Don't get too attached to new stadium name
TOTTENHAM'S executive director admits that Spurs' new stadium may change its name every 15 years, or whenever the sponsorship contract expires. Paul Barber has been forced to defend the club's decision to sell the naming rights...
By Ben Pearce
TOTTENHAM'S executive director admits that Spurs' new stadium may change its name every 15 years, or whenever the sponsorship contract expires.
Paul Barber has been forced to defend the club's decision to sell the naming rights of the Lilywhites' new ground, which is currently referred to as the 'Northumberland Park' project.
And, although he appeared to contradict himself on this point, he seemed to concede that the decision over the new name will not stand forever - admitting that Tottenham's new home could be branded by a variety of different companies over future generations.
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"Our view is that naming right sponsorship deals need to be done for 10, 15 or 20 years. In our view when a stadium's named, it's kind of named," he said, somewhat confusingly.
"I think Emirates is a good example. It will be very interesting to see what happens when that deal comes up for renewal. In Europe, because stadiums are so sacrosanct with fans, they try and keep some kind of continuity and consistency, and we would be in that camp. Fifteen or 20 years feels about right."
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Spurs fans may be slightly disturbed to hear that Tottenham are watching Arsenal's lead when it comes to re-naming their ground in future. But, as the first major English football club to enter into a long-term naming sponsorship agreement, all eyes will indeed be on the Emirates when the airline's contract expires in 2021.
Barber also suggested that Spurs could copy the Gunners by unifying their new stadium name and their shirt branding, as the Lilywhites are yet to agree their shirt sponsors for next season.
These are old ideas at Arsenal, but Barber believes that Tottenham are taking a giant leap over their north London rivals with the plans for the new arena, which could be ready for the start of the 2012 campaign.
"Our stadium, when it's built, is going to be a generation beyond Arsenal's - technologically and environmentally it's going to be more advanced," Barber continued.
"We think the uniqueness of our stadium, with the fans' home end terrace, gives it that point of difference that will make it more iconic that Arsenal's.
"We've said from the start that our new stadium is going to be as technologically and environmentally advanced as any other stadium in the world - if not more so."
Despite that promise, some fans are bemoaning the fact that their beloved club seems to be selling its soul. Barber, however, is urging pragmatism.
"I don't think we're losing our integrity for the game. What really matters to fans is what happens on the pitch," he argued.
"They want to see the best players playing in the best facilities and they want to see the best possible football. Fundamentally that is what this is all about. To bring in the best players you've got to bring in the money, and to bring in the money you've got to look at every possible avenue.
"I think we've all got to be realistic, and I think the fans will appreciate that if this helps to create a great stadium for the players to perform in, and helps to keep bringing the best players to perform in that stadium, then that's what it's all about.
"Of course there are fans who would much prefer it to retain the White Hart Lane name. But I know from speaking to fans that they just want this new stadium built.
"We're very aware of history and heritage, we're very aware that we don't want to put ourselves in a position where the club is ridiculed in any way. We're very conscious of that.
"We respect that the companies out there have important brands that they want to promote, but at the same time we've also got a very important brand, and Tottenham Hotspur football club has been around for a very long time. In an ideal world we will want to match a brand with the history and heritage of our club. That's a very difficult and tricky balancing act, but it's something that we will do our very best to achieve.