By Tony Attwood
On 26 October 2009, Daniel Levy stated that Tottenham intended to move into the partially built new stadium for the start of the 2012–13 season with the final 56,250-seat venue ready for 2013/14.
On 23 May 2013, I raised a point about Tottenham’s new ground which had as we knew by then been delayed in its development, in terms of the funding, on which little had been said. There were suggestions of government co-funding, a lot of talk about investment from the owner, and my thought that bank borrowing in the style of Arsenal was the most likely.
Thereafter, to many cries of derision, there were further assertions that Tottenham would not follow Arsenal’s route with years of austerity. Indeed the point was made subsequently that Tottenham, uniquely, made a profit on transfers while everyone else made a loss. A valid point in recent years.
Tottenham’ interesting web site on the new stadium doesn’t have any mention of funding that I can see, although I may have missed it. But there have been a number of mentions of bank funding, most particularly a snippet in the Guardian in October 2013:
The full extent of public contribution to Tottenham Hotspur’s planned new stadium project can be revealed for the first time, with the club positioned to benefit from controversial council plans to develop an area opposite the new ground involving the demolition of existing local businesses.
Spurs have bought substantial land in that area, now proposed for residential development, and recently moved ownership of the property offshore, raising the possibility of avoiding corporate capital gains tax when it is sold at a profit – although Spurs deny the transfer was motivated by tax avoidance.
The development, proposed by Haringey council, follows a renegotiation of Spurs’ planning permission last year, when the club was released from a £16m commitment to improve transport and community infrastructure, and to build 50% affordable housing in the apartment blocks planned on the site of the current ground.
Tottenham’s chairman, Daniel Levy, argued that those requirements were making it difficult to raise the £400m necessary to build the new stadium, and called for the wider development to boost land values and investor confidence in the Tottenham project.
Now it is the final paragraph that is of interest here – the difficulty of raising the money. It was the first public statement I saw to the effect that Tottenham were borrowing money to build the stadium. In fact by the time of doing my last article on the subject we were down to £350m bank lending for Tottenham, which they have arranged, following the relaxation in requirements of which Mr Levy is reported as speaking about in the Guardian piece above.
What is new is that Mauricio Pochettino has said Tottenham Hotspur are in a “very tough period” because of their new stadium project, in an interview with the media in which questions were raised as to why the club did not sign the back-up striker that some Tottenham supporters had wanted in January.
Of the media meeting, the Guardian said, “During a five-minute monologue, which was without precedent from his time in English football, Pochettino went into great detail about the factors that had shaped the club’s recent approach to the transfer market, during which time they bought Shilow Tracey from Ebbsfleet United, and sold Andros Townsend (Newcastle United, £12m), Kenny McEvoy (York City), Shaq Coulthirst (Peterborough), and Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen). Other prices were undisclosed.
He said: “I have read a lot about Arsène Wenger saying the toughest period for Arsenal was in the period that they built their stadium and I think you need to know, and the people need to know, that this is a very tough period for us. We need to be careful because we need to arrive at the new stadium in very good condition to try to fight for everything, and try to show that we are one of the best clubs and teams in the world.
“Our people need to understand that Tottenham changed their vision, not in terms of the football but in the way that we take decisions. For us, it is very important to keep the balance and find the right player, not only the strikers but in different positions.
“You need to realise that to improve our squad today is a very difficult job. It’s easier to find different names on the market, to pay the money and to bring players but it’s not the way that we decided upon 18 months ago. It’s easier for me to say: ‘OK, we bring this and this, and this player but if we don’t believe that can improve our squad, why do it?”