By Ahmed Nada, @GizaGooner
Tottenham Hotspur: in our portion of the internet, saying such a name is akin to blasphemy; Arsenal’s eternal rivals, through over a century of mutual hatred and contempt. We, as Arsenal fans, have been fortunate enough to support the more successful side, even if not of late. Regardless of Arsenal’s personnel, stadia, or tactics, Arsenal remain atop Tottenham Hotspur; an annual event – St. Totteringham’s Day, as we call it – that they’ve gone to extreme lengths to end.
From spending exorbitant amounts of money on transfers, to shifting to a youth focus, and now to building a new stadium: will Tottenham Hotspur finish above Arsenal with any of these methods? Perhaps, let’s examine the factors further, as seats don’t win you titles – Arsenal’s stadium is the second largest club stadium in England, after all, but has Arsenal always come second?
Quite the opposite: with a capacity of 60,260 fans, Arsenal’s ‘Arsenal Stadium’ – currently named the ‘Emirates Stadium’ due to naming rights – crippled Arsenal for eleven years, the first of which was fortunate enough to be the ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-04. The stadium, commissioned in 2003, – well before other European clubs recognized the importance of a larger stadium – was a blight on the club’s finances; even if necessary.
The ‘Spurs’, as they so giddily refer to themselves as, have smugly declared that they won’t endure similar issues: they’ve signed a deal with the NFL, after all! However, one wonders, how can a deal for two, perhaps three NFL games per year in their new stadium ever hope to pay for all of it? The answer, as they would hate to admit, is that it wouldn’t. While it would reduce the financial burden, Arsenal made an even larger deal with Fly Emirates, – the sponsor ad-infinitum of Arsenal Football Club since the Arsenal Stadium’s project began – and it only accounted for, at most, a quarter of the stadium’s cost – at a time when stadia were far cheaper, mind you.
Nevertheless, let us entertain the notion: what if these so-called ‘Spurs’ were to have a multi-million pound stadium built entirely without financial trouble, – regardless of their less lucrative sponsorship deals, when compared to the likes of Arsenal – and with their first team’s net expenditure at the beginning of each season – 10 million, 10 million, and balanced books at the start of each season, from 2013-14 – paying for the rest. A fanciful notion, if one could build a stadium for 20 million pounds…
No, the stadium is to be built for a reported 750 million pounds – Arsenal, who were criticized for moving to build a stadium at the peak of their popularity and power, were set back £390 million – which is a huge number to cover, even for the biggest of clubs; let alone a club whose entire value is £402.90 million, with a yearly income of £180 million, and an operating income of £39 million. In this model, even if their match day revenue doubles from £131 million to £262 million, – even though their new stadium does not have double their current one’s capacity – it would mean that the aforementioned ‘Spurs’ would have to spend roughly their entire operating budget of £39 million for 19 years, 2 months, and a week.
A week too many for their supposed ‘dominance’ to take place, eh? Let us drift to wonderland, where the NFL deal to host the NFL’s London franchise pays for half of the stadium, – a deal which is doubtful, unless the NFL makes a habit of paying extortionate amounts of money for two-to-three games a year – and presume that Tottenham Hotspur do not plan on selling their best players for the next 19 years, give or take… This would leave them in a pool of unpayable debt, one that the doubled match day revenue would reduce from the aforementioned time to perhaps 18 years, at best.
Suppose the sponsors, kit deals, and absolutely no player sales leave them with half of the stadium paid for, and the match day revenue – which starts at the 2018-19 season – increases twofold – which it wouldn’t, due to maintenance – this would leave them with only a minuscule 9 years of absolute financial torment. To put it into perspective, Arsenal’s own financial strictness came for 10 years, with a sponsor paying for roughly a quarter of a stadium that costs just over half of Tottenham’s proposed new ground.
Short of the NFL paying their lifeblood to ensure that Tottenham don’t become the most-indebted club in English football history, – as debt increases if not paid, unless Tottenham were unaware of this – Arsenal can rest assured that their nearest rivals will not be challenging them for silverware any time soon. That is, when the stadium is finished, Tottenham’s extra 740 spectators will help them leapfrog the fourth richest club on the planet.
Give me a break, Tottenham, I rest my case.
Ahmed Nada is a blogger of Full90Gooner. Follow him at @GizaGooner