Senior Spurs management, including Daniel Levy, met with the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust this week, and minutes published on Friday contained a number of interesting updates on the new stadium project.
- The major remaining bureaucratic hurdle is approval from the Mayor of London. This isn’t expected to be a problem, with Boris Johnson a supporter of the project. However, plans have not yet been submitted, with the club spending time “ensuring that every detail was correct”. Plans are expected to be with the mayor within a month.
- Construction consultants Mace have been working on the project for six weeks, and were making detailed timetables. Completion is still aimed for August 2018.
- The funding is not yet finalised as Mace is still conducting work in terms of costing the project. In the viability report, it was stated that the £200 million “bridge” portion of the finance may have been in place by the end of 2015, but it is not yet. I asked the club for more information on the finance, but it would not comment citing commercial sensitivity (which was fair enough).
- The club is continuing to discuss a possible ground share at Wembley during the year the club will be away. The FA was “positively engaged” and any agreement will be communicated as soon as it is completed. There was no mention of Milton Keynes or other stadia, per the minutes.
Levy made a couple of interesting comments in terms of how the club was approaching the stadium project.
Currently, there over 70 staff working on what is described as an “extremely complex project with many variables.”
I recently wrote about headcount at Spurs and other Premier League clubs. It will be interesting to see if this increase is reflected in the next set of accounts, due to be published in March.
Levy also came out with a line that I expect we will hear a lot in the coming years whenever transfer spending is brought up
“DL reiterated that money remained available for transfers for the right players. THFC was effectively running two different businesses at present – the Football Club and the Stadium.”
I think this idea of two separate businesses, with the football side walled off with its own set budget, is helpful to visualise in the years, and debates, to come.
LONG-TERM SEATING “OPTIONS”
I recently did a US podcast on the stadium and was asked about the club selling “options” on long-term tickets, or debentures as they are known in the UK.
I wasn’t aware this was a serious possibility as a potential financing tool for the stadium, due to the challenges of ensuring existing season ticket holders get rewarded and that they are not required to fork out excessive sums. Cosmetically it seemed a stretch.
But a “Founder Member Scheme”, essentially debentures, has been previously been raised, and Spurs management said it had received some support in a recent fan survey. The club noted it was still at the “considering our options” stage.
This will be an interesting discussion point — one of several no doubt. Certainly, selling long-term options on seats is common practice in the US, and must appeal to the club as it seeks to complete the financing of the project. I think it is one of those things that is slightly alien to a British fan base, who are used to buying season tickets on an annual basis. It will be a good test of the club’s communication ability as, if priced correctly, this may actually be an appealing option for Spurs fans who have been attending for years and intend to do so long into the future.
Minutes of meetings need not be boring, as the following exchange on ticket prices proved.
With some of the Trust leadership, from what I’ve picked up on my Twitter timeline at least, firmly of left-wing persuasion, and Daniel Levy a businessman who no doubt believes strongly in free market economics, I couldn’t help but laugh at this part:
DL said he questioned the principle of prices being set centrally, asking for an example of another industry where there was a central control over pricing. There was concern that once a precedent was set with away pricing, home pricing would be next and given THFC’s position with the stadium build, a ceiling on ticket revenue would be very harmful to financial modelling
DL also explained that he was concerned that away fans visiting WHL should pay less than home fans. There was a feeling home fans would be angered by away fans sitting across the divide from them having paid less money
KL pointed out that all away fans were home fans too and expressed her opinion that that argument had no proof or substance…
For anyone interested in some hot stadium chat, I’ve done a podcast with the chaps from Football and Football.
Loads of interesting topics discussed, and also an incredible “it’s a small world” story. It turned out that the host, Ian Smith, and I knew each other — we used to watch NFL in the same crappy bar in Paris half a decade ago! To then stumble upon each other via my tiny little blog is bizarre in the extreme.