The long standing rumour of Spurs hooking up with the NFL has finally had an official stamp of confirmation.
Historically, I've always been uneasy about this. Not from a financial stand-point but more to do with the clubs identity and the worry that we might sacrifice too much, especially with the stadium design. That's been the crux. We haven't really been told much about the clubs plans and now it all makes sense. That is until today. So how do I feel now?
Firstly the raw facts. It's a 10 year partnership and for now that will mean two NFL games per year played at the new ground. The retractable pitch will mean there is no impact to Tottenham's season. Long term this might lead to a new franchise which will mean more games played. It will also mean more money made. Not just from match-day revenue but from merchandising and tv deals and let's not ignore the exposure to the US that will no doubt push THFC's name further into the spot light.
Long term for ENIC it means the struggling quest for naming rights will become less of a burden. Also, if Daniel Levy and Joe Lewis are seeking to sell up (at some point) the valuation of the club just sky-rocketed. I don't see that happening yet. Personally, think they want to get to the point where it's all done and dusted and proclaim one final gesture to all by shouting: "Look at what we've created, just look, just look!"
For the club itself (the football one...which I guess we best start referring to it as the soccer one) will bridge that financial gap with the super rich clubs that currently (and have done so for what seems forever) preside above us. The alternative is what? An oligarch? Another investment company that are constrained with having to buy to sell to buy?
I can't dispute what this means for the clubs accounts. Revenue from just having Spurs play at the new stadium will be strong (as long as we sell out more often than not). The US connection means even more money. Which means we can hold onto assets as the dependency on selling them will drop. That backbone has remained breakable too often, mainly because star players want to and have to move on. Not just for fabled Champions League football but also for the all important wage packet. The landscape is changing in more ways than one.
My long standing discomfort has been around how this merger of two types of football comes together. Will the golden cockerel remain singular, standing high and tall above the turf or will it be joined by the representative of the gridiron team that will one day become synonymous with N17? That might be a long way off, in the mean time we're safe and once the stadium is built, paying it off becomes the priority. So regarding the questions around identity we're left with the actual new designs.
The clubs statement is very promising. It's everything they've spoken about in the past (in terms of local transport, stands, old merging with new, space generated around the stadium) and more clues towards how it will be built for 'soccer' and adaptable for 'football' (damn, I feel dirty).
It will also allow for other forms of entertainment (concerts, boxing etc) which means more revenue. Wembley does the same but we all know it lacks soul. But then when the only football played there (that is meant to matter) is England, I can understand its struggle.
The local community will also thrive (social economics are not my expertise, but regeneration and property development has changed Brixton and Hackney). Tottenham has hope here, but I don't expect to see this happen over night. Might take up to or more than 20 years. Thank God the Stratford move never materialised (not that it was ever truly viable). Still, let's not go overboard with the N17 redevelopment. Pushing the club and stadium forward is the only true priority ENIC have. The rest, if it follows, will have to be organic.
Spurs will also include a visitors centre, museum, cinema, megastore as part of the experience. Standard additions. Even a sky walk is being implemented. Don't think about jumping after another defeat to a bottom three side.
Moving on, the actual stadium itself and the experience we have as Tottenham fans (not as consumers but as supporters) is the remaining part of this evolutionary puzzle. Will it have that massive kop end we all remember from the original artist impressions?
Yes. Confirmed. 17k 'kop end' (largest single tier stand in the UK). That's just fantastic. Pants soaked with excitement. Capacity increased from 52k to 61k. Bigger than the swamp down the road. Which will wonderful in season 1. Season 2 onwards is where Arsenal struggled, so much so they pretend their at capacity for every home game.
Will the pitch be close to the stands? Yes.
"...is designed to create an intimate relationship between play and spectator"
Intimate? Ooh matron.
They've already been in touch with the fans (via email) regarding the catering and hospitality elements (another money revenue stream). What we want to know is if the ground will match the expectations they once set; traditional design rather than the less than atmospheric modern stadia. Something that retains that since of connection to the pitch and players. We know what WHL can be when it's rocking. It can't be lost. Take Maine Road to Eithad as an example.
The club has retained those original conceptions.
The key is that THFC remains the priority. It has to right? Most (especially those that lack interest in American Football) will be just fine if they go to the new Lane and don't even know that NFL will get played there twice a year. That simply comes down to how attached they feel when taking their seat.
Now that all the nonsense about ENIC and the hugely embarrassing Archway affair (mostly the Spurs fans that seem obsessed with siding with them) has been pushed aside for something tangible, we all look towards the stadium actually getting built. We have clout now that should attract the money. All that's left is the confirmation of playing games at MK Dons whilst the work is completed (confirmed as a single season away). Twickenham and Millennium Stadium have also allegedly been considered. Find the third one in the list hard to believe. Surely has to be Wembley over Dons? Why would Levy dare break this momentum of joy?
I've found myself gravitating towards this NFL thing now because it's not as all consuming as I thought it might be.
Oh yeah, we also signed Toby Alderweireld.
Thank you Spurs for burying the budget and the Ashes.