Stratford Decision Day Looms: No One Bothers To Ask The Fans

A few seasons ago Tottenham Hotspur proudly celebrated 125 years of history. In 8 days time a decision will be taken that could shape its destiny for the next 125. It will be taken behind closed doors, by people eminent no doubt in their field but who are wholly unknown to the the public, who have little interest in football and none whatsoever in the future well-being of our club. The closest we get to a football man is the former managing director of Arsenal. Certainly no one has bothered to ask the fans.

The news that the Spurs board wanted to move to the Olympic site at Stratford seeped out gradually in the weeks before Christmas. There’s never been any formal announcement or acknowledgement. However, the detailed plans that were published as part of the bidding process for the post-2012 use of the Olympic Park indicated that far from this being a back-up should the redevelopment next door to White Hart Lane fall through, in fact the club had invested tens of millions in preparatory work. Moreover in AEG they had forged an unholy alliance with a major player in the leisure industry, for whom failure was not an option.

At the time, this caused a great deal of interest, or so I thought. Daniel Levy shrewdly kept a low profile but suddenly previously reticent board members like Sir Keith Mills were available to the media, talking up the possibilities of the site and as a secondary consideration mentioning that it represented a cost-effective option for Spurs. Other former members of the Olympic bidding process were co-opted to posts at the club.

TOMM signalled the dangers under the emotive headline: ‘Betrayal’. I make no apologies – football exercises my emotions like nothing else on this earth. However, the news did not spread amongst either Spurs fans or the public at large until two weeks ago. Despite regular dire warnings from the West Ham board, especially the media-savvy Karren Brady, it was the unlikely figure of the architect who has led Spurs’ design programme who put the cat amongst the pigeons. The media suddenly awoke to the consequences of the Spurs bid – the Olympic Stadium, the pride of Britain in 2012, was due for demolition. No athletics track either.

The fans picked up the mood too. Jolted forcibly out of their complacency, few were now able to claim that this was the Levy fall-back position. I was surprised and dismayed that so few Spurs supporters were unaware of the news but it has sent shockwaves through our worldwide community. It’s fair to say that by no means all the fans agree with my view that we should not move to Stratford, but complacency is no longer an option. Take a look, if you are brave enough, at the comments section of my previous piece on the stadium. Leaving aside the cyberwarrior bluster it reveals deep divisions not only in the debate around should we stay or should we go but also about the fundamental question of what it means to be a Spurs fan.

The fans are the heart and soul of the club. We were there 125 years ago, we’re here now and we will be here for as long as our team pulls on the white shirt. Players and chairmen come and go, we hand down the white shirt to our children and grandchildren.

Yet when it comes to this most momentous of decisions, we are the very last people to be consulted. We turn up through rain and shine, good times and bad, we pay our money and pay the wages. Right now, we don’t exist.

In stark contrast, the club were falling over themselves to consult during the planning process for the new stadium in N17, otherwise known as the Northumberland Development Project. I quote from the club website, as they worked towards the new stadium:

The previous application received strong backing from the local community and fans alike – with over 800 letters of support sent to Haringey Council from individuals, groups and businesses. The changes made directly reflect the Club’s desire to find the very best solution for the Club and the locality – and are the culmination of consultation and discussion with the Government’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), English Heritage and other agencies as part of our desire to appeal to the widest possible audience.”

Fans were encouraged to contact Haringey Council. Local people and businesses were roped in. There was an online consultation exercise. They needed us then. Now, our opinions have no effect on the decision-takers. We have no value for the club, hence the deathly silence.

While I’m at it, here’s another quote, again from the club website:

A Flagship for Regeneration

All successful regeneration projects start with a single high profile ‘anchor’ scheme. The Northumberland Development Project represents an investment of hundreds of millions of pounds into North Tottenham and we believe has the potential to be a flagship for the wider regeneration of the area – attracting additional investment and securing significant benefits for the local community:

An even greater ability for the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to address key social and community issues.
• World-class design which people will be proud to live near and visit.
• New affordable housing, both for rent and for key workers such as nurses and teachers.
• A significant investment in North Tottenham with a comprehensive scheme, not just a stadium.

Remembering our History

The Club recognises the importance of remembering our history as a part of the new plans.

We have the opportunity to re-house and re-locate key items which reflect and celebrate our proud history in Tottenham.

We shall look to celebrate our past, display our memorabilia in a worthy environment and retain much of that which fans hold dear.

This will be achieved both in the fabric of the buildings, in the new Club Museum and within the public spaces including the public square and lower courtyard.

We intend to locate the famous Bill Nicholson Gates between the former White Hart pub and the Red House, which is the location of the current Bill Nicholson Way.

We plan to put the famous cockerel, currently in our Club reception, on a plinth outside Warmington House as one of the first visible symbols fans will see as they approach from Seven Sisters.

The old Club Board Room on the first floor of the Red House will be protected and retained and consideration given to bringing it back into use for appropriate Club meetings and Museum activities.

We are also looking at how we decorate the gates and structures outside the stadium on the High Road and what other public art we commission across the site.

We have established a Heritage Group which will consult on this work.

What price history and regeneration now? Literally: it has no value therefore our heritage is consigned to the dustbin, vacant rhetoric that has served its purpose and is now discarded.

Levy apparently lacks the courage to appear in public to discuss his plans. It’s ironic that this furore comes at a time when he has largely won over our support by the way he has run the club. For years his image was tarnished by poor judgement regarding the key appointment in any football club, the manager. Hoddle came and went, to be followed by what felt like the longest reign of any caretaker when, under David Pleat, we could so easily have been relegated. Santini failed, then Jol was removed because he was successful but not successful enough. With Ramos we plunged to the foot of the league until Our Harry came down from on high (well, the south coast) to save us all.

However, under Levy we have reaped the rewards of a consistent, prudent approach to money. He has resisted calls to make marquee signings, instead driving a series of hard bargains over salaries and fees. We’ve missed out on a few players in the process but the policy of buying good young players has more than made up for that as they mature. Also, the ludicrous problems experienced by Newcastle, Manchester United, West Ham and Liverpool are evidence enough to demonstrate the anguish caused by a potentially fatal combination of overbearing ego and an eye on the profit margin. Levy created sustainable financial stability and we owe him a lot.

Perhaps his biggest achievement, his personal legacy, was the new stadium. Finding a site near to the Lane was remarkable in overcrowded London. I don’t envy L’Arse their cavernous soulless spaceship but my goodness how I secretly admired the fact that stayed so close to home. Levy, however, trumped them, because we had a proper football ground, with stands close to the pitch and rising steeply plus an ‘end’. Thus the atmosphere of the Lane, its very essence, was preserved for generations to come.

This is why we felt safe with Levy, because this above all else proved he knew what football means. A proper ground, in our home! He consulted the fans, listened and responded. He knew what we wanted and did something about it. Now that bond lies in tatters. There’s no consultation now because he does not want to hear what we have to say. That’s why I feel so badly let down.

Levy would say that he’s being consistent, acting with the same financial prudence that has taken us this far. I certainly do not want to bankrupt the club, but we should do everything that is humanly possible to stay in N17, rather than cut and run to Stratford.

So it’s back to the Olympic Park Legacy Committee. A baroness, a Sir and a Lord, plus members with backgrounds in the local community, athletics, politics and planning. They’re so on the ball, they only realised a couple of days ago that one colleague, Tessa Sanderson, has links with Newham, i.e. a partner with one of the bids. They will make a recommendation next Friday, which then goes to Boris and the government for a final decision. It’s possible that on the 28th they can defer their choice to seek more information, so don’t hold your breath. This is fast becoming a political hot potato so they will proceed with caution.

As it stands, Spurs bid is seen as the stronger financially whilst West Ham scores on the legacy issues. How the balance tips is anyone’s guess. Nothing is emerging from the committee. Athletics is having a big push in favour of keeping the Olympic Stadium and this could be decisive, but it is only one of several factors the OPLC is duty bound to consider. As I said last week, the public will be baffled by any plan that knocks the stadium down and I suspect Cameron does not want to be remembered as the man with the wrecking ball.

Whatever happens, Spurs fans will not have a say, and nor for that matter will the supporters of west Ham. Fans left out once more. Earlier I said in passing that we should be heard because we are the ones who pay the wages, but the fact is, that is no longer true. The majority of a club’s income comes not from gate receipts but from TV and other rights and from the corporate sector. They’ll care when it comes to the noise in the big games, the club and Sky love us then, but right now we’re out in the cold looking in.

36 thoughts on “Stratford Decision Day Looms: No One Bothers To Ask The Fans

  1. LEVY IS GAY,SPURS ARE LOCATED IN A SHIT HOLE FULL OF ARSENAL SUPPORTING DOGS,THIS POPULATION HAS NO SUPPORT FOR THE CLUB SO NO ONE SHOULD COMPLAIN IF THEY LEAVE THE LOCALITY AND THAT USELESS SHIT LEMMING SHUT HIS FAT HIPPO MOUTH AND TEND TO THE MONKEYS

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  2. Lads i have looked into the future and seen where our stadium is built and its not far from the lane just the length of White Hart Lane to be precise. Its magnificent surrounded by our History and the ever presence of bygone players spirits hovering over the brand new shiny Silver Dome lighting up the night sky in its rightful place down Nicholson way in Tottenham.

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  3. One of the best articles I’ve read on this sad subject, although; ” The majority of a club’s income comes not from gate receipts but from TV and other rights and from the corporate sector” – but where do you think the tv companies and corporates get their money from? It all trickles up from the fans and general public one way or another.

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  4. Well said very eloquently put and I totally agree with all your sentiments. One thing though, sure clubs get lots of alternate income streams such as Sky TV money, but who pays for those subscriptions? Us the fans, Sky wouldn’t be a going concern without football. And come to think of it all that Corporate sponsorship cash ultimately comes out of Joe Publics pocket, so it just emphasises how wrong it is that we are not being consulted.

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  5. Fantastic piece. Pretty much sums up my thoughts exactly. Where has been the consultation? why hasn’t there been consultation , well because it would be wasted research , they know for a fact over 90% of our fans don’t want to go there.

    I personally find the whole fact we even considered Stratford , disgusting and insulting to say the least , and i for one have no intention of setting foot in the souless stadium if we are given the green light for Stratford

    This is our club , don’t let these sugar daddys sell us down the river.

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  6. My guess is that the Olympic legacy argument will win and that it will be politically impossible to justifythe bull-dozing of the Olympic Stadium.

    This is a totally specious argument because a large part of the stadium was due for reconstruction anyway and the ‘legacy’ exists only in the minds of the Olympic athletes representatives.

    This will save Levy’s neck from the fans.
    If he gets a chance to abandon the Northumberland Project he will. He will be afraid of the cost and the debts especially in a time of recession.

    It’s the economics stupid.

    Fine piece again Alan

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  7. Just want to say that I am a season ticket holder and still undecided on what I want. I want to stay because it would feel strange to leave, but all the commercial fingers point to moving on. Your right though. We have no say. So let’s not worry about it!

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  8. Interesting piece.

    Let me begin by saying that I would prefer to stay in N17. However, I am not ready to totally dismiss the move to the OS. You have praised Levy for his financial accumen then accused him of betrayal for the same reason. But how many of the fans that are opposed to the move will be satisfied if it means our transfer budget for the next 5 or 10 years is next to nothing? How will Bale, Modric, VdV feel if their ambitions are not being meet by investment in the team? Are we willing to become a 2nd tier team again to stay in North London? Yes, I want to stay in N17 but I am
    reluctant to throw away a promising future to pay homage to a glorious past.

    The issue is not black and white, it is shades of grey, whether we stay in N17 or move to the OS I am a Spurs fan, and will be until the day I die.

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  9. The point here is that Levy has been happy to seek the fans opinion when it suited him to support the original plan but now he doesn’t want to know what we think

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  10. Maybe our transfer budget will be cut if we have to fork out the higher amount to stay in n17, but the club will still exist in 20, 50, 100 years time, like it has done for 125 years already.

    If we move and in 10 years time we are still around the 3-7 positions in the league, everyone will regret it.

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  11. I cannot understand why some Spurs fan thinks the club shouldn’t move (1) What is the capacity of Sunderland, Newcastle and Aston Villa? they are all over 45k while WHL is just over 35k (2) are the same fan that doesn’t what club the move ready to £1500 more in season ticket? (3) How long do they think is going to take for all the club listed above to be ahead of us in the league? (4Are happy for us to be fighting relegation every year or champion league

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  12. A fine article by Alan – but I totally disagree with him. Maybe it’s because I’m not a true Tottenham supporter, not being born in N17. Alas, Walthamstow was my birthplace so, naturally, I don’t feel the same warmth towards N17 despite walking up (and back down) the High Road God knows how many times these past 46 years. It’s not N17 that counts – it’s the ground. Because it’s at the ground that the team plays and if the ground had been moved to another part of London 40 years ago I would still have gone to see Gilzean, Knowles and Jennings and if it had been moved 30 years ago I would still have gone to see Hoddle, Perryman and Ardiles and if it had been moved 20 years ago I would still have gone to see Gazza, Lineker and Mabbs. And even a team containing Justin Edinburgh, the Rocket Man, Stuart Nethercott and that Japanese bloke that Hoddle signed (the one who dyed his hair orange?). Yes – I would have gone to see them too.

    Goodbye N17. Hallo Stratford.

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  13. Excellent piece. Thought the Northumberland Development Project was well thought out, and well consulted on by Spurs with good web-pages, etc.

    There must be a reason for current attitude. If we get Olympic Park site will be interesting line Spurs take – will they set out relative merits including costs of 2 projects ?

    If we don’t get Olympic Park will they continue with NDP – or is that dead because of supposed high cost ?

    Just wonder whether a sale of Spurs has already been agreed in principle and just awaiting decision on Stratford for final price to be agreed.

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  14. What about the flip-side of the coin, eh ? Transport links: WHL vs Stratford, Stratford wins hands down (Jubilee, Central, Overground and soon Crossrail !). Links to The City/Corporate Hospitality: Stratford wins, savings of £300m (inclusive of £100m from sale of Northumberland Park real-estate) vs. £450m to fund NDP, Stratford wins. Lasting legacy in a prime area of London developed real-estate on Olympic Park land vs. decrepit Tottenham High Road, Stratford wins again…do you want me to continue or do you get the message ??? Yes, we all regret the loss of our History, but life moves on. A big sacrifice NOW will change the future of Spurs forever. Don’t be stuck in the past, Bill Nick will always watch over us whether we play in Stratford, the Moon or Pluto. Tottenham Hotspur will rise again from the ashes like a Phoenix, far stronger more attractive and globally wide-reaching than could possibly be achieved at WHL. Join me my son to the Stratford darkside and together we will RULE football…muahahahahaha.

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  15. The other puzzling thing. London Olympics were won in 2005 and stadium site known then. So why did Spurs spend so much money on land acquisition north of stadium, and fees, etc working up NDP when would have known about possible availability of olympic site. Did they think it wouldn’t be available to them and if so what changed ?

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  16. What a load of garbage which doesn’t even touch on the real issues involved.

    It boils down to do you want success or not. It can not be achieved at WHL with the new financial fair play rules and NDP would only be built with the help of public money which we won’t get.

    We either choose to compete at the top table (and you have to have the commercial income to do that under the new rules) or except being a perennial mid table team unable to compete and always loosing our best players.

    That is the reality of today.

    Man U £386 million
    Arsenal £226 million
    Spurs £120 million way below the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City.

    If we have to live within our means as the financial fair play rules dictate then how do you propose we bridge the gap as billionaire owners will no longer be allowed to use a club as a play thing.

    This system operates in France and Lyon are virtually guaranteed Champions League football every year because they have the largest income so buy up the best players in France that haven’t come here for our money.

    The same will happen here and we will return to those with the money winning everything. If you wish to vote for that that is your choice and I accept that but I and majority don’t.

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    • You may well be right but the point is Spurs haven’t set this out for the fans. They’ve set out quite a lot about the NDP but nothing at all yet about Stratford. If we get it, will be interesting to read Spurs official take on it and reasoned comparison between Stratford and NDP schemes.

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  17. The other thing to note is that I deplore Haringey’s (ie. Lammy’s) stance of using Tottenham Hotspur as some sort of a charity case, who do they think we are; “The Marie Curie Tottenham Fund” we are a stock exchange-listed company actually ??? “Regeneration”, don’t sell me that baloney. That was Haringey’s job for the past 4 decades, and what have they done to show any “regeneration”. Absolutely sweet FA…Of course, as soon as Spurs announced the £450m NDP, Lammy’s little eyes lit up thinking “great, we can finally “regenerate” Tottenham High Road all at Levy’s expense without having to spend a penny ourselves and make up for all our incompetence of the last 4 decades”…please, pass me a sick bag will you, I’m about to throw up…By the way, the Bill Nick Gates and Giant Golden Cockerel would be re-sited on the Stratford site if the decision goes through…4.5 miles never hurt anyone. “Tottenham Hotspur, Pride of London” or else support Arsenal or someone (who are actually a South London club)…

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  18. Levy clearly believes that he can get away with the Stratford option and the numbers must stack up to support him. Staying at the Lane will clearly be more expensive because the club will have to largely meet travel and infrastructure improvements demanded by the planners and police. But the political implications just before the Olympics are immense, and you have to wonder if any minister or official is prepared to face up to the backlash if it meant the ‘legacy’ being demolished. Livingstone, Coe and and a number of others have already voiced opposition, and this is before any decision.

    For us to move right out of the area to another part of London isn’t the same as Arsenal’s a few hundred yards down the road (with the old stands still left intact), or what Liverpool or Everton want to do in Stanley Park. The Tottenham prefix to our name would be illusionary. The historical ties would be broken no matter how some may choose to pretend they’re not. So what matters most – tradition and continuity, or lower cost ?

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  19. Sod the corporate (they’re not proper fans and its their money that have ruined this game)

    sod the transport links (i come from durham for every game so don’t tell me it’s hard)

    and sod anyone who thinks we should move.

    Bill Nicholson’s ashes are scattered on the pitch at WHL, i hope none of you are suggesting we piss off and leave him in a car park.

    SAY NO TO STRATFORD

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  20. No one is pretending that the “historical ties” would not be broken. All Spurs fans agree, grudgingly, that they would in the event of a Stratford move. However, I strongly maintain that where Tottenham plays is largely inconsequential in the modern World. It’s the name; “Tottenham Hotspur” which symbolises the style, the spirit and the history of the club regardless of the actual geography. For me, London is London and that’s good enough, 4.5 miles is a weak, sentimentalist’s argument in anyone’s eyes. I’ll concede the tearing down of 80% of a £500m Olympic Stadium though. That one could be hard to swallow by the politicians and, moreover, the taxpayer…

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  21. >”Sod the corporate (they’re not proper fans and its their money that have ruined this game)”

    Great insight into the finances of the modern game. So next year’s team (at the new £450m WHL) will consist of: Green, Ilunga, Evatt, Upson, Shittu, Figeroa, Adam, Kuyt, Babel, Boa Morte, Heskey and the cherry on the cake, Crouch.

    Get a grip mate.

    >”sod the transport links (i come from durham for every game so don’t tell me it’s hard)”

    That’s for a 36,000 seater, try doubling the numbers pal. The logistics start to falter…

    >”and sod anyone who thinks we should move”

    Touche…well-reasoned…again.

    >”Bill Nicholson’s ashes are scattered on the pitch at WHL, i hope none of you are suggesting we piss off and leave him in a car park.”

    Tell you what mate, just to keep you happy, I’ll personally move every blade of grass from WHL to Stratford and re-lay the turf myself. How does that sound ? Then, I won’t have hurt your feelings and Bill Nick’s legacy will live on…

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  22. Alan, I thought the reason the fans haven’t been consulted yet is because it’s part of an elaborate plan to force the government into dipping its hands into our pockets to help pay for the NDP – i.e. the club not wanting to show its hand.

    I wonder if that’ll be the line for the lack of consultation if the pikeys get the nod.

    If we get the nod, you can expect our press office to go into overdrive; and now that a large majority of fans have convinced themselves a new club in Stratford is for the best, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to spin it through.

    My guess is that when Levy was in NDP consultation overdrive, as per your quotes above, he was %100 behind the it. Since then the opportunity of the OS has arisen, and the money men (AEG?) have bent his ear and it’s all gone quiet since.

    A question that might soon have to be asked is: If our bid is thrown out, no matter how good a job he’s done in the past, can Levy carry on as chairman after trying to sell the club’s identity and history for his own profit?

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  23. It will be onwards and upwards for the Spammers if we don’t get Stratford. For that reason alone we should go all out to get it. Keep a rival down and save 250m quid.

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  24. Olympic Legacy. Sporting Legacy. It seems to me that the previous 4 Olympic Stadia are either no longer used at all or have been redeveloped for other uses. Then again London can do like Montreal did and build a stadium for the Olympics, keep the track etc for future athletics events and allow sports teams to use it for a song (as would be the case with West Ham). Funny thing is that the Montreal Stadium (or the Big O) is rarely used for athletics, is awful to watch sports events and thus really attracts nothing and took until 2006 to pay off. Projected cost of 770M CDN and it actually cost 1.47B of taxpayers money. Now that’s a legacy. Considering that it will have been 64 years since London last had a games and that the commonwealth games does not really draw huge crowds, what event do you expect will ever occur there? The London Olympics Officials have turned to football because they know that their 550M stadium will wind up costing closer to 1B if they don’t find a tenant. It is going to be very painful for the British taxpayer whichever way things go. As a Spurs fan I can say with 100% conviction that it was always Plan A to have the stadium built where it already is. Haringey have pushed costs through the roofs and expect Spurs fans to foot the bill for public works and community regeneration while obviously expecting Spurs to not compete for the next 2-3 decades while they try to pay for it all. I suggest those fans that don’t want Spurs to wind up in Stratford march on Haringey council and get them to play ball. The only question they need to ask is “what will Haringey be without Spurs?”. Become partners not parasites, or your golden cockeril will head east. COYS

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  25. >”The only question they need to ask is “what will Haringey be without Spurs?”.

    Really ? Is that so ? That’s funny, call me selfish and that, but I frankly couldn’t care less about Lammy and his Haringey cronies. To me, they’re just another bunch of money-grabbing, good-for-nothing bureaucrats. Can you actually explain to me what Haringey Council have done for Haringey in the last 4 decades ?? What’s that I hear…silence…is that cos you can’t give me answer ?? I’ve told you the answer and I’ll repeat it again; Haringey couldn’t care less about Tottenham as a football club and little better as Tottenham a geographic district of North London. All they care about is how much money Spurs are willing to haemorrage to keep their inept Bureaucracy in order. So many years and public funds wasted by inept Councillors that it actually beggars belief that they have the gall to call the shots insofar as Spur’s economic future goes. What do WE, the Spurs fans OWE to Haringey ? Nothing. So, going back to your parting question: “what will Haringey be without Spurs?” is somewhat of a moot point my friend…

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  26. So much emotion, yet millions of Spurs fans do not live in N17, or hardly ever go there. Why not have a great stadium in Stratford for half the price – what I do really like about Levy is that he is a responsible chairman, financially. Does anyone have “adult” advice on how I can send a mail of support directly to Levy?

    Life long fan

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  27. The move to Stratford and be competitive or stay in Tottenham and become a second tier club argument/emotional blackmail strikes me as more than a little “odd”, given that NPD set out to allow us to remain competitive.

    A move to the corporate nirvana of Stratford fattens the calf more for a sale perhaps. It will be interesting to see how many of those supporting Stratford will be able to afford to buy tickets for Stratford after a while.

    It’s ain’t footall and it ain’t Spurs and Levy can stick it tbh.

    Brilliant article Alan, I have said it before and I’ll say it again, there is a book in this Spurs season and I haven’t come across anyone better to write it.

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  28. well said. Brilliant article. I have been a Spurs supporter for 44 years, I was at every home game and 50% our away games from age 9 to 29. I have lived abroad for the last 23 years but thank the Internet have still been able to follow my beloved Spurs. It just wont be the same if we move to stratford, it wont be Tottenham anymore. All the memories are washed down the gutter if we really make this move. How often did I sleep on the pavement on the High Road wanting to get to the ticket office first thing in the morning. It was mad but it was fun and I would do it again (even at my age) but not ever in a million years in stratford. For my part they can build in Bruce Park or in Edmonton but stratford!!
    Some fans will go there but they will be dissapointed, whatever fantastic iconic stadium they build, it still wont be White Hart Lane. Thats where our heart is, thats where Spurs heart is and that is where it always will be, not in stratford. I truly hope and pray that the OPLC gives the stadium to West Ham. COYS

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