Tottenham Hotspur fans in Hackney have denounced plans to take legal action against the football club if they move to the Olympic Stadium and retain their name.
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, who has been campaigning against proposals to move the North London club to the Olympic stadium in Newham, said he and the local authority will take legal action if the club retained the word Tottenham in their name.
But fans in Hackney have told ELL that they will continue to support Tottenham, saying they are surprised Mr Lammy has taken such a personal interest in the club’s decisions.
James Head, 21, who lives on Shoreditch High Street, said: “I’ve supported Spurs for years, and I’ll support them through thick and thin. If they change the name to Stratford Hotspur it’ll be a shame, but I don’t think it matters that much.
“They’re a business, so if they want to buy out new assets to make some cash then fair play, and suing them over the name is ridiculous. The only people who should be angry are Tottenham fans who live near the stadium – not the local MP and authorities.”
Mr Lammy said that moving to the Olympic site is part of a plan to boost the value of the football club before it is sold on. The threat comes amid a growing row over the club’s proposal to move to the stadium after the Games are complete.
Tottenham Hotspur will “repackage” the Olympic stadium and seek the highest bidder, before selling it on as an asset, Mr Lammy claimed.
Reports said Tottenham expects to raise approximately £150 million by repackaging the stadium with naming rights in a 10-year deal for potential buyers. Mr Lammy said: “I am convinced the owners will sell the club and the Olympic stadium. Its location and potential for naming rights makes it a much more valuable proposition for a buyer.”
“This is not simply about moving the stadium; it is about repackaging an asset for sale.”
Tottenham would reportedly demolish the existing stadium before rebuilding it without an athletics track, raising questions about the wisdom of spending so much public money on its construction ahead of the Olympics. The stadium is estimated to be worth around £500 million.
Mr Lammy said: “I and the local authority are absolutely clear, if the club chooses to move then I’m afraid they must cease to use the word ‘Tottenham’ in their title. We will take that legal action on behalf of our community.
“Spurs can’t expect to have everything they want, including tearing down a £500 million stadium that taxpayers across the country have funded.”
Adam Braithwaite, 22, a Tottenham fan from Columbia Road, said he does not want to see the club move out of its long-standing home, but questioned Mr Lammy’s response: “Surely an MP has better things to do with his time than worry about the name of a football club? The country is skint and he’s going to spend taxpayer’s money on a lawsuit about a football club name. It’s ridiculous.”
Mr Lammy has raised his concerns with the National Audit Office, calling for an investigation into the use of public money on constructing the stadium when it may face demolition.
West Ham FC joined forces with Mr Lammy in approaching the Premier League to challenge its decision to allow the move to go ahead.
West Ham, which has been in a head-to-head race with Tottenham to acquire the Stratford site, threatened a judicial review if Tottenham wins the bid. The league said it remains confident that the move does not breach its rules.
Today Tottenham Hotspur fans in opposition to the move protested outside the club’s stadium at White Hart Lane before the team played Manchester United at home. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.