As each day goes past, another story hits social media about the major issues at the new Tottenham Stadium.
We blogged at the back end of July that the stadium would not be ready until October at the earliest. The blog got a lot of abuse from Tottenham fans who claimed that we were jealous, bitter, and asked how did we, as Arsenal fans, now more then them about the state of the stadium?
The truth is that it does not matter what club you support to know the state of play of a construction site if you are within the industry.
A Spurs fans at University in Reading, for example, would know less than an Arsenal fan who recruits construction workers to the Tottenham Stadium project, or a Sunderland fan who has been operating a tower crane on site for the last 2 years.
We blogged in July that the stadium would not be ready until October, but it took the club until August to release the information to the fans. Up until that point the company line was “only Fulham will be at Wembley”.
In fact, there were rumours circulating in March that the stadium would not be ready until after the second international break (October) at the earliest.
It is here where Daniel Levy needs to hang his head in shame for the way he has treated Spurs fans – which all club rivalry aside has been a disgrace.
He knew when season ticket payments were due that the stadium would not be completed before the season started. He knew that it would not be ready for Liverpool – their second home game of the season. He knew that there was a chance that the ground would not even be completed this year.
And yet he oversaw the club telling the fans a story, a fallacy, and selling the countries most expensive season tickets based on this. He took money off hard working football fans knowing what he was selling did not exist.
There have been reports that those who bought cooperate boxes are set to be refunded 50% for the 2018/19 season. Normal fans are getting a game by game refund and then having to buy tickets at Wembley. The excitement of returning to the Lane has been diminished.
Fans have been lied to, and Levy is now hiding behind “health and safety” as a justification for the stadium not being completed. To try and avoid points deductions. To prepare his defence against angry fans miss-sold season tickets.
Part of the reason is Health and Safety, but this is not the only issues. The reality is, the stadium is no where near finished.
As every day goes on, you hear more stories from more people involved in the project about problems on the stadium:
- Slingers (operatives who direct cranes for lifting operations) refused to take work onsite.. Management were demanding slingers to undertake dangerous lifts. After a recent death in London, slingers are refusing to undertake the danger lifts. They are getting sacked. Problem is there is so much work in London, and so few slingers out of work that no one wants to work there. Lifting operations literally ground to a halt at times.
- There was a well documented problem with the seats where 15,000 of them were injected with the wrong dye. These are still being replaced.
- The poor weather earlier this year put the project back two weeks as they were unable to get the roof on.
- When tested, the fire alarm system failed. The entire system requires re-wiring. As it had been plastered over and the walls finished, these need to be ripped out, re-wired and then made good. This was discovered 2 weeks ago. It is expected to take 4 months to complete.
- The wrong lines were reportedly installed for emergency telephones; fibre optic was used instead of copper.
- Ultimately, people just do not want to work there – it is a highly pressurised job and operatives are being coerced into working long hours. Its location is also reducing the worker pool as people will not commute. London is so busy at the moment that you can pick up 10-12 hours a day in Central London where the site is more relaxed, slower. Agencies are struggling to find anyone to fill the skills gap.
There have been plenty of reports across social media of electrical companies having their contracts extended to Christmas. Of Northern based tradesman who have been put up in digs being told to expect to still be here in 2019.
Tottenham are reportedly trying to put all the blame on Mace, hiding behind Health and Safety in order to justify playing at two home stadiums this season. But they installed themselves as Project Managers so knew every step of the way of the problems the project faced.
The truth is the stadium was never going to be ready.
When construction began, everyone in the industry knew that they were trying to complete a 30 month job in 18 months. It was always an overly ambitious deadline driven by greed.
Something like the weather early this year is not their fault, but when you are working to such a tight schedule you can not afford a 2 weeks delay.
Spurs should have been honest and realistic 12 months ago. Hired Wembley for 2 years and ensured the new ground was completed on time. Sold season tickets at Wembley and ensure the project was completed, with safety certificates, for 2019.
Instead Levy was driven by the greed – or need – for the stadium to be completed for the start of the 2018/19 season. Spurs needed the income to cover spiralling costs. The problem they now face is they do not have a stadium ready, and costs are still spiralling.
The project will end up costing over £1bn, and I would be surprised if they play at the new ground this season.