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Tottenham Season-Ticket Holders Consider Future Support After New Stadium Fiasco

Tottenham's new stadium is a shambles
Tottenham's new stadium is a shambles

From Mauricio Pochettino’s “worst mood” to one of the worst pitches seen in the Premier League, it feels as though we Tottenham fans have seen it all this season. It’s not even November yet.

There was a strange atmosphere at Wembley for the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, a game in which Spurs arguably deserved a point against the champions.

Much of the top tier was empty. It was cold, it was a Monday, and until far too recently, nobody even knew where the fixture was going to be played – they might have suspected.  

The club originally aimed to open their new stadium on September 15th against Liverpool. Contractors have missed several deadlines for the admittedly ambitious project and it has now been confirmed that the ground in N17 will not be used until 2019, which rules out league games against Chelsea, Southampton, Burnley, Bournemouth, and Wolves.

To add to the sense of frustration, rumours persist that the Premier League may act to insist the north Londoners stay at Wembley for the remainder of the season, though nothing has been confirmed. It is sufficient to say, however, that they will want to avoid a repeat of the inconvenience City faced, with the game moved to a weeknight at relatively short notice because the national stadium was already committed to hosting NFL.

Feeling the brunt of the difficulties are more than 40,000 season-ticket holders, who ought to be ecstatic at the prospect of moving into a spectacular new home, one which they are promised will help them to compete and win regular silverware.

How much of that excitement remains? Several familiar faces I remember from White Hart Lane – and who tried to understand as best they could the need for change – are staying away.

Being a season-ticket holder entails a huge financial commitment. Much of the new South Stand is priced at £1200 per person, while many tickets in the old Shelf Side start at £1500. The premium ‘1882’ package behind the goal costs £2200. There were, of course, cheaper options, but availability was limited.

For the majority, it means that going to the new ground regularly will entail a bill of well over £1000 a year, and that’s without taking travel, food and drink into account - as well as cup ties which are not included. Even Arsenal manage that. 

Simply put, they’re the most expensive season-tickets in the country. The lack of clarity, as much as anything else, is what is so difficult to stomach for supporters, as well as being refunded 1/19th of the overall season-ticket cost, one game at a time, rather than the whole lot. Wembley, for many in London, is difficult to get to, meaning some of Spurs’ most loyal fans are put at a disadvantage. 

The Sportsman spoke to season-ticket holders to gauge the reaction to the latest developments, with costs now spiralling to £237million more than was anticipated – bringing the total borrowed from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and HSBC to over £600m. 

Martin Cloake, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust Co-Chair:

“I think most fans are pragmatic and realise that the delays are something that can happen on a project of this complexity. I think most also reject the idea that the Club knew there would be longer delays, just because it is costing money the longer we don’t move in, and there’s associated reputational damage.

“There is a sense that we’re neither in one place nor the other though, that the new season, even the new era, hasn’t quite started even though the old has gone. So that and the practical difficulties over ticketing, plus the Club’s pricing decisions and initially poor communication, is having an effect.”

Nikhil Saglani, North Stand ST-holder:

“I think a lot of fans’ enjoyment has been dampened this season, and most of that is probably down to the stadium factor. Then again, a few new signings over the summer may have softened the blow but I think the two ‘problems’ go hand in hand to a large extent.

“I’m still excited to go back to N17, though I’m not sure I’ll fork out another £1200 for the pleasure. I may have to resort to picking and choosing games, which is something I was looking forward to not doing when I got my season ticket.

“I have some sympathy with the club because the stadium delay isn’t completely in their hands. However, the whole atmosphere around the (lack of) move is what’s annoyed most people; the refund process, the lack of announcements, the lack of general communication and the fact money was taken early, before the club knew what to expect. It’s a shame.”

John Mitson, East Stand ST-holder:

“I think Poch said it best when he said there isn’t enough focus on winning at the moment, with all these other distractions going on.

“Nobody expected to be at Wembley for more than a season and while it’s not the club’s fault, they must be worried that some fans are just going to get out of the habit of going regularly.”

The project is about making history, but not of the kind that we have seen so far – for example, Tottenham becoming the first team in Premier League history not to make a summer signing.

January 13 against Manchester United is the aim for the grand unveiling. In the meantime, Pochettino and his players must do their best to ensure this campaign isn’t remembered as one characterised by uncertainty.

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