clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

EPL to Tottenham: no Wembley for you, go share with Arsenal

New, comments

By rejecting Wembley and suggesting a ground-share at the Emirates, the EPL just extended its middle finger to Tottenham's relocation plans.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

[Editor's note: an earlier version of this story referred to Richard Scudamore as the chairman of the Football Association (Scudamore is the Chief Executive of the Premier League) and erroneously referenced the FA instead of the EPL. The author sincerely regrets the error.]

It wasn't that long ago that Spurs fans were angsting between the choice of playing in cavernous and expensive Wembley Stadium and the home of football-murdering MK Dons during the construction of its new stadium. Just last week as part of its stadium scheme reveal, Tottenham had expressed its preference to use both stadiums in 2017-18: derbies and big matches in Wembley, and "regular" home matches in Milton Keynes.

Now it looks like that option has been completely taken away. Today, EPL Chief Executive Richard Scudamore came out and essentially crapped all over Spurs' plans, insisting that they would block any attempts for Spurs to use a Wembley-MK combo during their year away and instead suggesting that Tottenham ground-share with hated North London rivals Arsenal.

Why? F**k you, that's why.

"They would have to play in a single stadium for an entire year for the integrity of the competition. You cannot have 19 home games with 10 at Milton Keynes and nine at Wembley. That is completely, completely unfair. That will not be allowed in our competition.

[Tottenham] know the rules and what we require. They have to provide a stadium. We can't have a fettered fixture list.

Clubs have to be able to deliver 19 home games in the slots that are required. So, if they share with a rugby league club, we cannot be fettered as to when they can play.

They have to work it out with Wembley or wherever they want to play, and decide if they could deliver that level of commitment to us."

This is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Scudamore doesn't say why it's "unfair" that Spurs would split its time between stadiumMK and Wembley. It can't be for seating and income issues, since stadiumMK is only 30k seats, even smaller than White Hart Lane. How is "fettering" the fixture list unfair for one of the biggest clubs in England? How exactly does it tarnish the EPL's image or the integrity of the league?

Renting Wembley for a season is cost-prohibitive due to its size, it can barely accommodate a full home season of fixtures for a Premier League club, and anyway Chelsea is currently offering more money to use Wembley for the same time period. If it comes down to money, Chelsea wins easily. Renting stadiumMK, by contrast, is considered by many fans a slap to the face, as it's well outside of London, far from public transportation, seats far fewer fans, and conjures up memories of Wimbledon FC's relocation back in the 1990s.

As for using the Emirates, here's what Scudamore had to say about that:

"Premier League fixtures are paired so Liverpool and Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal and Manchester United and Manchester City do not play at home on the same weekend. So it is perfectly possible to have two teams playing in one stadium.

You might very well argue that in some circumstances that would be desirable but I do know the reasons why it would be difficult."

Scudamore's glib assertion that Spurs should just use Arsenal's stadium is tone-deaf to the point of asinine. While it is technically possible to use the Emirates on alternate weeks, how popular an option do you think that would be for Spurs fans in London? It opens up the possibility of stupid Tottenham fans causing damage to the stadium because, well, some fans are stupid. It also gives Arsenal, essentially, two home North London derbies in that season. Not to mention there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of upside for Arsenal to agree to this favor to their biggest rivals. Is the money they'd get worth the extra wear on the pitch, or the additional use of the facilities by a fan base that hates their guts on principle?

Scudamore may recognize the level of opposition that playing at Arsenal will garner, but he sure isn't doing a thing to help the situation. Unless I'm missing something obvious, there doesn't seem to be a clear reason why splitting between home stadiums is disallowed, especially for a single season, with advance notice, and with extenuating circumstances.

With West Ham already categorically rejecting Tottenham's proposal to share the Olympic Stadium, the EPL has essentially flipped Tottenham Hotspur the bird. It has backed the club into a corner where the only real options are playing in a small stadium outside of London, or somehow convincing its biggest rivals to share its home for a year.

Neither option is good, and it wouldn't take much for the EPL to make the situation better. Instead, it basically told Tottenham Hotspur to f**k off.