This has been a season to remember for fans of Tottenham Hotspur. After an outstanding league campaign, the attention of the North Londoners now turns to their plans for a new stadium, as they bid once again for the title of London’s top club. This month Spurs have announced that Wembley will be hosting their Champions League home games next season to accommodate all of their season ticket holders, as the capacity of White Hart Lane will be reduced to allow Spurs’ new stadium to be built.
Although this will come as good news to the Spurs faithful, who have been increasingly fearful that a temporary move to Milton Keynes may manifest, especially with rivals Chelsea also looking to expand Stamford Bridge, there is still a large degree of uncertainty regarding Tottenham’s future. The deal struck by Tottenham chairmen Daniel Levy also gives the North London club the chance to play all of their home games during the 2017-18 season at Wembley, suggesting that the building plan is perhaps not on schedule.
Still, Tottenham’s season ticket waiting list is over 50,000, meaning a move to the largest stadium in England will comfortably support the vast demand for tickets while their new 61,000 seater stadium is completed. However if the club were required to use the national stadium for a longer period of time, it may entice some to question whether the magic of playing at the most prestigious venue in the country has disappeared. Granted, rivals Arsenal have also played home Champions League matches at Wembley in the past, but the idea of a Premier League club travelling to northwest London every other week could potentially diminish the sensation and glory of events such as the FA Cup final.
The importance of Wembley being reserved for such occasions has been depleting long before Tottenham first inquired to use it, however. The rule that FA Cup semi-finals have to be played at the new Wembley stadium first came into operation in 2008, generating heavy criticism from traditionalist who felt it would devalue the fairy tale for clubs who do not often play in major finals.
For Daniel Levy however, giving Tottenham fans the best possible alternative to playing at White Hart Lane is more crucial.
“Importantly, as we know it was our fans’ preference, it means that we can continue to play our home matches in London during our season away’.
The move continues the development and expansion of grounds within London during the 21st century. Since Arsenal moved out of the outdated Highbury stadium, other top clubs such as Tottenham, West Ham, and potentially Chelsea have followed suit.
In this sense, those who question Tottenham’s use of the national stadium surely also have to do the same regarding West Ham’s residence of the Olympic stadium, which will be permanent as of next season. 20 years ago, the thought of domestic football being played at both these grounds would have seemed incredibly far-fetched, (bearing in mind that the Olympic stadium was of course not constructed yet). But now, the reality of modern football has created this situation. Perhaps it may be too nostalgic of us to critique that these moves have only resulted due to financial ambition from club owners, but it is still fair to say that it is disappointing to see Wembley becoming used so much more commonly than its original purpose intended. Ultimately, whatever your thoughts are on Tottenham’s move to Wembley, what is for imperative for Spurs fans is that they create the same riveting atmosphere that has been rooted inside of White Hart Lane for over 100 years.
By Freddie Alcock.
(Images: London Slant/The Telegraph)