The growing controversy of Tottenham’s stadium saga

The growing controversy of Tottenham’s stadium saga

Tottenham will reportedly find out this week whether the EFL are able to give the green light to their proposed stadium switch. The North London club have requested that their Carabao 3rd round tie at home to Watford be moved to the Stadium MK due to the unavailability of Wembley stadium in addition to the much publicised delays to their own stadium build.

The Carabao Cup round three ties are scheduled for the week commencing the 24th September, with Spurs’ request due to be discussed at the EFL board meeting on the 6th of this month. Spurs have rejected the option to reverse the fixture, much to the angst of opponents Watford.

The decision to move the fixture to Milton Keynes is controversial for a number of reasons.

Spurs would be playing a ‘home’ game outside of the M25 and 50 miles away from their home in North London; a move that is even more inconvenient for fans during the middle of the week. Tottenham stated that an option inside the M25 was “simply not possible”, with the club defending the decision to maintain a 95% allocation of available seats (something that wouldn’t have been possible with a fixture reverse).

Of all the interesting stadium developments in Europe at the moment, Florentino Pérez’s plans to redevelop Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stand out. According to Spanish financial newspaper El Economista, Madrid recently lost a stadium naming rights deal with Spanish oil and gas multinational Cepsaworth worth €400m, a deal that would have been the biggest naming rights contract in football history. Madrid’s plan is for the stadium to grow ten metres in height while adding a magnificent roof, with no increase to its existing 81,000 capacity. The development is instead intended to add restaurants, a shopping centre and a hotel in a broader attempt to improve its overall commercial output and take advantage of the stadium’s central location in the city of Madrid.

The cynics may well suggest this a continuation of Daniel Levy’s finance over fans mentality, with the club set to benefit from the gate receipts of a home fixture (although for this tie the difference is likely to be less significant).

Arguably the more controversial aspect of this move is the actual principal of a tie up with the MK Dons. This was the point the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Club made in their statement on the issue. The following comments were particularly pertinent:

“As a supporters’ organisation, we would obviously not be happy to see our club’s home games moved to Stadium MK. Should the game go ahead, we would urge fans to consider the history of the MK club and the views of our friends at AFC Wimbledon. 

“Board members of THST will not be attending the match if it is played at Stadium MK.”

 

Wimbledon’s infamous transformation and move to Milton Keynes as the MK Dons will forever be controversial. Peter Winkelman’s ambitious plan to establish a club in Milton Keynes was given the go ahead back in 2004. This was a decision that sought to undermine the integrity of the footballing pyramid, effectively allowing the Dons to take the place of Wimbledon whilst consigning the majority of their fans and club to history. The rise of AFC Wimbledon in live football today has therefore been a source of great pride for the people of Wimbledon and indeed the footballing purists in this country.

The position of the board is therefore understandable, a show of solidarity to their friends at AFC Wimbledon. The aspect that has proved to be divisive is the request for supporters to consider the situation too, a call that has been interpreted as a push to boycott the game by some.

Whether you believe this to be the intention or not, this fixture is set to be a controversial one.