Tottenham Hotspur are safely ensconced in their new 62,000-seat stadium after years of planning, development, and construction, but it took a long time and there were many setbacks along the way. Ahead of the release of “Destination Tottenham,” a forthcoming book about the construction of the stadium from its planning to its debut, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy gave an exclusive interview with James Olley of the Evening Standard that has led to a series of articles.
This is a rare occurrence — Levy seldom speaks to the press and hasn’t given a formal sit-down interview in about a decade. In the interview, Levy shares anecdotes about the stadium from its conception to its construction, including the discovery of a stash of marijuana inside one of its purchased buildings along the Tottenham High Road.
“We discovered it had been bolted shut from the inside and when we finally got in we found three acres of cannabis growing in there. We obviously had to call the police. The next thing we knew we were victims of a revenge attack when the water pipes on the properties we owned down the High Road were cut, which flooded them all.”
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was opened to great fanfare and acclaim, and has been heralded as one of, if not the, best stadium in England. The stadium’s functionality as a multi-purpose venue, hosting not only football matches but also NFL games, rugby matches, concerts, and potentially even a professional boxing match, has helped temper cautions that Spurs could endure the same sort of financial austerity that plagued Arsenal after the construction of the Emirates stadium.
Fans have grumbled that even as the stadium has packed in 20,000 more Spurs fans than White Hart Lane, Spurs haven’t necessarily seen an uptick in transfer funds, with the club still not throwing around the large amounts of money seen by its top four rivals. Levy says that’s by design, and that he wants to prove that a club like Tottenham can succeed in the league without spending gobs of cash.
“The problem is it is also about squad size, English versus non-English, because we have the homegrown rule in the Premier League. There are lots of circumstances why sometimes you don’t do a transaction. It wasn’t a case that we didn’t have money. We have to get rid of this obsession in England of spending money. It just doesn’t happen overseas.
“There is an amount we have allocated to spend each year in terms of net investment in the team. If you compare us to certain other clubs, they will have more money to spend. It doesn’t frighten us.”
There have been murmurs that new manager Jose Mourinho will not be given substantial funds to purchase players in the upcoming transfer window, but there’s still a very good chance that want-away midfielder Christian Eriksen could depart the club, with Spurs trying to find a buyer for him in January before his contract expires this summer. Levy even suggested that Eriksen could depart for a league rival, something that Spurs have been seemingly been averse to doing over the past decade.
“We are honestly not scared to trade with our rivals. My view is really simple. For a player to sign a new contract, not only have the conditions got to be right but the player has got to want to do it. It is up to those players whether they want to stay at Tottenham and we’ll see.
“I don’t want to comment on individual players too much. I actually think it is unfair. Every circumstance is different. There may be a player who wants to stay, there may be a player we don’t want to stay.
“Jose is on record as saying what we need now is to get the players playing better, which is what they are doing. He’s made it clear he is not looking for new players in January. He is happy with what he’s got and that’s why he said that.”
Levy also noted that Spurs’ new ground does not yet have a sponsor, and says that he’s in no hurry to add one until the timing — and the price — is right.
“We are only going to do a naming rights deal if we get the right brand, in the right sector, on the right money. If we can’t meet those three criteria, we won’t do it. At the moment, we haven’t found a company that meets all three criteria. We are not really close to anything on that at the moment.”
The new book will be an in-depth look at the stadium’s construction, from the early planning processes and the challenges of finding a location for Spurs’ new home, all the way to the first Premier League match, a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. It is available for purchase beginning Sunday.