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Spurs, please stay in Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur FC has an excellent, and recently approved, proposal to build a new home on a site adjacent to the club’s present stadium at White Hart Lane. The plan is known as the Northumberland Development Project, because the site borders the avenue called Northumberland Park, which in turn is so called from the former ownership of the land thereabouts by the dukes of Northumberland. The (deliberately) cumbersome and forgettable project name will later be dropped when a corporate sponsor comes up with an acceptable offer for the new stadium’s naming rights – if, that is, the project goes ahead at all following the utterly dispiriting news that the club has embarked on an attempt to outflank West Ham United’s bid to take over the Olympic stadium (or at least its site, as Spurs seem to have a total rebuild in mind) after the 2012 games.
The Olympic stadium is located in West Ham’s parent borough of Newham. It is much closer to that club’s heartland than to Spurs’ home territory and WHU would be a far more appropriate post-games tenant. David Sullivan, co-owner of West Ham, has been reported as saying of Spurs’ new proposal: ‘It would be such a slap in the face to east London … [that] if it happens, there will be real problems that could easily lead to civil unrest. I think there could be riots, such is the ill feeling between West Ham and Spurs and I know the police feel the same.’ This may be an exaggeration but it would indeed be ridiculously inappropriate for a north London club to muscle its way into an east London club’s territory when the former has planning permission to erect a fine new stadium on a site almost overlapping that of its existing home.

Of course, football clubs relocate all the time. Millwall FC moved from the place of that name (on the Isle of Dogs) across the Thames to Bermondsey in 1910. Three years later Arsenal travelled much further, when the Gunners upped sticks from Woolwich and leased the Highbury sports ground belonging to St John’s College of Divinity – a move that Spurs (and Orient) strongly objected to at the time. Some Spurs fans still refer to the Arsenal as ‘Woolwich Wanderers’. More recently, Wimbledon FC moved all the way to Milton Keynes and reinvented itself as MK Dons, a betrayal of heritage that resulted in the creation of AFC Wimbledon, a co-operatively owned club that is now knocking on the door of the Football League.


Northumberland Development Project
An artist's impression of the NDP stadium, seen from Tottenham High Road

Some relocations are more justifiable than others. In the opinion of this website, Tottenham Hotspur’s mooted move to Stratford ranks second only to Wimbledon’s as an act of treachery. And, unlike Milton Keynes, the putative destination for Spurs is already the province of a leading football club.
It may be that THFC’s apparent last-minute change of heart regarding the Northumberland Development Project is merely an attempt to twist the arms of Haringey council, Transport for London and English Heritage, all of whom are demanding costly amendments to the plan. If so, it is to be hoped that some kind of compromise can be reached on these issues, and that Spurs can begin to move forward with their original proposal and abandon this Olympian folly of an idea as soon as possible.

A Spurs fan comments:

Sorry, but your opinion is worth jackshit. I don’t think Spurs will go to Stratford, the Northumberland development is still the favoured destination. We’re just covering our options as, though the new stadium was cleared by the council, they demanded a whole raft of add-ons amounting to an added bill of millions and millions. Tottenham are working through the viability of these, and probably at the same time putting pressure on the council to reconsider, because ultimately the Tottenham development is in the interests of the whole area.

And I’m sorry, whilst the MK Dons was a criminal move, hopefully soon to be rectified, nothing was worse than the Woolwich, who not only shifted right across London but also bought their way into the league with some extremely dodgy shenanigans. There is very little chance that Tottenham will ever play in Stratford, though seeing the fuss we’ve caused with that bunch of [censored for legal reasons] in the East End is utterly hilarious.

clcik for the Spurs website

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