20 January 2011

Leaving Tottenham is unforgivable

Tottenham Hotspur on Tottenham Marshes, 1885

Initially it looked like a bluff to stop TfL and Haringey council holding the club to ransom and it might still be, but Tottenham Hotspur Football Club moving to east London is worryingly possible.

Following the club’s plans for a new stadium is a confusing business. There have been times when you could be forgiven for thinking the Northumberland Development Project (a 56,000-seater stadium adjacent to the current one) was imminent. Just when it looked like planning permission had been granted there was always another body to satiate. Architectural plans written. New deadlines. And now there’s the bid for the Olympic Stadium which Tottenham and West Ham are both doing their best to get.  

Whether you’re a regular, a visiting supporter or watching on television White Hart Lane leaves an impression as a loud stadium. The atmosphere, especially for European games and derbies (and even more importantly if you sit in the right part of the ground) is fantastic. The way the larghissimo version of When The Spurs Go Marching In echoes around the ground makes the hairs on your arms stand on end.

But it is only 36,000 in capacity. The stand out statistic in the Swiss Ramble’s report on Tottenham’s finances was the gulf in match day earnings between us and the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. With UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations around the corner it’s more important than ever for clubs to maximize revenue so they can spend more on transfers and wages. With 33,000 people on the paid for season ticket waiting list selling 20,000 more tickets a week won’t be an issue.

I remember my first visit to the Lane vividly. I was an hour and a half early and sat in my seat, enveloped by the steep stands, marveling at how strangely intimate the place was – like a big front room. But it isn’t White Hart Lane that I’m attached to. It is home, but I accept we can’t live there forever. Brace yourselves for the most horrifying statistic in football – Arsenal have won the league more times at White Hart Lane than Spurs.

What’s important is that we stay in Tottenham. It isn’t complicated really – football, at domestic and international level, is a territorial game. American sports teams can be franchised across the country, but that is unacceptable in English football. The high-profile modern example is what happened to Wimbledon, or the Milton Keynes Dons as they are now known. A club that quite literally gave their history away, including records, honours and a replica FA Cup, to Merton Council and AFC Wimbledon.

Being from South London I have no tie to Tottenham or Haringey other than Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. I’ve only ever been to the area to watch games and buy tickets. Our three best players grew up in Cardiff, Former Yugoslavia and a Dutch caravan park and we have fans all across the country, but the club’s roots are firmly rooted in Tottenham. We’ve been there for 129 years.

The club’s original plans to build a new stadium next to the current one suggests there isn’t better location elsewhere in the area. Much is made of the poor transport links around the current stadium, but 36,000 people manage to make it into their seats by 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. I appreciate that people’s time is valuable, but I won’t sacrifice the club’s heritage to get home 20 minutes earlier.

Ideally transport needs to be improved, that’s obvious. In the hour after the game there could be twice as many trains from White Hart Lane station as there currently are, which would be some compensation for the nearest tube station being 20 minutes walk away. Northumberland Park station could also be better utilised.

There are a host of other arguments, issues and agendas on both sides. Debates about running tracks around football pitches, the Olympic legacy, developing Crystal Palace, whether West Ham can sell out a stadium double the size of Upton Park, the regeneration of Haringey, copyright threats and even a warning of civil unrest. All these things are irrelevant.   

There seems to be little doubt that Stratford is a more attractive proposition financially and this forms the basis of most pro-move arguments. £200m is the figure that’s doing the rounds and even if this isn’t a liberal estimate I’m not interested, because the saving would come at too high a cost. The financial projections for Stratford aren’t relevant, just like the financial projections for moving to Milton Keynes aren’t relevant. Or Wembley. Or Woolwich. We are Tottenham Hotspur.

If the future of the club was in jeopardy moving might be a last resort, but that emphatically isn’t the case. The worst-case scenario staying in Tottenham is the Northumberland Development Project not going ahead, continuing to sell 36,000 tickets a week, and we keep our integrity. Even if we fall behind the higher earners there are still only five teams in the country that earn more money than us. Doesn’t sound like the end of the world to me.

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Arsenal’s move over the river, the beginning of the north London derby. It would be tragic if a year or two later they had north London to themselves.


  1. Very well said.

  2. you're second to last paragraph highlights my feelings exactly. I'd rather support a mid-table team with a soul than a champions league, title contending one without one.

  3. I'm a little confused sir. How many clubs in the world still play in their original stadia from their founding?

  4. You fail to realise that if Totenham fails to win te Olympic stadium bid it will start looking elsewhere for a cheaper alternative to the Northumberland Park development, which is outrageously expensive. There will be almost no media and politicial outcry to Spurs moving towards the M25 as oopposed to East London.

  5. You're just saying that cos Stratford is not good for sarf londoners...

  6. Its all a matter of degree, after all I guess the original team were all local lads. Should we stick to that or move on so we can compete?.

  7. Being Jewish,I find your blog name insulting. WHL is a mess and to pour £450m into the area is suicide. Finally, get your hair cut - you look like a nonce

  8. Like many supporters of spurs i grew up in Haringey on boarders of Hornsey and Tottenham, so as a kid had had two choices either support spurs or arsenal i opt for spurs over 40 years that been support we had ups and downs but never given- up on my team one main problem has always been getting to spurs for games unless your live within walking distance getting to white hart lane has been nightmare, Haringey council done very little to support spurs over 40 years to develop the area
    Now spurs plan to leave Haringey both council and the local mp screaming foul play - let me say as someone who love my club that council need to address local issue and social obligation before targeting private sector – Haringey should help out years ago if area fall apart after spurs leave it all down to council who been difficult

  9. I doubt whether those in charge will go with your suggestion that they should be content with their lot and get by on the match day income generated by the current capacity.
    Lets be realistic here - the club are run as a business. It would be terribly tragic if they had to leave North London but the prospect of obtaining a 60,000 capacity stadium that is well serviced by public transport for £200 million less than the White Hart Lane redevelopment plan is impossible to overlook from a financial viewpoint.

  10. That was not the point of the article the way I read it, jayabe2. The point was – and is – that we stay in Tottenham, not squeeze into another club's territory. Stay and keep our soul.
    To build a new stadium close to White Hart Lane of today is the best option even if it is the most expensive one.

  11. North London will be Arsenal's FOREVER! That is argument enough.

    The claim that Stratford is the only financial option is rubbish, because if we redevelop WHL we will have a soul and large gate receipts.

    Levy is gona sell-up anyway, so when we are an east London club, with a Qatari sugardaddy how many of us are still gona feel love for this club???? For me it will be a bit like the Robbie Keane scenario - it will never be the same again.


  12. bring on stratford, we'll be the man city of london, got to evolve or simply get left behind. We will win this bid anyway so you'd all better get used to it !

  13. Why can't people live in th 21st century. What is all the nonsense about North London will be Arsenal's. North London has Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, West Ham, Barcelona..... Moving to Stratford doesn't 'hand' north london to Arsenal. It makes Tottenham bigger and better placed to dominate London. It will be the best ground, in the best location with the best facilities and still have the magical name Tottenham Hotspur. Teams will move out of their area all the time. Strangely Arsenal did it first and look how it benefited them.

    Liverpool and/or Everton will move out of Liverpool. Chelsea will have to move away from Stamford Bridge. Earl's Court anyone. Move on and move forward. I lived in Tottenham and I have walked down the shitty High Road for 40 years with my Dad and now my son. It is a completely unsustainable dump and the only way to move forward is to move. That's life.
    We tried to stay and it is not possible. We have an amazing option under 5 miles away that everyone can get to. To go forward you have to develop.
    My local team are now Luton. They had to get out of the town or die. They chose death. This was a well supported, well run Division 1 (top division team) it is now in the 5th tier.
    All this nonsense of rather supporting a mid table team with a soul. It won't be a mid table team with a soul. It will be the 4th biggest team in London over time if West Ham get the Olympic stadium. The Mancester and Liverpool teams will go ahead of us; other billionaires will come in to other clubs. It will get relegated occasionally and it will come back up hopefully, but who knows it might 'do a Leeds'.
    There is no option we desperately need Stratford. East London will be ours and we will maintain our historical links with North London by maintaining the name (don't believe this nonsense about having to change the name).
    Stop being emotional and realise that football has moved on; we got so badly behind Arsenal because we sat on our arses while they moved again.
    Stratford has everything in place; Tottenham doesn't and never will. THERE IS NO OPTION.

  14. Who says there are no other options?

    If Tottenham is such a dump - don't go.

    Don't use it as an argument to move. There are apparently 34,000 fans on the waiting list that don't mind that dump.

    Don't sell out.

    Say no to Stratford!

  15. Totally agree with 3:26PM. The council have made it impossible to stay in Tottenham with their outrageous demands that the club has to fund the redevelopment of the whole area, while leaving a couple of crappy buildings right in the middle.

  16. TMWNN. What are the options then? I love Tottenham, born there, lived there and have been going for 40 years. I will watch them till I die where ever they play. 'If Tottenham is such a dump - don't go' - any chance of growing up? I could say to you - if we go to Stratford don't go. What would be the point of that?
    The 34,000 that you mention can't get in - hence why we need to move to Stratford. Moving on and progressing is not selling out, it's progress. We won't re-build WHL - we will not get the funding. I've seen the figures; I've spoken to the Finance Director. WHL is not going to happen.

  17. For all this talk of "we are Tottenham", I don't know a single fan who actually lives in Tottenham. Most of the season ticket holders that I know don't live in North London at all.

    And let's not forget that the original name of the club was simply Hotspur.

  18. For all the people who don't want to go (or say it because it's trendy) there are so many more who do want to go and they all desperately love the club. Moving is not selling out and it is not being any less loyal, it is just knowing what MUST be done. Please understand - Stratford, big club; WHL - no bigger than West Ham are now.

  19. I'd like a stadium in an area where I can take the whole family and not be worried about their safety. Tottenham has never been that

  20. Very young kids don't want to be stuck in traffic or public transport for hours before or after the game (they're just not that patient). And any new stadium is going to be more for them than it is for us, unless you want them to support the goons or another team that's easier to get to

  21. I have supported Spurs for 50 years, Harringay council have been trying to help Spurs for the last month which is when they realised that the club are serious about moving away from Tottenham.
    I now hope and pray that we get the move to Stratford, Tottenham hotspur FC have done more for Harringay and the locals than the council or the local government have.
    When the club leave Tottenham you cannot blame the club.

  22. I support the Stratford Spurs(C)

  23. Here's reality. Part of the excess 200M will be footed by a large corporation in exchange for naming rights. Like it or not, the name WHL will be gone. The extra 200M of debt will also mean that loan repayments will be that much higher and under the fair play rules will mean that much less for players, so you can forget about maintaining anything like what we have now. Progress must happen. The original plans and everyone's first choice was to do it at Tottenham. Haringey want us to fund their public works. Ancestry want us to preserve the older buildings. What are they doing for us? You can transplant a tree or cut it off at the base. No-one is suggesting we do the latter. Tottenham Hotspur will live on wherever they play. Shame we only got begrudging, expensive approval after the threat of another real possibility was floated. Funny that? COYS

  24. I am one of those that do not want to leave North London,however I have to agree with all those have said that harringey council have done nothing whatsoever to assist Tottenham Hotspur in their plans,and now they have the temerity with their mouthpiece the local MP to call THFC treacherous in wanting to move.Time and time again they have put planning obstacles on our proposals.I don't seem to remember that woolwich had these problems to contend with from their local council,when they moved from the library.Why should THFC as a club have to put up with these petty objections,when the club and the supporters bring far more to the area than the area and the council ever give to the club...Let's move!!!

  25. The fans in support of a move to Stratford, I'm not suggesting you aren't real fans, you obviously just have different values to me and the anti-Stratford brigade.

    The idea that the club will die if we don't move is preposterous. Before the Olympic Stadium became an option the future of THFC was not in jeopardy. The Swiss Ramble report which I linked to shows the club is very well run financially.

    The idea that Spurs and West Ham are currently similarly sized clubs is untrue and the claim that a bigger stadium will suddenly elevate them above us is also false. They failed to sell out a league cup semi-final last week while we have the 4th biggest fan base in the country.

    To jayabe, lots of clubs moved around when organised football was in its infancy, but this was also a time when clubs wore different colour kits each year and played wherever they could. In the last hundred years there's been a lot less movement and almost all clubs play in the area that whose name they bare.

  26. I was just wondering about the move/same name b/c I'm an America fan that is used to a different relationship btw the fans/supporters and the professional team. However, over the years I've learn to treat Tottenham more with a "college" level fandom.
    My relationship with Spurs is only through TV/internet/blogs. I say that to say this, because I cannot physically touch Spurs, my view of a potential move will never be as passioniate for either side as one who lives in Tottenham.
    But, to be fair, I still would like to one day make a pilgramiges to WHL and try to experience the full Tottenham experience for at least 2 weeks.

  27. I am not from Tottenham. I love Tottenham Hotspur. I love flying into Gatwick airport on matchday. I love Tottenham Hotspur. I love getting the Gatwick express to Victoria. I love Tottenham Hotspur. I love being crammed on to the Victoria line tube up to Seven Sisters. I love Tottenham Hotspur. I love what seems the ever increasing walk up the High Road to White Hart Lane. I love Tottenham Hotspur. If I didnt I would probably enjoy going to West Ham. I love Tottenham Hotspur. I do not love West Ham. I love Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham Hotspur are in Tottenham. I love Tottenham Hotspur.

  28. Jack McInroy, I am struggling to see where anyone said that Tottenham will die if we don't move. Of course Tottenham won't die, we simply won't be able to compete at the highest level in England, let alone Europe. Tottenham will not get the funding to redevelop WHL because the figures do not add up. Arsenal borrowed much less than we need and sold Highbury for much more than we will get for WHL. The economy was much better and it was far easier to borrow.
    Mr. Levy wants to move there because there is no viable option. WHL is no longer an option. It costs too much and we cannot borrow the money.
    Also no one has suggested that West Ham and Tottenham are similar sized clubs - Tottenham are far bigger. What has been said is that if Tottenham stay at WHL they will, in time, become similar to West Ham are now. What's more if West Ham get a 60,000 ground they have the opportunity to woo rich fans from the City who will bring in the money, whilst subsidising the 'real' fans. Almost every club who has moved to a new ground (and stays at the same level) has massively increased their attendances. Fans want so much more now and a top quality purpose built stadium with good facilities and communications is vital. The latter part of this will never happen at WHL.

    I have missed 4 games at WHL since I started going over 40 years ago. I lived in Tottenham for many happy years. I love everything about the football club. My love for it knows that, sadly, we must move on or we will not achieve my life's ambition of seeing a man with a cockerel standing on a ball on his shirt holding the Championship trophy. Tradition and history is over rated. We started out as Hotspur and added Tottenham. That will never change. The key decision in Tottenham's future happens very soon. It must be Stratford.

  29. The West Ham I was referring to was 4.07pm "Stratford, big club; WHL - no bigger than West Ham are now"

    The idea that a bigger stadium is all they need to become a bigger club has little foundation. For West Ham to sell 60 or even 50 thousand tickets they'd have to reduce the prices to a point where they're making less than we make at a 36,000 stadium. Fanbases don't appear overnight and for West Ham's to rival ours would take decades.

    You say no one is suggesting Tottenham will die, but someone suggested we might 'do a Leeds' and there's a lot of talk about 'no other option'. That's quite dramatic talk if the alternative to Stratford is finishing 6th or 7th.

    Hotspur for 2 years, Tottenham Hotspur for 107, so I don't think that point is particularly valid as most teams went through different names when they started up.

    What it boils down to is how much emphasis you place on history and local identity. For me the essence of Tottenham Hotspur is men and white shirts with a cockerel on the chest playing in the Tottenham area, but you say tradition and history is over rated. Its odd, because you've been supporting the club longer than me, been to many many more games and lived in the area. But we'll have to agree to disagree.

  30. New football team:

    Stratford Hot-exspurs



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