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Tottenham apologise for ‘unavoidable’ stadium delays

Tottenham Hotspur has issued an apology to supporters after announcing earlier this week that its new stadium will not open on September 15 as originally planned.

Tottenham had been due to play its first match at the 62,000-seat stadium against Liverpool next month, but the fixture will now be held at Wembley Stadium instead after recent testing and commissioning at the new ground found issues with its critical safety systems.

Tottenham’s home game against Cardiff City on October 6 will also be played at Wembley, along with an October 14 NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders, which had been due to take place at the new stadium.

Following Monday night’s announcement, Tottenham issued a statement yesterday (Tuesday) confirming that it had received a report from construction partner Mace which highlighted the extent of the issues with the new stadium’s critical safety systems.

The statement read: “Delays are common, certainly for builds of this size and complexity, however we are hugely frustrated that this has occurred with these systems at such a late stage. Whilst we would have been able to mitigate other areas, we simply cannot compromise safety. This decision was unavoidable.

“We should also like to clarify the correct context of the news that broke yesterday regarding arrangements with Wembley. The option was in fact exercised at the end of last year – and not in response to this issue – as a sensible back-up given the nature of construction and the possibility of exactly such an issue arising.”

The statement added: “We should like to apologise to supporters for this delay. We are acutely aware of the disappointment this may cause supporters and shall now look to ensure that we minimise any inconvenience.”

Spurs confirmed that fans who have purchased season tickets for the new stadium will be credited with one nineteenth of the price they have paid for each fixture affected by the delays. Full refund amounts for the Liverpool and Cardiff games will be placed on supporters’ eticket account in the coming days.

Tottenham also moved to clarify that any supporter who had a pass for the 2017-18 season at Wembley – where the club played while work on the new ground was carried out – will not be able to use this pass for the new season and individual tickets will need to be bought.

The club is also in discussions with UEFA over where it will play its home matches in the Champions League. UEFA rules dictate that a club “in principle” should play all of its matches at one venue.

Writing for The Times, Martin Cloake, co-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, said that the club would have caused “uproar” had it not offered supporters a refund for the Liverpool and Cardiff matches and discussed the now-strained relationship between the club and its fans.

“There had been a good relationship between the supporters and the club in previous seasons but that togetherness is no longer there,” Cloake wrote.

“Fans want a club to be clear, straight and to tell them things early on, rather than appearing to be forced into it by leaks. When the club made their statement on Monday night, fans would have liked to have seen more empathy and sincerity, as well as more focus on them rather than on the NFL. Communication needs to improve.

“The club cannot compromise safety and I sensed during a conference call yesterday that they were as devastated as we were that the team cannot move to the new ground next month.”

Image: Tottenham Hotspur