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Why we must applaud Tottenham’s plans for a new ground

Transforming yourself is important.  You feel down, but you have to go out and play football or sell computers or write wonderful pieces of literature – so you have to reinvent yourself – and then those around you.

The master at this art is Mr Leavy at Tottenham Hotspur.   The masters at not doing this are most Arsenal supporters.

Tottenham are now created as the Team of the Future who will win things this year, and march forward into a new stadium.  Arsenal are the failures of the present, unable to mount a sustained challenge for anything, doomed to an eternity of nothingness.

If we just pause and compare Tottenham’s plans for a new 60,000 capacity ground, with Arsenal’s there are some interesting points to note.

Tottenham’s great achievements of the past few years are a League Cup win, and getting planning permission for a training ground.  Oh and they also got into Europe 3 times, and sacked the managers who did it.

When Arsenal proposed the move to the Ems, they did so on the back of quite a bit of success (I won’t bore you with details of doubles and things) and quite a bit of research.  For example, in order to prove that they could fill the Ems they played Euro games in Wembley for 2 years – and packed it with 75,000 supporters.

They got planning permission, and then worked with the local transport system to improve access to the ground.

They also worked on the basis that if they got 50,000 average to each home game, and played in the Champs League once in every four years, they could pay the mortgage.

Tottenham have not done this sort of work – no point using Wembley because they don’t play in the Champs League.  No point building a “Champs League once every four years” in because they don’t ever play in the Champs League.

Arsenal paid for the ground on mortgage loans – like you and I pay for our houses.  This is money at low fixed rates of interest.  It is hard to get – and Arsenal only got the current deal after showing the lenders after one year that they could fill the ground for every game. So even with all Arsenal’s research and success they still had to play in front of full houses for a year, to get the terrific deal they now have.

And that was before the credit crunch.  Mr Levy of course will have none of that – simply because he can’t have any of that – there is no cheap mortgage money around for something as speculative as a new Tottenham groud.   His stadium will be paid for using “sponsorship” money.

So what about transport?  Arsenal has 3 underground stations serving it – and still permission for the ground went down to the very last health and safety meeting.  Tottenham meanwhile is a notoriously awful ground to get to.   And remember planning permission will only be granted if the police and safety authorities think that 60,000 nutters can be moved in and out of the area safely.

But the question the finance people will ask is exactly the same as Arsenal.  Will they get 60,000 for each game?   Tottenham says yes, because they have a waiting list of 20,000 people for season tickets.  I find that hard to believe, but let’s give them the benefit of that.   I think I am right in saying that the current ground has 22,000 season tickets, so that would mean that they could sell about 35,000 seasons for the ground (some always vanish when it is time to pay up).  But that would then leave them with no waiting list – so as fans drift away (for example after a poor season) they would not be selling out.

And then, how much of the remaining 25,000 would they sell each week?

A few years ago, during my divorce, I had to give up my season ticket as part of what we middle class divorcees like to call “financial restructuring”, and since then I’ve used my 2 silver memberships at Arsenal.   But I went back on the season ticket waiting list in 2000, and I am still waiting.  Even after much of the waiting list was removed by moving to the Ems I am still waiting.

I suspect that Tottenham in the EPL could get 40,000 a week, although in the Championship they would probably be closer to 30,000, dropping to 20,000 if it wasn’t going well or they were playing Barnsley.

And they are trying to do this in a very difficult market.

But what is so clever about it is that an away draw against a team whose supporters think they are having a naff season, and the announcement of an idea (the stadium is nothing more than that – the money is not in place, nor is the planning permission) is cleverly transformed into a reason to be cheerful.   The fact is that the ground is unlikely ever to be built, because no one is likely to lend them the money, and the transport system in that part of London is awful.

But even if they did, they wouldn’t fill it, and so they wouldn’t be able to pay for it.

So they would go bust, and vanish from the horizon – possibly emerging as TH (2009) Ltd, with a 10 point deduction and no new stadium.   I personally welcome this and so hope that they do build the new stadium as quickly as possible.

At Arsenal, total financial stability, the best ground in the country, sell-outs at every game, and a stunning young team results in moaning and groaning.

We, the Arsenal supporters, have done this.  We’ve written our team down, claimed disaster, said its all over.  Now the team themselves are doing it.

All that happened was that we drew with Tottenham.

That’s not disaster or the end of the world.  It’s simply a draw with Tottenham.  We’ve had them before and the world didn’t end.  (At least I don’t think it did).

7 comments to Why we must applaud Tottenham’s plans for a new ground

  • Kevin

    Tony – re: the 20,000 waiting list. I got this from their website – every single one of their paying members who is not a season ticket holder is put on the season ticket waiting list, regardless of whether or not they would want a season. To me, this means THFC have a paying membership of 42,000 but they want to build a 60,000 seater, whereas Arsenal’s paying membership was already well above 60,000 when plans were drawn up for Ashburton Grove. Right now we have 40,000+ on the waiting list but our equivalent to their list is the entire Silver & Red membership (100,000+ I think). By this logic, we could surely build a 160,000+ seater!

    If THFC are selling out 36,237 at present, virtually all of the 14,237 spare seats must be getting sold to people on that 20,000-strong list. By my maths that means up to, but no more than, 5763 disappointed members for current home games, assuming every member wants to go to every home game. So if they did manage to sell all 42,000 season tickets, they’d have 18,000 seats available but less than 6,000 paid-up members wanting them. Increased availability definitely attracts new members and general sales but even so, that’s a hell of an increase. A wet Wednesday with Wigan (sorry!) and they’ll be lucky to be 2/3 full.

    Roll on bankruptcy!

  • Kevin

    PS My brother is trying to convince me that my second paragraph was rubbish and I think he might be right. 22,000 existing plus maximum of 20,000 leaves zero currently paying members to take the 18,000 extra seats. Either way, without a huge and consistent improvement in their results they’re screwed.

  • don't believe the hype

    Great article Tony. It really ticks me off the way some Arsenal fans have such sky high expectations that nothing the team does is ever good enough. One thing I envy the tiny totts for is the optimism of their fan base. Year after year they are about to break into the top 4, year after year they don’t do it, but it doesn’t stop their fans singing the mantra and backing their team. Why can’t we do that, when we’ve got far more reasons to be optimistic?

    It’s about time more of our so called ‘supporters’ put as much energy into backing the team as they do into slagging them off. That support should also not be predicated on silverware because there are no guarantees in life. All we can ask the team to do is to give 100% every game and continue to improve. This is not the time for the faint hearted, this is the time to get behind the boys. Yes, be upset about the disappointing result, but don’t destroy whatever confidence they have left with a tirade of abuse and negativity.

  • N5 Gooner

    I can’t believe what i’m reading here, if you mugs admire the swamp rats so much, disappear over there and soak up the optimism. I don’t think you will be missed and the seats you occupy could be taken by proper supporters.
    You JCL’s make me sick.

  • Dagenham Dave

    N5 Gooner, I think you are living in the dark ages. We had to move on and get a different kind of fanbase with a stadia worthy for them. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to take my wife and daughters to the Ems without having to put up with the yobs of yesteryear, their associated bad language and loutish behavior. I think the stewards do a fantastic job.You and your kind can live in the past if you like but, thankfully, Arsenal now has a new type of culture and fanbase about it.

  • i have to agree with Dagenham on that,the time of the yobs has gone and its made evrything miles better and we have to get behind the team more,become the 11th player if you like cause we all know if the supporters are behind the team and the atmospher is good then they play better.but if we get on the backs and pull them down we cant be surprised to see a drop in results.

    i mean how would you feel if some one was shouting your crap and sub him or booing you at your work am sure you couldnt concentrate and your peromance will drop too

  • Yido01

    £318m in debt what financial stability