Once upon a time (before United were good) people tended to choose their team of choice by locality. Father and son (or daughter – girls can like football too you know!) would wake up Saturday morning (preferably in separate beds), full of anticipation and excitement about making the short trek to the ground of their beloved team. Forget Church, these four stands were your Mecca and you’d have your rituals along the way. You’d sit or stand in the same place, see the same faces and sing the same songs.
Nowadays things are, shall we say, a little bit different. United fans in China, Liverpool fans lacking the characteristic scouse whine and Chelsea fans (yes, they exist now amazingly). People follow teams for loads of different reasons Globalisation has made this acceptable and I’m not knocking that. If I could have my time again, there’s every chance I might not be following who I do now. Unfortunately, it was a straight choice between my team or eating … I chose wisely.
For some fans where the stadium is located means diddly squat. If it’s not in the area where they were formed or had played for centuries, who cares. But for those of us out there who chose their local team, because, and this is the key point here, they were local, it means everything.
The area formed part of their childhood, it’s in their blood, in their roots – it’s their family. But what happens if those in charge of your beloved club decided to move? What if they decided to stick two fingers up to history and leave?
Well for one team this is happening now. And it’s not a small team who need to move for a bigger fanbase to roll in the cash. It’s Spurs and this is what could be happening …
Despite having planning permission for their new stadium at White Hart Lane, the powers that be have decided that they’ll also go for the Olympic Stadium in East London.
Spurs are in North London.
I was never great at geography but even I know that doesn’t quite work. And it seems I’m not alone – enter ‘No to Stratford Hotspur.’
Spurs fans have clubbed together to petition about this proposed move and I’m backing them 100%.
Does the world of football need another MK Dons? Why on earth do Spurs want to move to another part of London when they’ve got planning permission already where they are? And for quite a large upgrade at that.
The petition states:
“I am one who would prefer to remain at White Hart Lane in Tottenham, as it stands today, rather than move to Stratford chasing the revenue from a larger stadium. Such a move would, for me, destroy Tottenham and all it has stood for the day we leave our home.”
They need a larger stadium, sure they do, and I understand the economic constraints of playing in a small stadium. However, give me the organic way over the opportunistic jump to a part of town I’d rather not associate my club with.
Imagine the resigned acceptance of the Spurs fans when Gooners sing about there only being one team in North London?
How will Spurs spin this one?
Well a man called Mike Lee is now involved.
Who is he you may ask?
Well remember that ridiculous decision about Qatar getting the world cup? He was the PR machine behind it. And that’s not all. Having run the Premier League’s communications from its inception in 1992, he joined Uefa as director of communications. When he left there in September 2003 it was to the position that would seal his reputation: the London 2012 bid. Joining the same day that Sir Keith Mills became its chief executive, Lee was an influential figure as Barbara Cassani was replaced by Lord Coe as bid chair the following May.
He recognised what buttons needed pushing in the often remote International Olympic Committee and Lee helped deliver the campaign that saw London rise from third-placed candidate, behind Paris and Madrid, to Olympic host city. Having picked up an OBE for his efforts and set up his own communications agency, Vero, Lee was then recruited by the Rio 2016 Olympic bid – which he won.
Spurs fans should be quaking in their Reebok Classics. Seriously this guy’s track record is good. Whether you my fellow football lovers are Spurs fans or not, we need to make sure that this does not happen. Even Arsenal fans must agree with me. I know football clubs are businesses. I know they need to make money. But decisions like this just go too far.
Do we want football to go the way of American Football? Franchises that just up and leave when they’ve had enough? For more cash and supposedly more fans? We don’t. And Spurs fans don’t.
If enough Spurs fans decide to boycott the team, the songs and the atmosphere in the new stadium, then surely this is detrimental to how the team will perform on the pitch? Which could then have a knock on effect; Spurs play badly, those who are in the stands stop singing (although then they could stop that ridiculous ‘yido’ chant), Spurs play worse, more people decide not to go to the game, and before you know it they’ve been relegated to League 2 and the real East End team, West Ham, are peeing themselves laughing and nicking Spurs’ best players rather than the other way round.
So do the right thing. Don’t let greed and quite frankly a complete disregard for fan opinion win out. If you, like me, put football first (even higher than your partner but we obviously don’t tell them that), then sign the petition. Now.