Will Tottenham and Chelsea bail out bankrupt FA by moving to Wembley?

By Tony Attwood

Owen Gibson in the Observer has reported that the Football Association will save £12m a year after refinancing its Wembley debt.  Another £18m is being saved by making about a third of the FA’s staff redundant as the FA tries to do something, aything, to redeem itself in terms of the world of grassroots football which it abandoned when it took on the notion of building a new, and utterly unnecessary Wembley Stadium – an eternal monument to its own folly.

The national folly cost £757m for another stadium which is not needed.  As it is, England games can be played at Old Trafford, the Emirates and whatever the name is of Newcastle’s stadium.

But most worrying about the new financial arrangements is that they will allow the FA to borrow another £225m to spend on…  what?  More insane bids for the World Cup?  More hiring of aeroplanes to fly members of the royal family and corrupt leaders of international football around the country.

Of course it is not the first time the FA have pulled this trick with Wembley.  They did the same thing in 2008, when to their shock and horror, the innate problems within the banking systems of the west toppled the whole financial structure.   Now the view seems to be, it won’t happen again, so let’s go and borrow more.  And if it does go wrong, hell, we can make all the little people who don’t matter because they just use their salaries to pay their mortgages, redundant.

The FA has a history of gross incompetence and only a maniac throwing around money in a set of gambles that won’t come back to haunt him because he’ll be long gone before the shit hits the fan, would lend money to such an atrocious organisation with such a history of abject failure, as the FA.  That will be the banks then.

The new chief executive of the FA speaks of “a more focused, sustainable FA that maximises investment into football, especially at the lower levels of the game where our support is critical”.  And his explanation as to why the organisation he has taken over has got it so wrong in the past that even Sport England stopped giving it money?  None.

And here’s the really funny bit.  The FA said in a statement that it believes refinancing at more beneficial rates represents a vote of confidence in Wembley’s business model from lenders.   Because?  Because interest rates have gone down since last time Wembley borrowed money.

OK.  Here’s the other side.  Untold believes that the bankers see the FA as a soft touch and are taking them for all they can get.  The press might not like to publish that view, but it is as viable as any other.

In fact the more one looks at the FA’s finances the more it seems that everything – and I mean everything – depends on getting Chelsea and/or Tottenham Hotspur to be tenants for a while.  Now that will need a change of planning permission which restricts the number of games played per year at the stadium.   The local authority has said that it will not give that.  Wembley has said that if they keep the attendances below 50,000 there is no planning permission.  Brent Council disagree.

The NFL has signed a deal with Tottenham to use the rebuilt White Hart Lane ground, but could be persuaded to pull out of that and take matches to Wembley.  Tottenham know they are dependent on Wembley as their alternative home during rebuilding.   It looks like a give and take deal in the making.

The new £300m loan facility to the financially desperate FA is being provided by Barclays, HSBC and Santander, fine and upstanding bankers all.  If the FA can pull in £50 million from Tottenham and Chelsea, the FA will probably be saved financially, and the mantle of the clubs that saved the most disreputable organisation in British football will be with those two forever more.

But the point is this…

What the FA is trying to do is to get both Tottenham and Chelsea to use Wembley at the same time to maximise their profit, and the worry is that in order to maximise their income the FA will bow to pressure not to force the clubs to play all cup matches away from Wembley.

Tottenham are said to be not impressed and are trying to talk to the soon to be State Aid United.  But the State Aid club would make very little by allowing Tottenham in as a tenant for a year, and given that Tottenham initiated league action to try and stop West Ham becoming the State Aid club it will be next year, it seems that West Ham will not play.

Meanwhile the FA continues to fight for its life as its support for Blatter, Platini and the whole edifice of Fifa continues to hang like a chain around its neck.

Not a very encouraging future for English football.

Untold Arsenal

17 Replies to “Will Tottenham and Chelsea bail out bankrupt FA by moving to Wembley?”

  1. Says a fan of a club who recently admitted it was 2 days from its own bankruptcy due to a new stadium any could not pay it’s own players wages.

  2. Good piece – so the alternative for Spurs would be to come to an arrangement to use the Emirates for a year however that can’t happen because of stupidity (even though clubs shared Highbury during World War 2 and WHL during the first world war), so what are Spurs supposed to do? go to MK Dons for a year he says – but that would at a stroke disenfranchise the most vulnerable supporters, i.e those struggling to make ands meet and suddenly be faced with extra fuel or transport costs. I agree with the underlying current of what you are saying i.e. the FA, UEFA and FIFA not being fit and proper guardians of the game but it was Arsenal who along with the other G14 who have foisted that abortion of a tournament the CL which has condemned clubs to overspend on transfers and salaries and for fans to pay ever higher prices.
    The FA and UEFA in particular show no semblance of leadership, sanity or competency. They bleat about financial fair play then preside over a system that doles out the money to only the top clubs anyway thereby turning the top football tournaments into turgid groundhog day affairs.
    And what a level playing field UEFA and the FA set! a system that allows rich clubs to hoover up talent and then to send them out on loan (Chelsea and Man City between them have over 70 players on loan)
    So well done for pointing out that the FA, UEFA and FIFA are corrupt – we all knew it anyway. What would have been more impressive is if you looked at how your own club has colluded when it suits you and then expect other clubs to take a moral stand where they have been pushed into a situation that means they have to do a deal with the FA where the FA might get something back …

  3. @Peter Ag,
    Clubs didn’t “share Highbury during WW2”. Bomb damage caused Arsenal to share White Hart Lane with Spurs.
    It’s ironic that the FA is now pleading for a more realistic attitude towards investing its finances……after wasting an obscene £25m on a failed bid to obtain a World Cup for Britain.

  4. Peter Ag
    “…..but it was Arsenal who along with the other G14 who have foisted that abortion of a tournament the CL which has condemned clubs to overspend on transfers and salaries and for fans to pay ever higher prices”.

    Interesting view. Personally I enjoy Champions League football but I guess you have your motives for calling it an ‘abortion’.

    However, I am not sure why you want to blame Arsenal for the over spending of players? For years the club broke even on transfers and has stated it will continue to operate within its own means; ironically we are criticised for doing this and not spending silly money!

    I would contend that the blame should be laid at the door of the financially doped football clubs. These ‘doped’ clubs have not had to live within their means, allowing them to ‘outbid’ the clubs that do and therefore raise transfer values and wages. During the period when Arsenal were trying to remain solvent I dont remember anyone praising Arsenal for not spending what they didnt have? Perhaps I was out that evening?

  5. Bit of a featherbed down in Abou Dhabi.
    The experts are saying that too many similar wickets would see the end of Test cricket. Ooerrr.

  6. I think the FA didn’t know the £25m they spent to bid for the hosting of the World Cup will eventually turned out to be a waste. How could they have known since the bidding itself was a gamble? They either win the bidding or lose out to the most favoured bidder. But on the other side of things, the FA shouldn’t have resorted to borrowing to build the new Wembley Stadium IMOV. Since the old Wembley Stadium building structure is said to have expired, the idea to build another Wembley is in order as the FA will like to have their own place, offices and the rest of them. The Wembley being the spiritual stadium for football in England and rest of the World is not supposed to be forgotten, but kept in existence. What the FA should have done should have been to tax the football clubs in England and seek for government and companies aids to start the project and gradually finished it within a set time. Who were their financial and their project advisers? Have they advised them properly? All said and argued, the FA have got to find money to get out of the financial shortcomings they found themselves. And one of their options is to be renting out the usage of their facilities. Which to me is okay provided that will stop them not to redundant their staff for lack of money to pay their salaries. I hate to see workers losing their jobs due to lack of money to pay their salaries.


    The point of the article is that The FA did not need a new stadium. They could’ve chosen to invest in the game but they did not. Arsenal on the other hand needed a new stadium to compete with United, Chelsea and City. Much like Spurs and Liverpool do, now following in similar paths to Arsenal. Arsenal didn’t go bankrupt and paid their players! The FA could’ve used the stadia from the clubs: Arsenal, United, Newcastle and of course, when built both Spurs and Liverpool.There is also conjecture on how The FA will pay for their re-financing. All English football supporters should be concerned about this including Spurs supporters. As Tony points out it could affect Spurs financially. Interesting? No?

  8. Hi Samuel,

    The crime is why should it cost £25 million to put a bid in? it’s because of all the pressies, rolex watches, hotel trips and general greasing of palms … FIFA is corrupt and really IMO can’t be saved. It should be scrapped and re-built. How can you have an organisation where the president can be re-elected for decades .. corrupt to the core but the FA is no better

  9. Hi Nicky,

    Spurs played at Highbury as the East Stand at Spurs was used as a morgue to store people killed in bombing raids … the point I was making was that the obvious solution for Spurs would have been to share at the Emirates for a year. Our home and away fixtures are already organised so we are never at home at the same time. Lazio and Roma’s rivalry is fiercer than Spurs and Aresenal as there is always a lot more trouble between those two sets of fans yet they share as do Inter and AC Milan. Growing up I used to go to Spurs and Arsenal alternate weeks and I had other mates that did the same. (it only cost 30p to get in so it wasn’t an issue), and although i’m Spurs I used to stand on the North Bank – the real vicious rivalries were Spurs Chelsea, Spurs West Ham, and the same went for Arsenal … Tony conveniently didn’t put this forward as an option but was having a pop at Spurs for propping up the FA

  10. Hi ProudKev,

    What the G14 tried to do was set up a world where those clubs would always dominate as they would always be earning more money therefore be able to always atrract the best players and for a while it worked but then Chelsea, Man City and now PSG get a leg-up with rich owners and all of a sudden there is a piral of fear where players wages keep going up because to drop out of the CL is considered everything.

    Do you not find it a shame where people prefer to finish fourth rather than win the FA Cup?

    Where the CL at 1/4 final stages onward are basically the same corrupt clubs (yes corrupt – Barca and Real have their own TV deals, Bayern have killed the German league, and nuff said about Chelsea) any club that does break into this group is gang raped for their best players ,e.g. Dortmund, Atletico Madrid etc.

    Also the CL has deformed every other league in Hungary only Bate win the league, in Greece Olympiakos etc.

    The European Cup was the really great competition …

  11. Gooner S,

    Agreed – absolute waste which also demolished the twin towers and has built a stadium for corporates … going to wembley is a joke when games kick off and all the corporate clients are in the bar eating sandwiches and having their drink …

  12. @Peter Ag,
    With respect, you didn’t attend Highbury after the ground (used as an ARP HQ) was bombed in (I think) 1940. From that time Highbury was closed and saw no football until 1946. Every single Arsenal home game was played at White Hart Lane.
    I worked in London at that time and tried to visit Highbury to see the bomb damage but could not gain access.

  13. Interesting. Might explain why the FA are creating a smokescreen over the Chelsea doctor issue…..and why the pgmol seem to have a bit of a thing with Chelsea ……at least. Guess they can also put Jose and Chelsea’s rather lenient recent fines towards whatever they are doing.

  14. And regarding those fines , the FA seemed to have collected quite a bit of money from only two games ! With the ‘aid ‘ of the PIGMOB , the stadium dues may well be paid off very shortly !

  15. I am confused by this paragraph

    What the FA is trying to do is to get both Tottenham and Chelsea to use Wembley at the same time to maximise their profit, and the worry is that in order to maximise their income the FA will bow to pressure not to force the clubs to play all cup matches away from Wembley.

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