Spurs New Stadium Plans All Shiny Shiny. But Don’t Forget – Stadia Are For Supporters

One of the rapidly disappearing joys of Twitter is the way you get to know people that you wouldn’t necessarily bump into otherwise. It’s extremely healthy – mostly.

Keith Punter and I support the same football team but that may be about the only common ground we have. I have no idea what he does for a living, where he lives or how old he is, and we should never, ever get into a conversation about politics.

I don’t even agree with him about football all the time but my relationship with Twitter would be much poorer without him. Keith detests the modern corporatism of the game, the hype, the money, the fact that’s it’s harder to enjoy yourself at football these days, so much so that it’s forced him to stay at home on a Saturday (or Sunday morning, or Thursday, or Friday). But as well as being a good judge of a player, he’s proper Spurs, because he cares about the club, deep down. It makes him angry when things are not done right.

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Last week Tottenham Hotspur unveiled revised stadium plans with a capacity increased to 61,000, a possible retractable pitch and a home for NFL in London. Amidst widespread gushing over the architect’s drawings of the shiny smooth sweeping curves of the stands, where the sun always shines and the fans are always smiling, Keith tweeted this:

How much will a season ticket cost? How much for a beer? A pie?

Forgive me if I am underwhelmed by this new announcement. It’s not that I am against the new ground. I will miss White Hart Lane more than I can possibly say and when the end is nigh, I’ll not so much wallow in nostalgia as dive in with a triple somersault, swim backstroke for 50 lengths then do handstands at the deep end.

But times are changing and we need another, bigger ground with the income that comes with it. I wholeheartedly support the building of the new stadium. It’s just that my views have not altered since the very first announcement, which seems a long time ago now, because that contained the key elements.

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Levy has pulled of a remarkable achievement to build next to White Hart Lane. The Hotspur have never played a home match more than 600 yards away from WHL. Every single Spurs supporter has walked the same pavements, gulped in huge draughts of the same air to roar on the team, muttered darkly as they dashed in defeat down the High Road. This sense of place is irreplaceable. It makes us who we are. There’s only one Hotspur. Moving to an out-of-town industrial antiseptic, faceless B&Q of a ground would have vastly diminished that uniqueness. Finding that site in north London let alone in the High Road is an absolute coup.

The early design included a kop end and stands steepling high and close to the pitch. That means atmosphere, a renewed connection between team and supporters. You can have all the corporate boxes and hospitality you like, provided that is not at the expense of the ordinary fan. It’s still there, with the mouth-watering possibility a few years down the line of rail seating/standing. With the site and design, Spurs exceeded my expectations. That’s what counts and that’s not changed either.

Which brings me back to Keith’s tweet. None of this matters unless the supporters are looked after properly. Frankly, it’s never been a dream of mine to enter the ground along an elevated skywalk – a queue for the train is a queue wherever it is – but I’m sure I will get used to it, and even snatch a quick flat white on the way. If the seats are too expensive, it will be a kick in the teeth to the loyal regulars and alienate generations of potential fans who want to be regulars but who can’t afford it. The PL and Sky have between them already produced a generation of younger fans who define support as buying the shirt, getting a Sky subscription and taking part in endless arguments on twitter. That comment is about football in general by the way. It applies to Spurs but by no means exclusively. It’s a response to being priced out of regular attendance and it’s a crying shame.

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We have to increase our long-term income to compete nationally and in Europe. I get it, I really do. What’s that figure comparing income per home match, The Emirates generates £1m per match more than the Lane? This stadium, the NFL deal plus TV money, could secure our long-term financial health. What I don’t accept is if supporters are exploited in the pursuit of cash. To me, the two are not incompatible. Precisely because of the projected income streams and the capacity, Spurs can afford to keep prices reasonable. That secures support over several generations. Fans will keep coming even if, or when, the TV cash cow runs dry. Kids will support Spurs, not Chelsea, United or Barcelona. And in the long-term, that brings in money.

And while I’m about it, can we nail this thing about ‘never going to be able to fill it’ jibe that’s hurled at every new club development these days. The Lane has an illustrious history but since I began this unfortunate passion in ’67, it’s not been full that often even in the glory days that we recall so fondly, until of course you get to the modern era.

This afternoon I’ve seen a pic posted by a Hammer of the view from the upper tier of the soon-to-be-former Olympic Stadium. I know there will be retractable seating close to the pitch but for the upper tiers, they should include free binoculars with every ticket. Stadia are for supporters. That’s the benchmark, pure and simple. I feel for Hammers (no really) because they like us are used to being tight to the pitch.

Spacious seductive walkways populated by Lowry pigmy figures rushing to the match mean nothing to me. Stadia are for supporters. It’s the only benchmark. Levy got it right almost a decade ago and it’s the only thing that matters to me still. Watch this space.

And Keith, if we ever meet, I owe you a pie mate. Hang the cost, you’re worth it.

22 thoughts on “Spurs New Stadium Plans All Shiny Shiny. But Don’t Forget – Stadia Are For Supporters

    • Not true. Stadia since the beggining dating back thousands of years have been for monetary gain, funnily enough from sponsors. Look back at the Roman collesuem they still have markings of who the sponsors used to be. (And to be fair another reason was to keep the masses from rioting due to boredom).

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  1. Spurs are a private entity. Just like every other football club has become ever since money was introduced to the game. I agree it takes away from the enjoyment of the game. But this will never change, not for any club.

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  2. I’m hoping we can’t fill it. As a non season ticket holder, it would be great to know I can book a couple of tickets for any match. Most of the income will be in naming rights, corporate and TV rights as well as making use of the removable pitch for other events, concerts, boxing etc, not to mention naming rights! I see no reason why the seat price will go up unless we are crammed full.

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  3. Good article and I completely agree. The older fans will certainly be sceptical. I hope spurs don’t do an arsenal and squeeze the fans. that would backfire in my opinion. Myself I’m reserving judgement on levy end Lewis until we see how much these guys will charge. Bearing in mind we have either broke even or made a profit in every summer transfer window since enic took over

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  4. I agree with everything you’ve said apart from the elevated skywalk. Many a time I’ve sat there watching a dismal defeat thinking ‘If only we had an elevated skywalk, I could put up with this performance.’ or ‘You know what would get us back in this game, a scuba diving tank.’ Alan, where’s your imagination?
    I’m trying not to get caught up in the romance of the new stadium. I daren’t dream of an Altitude Cafe, Kinetic motion-sensor Skills Booths (whatever they are), or even (and I say this with a heavy heart) an elevated skywalk until I know how much it will cost for a season ticket. Thanks to Sky, money is sloshing around the game but into the pockets of agents and players, not the average supporter.
    Nothing else matters really except for 90 mins on a Saturday (or Sunday morning, or Thursday, or Friday) and if I can’t afford to go, it doesn’t matter what they build, it will break my heart.

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  5. Good article; I only hope the powers that be read this and think long term. Unless they heed these comments then PL football will only exist on pay to view TV with near empty stadia. The cost of a visit to a PL game for an average Dad and two sons is already beyond the reach of many people. Football is not alone in this – chasing big bucks is killing so many sports. When we visit the NY Mets (major league baseball) on holiday in the US, the quality of the experience and the cost are about three times better value than the PL. If there are to be future generations we need to price tickets to fill the stadium, not just the hospitality boxes.

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  6. As much as I dislike them, West Ham have got their business plan spot on with moving into the Olympic Stadium…. Tickets, especially kids will be really cheap, which will encourage the next generation of locals to be interested and to support that team.. I actually like south of the river and I know loads of people who supported Fulham because it was the cheapest season ticket for the PL… We should follow suit for at least a couple of years after the stadium opens, especially if they do go with MK stadium during the season on the road!!

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  7. Ah, Alan, there you are! I did the mother of all double takes when I saw you in my in-box. July 19th? Surely not. Alan spends June and July in a capsule circumnavigating Mars doesn’t he? Don’t suppose you stumbled upon any outcast strikers up there did you? Soldado in space, on an even more elevated sky walk, always an agonising slow-motion somersault away from making contact with the football. Oh, wait a minute, that’s no different to his performance on terra firma.
    Very excited about the new stadium. Agree 100% with your rationale on ticket prices. Let’s hope Levy gets it too.
    Best wishes.

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  8. Superb as always, and I hope the holiday had at least some dry days!

    Trouble is, and the elephant in the room, is as you said, the ground is rarely full at 37,000, so at 61,000 there will be entire sections closed for many games.
    For me the announcement and the glee that greeted the NFL tie up seemed surreal. Why do so many soccer fans care that the ground will be used twice a year for American Football. It is not like that money & revenue will find it’s way into the THFC transfer kitty is it?

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  9. Keithhpunter is one of the most pessimistic, negative, moronic spurs fans going. The type of bloke that If we won the league he would complain how that the trophy wasn’t big enough

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  10. Is this stadium actually being built. Have they actually started building it? Any pictures. Spurs have been talking about this for a while but until they actually start building after getting planning permission from the council I refuse to believe it is going ahead.
    How does it make commercial sense for the NFL to get involved. How much extra will it cost to get a retractable pitch? 2 match a year for ten years is 20 matches. Is this cheaper than an already made wembley, which has more seats. Any info would be great.

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    • They have started to build, Rob, seen it with my own eyes – or at least the bit I could see over the hoardings. It will happen.

      There is info on the official site: http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/new-scheme/stadium-tv/ HANG ON – this link has a live feed! You can watch the buidling for 24 hours a day.

      I don’t know how the costings re NFL work. NFL see GB and europe as a huge untapped market wth talk either of a London franchise or a US team decamping here. I assume Spurs can do purpose-built NFL with specially enlarged dressing-rooms and more choice over dates at a cheaper price than Wembley. Money talks in the end. The ground is designed for football, that’s what matters to me.

      Regards, Alan

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