When fans are quizzed on stadiums draped in history, the usual suspects will regularly appear on any list. Old Trafford, Anfield, the Camp Nou, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and La Bombonera will more often not make a welcome appearance.
Some will often criticise the lack of Tottenham Hotspur’s current home White Hart Lane not being included on that list and you will be hard pressed to find any fan of the North London side to argue that.
The self-proclaimed world famous home of the Spurs has enjoyed its fair share of significant moments in history, the 1961 double winning side under the stewardship of Bill Nicholson staking the claim for the club.
Many would consider it sacrilege to move from a ground that has been standing since 1899 and one that produces one of, if not the, best atmospheres in Premier League football. Nevertheless, regardless of the historical significance and the intimidating environment the supporters generate during home games, to persist with White Hart Lane would be a grave mistake for Spurs to make.
The club’s current plans to leave White Hart Lane are currently in effect. For those that have visited the North London side during home encounters this season would have noticed the change in scenery, with the club still going through of process of purchasing adjacent land and knocking down buildings within the area they hope to build into.
It’s a step in the right direction, especially following the debacle surrounding the Olympic Stadium. As many are fully aware, there was serious discussion between Spurs and the Olympic Park Legacy Committee (OPLC) regarding the North London club possibly re-housing to Stratford.
It prompted outcry from Spurs fans, with a majority, if not all, keen to remain in North London and you can hardly blame them. The move, ultimately, was to force Haringey Council into providing the club with funding to aid in re-developing the surrounding area, which many perceive to be the most rundown in the capital.
The ploy worked, with the club securing £17m from mayor Boris Johnson to boost the coffers for the new home, believed to be costing anything upwards of £350m. It’s this investment that prompted Spurs to press ahead with their initial project; the Northumberland Development Project.
It was this further investment that convinced the club to redevelop the area, with supermarket giants Sainsburys also laying down a further £50m-£70m in order to have their biggest store in Europe based within the stadium itself.
Capable of holding 36,230, the stadium attendance is far too low for a team with high expectations. You only have to look at Arsenal and the Emirates Stadium to see the progress they have made, financially anyway, to understand the need to move to a larger home.
The Gunners previous stadium, Highbury, held a little over 38,000 when sold out, while in comparison, Arsenal’s new home, the Emirates Stadium, is able to accommodate over 20,000 more fans.
The fact that Spurs currently boast the third biggest stadium in London, not including Wembley, behind Arsenal and Chelsea, suggests that the need for a new home is vital. Widely perceived as the third best team in London, no offense West Ham United and Fulham fans, it’s absolutely vital the club re-build the surrounding area in order to close the gap between the Gunners and the Blues.
It’s also common knowledge amongst Spurs fans that the club itself has one of the longest season ticket waiting lists in the league, a figure surpassing the 20,000 mark. With the new stadium expecting to boost the attendance mark well over the 60,000 figure, that waiting list will diminish all too quickly.
Granted, White Hart Lane is the spiritual home of Spurs. Ask any fan and they’ll tell you they’d rather remain in the ground then move out, especially if the naming rights are to yet to be purchased – for all supporters know, the new stadium could be called anything from ‘the Virgin Ground’ to ‘the Tampax Arena’.
Fans will be hopeful the investors persist with the name White Hart Lane or, at the very least, see it titled ‘the Bill Nicholson Stadium’, in homage to the former manager. Either way it’s evident that the way chairman Daniel Levy is going about his business is to sell the club on for as maximum a profit as possible.
Having replaced Sir Alan Sugar as chairman back in 2001, the club have certainly come on leaps and bounds, with results on the pitching mirroring those off it. At present, Spurs are one of only a handful of clubs in the Premier League clubs to be ‘in the black’ – a business operating at a net profit.
It may pale in comparison to the figures obtained by rivals Arsenal, but it is grounds for optimism for a club that continues to grow. Player sales may’ve contributed heavily to his, with the money obtained from the deals involving Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Wilson Palacios further lining the coffers.
On top of that, the Champions League funding throughout their run to the quarter final in the 2010/11 season has not only boosted the profile of the North London club, but substantially also lined the club’s pockets.
With the club still in the limelight, the last piece of the business jigsaw is certainly the stadium. With the club in disarray back in 2001, Levy and holding company ENIC International Ltd essentially brought a Spurs team that was in desperate need of fixing.
Like a home that needs work, the stadium will ensure that said house is prepared to sell on, fully furnished. The new home of Spurs will only propel to the next level, which judging from results on the pitch is desperately needed.
Fans may share a special bond with White Hart Lane, that’s for sure, but it’s essential that Spurs look ahead if they are to compete with England’s bigger sides. Doubling the attendance will see them catch up with Arsenal and Chelsea, while further bolstering the match day profits through ticket sales.
The extra profits could be used to help bring in fresh talent and challenge for the title. See what bets William Hill offer for Spurs’ title bid at www.williamhill.com