When Tottenham Hotspur announced that they were forced to delay the opening of their new stadium because of issues with “critical safety systems,” many wondered whether that would be the last announced delay. It turns out, it isn’t. Today, the club announced that all three of Spurs’ Champions League group stage matches will be played at Wembley Stadium after consultation with UEFA. The club also announced that the scheduled home match against Manchester City on October 28, tentatively planned as the new stadium opening date, has been moved to Monday night, October 29 and will also be held at Wembley.
Daniel Levy released a statement to Spurs supporters announcing the change and expressing his frustration on Tottenham’s website.
”I want to apologise once again and thank you all for your support, many of you have taken the time to write to us and commend what we are doing for the Club. When you face times like this in an organisation it’s teamwork and pulling together that gets you through.
”Our dedicated staff are having to manage operations again at more than one stadium and I want to thank them for their resilience. Mauricio, his staff and the players, have been exceptional in their support and fully embraced the changes of venue with total positivity. They have my utmost respect.
”We are now being regularly updated on progress and as soon as we have confidence in our project managers’ and contractors’ ability to deliver against the revised schedule of works, we shall be able to issue dates for test events and the official opening game.
”We are facing many issues, but although disappointing, costly and frustrating, I am uncompromising in my determination to deliver something extraordinary to our fans.”
This isn’t really a surprise. The club noted that the decision to move all group stage Champions League home matches was made “following discussions with UEFA” which suggests to me that UEFA is forcing Spurs to play in one stadium for the duration of the group stage, whether the stadium is ready or not. It’s one of the possibilities that was mooted earlier when the prospects of a delay were looking like possibilities. It’s likely that, should Spurs escape their group, UEFA will allow them to play the knock-out round(s) in the new stadium (assuming it’s ready).
The Manchester City match was a little more complicated. The match was originally scheduled for a Sunday, but Wembley was not available since it was already hosting another event on that day. The club had previously announced the fixture date change, but held out the possibility that the stadium might be ready on time. That now appears to not be the case, so Wembley it is.
This is, of course, hugely frustrating to everyone, not least of which Levy. The workers will continue to work as fast as they can to get the stadium open as soon as possible, and season ticket holders will continue to voice their anger and frustration for paying a huge increase in ticket costs for a stadium that nobody may not open until 2019. It sucks, but hopefully when that shiny new cheese room opens everyone will let bygones be bygones.