Boost for Tottenham as Brent Council approves Wembley application to stage extra full-capacity events next season

tom collomosse
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Tottenham will have the chance to play at least a majority of their home games before a full house should they play home games at Wembley next season.

In a meeting held a stone’s throw from the national stadium, Brent Council’s planning committee passed the application by a majority of 5-1 after more than three-and-a-half hours of deliberations. That would give Tottenham full use of Wembley’s 90,000 capacity for at least 27 matches next season.

It was often an emotional meeting – at least one member of the audience was in tears as the submissions were made – but Spurs officials were smiling broadly by the end.

After the drama in the Conference Hall of the Brent Civic Centre, the focus now shifts the boardroom at White Hart Lane, and when Tottenham will finalise their plans. The Premier League are already in discussion with their clubs about fixture arrangements for 2017-18, and Spurs still have not confirmed their intentions.

Should they move to Wembley for 2017-18, the aim would be to occupy their 61,000-seat stadium – a project costing about £800million – in 2018-19. This would be the final year at White Hart Lane.

Yet if Tottenham decide they cannot keep to that timetable, they may stay at White Hart Lane for another campaign, moving to Wembley in 2018-19, and their new ground the following season.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy was not present at the meeting, with Spurs’ representations made by executive director Donna Cullen. Chris Bryant, head of operations at Wembley Stadium, spoke for his organisation.

Cullen recalled that Spurs had considered both the Olympic Stadium – now occupied by West Ham – and Stadium MK, home of League One club Milton Keynes Dons.

There was little love lost between West Ham and Spurs as they fought to move to the Olympic Stadium, and referring to West Ham’s teething problems, Cullen said: “It’s well publicised we went for Stratford. Given what’s happened there, our plan was the right one.”

The concern of most objectors regarded the impact of large crowds on local residents on matchdays, as well as the possible cost to local businesses and mooted adverse effect on nearby roads and parking.

Cullen was forced to defend Spurs' wish to hold possibly all their matches in front of a capacity crowd at Wembley, because - she said - of the need to avoid “a half-empty stadium” and the consequent poor atmosphere that may damage Spurs’ chances in home fixtures.

The committee debated whether to grant the application with a reduced capacity of 70,000. But in the end, the application as submitted was passed by a clear majority.

A Brent Council spokesperson said: “Wembley Stadium is a highly valued part of our borough bringing visitors from around the world. We are pleased that a balance has been struck between recognising the impact on local residents and businesses whilst enabling the Stadium to make good use of its facilities and support a London club to operate in the capital while their ground is being redeveloped.”

“We look forward to working closely with the Stadium, the Football Association and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in the forthcoming year both on the management of events and their work in the local community that they outlined in their application.”

A Wembley spokesperson told Standard Sport: "We note Brent Council’s verdict to increase the number of full capacity events at Wembley Stadium, we fully respect the process and we welcome the decision.

"We are committed to ensuring that all events held at Wembley Stadium are delivered in a manner that benefits the local community. This application involved an extensive public consultation process and we will continue to work closely with the council, local residents and businesses of Brent to make it a success."

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