By Tony Attwood
“The chairman of the LLDC, owners of the London Stadium, has resigned after an inquiry was opened into the soaring costs to the taxpayer to run the venue.” The Guardian
“Tottenham have now lost each of their ties at the national stadium – they were beaten 2-1 by Monaco in September”. The Guardian
“Playing home Champions League matches at Wembley is not necessarily all it is cracked up to be. When we did it with Arsenal for a couple of seasons, in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, it turned out to be a nightmare at times. It was classified as a home game but we never felt properly at home. Highbury was our home. That was where we knew exactly what we were doing, how we were preparing, where we felt comfortable without giving it a second thought. At Wembley both teams were away in a sense. Maybe it even gave the away team an advantage.” Ray Parlour in the Guardian.
Yep – it’s the stadium, stupid. New stadia are a problem, indeed as we showed in an earlier piece most of the clubs that get new stadia end up being relegated.
Which raises the question, what did Tottenham expect in going to Wembley to play their Champions League matches? And what do they think will happen next year when (if they continue with their present plans) they will play all their “home” matches at Wembley.
Pochettino said, after the latest defeat, “We can make a lot of excuses but a psychological block with Wembley? If I wanted to make an excuse, I would say yes. But it is not true. Tell me one place better to play than Wembley? We had 85,000 fans watching us and it was embarrassing for me.
“You cannot blame Wembley. We need to show more. We need to put ourselves in front of the mirror and say: ‘Come on, we must improve.’
“The first game at Wembley may have been an accident but to do it again, something must be wrong, and we need to find out what. We are in a bad moment and we need to be critical and honest.
“The problem was not the attitude – it was that we did not show our quality. We are much better than we played today. Maybe it is taking my players time to manage the Premier League and Champions League – the two toughest competitions in the world. It is good to see how we react.”
Which is very honourable and decent. But the fact still is that stadium moves bring problems. Here’s the chart I’ve run before…
|Riverside Stadium||Middlesbrough||1995||Relegated 1997|
|Britannia Stadium||Stoke City||1997||Relegated 1998|
|Reebok Stadium||Bolton Wanderers||1997||Relegated 1998|
|Pride Park Stadium||Derby County||1997||Relegated 2002|
|Stadium of Light||Sunderland||1997||Relegated 1997|
|Madejski Stadium||Reading||1998||Releg to D3 ’98|
|JJB Stadium||Wigan Athletic||1999||Won D3 2003|
|St Mary’s Stadium||Southampton||2001||Relegated 2005|
|KC Stadium||Hull City||2002||Promoted from D3 2005|
|Walkers Stadium||Leicester City||2002||Relegated 2004, returned to win league 2016.|
|Etihad Stadium||Manchester City||2003||Won League 2012|
|Liberty Stadium||Swansea City||2005||Promoted D4 2005|
|Emirates Stadium||Arsenal||2006||Top 4 throughout|
|Cardiff City Stadium||Cardiff City||2009||Won D2 2012, but relegated again.|
Meanwhile London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced an investigation into the rising bill for converting the London Stadium for use by State Aid United.
Laughably the seats have to be stored off-site in a specific configuration to enable them to be put back again, like a giant jigsaw puzzle. It will take over two weeks to do the transformation meaning that there is not enough time to get seats in and out ready for the new season.
Meanwhile the cost of converting the stadium has gone up by a further £51m to £323m. So the total cost to us tax payers is now £752m in total. Very close to the cost of Wembley which was £757m.
And both were paid for in part by British tax payers. Now you know why I call it the Tax Payers’ Stadium, and the club State Aid United.
Naming rights are looking less and less likely as the public mood swings against the stadium and everyone associated with it, from Boris Johnson to Karren Brady and her “make no mistake” comment. Behaviour of people inside the stadium this season has not helped its PR either. The search for a naming rights company has been going on for four years.
Damian Collins MP, chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, has welcome the Mayor’s inquiry and said it should look into the decisions taken by the notorious Rt Hon B Johnson MP. Mr Collins said, “They hoped they would find a use for it afterwards and there was no advance planning. If there had been they would have been much more effective at keeping their options open.”
Meanwhile West Ham still pay £2.5m a year. Tottenham might still be regretting not getting that deal – but at least with Wembley they have the choice of going back there or not.