A couple of days ago, Haringey Council published what is known as the “Section 106” agreement it has reached with the club over the redevelopment of White Hart Lane.
This document — or rather, three documents — is essentially a long list of commitments that the club has agreed to meet through the course of this massive project. You can read it here — scroll down to the bottom.
Much of it is incredibly tedious — we’re talking real minutiae of the British planning system here — but there are one or two points of interest for the average Spurs fan.
Local ticketing policy
The S106 agreement sets out Spurs’ commitment in terms of the number of tickets it must offer local residents. I’d not previously seen this in detail — but there is an awful lot of documentation out there so the likelihood is I missed it.
Nonetheless, here are the key points:
Season tickets: the club must offer 2,500 season tickets for residents of Haringey, and 2,500 season tickets for residents of Enfield. This includes those residents already on the season ticket waiting list (just in case you were concerned that, by being on the waiting list, you may somehow be outflanked). The season tickets are for “first-team football” — so Premier League, but potentially also cup competitions. This is of course on top of existing season ticket holders.
Priority Premier League tickets: the club must establish a priority booking system for local residents, offering 2,500 tickets for residents of Haringey, and 2,500 tickets for residents of Enfield. This only covers Premier League matches — per the agreement, there is no obligation for the club to offer priority tickets to European or domestic cup football.
So in total, that is 10,000 tickets for local residents on Premier League match days. Note, the club cannot levy any waiting list fee, or priority booking fee, on qualifying residents.
The local ticketing provisions do NOT extend to the NFL and other non-THFC events that may take place in the stadium, as far as I can tell. This may simply be “beyond the gift” of the club, as it wouldn’t be the issuing entity for these tickets: The same issues of transportation and access apply to the stadium in NFL mode.
And speaking of the NFL…
Greater flexibility for an NFL franchise
In the club’s initial planning statement, the intention was stated that the new stadium host up to 10 major non-THFC sports events, and six major non-sporting events per year.
However, per the S106 agreement, there has since been a subtle change in wording:
“No more than 16 major non-association football events shall be held per annum, no more than six of which shall be music concerts”
This is a small change – it’s still up to 16 non-THFC major events — but it will make a big difference to the stadium as the potential home of an NFL franchise.
Under the earlier limit of 10 matches, this posed a headache: an NFL season has eight home games, but there is also the requirement for pre-season and post-season matches. There was a potential problem if, heaven forbid, a London NFL franchise was actually decent and made the playoffs.
This is now alleviated. This small change in wording will allow the stadium to host other non-Spurs, non-NFL sporting events — Europa League finals, World Cup matches, monster truck rallies, boxing, etc.
I have been trying to see when this change of wording happened, purely out of curiosity. The more flexible major events agreement is contained in a document entitled “Appendix 3 Revised Schedule of Conditions (2)” that was part of the main bundle, and also in the minutes published for the main planning meeting by the council (which run to 418 pages). I know, how did I miss it?
Not that it matters — what is in the S106 agreement is what counts.
A major focus in the S106 agreement is the movement of people. Not just because of the size of the venue — 61,000 — but also because of its location in a residential part of the capital with relatively poor accessibility by public transport.
Therefore, there are a number of provisions aimed at getting people to the stadium early, and encouraging people to stay late, which could mean a slightly different matchday experience.
The club is committing to a comprehensive pre-match and post-match entertainment service — complete with manager interviews, man of the match awards and such like. Will this be radically different from what is already on the big screen at White Hart Lane? I doubt it — but nonetheless, the commitment has been made to make enhancements.
For NFL games, the agreement suggests that later NFL games in the US should be broadcast in the stadium to encourage people to stay. This sounds like a lot of fun. When I went to Wembley a few years back to see the NFL, I ended up in a bar watching the later slate of games, and had such a good time that I ended up missing the tube home (goddam Sunday service).
There is one more commitment that you may like: early bird prices.
It doesn’t SPECIFY beer, but I’d say if the THST is looking for an issue to galvanize the fanbase now season ticket prices have been frozen, pushing the club to meet its S106 obligations through the provision of cheap lager ahead of kick-off would be a good place to start.
Update to the timeline
Spurs made another step forward at the end of February (Feb 25 to be exact) when it secured approval from London Mayor Boris Johnson. Next up is approval from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: a decision should come in a couple of weeks.
This isn’t quite the final hurdle though — there is a six-week judicial review window that follows Secretary of State approval. After that, things should be able to proceed at full speed, at least to the best of my understanding. I hope then we’ll get announcements on financing, which will be of great interest to fans given the huge amount of debt the club will be taking on.
Nothing with this project is quick, or easy.
In many ways it is reassuring that you can’t just build a massive stadium in London because you want to — but reading through all these exhaustively detailed documents, you can certainly understand why the prospect of moving to the Olympic site seemed so appealing a while back. Chelsea’s stadium project must raise serious questions given its scale and location.
Speaking of Chelsea, buried behind The Times paywall this week was an important update on the prospect of Spurs sharing Wembley.
Per Martyn Ziegler (as reliable a source as they come), senior FA figures are now convinced that a groundshare between Chelsea and Spurs is possible, after spending time studying the ramifications.
Ziegler put the cost per season at £20 million for Spurs and Chelsea. With Chelsea wanting it for three seasons, and Spurs wanting it for one, that will be £80 million coming the FA’s way — more than enough to encourage them to take England games around the country.
Previous reports suggested an arrangement whereby Spurs play league games at Wembley, and cup matches in Milton Keynes — which is certainly an interesting idea, but I’ve heard no more about that.
Thanks for reading, and please follow me on Twitter for more updates. If anyone has spotted anything important in these documents, or if you feel I’ve gotten the wrong end of the stick on anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I previously wrote about the stadium finances here, and my last update can be found here.