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Tottenham admit that 2017 opening of new stadium “unlikely”

Tottenham Hotspur, have announced that, as previously speculated here and on many other sites, and in the press, they are to move out of their ground at 748 High Road Tottenham, but not for a while – following another delay in the re-construction of their stadium.

Tottenham has had similar delays to those experienced by Arsenal although the co-operation of the local councils has been very different.

In 1997, Arsenal went to Islington Council with an application for an expansion of Highbury, which was rejected.   In 2000, thoroughly rebuffed by the local area to which they bring so much business and rates, Arsenal bought an industrial and waste disposal estate in Ashburton Grove in 2000.

A year later the council gave approval to build a stadium on the site by just one vote,  Work was completed in 2006 at a cost of £390 million.

Tottenham undoubtedly watched the expansion of Arsenal’s ground by 57% in terms of size and many, many more times than that in terms of income and a year after Arsenal moved in, Tottenham announced that it was looking at ways to expand the ground.

In its 2007/8 Interim Financial Statement it said a final decision would  be taken in early 2008.   It also considered moving into the Olympic Stadium, The club had also considered a move to a new site.   This project was fraught with problems with three people charged with fraud over the bid in 2012 and with three men convicted of spying and phone hacking over the affair one year later.

Meanwhile the club looked at using the Wingate industrial estate for a stadiuim, and in December 2008 the new stadium’s design was revealed.  In October 2009, Daniel Levy announced that Tottenham would start playing in the stadium in August 2012, even though it would not be finished by then.

However it was not until July 2014, almost two years after the proposed opening, that Tottenham got a compulsory purchase order on the remaining land.   In order to try and reduce delays further Tottenham announced that instead of continuing playing at its ground in the High Road it would move out for a season.  Brighton, Wembley, Ipswich and Milton Keynes were among the grounds mentioned.

Now today the club has said, “We should like to advise supporters that it is highly unlikely we shall be able to open the new stadium at the start of the 2017-2018 season.

“The club has revised its construction programme in order to take the shortest possible time to construct. This now therefore involves the club moving away from the Lane during construction for a period of one season, to start at the beginning of a season in order to comply with Premier League rules. We are currently undertaking due diligence on alternative stadium options.”

This further delay is due to Archway Sheet Metal Works Ltd, the final land owner whose land is needed for the new ground to be built, appealing against the Secretary of State’s decision in the High Court.   Of this Tottenham have said, “We remain committed to finding the earliest possible resolution and shall continue to engage with Archway regarding a possible agreement reached by private treaty.”

One of the issues that Tottenham raised early in the process was that they would build a ground in which the spectators were much closer to the pitch than fans are at the Emirates.

This seemed a controversial concept (although none of the newspapers that covered the move mentioned it) because of the fact that new grounds have to meet certain regulations about distance from the pitch.  It has been speculated that Tottenham have tried, through private conversations with the League, to argue that the new ground is in fact just the old ground facing the other way.

This is an issue that Liverpool have faced, but they seem to have got permission to keep fans close to the pitch.

But for Tottenham it seems to mean 2017/18 playing home games on tour, and then 2018/19 opening up New White Hart Lane or whatever it is to be called.

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34 comments to Tottenham admit that 2017 opening of new stadium “unlikely”

  • GoingGoingGooner

    We had delays at the start of our stadium build so, although it is annoying and costly (and for Gooners comical), it is a bit inevitable. And, there will be disruption to the normal routine at WHL; half empty Wembly, or small MK Dons with distance added (or other). But in the long run, Spurs will have a good stadium…unlike what is there now. I don’t think people choose Arsenal over Spurs because of our nice stadium or will do the reverse when Spurs’ stadium is finally built. It doesn’t bother me that they are building a new stadium because of supposed new revenue. Their owner seems to be subsidizing them already. Good luck to them…it is a gamble; it will affect things for the next decade.

  • Great post as always. Will they be able to sustain a top-five premiership status while the construction is on-going? Will they match our feat of staying in Europe year after year, endlessly? How will this project and the financial implications impact on their on-field performance?

  • Matt Clarke

    I need to be sick – just seen on local news that Spuds might use MK Stadium as temporary home, confirming what you say Tony.
    Yeuch!
    Only consolation is that there are so many Arsenal fans here in MK that they might turn up to support the away team 🙂

  • insideright

    Having been lambasted when I wrote a piece on this subject a couple of months ago I must admit I smiled when I read this report and saw that the first of my predictions had come true.
    Let me just ask reading Spurs fans again –
    Do you really think that West Ham are going to enter the Olympic Stadium next year in a blaze of glory, filling it week in, week out, maximising the financial success of their windfall and quickly paying off the Olympic legacy debt?
    If the answer is no (and they’ll be given a year to prove it one way or another) do you not think that the powers that be will not go back to THFC and offer them a relatively cheap groundshare option at said stadium?
    And do you not think that Spurs won’t bite their hands off?
    Every delay increases the chances of that happening. This is yet another one and stand by for more.

  • Spurs; half empty bigger stadium and no europe, a drain on finances, an attractive proposition for anyone. North London’s equivalent of Leeds United?

  • Jerry

    Good read as usual. ESPN had an article also saying that the Spurs have not ruled out sharing Emirates Stadium in their rental season! I find that crazy and hope Arsenal charges some crazy rental fees if they do ask.

  • colario

    I have heard that Spurs are prepared to pay the cost of Archway Sheet Metal Works Ltd, moving to a new site. However Archway Sheet Metal Works Ltd, want Spurs to pay for a new building on ths site and Spurs have refused. Is this true?

    I’ve emailed the company several times but no reply.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    re: Spurs sharing our grounds.

    I believe that Tottenham and Arsenal have a better working relationship that their fans do. Business and money trump emotion and the heartfelt dislike that fans have for each other helps business. Arsenal are not going to be able to stop Tottenham from building a stadium so receiving rent from Spurs while their stadium is being built would not be a bad thing from that point of view. However, their fans would heartily dislike this proposition (and I can’t say that I like it either)and the likelihood of them doing damage to the seats and whatnot would be huge.

  • Mark

    And how exactly is this story interesting in any way?

  • Vikrant Dogra

    Perhaps they could move to South London for a season??

  • AB

    Should we offer to share ?

  • JimB

    Spurs fan here:

    @ the article’s author – yes, there are regulations governing minimum distances between the stands and the pitch and governing the steepness of the tiers etc. But Spurs’ stadium, as designed by KSS, fully complied with those regulations. It’s just that, unfortunately for you, because of Arsenal’s need for a 60K capacity, coupled with the height restriction that Islington imposed on your stadium, Arsenal could not accommodate the required number of seats without the front row being significantly further from the pitch than the minimum required distance. Likewise, the rake of the tiers are shallower than the maximum allowed. By the way, KSS are no longer on the job for Spurs. Populous replaced them over a year ago and have drawn up a new design. It hasn’t been made public yet, though, so we have no idea as to distance between stand and pitch, rake of tiers etc.

    @ GoingGoingGooner – Joe Lewis has indeed recently subsidised Spurs to the tune of £40m. That’s because, over the past few years, Spurs have built a new £45m training centre and have spent the best part of £100 million on buying up property to accommodate the new stadium and progressing the plans. Given that Spurs have had to go to the banks for a significant amount of borrowing, they couldn’t already be carrying a large amount of debt (albeit that the club’s net asset position is very healthy). So along with the sale of the first element of the enabling development (supermarket and university technical college building), Lewis’ £40m – which will be converted into equity – has cleared Spurs’ previously existing debt. Other than for that special circumstance, though, Spurs spends only what it earns.

    @ insideright – I can understand why you might like the idea of Spurs relocating to east London permanently! But there’s no chance of that happening now. Thankfully. Many reasons. Spurs were only originally interested in the Olympic site if they could build their own, football specific stadium. That’s principally why their bid never stood a chance. As it happened, even after Tottenham lost the bid, the OPLC, West Ham and Newham had to go back to the drawing board and start the process anew – the result being that West Ham are now tenants of a frankenstein of a stadium with paltry corporate hospitality capacity. That’s maybe acceptable to them because they have big debts and no hope of being able to afford a new stadium of their own. It was the Olympic stadium or stay at Upton Park, burdened by debt. Spurs, by contrast, will want a big corporate hospitality capacity. Equally importantly, there is no way that Spurs would wish to be tenants. Lastly, unlike West Ham, Spurs have another option – the option that they are pursuing. You’re entitled to doubt it but, if you happen to find yourself in N17 in the near future (I realise that the prospect is anathema to you!), you will see that there is already a huge amount of site preparation underway where the new stadium will be: diggers; grab lorries; earthworks over a large area; mountains of dirt and rubble.

    @ mystic – again, I understand why the idea of Spurs doing a Leeds Utd might be appealing to you! But you ought to realise that neither Joe Lewis nor Daniel Levy are a Peter Ridsdale. They actually have financial savvy. You probably also ought to know that Spurs have certain advantages that Arsenal didn’t have when you built your stadium. For starters, Spurs’ revenues now are already some £50m per annum more than Arsenal’s were when they began construction of the Emirates. Secondly, Spurs are currently debt free and, but for this pesky business that has caused this new delay, own all the property they need. They will not have to spend £60 million relocating a major council facility, as Arsenal did. Thirdly, Arsenal undersold their brand when negotiating their deal with the Emirates. No way that Levy will do so. Lastly, borrowing costs are still at an historic low. So, all in all and inclusive of the big growth in stadium related income, there is no danger – short of relegation – that Spurs will find themselves in financial difficulty as a consequence of building the stadium.

  • colario

    Once again the media and every other ‘know all’ are going for the ’emotional’ part of the situation and not the real issue.

    The real isue is why? How as this state of affiars come about?

    Have spurs not made a good offr to Archway Sheet Metal Works Ltd or have they made a good offer which Archway Sheet Metal Works Ltd have refused? This is the real issue here.

    Or perhaps behiond the scenes we have two sets of lawyers making money for themselves!

  • Robl

    @ mark, sorry, we’ll get more pictures for you next time, I appreciate those pesky word things can can a bit confusing.

  • Mick

    According to Talkshite this morning Lewis has got the club up for sale for £1 billion.

  • blacksheep63

    thanks to @JimB for all those responses. It shows we can have grown up discussions on this site

  • the mickster

    Interesting point of view Jim B, quick question, would you rather have a season at The Ems / Olympic Park or Wembley ?

  • Nelson Wong

    To be honest, I do not like to see Spur screwing up big time in the project.

    On the other hand, it just show how difficult it is and how Arsenal’s work aren’t appreciated by the media and strangely by the fans.

    Some say naively say Spurs would be on schedule and everything is smooth. They seem to think that Asrenal’s stadium project was a poorly done special case and other clubs can avoid the problems. Its not. Every similar project would have to face a similar set of problems, if not more.

    Arsenal went in frist so their lessons should be learn by others and their work should have be some what smoother and better (such as seating!!!) except for things like buying up land which can take ages depending on individual cases.

    Good luck to them and let’s see how it plays out.

  • ClockEndRider

    Mick,
    I could put my house up for sale for £1bn.
    Question is, would anyone pay it….sounds like a kite flying exercise is being undertaken. Can’t see the price being more than half that mentioned.

  • @ Mark

    “And how exactly is this story interesting in any way?”

    So you don’t find it interesting; fine. Others do, as the comments show.

    Why do you bother to comment on a story that you find uninteresting?

  • Mick

    You could well be right ClockEndRider.
    Incidentally does anyone know, has Joe Lewis ever actually been to a Spurs game, has he ever spoken in public about his team? He makes Silent Stan appear like a veritable chatterbox.

  • JimB

    @ colario – we don’t know exactly what offer Spurs made to Archway. But it seems reasonable to guess that we made the same offer to them that we made to the other property owners on the Wingate trading estate. They all reached an agreement with Spurs long ago. And I can’t believe that they would have accepted any offer that wasn’t at least reasonable. So it seems likely that this is a case of Archway holding out for a bonanza – as is fully their right, of course. But it is a risk for them. They’ll face a big legal bill if they lose (theirs and Haringey’s) – and the odds are that they will lose.

    @ Mick – I’m highly sceptical about that Joe Lewis story. Seems like mere opportunistic speculation by Darren Lewis and the Mirror on the back of this stadium CPO story. Truth is that, under ENIC, Spurs has always been for sale at the right price. Catch being that that right price is very high!. Not £1 billion high, though. That’s just a figure plucked out of Darren Lewis’ arse.

    @ blacksheep63 – I hate Arsenal, the club, of course. And the fans collectively. That’s my duty as a Spurs fan, isn’t it? Vice versa for you too, I hope. But taken individually, I have as many friends – good friends – who are Arsenal fans as I do friends who are Spurs. And, for what it’s worth, I also happen to know plenty of Spurs fans who are utter ****s! So I can’t be arsed with the kind of puerile, tit for tat between Spurs and Arsenal fans that masquerades as banter on so many forums. And when I’ve visited this site previously, I’ve always found it mercifully free of the aforementioned. That having been said, of course, **** off back to Woolwich, you gooner ****s. 😉

    @ themickster – Wembley is my preferred choice and that of most other Spurs fans. We’d only be allowed to use the lower two tiers (combined capacity about 50K). But that’s a good thing because 90K would be far too big. The Olympic stadium would be acceptable – after all, Spurs fans (by virtue of there being more of us) have probably paid for more of it than West Ham fans! And whisper it quietly but I’d also far rather that we play “home” games at the Emirates than at Milton bloody Keynes, Brighton, Ipswich or any other non London location. Can’t see that happening, though!

    @ Nelson Wong – you’re absolutely right that Arsenal have pioneered the undertaking a major stadium project in the UK (rather than one of those cheap, identikit, meccano stadiums). And you’ve consequently provided a successful template for other clubs to follow, if they can. They should be able to learn from the difficulties you had to overcome and from the few, inevitable mistakes that you made. But, as you say, there are some issues that remain as tricky and time consuming now as those that you faced ten years or so ago – property acquisition being one such.

  • Gooner S

    @Mark

    Its interesting for all sort of reasons.

    From a footballing perspective and how the game is changing and evolving, how finance is impacting the performance of clubs and how clubs are responding to these pressures. Also from a personal interest point of view; half of my family support Spurs and the other half Arsenal. Half of my family are interested in this and concequently so am I. I’m also keen to see how SPurs perform whilst this is going on and how their support react during this period. It’s all pretty interesting.

  • finsbury

    JimB

    There was a lot of talk about construction schedules. Does this all mean that a main contractor has finally been appointed since that initial proposal in 2008? The site is cleared but have the i’s been dotted and the t’s crossed on the commitment to build?
    Or will this const. schedule be subject to agreement and approval with the main contractor (the builder!) following a tender process which still has to happen?

  • It is commonplace for readers to comment on articles here by saying that they are not interesting, that we should stick to Arsenal, or that we are over-interested in Tottenham, Liverpool or whoever else the article is about.

    The point for me, as publisher, is that the banner has said, virtually from day one all those years ago, that we cover “Football News from an Arsenal perspective”. It seems a fair enough thing to do.

  • JimB

    @ finsbury – as far as I’m aware, the contract has yet to be put out to tender and no constructor has officially been appointed. However, in practice, I’d say that there is a clear frontrunner who might well already have been closely involved in the planning of the build.

    McLaren Construction were employed by Spurs to build the new training centre. They were subsequently also employed by Spurs to build the new Sainsbury’s / University Technical College building – the enabling development just to the north of the new stadium site. They are still there now, finishing off the UTC but also engaged in a serious amount of site preparation for the stadium itself. By all accounts, they enjoy a very good relationship with the club and Spurs have been delighted by the work they have done and the efficiency with which they have done it. They’re probably not financially quite at the level to take on a job as big and expensive as the new stadium, though, so there have been rumours that they will team up with Spanish construction giant, FCC.

    I’d be surprised if any other constructor gets the contract but, if that happens, my money would be on Sir Robert McAlpine. They did a great job on the Emirates and there are one or two senior people on Spurs’ stadium project team who were previously also on Arsenal’s.

  • Mick

    JimB
    Looks like you are right to be sceptical about the £1 billion Spurs for sale story, just heard on the radio the club have rubbished any such reports.

  • finsbury

    Thanks JimB

    So, still no tender. Just a CGI render. Good luck with the stadium.

    I hope you don’t mind if I don’t offer the same luck to the developers’ plans for the surrounding area, I’ve not been impressed with their proposals or conduct and that applies to the local council and MP too who have not been as open with local interests as they could have been, but that all takes us beyond the football (or does it!): whilst once in the area I bumped into someone conducting a survey on behalf of the developers, not many would have realised who he was working for. And after a quick chat back then I’m happy to have this understanding.

  • finsbury

    To clarify:
    The developers proposals for the surrounding area were being drawn up a long long time before the council decided they would inform those who might be affected, only because it is a legal requirement.

    However people are not dumb and they’ve been aware or made aware long before the proposals were announced that their business’ were in danger.

    I expect that Archway Metal (a good Islingtonian name I thought!) will not be the only well established & successful company that go to court here (not affecting the stadium but on the other lucrative developments) I don’t understand why they should have to pay for a new building whilst a developer makes a profit on their old property that they are forced out of, and I’m not sure the judges did either! Hence the ‘unexpected’ delay?

  • finsbury

    Corr.:
    …and only then because it is a legal…

  • finsbury

    btw

    I think one reason there is a slope on the Emirates pitch is because of the future-proof design of the new Arsenal stadium.

    Perhaps one day someone will pay to improve the local transport links. Highbury station has been improved since 06, maybe the others too. AFC could increase the capacity in two ways: build a new tier on top of the existing top tier removing and adding a new roof.
    And or excavating a new tier below the existing pitch level adding another ten odd thousand below taking the overall capacity with a new top tier will be way over eighty thousand.

    If the club ever decides to expan the new ground, there are possibilities.

  • finsbury

    And in the spirit of balance, I’m quite happy as a local that the ‘Arsenal Tower’ was rejected by Islington Planning. We shall see.

  • Dannywhites

    Jim B thank you for the knowledgable responses to questions posed! It is great to hear reasonable and informed thoughts from a different (Tottenham) perspective. You are the most reasonable opposing ‘fan’ that I have read on many a site!!

  • finsbury

    JimB & Mick

    The club may not be in the middle of an actual negotiation, but it appears a if there is some smoke:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29177759

    Lewis is getting out. Probably selling to his next door neighbour on Gd Caymen, Carlos Kickaball (that’s what he told Joe his name was!)

    Carlos Kickaball™ Lord Sugar, who also once said:

    “Wenger knows the market”