadium is built but I believe they will leave us in a financially secure position with a state of the art stadium to call home. There will be pains sling the way as Arsenal experienced following their stadium development but as you guys have seen, in the long run it ends up in a more financially secure position.

    Ps, to the author of the article, great to see a balanced and mostly sensible opinion from a Gooner. Fair play.

  • Sukebe

    All best wishes for THFC new stadium, may the competition rises… 🙂

    Btw where is rupert and the gank’s noise?