BBC BLOGS - Adrian Warner
« Previous | Main | Next »

Spurs preparing for life away from "the Lane"

Post categories:

Adrian Warner | 16:53 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Call me old fashioned but White Hart Lane and Tottenham, like England and Twickenham or Steve McClaren and umbrellas, is one of those combinations in sport that seem to belong together.

Even when Arsenal moved to the Emirates, they were really still at Highbury in most people's minds because the nearby Tube station carries the name.

So Tottenham playing anywhere apart from "the Lane" is a big step for anybody of my generation. But our interview with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy suggests it's very likely to happen.

It's quite clear that the bid for the Olympic stadium is now Plan A - a massive moving of the goalposts since I broke the story about Tottenham's interest in heading east last July and the club vehemently denied it.

Tottenham said then that they were committed to building a new stadium near White Hart Lane and pushed ahead for planning permission. Now they are saying those plans are not financially viable.

Now this might be a bargaining tool to get more deals for White Hart Lane but I'm not so sure.

They have certainly been campaigning hard to beat West Ham to the Olympic Stadium. If they win, they will dismantle it and build a football stadium in its place which shares a lot of the same design that was originally planned at White Hart Lane.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady says it would be "a corporate crime to bring the bulldozers in."

Levy counters:

"We are proposing one of the most advanced, state-of-the-art
stadiums in Europe that will deliver an exceptional spectator experience.

"Accusations that we would 'demolish' £500million of stadium are hugely
inaccurate and highly irresponsible and I want to be very clear on this issue. Our proposal will retain around £420million worth of the Olympic Stadium, and
we will re-use or recycle the £80million that will be dismantled with zero landfill."

I've always said in previous blogs that I think West Ham will win this battle but I've also said Tottenham are very serious about their campaign to get the 2012 stadium. Nothing has happened which has changed my mind on this.

But I didn't expect it all to end with Tottenham leaving White Hart Lane.

More: BBC London 2012
Twitter: BBCLdnOlympics


  • Comment number 1.

    This makes me so very sad because I fear that moving Spurs to Stratford really is what Levy wants to happen. I also fear that the extended deadline the Olympic Legacy Committee need to make a decision will be to Levy's benefit. And any doubts I had about using this as a bargaining chip were dispelled when detailed plans were unveiled to develop and upgrade the site at Crystal Palace so that it can host future athletics events.

    I only hope I am wrong.

    Should anyone be interested, I have put many more of my thoughts into an article:

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't think Spurs will be leaving White Hart Lane. I just think their project to build a new stadium in Tottenham is dead in the water. Given that West Ham are a shoe-in for the Olympic Stadium, that means Spurs remain in 36k seat White Hart Lane for the foreseeable.

    As for the West Ham bid. One of the interesting facts about Spurs original stadium proposal at WHL was the fact they chose to limit the size to 57k. The reason they gave for this was the negative effect spare capacity had on season ticket sales. The argument went like this:

    If fans knew they could get tickets for virtually every game they would not want to fork out on a lump sum ticket and instead cherry-pick their favourite matches. This had a deflationary effect on attendances at the middle and low-tier games. It also obviously reduced match-day income.

    Interestingly, once crowds dwindle it has an additional deflationary effect on attendances, because the match-day experience is that much worse for those who do attend that they don't bother coming the next time.

    Remember, this was a fear for Spurs at a dedicated football ground, with greater on pitch success and a larger support base than West Ham.

    Now consider the West Ham OS proposal in the same light:

    * The matchday experience will be worse at a stadium with a running track, the very closest seats to the pitch will be 25m away in the corners. But on the straights you'll be 31m away and behind the goal in the front row you'll be 45m away.
    * Upton Park didn't sell out this season for the game against Spurs. There is going to be be something in the region of 25k spare seats for every match.
    * To compensate they're going to put discount seats up for sale.

    All of the above means it's very likely you'll be able to turn up on the day for the majority of games and purchase a discounted ticket. Who in that scenario is going to fork out for a season ticket? But if they don't sell the season tickets even fewer will attend as per the Spurs report.

    Finally, consider five or ten years down the track. Crystal Palace has been converted into a football only stadium, but West Ham are going to go bust because attendances have dwindled and they're paying of existing debt plus the additional debt from the OS reconfiguration. They're clinging on to the Premier League (or are in the Championship.) Upton Park is no more.

    The Mayor will be left with two choices, allow West Ham to fold and be left with no tenant for the OS. Or allow West Ham to take out the track (assuming that it's even viable) and leave UK athletics with no home.

    I've almost reached the stage now where I hope that West Ham get the stadium just to see the look on Lord Coe's (and all the other athletics talking heads) face when it al goes horribly wrong.

  • Comment number 3.

    Call me old fashioned says Mr Warner, England, Twickenham, a glass of Bordeaux and some fromage in the car park before the rugger, the crack of leather on willow at Lords, oh good shot Mr Cowdrey, strawberries and cream at Wimbledon as Mr Perry goes through his full repertoire, Oh I say, enjoying a glass of Pimms in the old stripy blazer at Henley as the teams glide past on Old Father Thames, champagne at Ascot and hats off to the Queen as she comes down the main straight.
    Anybody else want to add to the biscuit tin anachronistic view of Britain? There must be hundreds?
    I quite like a previous suggestion from another blogger of a reduced stadium for athletics and dog racing. Come on Mick the Miller! He’s probably the only one who could beat Usain Bolt at the moment.

  • Comment number 4.

    this debate shouldn't be about a battle between Spurs and West Ham - regardless of the hysterical rhetoric of Karen Brady. The deabate should be purely about which proposal offers the best long term legacy for athletics and other olympic sports. Athletics is very popular here in the UK - but sadly mainly on TV. The likelihood of that sport more than even half filling a 60,000 seater stadium is quite remote. Indeed the opportunity to do so with a major event will, at best, only happen ever 15 to 20 years. Surely a 25,000 'state of the art' stadium at Crystal Palace is a better option? Then there is the thorny question of who will pay for the ongoing costs of running a 60,000 seater stadium with a running track in it? West Ham look unlikely to be able to fill it - especially if no longer in the premiership. Football and athletics do not successfully share a stadium - no question about it! West Ham could finish up as relevant to english football as Queens Park are to scottish. My own thoughts are that the stadium will fall into disrepair if the running track is kept, and the porn baron owners of West Ham will try to sell the club. the West Ham fans will lose all round.
    Once the OPLC realised the the dream needs ongoing maintenance, and offered the lease for football clubs to bid for, then they acknowledged that the ongoing athletics legacy at Stratford is dead. End of! Were it not so then they would have designed the stadium with retractable seating. I hope that common sense prevails over misplaced emotion in the final analysis

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm totally agree with you on " Crystal Palace has been converted into a football only stadium, but West Ham are going to go bust because attendances have dwindled and they're paying of existing debt plus the additional debt from the OS reconfiguration. They're clinging on to the Premier League (or are in the Championship.) Upton Park is no more."

  • Comment number 6.

    The Spurs manager ends up inside, they fail to get in the Champions League, their best players leave in the Summer and next season Spurs are relegated.

  • Comment number 7.

    Call me old fashioned but the British and stadium disasters - like Danny Dire and Pwopper Nawsty, like cold meat pies-two black eyes-and some vino, like Highbury and a quiet afternoon's reading, like jumpers for goalposts and 'Mummy! The corgi's widdling on the left one!' - are one of those combinations in sport that seem to belong together.

    Yes, whether it's physical horror of Hillsborough or Bradford, the fiscal fiasco of Wembley or the absent atmosphere for Arsenal at the Evaporates Stadium, no one gets wrong like the English.

    So who could have expected anything else with the Olympic stadium deal? No matter who gets it, there'll be trouble. A legacy of losing from the get go.

    Perhaps it's time for the English to put their hands up and say 'Mea culpa, we just can't get this right.'

    Hand all future stadium planning over to the more cutthroat and efficient Americans, Germans or even Australians and let them sort it out properly.

    They won't get bogged down in sentiment or ritual or class structure or promises in the Queen's name poppycock. They'll cut through the clutter and crap that always seem to plague English stadium projects, get it done on time and on budget and make money the minute the doors open. Cue the brass band, open the pub early and everyone's a winner.

    Only one bid comes even close to offering this prospect which means they won't get it, and those behind it know that. Which is why they're sharpening their lawyers letter openers right now.


  • Comment number 8.

    Long term there are doubts over the West Ham bid.The club have put Upton Park up for sale,the land will be sold and Gold (age 74)& Sullivan (62)wil jog off into the sunset with their profits,leaving west ham and newham council facing administration.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    I disagree that Spurs should be allowed to take over the Olympic
    stadium and then dismantle it considering how many millions it's
    cost Londoners in council tax, Also West Ham is nearer as well.

  • Comment number 11.

    Rosalind F , you and thousands of other people need to look at the facts before commenting. THE STADIUM HAS TO BE DISMANTLED BECAUSE IT IS A TEMPORARY STRUCTURE !!

  • Comment number 12.

    Gordon Farquhar’s blog “West Ham Out to Buck Stadium Trend” was fairly analytical looking at dual-purpose stadiums. He rightly mentioned Bayern Munich who in the seventies and eighties had great success in the Bundesliga and Europe. What he forgot to mention was not even the mighty Bayern Munich with all that success on the pitch could on average more than half fill their Olympic Stadium when playing. They have since moved to their new Allianz Stadium and sell it out virtually every time they play.
    If Bayern Munich could not do it with all that success, how are West Ham going to do it?
    There is only one logical decision so it will go to West Ham

  • Comment number 13.

    Folks, there is quite a lot of nonsense being spoken about the Munich Stadium in the media at the moment. I was a foreign correspondent in Germany between 1988 and 1997 and I regularly covered both Bundesliga and European Cup games in Munich. I also reported on an array of sports in the Olympic Park in the city from major tennis events, to ice hockey world champions and basketball European champs. It staged a lot and was very successful although it WAS hard to make everything pay over decades. Now, I don't remember many nights or days in the Munich stadium when there wasn't a big crowd. And remember the Champions League was a problem for a club like Munich because the kickoffs had to be late and many of their fans (who live across Bavaria) struggled to get home by public transport. Also don't forget that it was impossible for Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer to rebuild the stadium because the architect and his family had rights to veto changes. I agree the new stadium is great but Beckenbauer went into the end as much for his frustration with changing the Olympic Stadium as his frustration with the athletics track. People are rewriting history now. I was there, folks and I reported on it regularly. Oh and by the way, it has been successful at staging athletics since. The 2002 European champs for example where Paula Radcliffe won gold int he 10,000m.

  • Comment number 14.

    Can anyone tell me how many major athletic events are held in this country per year,what is the attendance.And how you can justify keeping a running track, to be available just 20 days a year, in this stadium, that cost so much,and may,if awarded to dreamers be a burden to London rate payers for years to come !
    Never went to the Munich stadium,but I remember Stamford Bridge with the dog track,the view and atmosphere was rubbish,why would football fans pay £50 to see half a game?With more games being covered"live" and facing greater unemployment fans may choose to stay away from games especially as the reason most fans go to mathches is for the atmosphere.

  • Comment number 15.


    I too lived in Germany firstly in the late 1970’s then for most of the 1980’s. I followed Borussia Dortmund my local team and went to many matches both home and away.
    I have listed below the average attendances from the late 1970’s through the 1980’s and 1990’s for Bayern Munich.

    1978–79 - 34 153
    1979–80 - 39 579
    1980–81 - 36 412
    1981–82 - 33 372
    1982–83 - 31 324
    1983–84 - 30 912
    1984–85 - 32 765
    1985–86 - 28 765
    1986–87 - 37 471
    1987–88 - 28 034
    1988–89 - 30 412
    1989–90 - 36 235
    1990–91 - 35 833
    1991–92 - 32 526
    1992–93 - 46 059
    1993–94 - 48 294
    1994–95 - 54 176
    1995–96 - 59 471
    1996–97 - 58 059
    1997–98 - 54 529
    1998–99 - 56 235
    1999–00 - 52 588

    If you see in 1992/93 there was a big jump from 32,526 the previous season to 46,059 and larger there onwards. I think if you check you will find out that this sudden increase was due to ticket discounting by Bayern to try and fill the stadium.
    The original capacity of the Olympic Stadium was 80,000 but for football I think it was 70,000 plus. Even with discounting they were along way short of capacity. Architecturally it is a great Olympic Stadium with that glass roof and facilities, which I’m afraid, put the temporary structure in London to shame.
    You may well have a subjective rose tinted view of your time in Germany but even you must have seen all those empty seats whilst watching Bundesliga games?
    Perhaps you were concentrating so hard on the pitch because you couldn’t see what was going on as the action was so far away?
    You mention Franz Beckenbauer as being frustrated? In 2002 in Munich they voted on what they wanted and two thirds said they wanted a new purpose built football stadium for Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich.
    You mention the 2002 European Athletic Championships. Maybe you were there? Perhaps you could tell us what the average daily attendance was during that meeting in Munich?
    Could you now tell me why I am talking nonsense? If you are going to call my remarks nonsense which is what you are eluding too, please have the decency to back it up with the facts.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well said Hankiesjh !

    Come on Adrian take off yer West Ham scarf and report the facts !

    Essex CCC ground holds 6,200 and is never full to capacity how are they going to fill a 60k stadium.

    Whats the cost of covering the running track with grass so cricket can be played,and how do you do it,and at what cost ?

    Have you asked these questions to Mr Gold & Sullivan?

    No,and you won't speak about it on tv,becouse its nonsense,no ground in the world has been adapted to hold football & cricket.This is the real nonsense,

  • Comment number 17.

    I find the two arguments very interesting.

    The measured, business-like argument from Daniel Levy and the emotional, substanceless one from David Sullivan.

    The last argument from Mr Levy, in the Evening Standard, stated the facts as he saw them, in the same paper today, Mr Gold put forward his counter argument which involved basically Spurs-bashing and randomly talking about his Dad, a wing-commander who was a boxing referee...

    Much has been made of the 'Olympic Legacy' but do we really want our olympic legacy in the hands of the man who brought the world a collection of porn magazines and an internet porn search engine?

    Also, many West Ham fans have short memories about Mr Sullivan and his belief in West Ham:

    How many clubs did he try to buy before West Ham?

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    No one here is lying about anything. We can all have different views, but people can have honestly held but different outlooks. Calling someone, anyone a liar is not on.

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    the vision and hope for the OS stadium. fails in its decison based on the bad politic of the pasto f seb coes gang flawed vision of athletics stadia use etc...reason?.......west ham will never be a top four club with the gate receipts it will have to lower the price of entrance...and could melt into a lower division as it fails to balance the books..half empty??...spurs bid was only dismantling 80 mill of the new stadium KEEPING the majority 420 mill (using all recycled materials etc) as was originally planned by the os committe.....and importantly NO! taxpayers comparison of west ham's 40MILLION needed of local tax payers money ?? austerity? Adrian warner has not explained the facts to compare the bids??....yes athletics requires a stadium and will have one being used around the football season?...oh dear.....faux pas....disgracefully .harringey have denied spurs any infrastucture transport support for the white hart lane new ground unlike islington who did whith the emirates.........politics stinks in this country as it plays its hypocritical hand...

  • Comment number 22.

    Though WHL seems like home, I thought this was a real opportunity missed; I disregarded the frantic soundbite comments from the WHU Board porno barons and miss Brady (I assume their first choice of Linda Lovelace was unavailable) she is a Gooner so filter accordingly. Levy articulated his views well I think. In these in these days of austerity it seems odd that the poor borough of Newham can raise £40M of public funds; citing they will own half the stadium and will share the profits, but if the venture goes badly, they ALSO own half the liabilities and debts. The citizens of Newham will be paying for the Olympics via their Council Tax until 2017; how long may they be paying to subsidise a 60,000 seat WHU? In two years, Newham will kick itself for turning down a bidder with the vison, PRIVATE finance and clout to take this site on, maintain a vibrant 2012 legacy, both in Stratford AND a credible Athletics future for the home of British Athletics, Crystal Palace.

  • Comment number 23.

    Spurs fans in favour of the Stratford move know full well the club has minimal interest in doing half of what West Ham are proposing. The site is excellent and allows you to build a worthy church that'd one up Arsenal - that's all Levy et al are concerned about and to their credit, they are practically saying so. If you do move to Stratford - Great! New East Enders over night and I'm sure you'll do us proud.

    To those fans who want Stratford, check out Schalke's and others stadiums in Germany. The Emirates is already out of date. Sliding pitch, sliding roof, central score board all allows for regular use of massive coach parking, sports such as ice hockey and concerts with thousands of fans no where near the grass, earning Spurs money all year round, in and out of season with no effect on football (and we're talking about the devastating effect of a track).

    If Spurs have the money, anything you could build at Stratford would be 20 century by comparison. Look elsewhere - no stadia in Britain would compete with a Schalke type stadium. Go and find the space and unlike Arsenal, have the vision to look away from North London.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 17: yes, this reflects, I think, the different levels of professionalism with which the two clubs are run. I feel sorry for the WH supporters.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.