One day after Tottenham Hotspur announced that they were staying at Wembley Stadium at least through the North London Derby on March 2, a new report has emerged suggesting that the Premier League is starting to put its foot down. According to the Evening Standard, the Premier League is asking Tottenham to either play its last five matches at its new stadium, or stay at Wembley until the end of the season. The league has stopped short, however, of issuing a formal mandate.
After the Arsenal match, Spurs have exactly five home matches left in the season — vs. Palace, Brighton, Huddersfield, West Ham, and Everton. However, as we have written previously, Spurs have not committed to an opening match at the new ground because of ongoing uncertainty with scheduling and the FA Cup — should Palace beat Doncaster this weekend in the Fifth Round, the match against Spurs on March 17 will rescheduled to later in the season, likely mid-week. If Brighton make the FA Cup semifinal, the April 6 home tie vs. Spurs will also be rescheduled.
None of this really impacts Spurs’ ability to host its final five matches of the season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, only the date of the opening fixture at the new ground. There are strong indications that the stadium will be ready to host matches by mid-March, and that only the scheduling of test events and FA Cup-impacted fixtures are preventing an opening date announcement. For their part, Spurs deny there’s been any sort of mandate from the Premier League about playing a certain number of matches at home this season.
Despite some opposition from clubs who think Spurs may gain an advantage by moving to its new ground yet this season, the Premier League has been very accommodating to Tottenham during this process. The lack of a formal mandate is in order to create a precedent of flexibility that will extend out to other clubs who may build or renovate their own stadiums in the future.