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Cheap shots at the new Lane?

OPINION: Spurs’ new home may have 50-odd more seats than the Emirates, but it doesn’t take a fortune-teller to realise that the nicer the stadium, the more costly the ticket will eventually become

21 March, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Spurs fans on the pitch as the club prepared to leave the old White Hart Lane stadium

THIRTY years ago, when the government decided in the wake of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster that fans would have to sit down at top league matches, there was a recommendation buried in the small print that this switch should not automatically lead to a hike in prices.

Standing had not only been more atmospheric and fun, but cheaper.

Clubs, however, in a lot of cases were having to reduce their attendance by removing terraces or, in others, building whole new grounds.

The notion of keeping match days affordable quickly began to evaporate.

In those three decades, we’ve lost some famous football addresses with the arrival of new coliseums, the latest of which opens at White Hart Lane next week. Addicts of stadium porn will love it, and for those moving in, the idea of having a great giant stadium is like clocking Sim City or some sort of megalomaniac computer management game in which the biggest is always best.

Yes, we can stick in some cracks that the new stadium is shaped like a toilet from a bird’s eye view – it certainly is – and it is amazingly grand for a team who haven’t won the league since the week George Clooney was born; as suave as he looks in the coffee adverts, the crow’s feet around his 57-year-old eyes are getting deeper.

But that would be getting into the same stadium wars that have moved Spurs to change the name of a station, Arsenal-style, and to build 50-odd more seats than the Emirates.

There’s a childish fun to all of that, but there is a sucker punch for everybody who partakes. As willy-waving clubs build higher, wider, grander, more spectacular, taking gorgeous artists’ impressions off the page and into real life with space-age constructions that are as much about what you can buy in the concourse as what happens on the pitch: what does it mean for the fans?

Just as the prices snuck up when people were told they had no choice but to sit in the 1990s, it doesn’t take a fortune-teller to realise that the nicer the stadium, the more costly the ticket will eventually become.

As Spurs fans marvel at their new home, the shattering realisation will come for some that may not be afford to go to every match in the seasons to come.

We know this is possible, because it’s happened at Arsenal where the congregation is a mix between well-off supporters and those who have maxed out their credit cards desperately trying to prove they are still the biggest fans in the world.

It’s a hard commitment for a game once geared to the working classes.

The Clock End was rough and ready, but at £10, more of us could support the team at every match.


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