The Tottenham Stadium: is this the future, fact, or just fiction?
Will the Tottenham stadium end up just being Corporate/ Executive/ Premium only?
This article was inspired by an article/ blog I read recently, and it got me thinking.
By Don Scully
This article was inspired by an article/ blog I read recently, and it got me thinking.
If we look at the new Tottenham stadium, we are struck by how far we've moved on from White Hart Lane; combining Corporate and technology to create more fabulous wealth (somewhere amongst all this is football).
White Hart Lane was originally just a football stadium in North London, N17, Tottenham to be precise. The home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1899 to 2017. The final match was on the 14th May 2017, with a victory over Manchester United (2-1).
When football was at its infancy and right through to the late 80s, it was a game for the masses. It was the place where the working class could go on a Saturday afternoon, after a long day's work (miners, manual labourers, shop workers, etc.). But then the sixties came along, more people suddenly had cash in their pockets to burn. In the fifties, the word teenager appeared, before then you were just a child. Once puberty set in, you waited for the next leap, and that was either being a man or woman. Teenagers were a new phenomenon, with it came money (their own), and with that money came choices. Teenagers could acquire cars, travel, purchase expensive suits, stand out in the crowd, buy pop records, go to concerts etc.
It wasn’t long before businessmen jumped on the bandwagon, finding ways to exploit this new wealth.
Wealth teenagers, upmarket supporters, wanted more than what their parents were offered, comfort and something the ordinary working-class didn’t have (or couldn’t afford), prestige and respect. Eventually, to accommodate these needs, came corporate boxes, Premium seats, all popping up to take advantage of that wealth.
When Corporate Executive Boxes arrived (and not just at Tottenham), the supporters of different teams united in trying to push back the tide, but to no avail. Corporatism was here to stay, ready and waiting to create the George Orwell prophecy of takeovers, control, Big Brother surveillance, manipulation and eventual domination. All wrapped up in the currency of choice. The Wealthy Directors weren’t prepared to let go of the Goose that was going to lay the golden egg.
If the Spurs had any chance of mixing with the big boys, it was preached, then that old stadium had to make way for a better and brighter stadium. Bigger Corporate boxes, more Premium seats. What was created, the phoenix that came out of the ashes of the old stadium, was a magnificent beast. Not with the most significant capacity in the world (62,000 plus), but certainly the most glitzy, the most upmarket football stadium that the world has ever seen, situated amongst some of the most deprived communities in London (no doubt that will change with plans for gentrification).
Before we look at the future, let us have a look at what Daniel Levy has achieved so far.
The Tottenham stadium boasts top food restaurants (such as the magnificent, and very expensive H Club, to get a tickle in there it could set you back £30,000 +) Top chefs, senior professional Premium staff to serve every need and whim of its loadsamoney client. Indulgent first-class boxes, luxury seats, lavish dining areas, comfortable lounges scattered around, Posh relaxing recliners, high-resolution TVs distributed around the Premium area, even including in the restrooms. And those restrooms are top of the range. There is free food and drinks (or nibbles as they are called) for Premium Clientele, while at the higher end, for the loadsamoney patron (or should I say, even more loadsamoney patrons), well, they get a more luxurious cuisine compliments. But that isn't for all, only those that can splash out and are prepared to pay top-notch premium prices.
The stadium itself has top-grade surveillance-security, with cameras watching, observing every GA’s move ("GAs” or “General Admission,” that is ordinary season ticket holders, tourists, club members or just plain supporters, or customers. The Premium/ Executive/ Corporate members are called clientele, the more downmarket term “supporter or fan” is not preferred - or frowned upon - as it is too familiar for the upmarket stadium).
The security, staff etc. wear the stadium logo, as opposed to the famous cockerel that represents the team (two separate identities or entities). Where the Spurs cockerel was sufficient for the old stadium and team, it isn’t deemed so here. But then again that can be easily explained, or would be explained if confronted; the stadium is more than a home for the famous Lilywhites.
The Tottenham stadium and shop is cashless, so the customers have to bring their credit cards with them. That is if they want some of what the stadium or shop has to offer; such as merchandise… or even to eat in their upmarket restaurants. Credit or debit cards can be easily tracked, once tracked, you can target the consumer with advertising, which will suit their needs. It has everything imaginable in the best hospitality/ corporate, and shopping sense. The Spurs shop is the biggest in Europe. Stocking everything the Spurs consumer could possibly want.
When the customers arrive, looking up at the magnificent beast before them, they gawk in amazement. Once through the doors, they continue being amazed by all the hospitality before them. If they are just GA members, their awe is no less.
For the not so wealthy GA’s, they get average facilities (but a lot better than what some clubs offer). They get a lesser quality seat to sit on (as opposed to cushioned seats in the Premium sections), in the food area, standing room bays only (no sitting), conveyor belt foodservice (burgers, chips etc.) and standardised toilets. It boasts the longest bar in Europe (for conveyor belt service). Or as some call it, "a cattle pen arena for the masses to congregate."
The reason for the standing-only area is to be able to pack more customers in, who pays the littlest money (compared to their betters) but maximise the most profit possible. All this, irrespective of disability, or age.
That is what is on view, but what isn’t on sight is more ominous, more Orwellian Big Brother.
It is well known that there is high surveillance outside, as I have said, watching and observing their paying General Admission customers. But what is not generally well know (but not hidden) is that there is high surveillance also watching, observing, studying and monitoring their exclusive wealthy clientele/patrons. When asked, it is told it is for their own benefit. For their clients' security and safety (maybe a good thing!).
What I continue to write next, could be the future, could be already here…or maybe it is all fantasy, you the reader must decide. Knowing how society is moving on to meet the needs of a more technology-driven and wealthy consumer, you are probably well equipped to draw your own conclusions.
Every time one goes through their high advanced turnstiles, you could be scanned by overhead cameras. This way they can match your name and face with the entrance passes you have just touched on their turnstiles (Premium/ Executive/ Corporate members are allowed to give their Card/ Ticket to a customer or friend (within reason); Season ticket holders are not allowed to do the same unless it is through ticket exchange). If an unrecognised face enters, they could be logged and catalogued for future references, as well. Once in, every move could be observed until one leaves their secure territory, again, if asked, for one's own benefit; safety.
Now let us take a further leap into the future… near or distant, who knows?
Facial Recognition technology, not talked about, but could be used. Such a surveillance technology would be able to liaise with the Police and higher authority. This system would be the most sophisticated surveillance technology outside Government authority branches. There are many other uses for such technology (just use your imagination). When George Orwell wrote 1984, he was ahead of his time. A lot of what he had written is either being implemented or put on the back burner for a later date, or used in secret, so it won’t spook the horses. Some people say that such technology/ surveillance would benefit society, others see a more sinister use.
Possible other future plans; as the Corporate/ Executive/ Premium membership grows, we could also see the structure of the stadium adapt to meet these needs? More corporate areas could be put in, pushing back the GA customer, until eventually, the whole arena will be for those that have the highest income. At the moment there is a waiting list of about 60,000 for a season ticket, but what is more significant is the waiting list for Corporate/ Executive/ Premium members, which is where the money is. This is believed to be in the many thousands and growing every day.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the GA would be excluded. They still would have financial worth. Ordinary customers would be needed to buy into the Spurs project and spend their money on their merchandise etc. Virtuality googles could be manufactured by the clubs so that in the comfort of their own homes they could watch Spurs play as if they were actually there (of course, at a price). This must be in their thinking, to create even bigger profits.
Customers come from all around the world, football is changing, more money is floating around, so there are talks(between clubs of the world, FA officials etc.), in private at the moment, about capitalising on this growing football affluence. Such symposiums foresee a Superleague of world-renowned football clubs, with a global market.
Of course, some of it sounds preposterous, stupid even. But just look around, just look at what the Tottenham Stadium has and what it is doing (or where we’ve come from), or the Police with their surveillance technology; that experimentation isn’t just to catch thugs, criminals and terrorist, there is a wider use/ thought to this technology, in how it can also augment the clubs and society’s wealth. None of this would have been possible 30 or 40 years ago.
Remember, what once started off as science fiction, Chinese whispers, gradually become the staple diet, the norm. Some of what was thought up in Star Trek and other science fiction classics is now in fruition.
Daniel Levy has a vision for this club; Concerts, Executive meeting venues, world sports and other events that can bring in the money, and of course, we mustn’t forget Tottenham Hotspur FC amongst all this. The money will come pouring in, more so once he has paid off the debts of the club; the question will be, once that money is exclusively for the Tottenham Stadium, where will it be channelled after that? Would the “GA” customer benefit, will it be used for the benefit of the team, or more added Corporate facilities? Only time will tell.
The future is bright, the future could be even more loadsamoney… but for who? A nod is as good as a wink to a blind man… especially if that person is a football businessman exploiter.