A Machiavellian migraine: Levy, the NDP and Stratford
Okay, so let me see if I have this right.
Northumberland Development Project is presented as a viable option to redevelop the surrounding area White Hart Lane currently sits on to build a stadium nearing 60k capacity.
Then, thanks to unforeseen (and failure to forecast) rising costs the viable NDP became not so viable as it was apparent to the fans via the club and the walls being built by local government (the only thing being built) stopping progression and leading us instead to a near fatal conclusion that it was now far too expensive - bordering on the crippling - and thus not feasible.
Out of nowhere, Stratford and the Olympic site became a priority. By 'out of nowhere' I mean it was always an option for the club and slowly slowly crawled into our future stadium landscape by becoming a 'backup plan' because business wise it made sense to show an interest, to then taking over as the plan.
Even though logistically in terms of borough and geography there was a suggestion the Premier League would frown upon a club moving into another clubs territory (West Ham's - not Orients, because nobody appears to give a sh*t about the Leyton team), with each passing day the club's stance became stronger and their commitment to the OS completely and unequivocally 100%.
The NDP was dead in the water. Legacy details of the dream eventually being removed from the club site. Why keep plans for a project that was not viable? Why keep plans for a project that would undermine the clubs push to claim the OS site? Tottenham had to be seen to be a one-stadium bidder - with no apparent 'second' option. The NDP had to be far removed from being tagged viable. No questions asked. Even if most of us scratched our heads at it's demise.
Local government aided Levy's argument and course of action. Although it's not as clear cut to some as it's easy to lay the blame with politicians (Haringey easy pickings at times for criticism, although it's worth remembering in the case of public sector funding, a rich football club asking for tax payers money can appear to be a tad cheeky, but not so when the project at hand is to regenerate the surrounding area).
For Levy, the board of directors and the shareholders - the OS made perfect business and fiscal sense in terms of saving the club up to or around £200M. From what we understand, we were invited to bid. Told we would stand a chance (I'm reading between the lines, but few would argue against the fact that someone lifted their skirt up to reveal crotchless panties...and it wasn't the porn barons from Upton Park. Neither was it Karren Brady, so you can all stop puking now).
Plenty of twists and turns played out. On paper, no doubting the fact Spurs had a far stronger far more fiscally powerful plan for the OS compared to the West Ham bid. Plenty of chat about the Olympic legacy - probably a political reason for Spurs being told to get involved, so that emphasis and pressure would be placed on the WH bid to include all the niceties certain interested parties would want to be safe-guarded. Like the ridiculous post-Olympic games running track.
West Ham win the bid (recommendation). 14-0. That's as comprehensive as you could possibly wish to hope for. Well, for pro-N17 supporters and most of West Ham's. Question here would be whether Levy genuinely felt we had a chance. You would think, with him being shrewd and immensely clever (they say that) he understood the probability of it going to WH would always remain the obvious outcome.
Perhaps, purely from a business perspective he had to make the bid for the OS and deal with any consequences in terms of fan disapproval. To him it would have been collateral damage. The club would have hit the ground running. Alas, 14-0 and ended.
So back to the drawing board. Since the decision, Levy has continue to appeal against it via a judicial review - rejected out of hand once, with a second hearing pencilled in. Reasons for the continued push is perhaps to reclaim some of the money spent by the club on the bid. Perhaps to prove a point that the process was unfair. Perhaps even to mould a negative into a positive for reasons of leverage. The Olympic committee would rather mud slinging not drag on into the summer and beyond. In addition an OPLC member with West Ham links has been suspended (and allegations of secret payments). Whether anything is proved to be relevant or damaging remains to be seen. But now it becomes that slightly more clearer why Levy has persisted.
Slowly slowly, the NDP begins to make its way back into the stadium landscape. Mentions of the club working hard to make it viable again. Mentions of other sites being looked for the sake of an alternative location. It's still not quite viable.
Which brings us onto the bid for a Regional Growth Fund. My understanding is that there's money in the pot. You make your case why you would deserve (let's say £100M) and why it would benefit more if the total sum is given to you rather than it being shared amongst various projects. A small cut of the total sum the club are going to ask for will probably not be as dramatic as the whole of the sum of money we would wish for. Which is why we might not be stepping back into that viable tag just yet.
But to even apply for a RGF - you can only ever hope to win if your project is deemed to be a non-starter in the first place. We are back to requesting help with the costs of the regeneration.
I guess perhaps the original plans and costs of the NDP way back, deep down, the club always knew it was not quite a feasible project and that mounting costs would push it beyond that. Hence the reason for the OS bid. We (Levy and co) had to prove to everyone they gave N17 a go - and it simply could not work to the point of it being boxed up and stored under 'never'. But if the OS bid failed, which it did, removing it from the box and re-introducing it whilst building up various pockets of momentum in terms of grants and pressures on the Mayor and friends...I can only go back to something I've always been desperate to cling onto even when I began to doubt it.
Levy = Machiavellian
We don't know every detail and we don't understand every decision because we're not meant too. Not clearly. Every move, every contingency if something doesn't go his way is mapped out. Given sometimes it's out of good fortune (RGF is a relatively new option).
Although that's not to say he's always pulling in the same direction we want to go. He's doing what he believes to be best for THFC. That, was at one point, Stratford. And had it worked (God forbid the West Ham bid ever collapsed) we'd be looking to move there. In the grand scheme of things, the chances of sharing those fourteen points was zero. I can't help wonder if he knew from the start that the only chance Spurs ever had of building a 60k all-seater was to generate money, support from the government meaning:
NDP - never truly viable from the offset (unforeseen costs were not unexpected and help from Haringey hardly viable in its self due to them having no available monies at any given time)
Stratford - never achievable in hindsight, but the clubs number one choice, and at one juncture 'someone' hinted and flirted with us that it could happen
Post-OS NDP - the only true option if the right level of cost support is there, and viable 'in time' now the OS is done and dusted by pushing the emphasis back on 'redevelopment', because it's about the area as much as it is about the club - which means the people obstructing previously might just wake up to the concept of holding our hand
There was never a contingency plan for the possibility of the NDP failing because its not the clubs intentions to allow it to fail. Might be fantasy on my part, having already made clear if the OS was given the go-ahead we'd be on our way. By virtue of losing out in the East End the contingency plan for the NDP has turned out to be the...NDP.
I always asked what would we do if the OS never existed? I'd hazard a guess that Levy would still have eventually deemed the NDP not viable to apply pressure to bring down costs anyway possible. Where we are now, is where we would have been in that scenario. Probably would have even flirted with the idea of leaving N17 too.
The RGF (information here and here if you want to read up on it) is simply a step in the right direction, one that looks perfectly natural with everything that's happened up to this point. We are talking about the NDP again. There might be another twist or turn around the corner, it's hard going attempting to second guess any of this because I'm sure someone will claim the RGF means very little in the long run - and that might be the case if we're awarded very little of it. We'll see how it all pans out.
Let's hope we bid for £100M and we get £100M. That's £100M to go towards investing in local people and the regeneration of the area to aid us with costs with the stadium. The crux of it will be whether we can prove the NDP can generate more jobs under the roof of redeveloping Tottenham than perhaps the money shared to a variety or projects could produce.
As for everything else I've mused, it's all just a theory. I'm sure there are holes in it. I'm sure you're going to point them out. More prevalent to the hear and now for most would be to consolidate on field progression so there's a team in full flow to match the ambitions of the redevelopment. No need for the Machiavellian here, just decisiveness of the swift variety.
All of us had our emotions pulled to the left and right whilst this has played out, questioning ethics and loyalty and what defined progression via revenue and the sacrifice of geographical history with the potential for a new chapter to be written elsewhere.
The pro-N17 people, screaming 'Say no to Stratford' at least wore their hearts on their sleeves. No different to the ones who simply accepted a move and supported it in their own way (can't really be that pro-active if you're supportive of moving). Just accept all at face value - i.e. Stratford is the only choice, let's get out of the sh*thole. Pro-move people simply tunnel visioned into the facts presented. NDP not viable, OS fiscal heaven. Far easier to accept it all than to jot something down on a bed sheet and wave it around outside White Hart Lane with ten mates keeping you company.
But then it was never about bed sheets was it? Or organised demonstrations. Some of the blog articles, the comments and and on-line discussions were far more powerful than the demonstrations could ever hope to be. Same in the stands and in the pubs. It was about the discussion and debate that unfolded with so much passion and fire, displaying how loyal all Spurs fans are no matter their opinion on the subject. Say no to Stratford, we are N17...it was more than just sound-bites and websites.
There were some that remained far more angry and belittling than others on the subject. Most agreed to disagree. Others anchored themselves to N17 no matter what, even though they had more to lose than those who did not mind moving.
In the end, we all want the same thing: THFC marching forwards. The ones that preferred only to do so without turning into a fully fledged franchise will have to unite with the ones that didn't even blink when the OS became 'available'.
I've already cited that business is business and it's more than obvious that Daniel Levy has to work diligently to safeguard the club (and the investment made). You don't really need me to point that out. The club will not be placed into a position of weakness financially. And the NDP - on the current costing - would do just that. But then it was always going to cost us.
I'm more than glad we are back to where we started this journey, still a long road ahead of us and this time no roads turning to the east. Tottenham is Tottenham no matter where the club plays it's football, some said. Well actually no, Tottenham is Tottenham in Tottenham.
Hopefully that's a reality we can all agree upon now. The supporters, the club and the local government who in-turn should embrace the potential of redevelopment in N17 to aid the area and the people who reside there along with the club.
Spurs have the key to the door. Lay down the welcoming mat, step aside and allow us to unlock it.