Tottenham Hotspur are expected to ask that they play the first few Premier League matches away from home next season, as they work to ensure that their new stadium is ready for home fans in 2018-19.
This is according to minutes released by the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) after their regularly scheduled meeting with the Spurs board. The away games are intended as a hedge in the unlikely event that weather delays prevent the stadium from being ready at the end of August.
The THST minutes provided the public a number of updates surrounding Spurs-related issues. Here’s a summary of the biggest ones.
New Stadium Update
Daniel Levy gave the THST an update on stadium construction. The compression ring above the stadium is now completed, and the roof lift is scheduled to take place “in the next fortnight,” after some brief weather-related delays.
There was emphasis from the board that the completion date is a moving target due to the complexity of the build; while the roof is the last major hurdle, there is still a good amount of technical work to be done in and around the stadium before it can be opened to the public. Levy noted that he was “confident” that the stadium will be completed on time, and would be “extremely disappointed” if this was not the case
Due to the complexity of the build and the possibility that unforeseen weather issues could delay the final stage of construction, Spurs likely will make a request to the Premier League to play their opening 3-4 Premier League matches in 2018-19 away from home. This has been the precedent set by other clubs when building new stadiums in the past; the Premier League will only allow a maximum of four matches to be played away from home to start the season.
Finances & Player Transfers
Daniel Levy noted that the stadium has increased in cost since the initial estimates were made (a fact already known), and suggested that while the stadium is fully financed, Spurs might need to increase their previously stated £400m bank loan before all is said and done. Levy also said that the club is expecting to refinance the debt within a year of opening, and that plans are already in motion to make that happen.
The board also noted that no final decision has been made with regards to stadium naming rights, but that the financing was not contingent on selling the name of the stadium. Levy even suggested that the stadium could initially open without a naming rights sponsor, though a deal will ultimately happen. Until naming rights are finalized, the club will refer to the new stadium as “The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.”
THST referred to the Toby Alderweireld contract situation as a subtext, without naming him in particular — questions were asked about “retention of players amid paper talk of contract negotiations and wage caps.” Levy reiterated that the relationship between himself and Mauricio Pochettino was very good, and that he considers Pochettino to be the best manager Spurs have had during his tenure at the club. Levy also reiterated that no player will be sold by the club that Pochettino does not want to be sold. He stopped short of addressing any details regarding specific players or circumstances.
A THST member also stated that incentives should not be forgotten when discussing player contracts and salaries, and noted that Spurs’ incentive program is among the best in the Premier League.
The THST notes also list details with regards to season ticket pricing, migration of season ticket holders into the new stadium, and security/stadium stewards. The full minutes from the THST’s meeting with the club can be read here.