Tottenham Hotspur's Wembley deal under the spotlight as MP takes aim at the FA
The agreement between Tottenham Hotspur and the Football Association allowing the Premier League club to use Wembley Stadium for its home matches next season has been criticised by a Conservative MP.
Bob Blackman, who is MP for Harrow East and a Spurs season ticket holder, has questioned the wisdom of effectively renting out the national stadium for Spurs home games, branding the FA as ‘amateurs’ who are ‘abusing’ the national stadium.
The FA applied to Brent Council last month for 31 more major events at Wembley between August 2017 and July 2018, effectively confirming rumours that Tottenham Hotspur are to play all their home games there next season while construction continues on their new 61,000 seater stadium.
Fellow title challengers Chelsea are also rumoured to be looking at Wembley as a potential home for three years while their Stamford Bridge ground undergoes a £500m redevelopment.
However, Blackman believes both deals show that the FA are ill-equipped for the ‘high-finance’ of the modern game, and that Wembley itself is losing its special aura as the home of the only the most important games in the country.
Speaking in parliament as part of the no confidence vote in the FA yesterday, he said: “Wembley Stadium has always been our national stadium. It is the shrine we go to for FA Cup finals, League Cup finals, internationals and other events.
“However it is now being transformed, not only for Tottenham to play there for a year but potentially for Chelsea to play there for three years for their home matches.
“That to me is wrong because it’s abusing our national stadium, which should be kept for those all-important matches that fans want to come and see.
“If it’s turned into a stadium which clubs will use for a potentially four year period or longer I think that’s an abuse of our national stadium and we shouldn’t be allowing it.”
The FA’s hierarchy have argued that such agreements represent a good deal for England’s football pyramid, as the proceeds can subsequently be re-invested grassroots initiatives.
Blackman is unconvinced and went even further in his criticisms when he added: “However we have the FA, who are in charge of that national stadium, who seem to be amateurs in dealing with that high-finance in football.
“We should encourage the professionalism to come in so that we don’t have that position ever stronger.
“It’s important that the FA understands that if it doesn’t transform itself then government action is going to be required.”