The main athletics stadium for the 2012 Games is years away from completion, yet the project’s post-2012 fate has suffered more slings and arrows of outrageous rumour than your average Fawlty Towers cast member’s granddaughter. Stories that it could become West Ham’s new home, see its seats shipped to the 2016 host city, or even be demolished, have all been given a thorough airing and then sent back to the dry cleaners.
IOC big cheese Jacques Rogge has shaken the snowglobe of speculation once again by opining to the BBC that the stadium does not need an athletics legacy. His principle concern is that it has a purposeful existence when the Olympic bandwagon rolls on, once again opening up the possibility of a local football team moving in.
One team that won’t fancy the long shelp eastwards, but are making plans of their own for a new home, are Tottenham Hotspur. As little as one week ago Spurs were in a sorry state: winless in eight, bottom of the league and with a manager unable to offload the scales of doom and desperation from his eyes. Yet one management shuffle, one win and a spectacular draw against hated rivals later, the north Londoners are a team transformed, and they’ve decided to seize on this upward momentum by unveiling plans for a new ground. In an uncannily similar plan to their foes down Seven Sisters Road, the Northumberland Development Project seats 60,000 people, is located close to current home White Hart Lane, and would be named after a sponsor. Indeed, chairman Daniel Levy emphasised the similarities: “It will be an iconic stadium and will be at least as good as Arsenal’s Emirates.” .
Such a comparison may give Spurs fans pause for thought. While the Emirates was under construction, the Gunners’ purse strings were held tight, with the pounds pouring into the development leaving Arsene Wenger with minimal resources to strengthen his side. Though the club achieved consistently high League placings during that period, and won the 2005 FA Cup, it’s arguable that such impotence in the transfer market hobbled Arsenal’s ability to challenge for higher honours. Tottenham have a fraction of the talent and resources that Arsenal could call upon, and while Redknapp is a skilled manager with a tenacious approach that should suit Spurs well, they remain bottom of the league with scant chance in the imminent future of reaching the Champions League and its attendant riches.
A nice idea the stadium may be, but perhaps it should remain a pipe dream until more consistent league results and happier economic climes allow it.