I can count those making a cogent argument against moving to Stratford on one hand.
Martin Cloake’s thoughts make for thoughtful and well balanced reading. Little surprise from an author, editor and journalist who is amongst those most well placed to pass comment.
What I’d like to do is take his piece and look at it in across a few blogs. Here’s Part One….
I’ll confess my initial reaction to the ‘Spurs to Stratford’ rumours was to see it as a negotiating position. I knew Spurs were having problems with Haringey Council and, as someone who grew up in Haringey and started my working life as an employee I’m very familiar with Haringey’s ability to make a royal mess of almost everything it touches.
The Tottenham On My Mind blog has, in a well-argued piece, been critical of the “ambivalence” of many fans who took the same position. I’ll hold my hands up and it say it looks like – and only looks like – my initial reaction was wrong and that Spurs do intend to move to Stratford. But I still think many of the issues are much more complex than inevitably tends to be the case when a public debate such as this one is sparked.
So what follows are some thoughts and questions on the while issue. And I’ll start from where I start. I want Spurs to stay in Tottenham. That’s where the club was formed, that’s where it’s always been, and that’s where its unique and extraordinary history has been forged.
The new stadium envisioned in the Northumberland Development Project looks mighty fine and it has the huge advantage of being as close to the current site as it’s possible to get. I know most of us who go to Spurs no longer live in the area. And I think there’s a lot of baloney talked about ‘community’. I’m not sure how many of the local residents like their area being invaded every other weekend and midweek night.
But English football is a complex beast, that’s why it is such a big deal. A sense of place is key to that. We are Tottenham, from the Lane is a popular song with the fans. And I’ve heard many a fan say, “The area’s a sh*ithole. But it’s our sh*thole.”
We have roots in N17 and that is just one of things that gives us the high ground over that other lot who relocated from Woolwich.
I don’t like the sound of Stratford Wanderers at all. It matters to me that watch the team from the same ground I began watching the team from in 1978, the same ground on which we won the UEFA Cup in 1984, the same ground on which we established the tradition of the glory glory European nights.
You can’t put a monetary value on that which is why the multimillionaire owners of football clubs don’t get it. Although of course, they are happy to take the monetary value we put on in in the shape of ticket prices and merchandise, the demand for which is all fueled in part by that very tradition they see as having less value than we place on it.
The club maintains it is keeping its options open. But the appointment of Mike Lee, the regular drip of stories about the ‘cost’ of redeveloping White Hart Lane and yesterday’s statement by the architect the club has employed that Stratford was the preferred option indicate that otherwise. It looks very much like the club is waiting for opinion to soften or until such time as it can say it was forced to move to Stratford. because it’s clear that at the moment the majority feeling is against the move.
There’s one key thing that needs clearing up. Exactly what, and how much, are the ‘extra’ costs of redeveloping our current home? The message coming from the club is that various public bodies are asking for too much in the form of funding improvements to the area.
They are, in fact, tagging on to the club’s plans in order get funding from the club for an area that has been left to rot for the best part of 30 years. In a club statement on 19 November, much was made of the fact that Wembley and the Emirates secured public funding, while Spurs are being asked to fund the public.
I’m not unsympathetic to that argument. Having known the area for so long it is, at best, amusing to see so many people suddenly so passionate about regenerating it after so many years when it did not register. Unless there was a riot.
But there is now a recession on, in contrast to the periods which saw Wembley and the Emirates built. And it seems to be very difficult to get a straight answer about those extra costs. It’s been put to me that it’s not just the section 106 stuff, but the cost of building a major modern stadium in the tight physical confines of Tottenham as opposed to Stratford.
There’s no reason to disbelieve that. But those costs are the same as they would always have been. They are what they are. They have not suddenly become ‘extra’. They may be more expensive than the subsequent option that has emerged. That option may be cheaper. But the argument about ‘extra’ costs does not currently stand up.
Of course, not meeting extra costs plays better with the fans than opting for cheaper. So, not for the first time it must be said, what may be an attempt to spin by Spurs has prompted suspicion rather than gathered support.