Dear Mr Tottenham supporter,
It’s a reoccurring discussion point this, one that will soon go beyond protests and arguments once a decision has been made by those with the power to do so. The question being; Stratford? Potentially the new home of the world famous Spurs?
Fancy some of that? Personally, I’d like to reiterate once more; thanks but no thanks.
And yet many amongst us, in a blink of an eye, would be happy with this. It's in our catchment area, it's only a few miles up the road they say. And that we need to make the move otherwise it will cost us a couple of hundred million more, resulting in masses of debt if we proceed instead with the Northumberland Development Project. Haringey and Levy are playing a game of political mug-off, all with their own bluffs, double bluffs and agendas. They’re broke and want to use Spurs for the redevelopment of the area and Levy is using this excuse in addition to lack of public sector funding as a platform and easy way to push the Olympic Site as the only feasible alternative otherwise THFC's very future would be under threat. I call bullshit because if the OS is given to West Ham then what of a contingency plan? What do we do then? By definition, there has to be an alternative. Mainly because, Daniel Levy is no fool – and is hardly naive. So even though Wembley and Arsenal are tagged with receiving public sector money in every other complaint article you may have read, to base all hope on the NDP being manageable for the club on those extra funds...well, it seems very very flimsy and clumsy if to be believed.
It's not like Levy is going to shrug and give up on the vision if the OS goes to West Ham. He'll work towards a resolution. To appease us and to appease ENIC. And to fulfil the promise and the next stage. We have planning permission for N17, so if it’s vital for us to have a 50K+ ground - he will find a way. Unless all eggs have been placed in the Stratford basket from the very beginning. Either that, or he only recently gave up on N17. Which again, seems an improbable thing to do considering how difficult it is for anyone to get through the red tape of development to achieve their final goal.
It's just far far easier to opt for Stratford. No crippling debt we are told and then he can build a stadium and eventually sell the club for untold millions to someone like AEG (who have a habit of getting involved in this type of thing) and could soon be partners in crime if the bid is won. But what of the advantages of moving there I hear you ask? A stadium with a ready-made infrastructure of travel links, the rich in the City a short distance away and countless corporate t*ssers and day tripping tourists. Revenue, it's the new Promised Land. Levy is serious about it, you only have to look at the people he's appointed to talk up the OS bid and the statements they have made. Eggs firmly in that basket then – and if the bid fails, then onwards (back to) North London to make that work.
What some of our faithful are failing to see is that it's hypocritical to move onto someone else's patch. Imagine someone moving into North London. Oh hold up...wait...
It's also quite lazy to believe this is the only viable alternative (I’m going to keep on repeating this) and we'll stagnate if we don't move to Stratford. Moving would also make as a franchised club. Five miles or not. That might sound overly dramatic, but it's fact. If the project in N17is complicated and will take longer in terms of building it (having to knock down parts of WHL – playing with a reduced capacity etc), what is ‘longer’ when the end result is to retain our home and a ground in our area for another 130 years or so? We're not going anywhere, are we? Or perhaps, we are.
There has been no final ‘we are so so sorry’ statement to explain that staying in North London is not, unequivocally not, an option because of the debt we would inherit during the redevelopment. If, 100 per cent without a shadow of a doubt, if...remaining in N17 would cripple us for a decade or so, then perhaps we need to revisit and understand how viable redeveloping White Hart Lane itself would be. If we have to move to survive, it would change perspective. But it's hardly that is it? Is it? If it was, unquestionable, they’d hardly be any debate just more questions about other potential options. Are we staring into oblivion? Are we?
How hard is that gun pressed to the back of your head?
I appreciate Levy is a very shrewd chairman, a good business man and in recent years (finally) a good leader with regards to the actual football (appointing a back to basics manager and letting go of the D.o.F system). He runs the club brilliantly. It's what we expect. It's his responsibility. And even if you might not get the impression from this letter, he does ‘care’. But he’s still a business man who uses business to drive the club forwards. I do get that. But to ignore all of the footballing sentiments? Sometimes, those intangible elements – they speak far more loudly than pennies under the bed.
Levy has a responsibility. To us. And everyone else who has a (different type of) share in the club. ENIC are an investment company and their main priority above all will always concern the money they can make back from their investment. They have an end game. They will be long gone and our legacy will be stuck in East London - making us a club with a history detached back in North London.
Again, I get told countless times 'this is progress' and that I should ‘allow us to create new history’ and that if it's good enough for other clubs why should we bother attempting to define ourselves by citing North London derbies and rivalry and passing judgement on other clubs on what they have done or are doing to be the very best? We should be selfish I'm told and we should focus on making as much money as possible to be able to challenge top end season in and season out. Money, money, money. Its progress. Spare ribs and prawn sandwiches dished up at half time so we can afford the bills to sign and keep world class players.
I guess football has changed. But once more, it’s not do or die until I see it written in blood. That gun, it’s nowhere near the back of my head. Can you feel anything at the back of yours?
Apparently all this money will also guarantee success. May as well invite a billionaire to buy us out and invest £500M in players. If we are that desperate. Okay, being pedantic a little there. Money will aid with remaining competitive. But no guarantees. We’ve been high spenders for years and years. It’s not worked out that well for us until we sat with two points from eight games.
The football. The kicking and pushing of the ball. On the pitch. That has led us to fourth spot. That has allowed us to dream and want for more. It should always – always – be about the football and the desire to succeed. It’s hardly down to the money spent. Sure we spent some, within our current means. And the other superpowers around us, not all of them are in a position to compete with us in the transfer market. But let’s move on from this.
Tottenham the area is a toilet and we’re not the only club whose ground is sat in a toilet. It could become less of one if people started to play ball. That includes you Lammy. People supporting the move are not considering how much the Spurs match day landscape in terms of support and vibe will change. New chapter, I'm told, stuck in the past, I'm accused of. History is relative. It sure is. I hope you enjoy chatting about it in a pub or cafe in Newham which is draped with Claret and Blue colours or Orient colours.
Imagine us winning a Cup. Open bus parade. Through the streets of East London. Stratford, Leyton etc. I don't know about you, but that would be like waving your willy around in the front garden of your girlfriends ex-boyfriend. All a bit unnecessary and avoidable, when waving it around in your own bedroom is far more applicable to the occasion. Call me sentimental.
Sorry for thinking football was about moments, about games, about having a drink pre and post match and making a go of it on the pitch without sacrificing and boxing up your heritage and traditions and replacing emotions completely with harsh economics that instruct us to move now or perish. You know, we've got where we are today by bucking the trend.
I want what is best for the club. And competing at the highest level is what we can all agree on as an ambition although some of us are fine with us just being Tottenham. Regardless, let's try to remain anchored to the place that gives us our name. Try a bit harder. Much harder. Without going weak at the knees at something we are only bidding for because of the apparent commercial support we have backing us - allowing all involved to swim in the quick fix, no matter the consequences.
They say, N17 is but a post code. It doesn't mean anything, not really. The club, its history and traditions - these will remain forever with us and can't be pinned down geographically. Honesty and integrity and Innovation, free flowing football, flair players. Glory nights. This is Tottenham. The fans and the fans expectations of what the club should be. It's not a post code, I agree. But it’s what the post code stands for, what it should stand for. And it should not be replaced by one starting with the letter 'E' and representing a by product of commercialism first and a football club second.
It's consumed the Prem League. Let's not let it consume us completely.
I should not even be bothering to quantify all this. Home is where the Hart is. We are the one constant that will always remain ever present. We, the fans. And all the romantic notions should not be dismissed because they can't produce profit. And they should not have to be packaged up and sent to another part of London for the sake of said profit.
You might not agree, you might cite what I’ve already stated that history is pinned to you, on you – the Spurs fan. Where you go, Tottenham goes. Football (and fans) are fickle, rule changing to suit their preference. I refuse to change the rule.
North London is ours.
We should not even be considering Stratford and I can only hope this is part of some Machiavellian strategy by the chairman. Because the alternative is Tottenham Hotspur without the Tottenham. Perhaps in ten years we'll up and move from East London to the Midlands for easier accessibility for the rest of the country to the brand new home of Sportstainment.
In conclusion - We as fans and as a club have retained plenty of pride in old skool integrity. You know, traditional values pertaining to heritage and history. The type of things you can't slap a price on because, let's face it, its priceless stuff.
We've struggled, no doubt, in the past, but recent management on the pitch has gone some way to repairing the damage. It's a quick fix to accept the OS as the only way to consolidate. And God have mercy on all involved if the Sky Sports money making machine stops printing the notes. It's a risk either way. But it’s a soulless one to the East.
And if we go to the East, there will be no national Olympic Stadium. No running track or obvious legacy paid for by tax payers. Keys to be handed over to a football club for them to demolish a stadium built at a cost of £500M for a few weeks worth of athletics. East London will lose out on the regeneration project in and around Upton Park. West Ham won’t have a new home. What a shame their bid is so weak in impact, hey Karren? And let's not forget Orient. Or have we already? And then there's White Hart Lane, home of many Glory Glory nights which will probably be turned into a massive housing development, flats for the locals, concrete where once Dave Mackay and Danny Blanch flower stood with studs on ball. A car park where Bill Nicholson’s ashes rest.
It's our club. It was our club. It will hardly be our club. Say no to Stratford.
Regards to all. And...
Come on you Spurs.
Previous Stratford/N17 articles:
If Stratford Hotspur happens...it ends there (guest blog tehTrunk)