That pesky business of building a new stadium and the ever rising costs…

By Tony Attwood

I made a prediction a year back that Tottenham would struggle at Wembley this season, on the basis that all teams struggle when they move grounds.  And I was completely wrong.  They didn’t.

So it is with burned fingers that I venture cautiously back into the issue of Tottenham’s new ground.  I’ve claimed their season tickets are more expensive than Arsenal’s when compared on a like for like basis, taking into account which games are included in the price (ie are any of the League Cup, FA Cup or European games included).  That’s been questioned, but for the moment I am staying with my view on that one.

Now with it looking like the stadium will open for the start of next season (there was a doubt at one stage but that seems to have been set aside) what happens next?

For Arsenal, the problem was how to pay for the new stadium.  Part of the was sorted by selling Nicolas Anelka to Real Madrid, and Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit to Barcelona.   Then there was the bond scheme (and incidentally those bonds still exist and are still traded).  But despite this, and some funding from Granada, Arsenal had to look at cutting its wages bill as the cost of the stadium started to rise.  There was a second bond scheme and a deal with Nike and ultimately Emirates Airlines, but as we all know there were also years of privation as Mr Wenger was forced to bring through the kiddies as he was without funding to compete with Man U and Chelsea.

So are Tottenham in the same position, or is it, as their manager said last December, “the time to say: ‘Now, we will win the title’.”

Tottenham’s early statement on expenses was that the ground would cost £400m – the same price as Arsenal.  Prices at Arsenal rose along the way, but Arsenal were building a new stadium from scratch;  Tottenham already owned the ground.  But the last I heard it was a price quoted in various authoritative journals as circulating between £750m and £850m including some bank loans that have to be paid back over five years – a remarkably short space of time.

Recently Mr Pochettino has changed his mind a little saying, “The move to the new stadium is not suddenly going to change everything and millions of pounds will rain from the sky.”  Which sounds realistic although he raised an eyebrow or two when he said that Tottenham would need a little more time to start winning things but it would happen either with himself in control or someone else – something that he then explained by talking about just how long term the stadium financing project was while at the same time suggesting that Tottenham needed to be fully involved in this transfer window.

He did also say, “We are the victims of our own success,” which perhaps was a slip of the tongue, and one must recognise he is not speaking in his first language.  I think he meant “comparative success” at moving up from lurking in and around the Europa League positions, to the Champions League.   That gives the club more money, but the demands of the stadium repayment – especially with the bank loan organised over such a short space of time – are going to be significant.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have no such issues, and although there is no sign that the owner of Arsenal is going to let his new manager start a rush of speculative spending (£50m has been touted as this summer’s available cash), there will be some money for the much demanded new defence.  As for Liverpool – their owner has told such porkies in the past it is always hard to tell.

For Tottenham the only step up is to get to a final, and retain that place in the top four, year after year.  But leaving aside anything Arsenal might do (and it is hard to comment until one knows who is going to be manager and see what sort of money he has) there is every reason to think Chelsea will spend what it takes to get back into the top four.  If Man U, Man C, and Liverpool can all stay there, it is Tottenham’s place that will be under threat.  Doubly so if Arsenal become immediately resurgent with the new man at the helm.

The argument about Arsenal has for years been that he loves the idea of bringing through young players, and that when he can’t do that he wants to find a gem in another club whose talent has not been realised and bring him through.  Only after both of these fail will he buy big.  Those who helped force Mr Wenger out noted this and expect a new manager to buy big from the start – and maybe they will get their way – time will tell.

But Tottenham are, it seems to me (and it is just my view of course) one step behind in this process, as although they will be getting loads more dosh in the form of season ticket sales they will have two issues to contend with.  First, the costs of repaying the loans, and second the rise in expectation, which in the end is what did it for Mr Wenger.   Arsenal are now still way above the level that the club was in when Mr Wenger came along, but it feels to many like failure, because they either never knew what it was like under previous managers, or have forgotten.

If Tottenham sell another high value player this summer as they did with Kyle Walker, that will be a significant statement of where they are.  I don’t know if it will go down well with Tottenham fans, but I think I can readily foresee what some Arsenal supporters would say if it happened this summer.

None of which means that I think everything at Arsenal is perfect and that at Tottenham it isn’t.  Not at all.  Rather I’m trying to suggest each club faces an issue.  With Arsenal it is finding a new manager who will be willing to take on a club where discontent aimed at the manager and attacks on the club in the press seems to have become a central part of the club’s life.  With Tottenham it is trying to maintain the current comparative success and build on it, while repaying the loans, and keeping the wage structure intact.

They are both quite tricky issues to handle.

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35 Replies to “That pesky business of building a new stadium and the ever rising costs…”

  1. Is any of the money raised and the retractable pitch connected to getting a NFL franchise established there too.
    It looks like the Jaguars owner is buying Wembley so he should get the franchise leaving the Spuds a lawn they can cut with two different sceneries .

  2. Those pesky lies again,
    the £400 million was for the old design.
    The funding for our new stadium is going to come from naming rights (estimated £400m-£500m), loans and other separate sponsorship deals.
    Joe Lewis has said that he’ll cover any increase in costs anyway.
    You are obsessed with Spur’s new stadium, give it up.

  3. As the sun is setting on wenger’s career of arsenal , it was absolutely ironic how yesterday proved that where youngsters will excite you , but at that level of sport you need solid professionals who do things without being fazed at all ,,, again yesterday proved that arsenal’s future might be good enough if only our fans have the patience and if only our owners want us to succeed .. by the way i loved your article amidst all the turmoil and rubbish we get to read these days on websites .. Cheers ..

  4. I don’t think ‘the people who forced Wenger out’ (he forced himself out) are expecting a new manager to just buy big and not put faith in the youngsters. Quite the opposite, I think people are expecting a new manager to actually coach a new prospect in modern football and make them better. Something that has become a rarity from Wenger. Also to buy big, or at least get it right more often than not. Just a manager who brings in the culture where the players actually believe in themselves would be a step up.

  5. Gaz
    The very occasional article about Spurs stadium hardly constitutes an obsession any more than your occasional comments on this site constitutes you being obsessed with Untold.

  6. Poch has never to my knowledge claimed we will win the title!

    As for the stadium costs, these have been mitigated by other income streams and funding.

    We can still finish above Liverpool if we get 11 points from our remaining games, that would also put us well ahead of Chelsea. I would think you might have more concern for Arsenal’s current plight and league position.

    You worry about your club and let us worry and enjoy ours!

  7. Tony has just practically copied an article from The Guardian. This one works for him ….

  8. Gaz

    At the last THST meeting Levy advised that the stadium re build was not dependent on naming rights he then went on to say that they haven’t been successful is finding a partner that works so the stadium will in all probability open as The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The project is facing ( Levy’s words not mine) significant technical challenges
    As for financancing the re is a £400 million facility in place but that sum is likely to rise as they have 2100 workers on site 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Levy has said the debt. will likely be renegotiated within 12 months.There is no suggestion whatsoever that Levy will put more money in.
    One thing that Levy did mention was that Spurs wages structure is heavily weighted toward bonus payments as opposed to high basic salary. Fabulous from a club point of view but in view of Spurs facing another season without a trophy you do have to wonder how long the players and or 5heir agents will remain on board with the “ project”

  9. If Tony is wrong about Spurs’ financial issues, why is their best player, Harry Kane, only on £100 k per week, much less than other top Premiership strikers, and why is Alderweireld leaving?

  10. Shard nice to see you’re stil about , where you been I’ve missed your comments

  11. The true cost of Spurs’ new stadium will be known only to Daniel Levy and few other senior people at the club. It is pointless speculating about what the cost will be but it’s worth noting that the oft quoted figure of £800m – £900m is almost certainly for the Northumberland development project in its entirety. The stadium is only one (albeit the main) component of the NDP. It also includes a supermarket, college, a hotel, and housing etc. Much of this will be enabling development which will offset some of the cost of the stadium build. It’s also worth noting that that the retractable pitch allows not only for NFL but also for concerts and other events and the naming rights deal (partly because of the NFL connection) will likely be orders of magnitude more than the deal Arsenal got for the Emirates. Also worth bearing in mind that Spurs have paid some of the costs e.g., land acquisition, upfront over the past several years. It is not yet clear what impact the new stadium will have on Spurs’ ability to compete financially but all things point to Spurs being much better placed to pay for their new stadium – and much more quickly- than Arsenal were when they built The Emirates.

  12. My humble advice is that you concentrate on your own problems and leave us to continue enjoying ourselves.

    Remember that idea? There used to be a time when your supporters used to enjoy watching YOU play ………………

  13. OK Tom maybe for you speculation is pointless, but I’d argue it is at the very heart of football support. It is what many of us do much of the time, and quite often it makes for quite enjoyable speculation.

  14. I have a feeling the nfl will be looking to bring in more than 1 franchise for London. And they haven’t approved jaguars moving to London full time either…alot of what your chatting is speculation . I’m sure Jacksonville won’t be very happy if their team gets taken to London full time

  15. All this explaining and speculation covering the future of both clubs and I am still trying to form (what can only be an opinion) the real reason Arsene is finishing hmanagerial position at the end of this season and not next season when his present contract is concluded.

    I haven’t read or listened to the muttering of the football mufferlers as I don’t believe in wasting my time.

    However I did catch this:

    From Bob Wilson the first double Goal keeper (In summary) ‘I have met three great men in my life and Arsene is one of them.’

    And I also heard this from a spuds supporter.

    ” I have been following Arsene Wenger since 1988 when Monaco came to us to play friendly against us. They whacked us 4-0. Their football was out of this world.”

    I thought ‘1988’ What about 1986 when Glen Hoddle hopped ( Leap leapfrogged is a more appropriate word) out of spuds to Monaco to play for Arsene Wenger, he won his only league championship medal as a result. He also won a cup final medal.

    I am sick of the Little England mantra that Arsene has won three league
    championship and 7 F A Cups. He has won the French league and the French Cup.

    For all you’ Little Englanders I give you the maths.

    3 + 1 = 4 not 3

    7 + 1 = 8 not 7

  16. Tom

    Daniel Levy told the THST on 28/2/17 that the stadium costs at that time were £800 million he added that those costs would rise due to ever increasing raw material and construction costs. Mace have not signed a fixed cost contract.That sum only includes foundation works on both the residential premises and indeed the hotel.
    As of May 2017 Spurs had spent £340 million on the project. £240 million was in respect of land purchase, enabling work legal fees etc and £100 million on initial build costs. That £240 million had been sourced from clubs resources the £100 million by way of additional borrowings
    In early May Spurs arranged through three banks for a £400 million facility £100 million of that sum would settle the build spend mentioned above.
    Also another £25 million facility was agreed through HSBC and ENIC agreed to act in effect as guarantors for up to another £50 million.
    It’s pretty certain that in view of Levy’s comment on 28/2/2018 , their vast increase in season ticket costs and indeed their managers comments that the £400 facility isn’t enough.
    Levy said at the same time a key point in determining the timeline was that the roof going on at the end of January / early Feb 2018. Would be a big indicator as to the question if the delivery of the stadium in time for the 2018/19.
    On 28/2/2018 Levy said the roof had been delayed in part due to the bad weather ( it was winter you know) he added that the roof was due to be completed in mid March. The point is that the timescales were incredibly tight and you can only wonder if that slippage will tip matters.
    Let’s be perfectly clear this project is incredibly ambitious and riddled with risk

  17. Funny thing on french TV yesterday
    Apart from being blatantly pro Manure, and ready to criticize Arsenal any way possible, one of the useseless guys commenting strted saying something like :

    – well Arsene Wenger has fielded quite a few youngsters today. It is interesting because they play like the usual players. No difference. They come in out of the blue and know how to play, they were trained the saem wya throughout their formative years. One cas see the Wenger touch.

    Some comment a few days ago said : they call ig Wengerball….and he’s the only one with his name as a prefix to ball.

    Screw all the others, they are just jealous and envious. We had 20 + years of Wengerball.

  18. Tom

    You are aware of the jump in construction costs following a late appointment of the main contractor which is not best practice in such projects (but can allow for great commissions!) not forgetting the impact of Brexit on the UK construction industry (allow for a 20% mark up in all material costs,m, and nope I don’t imagine the steel fabrication was ordered before the main contractor signed up).

    Considering the impact of Brexit alone, nothing else, it is nonsensical to imagine better value on this build then any stadium built in the previous market conditions (let’s ignore the FA and Wemberlee as that was a truly special build – which is why the sweet FA are now selling the stadium they can’t afford to keep). A person could argue that the BT deal offsets some of these increases. Possibly. But that still does not lower the overall cost of the stadium.


  19. Steven
    With Bonuses, Harry Kane et al are getting more or less the going rate.
    Toby Alderweireld is aging, has had a serious injury, and many at Spurs think his level has dropped.
    He won’t get a four or five year contract at Spurs, but he will get one somewhere else.

  20. Mike T
    Uncle Joe has said,
    he’ll cover any increase in cost, not Levy.
    Anyhoo, you should worry about your own potential problems, like not getting CL football, not being able to attract a decent manager/players etc, and being in the wilderness for years.?

  21. Gaz

    I realise I typed Levy when I should have typed Lewis that aside the point of my comment remains valid.
    I can’t source any eveidence of your statement that Lewis will cover cost increases and I suspect it’s one of those myths that stem from an action or comment that hasn’t been fully understood
    What has been said is that Lewis has ENIC issued guarantees but that is far from funding the project.
    The rest of your comment made me smile. Particularly when you talk about the wildernesses.
    How long is it since a trophy?
    I am not an Arsenal supporter but come on trying to take the p out of them really is not clever and certainly not backed up by anything other than qualifying for the CL on a couple of occasions.
    In a blink of an eye should you lose three players namely Kane, Ericsson and possibly Ali the sped of your decline would be staggering and be under no illusion the whole Spurs project in term of players buying into the club is brittle to say the least and without top wages on offer the likes of the three I mention earlier will be attracted elsewhere sooner rather than later
    THST have warned your club that they have made a major mistake in terms of ticket costs and whilst everyone expects capacity to be achieved in year one they fully anticipate issues if a trophy isn’t delivered in year one.
    That said the jury is still very much out in terms of will you be at the stadium next season. There is no doubt that has been slippage and the original timetable was extremely tight. Spurs have been told they will not be allowed to open the stadium at reduced capacity and should the project be delayed then the question then comes how many games will be flipped for in the first few games if say you were due to play Arsenal at home I personally would see no problem with them saying sorry there’s nothing in it for us indeed in later season it would be to our advantage to play at home.Levy has rubbed so many other clubs noses in it I wouldn’t be surprised if on this issue he doesn’t get his own way and there is nothing the PL do to make clubs flip their fixtures.
    If that happens that means you cannot use your new stadium for league games

  22. I am just hoping that the new guy will get off to a great start and start moving us up and to once again enable to celebrate the annual St. Totteringham’s Day !
    Two years without it has me missing it and yearning for it. Its almost like winning a cup !

  23. Mike T

    i remember Joe Lewis saying that he would cover any rise in costs, it was widely reported, but it would have meant him taking a bigger share.
    A lot of thought has gone into this project, and lot has been learned from the mistakes of others.
    The stadium has been designed to generate revenue in a number of different ways, even the Sky Walk will have a separate sponsor.
    I find all this negativity towards Spurs laughable, sour grapes because we have upset the status quo.

  24. Gaz

    It’s not a question of sour grapes but I would refer you to the point Tony is trying to make.
    History tells s that no matter how much planning, how much learning how many additional income streams and opportunities open up nothing is guaranteed when clubs move or rebuild their stadiums.
    As you probably realise I am not an Arsenal supporter but they made club changing descions based on information available and at a time when gate receipts brought in the highest % of a clubs revenue. How times have changed in that sponsorship and indeed tv revenues now lead the way.
    Building a new stadium and indeed remaining attractive to sponsors will only work if you have success on the pitch and whilst there is no doubt Spurs have had a good couple of years you really are no closer to winning the league than they were when good ole Harry was in charge. As for cup competitions they to a degree rely on the luck of the draw and to be honest your route to the semi final, which you then played at home, was set up for you indeed Wimbledon, Newport and Rochdale really shouldn’t have caused you anywhere near the problems that they did
    Back to Tony’s article the comments coming out of Spurs aren’t as positive as they were. Your manager is now voicing caution and rumblings about will he be there even next season are being heard. He is ambitious but as he has already shown when he joined you from Southampton he has no greater loyalty than any other manager the question then is what happens if another club who can offer more options offers him something that he just can’t turn down.

  25. Mike T

    It must be sour grapes, why is all your speculation so negative?
    I agree, match day revenue can now be as low as 14% of the total; it’s why Spurs have opted for a multi-purpose stadium.
    As regards Pochettino, he left Southampton because players were sold against his will when the new people took charge.
    He has a reputation for being loyal.
    Poch is saying the same things he has said from the beginning, anything is possible in football.
    However, the relationship he has with Levy and the players is very strong; he even has a holiday home next to uncle Joe in the Bahamas apparently.
    I think you and Tony are confusing what you would like to happen with what is likely to happen.
    Sounds like you are running scared.

  26. Gaz
    He left Southampton because the then chairman ( not owner) Nicola Cortese left Southampton something he said he would do. So prior to him be appointed at Spurs he wasn’t sacked by either of his two previous managerial clubs he left by mutual consent or resigned.
    I have to admit that I wasn’t aware that Poch had a holiday home in the Bahamas and yes there is no doubt that there is a strong relationship between the players and Poch and Levy has said on numerous occasions that they work well together but again back to the article and indeed my comments it really isn’t a question of running scared for as Pochettino says anything can happen in football!

  27. @Finsbury

    I didn’t say that the build costs of NWHL would be less than the Emirates. For one thing there is fifteen years of inflation to consider. I actually said that the true cost isn’t known at this stage but that Spurs look better placed to pay off their stadium debt and more quickly than when Arsenal built the Emirates.

    @Mike T

    I am aware of the numbers that are in the public domain but A: some of that may be sandbagging on the part of Levy and the club, and B: there is much, including increased income, especially enabling development and naming rights, which isn’t yet known or in the public domain.

    More generally I think that if Arsenal fans are hanging their hopes on Spurs’ new stadium being some kind of millstone around the club’s neck – and I hear a lot of this sort of unsubstantiated guff in the media from the likes of Martin Keown et al – then I think they’re going to be sorely disappointed.

  28. Tom,

    Not with the overtime you are paying out at the moment!

    A text book case of how it to manage a large construction project. Even with the Boris Johnson handout. There’ll be describing the Tottenham and West Ham builds in lectures for decades to come as examples of how not to do it.

    The Boris Johnson Memorial Stadium.
    Also known as the:

    The Johnson.

  29. The desire of the Tottenham fans on this thread to ignore the evidence in thousands of tons of concrete is staggering.

    “Uncle Joe” got a pretty sweet commission for the late signing of that contract which gave the contractor a licence to set whatever final cost that they do desire! Nice work, if you can get it.

    If you’ve ever wondered why the tinies get a rosy review in the funny papers (owned by “Uncle Joe’s” mates), you need wonder no more!

    If it waddles like a duck dropping, if it has the consistency of a duck dropping, the odds are that you are standing in front of a pile of bird dung.

  30. Tom


    A 20% rise in construction costs for materials post Brexit is not relative to inflation, but in addition.

    2+2 = 4?


    I think I can now understand where some above are failing in their comprehension.

  31. Waddles, geddit?

    I should have my own stand up show…or maybe not…

  32. @finsbury

    RE: the tweet from Martin Ball. The guy has an agenda and has opposed various aspects of the stadium build from day one. As such you can pretty much disregard his tweet as either nonsense or sour grapes.

    RE: increased costs. Fully aware that you weren’t just refering to inflation. But the fact is that you don’t what the stadium build cost will be and you don’t know what the increased revenue will be and it’s pointless speculating. What we do know is that there is a lot of enabling development, that it’s a multipurpose facility with a deal in place with the NFL, that corporate hospitality revenue will increase substantially, and that rumour has it a massive naming rights deal has been agreed. We also know that Levy is a shrewd operater who in all his other dealings has tried to extract maximum value. Frankly, the idea that Levy would allow this – his legacy project – to spiral out of control is laughable.

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