Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Spurs “Reject” Olympic Stadium

In what was effectively an official statement, given the direct quotes attributed to Sporting Director Damien Comolli, Spurs have rejected the opportunity to take residence at the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games. Whether that chance was actually there in the first place is of course up for debate in itself, but either way it has been clarified as not being an option.

Comolli said:
"The way it is going with the Olympic Stadium they are to keep a running track so there is no way we are even going to look into moving there. I travel around the world and every ground that has a running track in the stadium has a poor atmosphere, the attendance is down and all the clubs say it was a mistake to play there. It could have been an option but it is not any more. We are looking at all possible options, including extending White Hart Lane, but we may go somewhere else. Whatever happens, it won't affect the financial stability of the club or the ability to invest in players. The board are determined that doesn't happen and we will be very careful about it."

Now given that there were rumours of some statement about the stadium issue coming out a couple of days before these quotes were seen in the press, this is certainly a premeditated action by Tottenham Hotspur. But what are they trying to achieve? It looks as if they are either putting pressure on the Olympic Bid people to change the plans for the stadium, which now seems a long shot, or they are posturing for a move to Wembley, either temporary or permanent. The line “…we may go somewhere else” seems like a veiled threat to Haringey Council and the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, who have so far not been forthcoming in terms of offering THFC help and assistance in redeveloping White Hart Lane and the surrounding area.

A temporary move to Wembley seems to make the most sense, as then White Hart Lane could be redeveloped without having to stage a match every other week, and the club wouldn’t have to put up with a reduced capacity while the work is going on. It would be a hard deal to organise though, as not only would you need the FA and the local council on board, you would also need some reassurance that transport links to the Lane are improved in the meantime.

In an ideal world of course you do what almost every other club that have built a new stadium have done, and find a nice plot of land, build yourself a stadium and carry on playing at the old one until its ready. That’s what Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Southampton all did, its what Liverpool are going to do, and most importantly that’s what the lot from Woolwich have done. The trouble is, most fans wouldn’t accept a permanent move out of the borough, that’s what the travellers currently residing in N5 did, its not something Tottenham Hotspur have ever done in 124 years. So it means finding somewhere in the Tottenham area – which isn’t exactly full of open areas of land, and the bits that are open suffer from the same transport issues as the Lane.

Presumably, Spurs have a plan, one more cunning than a Baldrick cunning plan, and this is merely a way of letting the fans know a bit of information without revealing all, whilst playing the long game with the authorities. This issue looks like it is going to run and run.

The Waddler.