Updated: May 10
It’s being reported tonight by the BBC that West Ham have won the bid to take over the Olympic Stadium. It’s important to note that the reports are that Olympic Park Legacy Executives have taken a view, that this will be recommended to the full committee on Friday and that it is highly probable that the vote will go West Ham’s way. But this is clearly a key stage in Tottenham Hotspur’s history and there are some very important decisions to be made. Hence this early post as a small attempt to shape future direction.
Events will no doubt unfold fast. This is my perspective at 11pm on Wednesday 9 February. As the battle unfolded, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has given strong indications that he would seek a legal review of any decision that went against Spurs. I do not believe this course of action will be in the best interests of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. I believe anyone with the best interests of the football club at heart now has to put aside any previous differences and work to achieve the Northumberland Development Project.
If you doubt that, ask yourself this simple question. Are our energies best spent on fighting what will be a long and possibly ultimately fruitless legal battle, or on securing an increased capacity stadium as soon as possible? I am absolutely convinced that all with the best interests of the football club at heart should focus on delivering the NDP.
Already I have seen calls for Daniel Levy’s resignation. I do not believe this is productive. Levy’s style does not win him many friends – he comes across as an arrogant know-all with a low opinion of others; his PR offensive has been a disaster and his, shall we say fluid, marshalling of his arguments have meant that it is very difficult to take him at his word. There are many criticisms that can be made of Daniel Levy. I daresay he won’t be putting me top of his Christmas card list either. But it’s important to put aside ego and think of the club.
If Levy were to resign, what then? I’m sure most of you reading this can visualise owners far worse than Levy has been. While there is much to criticise, perhaps the single greatest achievement is not saddling the club with huge debts. And then there is the NDP. Levy tabled a proposal for a fantastic stadium the fans loved which would have held true to the traditions that made the brand – if you’ll allow me to use that controversial but key word. Now is the time to answer the questions about what suddenly made that proposal unviable and to devote our attention to resolving those issues.
Much damage has already been done to the relationship between the club and the local authorities and community it needs to work with. There have been mistakes made on both sides. There now needs to be a rebuilding of trust and this can be achieved through openness and a genuine determination to put aside previous differences for the greater good.
I am aware of detailed discussions going on which are looking at a way to constructively address funding of the NDP. Such proposals would, I believe, provide a solid framework for all parties to unite around in order to deliver the bigger and better stadium we all agree is needed.
There are, of course, alternatives to making the NDP work. We could fight a lengthy and expensive court battle to get the Olympic Stadium. We could hope West Ham’s proposal falls apart and we get asked to step in after all. We could look at an entirely new site and start from scratch. And all the time we do that we will fall further and further behind our rivals with greater capacities.
The quickest way to get the club into a bigger stadium is to solve the remaining issues around the project that has already been planned and discussed and costed. The project that would upgrade the stadium with minimum disruption to the team and the business. It is not the case that, as was claimed in one of the many flawed arguments for Stratford, that a bigger stadium will guarantee success. But without the extra income generated by a bigger stadium, success will be harder to achieve.
All who claim to care about the club now have a clear choice. We can point fingers, attribute blame and generally exercise our pet prejudices. Or we can work together to achieve the NDP.