Everything you need to know about Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium and their temporary stay at Wembley
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Tottenham Hotspur. Following a second-place finish last season, a new state-of-the-art 61,500 capacity stadium is being built at White Hart Lane. In the meantime, the club are set to play their home matches at the 90,000 capacity national stadium for one season only. Things appear to be looking up.
There’s no getting around it though, Tottenham’s form at Wembley over the past 10 years has been absolutely wretched. It’s a dark cloud over the club, and concerns have permeated through the fan base of a drastic dip in on-field performance. It could potentially de-rail what has been incremental improvement for Spurs over the previous three seasons, both on and off the pitch.
Here’s everything you need to know about Tottenham’s transition from the old White Hart Lane, and why it might not be doom and gloom after all.
It’s worth noting at this point just how rotten Tottenham’s form at Wembley really is. In the last 10 years, Tottenham have won just two matches out of a possible 10. And one of those wins came in extra-time – Jonathan Woodgate’s winning header in the League Cup Final against Chelsea in 2008.
Since then, their only other victory came in last season’s meaningless 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow, a game where they were already out of the Champions League. It was their first victory at Wembley in 7 attempts.
The same team
In Harry Kane, they have arguably the best and most in-form striker in the world. An ensemble cast, which has only lost Kyle Walker in the summer, looks to have very little weakness in the starting line-up. Kieran Trippier, a man who possesses arguably the best delivery in the league, will seamlessly replace Walker at right wing-back.
It’s worth noting that their matches at Wembley last season included some mitigating circumstances – injuries and uncharacteristic errors led to some poor results. A team which, at its core, has an array of England internationals, including Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose and Eric Dier, should be used to the surroundings of the national stadium. The initiative lies with them.
This season promises to be a better atmosphere
Tottenham announced at the end of last year that season ticket holders for their home fixtures at Wembley would be placed within the same vicinity of the ground. This is in contrast to their Champions League matches last season, where their regular home supporters were split up throughout the ground.
This time around, their most ardent and thunderously loud fans will be together in the national stadium. That’ll make a huge difference.
The playing surface
Pochettino’s men need to adapt quickly to Wembley’s expansive playing surface, something they were unable to do last season. In June this year, Tottenham were dealt a blow after the Premier League rejected their request to reduce the width of the playing surface at the national stadium.
Pochettino believes a big reason for their poor performances at Wembley was down to the size of the pitch, the wider dimensions not allowing them to deploy a high pressing style. Wembley is two metres wider than the one they were used to playing on at White Hart Lane, however their request was rejected as Premier League rules mean that all top flight teams must play on pitches that are 100m by 68m.
Huge commercial gain
Since 2014, Tottenham were the only Premier League club to reduce their wage bill year-on-year, yet managed to improve their league position from fifth to third. A move to Wembley will see them top the Premier League in terms of capital expenditure for at least the next two more editions of Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance.
In May this year, Tottenham announced the signing of a five-year bank financing arrangement which includes a £400m bank facility (the “Facility”) to support the financing of the multi-purpose new stadium. Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited, Goldman Sachs Bank USA and HSBC Bank plc are the lenders under the Facility.
Commenting on the new stadium financing, Matthew Collecott, Director of Finance and Operations said: “We are delighted to have three of the most prestigious and globally recognised banks supporting us. We look forward to continuing our relationship with them into the final stages of our journey to deliver the catalyst to one of London’s largest regeneration projects.”
Kind opening fixtures
At first glance, an opening home match against the league Champions looks pretty rough. Delving further into the detail though see a much kinder outlook. After the opening Wembley encounter with Chelsea on 20th August, the next three home fixtures read Burnley, Swansea and Bournemouth.
Today’s friendly against Juventus will be an interesting barometer as to where they stand alongside Europe’s elite teams. Both managers appear to be playing close to a full strength team. It’s Juventus’ first ever match at Wembley and Massimiliano Allegri is expected to start many of his best players, including Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Giorgio Chiellini.
Under construction: the new White Hart Lane
Six English club football stadiums have capacities of over 50,000 and Tottenham’s redeveloped White Hart Lane – due to open in time for the 2018/19 season with a 61,000 capacity – will become the seventh. The aspirations of the club are grand, their website declaring, ‘We are creating what we believe will be the finest stadium anywhere in the world for spectators, visitors and the wider community, delivering a major new landmark for Tottenham and London.’
In a bid to replicate Borussia Dortmund’s ‘Yellow Wall’, the stadium has been designed for atmosphere, including the incorporation of the UK’s largest single tier stand, the home southern end, which will be able to hold up to 17,000 fans.
According to the Guardian, the exclusive ‘H Club’ will include an option for clients to “select their own specially sourced half-time cheeses”. Members of the ‘H Club’ will also be able to watch the players congregate in the tunnel before the match via a giant glass wall. Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is not convinced, “Dangerous. Dangerous” he said, while adding that this is why the seats “will be very expensive”. Other features include an in-house bakery, a microbrewery and heated seats.
The venue won’t just show football, partnership has been agreed with the National Football League (NFL) that will see a minimum of two American football games played each season for 10 years. A retractable grass field with an artificial surface underneath will be multi-use and also capable of hosting concerts and other high-profile events.
Tottenham’s form at Wembley has caused justifiable concern at the club – a stunted atmosphere in the stands permeating the performances on the pitch. Their transition into the redeveloped White Hart Lane is an exciting time, one which will have huge long-term financial benefits.
Some kind opening fixtures, coupled with them maintaining their core squad over the summer, should mean some early victories, providing the opportunity to put the Wembley hoodoo firmly behind them.
Chris Henderson – follow me on Twitter here