I want Tottenham Hotspur to stay in Tottenham. It is where the club belongs. The club’s history intertwines with the history of Tottenham. One cannot exist without the other. However, I completely understand the board’s decision to apply for residency at the Olympic Stadium.
For too long institutional bodies like Haringey council, Transport for London, the Mayor’s office and the Government at large assumed Spurs would stay in Tottenham. They have tried to milk the club for as much money as they could with the knowledge that the club had little alternative.
Only now Daniel Levy and his fellow board members have shown they are willing to move to the new stadium in Stratford have people like Haringey MP David Lammy spoken out. Where were they when the club made their first planning application?
In a time of austerity one would think an influx of private investment on a huge scale into one of London’s poorest boroughs would be welcomed with open arms. Instead, the Lilywhites have not only received nothing in the form of government or development grants, but have been asked to pay for upgrades to the local transport links, and include housing and a supermarket into their stadium plans.
Instead of using the Northumberland Development Project to spark investment and redevelopment, the council seized on the chance to get as much out of the club as they could. Now Lammy laughably talks about ‘wastes of public money’ and ‘copyright infringement’, concerned, like any good politician, only about the effects on his reputation should the club leave the borough.
Fan opinion should matter, of course it should. The ‘We are N17’ group are organising marches and appeals. Some fans say they would abandon the team should they move to Stratford. Would these fans be happy if, for the next 20 years, Spurs did not spend a penny in transfer fees because of the increased repayments due to the extra £200 million it would cost to stay in Tottenham?
The board does not have an easy decision. The club urgently needs a bigger stadium – White Hart Lane, despite its atmosphere, is showing its age and the demand for tickets is much higher than supply – but the finances have to be right. In modern football sentimentality does have a price, and economics can rule over the heart. I just wish we could find an agreement that makes everyone happy.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.