By Tony Attwood
The impact of a new stadium on a club has been one of my favourite themes across the years of Untold not least because I think it is one of those little things that we came up with first – (and which of course everyone else has ignored ever since).
Tottenham’s new ground was opened for the 2019/20 season, having played the 2018/19 season at Wembley. Prior to the move out of the old ground, Tottenham had finished 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in the three previous seasons. At Wembley they finished fourth. Since then Tottenham have finished 6th, 7th and 4th in the league. Not quite what they wanted for a new ground.
Arsenal moved to Emirates Stadium in 2006. In the previous eight seasons, Arsenal came top three times and second five times. After that it was ten seasons of coming third and fourth.
Of course, not every team just goes down one or two places. Sometimes new stadia can have quite an alarming effect… And indeed it is not just an alarming effect for one or two clubs.
|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||Prom from D3 2005|
|Walkers Stadium||Leicester City||2002||Relegated 2004|
|Etihad Stadium||Manchester City||2003||Won League 2012|
|Liberty Stadium||Swansea City||2005||Prom D4 2005|
|Emirates Stadium||Arsenal||2006||Top 4 to 2016|
|Cardiff City Stadium||Cardiff City||2009||Won D2 2012|
|“London” Stadium||WHU||2016||11th, 13th, 10th|
|Tottenham Hotspur Stadium||Tottenham Hotspur||2019||6th, 7th, 4th|
Plus it is not just the form that drops. The decline in Arsenal’s form must at least in part explain why the new Tottenham stadium not quite in White Hart Lane remains sponsorless – sponsoring a stadium has become less attractive since even Arsenal couldn’t maintain their first and second positions in the light of the new drain on their resources.
In fact, it is not just the TH Stadium that remains un-renamed. Nearly £450,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent trying to find a sponsor for West Ham’s laughingly called “London Stadium” but without success. After Vodafone walked away from a £20m six-year naming rights deal in May 2017 , no one wanted to know. And now Tottenham have the same problem.
In fact, new stadia are clearly now associated with a decline in fortune. Indeed one wonders what Reebok think now about having their name tagged along with Bolton. Bolton did climb back into the Premier League after coming third in 2001, and survived through their appallingly negative rotational fouling tactics this time until 2012/13.
But then rather than crawling back to the Premier League they dropped and dropped again reaching the fourth tier of English football (League Two) in 2020. They have since managed to return to League One largely through having Eoin Doyle score 19 goals for them in their League Two season. He was their highest goal scorer in 20 years, and is now back playing in Ireland.
Thus it may well be that the days of sponsoring grounds are over, especially for clubs that don’t have a history of winning the league. Which could be bad news for Tottenham Hotspur, if having a multi-million-pound sponsorship deal from the off, in the style of Arsenal, was part of the financial planning.
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption
- Why do Tottenham players get fouled more than those of any other club?
- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head