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Was Tottenham's stadium shambles the reason for quiet summer?

Saturday 18th August 2018

On Monday, Tottenham Hotspur announced that the opening of their new stadium would be delayed due to issues with critical safety systems. They were due to play their first game at their new home, built on the site of the old White Hart Lane, on the 15th September. However, they have since confirmed that their game against Liverpool and one in early October against Cardiff City will be played at Wembley Stadium.

An NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders has also been moved to the home of football, while there are question marks over their game against Manchester City at the end of October, as it is currently due to be played on the same day as another NFL game at Wembley.

Spurs have been taking a public relations battering in recent weeks. They failed to make any signings during the summer transfer window and this news about the new stadium has come at a bad time for the club, and its directors, who have come under fire from stakeholders. There's no doubt that things off the field aren't going as Spurs would like, but are the two connected? 

The Lilywhites don't have to look too far for an example of a side that were harmed financially by the pressures and constraints building a new stadium can put on a club. North London rivals, Arsenal moved from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006. Since their switch, The Gunners have failed to win a league title and for a number of years, they sold several star players as the Emirates needed to be paid. That held back the product that they were able to put out on the pitch.

Tottenham never seemed like they were ever looking to do much business this summer. There was a lot of talk and speculation regarding Aston Villa's, Jack Grealish but it seems Villa's new owners decided that the young midfielder would not be leaving the club so Spurs became the first Premier League club to fail to make a signing in the 15 years that the transfer window has been a part of English football. 

The stadium situation hadn't been mentioned while the transfer window was open, but news leaked out on Monday about it before Spurs released their statement. There's little doubt that this didn't happen all of a sudden and the club will have known for a while that there were issues with the new ground. Spurs fans have invested in season tickets and corporate packages at the new ground. Now, these will all have to be switched to Wembley but this will involve refunds and there has already been talk that fan groups, sponsors and investors are unhappy which may lead to legal action. 

For now, Tottenham needs to assess the damage. The clubs' reputation will have taken a knock from this but more importantly, fans are out of pocket. By the time refunds, rental of Wembley stadium and any legal costs are paid the costs of this new stadium will have spiralled and while Premier League clubs have huge incomes, this is all money they won't have been able to budget for and the likely source is that it will have come directly out of the money put aside for recruitment. 

The most pressing issue at the moment is getting a venue for the aforementioned Manchester City game. Wembley is booked and the Premier League have refused to switch it to Manchester as United are also at home that weekend. The Premier League have already relaxed their rules to allow them to play games at Wembley and would have to do so again if Spurs are to try to move it to Twickenham or another location. All this will achieve is to get other clubs backs up and further, legal action could follow, all because Spurs have somehow managed to mess up the opening of their new stadium. 

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Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.

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