Once the pricing for season tickets in the new stadium was announced, the excitement that Jack Doyle once felt about our new home turned to sadness.
For a few years now, ever since the plans for our shiny and worryingly gentrifying arena were made a reality I have dreamt of the day that I would eventually walk up the steps (or more likely stand to one side of an escalator) at our brand new home, take tentative but certain steps through the gangway and look out over the sea of blue and lilywhite before me. For a few years now I have always assumed it would be the closest experience I would’ve had to my inaugural N17 experience. As a four year old, stepping out from the concourse, a concourse complete with blokes dropping tobacco from their poorly rolled cigarettes and spraying beer when pronouncing the name Espen Baardsen, to see White Hart Lane from the inside for the first time was as close to a religious experience as I’ve had. We’ve all felt that moment, that surge of energy and sense of awe as you survey all four stands and take in the sheer size of the place before your eyes lock onto the turf. The big green rectangle in the middle which will be graced by your heroes, and that has been graced by your Dad’s heroes, and their Dad’s heroes. You are acutely aware of the grandeur and history, you can feel it in the brickwork, you can smell it in the air. A stadium and a club with a past filled with pride and disappointment in equal measure. A past blessed with the skills of Greaves and Gilberto, Hoddle and Howells, and now blessed by your eyes. It becomes a part of who you are and you know deep down that this will not be your first and last fix.
For a few years now I’ve been filled with excitement at the prospect of watching my beloved Spurs in the stadium that will allow us to compete at the highest level for generations. I absolutely adored White Hart Lane, it has been a huge part of my life, but I understand that to see my team on a level playing field with clubs we all think we deserve to rival the change was unavoidable.
But as the dust settles on the season ticket pricing announcement the excitement I had originally felt was not only slightly tinged but completely overwhelmed by sadness. The steep increase in pricing and the seemingly total disregard for working class fans and in turn the next generation of Tottenham’s faithful is something I struggle to come to terms with. I am realistic enough to acknowledge that there was always going to be a price to pay for the new stadium. Ticket prices were always going to go up. It would be naive to assume a freeze in the amount fans would pay for this season but the frankly inexplicable increase (50% in many areas), coupled with the small percentage of revenue generated by ticket sales in the modern game, I despair at the motives of the club I love.
The excitement I had originally felt was not only slightly tinged but completely overwhelmed by sadness
We were told that the focus of the planning work would be to make sure the atmosphere would be carried those few feet from our beautiful old home. But the now infamous south stand ‘wall’ will be without a certain percentage of fans leading up to and post half time as those lucky enough to afford the £2200 ‘1882’ season tickets will be lining their stomachs with prawn sandwiches and glugging their premium lagers.
There are many features in the new stadium that act as a tribute to fans, old and new. The bricks of the East stand wall in one of the bars and the aggregate from our old stomping ground being used to decorate the flooring are a nice touch and they are surely appreciated but there is a contradiction here. The club seem fine to acknowledge how integral the fans are to our history but then they deprive many the opportunity to continue to support the club they adore. On the surface these installations seem thoughtful but as you delve deeper there seems to be a distinct sense of pity in the offer of celebrating history in the new stadium.
For many, going to Spurs is the biggest part of their week. A fundamental part of their life. The chance to feel a part of something, to feel as if they belong. Which makes the alienation, ignorance and to an extent the total disdain for loyal supporters even more damaging.
The club seem fine to acknowledge how integral the fans are to our history but then they deprive many the opportunity to continue to support the club they adore
There is no doubt in my mind that all the season tickets will be sold and that the club and our chairman will be lauded by the media (who’ll be getting their tickets for free) for their vision and their ingenuity but that many of our fans will be priced out of doing something that, for them, has been a lifelong tradition is enough to make me question whether this is ultimately the right move for us. That some will not get to experience that emotion of seeing that pitch for the first time is as depressing as it is worrying.
It’s nice to have possibly the best stadium in Europe, to have the longest single bar in the UK, to say to that lot down the road “gutted, guys, we’ve got 2,000 more seats than you”, but if the cost trickles down to the extent that a big portion of our fanbase can no longer afford, then I’m afraid it’s just not worth it. I worry for what now happens to our club and I worry that what started as one of the most promising periods of our history has irreparably damaged the most important relationships that Tottenham Hotspur has. There may be no going back, but one can hope.