No To Stratford – Why Tottenham Must Stay In North London

Ollie Irish

21st, January 2011


By Jack McInroy

Loud and clear: A section of Tottenham fans show their opposition to the Stratford move

Initially it looked like a bluff to stop TfL and Haringey council holding the club to ransom and it might still be, but Tottenham Hotspur Football Club moving to east London is worryingly possible.

Following the club’s plans for a new stadium is a confusing business. There have been times when you could be forgiven for thinking the Northumberland Park development project (a 56,000-seater stadium adjacent to the current one) was imminent. Just when it looked like planning permission had been granted there was always another body to satiate. Architectural plans written. New deadlines. And now there’s the bid for the Olympic Stadium which Tottenham and West Ham are both doing their best to get.

Whether you’re a regular, a visiting supporter or watching on television White Hart Lane leaves an impression as a loud stadium. The atmosphere, especially for European games and derbies (and even more importantly if you sit in the right part of the ground) is fantastic. The way the larghissimo version of ‘When The Spurs Go Marching In’ echoes around the ground makes the hairs on your arms stand on end.

But it is only 36,000 in capacity. The stand out statistic in the Swiss Ramble’s report on Tottenham’s finances was the gulf in match-day earnings between us and the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. With UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations around the corner it’s more important than ever for clubs to maximise revenue so they can spend more on transfers and wages. With 33,000 people on the paid-for season ticket waiting list, selling 20,000 more tickets a week won’t be an issue.

White Hart Lane: Homely, “Like a big front room”

I remember my first visit to the Lane vividly. I was an hour and a half early and sat in my seat, enveloped by the steep stands, marveling at how strangely intimate the place was – like a big front room. But it isn’t White Hart Lane that I’m attached to. It is home, but I accept we can’t live there forever. Brace yourselves for the most horrifying statistic in football – Arsenal have won the league more times at White Hart Lane than Spurs.

What’s important is that we stay in Tottenham. It isn’t complicated really – football, at domestic and international level, is a territorial game. American sports teams can be franchised across the country, but that is unacceptable in English football. The high-profile modern example is what happened to Wimbledon, or the Milton Keynes Dons as they are now known. A club that quite literally gave their history away, including records, honours and a replica FA Cup, to Merton Council and AFC Wimbledon.

Being from south London I have no tie to Tottenham or Haringey other than Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. I’ve only ever been to the area to watch games and buy tickets. Our three best players grew up in Cardiff, Former Yugoslavia and a Dutch caravan park, and we have fans all across the country, but the club’s roots are firmly rooted in Tottenham. We’ve been there for 129 years.

The club’s original plans to build a new stadium next to the current one suggests there isn’t better location elsewhere in the area. Much is made of the poor transport links around the current stadium, but 36,000 people manage to make it into their seats by 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. I appreciate that people’s time is valuable, but I won’t sacrifice the club’s heritage to get home 20 minutes earlier.

Ideally transport needs to be improved, that’s obvious. In the hour after the game there could be twice as many trains from White Hart Lane station as there currently are, which would be some compensation for the nearest tube station being 20 minutes walk away. Northumberland Park station could also be better utilised.

Can you read this? A Tottenham fan holds up an anti-Stratford banner to a TV studio window at White Hart Lane

There are a host of other arguments, issues and agendas on both sides. Debates about running tracks around football pitches, the Olympic legacy, developing Crystal Palace, whether West Ham can sell out a stadium double the size of Upton Park, the regeneration of Haringey, copyright threats and even a warning of civil unrest. All these things are irrelevant.

There seems to be little doubt that Stratford is a more attractive proposition financially and this forms the basis of most pro-move arguments. £200m is the figure that’s doing the rounds and even if this isn’t a liberal estimate I’m not interested, because the saving would come at too high a cost. The financial projections for Stratford aren’t relevant, just like the financial projections for moving to Milton Keynes aren’t relevant. Or Wembley. Or Woolwich. We are Tottenham Hotspur.

If the future of the club was in jeopardy moving might be a last resort, but that emphatically isn’t the case. The worst-case scenario staying in Tottenham is the Northumberland Park development project not going ahead, continuing to sell 36,000 tickets a week, and we keep our integrity. Even if we fall behind the higher earners there are still only five teams in the country that earn more money than us. Doesn’t sound like the end of the world to me.

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Arsenal’s move over the river, the beginning of the north London derby. It would be tragic if a year or two later they had north London to themselves.

This article was first published on the excellent Spurs blog You’ll Win Nothing With Yids

Editor’s note: I was going to write a piece exactly on these lines – as many of you know, I support Tottenham – but Jack did it so well I thought it best simply to republish his piece here.

But I will add this: I am honestly astounded at the large number of fellow Spurs fans who seem to be in favour of a move to east London. Many of them seem blinded by the mantra: “We have to move with the times, and that means moving.” Or, “We’ll get left behind”, as if the club hasn’t made great strides forward under Harry Redknapp.

Yes, I see the appeal of the Stratford move, absolutely, but preserving the heart and soul of the club – of any club – is immeasurably more important than anything else, including a shiny new stadium with 68 toilets and easy access for fans who want to leave five minutes before full-time. But the prize at the end – regular Champions League football, perhaps – in no way justifies signing this Faustian pact. Bill Nicholson’s ashes were scattered at the Lane for a reason. History lives in the past, of course, but it must always means something. I would rather watch Championship football in north London than Champions League football in east London. That is not a flippant or facetious statement.

There’s also the small matter of London 2012’s legacy to athletics – no football club really belongs at the Olympic Stadium.

Posted in Featured, Opinion, Tottenham Hotspur

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  1. jim says:

    either way we are leaving white hart lane, so whats the difference if its 500 yards away or 5 miles. From what i hear, we are going to win this bid and i’ve no objection at all, we need to evolve to keep up.

  2. Big Mal says:

    So so wrong in so so many ways. It’s trendy to say ‘No’ but it misses the point. We cannot stay at WHL because we will not be able to finance it so we must move. Continuing to get 36,000 at WHL will put us so far behind our rivals that we will not be able to compete. Full stop. We have a brilliant option 5 miles down the road which will mean that we can get back to being London’s top club and challenge Manchester United (and now, sadly, City) at home and the top teams in Europe.
    We will keep our name and continue the amazing community work in Tottenham, whilst having the training ground in Enfield. Football and life moves on and sometimes progress is not popular. There have been so many things that people did not want and this just happens to be an emotional one, but everyone must get over it.
    For me being born in Tottenham and living there for many years, saying this is very hard, but IT IS THE ONLY WAY. Do not fool yourselves. The council took us for granted until we decided to leave; now they are slagging us off for wanting to leave. They made no real attempt to support and simply want us to deliver loads of extras and do their job of re-generating an area. This is not the clubs responsibility. I am sick of 40 years of not challenging for the title since I have been coming missing just 4 home games in that time. I love walking down the High Road, but that is because everyone has a common goal. I wnat so much more for this wonderful club than sitting around and not moving with the times.

  3. yidual says:

    Dont believe the prostratford people – its PR people paid to get on the boards and they all have the same name.

    Nobody can be that pro-stratford that they feel the need to post on every board.

    I can accept people who are sat on the fense (just about) but I know in my heart that the majority dont want to consider leaving our home.

  4. yidual says:

    Your talking out your arse Big Mal. Go an support a winning team like Utd. Glory hunting idiot. Not fit to call yourself a Tottenham fan.

  5. yidual says:

    over 80% against the move. You can spin it as you like PR people but real Tottenham fans want to stay in our home. Success or no success.

  6. Ollie Irish says:

    @ Big Mal – It’s not ‘trendy’ to say no, it’s merely the natural reaction of any right-thinking Tottenham fan, imho.

  7. lars says:

    Another article trying to drum up support for a campaign thus far utterly rejected by the vast majority of the spurs faithful as reflected in only 400 joining in the anti-Stratford protest last weekend despite a captive audience of 36,000 in attendance at the game.

    I think most fair minded supporters would prefer staying in N17 but accept that if an alternative is likely to prove more beneficial then it should absolutely be explored.

    THFC is so much more than its locality. I have attended WHL for nearly 40 years but feel nothing for the surrounding area. Many clubs have moved out of their immediate locality and prospered in their new homes. Its the fans that give a club its soul and create the atmosphere not the streets leading to the stadium and for anyone to suggest a change of site will fundamentally change the match day experience are short sighted and kidding themselves.

    Let’s just get behind the team in what has been a terrific season so far and not get distracted by a small group of people with a very different set of objectives for our club than the loyal majority.

  8. yid says:

    80% in favour…what a load of rubbish. As usual a loud MINORITY talking nonsense.

    The move to Stratford makes sense in so many ways it is hard to believe that a minority of supporters cannot see this. What rubbish PR people on the blogs.

    N17 group does not represent the majority

  9. Big Mal says:

    Yidual you are a sad, deluded fool. Those who want to stay think that people who know why we must move are disloyal or glory hunters. Yes, I have had 40 years of glory hunting with the most wonderful team in the world and now we have an opportunity of some glory. I was born and bred within a mile of the ground and have loved every second of it. You are not fit to support this wonderful club because you want to hold back natural progress. The ‘80% who want to stay’ is absolute garbage. There is a massive groundswell for moving and it’s growing all the time. Sadly anyone who has to say ‘real’ Spurs fans is trying to prove that they are. And if anyone is claiming that I am a PR person, feel free to come and see me in the Paxton Upper with my mates and I’ll tell you about the dull job I do that enables me to go to Tottenham. Just because someone has a different view does mean that you need to start the abuse. However, if you want to. I am happy to continue. When I am in our new stadium, able to finally sit with family who I cannot get season tickets for I will think of you at home sulking and wishing we had stayed in an unsustainable ground and area. Just as a reminder from someone who knows. If Stratford doesn’t happen we will not rebuild WHL because we will not be able to borrow the money. We will be in a small stadium and will not be able to compete at a time when we are getting there. Look at the MUCH bigger picture. Look at progress. In 10-20 years time most big city clubs will have moved out of their area because the grounds were built in a different century when no one had a car. Tottenham MUST move. Tottenham MUST move on. It’s going to happen and it can’t come sooner. COYS

  10. Ollie Irish says:

    I respect your opinion Big Mal. Guess I’m just a sentimental fool, eh.

  11. Ollie Irish says:

    … but you can’t possibly know that WHL can’t ever be redeveloped and expanded. There is the scope. And WHL is not even that ‘small’.

  12. j says:

    I’d rather pay an extra £30 a game to stay at The Lane than move to Stratford, if it’s all just about economics.

    Why not re-develop White Hart Lane to make it a bigger stadium, maybe 56,000. We can play at Wembley for a couple of seasons while the work is being done.

    The FA get revenue for the New Wembley debt disaster, Spurs get to play in a big stadium, both during and after the rebuild.
    And Tottenham Hotspur Football Club stays in N17.

  13. Big Mal says:

    Yid. Brilliant that so many people are talking sense and understand what is happening. But don’t forget the N17 brigade think that they are the only ‘real’ fans and that those posting in favour are PR people employed by the club. It is this type of idiot who is making their feeble campaign so laughable. The saddest thing for me though is that it is dividing Tottenham fans and creating ill feeling from people like yidual who immediately abused me for stating my opinion. For what it’s worth where I sit the vast majority say ‘I would have prefered to stay at WHL, but it’s obvious we need to move’. That’s it in a nutshell really.

  14. yid says:

    Tottenham is actually closer to the new stadium than West Ham as the crow flies (according to Talksport).

    Tottenham is on the very edge of east London. Walthamstow is about a mile from the ground and is postcode E17.

    We will also keep our name as Tottenham Hotspur Plc is a limited company…it’s a company name and so can be sued anywhere in the world.

    The anti Stratford brigade really need to grow up

  15. Big Mal says:

    Ollie Irish. What I can tell you is in theory it could, but it won’t because the money does not stack up in any way. I could tell you a lot more from a connection with the finances, but not on here. It would be commercial suicide to consider WHL which is why Stratford has become the option. Every penny of every council’s money went into Stratford and the Olympics and there is simply none left which is why our council have not been supportive.
    Nice of J to offer to pay another £30. What about the other 36,000 who cannot afford to do this? We cannot develop WHL without knocking it down and having the costs that are being discussed so that’s just a non starter. I am a sentimental fool, but this is the most crucial moment in our history and a tiny majority are trying to blow because of tradition.

  16. yid says:

    Agree Big Mal. In an ideal world we would be able to stay at the Lane but for the best of the club we have to move.

    Amazing that so called ‘real’ supporters want THFC to stay in N17 for their own sake and NOT what is best for the club!! They have no argument as to why it would be better for Spurs to stay in Tottenham.

  17. Kent Smudger says:

    Stratford is the only realistic affordable option.

    The area is being regenerated, has far better transport links and we’ll still be moving into a brilliant new stadium.

    The Tottenham area is run down and getting worse. It struggles to cope with clearing 36,000 after a home match, how’s it going to manage with another 20,000?

    Let’s move on and move out.

  18. wes says:


    “Your talking out your arse Big Mal. Go an support a winning team like Utd. Glory hunting idiot. Not fit to call yourself a Tottenham fan”

    Really? Do you not see the irony in your comment? It’s like you’d prefer to be mediocre than challenge at the top! I think that’s what this debate between spurs fans is uncovering. We have a group of fans that want success, crave it, are sick of never seeing Spurs challenge at the top and are willing to see the club move so it’s better equipped to do so, and a group for whom, the spurs experience, is about going to some dive of a pub on the Tottenham High Road after a game, moaning cause they lost to Arsenal again! If we don’t go to Stratford the Northumberland project will cost the club an extra £200m+ and if that’s deemed economically a no-goer by the board which they could very well decide to do, given the increasingly gloomy economic climate, we’re left with WHL, which much as I love it wont support the clubs ambitions once the new FIFA financial regulations come in. It’s a f***ing simple concept which staggers me, how many of you don’t understand.

    PS. I’m not being paid by Levy & Co to write this. They wouldn’t have to. I want Spurs at the top and if I have to go to Stratford to see it, I will.

  19. Jack Eltham says:

    Tottenham the club and Tottenham the place are not the same thing. Unless Lammy wants to buy Lionel Messi for us

  20. j says:

    Big Mal

    Why is this issue proving to be so divisive amongst Tottenham fans?

    Because the proposed move to Stratford is just plain wrong. On many levels. Football is about much more than just economics. Some people get that. Others, I’m afraid, do not.

    Tottenham Hotspur is loved by its fans not just because we play our football in the Premier League, and we were the first team to win The Double in the modern era and the first English club to win a European trophy.

    It is also loved because of the way we won. It’s a philosophy that is ingrained in the very DNA of the club. Yes, it’s all about The Glory.

  21. yid says:

    Post 17…exactly, it is about the club. It does not matter that the ckub move a couple of miles up the road…the history is with the club NOT an area.

  22. Jack Eltham says:

    post 19. I love that idea

  23. Jack Eltham says:

    J – we agree that football is not about economics… it’s about success and glory. But we need the money for that.

  24. Dan Mac says:

    I’m getting fed up of this ‘no real Tottenham fan would want to move’ rubbish. If you’re not intelligent enough to debate the points instead of just fobbing the argument off with a completely flippant and ridiculous statement then you’re opinion shouldn’t be taken into consideration anyway. I’d rather we found a way to stay at home, of course I would… at the same time though life is not just about moments in time… the history will remain wherever we are, as long as we stay in London. the next generation will be left with a team competing for the title and a world class stadium… as well as the stories of history that we all grew up with.

    Like I said I’d rather stay at WHL… but I support the club, not the area, or the bricks and mortar that built our stadium, the history can never be sold, we will ALWAYS have it, it happened, we did it, regardless of where we did it, it can’t be taken away from us.

    To say stupid things like ‘a real fan would never want to move away’ is just having a dig at another Spurs fan for no reason other than having a different opinion than you.

    we need a bigger stadium or with the new rules we WILL get left behind a bit and probably go back to the mid table Spurs that we have been for 20 years. Surely, if you’d rather be a mid table team at an old stadium just because you had nice memories there than a title winning team at a new stadium you aren’t a ‘real fan’ (nb. i don’t actually believe that, just making a point. The argument can be swung either way, so can we all stop being so sure of ourselves and patronosing people who differ in opinion to you… it makes you look a bit of a prick)

  25. j says:

    Big Mal

    Apropos ticket prices.

    How much are tickets prices going to cost at a new stadium to finance hundreds of millions of pounds worth of debt? The first non-hospitality £100 match day ticket is already on sale at The Arse.

    There’s a fine line between ambition and greed.

    I’ve just read Daniel Levy’s ‘Open Letter’ on the official site. The reference to an ‘Extreme Sports’ facility is somewhat perplexing. Tottenham Hotspur is a Football Club, not a theme park.

    Daniel Levy has done a remarkable job for Spurs, and so far, one cannot question his judgement.
    I just hope he knows what he’s doing on this one.

  26. Big Mal says:

    J – your post does not say why moving to stratford is wrong. You say football is about glory. Yes and we can get that at Stratford and much more than at WHL. Let’s stay at WHL because it’s about glory. What does that mean? I am happy to hear your argument, but that isn’t one. Please explain what you mean.

  27. Big Mal says:

    j – the ticket prices will be less at Stratford because the costs are £200m less than new WHL. The debt at Stratford would be manageable at new WHL impossible.

  28. audiodrifter says:

    It’s all about the money.

  29. Andy Jo says:

    Just hope & pray that I will eventually be able to get to visit the UK & to watch Spurs play @ WHL before they move on to bigger & better stadium for the greatness of the club.

  30. Bill says:

    If we do move to Stratford things will never be the same. We’ve got to stay at our home which is Tottenham N17. We can’t leave north london to arsenal. I know alot of fans won’t be travelling to Stratford to watch the games so they will be losing alot of fans. We’ve got to rebuild at Tottenham and the club could still go forward this way.

  31. Jack says:

    I wasn’t trying to ‘drum up support’, Lars, merely nailing my colours to the mast. “THFC is so much more than its locality”. I don’t think its fair to say that only 400 people don’t want to move to Stratford. People have a blase attitude towards the move because, rightly or wrongly, they don’t think Spurs are serious about it.

    Like Ollie says, WHL isn’t THAT small. And with demand what it is and being in London ticket prices will continue to be high, meaning there will never be more than 5 clubs who earn more than us on match days.

    I’m not for a minute suggesting that people who want to move aren’t real fans. Many of them have supported Spurs longer than me and been to lots more games. It comes down to how much value the history of the club and local identity. For me the essence of Tottenham Hotspur is men and white shirts with a cockerel on their chests playing in the Tottenham area.

    What I find strangest about the whole affair is fans of the same club getting quite rude to each other. It may only be on a messageboards, but whichever way you feel I don’t think its necessary (or accurate) to call people with the opposite view idiots or tell them to grow up.

  32. lieutenant says:

    I have followed spurs since 1970s hundreds/thousands of fans in st albans herts fight amongst ourselves now I travel from south coast and more fans down here I would have liked to stay north london lalala no space no tube transport infrastructure many indigenous fans moved far away haringey population has changed outdated kabab burger chicken litter dirty pubs… glory was another era c`mon spurs! state of the art stadium billions invested in E15 open space shopping centre jubilee central tube network 20 million loyal fans worldwide 4th best supported club in britain new pubs bars resturants cafe`s sleeping giants faith confidence own east london aswell ICC inter city casuals dudes posse, outlaws london spooks.

  33. Jack says:

    I didn’t realise there’d be a shopping centre. I’m in!

  34. marajonna says:

    I think spurs fans are getting a bit ahead of themselves, you are a big team but what happens if you get relegated in a few years? You’re left with a 60,000 seater that won’t even reach half capacity. You have to be ambitious as a club but foregoing your history after the smallest sniff of glory may prove to be naive, success has come very quickly after a while outside of the contenders and I think this may have come to quickly. Perhaps you’ve got carried away,

    West ham clearly are not big enough for the Olympic stadium but they’re deluded fools and my tax won’t have been wasted.

  35. afc says:

    I hope spurs go to Stratford it would be so funny.

  36. Jose says:

    As a Yankee fan who had to say goodbye to the original it can be sad, but frankly without a salary cap it is a requirement, plus the old one was frankly a dump. The new one is much better, yes it is more expensive, but hey we won a World Series in its inaugural season. Winning is the point of every sport (except soccer increasingly), and that’s what any true fan would want…

  37. Eboue says:

    The split between THFC fans is going to continue long after this has played out.

    ON one side you have the old school nostalgic lot who have seen whatever glories in Shite Heart Lane on the other hand, you have the younger lot who probably dont have such an attachement to a stadium they’ve yet to witness many of those life defining games that older supporters have.

    Its a bit of a sweet spot for Gooners because if you lot become the Stratford Hotspurs, that will literally kill any last deluded arguements you may have about being the first team in North London (even though WHL was in Middlesex until the GLC changed the boundaries around and you then fell under N17 in 1965!).

    If you stay, either the financial fair play rules will cripple any chances you have of staying in touch with the top 6 or the cost of the new stadium will do that for you anyway.

    Straford Hotspurs. Gets me every time lol

  38. Tinez says:

    It’s like Newcastle moving to North Shields

  39. The Yank says:

    White Hart Lane is one of my favorite grounds. Great atmosphere with great fans. I sympathize with them wholeheartedly. I couldn’t imagine United being anywhere but Old Trafford.

  40. RICHMOND YIDS says:

    The reason there was only 400 people there is it was arranged on 1 website that only has a few hundred users and it was aranged for 1pm ,over 3 hours before kick off, i would say 80% of people wanted to know when the next one was as they was so anti stratford so lets just wait and see.Everyone is entitled to opinions,and im 100% against and would stop going as it simply would not be THFC anymore.ive had a season ticket since 11 (now 42)travel to all games including friendlies in south africa ,mauritius ,korea and states,the club is a huge part of my life.I would love to see spurs win everything every year but quite simply that is not the reason i support the club as i would of packed up long ago.this is all about money and enic going in partnership with AEG to share the stadium cost ,we will not be building a football stadium but a multi event stadium that will be used for concerts ,fesivals,american football and so will not be the world famous home of the spurs as we would be simply tenants and how on earth could it be our home.woolwich arsenal did the correct thing and dropped the name woolwich due to the fact they had no connection with the area and tottenham should do the same.ENIC will sell the club to AEG and some of you may want to see there history with what they have done to clubs the other side off the pond pond before having your East end wish.Once the club move from Tottenham there is no going back and the emirates has hardley got arsenal any succsess ,infact to put it bluntly fuck all,man city and chelsea is a different thing all together,they have rich sugar daddys.Yes we need a bigger staduim but it should be in our area .Be carefull what you wish for. N.I7 IS OURS

  41. […] says: As a Tottenham fan opposed to the Stratford move, I’m happy, albeit with obvious reservations. This feels like a bullet […]

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