The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust recently held another meeting with Daniel Levy and members of the Tottenham Hotspur board and released the minutes of their meeting on their website. The THST is the most prominent Spurs supporters' organization and thus is able to meet regularly with the Spurs brass to discuss matters that are of importance to Tottenham fans.
Typically these issues center around the fan experience: items like encouraging the club to support safe standing, presence of fan-made banners and signage during matches, and ticket pricing and allocation. Unsurprisingly, a good percentage of this particular meeting centered around the Northumberland Development Project and the new stadium.
In particular, much of the minutes seemed dedicated to Spurs' upcoming season away from north London as the stadium project begins in earnest. Spurs are almost certainly planning to spend the entirely of the 2017-18 season away from home as White Hart Lane is demolished and the new stadium constructed. The ground-share is of particular interest due to the possibility that Spurs may play their home football in Milton Keynes outside of London, which is viewed with distaste by a sizable chunk of Spurs fandom. Most supporters would prefer that Spurs find a way to stay in London, and Wembley Stadium is the most logical place, if numerous details, including Chelsea's simultaneous interest of playing in Wembley during their own stadium construction, can be worked through.
Here are some excerpts from the minutes that directly reference Wembley Stadium. In this instance, KL = Katrina Law, THST co-chair, DL = Daniel Levy, and DMC = Donna-Marie Cullen, Spurs' Executive Director.
- KL asked for clarification of the position regarding negotiations over Wembley
- DL said that the FA's stance for some time had been that it was a national stadium and they were not interested in any Premier League club playing at Wembley. So, despite offers from THFC, there had been no willingness from the FA to progress discussions
- Chelsea FC's offer of a four-year deal, which would deliver a substantial sum of money, had changed this position and the FA would now consider a PL team
- A four-year deal was thought to be far more attractive to Wembley than a one-year deal, although DL stressed the ‘per season' income to Wembley was unlikely to be materially different from either Club. DL also felt that the FA acknowledged the need to treat clubs equally
- The FA has now said it will go away and consider the practicalities of a ground share. Until that is decided, no further discussions can take place
The biggest thing that we can take from these minutes excerpts is that the best way to solve a problem is for Chelsea to throw money at it, apparently. Which on its surface is suuuuuper frustrating, but has actually seemed to open a few doors to a possible deal with Chelsea to share Wembley.
- KL asked for clarification of the decision makers here. DL confirmed that the Wembley Board will give a recommendation to the FA Board, who will make the ultimate decision
- KL asked what the deadline was for Spurs to have a decision about where they would be playing in 2017/18 if the current stadium build timetable was adhered to. DMC and DL said that March 2017 would be the deadline
- The best outcome for Spurs would be that Chelsea do not require the stadium for 2017/18 and/or that the FA grant Spurs the season of 2017/18 with Chelsea having the following four seasons
- The Club also underlined that Wembley was the only neutral option
Not much new here, but it does suggest that we could be waiting quite a while before we see the ground-share situation settled. Of course, it could be that the decision will be made much farther in advance than that, but March 2017 seems to be the "drop dead" date for when a final decision would have to be made.
Additional discussion centered around the possible use of the Olympic Stadium, which will be leased to West Ham beginning next year; at present this seems like an unlikely option, but was suggested by the THST to be preferable to Milton Keynes in the eyes of fans. Daniel Levy stressed that, in the end, the club's responsibility is to find the best possible temporary home, even if that decision will not please every Spurs supporter.
Further discussion items centered around progression of the stadium construction plans, ticket allocation, future transfer window funding, and merchandising issues. You can read the full minutes at the THST website.