Tottenham may still be in Wembley until mid-March
London club are facing further delays to the completion of their new stadium
Tottenham have announced they will continue to play home matches at Wembley this month and next month while work continues on their new stadium. Photograph: John Walton/PA
Tottenham fear that they will not be able to move into their new stadium until mid-March at the earliest, after announcing further delays to the late-running £1bn project.
The club have used Wembley as a temporary home since the start of last season and they have now confirmed they will play another sequence of fixtures there – namely the Premier League games against Watford (January 30th), Newcastle (February 2nd) and Leicester (February 10th), together with the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund (February 13th).
If Spurs were to win at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fourth round at the end of this month, there is the possibility they could get a home tie in the next round on the weekend of February 16-17th. That would also be staged at Wembley.
The club’s subsequent home game would be the derby against Arsenal on March 2nd and there is no chance of them being allowed to open the stadium that day. They want the grand opening to go smoothly and the Metropolitan police and security personnel have made it clear that what is the most troublesome fixture of the season would be too great a risk.
All of which leaves the home league game against Palace on March 16th as the best-case scenario, although that would clash with a possible FA Cup quarter-final.
The chairman, Daniel Levy, said: “I should like to apologise to our fans and thank you for your continued patience. The response from those who attended the familiarisation event [on December 15th] was great to hear and reinforced our commitment to deliver an exceptional match-day experience for everyone. We shall now seek clarity in respect of building test schedules and test event dates and provide further information on these in the next two to three weeks.”
It feels like a long time ago that the hoped-for move in game was Liverpool on September 15th. The club said in early September that they would stay at Wembley until the end of October and they would subsequently extend that arrangement until the end of 2018.
In mid-December, they said that the Manchester United game this Sunday would be also played at Wembley. The major issues have been to do with the stadium’s critical safety systems but there have been numerous other problems. Levy has had to pay increased rents at Wembley this season and they have contributed to the spiraling costs of the project.
In PR terms, it has been a disaster while there have been mutterings of disquiet from some of the other clubs in the Premier League. Manchester City were unhappy to be messed about over the timing and venue of their away fixture with Spurs, which was eventually designated for Wembley on Monday October 29th, with an evening kick-off, because the national stadium was taken up the day before by an NFL game.
City paid for coach travel to London for their away supporters and they asked Spurs whether they would like to contribute. Spurs said no.
More recently, the Cardiff manager, Neil Warnock, argued that Tottenham ought to remain at Wembley for the remainder of the season, as to move now would offer a competitive advantage to the relegation-threatened clubs that still had to play them away.
Warnock’s theory was that when Spurs did move, it would take them time to settle and visiting teams would benefit. The Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, countered that by saying his team would be boosted immediately when they moved but, in which case, the relegation-threatened teams that still had to visit them would surely be disadvantaged. That said, Spurs have beaten every team they have already played from the bottom half of the table at Wembley.