The North London Stadium Derby – how Spurs may struggle in Arsenal’s footsteps

Arsenal and Tottenham – Stadium comparisons/issues


Our ground is 13 years old now, but still stands amongst the best on Earth. Our good friends and neighbours reckon theirs is better though.

Arsenal and Spurs, with the opening of Tottenham’s new ground, will have some inevitable comparisons in their grounds’ financing and operations.

Both us and them have built grounds for the same reasons – to provide a footing to compete at the highest levels. And revenue is all in modern football. More money means more tools to buy the best players.

So whilst comparisons are fine (as we’re rivals/enemies) I cannot see it totally matching up.

There are some points that are relevant, but others that won’t be.

I feel some fans would like to see them suffer due to their ground burdens (some is perhaps too weak a term, let’s say many). But there will be different factors between us and them which will impact us.

In short, the climate of the mid to late 2000s is different to the late 2010s.

They can have a bigger ground – but then I’d take a bigger trophy cabinet

Debt restructuring

When we moved in, we restructured our debts to pay £25m per season to cover the debts.

We haven’t finished paying this off, and will have another 10-15 years in doing such.

But in the early years, it was a hindrance, and the pressure to get consistent Champions League football was on.

This helped boost our revenues, and ensured we had the monies to manoeuvre around this obligation.

For them, due to the delays and the fall of the pound due to Brexit, Spurs have had to pay more than the initially outlined figure of £400m. Some reports have said it’s a £1bn, though the club hierarchy has denied this. They have said it’s roughly £650m, though the exact figure hasn’t been released.

They too will pay this off over the long-haul like we are, and will need all the revenues they can get in this capacity.

A good analogy is that of a mortgage. It has to be paid back, and then a person must have the scope to get money in to pay it off as a major expense. If a person loses his or her job, then it makes paying the mortgage more difficult. The same is true of a long-term loan for a business, which both us and them have with our grounds. Spurs’ higher fee will mean they need to re-budget accordingly, and that’s less money than required for signings or other means.

The difference here is that we don’t need to re-plan, since our ground was on time and on budget. As their’s wasn’t, it shows the importance of strong project management in any case.

Revenues and competition

Our revenues had a strong boost when we moved in, and theirs will too.

They are yet to have their ground sponsored and the NFL leasing would help them also.

I expect match-day revenues between us and them will be similar in years to come, and it will only be TV revenues or commercial monies that will differ. The most recent Deloitte Money League report showed them only £10m less than us in revenues, in part due to being the Champions League, finishing higher than us in the league, and having a share of Wembley gate receipts. For this current season, it’s possible they may surpass us in revenue terms, given similar factors.

However, a difference between us and them is that in 2006, there was far less intensive competition for the Champions League places. We were challenged by Aston Villa and even them for a few seasons, but we had the players and quality to get in the top four.

Now, it’s a big-six, and all of them have similar revenues. It can be argued that in terms of attracting players, the other top five have advantages in getting players. All have attained major successes in PL history, whilst Spurs haven’t. Yes, money and prospects can attract, but nobody can deny that name doesn’t either. Our name in world football is still bigger than theirs, and United, City, Chelsea, and Liverpool, can all point to the same based on what they’ve achieved. We still have pull in France due to Wenger and Henry, or Vieira, whilst they don’t. Yes, Lloris won the World Cup, but Spurs isn’t anywhere near as ingrained in French footballing culture as we are there.

Not two of most favourite ex-players, but few can dispute their qualities. With both of them around, getting top four perhaps wasn’t that difficult.

So we could manage the tight financial structure imposed on us, given that top four was a shoo-in. And this isn’t being arrogant in hindsight – we had some very good players that ensured we got top four. Who could have doubted Cesc, RvP, Adebayor, Rosicky, Hleb, and Arshavin as top-level players? Cesc wouldn’t have been sought by Barca, nor RvP by Sir Alex Ferguson, if they were crap.

Granted, Spurs have many good players. But the competition would make it difficult, and more so than us. Bar United, Chelsea, and Liverpool, we were due top four from 2006 to 2013, until City became a regular and consistent force.

Kane, Alli, Eriksen, Son, etc. are all top-level too. Though I believe they have more to balance than we did, or do.

All of the English top six hold similar resources. Manchester United, followed by Man City, are out in front. Though Liverpool, ourselves, Chelsea and Spurs are closely ranked in revenue terms. This is something we didn’t really face when we were moving in, and it makes our move and theirs potentially more problematic for them.

2006/2019 differences

So whilst there are some comparisons between our ground and theirs, they don’t match totally.

Another point is the PL TV deal, and Spurs could even get in the Europa League and still get a decent slice of the revenue cake. However, if the other top six get CL football, then this in turn will lessen Spurs’s capacity to get top players.

When we moved into our ground, many of the Invincibles were retiring or moving on. Henry left in 2007, whilst Vieira, Pires, Ljungberg, and Gilberto were all moved on or were coming to the end of their tenures. Only Lehmann remained, but even he was soon replaced by Almunia. So we were in an inevitable transition, though needed to move ground since the footballing tide was turning. With Chelsea spending big then, and Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson in their pomp, it was inevitable we would be muted. This is why Arsene Wenger often signed youth talent then, including the likes of Bendtner, Denilson, and Djourou.

Tottenham on the other hand are at their peak. Unlike us when we were settling, they have some of their best players in generations. And this isn’t being facetious due to rivalry – it’s a fact. Kane is their best striker since Lineker and Greaves. And Pochettino is their best manager, in terms of consistent league performances, since Burtenshaw or David Pleat. And they both managed Spurs decades ago.

With many good players, what Spurs need is a boss-level player to take them to the next level. And this won’t come cheap. Spurs cannot afford £100m or more, and with top remuneration, to get this echelon of player. There is talk of Gareth Bale going back, but at this point, even though Bale is 30, they couldn’t afford his remuneration demands.

So whilst we were in transition when moving, they are peaking, and this will factor possibly more in their capacity to compete.

The next few seasons then is a balance in sustaining top four, keeping their top players, and ensuring they can handle the more intense competition than we faced in 2006.

It didn’t matter for us, in critical terms, if Denilson didn’t work out. But then even if some of their top players left, this may not be enough to replace them. If Son left, or Eriksen, then they couldn’t afford £100m or so to replace them off the bat. Son for one has emerged as a prime world-class talent.

Son is top-level now, but surely dived a bit here when we slapped them at home.

This in my mind is the principal difference, and with us reforming on and off the pitch, and United looking to improve too, this could be trouble for Spurs. Chelsea, despite issues with Sarri and their transfer ban, won’t be rubbish forever. They may follow our lead and reform internally, and perhaps Abramovich will build their new ground accordingly.

So it will be interesting times for both us and them in the coming seasons. But the comparisons between our ground and theirs have similarities, but they cannot be exact.

They will look to our lead in terms of how we handled our move, but then as they are at a historical peak on the pitch and it’s a more complex balancing act for them.

I believe both us and them could be in the balance for top four, or the domestic cups. But if we rebound in coming seasons, based on a new on the pitch attitude and better internal structure, they could get left behind if they are not getting the players they need to move on. They could be in our position, in that the Europa League is another option for Champions league football. Perhaps then, their manager can win proper trophies, and not just individual awards.

Pochettino has said that top four is a trophy – and it be more so considering they need all the money they can get. Despite years of mocking us for a corporately-named ground (which is the norm in many countries and many English clubs not just us) they too are entering that club. But Wenger who coined the phrase actually won true trophies in the “top four is best” era. We’ll see if Mr. Poch can win more than individual awards in the near future, since his club will need the additional revenues to balance their heightened debts.

“Finally, I’ve won a trophy!” – Mr. Poch needs to win his club trophies on the field, as the increased revenues would help their situation.

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9 Responses to The North London Stadium Derby – how Spurs may struggle in Arsenal’s footsteps

  1. Borgie April 15, 2019 at 2:25 pm #

    The biggest difference is Spurs create an atmosphere where the library doesn’t. Not even when Arsenal fill there’s which isn’t very often. I put it down to bad design and crap fans.

    • marblehallstv April 17, 2019 at 7:30 pm #

      wrong. you lot complain about your atmosphere

  2. Ray April 15, 2019 at 2:27 pm #
  3. despdan April 15, 2019 at 2:40 pm #

    You make many fair points, but there are several reasons why the spurs stadium will be less of a financial drag than you may think:
    1. Whilst the spurs project cost overruns are substantial (they have recently confirmed that a project cost of £1billion is not a reasonable ballpark figure) they are finishing the projects with debts of circa £650 Million, This demonstrates the cash generating ability of spurs, profits before tax of £140M just published. This means whilst building the stadium they have generated £350 million in 3 years, in addition over the last 4 years they have spent £75 Million on their training facilities.
    2. Spurs will have a bigger jump in match days fees than arsenal, as a result of their smaller capacity of the old ground vs the larger new ground. Matchday income will jump by £50 million per year.
    3. Financing costs are significantly much lower than when arsenal built their stadium. Spurs are borrowing at LIBOR + 3% (currently 2.75 + 3 %) , less than 1/2 the rate paid by Arsenal.
    4. Ongoing commercial activities will be more significant, 2 NFL events (£10 Million per year, Harlequin game up to 16 events per year.
    5. Spurs have yet to conclude a stadium sponsor, but when they do it will be very different from the £100 Million shirts plus stadium deal Arsenal had.
    6. The current UK football environment is very different, the TV deals are comparatively massive and on their own underwrite the stadium costs.

    Spurs will continue to run their business their way (more balance on the transfer fees and more control over salaries),
    but like Arsenal the result will be a football club that has the finance and infrastructure to compete with the top end of the market

  4. Turd McFuckbag April 15, 2019 at 3:28 pm #

    Or, Arsenal will keep losing away from home and soend the next 10 years playing on Thursday nights.

    • Marble Halls April 17, 2019 at 7:54 pm #

      Regarding commercial activities, Arsenal has and may well have bigger sponsorship deals. The Visit Rwanda deal is still the biggest sleeve sponsorship, and there’s no guarantee Spurs could get bigger deals. The NFL games are worth less than the Visit Rwanda deal. You’re right that the TV monies now are larger than in 2006, though this affects all the top six. Spurs need to get consistent Champions League and/or top four, since we’ve seen the effects lesser revenues have had on Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool in recent years. If Man United don’t get top four in the coming seasons, feasibly City could have bigger revenues in years to come.

      Spurs will be able to compete on a better footing, but I was just interested to see the comparisons, since they don’t match unlike what many think.

  5. Will April 15, 2019 at 3:37 pm #

    OMG! grow up! Why are you all so obsessed with THFC? Most of us do not even see you as the hated enemy any more and it has been like that for years. We all know that you should feel guilty about the AFC past crimes vs THFC (let’s see the expected denial) but give the ruler in the toilet bit a break. We are both well run clubs that do NOT cheat financially unlike the rest of the top 6, and we have more in common than many. The only really obnoxious thing about AFC is how you all seem so obsessively desperate to knock THFC constantly and it is so childish and does more damage to you than it does to us.

    • marblehallstv April 16, 2019 at 6:49 am #

      lol really? I think it’s the exact opposite.

  6. DaddyCool April 15, 2019 at 4:40 pm #

    Spurs have borrowed £400m from HSBC for the stadium, guaranteed by Joe Lewis, at Base + 250 bps. Base is .75%, giving a total cost of borrowing of 325 Bps

    Arsenal initially had finance at almost 1000 bps against their stadium, due to higher interest rates at the time and a much bigger risk. Arsenal’s squad in 2006 was worth around £200m. Spurs have one player worth that (Kane); the whole squad is worth north of £500m. So there is far less risk, hence a far cheaper loan. Additionally Spurs are not reliant on increasing their income dramatically, as Arsenal were. Thy can easily service and pay down the debt on tv income alone. Lastly Spurs have the lowest wages to income ratio of any major football club in Europe and have no older players in big long contracts at all. Arsenal today have several (Aubamayang, Mkhytarian, Montreal, Ozil)

    In short unless arsenal find a sugar daddy, they have no chance of competing with Spurs financially over the next 3-4 years

    And I’m not a spurs fan before I get yelled at!

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