Category Archives: New Stadium

Well done Helen on your half time protest

Two things impressed me this afternoon outside of the football match against Manchester United. I was handed a flier for “In Search of Alan Gilzean” as I walked down the High Road which I gratefully accepted informing the Scotsman handing it out that it is a very good book as we passed each other.

Then at half time the We Are N17 protest moved to the next level when a person – Helen according to Twitter – climbed up on the window ledge of the television box on the corner of Park Lane and the Shelf sides of the ground to unfurl a “Say No to Stratford” banner and hold it against the window where hopefully the Sky cameras picked it up.  

Whether it went out during the half time break or will appear on Sky Sports News later Helen must be commended for having the guts to climb up onto that ledge. I understand that she was ejected from the ground but will not be banned from the Stadium. Like many Helen clearly feels strongly enough about our proposed move to take such action and might have faced a lengthy ban for her beliefs. 

If you want to sign the petition to support Tottenham Hotspur remaining in Tottenham please click the Stratford logo to visit the online petition.

Mid Term Report – Management and Ownership

Welcome to the final half term report article in which we shall consider the performance of the Management and our Owners. If you have not seen the previous articles but would like to read them I have set out links to them below as follows:

Half Term Report – dealing with multiple fronts, keepers and defenders

Half Term Report – our midfielders

Half Term Report – Our strikers

The Management Team

Throughout Harry Redknapp’s career he’s been accused of all sorts but supposed tactical naivety is one of the most consistent. If that were true quite how he has turned our relegation certainties into Champions League Group Winners is hard to understand. At appointment the word was “he’s good at turning around teams and making them competitive so he’ll be a good stop gap” but the reality has been somewhat different.

It occurs to me that his motivational skills are second to none. Many of the players that he took over remain with the club and some are quite unrecognisable. Assou-Ekotto is certainly one, Michael Dawson another and the growth of Jenas this season has to go down to a positive mindset as well as his fitness.

Then there is his team of assistants. Kevin Bond is fairly quiet as his assistant but spends time on the field supervising the warm up and I fancy that Joe Jordan is the enforcer in the dressing room if things are not going well. As a player Joe had a ruthless streak. I seem to recall an incident at Old Trafford where our keeper had to go off following an example of this. 

As a coach he appears to have mellowed. Well his teeth are usually in and that helps but on occasions on the touchline he still has his “moments” as we saw recently against Newcastle. I fancy that most of the squad will not want to take stick from Joe and will work to ensure that it does not happen.

Tony Parks did a great job in building up Gomes confidence when first appointed. He may require a refresher on some of those sessions at the present time particularly when catching the easy cross is an option. 

We also know that Les Ferdinand and Tim Sherwood are involved in the training of the squad. I’m not sure how Les is getting on with some of the players in respect of their heading but we need to stop this jumping into the opponent rather than making an attempt at the ball. What I do know is that our players never practice shots in the warm up anymore and haven’t for the last three (I think) seasons yet we don’t have any more difficulty in hitting the target so they must do something in this direction at The Lodge.

Clive Allen has responsibility for the Reserve team but assists with the match day warm ups and sits on the bench during games. Clive still looks fit and on occasions must fancy a run out on the field particularly with all those crosses coming across the area.    

The other person warranting a mention is the trainer who Martin Jol introduced to the club who after losing prominence in Juande Ramos reign has come back into contention with the organised stretching and running parts of the warm up. He also works with the substitutes at half time keeping them working on their passing in case they are needed.

My conclusion is that the coaching staff are working well as a group and producing plenty of product for the supporters to enjoy. The fantastic atmosphere that we enjoy at White Hart Lane is as a consequence of the work that is put in week in week out to ensure a standard of fitness and improve the passing and retention of the ball so that we are able to keep the ball as we did at Aston Villa. 

This was not always so hence the need for the drummer but as you might have noticed I haven’t heard him for ages – not sure what happened there – but we’ve been able to create our own entertainment to supplement the players on the field; and they seem to like it.

Ownership

I’m not sure that the same can be said for the Owners during the Autumn. They must take credit for the fantastic signing of Rafael Van Der Vaart but this has to be tempered by the potential own goal of Stratford. I think David Ginola summed it up well at half time against Fulham when he said, “I love this stadium.” Let’s consider why that might be.

Firstly the distance from the pitch all the way round is small. This means that the players can feel the crowd at all times and that can work in our favour. Secondly the way the lane is enclosed keeps the atmosphere well inside and the noise level up. Whatever happens in terms of the Stadium this is going to be difficult to replicate and I find it hard to see any supporter who has been a regular visitor to White Hart Lane wanting to give this up. 

I am not sure that the Owners properly understand the level of resentment that they may well generate if they end up following the Stratford route. The We Are N17 campaign are doing a grand job in putting forward the opinion of fans properly showing that it is an issue we take seriously and one that needs sensible and adult dialogue so that the arguments are understood.

They may well have pulled off a clever publicity stunt that may well benefit us all. If David Beckham comes the increased awareness of the club around the world will undoubtedly bring us new supporters in different markets and this will mean more commercial income but it may also produce a business willing to put its name to the new stadium.

If this were to happen then the move to Stratford might well take a back seat as money may well be available to stay in the area. Yes we appreciate that S106 agreements need to be agreed – and these are a major sticking point – and some extra property acquired but let’s be honest, if we did not build for another 5 years are we bothered? If we have a Champions League side and domestic trophy winners then I doubt it but if we were in Stratford fighting relegation once more I think that a backlash would exist. 

We understand that Mr Levy is telling Harry to seek out the best players in the World. Hang on we already have some of them so let’s not go too mad and remember that we lost £6 million last year. In general I have been impressed by the actions of the ownership since they bought the club but we have a major junction in the road ahead and I hope that the Sat Nav has been properly programmed so that we remain in Tottenham.                   

Tottenham or Stratford? But can we really afford it?

Emotions are certainly running high over the new ground proposals and the possibility of a move to Stratford. Like a number of other clubs our Board have told us that to prosper we require a new stadium so that we can rival Manchester United and Arsenal. As a consequence we’ve been committed to redevelopment and now as the moment nears we – like many businesses – realise that we might not have the money to undertake the development so we look at options.

This has already happened in Liverpool and the owners chased out of town. The new owner John Henry is already associated with sports in America and owns The Boston Red Sox. Boston play at Fenway Park and this is one of two ball parks, Wrigley Field being the other, which is likely to see out the test of time. It’s a heritage stadium and I would expect Mr Henry to consider Anfield in the same way and perform some redevelopment of it. 

The problem with this is reduced revenue during the redevelopment period putting pressure upon cash flow and for this reason our own N17 redevelopment looked very positive. Our own issue mirror images those of Liverpool. The area around the ground is not a place of natural beauty so real estate values would appear to be low. Our plan showed a hotel and supermarket development as part of the scheme which would be an inflow of money.

I take it that the old tired Sainsbury store on the High Road would be replaced by a new store or succumb to that of a competitor taking the slot. I understand this part for we all need to eat and an improved store would be welcomed but the hotel on our existing ground. 

Who is going to stay in that? Around match day Spurs supporters from far and wide may take the opportunity to stay but at other times where is the occupancy going to come from? I know Tottenham is in London but is it not too far from the City or West End and is this why the transport links need improving? 

Then as with all developments come the listed building issues and contributions to the local area by the constructor known as Section 106 monies. All developments carry these issues and ours is no different. I believe I read on the Spurs site that our contribution is £17 million – a little over the sum we paid for David Bentley or maybe the annual wages of six players at £50,000 a week. 

So what we are saying is we object to contributing so much to the local area – and it is a heck of a lot of money – but in the current football market it’s a sum of money quoted in the press every day against our club. So can Spurs really object that the Council see us as able to contribute such a sum? 

The real problem is not where the ground is going to be situated but can we actually afford it? We’ve released our 2010 results and these are now published on the Club website. These show a loss for the year of £6,647,000 after providing a tax liability of £108,000. This equates to a loss of £127,286 per week which is clearly unsustainable.

The thing is that this loss would not have existed if other clubs had met the Chairman’s valuation of a number of players during the summer. For example, Alan Hutton would be plying his trade at Sunderland had they matched our valuation of £9M and we would have declared a profit of £2.5M. However, as cash payment are over a period it would probably not have produced a cash profit. 

Our balance sheet has value, £70,501,000 but that depends upon player contracts which are entirely speculative. If these were written off we’d be in the red by £45,159,000 and heavily reliant on our property assets which are not cash.  This year will look better with the Champions League money and hopefully a return to profit.

Interestingly both Mr Levy and Mr Collecott received a bonus equivalent to 100% of their base salaries so it is not just in banking where this practice continues.

So what do they have to show for their bonuses? A team in the Champions League, further improvements on the pitch since the balance sheet but a partner for the Stadium Naming Rights; I don’t think that I’ve seen this but it may be part of the “secret things” that the Chairman is not allowed to disclose.

To me this is the crux. If a partner’s name can be found to sit on the roof – as the club’s photos of the new stadium show – then it becomes much easier to stay in N17 and I fancy that this is the aim. But in the current economic climate is this going to be easy?

That is anyone’s guess but I reckon that at the present time it might be difficult. Spurs have traditions and the last 15 years has mainly been as losers so one season in the Champions League might not be enough to get the right investment. Added onto that the Chairman’s valuations may also make a deal difficult to strike. 

Arsenal fans I know suggest that they maybe did not do the best deal in this area but it was an important part of the development. Spurs may go in with more knowledge but are likely to be negotiated down from the sort of sum they are looking for on a take it or leave it basis. 

So it boils down to what positive effects we will see if we develop the new stadium. As a new Bronze member and somewhere in the 29,000’s for a season ticket a new stadium should not produce me a ticket but I think it might be close. I have a theory that many bronze members are on the list because they know that it offers a marginally better opportunity to get a ticket a day earlier for Premier League fixtures. 

My theory works as follows. Last fixture Fulham tickets bought by 9.40. Chelsea and Liverpool fixtures absolute bedlam lucky to succeed. As it stands if we get to a Wembley final I might get in based upon my loyalty points so I’m a regular visitor to the stadium. Those I compete with for tickets are not going as regularly as I may be so would they all want the season ticket? If AEG do due diligence on the season ticket list they may well amend their thought processes.

And that is the key issue. We have got used to seeing empty stadiums at Blackburn, Bolton and Boro over the years so would we be able to sell out a massive stadium for every game? We would like to think so but it also depends upon the prices we will have to pay. Again, hearsay comes into play. My understanding is that the club think that they can get at least double the money from a home game with a new stadium. So as we increase by 20,000 that means we all pay more for our privilege.

But even if they double the money will that make a big change in the accounts? Certainly the revenue available for wages will increase but it will also be needed to repay interest and capital on the monies borrowed to build. So in the first 20 years of occupancy the risk is that a poorly performing team would add to our financial burden through no shows and our risk is that we slide down the table with debts like Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton unless we use Gareth Bale as we did Paul Gascoigne to get us out of jail in the early 1990’s.

Now it won’t get as bad as this, will it? I doubt it but you can see why a move to East London might be on the cards if the building costs are much cheaper and £150M was one figure quoted by a fellow blogger as I recall.

Our history suggests short periods of success rather than the more prolonged periods of our North London neighbours. The Premier/Champions League period has changed much of this and provided the four clubs we have put into the competition with much needed extra revenues. But have they used it wisely? With Chelsea it’s irrelevant as the rich benefactor who saved them from Administration takes care of the loss each year and these have been ridiculous some seasons. 

Liverpool and Newcastle are financially exposed having wasted all of their money and Manchester United have plenty of debt though the owners financing of the club makes it difficult to see how responsible they are. That leaves Arsenal and their spending programme has seen them manage their finances best but without trophy for a number of seasons. 

So what we can see is that bigger stadium is no guarantee of success in terms of winning trophies but can be a millstone around the club’s neck as expectation and pressure from the crowd puts pressure onto the board, manager and team.

But without it? The Carling Cup remains an opportunity to win whilst the biggest sides treat it as a development trophy and a FA Cup final appearance a chance of the draw goes well. We’ve proved that you can get into the Champions League but we haven’t proved yet whether we can repeat the feat and I for one would rather keep a decent team on the field rather than put massive efforts into a new stadium development that may cash strap the club, risk the management and return us to months of no points.

Traffic is the other issue. I travel more than 40 miles to the ground with 2 kids and a mate. For us road travel and free parking are the cheaper option and we wouldn’t want to go main line to Stratford. I would be interested in park and ride and I cannot understand why the club have not looked at this option with West Ham or Arsenal, or publicised the results, to keep traffic down to low levels by providing cheap parking at a central point before a bus run in.

This would allow local residents to get their streets back and maybe reduce the current black economy parking fees into the club’s hands. Many won’t be in favour of this but it could be done be extending the no parking zones around the grounds. Surely the Council could assist in this objective by looking at those businesses using their grounds as unofficial car parks.

So in conclusion I’m not yet decided as to whether I rule out Stratford. My major concern is whether we can afford the project at all and until I am clear on that I shall follow it with some nervousness. We’ve come a long way in the last few years it would be such a shame to give it all up due to our Chairman making another decision as silly as appointing Glenn Hoddle. Let’s really understand the cost issues of the project before we get emotionally divided on it.