Tottenham may face ticket crunch next season

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur are facing the prospect of playing Champions League football in front of crowds smaller than 30,000 at White Hart Lane next season as they seek to ensure that their new stadium is ready for the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

According to The Times, the club may have to remove as many as 8,000 seats - the majority from the Paxton Road Stand - to facilitate building work on the new site that is adjacent to the ground that has been their home since 1899.

Tottenham are committed to moving out of White Hart Lane for the final year of the £400 million (S$773.7 million) stadium development project. A ground-share at Wembley with Chelsea is their preferred option for the 2017-18 season rather than alternatives such as Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, but it is understood that the building work could also have a significant impact on them next season.

The club are pursuing a range of other options and are hopeful that they will end up losing fewer seats. Despite concerns for their fans and the short-term loss of revenue, their priority is ensuring that the new stadium is completed on time.

The present capacity of White Hart Lane is 36,284 and Mauricio Pochettino's side have played in front of sell-out crowds for most of the season, so Tottenham have little room to manoeuvre in terms of restricting capacity without having an impact on their fan base.

While the 22,000 season ticket-holders will not be affected, with 3,000 tickets needed for away fans there could be a significant reduction in the number made available for members and released on general sale next season.

With Tottenham back in the Champions League for the first time since their quarter-finals run in 2010-11 and chances for a first Premier League title, demand for tickets is likely to be higher than ever, although such progress on the pitch also vindicates the decision to build a new 61,000-capacity stadium, which will be the biggest club ground in London.

Tottenham have matched Chelsea's £15 million-a-year offer to use Wembley, which, if accepted by the FA, would leave the London rivals sharing the national stadium for one season.

Chelsea need a temporary home for three or four seasons after submitting a planning application for a £500 million redevelopment of Stamford Bridge to increase its capacity to 60,000.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2016, with the headline 'Tottenham may face ticket crunch next season'. Print Edition | Subscribe