Tottenham Hotspur fans have known the established timeline for the construction of Spurs’ new stadium for a while now: build half of the new stadium this season, move to Wembley Stadium for 2017-18 while White Hart Lane is torn down, and dedicate the club’s new home in time for the kick-off of the 2018-19 Premier League season.
Except, that might not be the case now.
Buried amongst the the overall good financial numbers in a fiscal year 2016 financial report (Spurs earned a
profit revenue of £206m, an increase of 7% over 2015), Spurs chairman Daniel Levy seemed to back off of the idea that the club might play at Wembley at all, implying that there’s still a chance that Spurs may play at White Hart Lane throughout all of 2017-18.
“We have run this Club on a financially secure basis for the past 16 years, whilst remaining ambitious and with a vision for its future growth and success.
“We continue to focus on ensuring that the future of the Club is protected at all times and therefore, whilst everyone is eager to know if this is our last season at the Lane, we shall only make the decision to decommission our historic White Hart Lane when we have greater certainty on the delivery of the new stadium.”
Leading up to today there was a great deal of speculation as to why Tottenham had not formally signed the agreement to play their home matches at Wembley Stadium next season. The evidence pointed to some combination of the club wanting assurances that they’d be able to use Wembley’s full capacity for all Premier League games in addition to European matches, frustration with a perceived lack of financial support from the Mayor’s Office and the Haringey Council, and the increased cost for the stadium scheme, which has now nearly doubled in cost to £500m.
Brent Council voted last week to allow Spurs to use a full-capacity Wembley for 27 matches next season, a major concession and a boost to Spurs’ ability to receive maximum revenue while away from White Hart Lane. Levy also continues to work to find one of the most lucrative naming rights deals in English football for the new stadium.
But Levy’s statement today also seems to corroborate the contents of the leaked email from a few weeks ago where he blasted city officials for failing to come through with promised public sector funding for the Northumberland Development project.
All together, this suggests that things seem to be coming to a head now. Spurs are at the point where they need to make a decision on where they will be playing next season so they can distribute information to season ticket holders and their general fanbase about how to obtain tickets. Levy’s statement suggests there are still big financial issues that are up in the air, and his words no doubt meant to reassure supporters that he is not willing to jeopardize the overall financial health of the club for a short-term gain.
This is not confirmation that the timeline has changed. There is still every indication that things will be worked out and Spurs will be playing at Wembley next season as expected. This statement might also be viewed as a further means of exhibiting pressure on various stakeholders who promised support to the stadium but haven’t delivered.
However, it as of now it appears that there’s a non-negligible chance that the demolition of White Hart Lane could be delayed by a year, which means the new stadium wouldn’t be completed until the fall of 2019.