According to one report in the Times of London, Tottenham Hotspur have been given an financial ultimatum on the construction of their new stadium. Matt Hughes writes that if Spurs are not able to move into and play at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium by the December 15 home match against Burnley, they may be forced to pay an entire season’s worth of rent at England’s national stadium by the Football Association.
Despite numerous (and breathless) reports of further delays to the opening of Spurs’ new ground, the club has not been drawn into giving any further updates on when the stadium might actually open. Spurs were hoping to host their first true home match since White Hart Lane was torn down against Liverpool two weeks ago, but complications with the fire suppression system forced a significant delay, sending Spurs back to Wembley. Spurs have been hesitant to set a firm date for their new stadium debut until contractors understand the problem and what it will take to fix it.
The ultimatum from the FA doesn’t mean that Spurs will be forced to play at Wembley for the entire season, but it does mean that they would be expected to pay rent as though they would play there. Wembley has construction work of its own scheduled for the first part of 2019, and the FA wants clarity as to how the stadium will be used as early as possible.
According to Hughes, renting Wembley would cost about £350k per match, and if Spurs are forced to pay it raises some concerns about whether they might just opt to stay at the national stadium until the start of the 2019-20 season. Doing so, however, would likely anger supporters, many of whom are already upset at the club raising season ticket prices substantially with the understanding that the new stadium would be ready.
The ideal result would be if construction workers can identify the problem with the critical safety features and make quick repairs, which would then allow the club to schedule the needed test events ahead of the stadium opening. As we’ve seen, however, that’s not a given.