English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur has confirmed that its home match against Manchester United on January 13 will take place at Wembley as uncertainty continues to surround the opening date for its new stadium.
Tottenham had already confirmed that its remaining home games in 2019 would be played at Wembley while work on the new ground continues. It had initially been hoped that the new stadium would open with the United game on January 13, but the club has confirmed that the match will come too soon.
In a statement released yesterday (Wednesday), Tottenham said it has spent the last few months rectifying issues with the new stadium’s critical safety systems, which have caused the delays. The club said progress has been “steady” and added that it is now into the “integrated testing and commissioning phases”.
These phases must take place in order for the stadium to receive its safety certificate and the news comes after The Times reported earlier this week that Tottenham’s planned test events are in doubt with the busy festive period causing staff shortages and issues with police resources.
Tottenham is due to host a ‘familiarisation event’ this Sunday, which will allow 6,000 fans to visit and explore the South Stand and podium areas at the 62,000-seat stadium. This event is due to go ahead as planned but The Times reported that further test events on December 30 and January 6 are proving difficult.
Speaking on yesterday’s announcement, club chairman Daniel Levy said: “We are acutely conscious that we are asking fans to go to Wembley for far longer than any of us wanted to. However we are now seeing the progress that we needed to see.
“What I don’t want to do is set any firm dates until we have finally achieved a safety certificate. So many people tell me to look at other major schemes that run late and, whilst I know it happens often, we are still hugely frustrated.
“It is important, however, to recognise the sheer complexity of the scheme. It will be one of the first fully-integrated digital stadiums and will also be required to meet the latest and most stringent safety regulations.
“Once again I want to apologise to fans and to thank you for your ongoing support. We have a busy time ahead both on and off the pitch, particularly after last night’s amazing qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League. What a memorable night. I should also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families well over the festive break.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham is in discussions with UEFA, football’s European governing body, over the venue for the home leg of its Champions League knockout tie. Tottenham secured a place in the last 16 of the competition with a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Tuesday.
First-leg fixtures are due to take place on February 12-13 and February 19-20 and it remains unclear whether the new stadium will be open by then. The Daily Mail has reported that Tottenham has been told that UEFA is flexible over the situation and is willing to work with the club on a solution. The draw for the last 16 takes place on Monday.
Image: Tottenham Hotspur