For Tottenham Hotspur, the future seems bright. A vibrant young squad, a much-admired coach and a new stadium awaiting the introduction of Premier League and Champions League football.
Can there be any shadows cast across the Lilywhites horizon?
On the face of it, no. Tottenham replaced Arsenal as north London’s habitué of the top four in English football and a scintillating Champions League campaign this season cemented them as a force not to be underestimated on the European scene.
Naïve, yes; but a force nonetheless.
The ‘new’ White Hart Lane is a centrepiece for the club. It’s a 21st century production with every detail available on ‘Stadium TV’. Progress is a ballroom dance; slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.
Like a swan, the stands sit gracefully where there used to be a football stadium but underneath the stands, the workers beaver away, keeping everything to time, to schedule.
Last autumn, the ground was behind schedule. By Christmas 2017, it was back on track with 24 – 7 working rotas to ensure it is ready for the big kick-off, both for the Premier League and the controversial NFL partnership.
Tottenham’s timing has proven fortuitous. Bitter north London rivals Arsenal built the Emirates and capitalised on Brasil’s determination to become football’s Harlem Globetrotters. Friendly internationals were the Emirates forte, with the occasional pop concert helping to swell Arsenal’s coffers.
Spurs don’t need the same commercial opportunities but strove to ensure they were protected. The NFL is a stadium partner and will see games hosted, feasting on the reinvigorated popularity of America’s favourite game. Broadcast income continue to provide an ever-increasing revenue stream and eases the financial pressure on the club.
It may be costing twice as much as the Emirates, but it isn’t set to cause the same financial pressures on Mauricio Pochettino’s transfer revenues. The football club is the business the Spurs chairman is protecting; the new stadium is to facilitate success not become a barrier.
The squad assembled by the Argentinean is a gift for the club at this moment in time. Kane, Alli, Eriksen, and Son; not even at the peak of their game yet providing the vibrant passing football for which the club is famed. A marker of their success is the covetous glances from Europe’s elite clubs. If Tottenham can hold onto these players long enough, success in form of silverware is surely not far away.
A sponsor will claim the rights to name White Hart Lane II and like Arsenal, the stadium’s identity will be lost as it becomes synonymous with a brand. It won’t be the ‘New’ Lane or anything which hints at a football stadium in traditional terms.
While some traditionalists may rail against this commercialisation, those complaints will be soon forgotten as the wider availability of tickets makes the club more accessible for the current and future generations.
As the current season plays out, the inconvenience of a fortnightly trip to Wembley is soon forgotten. On Tottenham High Road, an iconic football stadium is emerging from the rubble of a historic venue.