Spurs are on their way to Wembley - but what does it mean for the fans?
Spurs are on their way to Wembley. The news Lilywhites fans have been anxiously awaiting arrived on Saturday – the confirmation that the club will be staying in the capital while White Hart Lane is being demolished and their new home is being built in 2017-18.
Given the alternative was a campaign in Milton Keynes, around 50 miles away from Tottenham, it is cause for celebration.
Katrina Law, co-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST), said: “We’ve campaigned, as a trust, for Wembley for the past two years.
“We’ve run surveys where Wembley has come out with over 80 per cent polling amongst our fanbase as a preferred option to Milton Keynes.
“We also got fans to email [FA chairman] Greg Dyke last summer, explaining why Tottenham should play at the national stadium, so it’s been a long campaign and we’re delighted we’ve managed to keep Tottenham in London.
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“Initially I have to say my head and my heart were torn about whether they actually wanted to go to Milton Keynes or wanted to take the club to Wembley.
“But, about a year ago, they manoeuvred their position so that their favoured option was Wembley – and, ever since then, in fairness they’ve done a cracking job in trying to negotiate, getting from a position where Wembley initially didn’t really want a club in there to a position where we’ve signed a deal.”
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Martin Cloake, the other co-chair of THST, added: “I think it’s an example where the club have listened to what the fans are saying. I think that was referenced in the club’s statement as well, where they acknowledged it was the fans’ preference.
“Getting the Wembley option is just really good and I think it shows that sometimes if you can speak up and make a case, you are able to persuade people. The fans that took it on themselves to write to Greg Dyke and make their feelings known should feel proud that they’ve managed to get their view across.”
Tottenham will get a taste of life at Wembley next season as they will play their Champions League games at the national stadium.
The building work taking place in and around White Hart Lane this summer has undermined Spurs’ ability to meet Uefa standards for hosting games in Europe’s elite club competition, and Tottenham’s final Champions League tie at the Lane is therefore already in the past.
In the meantime, other issues have arisen around the move – notably the fact that some fans are questioning the club’s current stance that supporters will have to renew their season tickets for the 2017-18 season and follow the team to Wembley if they want to be sure of having one when the club move into their new home in 2018.
Some feel they should be given the option of a sabbatical, or an amnesty, for that campaign and Law said: “Initial indications are that that’s the big issue for a lot of season ticket-holders.
“Being completely pragmatic, there are strong cases on both sides so our job as a trust is to listen to that feedback and then have discussions with the club.
“I think the club’s position is a fair one, which is that they did listen to the fans, they delivered London for us, they did what we asked for and obviously there are financial implications on delivering Wembley. It’s going to cost an awful lot more.
“Our ideal will probably be that they listen to people on a case by case basis, to those who have exceptional circumstances for not being able to get to Wembley. But we’re quite a long way off getting a solution on that.”
Law added: “Those who want an amnesty will cite the inconvenience - the fact that it’s going to take them a couple of hours longer on a round trip to get over to north-west London compared to north-east London.
“There are other people who are going a bit harder and saying the club have fundamentally changed the terms and conditions by moving the stadium. Whether or not that’s true, I’m not sure.
“I think it’s about choice. Some people feel they’ve earned the right to have a choice by having a season ticket for 20 or 30 years or whatever, and obviously the venue’s now changed.
“But some feel quite strongly that if they’re making the effort to get to Wembley they don’t see why some others should get the option to drop out. It’s not by any means every season ticket-holder wanting an amnesty.”
Cloake continued: “I think with some of the arguments about the inconveniences, that was one of the major reasons why we objected to Milton Keynes so much.
“Especially for midweek evening games, the inconvenience of getting there would far outweigh the inconvenience for anybody of getting to Wembley, and of the options available, Wembley is the closest.
“I think our focus is going to be ‘what are prices going to be? What are the entry facilities going to be?’ People have been asking us ‘are people going to be able to sit together in groups that they sit with at the moment? Are there going to be singing sections?’
“There’s a challenge to make sure that now we have got Wembley - which was the overwhelming majority of fans’ choice - we make it work for the team and create a good atmosphere in there and give some good support.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs