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October 2020

As Arsenal enter the era of the Stadium Debt Deniers, Tottenham admit, it’s going to be tough.

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.

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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?”

19 comments to As Arsenal enter the era of the Stadium Debt Deniers, Tottenham admit, it’s going to be tough.

  • Bazza

    Me thinks you’re missing the point.

  • Gaz

    You are obsessed with our stadium… Levy has already said, we will have to tighten our belts when it comes to spending… He also said, we don’t need to sell our players to finance the stadium. We have a very talented, young squad of players at Tottenham, which means we don’t need to spend big. The only parallel with your club is the fact that we won’t be spending huge amounts on players. The difference is that we don’t need to, especially with the quality we have running through our squad and academy. Stop obsessing about Tottenhamhotspur, it’s not your business.

  • Tony

    It would be nice if our billionaire owner put up some cash for squad development, we hear very little of Joe Lewis, now is the time for him to invest.

  • Interesting Tony. The same is said by a number of Arsenal supporters about their team.

  • Gaz, I don’t normally publish comments like this, but just occasionally do let one through as they fascinate me. Untold Arsenal has published approaching 6000 articles and I think about 10 have been about Tottenham’s stadium, which hardly seems obsessive behaviour. But then you have said, “it’s not your business” as if somehow discussion, research and debate should be restricted in our society.

    I am not sure what sort of society you’d like to live in, but democracy doesn’t really seem your style.

  • Notoverthehill

    Tony, you should download the KPMG letter dated the 15th December 2015, although marked Confidential, is available from the local Council!

    If I may quote:

    3. …. The proposed two year bridging loan that will potentially be provided by the banks will allow the Club further time to get clarity over how the remaining balance will be funded. As regards equity, the existing owner is currently unwilling to rpovide an undertaking to meet any stadium funding shortfall. unquote.

    Player salary costs, based on 2015/2016 detailed estimates, will be remain at approximately 45% of revenue, for the foreseeable future.

    Transfers? That is why the current manager is aiming for a young squad to mature with the building of the stadium.

    As Mr Wenger tried to do!

    Changes are made to the plans, so one must keep referring to the planning applications.

  • Notoverthehill

    Oh dear, provide, provide

  • Uwot?

    Gaz has a short memory.what business was it of the spurs fans who protested outside Islington town hall about giving Arsenal planning permission for ashburton grove?seems spurs fans more obsessive about us.but then hasn’t that always been the case!

  • Simon

    Tony, you are too polite when some Spud tries to give you gip. Good for you.They will sell their young players because that is what we had to do as they will struggle to keep pace with wages. The high debt and interest will take its toll too and I doubt they will spend 10 years in Champions League either. I have to say though that Levy is doing a good job for them but it is really none of my business.


  • Mandy Dodd

    They will find it tough, but with vastly increased revenues, maybe not as tough as Arsenal did. But as has been pointed out before, there are other factors that went in out favour that they did not have.
    We sometimes see some very sensible balanced post from Spurs fans on here, I am also sure many others are moderated but as for the one who mentions the stadium is not this sites business to write about, makes you wonder what business he has in even visiting this site?

  • UKFootballFan

    It will be difficult for Spurs and I don’t believe anyone has said otherwise. Spurs have obviously been expecting this and have spent accordingly as is evident from the twice-yearly circus of player transfers – Spurs’ player salaries are about half Arsenal’s salaries, Spurs have been among the most frugal in nett spend on new players for the last few years. You appear to make it sound otherwise.
    You also didn’t mention the prime reason the stadium development has dragged on – not money but the compulsory acquisition of land (you made it sound like it was finances).

    I believe Arsenal did a great job in getting their stadium up thanks largely to Mr Wenger. He’s been a great manager for Arsenal and appears under appreciated but a large section of the Arsenal supporters (perhaps it’s a very vocal minority).
    Spurs have a manager that is showing a lot of promise and he obviously was chosen because of his faith in young players (Mr Wenger also shares that).

    Additionally, Spurs have the advantage of seeing the mistakes Arsenal made with their stadium.

    P.S. 101 articles on a property development not for your team is high – especially when your target audience is Arsenal fans. That’s fine though, I’m happy to read about Spurs here too.

    P.P.S. I’m looking forward to the next Spurs – Arsenal clash, I hope you have your injured players back for it.

  • SP

    @ Simon: this is what is known as a non-sequitor – it does not follow. Spurs ‘will HAVE to sell their young players’ apparently ‘BECAUSE Arsenal had to sell theirs’!?! It implies some kind of causal relationship. Let me be clear…there is no such causal relationship. The FACT that Arsenal had to sell their young players ‘implies’ that Spurs ‘may’ face similar circumstances. That is a very different thing.

    I would suggest that there are many factors that make the two builds and aftermath very different. I don’t really care if any Arsenal supporter believes me or not – it’s kinda nice to think that you will all be hoping for something basically negative to happen and then find that it doesn’t. So I am not going to go into all of those factors. What I would say is that Daniel Levy may be many things, but financially naive he is not. He has had nearly a decade to plan this, study the Emirates build and the negative consequences, and take steps to avoid those pitfalls. The squad development has been at zero net spend, or profit, for several years now. The youth set-up has plenty of promise yet in it (it hasn’t all dried up, y’know), and a young coach with the guts and nous to use it. Many of this squad will only just be approaching their peak when the stadium is done, and some will still be a long way from it. And Levy has learned from previous debacles and now keeps – most of the young stars are tied down to long contracts.

    It may play out as badly as some are predicting…but at this precise moment I really am not too concerned as I don’t think it will.

    @ Mandy Dodd: Mandy, Arsenal fans really seem to have a thing about this issue…Spurs fans leaving responses on Arsenal sites/blogs/whatever. It is simple, really – when these sites stop devising titles that are certain to be picked up by Spurs news feeds, I am sure you will get far less Spurs fans visiting your sites. I, for one, would never go out of my way to visit an Arsenal site. On the other hand, I do frequently see the Spurs equivalents trolled near to death by Arsenal fans who seem to exist for nothing other than to flaunt the superiority that your club has enjoyed since a certain Mr Scholar near destroyed our club. It’s funny because they don’t actually want any banter, just lording over, to the point where when they do get banter back they near combust. I had one follow me around for months, invent several new IDs for himself, even though I always found him out after one post (two at the most) because no matter who or how old he was pretending to be he always used one term as stock. And all because, rather than cringe in a corner feeling sorry for myself while be lorded it over me with how much better his chosen team had been over my chosen team since the early 1990’s debacle, I through back at him the thing we still hold over you, and he literally couldn’t take it. So, sorry, but news feeds attracting titles and pot/kettle to that one.

  • serge

    Most media outlets are reporting that Arsenal have backtracked on the Barcelona surcharge which is good as it proves the club listens to it’s fans, so why are we not supporting the move by most PL clubs to restrict the ticket prices for away fans to £30, instead saying that travel costs are of a greater concern. C’mon now!

  • Pat

    As far as Tottenham goes, I am more worried that the redevelopment of the Spurs ground which meant removing some local firms is part of an overall redevelopment of Tottenham.

    This, if accomplished, will replace working class housing estates with expensive high rise property sold to rich people as investments. Property that the current Tottenham population cannot afford to live in.

    Small firms that employ local people will be driven out by rising rents. They too will be replaced by expensive blocks of flats only seen as a source of profit for developers and an investment by the rich.

    Is Haringey Council happy to go along with the developers and drive Tottenham’s inhabitants out of their own area?

  • Menace

    Sorry Tony is this Tottenham the club that we celebrate every year? This club that we love so dearly. The club that has ascended into Saintly levels. The club that gives us St. Totteringhams Day? Long may thay survive because they are a great reason to celebrate.

    Such aa apt & lovely club that stands a chicken on a ball as their emblem.

  • insideright

    Taking ten years to plan their new stadium is actually part of the problem rather than the solution.
    Having a new expanded stadium only makes financial sense if it is filled week in, week out at price levels which deliver sufficient to pay off the loans and provide a significant contribution to cash flow on top of that.
    Spurs have two major barriers to their future financial planning – they don’t know how often they will fill that ground (Europa League football doesn’t seem to be sufficiently attractive to do that for them) and the pressure on ticket prices is, without doubt, downward. An Arsenal season ticket is now cheaper in real terms than it was ten years ago.
    The fact that the Spurs owners won’t contribute any funding merely underlines the fact that they see it, quite rightly, as too much of a risk to take. Outsiders, knowing that, will need to get a great deal of comfort from their investment before committing.
    If the only extra thing that Spurs can pay for in a few years time is their mortgage then the whole exercise becomes an ego driven one rather than a financially sensible one.

  • goonersince72

    A big difference in the financing of the the Emirates and Tottenham’s stadium is the obscene amount of money that will pour into the EPL with the new television contract. A windfall for all, but especially those building or developing grounds.

  • Porter

    Serge like so many others I live over 100 miles from London. If we support the £30 max for away tickets, can we expect travelling costs to be taken into account for us too

  • proudkev

    Arsenal had to deal with the economic meltdown and the building crisis. The TV money also was not so generous.