Does West Ham’s experience at the Tax Payers Stadium offer a lesson to Tottenham?

By Tony Attwood

For West Ham, it was a dream deal.  A stadium built by the tax payer, given to the club on a tiny rent, in which the club didn’t have to pay most of the match day activities.   And as a bonus, if the club’s status in the league declined so would the rent.  For the first time in football history relegation would mean a financial bonus.


“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

Yep – as I have pointed out before, new stadia can be pesky things and tend to bring relegation more often than enhanced success.

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 they will play all their “home” matches at Wembley.

Pochettino said, part way through the bad run in Europe this season, “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.”

Unfortunately the bad moment at Wembley continued after that, but success at WHL this season and the wild celebrations at finishing above Arsenal for the first time since Eric Cantona assaulted a spectator at Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers won the league and George Graham was sacked as Arsenal manager has turned the media’s attention (that most fickle thing) away from the topic.

WHU have not done too well on the pitch or in other PR either.  In January David Sullivan announced “Dimitri Payet will not be sold by West Ham in January, and Bilic said the same., while West Ham send begging letter to Premier League’s ‘big five’ in frantic search for January reinforcements”.  Of course it might have been journalist make believe, but it is a long way from what the newspapers used to write about the loveable cockneys and their traditional home in the east end.

West Ham are currently 15th, seven points clear of relegation.  Last season they finished 7th, 25 points above relegation.

So what does this mean for Tottenham?  Well, they have positives and negatives coming up.  Taking them in order…

They go to Wembley next season on a high.  I suspect they will end up second this season, as we did last season.  But while that was an occasion for lots of fun for us in the final game, it was also a moment for the aaa and their media chums to chime in with another round of “Second is not a trophy”.  For Tottenham however it is a moment of joyous celebration.

But Wembley is now seen as a place where Tottenham have done very badly… here are their results

  • Loss vs Man Utd, 2009 League Cup final
  • Loss vs Portsmouth, 2010 FA Cup semi final
  • Loss vs Chelsea, 2012 FA Cup semi final
  • Loss vs Chelsea, 2015 League Cup final
  • Loss vs Monaco, 2016 Champions League
  • Loss vs Bayer Leverkusen, 2016 Champions League
  • Win vs CKSA Moscow, 2016 Champions League
  • Draw vs Gent, 2017 Europa League
  • Loss vs Chelsea, 2017 FA Cup semi final

As I have said many times before, all runs end – but normally runs are not identified with a specific location.  This one might just go on for much of the season.   It will certainly be there in the players, management and some supporters’ minds and a couple of slip ups could batter confidence.

After a year away it is back to New WHL.  The question then is finance.  Arsenal, as we know, took years and years to pay off the cost of the Emirates; will Tottenham be able to do it more quickly?

Of course Tottenham don’t give away financial secrets, but the fact is the cost of the stadium rose from £350m to £700m (different figures appear in different reports but whichever ones you choose, it has been a big rise.)   The Emirates Stadium and agreed public service improvements cost £390m and Arsenal made about £40m from selling off other property in the area it acquired along the way.

Even allowing for inflation and increased TV revenue that is still a big difference for Tottenham to pay off.   And there is one hidden issue, although not everyone would agree with this.   Arsenal, in my view, benefited by deliberately choosing a stadium design that had already been built once, for Benfica.  Look at their stadium, and you can see the similarities in the four tier approach and the design of the roof to allow air circulation down to the grass.

Tottenham are working on a totally novel design, which of course might work, but it might have teething troubles and those can be a pain.

So, even if Tottenham have little or no negative impact in moving from Wembley to New WHL there are going to be financial constraints, unless money (which no one has yet talked about), is found to pay the debt without giving Tottenham double the sort of loans Arsenal had.

Of course Tottenham have been very good at making money from selling players, although last summer they did spend £69m on four players and recouped about £40m on sales.  This was the first time since 2010/11 that expenditure on players exceeded income on sales.   The key question is whether they have a source of funding that will allow such expenditure to continue while also paying for the stadium.

My guess, and it is only that based on the issues above, is that the Wembley year could see that unbeaten home record fall away quite quickly, but the away record (six wins, six draws, three defeats) might be maintained.

I suspect also that the vultures will circle looking for players who might be tempted away with deals that will appeal to Tottenham financially (a sort of Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas situation).

In the first year in New WHL there should be a recovery, but I suspect it will be to maintain a top four position.  Will Tottenham supporters be as crass as some Arsenal fans and talk about Top Four not being a trophy?  I suspect not, primarily because I think the media will stay onside with Tottenham and rather than criticise any lack of buying as a lack of determination to succeed, will instead praise the club for its level headed financial management and its new stadium.

I am of course most likely wrong, and undoubtedly there will be some who will wish to tell me this in advance.  But it would be nice if any contrary views were laced with either evidence or logical argument.

Here’s the updated table of new builds.  D3 = third tier etc.

Stadium Club Built Promotion/Releg
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 Rel to D2 2005; D3 2009
KC Stadium Hull City 2002 Prom from D3 2005
Walkers Stadium Leicester City 2002 Relegated 2004
Etihad Stadium Manchester City 2003 14th, 8th, 15th, 16th
Liberty Stadium Swansea City 2005 Prom D4 2005
Emirates Stadium Arsenal 2006 Top 4 to 2016; 2 Cups
Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff City 2009 Won D2 2012
London Stadium West Ham 2016 Down from 7th to 15th
Wembley Tottenham 2017 ???
New WHL Tottenham 2018 ???
Wembley? Chelsea 2018 Same as Tottenham?

Arsenal v Manchester United Sun 7 May – The Match Officials. A certain bias is detected.

When a club is accused or found guilty of criminal offences, does it matter?

The notion that every judgement can be made immediately, which dominates football, is the most dangerous judgement of all


5 May 1935: Arsenal win the league for the third time under three different managers

3 May 1971: Arsenal won the league at WHL (for the first time)


14 Replies to “Does West Ham’s experience at the Tax Payers Stadium offer a lesson to Tottenham?”

  1. There is one issue that you don’t mention : the NFL games.

    And about these NFL games, there is on issue my US friends have raised when talking about this ‘franchise’ at WHL.
    The fact that american football fields are not flat. No they are not.
    They are ‘convex’, the center of the field (going from one goal post to the other) being higher as the sides of the field.
    Don’t ask me the specific physical details, what I understood is that when the quarterback throws the ball to the sidelines, the reception is quite different if the player is on the same ‘height’ or lower. Has to do with the trajectory of the ball being thrown (which takes the shape of a parabole and is not ‘straight-flat’). And a flat surface would further be a problem as these aspects make it a more dangerous surface for receivers because the risk of injury would be greater when hitting th ground after a catch.

    So in the US they are very skeptical about this aspect of the deal, doubting the NFL teams performing there will feel comfortable and produce the same kind of performance. Will they thus keep this show going.

    Then again they maybe have a built-in shape changing apparatus below the field which raises the middle….which cost them 100 million and explains the budget explosion…. ;=)

    Again, we talk about teething issues…here’s what seems to me a new one….

  2. Chris
    It’s possible that this is schemed into the design as the football pitch will be retractable to reveal an artificial NFL playing surface.

  3. I read that they’ve just been given permission to increase the capacity to 61559, which will give them something to crow about.

  4. It will be interesting to see what their season ticket prices will be. Could be they will take over our title of most expensive ticket prices in the world.

  5. The NFL games will be played on a retractable pitch, which will undoubtedly be tailored exactly to NFL specifications. Daniel Levy has been working extremely closely with the NFL on the NFL part of the stadium and everything has been planned in meticulous detail, so there should be no doubt that the NFL pitch will be wholly acceptable to a future NFL London franchise.

  6. Ok thanks for the info, I did not know about the retractable pitch.
    Managing the jetlag will be another issue… ;=)

  7. It will be similar to the schemed in Laws that PGMOL operate for Arsenal. Watching the Irons v Spuds & the selective blindness to fouling by spuds within 10 feet of the ref.

  8. The surrounding area just outside the field of play at ‘our London stadium’ used by West Ham has rugs not secured down & are a safety risk. It is the duty of the officials to ensure the safety of the players (& consequently the area that players might run into). Kouyate just tripped over on a loose ‘carpet’.

  9. This story is just too good. I had to post it twice.

    And every cloud has a silver lining. We can always depend on the tiny Tots to cheer us up in these not-at-all exciting times.

    Yes, the little Spurs again do what Spuds always do.

    It is now nearly 60 years since the lousy Spuds last won the league.

    And it is now more than 25 years since the little Tots last won any trophy of substance.

    Spurs loses to West Ham. And their title dreams nosedive.

  10. Menace
    Completely transparent. Apprentice Taylor remains one of the lesser talents in the pgMOB stable of braying donkeys. True desperation to give him a FUFA badge.
    He’s never been as ‘good’ as Webb et al who we know had the skills, and he never will be. Clattenburg didn’t want to sully his reputation by working alongside such amateurs any longer!

  11. Only Spurs can Spurs up their last ever victory over Arsenal at WHL by losing the next match their first visit to the stadium they failed to snag, in the process evaporating their last hope of winning something, anything, since AW arrived at AFC

    Which is why a sad Arsed Tottenham Troll would want to crow over a extra 1000 seats for anextra cost of half a billion! LOL! Levy shows his quality as a businessman yet again! Who can fail to be impressed?

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