Betrayal

The significance of the north London derby in eyes of Spurs fans should never be underestimated but this week it has been totally overshadowed by a greater drama off the pitch. The future of the club is at stake, placed in jeopardy by the man who is supposed to act as its custodian.

Tottenham Hotspur’s interest in the Olympic Stadium had been largely dismissed as a bargaining chip to force the hand of planners first in Haringey and then, when permission was granted, in the Mayor’s Office. Many years of effort and considerable expense had resulted in a scheme for a sparkling new ground right next door to the Lane. It would never be the same but would run a close second, with emphasis on fan-friendly stands close to the pitch plus an ‘end’. When the hard-fought battle for planning consent was won, there was general satisfaction in the Spurs community.

In hindsight, perhaps we should have paid more attention to the warning signs. Close to the deadline, we declared an interest in the Olympic site in Stratford. ‘Declared an interest’. Doesn’t sound like much, just a sensible fall-back should there be further hitches, but the signs were there. Spurs were in bed with AEG, a powerful entertainment company not used to failure. A Spurs director, Keith Mills, is on the Olympic board, then, quietly a couple of weeks ago, we pinch another senior executive from an Olympic committee.

However, the biggest error was underestimating the business acumen of Daniel Levy. He may have twisted and turned when it came to decisions about football management but in business he’s cool, decisive and ruthless. The anxiety levels rose early this week with an article by Paul Kelso in the Telegraph. Because of a £50m increase in the WHL redevelopment, suddenly Spurs’ interest in Stratford was ‘deadly serious’. Kelso continues:

“Some people have said that the Olympic bid is just a means of getting leverage over Haringey, but the club is committed to running this process in parallel with that development. If they are successful in winning the bid for Stratford they will have to make a decision, but it is deadly serious,” said a source with direct knowledge of the deliberations.”

Kelso revealed that Spurs have hired Goldman Sachs as advisers. Now I am no financial expert as my bank manager will readily testify but even I know these people are going to charge more for opening a letter than I earn in a month. Serious indeed.

The Spurs plan is essentially the purchase of the site. We intend to knock down the stadium and rebuild afresh. Planning and transport issues would be a doddle compared the tortuous negotiations that are still proceeding in north London. The downside is the athletics legacy enshrined in the site, whereas the main rival bid from Newham Council and West Ham keeps the running track. However, our bid is reckoned to be far superior in terms of the financial structure, and we all know money talks.

Interestingly, AEG run the O2 arena, which lay dormant for years until all previous plans were thrown out the window so the company could create a giant and highly profitable entertainment complex from the place that was intended to be the nation’s millennium legacy. Perhaps an appropriate legacy for the times after all, but the point is, they managed it once and can do so again.

Then yesterday came a tweet from David Lammy, the Tottenham MP and a Spurs fan. A few hours after asking twitter for questions to put to levy, he emerged from the meeting with these few words:

“Devastated – Levy is serious about moving, not a bargaining chip at all”

Twitter is much maligned as a communication medium but it encourages a concise approach, witness his next message shortly afterwards:

“Decision based on what is cheaper – putting profit line before history, fans and community. Really devastated.”

That provoked a deluge of information that continues unabated but essentially that’s it, right there. Lammy himself has allegedly gone much further. He suggests that the site makes Spurs a better prospect if owner Joe Lewis wishes to sell it on in the near future, and that Boris Johnson is actively encouraging us. No wonder he’s delaying the N17 decision.

The Stratford option is a betrayal of our heritage and of the passion of the vast majority of Spurs fans. No amount of discussion about the merits of better access will outweigh the feeling of staying close to our roots. It’s 5 miles or so away but it may as well be in another country. That’s not our part of the world. It’s not Tottenham Hotspur.

Levy’s plan to build next the Lane is a triumph. I never thought we could emulate our north London neighbours by building a modern, spacious ground in our area, yet we are so close.

I’m aware there’s a lack of logic in this argument. I and other Spurs fans vehemently campaigning to stay in N17 are being disingenuous because we live miles away, and frankly would not choose to live in the area if we could possibly avoid it. Stratford would be much easier for me.

But logic has nothing to do with being a football fan. That’s the whole point – it’s about profound emotional attachment, belonging, being part of a culture that stretches back over 125 years. Tottenham is not just where we are, it’s who we are.

Like I say, money talks. Levy is accountable to the shareholders, not the fans. However, he would ignore us at his peril. Football is a business but clubs and their fans are more than mere commodities to be bought and sold. We need to make some noise, at games as well as outside. Confront Levy with a reaction that he can’t ignore. Remind him that whatever he likes to believe, he is accountable to us after all.

Reaction and protest is gaining pace. There’s a petition here: http://www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition/say-no-to-stratford-hotspur/434

27 thoughts on “Betrayal

  1. If nothing else it has kept us all busy!!
    Conspiracy theories and emotions are running high in many areas this week, my personal view (not want, view) is that the deal for us to take the Olympic Stadium is done, for political and financial reasons.
    One of my biggest issues against, and I have no real tie to N17 over any other London area except the club, is that if we do move it is the final proof that the top flight game in this country is now a pure business, and the traditions are irrelevant.

    Much how Sky and almost all media appear to deny that there was football more than 20 years ago – a point I got an apology from the BBC from when they said “Spurs have never won at Old Trafford”.

    History will be remembered by the older generations, not the younger fans. White Hart Lane will be dim and distant memory if we move, and sadly even if we don’t – as the new ground will not be called that…

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  2. load of bo!!ocks! Football is big business, and N17 is not the place for big business. The facilities and transport infrastructure are already in place in Stratford to allow Spurs to grow and develop into a much bigger club if we stay successful on the pitch at home and in Europe. N17 is 20 acres of sh!hole, and Lammys garbage is purely selfish diatribe as he doesnt want to lose a cash cow from his constituency….talk of Spurs “helping to regenerate the area” is pure crap! We are a football team, not a social welfare project or construction company residing in N17 to aid all and sundry with finance, and certainly not to allow Lammy to score brownie points off our backs.! The quicker Spurs are out of N17 the better. All the talk about history and nostalgia has me reaching for a sick-bucket.

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  3. as a consequence of modern EPL we have two options on a rebuild……either stadium will be fantastic as levys brief will be the same in regards to keeping a great atmosphere…..its a turning point in the clubs history…sad for some…….. the club is a business which needs…..its food…..money to maintain its status……is levy right?…..it seems he is shrewd with the dealings with players…..this decision is a massive change for the club….all we can hope for is the olympic redesign stadia is so amazing the fans are given the right venue and concern ….no one wants the prawn sandwich mentality….a great stadia ,atmosphere….and success…. ..its has to be awesome! to deal with the change in peoples hearts etc

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  4. I’m surprised how many people are willing to bail out on the club’s entire heritage in the name of competitiveness or even worse, being able to get there and back more easily.

    Shameful!

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  5. vodka and orange…..totally agree with your point…..lammys gang have been slow for many years in getting harringey into shape in modern way transport etc and seem to play childish pathetic twitter blah blah.hardly fitting for an elected MP …there is a hardcore of spurs fans who may not want to see the stratford move due to fear of change ….so levy and co have a PR job to make everyone realise the move would be the probably best stadia in the EPL etc …(not emirates style but nou camp style atmosphere)…..either way we will get a great new stadium fitting for the direction we are going in…..N17 seems to have been handled in a bad way ie investment wihich is no fault of THFC……lammy gang and their predecessors has to be called to answer for the lack of co operation /infrastructure etc… which recently agreed has conditions attached….it seems too late as our club aims to rise above its recent past….

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  6. TMWNN…..all the history ?….make a museum for it…..the heritage also means maintaining the identity…..i would make the northumberland project the best…..etc….standing in a rundown area is wearing thin for many……if we move blame the politicians and red tape

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  7. I love the history of Spurs and White Hart Lane after spending the last 32 years supporting Spurs.

    In an ideal World, building next door to WHL would be the preferred option.

    Of course it isn’t an ideal World now and a sensible approach will be taken.
    Be realistic (as ever leave limit dreaming to what we can achieve on the pitch….as Spurs fans that is our reputation and right)Professional Football is a business and it will be a business decision.

    New York Jets play their games in New Jersey.
    Spurs players represent the “Club” not the area.
    There are no Spurs players from Tottenham.

    I will support Spurs no matter where they play in the end.

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  8. Agree with you 100%

    Ask any original Wimbledon fan their opinion of MK Dons?
    If the club is not in Tottenham it ain’t Tottenham Hotspurs… Simples
    All that will have gone before will die guaranteed.
    You may see in the future Sky Sports playing clips of our heroes lifting the cup but it will be a complete contradiction, it will not be Tottenham Hotspurs in the future, you will be brainwashed to think so (short term only though!).
    Imagine MK Dons in the Premiership now and highlights of their upcoming fixture against Liverpool on Sky? Do you think they would show clips of Wimbledons FA Cup triumph and cheeky Dennis Wise celebrating? No of course not, most MK Dons fans are from MK and don’t give a …. about Wimbledon or their loyal past fans and players who now support AFC.
    Memories are made from the present and the future. 99.9% of hard core traditionalist Spurs fans will not accept the move including myself after 36 years.
    The future is Stratford Hotspurs and that just aint’ Tottenham.
    Be careful what you wish for Spurs fans it will be the end as you know it and life would never feel the same again.
    Watch the season ticket waiting list collapse and in years to come Stratford Hotspurs will be in majority a whole new breed of premiership football whores with no passion of the history.
    Myself my children and future generations will not grow up supporting such a franchise – period.
    I here certain individuals (mainly youths with no history) stating that regardless of where Spurs are located we need the move to grow etc etc and become a force.
    Well we are not doing bad at 36,000 at the moment and the NRP would be 56,000 imagine!!
    Example Gary Mabbutt , Glen Hoddle, Danny Blanchflower, jimmy Greaves and all the other legends will they then become Straford Hotspur legends?
    NO!!
    Ask Vinny Jones if he is a MK Dons legend ?
    Go on I dare you!!!
    No to Tottinghamization please please.
    I repeat – Be careful what you wish for Spurs fans it will be the END as you know it and life would never feel the same again.
    A hardcore loving Tottenham Hotspur FC fan 100%.
    Famous quote from Keith Burkinshaw’ There once was a Football Club there’ how unimaginably true this quote could be when WHL no longer exists.
    COYS.

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  9. It’s time to give up your nostalgia with the local pubs for the betterment of this club. Daniel Levy, in face of competition is trying to make the club a world force. But dont let that interfere with your love for the 45 minute walk to the nearest tube station.

    Time for Tottenham Hotspur to leave an undeserving borough of London. We are a worldwide tribe! Time to become a world force.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tottenham-ON/TOTTENHAM-HOTSPUR-OFFICIAL-fan-page-for-the-TRUE-SPURS-FANS/430043005180?ref=ts&v=wall#!/pages/Spurs-Say-YES-To-Stratford/155592861152742

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  10. I don’t think people realise the differences in costs here.

    The new stadium could be about £150 million cheaper.

    Lets be honest, most Spurs fans don’t live in Tottenham. It’ll be quicker and easier to get to, and will mean we don’t have to freeze our transfer budget AND operate with half a stadium whilst the new stadium is build.

    You can treasure the past, whilst looking to the future. Why does moving our stadium eight miles mean the destruction of our club. Did it honestly hurt Arsenal or Bayern Munich’s identity? Ask their fans.

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  11. Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver.
    I’m only saying.
    Not that this is a story to which Daniel Levy would give much credence anyway.

    You could have JC, Mary, Joseph and the Disciples for what we hope to save on moving to Stratford.

    The love of money friends.

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  12. I hope we stay in Tottenham myself.

    In any case, if the Olympic interest is a ploy Levy isn’t going to tell Lammy, or if he did Lammy isn’t going to let on.

    So we will see.

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  13. You’ll get more Arse fans signing up to the Facebook “Say yes to Stratford” page than Spurs fans. That’s just what the Arse want, Spurs out the way and the whole of North London to themselves.

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  14. Oh Alan,

    I have been reading your pearls of wisdom for long enough to realise that you are a bloke of integrity, prescience and perspicacity as well as insight and integrity. I have drooled over and then become somewhat perplexed by the Northumberland Development Plan.

    But…. the emasculated revision started me wondering. To have to retain a high street frontage of inauspicious architectural quality, a flying mezzanine to attract unspeakable acts of violence beneath, the unwanted importance of a horrible Sainsbury’s and its looming presence over Northumberland Avenue, a hotel (fit for returning asylum seekers) in a slightly uptown Soweto – they all began to make me think that we were in a mess of pottage (whtever that is) deal here.

    Just what is so attractive about N17?

    Other than the Grade 2 (minus) listed buildings that CABE insist the NDP retains,… IMO, feck all.

    Since 1962/3 I have struggled to reach N17 from HA3 like a Croatian Serb or an East Prussian Kraut. Tottenham itself is a shit house. But some shit houses have underground stations. Witness outer Paris or parts of East Berlin.

    What we need is a viable 100-year life stadium that allows our players, few of whom were born or even educated in N17 (or even N) to distinguish them with displays of delightfully légerdemain de pieds that will render inconsequential whether it achieved in N17 or E87. There have been suggestions that a move to Stratford might enforce the abandonment of the Tottenham title or that a move from a North postcode to an East one would necessitate the reconsideration of our beloved footballing effect – i.e. losing to Milan and Bolton within seven days!!

    Let’s be honest. A new White Hart Lane would be excellent – as long as the earliest fans didn’t have to arrive or leave 5 hours either side of kick off or full time to do it all in 24 hours (from Chelmsford!!) Otherwise an extended KSS/Happold 70000+ version out east might just be feasible.
    I want my boys to play attractive, jaw-dropping footer and – one in a while – to achieve a stunning victory unto which we might become accustomed. Whether it’s in Poznan, Tottingham, Wealdstone or Ystrad Mynach is a little irrelevant as long as 65000 turn up each game.

    Hope this ain’t against the rules, but:
    http://www.dearmrlevy.com/dml/2010/11/19/n17-home-is-where-the-heart-is.html#comments

    Toodle pip

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  15. I live no where near Tottenham..

    It would be much easier & probably more pleasant to go Stratford.. But those are not reasons that have any effect on who I support.

    If anything, it actually brings more character to Matchday. Turning up at the Olympic area would seem bland and totally none football like..

    Would Portmouth move to Southampton? Would Newcastle move to Sunderland?

    London is so big it has clubs in different areas of the city. This club is Tottenham. The club own the land the stadium sits on, as well as all the surrounding land too.

    Tottenham must stay in Tottenham.. Inject some money into the Seven Sisters station, WHL station, as well at that line between the 2 that goes into Liverpool street (which is being redeveloped to include Crossrail anyway).. so there are just a couple more trains an hour, even just on match days & the rest is taken care of by the redevelopment project.

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  16. This is doing the rounds, worth fwd’ing IMO

    The case for Stratford

    1. Money. Yes, it was always going to come first. But the differences could be colossal. These incude – – the low cost of the Stratford site,
    – the joint bid with AEG,
    – the potential profit in developing the current plot,
    – avoiding the extortionate Section 106 costs (such as funding the Vic line extension) and the costs of meeting these strict planning regulations.
    The difference will run into the hundreds of millions. Now, ENIC’s plan was to fund the stadium through debt , and despite what they say, there is no way that this could not impact on our transfer funds and liquidity. If we save hundreds of millions, that gives us more opportunity to keep investing in the team. I honestly believe that Levy didn’t expect the extra costs they’ve lumbered the NP project with. It may well be a case of either Stratford or nothing. And once people start seeing the Emirates generate Man-City style money for the Scum, they’ll begin to realise what we’re missing.

    2. Access. Stratford is unbelievably better connected than WHL. No more Victoria Line, no more impossible parking, no more shitty bus connections. The Jubilee line will be fully functional, the overland train, bus and tube connections are first class. This should also result in safer match day experiences, as away fans can be in Central London in 11 mins. Let’s face it, the majority of fans live outside N17 and will benefit massively from this.

    3. Leverage from AEG. If we shared the purchase debt with AEG then our exposure to debt and risk is dramatically reduced. This means more money to spend on the team during build phase, and less risk should something go horribly wrong (on the pitch or off).

    4. A smooth transition process. The Northumberland Project involves having half a stadium for a season. Do people realise how dreadful that will be? It will mean a drastically worse atmosphere for the lucky few who get tickets, and goodness knows how having half a crowd will effect the crowd – it never does Wigan or Middlesbrough much good. And then you think about all that money lost in the process – ticket sales, match day revenue etc. Yikes.

    5. Different benefits for the Tottenham area. Lammy may whinge, but its not like the WHL plot is going to be left derelict if THFC moves to Stratford. In all probability it would be developed into a larged mixed use scheme that would give a massive boost for homes, jobs, and local government revenue in the area. London is in critical need of more homes at the moment, not more stadiums. In fact a stadium is actually a fairly inefficient land use in terms of adding value to a local area, as it is only used between 40-50 days a calendar year, and tax revenues are tiny compared to business rates and council tax.

    In Football people like a simple opinion. Players are heroes or pantomime villains. We indulge ourselves that our semi-religious loyalty toward a group of strangers paid extortionately to kick a bit of leather around, is this noble and sacred thing.
    The same goes for this stadium. People are genuinely acting as if relocating to a bigger stadium and securing our long term success is an act of betrayal. That remaining in the shit-hole that is N17 is somehow ’priceless’. That loyalty to a patch of land is somehow ‘noble’, and should be put above the long term interests of the club. Well it isn’t. And unless you genuinely have a single-figure IQ, you must understand that relocating won’t remove our proud history (nothing can), it just gives us platform to finally start repeating it.

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  17. No need to go elsewhere, the debate’s right here. But dml is fine, czyrko.

    Things that I have discovered since noon:

    – my IQ has been officially calculated by experts as between 1 and 9.
    – A large proportion of Spurs fans are fine with the move, something I had not anticipated.
    – many Spurs fans place getting to central London quickly on a par with our heritage in N17.
    – I am surprisingly intrigued by the idea of Boris announcing to a disbelieving nation that a stadium on which the world has focussed for two weeks and cost a fortune is going to be demolished.

    Regards,

    Al

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    • Alan

      I have nothing but the highest regard for your incision and bang-on opinions. Poisonally, I’m a history and economics graduate steeped in the heritage of the UK, large parts of eastern Europe, as well as London – particularly North London, Hillingdon to Havering.

      I have watched Spurs since 1963. Before my first attendance at the shrine, awaiting affirmation as a ten year old Tottingham neophyte, I had no idea of their heritage, locale, fan base or where they played. I had imagined some misty, marble areana of mythical beauty, by a babbling brook across from a sylvan woodland where Apollo, Atalanta and Mars might compete for fabulous prizes (with no monetary value, of course). Mmm. Turned out to be a shit hole in the middle of some an unremarkable stetl on the borders on Lithuania, Cyprus and Anatolia.

      Did my love of the great game diminish two or even one iota because my heroes played not in an elysian grove of shin pads and sweaty jock straps? Did it bollox? It’s cos they played footer like what the ancient bubbles played it, whether in Sparta, Thebes, Athens or Famagusta!! (If had footyball been invented in those far off times, which obviously it hadn’t, but I digress…) I persevered with the beautiful game especially as it contrasted so wickedly with this end-piece, nay, arsehole of empire, set in the sunless desert of north London. (How CABE can claim any merit of the buildings between WHL and the High Road is arrantly laughable, but twats run our country these days.)

      Natch. I would love THFC plc to rebuild a new stadium alongside the A1010, squeeze in 80,000 seats, give us views and a Kop like ramp and an acoustic atmosphere that no other ground worldwide in the solar system can manage and an underground station downstairs called “Nicholson” on a new LT line coloured Lilywhite on the map.
      .
      Great. Let’s go!!

      .
      .
      .
      Next Tuesday?

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      • You have no need to prove your credentials in the Elysian fields of this blog, my friend. Tottenham through and through.

        I agree and your original post didn’t say anything different. My comments were more about a day on the web plus the circulated post that made some excellent points apart from treating anyone who thought differently as stupid. That’s not how it is, it’s a real debate and in this my piece I wanted to be clear about which side I’m on, even though it was at the expense of a balanced discussion.

        Regards,

        Alan

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  18. It’s very important that people realise that 95% of pro stratford comments are those of either;

    1. a gooner
    2. people posting at the request of levy

    Please note that number 2 is only possible if levy is serious about the move and this is his way of slowly influencing other fans.

    I still doubt whether levy is serious about all this and feel it could still be a elaborate and therefore more believable ploy.

    Its clear to any real spurs fan that going to stratford is totally unacceptable. Indeed even moving somewhere else in North London but out of Tottenham would still be very wrong. Tottenham Hotspur MUST play in Tottenham.

    Just to be clear levy WONT be allowed to do this no matter what it takes on are part – no matter what.

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    • I live in north london
      i am a spurs season tikcet holder
      I have been to every away game in the CL this season
      I am pro stratford
      It would make my journey to the game worse
      it would save the club 300 million
      gererate revenue a year or two earlier
      i have never met or spoken to daniel levy
      WE HAVE TO MOVE TO STRATFORD
      I CARE ABOUT THE CLUBS FUTURE NOT ONLY ITS PAST

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  19. Czyrko

    Please clarify how your references to asylum seekers, Croatian Serbs and East Prussian Krauts are relevant to the point you are making. They appear distastful to me but perhaps I have not grasped your intentions.

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  20. Haaahha!!! Fucking quality game, when it was 2-0 I literally thought, same old story, same old Spurs, but oh my, when there’s nothing else I thought Harry could do, he only goes and wins the fucking North London Derby!!!! at the Emirates!!! Watch and revel in this as well, I see Piers Morgan got interviewed after the game, I think that pretty much clinches it for him as a person if he’s a bloody gooner….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHnmXvZaspg

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  21. It’s no emotional knee jerk reaction to say a move to Stratford means they won’t be Spurs to me anymore and that’ll be it for me.

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