Ahead of the clash between the two teams, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger spoke to the press about Tottenham’s planned move into a new bigger stadium. He was vehement in stating that they would simply be unable to compete with their bigger rivals until they completed the move.
The Spurs’ current ground at White Hart Lane seats around 36700, much lesser than the stadiums of their rivals. Chelsea can seat 42000, while the Emirates can seat up to 60000. As such, the Spurs have to turn away a large number of fans every week. According to Wenger, by not utilising the entirety of the matchday money available to them, the Spurs are ruining their own chances at winning silverware.
But Wenger also understands that it is not an easy undertaking, and he believes that they will struggle to remain competitive on the pitch and in the transfer market while paying the costs for the project, anticipated at £400 million.
Financially, for sure, building a new stadium is the only way to reach the next level. You cannot be in a business where you turn down 15,000 or 20,000 people every week.
If your competitors have more financial power than you, at some stage you have to make a decision.
It looks like everybody makes this decision now, because when you look at Liverpool, Everton, they want to increase their capacity.
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West Ham go to a bigger stadium next season so if you stay in a smaller capacity, it’s even more difficult.
Wenger is an established authority on the subject, having steered Arsenal through their move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006. They borrowed the bulk of the money to pay for the £400m ground and also had to shell out millions more to invest in the local infrastructure. But they also paid the price in the transfer market with Wenger unable to spend big for several years.
American investment firm Cain Hoy, who were looking to buy the Spurs, dropped their interest earlier this week. This is a blow for the club, as an influx of money from a new owner could have helped to ease the process of moving to a new stadium. But Wenger says they will have to find extra investment from somewhere.
Tottenham had already hit a significant set-back in their plan to move to a new 56,000-seater ground adjacent to White Hart Lane; forced to spend a season ground-sharing elsewhere due to a dispute with the last remaining landowner at Northumberland Park.
It is massively difficult, if you look at the history of all the English clubs who have built a new stadium and look at where they have finished, then it tells you how difficult it is. If an owner comes in, and says ‘look I will put in £400m to buy the stadium’ it is easy. Do they need outside help? Certainly yes.
The Emirates was constructed with no outside investment, and Wenger spoke about how tough it was for him to manage the costs of construction along with the expectations that he had to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.
I always knew it would be the most sensitive period in the club’s history. When we had to be in the Champions League, just financially, and would get to April, not in the top four – the stress was terrible.
You feel the future of the club is at stake and you do not have a lot of margin for error. Every point you lose can be dramatic.
We had no outside financial help and had to negotiate with the banks just to get the money at the start – and let’s not forget we paid £120m just for the land. In the end we built the stadium for £400million. Today it would cost £600m or £700m.
After the switch to the Emirates from Highbury, Arsenal’s gate receipts increased massively, and this extra money went a large way towards helping the club pull through the tough times. With the increased wages and the increased costs of players nowadays, extra revenue is always a boon for clubs.