Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy has blasted members of the Greater London Authority and the Haringey Council for failure to provide promised support to the Northumberland Development Project, which includes Spurs’ new stadium.
In a leaked email obtained by the Evening Standard, Levy is extremely critical of local government officials for not coming through with promised funding of the project. Levy in particular singles out Haringey Council member Claire Kober, and Simon Cooper, Head of Sport for London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan.
It’s a confusing story that delves into the murky world of local London politics. It also comes at a crucial time in the development of Spurs’ new stadium project when Levy is trying to secure funding for the next stage of the project and also finalize where Spurs will play their football next season while White Hart Lane is demolished. Spurs have not yet signed the agreement to play at Wembley Stadium next season, which is partly due to Levy needing to reassure banks that he has the liquid money to be able to fund the next stage of the project.
In an excerpt of the email to Cooper and Kober, printed in the Standard, Levy accuses both the City of London (GLA) and the Haringey Council of having “little interest” in the Northumberland Development Project, and of dragging their feet with regards to providing necessary and promised local aid, which is intended to help regenerate the Tottenham area.
“This is about trust in the politicians and officials at the GLA and Haringey, about confidence to deliver public infrastructure on time, the ability to seize the opportunity to attract foreign investment.
“THFC as the main economic driver of North Tottenham needs to be given the confidence to continue its £800 million investment generating 2000 jobs and it needs to be this week. For too long behind the scenes the Club has been taken for granted... as assumption that [the NDP’s] development can not stop...
The history of this public funding promised by Haringey and London goes all the way back to the Tottenham riots of 2011, and former London mayor Boris Johnson. In the wake of the riots, Johnson apparently promised £27m of city funds to the NDP in an attempt to foster goodwill with north London and to begin the process of rejuvenating the area. Spurs’ stadium was a large part of that rejuvenation.
But now, Johnson is gone and replaced by Sadiq Khan, and it is implied that the Khan administration seems disinterested, and less willing to follow through on that promise. While the full text of the letter was not printed by the Standard, this seems to be an attempt by Levy to hold Haringey and London’s feet to the fire.
The implication is without those funds, Spurs will not have enough money in hand to be able to get as favorable a loan deal from the banks. That would force Spurs to consider other avenues of funding, including taking a lower-priced naming rights deal (rather than the £400m deal Levy wants) or selling a minority stake in the Club.
Things are coming to a head now because Spurs’ option to use Wembley Stadium expires “in a few weeks,” and Spurs need to begin the process of distributing season tickets to fans for the 2017-18 season. They can’t do that if they don’t know where Tottenham will be playing their football. Further delays could also slow down construction of the new stadium.
It seems pretty likely that the e-mail from Levy was leaked by the club itself, though Tottenham Hotspur is declining comment. Levy is clearly furious, in a tight spot, and using every weapon in his arsenal to get Tottenham the best possible deal. If he did leak it, it would simultaneously call attention to Spurs’ situation, stoke populist support for the regeneration of north London, and put pressure on the GLA and Haringey officials for failing to come through with the promised funding.
The GLA and Haringey Council both issued bland statements expressing support for Tottenham and the NDP, but that seems unlikely to mollify Levy, who appears anxious for the funding to come through as soon as possible. From the email:
“As one of the biggest construction projects in London the current administration has shown such little interest to date in the social and economic benefits that I am embarrassed when I hear the words being fed to the NFL by the GLA.
“Actions speak louder than words and the next few days will tell how serious the public sector is in honouring its support for this massive regenerative project in one of the most deprived wards in London.”