English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur has confirmed that its new stadium will not host its first match until next year amid continued delays.
In a statement issued on Friday evening, club chairman Daniel Levy said that all home games up to and including the Premier League fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers on December 29 would be staged at Wembley Stadium, where Tottenham has been playing while work at the new ground continues.
The new stadium had initially been due to open on September 15 for Tottenham’s home fixture against Liverpool, but this, along with the October 6 game against Cardiff City and today’s (Monday’s) match against Manchester City, was moved to Wembley.
Tottenham had already announced that all UEFA Champions League group stage matches would be played at Wembley while work continues at the new ground, which is being built next to the club’s old stadium, White Hart Lane.
Tottenham’s next home league fixture after today is against Chelsea on November 24 and there had been hopes that this would open the new stadium. However, this will not be the case and Tottenham’s home match against Manchester United on January 13 could now be the first at the 62,000-seat facility.
Tottenham cited problems with the stadium’s critical safety systems as the main reason for the delay, and on Friday the club stressed that it has been “working hard” with the contractors involved with the systems. Key contractors involved in the mechanical, electrical and safety systems are being supported with external resources, with the situation being closely monitored by the club’s construction manager, Mace.
Levy said: “There isn’t an hour that goes by when I am not asked when we will be able to stage our first game at our new home. I wish I was able to confirm an exact opening date and fixture. However, in light of factors completely outside of our control, contractors missing deadlines and possible future unforeseen issues, we are naturally being cautious in respect of our timetable for our test events and official opening game.
“Whilst we are conscious of the need to keep pressure on our contractors to deliver as soon as possible, we are also acutely aware of how difficult the lack of clarity is for you, our supporters, to plan around games, particularly those at Christmas and New Year.
“In light of the above, and taking into account the restricted availability of manpower over the festive period, we have taken the decision to confirm today that all home games will be played at Wembley Stadium up to and including the game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 29 December.
“We know the continued delay is a source of immense disappointment to everyone and I can only continue to apologise for this – it is a sentiment felt by all of us. We have not stood still whilst work on the critical safety systems has been happening and we have sought to use the time to bring forward future works.
“Our investment has been supported by over £100m (€113m/$128m) investment in transport infrastructure which will see the stadium and the local area served by one of the best public transport networks in the country – facilitating the creation of a new sport, leisure and entertainment destination in London.
“The delay in the stadium opening has made it possible for some track and station improvements to be brought forward due to the fact that previously non-available construction dates have become available for works.
“We have no doubt when open that this stadium will be one of the finest in the world – a leading example of British research and development delivering engineering and technological firsts that will be showcased globally. I hope that the end result will be something that will make you proud. We shall look to update you again in early December.”
Tottenham confirmed that all season ticket holders will be credited with one nineteenth of the price they have paid for their 2018-19 season ticket for each fixture affected by the latest announcement.
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the state of the Wembley pitch ahead of Tottenham’s match against Manchester City this evening after the stadium hosted the NFL American football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles yesterday.
Stadium staff will be working to treat the cut-up turf at Wembley ahead of tonight’s game, which kicks off at 8pm. Yesterday’s game was the third NFL fixture to be held at Wembley in as many weeks, while Anthony Joshua also defeated Alexander Povetkin at the stadium last month to retain his heavyweight boxing world titles.
Main Image: Tottenham Hotspur